SELF-RECOMMENDING!

Open Thread 139.25

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit or the SSC Discord server.

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

1,007 Responses to Open Thread 139.25

  1. jermo sapiens says:

    What are the Democrats trying to accomplish by holding the impeachment inquiry in secret? The only explanation I can come up with is that this is only a way to give the wild accusations they will throw at Trump some gravitas: “We learned during our inquiry that Trump did X”, but I dont expect that kind of stuff to work except for people who are committed anti-Trumpers, because it’s so obvious what they’re up to.

    • TakatoGuil says:

      Well, when they held the Mueller stuff in public, Republicans bitched that they were making everything into a scene to drum up ratings.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        My understanding is that this impeachment inquiry is more like a trial than an investigation. Perhaps this is wrong.

        I also dont recall the bitching you’re referring to, but I only follow US politics sporadically so I may have missed it. From my point of view, as a Trump supporter, I was glad the Mueller report was public.

        • John Schilling says:

          Perhaps this is wrong.

          This is wrong; see below.

        • Eric Rall says:

          An impeachment inquiry maps roughly to a Grand Jury investigation in a regular criminal proceeding. A committee of the House holds hearings, subpoenas testimony, etc and evaluates whether there’s enough evidence to proceed with a trial. Their report is delivered and debated and voted on by the full House, and if the House votes to impeach (equivalent to an indictment), the process moves to the Senate for trial.

          Federal Grand Juries always operate in secret until they publish their final bill (an indictment or a refusal to indict). I think State Grand Juries operate the same way.

        • meh says:

          I assume @TakatoGuil’s point is that whatever they do it will be criticized, even if they had done the opposite.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Ask Trey Gowdy :

      “The private ones always produce better results.” That is not a Democrat we are quoting. It is a Republican, former congressman Trey Gowdy, who conducted the Benghazi investigation into Hillary Clinton a few years ago and pushed back against criticism that most of the hearings were in private.

      There are a variety of reasons to hold the initial interviews in private. Some of them have to do with optics, but most of them don’t.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        Thanks.

        So, process-wise, what is expected to come of this? A report and then a vote on impeachment? And do they need a simple majority or more?

        And then what is the senate expected to do? If the basis for the impeachment vote is a report based on secret hearings created by partisans with the goal of impeaching Trump since his election, why should it be given more consideration than soiled toilet paper?

        • broblawsky says:

          The Senate will have access to all testimony from any and all witnesses called by the House, AFAIK. They’ll have access to more than just a ‘report’. Do you have any information suggesting that their access to evidence collected by the House will be limited in some way?

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Will they be allowed to call any witnesses and cross-examine the Democrat’s witness?

          • broblawsky says:

            Yes. Once the House refers the matter to the Senate, a formal trial takes place, with the accused having the right to be represented by their own attorneys and call witnesses in their defense.

          • John Schilling says:

            The Senate will make its own rules, but the Senate has a Republican majority so they’ll be rules favorable to their interests. The only way that doesn’t include calling their own witnesses and cross-examining the other side’s, would be if e.g. Trump were in a full meltdown mode where it was obvious to even Republicans that they needed to proceed immediately to a floor vote to get him out of office before he starts a nuclear war or something.

            Even if Republicans were a minority party, they’d almost certainly still get full due process on account of the two-thirds majority requirement; the majority party can’t impeach without at least some crossover votes from the minority, and that’s not happening with a transparently partisan kangaroo court.

            Also, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides, and he’s going to insist on due process even if he lets the Senate make up the details of the procedure.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          And then what is the senate expected to do? If the basis for the impeachment vote is a report based on secret hearings created by partisans with the goal of impeaching Trump since his election, why should it be given more consideration than soiled toilet paper?

          The Senate can laugh it off like the House impeachment of Clinton. Mitch McConnell seems to be signalling that he’s not going to laugh it off like the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, where the Senate was handed a long list of offenses, acquited him of the first few, then adjourned and acted like nothing had happened for the rest of their careers, but if the evidence is as you say, expect a Clinton-type laugh-off for form’s sake.

    • John Schilling says:

      I believe the “secret inquiry” you are referring to is being conducted by the House Intelligence Committee which includes both Democrats and Republicans – just not Republicans named e.g. Matt Gaetz and Steve Scalise. The House Intelligence Committee legitimately conducts a great deal of its business in secret because it deals with, well, Really Secret Spy Stuff that could damage national security if it got out, and because most congressmen are blabbermouths.

      The House Intelligence Committee is not going to remove President Donald Trump from office. You can call this an “Impeachment Inquiry” if you want, but for Trump to be removed from office there would have to be a trial before the full Senate and with only the evidence that can be presented in that (probably public) forum.

      This is, in criminal justice terms, roughly equivalent to the DA meeting with a Mob informant before prosecuting a Mob boss. That might result in the informant testifying in open court later to bring down the boss. It might result in the informant telling the DA where the Mob boss stashed the incriminating files that will bring him down without the informant having to testify. Or it might result in the DA deciding that, oops, it was the other Mob boss that did these particular crimes, so never mind. But in any case there is no requirement that the informant’s meeting with the DA be open to the public, and very good reason why it shouldn’t.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        You can call this an “Impeachment Inquiry” if you want, but for Trump to be removed from office there would have to be a trial before the full Senate and with only the evidence that can be presented in that (probably public) forum.

        I mean, yeah. If Senate Republicans Nixonize Trump, I can’t see them going as undemocratic as holding the trial in secret instead of being able to watch it on C-SPAN & cable news. The optics would be atrocious.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        This is, in criminal justice terms, roughly equivalent to the DA meeting with a Mob informant before prosecuting a Mob boss.

        Thanks that’s a very good explanation.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        The House Intelligence Committee legitimately conducts a great deal of its business in secret because it deals with, well, Really Secret Spy Stuff that could damage national security if it got out, and because most congressmen are blabbermouths.

        There’s an interesting side question here of what happens if the evidence against a sitting President can be revealed only by also revealing said Really Secret Spy Stuff.

        In that case, the HIC has a very tough decision to make – whether an impeachment trial, say, is worth burning a source. “We know President Superflake spoke to the Intelligence Minister of the People’s Republic of Nukemalla because we bugged the Minister’s favorite cat collar” is not a claim lightly made. And when it’s made, it’s often in the direction of “not worth it” unless the evidence is very damning, and that reasoning will likewise not be disclosed to the likes of us mere mortals.

        • John Schilling says:

          Many Bothan spies died to bring us this impeachment. Yes, tricky problem if what the HIC learns is sufficiently damning but can’t be obtained from other sources now that they know what to look for.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Many Bothan spies died to bring us this impeachment.

            Heh. Reminds me of how some people were confused that there were zero Bothans in Rogue One, but that dialogue was about spying on the second Death Star.
            (Say what you will about the Prequels, but at least they never re-used that bloody plot device.)

          • albatross11 says:

            It seems like getting rid of a sitting president would be a serious enough matter to be worth disclosing some sources. I mean, if it’s not that important, why on Earth are we disrupting normal democratic processes to do it?

          • Enkidum says:

            why on Earth are we disrupting normal democratic processes to do it?

            Are normal democratic processes being disrupted? Which ones?

            (Not snark, I don’t know that much about the details.)

          • albatross11 says:

            We’ve never removed a president from office, in 200+ years of consistent government. This president is indeed an unusually bad one, but removing him means overriding the results of a national election, and shouldn’t be done lightly.

            If it makes sense to remove the president from office, then it’s a serious enough matter that we should be willing to expose some sources. If it’s not serious enough to expose some sources, then it’s probably not serious enough to impeach and remove a sitting president.

          • Enkidum says:

            Ah, that does seem fair.

            I think I originally read you as arguing that the proceedings themselves were subversive of norms, which isn’t precisely what you’re saying – you’re arguing that if the outcome is impeachment, we should bite that bullet. Agreed. (Assuming my parsing is right.)

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            It seems like getting rid of a sitting president would be a serious enough matter to be worth disclosing some sources. I mean, if it’s not that important, why on Earth are we disrupting normal democratic processes to do it?

            There are caveats.

            First, it might not be getting rid of a sitting President, but rather raising the chance of removing a sitting President from 0% to 5%. This is especially bothersome if the people who want to remove a President have a reputation of having wanted to remove him for a while, and now look like they’re willing to sacrifice national security to get their way.

            Secondly, the source(s) they burn might be pretty juicy, and remember, you’re talking about trading a one-time removal which might prevent some really bad event happening somewhere in the remainder of that President’s term, for a loss of intel from a source that might be there for decades because he’s not term-limited, or because your source is an it, not a he or she.

            Fortunately, as John Schilling suggests, the HIC may have options if the stakes are that high. It’s possible that the high-value source tells them where to look for information using a source that they can afford to burn, or ideally, is publically available in places that would have been prohibitive to completely search at the beginning.

          • John Schilling says:

            Also, the source they burn may decide not to come forward (or clam up on the stand) on account of the predictable burning. What does a Bothan care about US politics, that’s worth having their family ruthlessly persecuted because a corrupt POTUS leaned on a corruptable POTB?

            So, yeah, if that’s what it comes down to, let’s hope we can find options that don’t involve burning the source. Which is one good reason to have the preliminary discussion with the source in a SCIF and with only properly-vetted non-blabbermouths in attendance.

          • Aftagley says:

            This president is indeed an unusually bad one, but removing him means overriding the results of a national election, and shouldn’t be done lightly.

            I don’t like this idea that somehow impeachments subverts or overrides the election. The election was the process that began the president’s service… but that’s it. There’s no guarantee beyond the president getting inaugurated.

    • J Mann says:

      I’m not a fan of the Dems overall, but I think closed sessions make the most sense.

      Bad:

      – The practice of selective leaks make it possible for leakers to shape the narrative.
      – The public doesn’t find out information until the committee makes a report.
      – If the majority is being unfair, there’s not much the minority can do until they write their rebuttal report.

      Good:

      – You can talk about confidential information more easily.
      – It’s more like a grand jury investigation than a public trial.
      – Public congressional hearings are disasters, with showboating representatives and alternating questions, and aren’t very useful to gather information. (They would be better if a single staffer got to question each witness for hours in a row, but that isn’t how it works).

      IMHO, the last one is the main one.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        I agree with this. Public trial, but bipartisan secret investigation is OK, by analogy with non-political grand jury procedure.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        Yes makes sense. My confusion stemmed from the fact that I believed that the “trial” was in the house and the “sentencing” in the senate. But it looks like the “police investigation” is in the house and the trial and sentencing are in the senate.

        • John Schilling says:

          Right. Per Article I Section 3 of the US Constitution, the trial must be held in the Senate, with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding, and a two-thirds majority required for conviction. There are only two possible sentences – removal from office, or removal from office plus disqualification from office in the future. If you want to actually put the President in jail, that requires yet another trial through the normal criminal procedures.

          The House committees are playing the role of police investigators, and if it gets to the “grand jury indictment” phase, that will require a full floor vote of the House. But that’s as far as the House is allowed to go.

        • broblawsky says:

          That’s a much better analogy, yes.

      • Clutzy says:

        – The practice of selective leaks make it possible for leakers to shape the narrative.

        So far this seems to be about 95% of the reason they are conducting it as so.

        • ECD says:

          Because the Republicans on the HIC are incapable of leaking?

          • Clutzy says:

            Their leaks on these things have been historically much less effective. Dem aligned leaks dominated the era of the Russia investigation, and were almost unanimously proven wrong, whereas the Nunes report and Grassley report were almost entirely proven correct, but got almost no coverage.

          • mitv150 says:

            In a sense, yes, the Republicans are incapable of leaking. Because Schiff is running the show, his side can leak the actual documents, while the Republicans can only leak a description of the proceedings.

            This played out with Taylor’s opening statement, which was fully leaked while Kevin McCarthy could only relate that Taylor’s statement collapsed under questioning.

            It’s entirely possible that McCarthy is correct (and entirely possible that he is full of it), and that Taylor’s entire narrative fell apart under questioning (or didn’t). Without the transcript, which won’t be leaked unless it’s helpful to Schiff, we have McCarthy’s word against Taylor’s document.

          • ECD says:

            In this model, the minority has no capacity to call its own witnesses, or to leak the legally required transcripts? Why would that be true?

          • J Mann says:

            Apparently, Schiff has ruled that the Republican committee members cannot have their own physical copies of the transcripts, and that they can only review his copy while in a room being observed by his staff.

            I don’t know how much access Democratic members or Schiff himself have, or if that’s typical. Certainly, there don’t seem to be many leaks of the transcripts, only of the opening statements, so maybe the rules have been effective at preventing anyone from leaking transcripts.

      • meh says:

        – Public congressional hearings are disasters, with showboating representatives and alternating questions, and aren’t very useful to gather information.

        IMHO, the last one is the main one.

        Second.. public hearing seem so obviously useless.. each rep uses his time to get a pre-scripted tv moment. it’s impossible to have a thread.

        • mitv150 says:

          I don’t think the request is for a public hearing, so much as a timely release of testimony transcripts.

    • broblawsky says:

      Trying to stop Republicans from endangering the lives of whistleblowers?

    • ECD says:

      Also, I’ll direct you to Clutzy’s comment way back in 137.25

      I 100% believe that he did and that he should not have released the transcript nor shown it to anyone in Congress besides McConnell and Pelosi, in a SCIF. Frankly, the existence of these transcripts at all is, IMO, and unnecessary risk to foreign relations and national security. They should all be taken offline and released 50-100 years after the death of whatever president made them.

      There’s a bit of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you hold it in public, obviously you’re interested in spectacle, not finding the truth. If you hold it in private, obviously you’re trying to hide it from the American people. So, the politics is a wash, might as well do it the way that’s best for security and the witnesses.

  2. TheContinentalOp says:

    The First Amendment only covers the government. Private actors are free to ban or limit speech from their premises or platforms, if they so desire.

    But…

    In 1991 a bunch of Anti-Gulf War protesters took to NJ malls where they passed out leaflets to shoppers. The mall management told the protesters to leave. The protesters sued… And won.

    In New Jersey Coalition Against the War in the Middle East v. J.M.B Realty Corp., et al., the NJ Supreme Court interpreting NJ’s state constitution held that:

    Regional and community shopping have become the new gathering point of citizens, displacing downtown business districts.
    New Jersey grants its citizens substantive free speech rights, and those rights are not limited to protection from government interference.
    In determining the existence of the State free speech right on privately owned property, three factors are the relevant consideration: (1) the nature, purpose and primary use of such private property, generally, its “normal” use, (2) the extent and nature of the public’s invitation to use that property, and (3) the purpose of the expressional activity undertaken upon such property in relation to both the private and public use of the property.
    The first two elements are considered together, and there is an implied invitation to leaflet in this case. The shopping centers intentionally draw people and become a replica of the community. They encourage public use of their property, and so that diminishes private property interests.
    The third element examines the compatibility of the free speech sought to be exercised with the uses of the property. Here, business will not disappear because of the leafleting. Whatever disorder might otherwise exist can be controlled by the center by adopting rules and regulations concerning the time, place, and manner of such leafleting.
    The speech can be accomplished without interfering with the owner’s profits. The free speech sought is a limited free speech right but is the most substantial in our constitutional scheme. Since the owner will have broad power to regulate, any interference caused by the speech will be negligible.

    https://www.casebriefs.com/blog/law/property/property-law-keyed-to-singer/trespass-and-public-rights-of-access-to-property/new-jersey-coalition-against-the-war-in-the-middle-east-v-j-m-b-realty-corp/

    Two questions for legal folks:

    1) Why didn’t the mall owners appeal to Federal Court, claiming that their free speech rights under the US Constitution were being violated. Or maybe they could appeal, but decided no to?

    2) Is there a way to apply this to the online platforms of today? Online platforms are certainly a gathering point for citizens? Would the real difficulty be in suing Twitter or Facebook or YouTube in the NJ courts? Wouldn’t they move to get the case into the Federal courts where they US Constitution would come into play?

    • J Mann says:

      The defendant in New Jersey Coalition made that argument, but the NJ Supreme Court cited to PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74, 82-88 (1980), in which the US Supreme Court apparently held that where a State Constitution required permitting speech in a privately owned shopping center, the US Constitution did not protect the shopping center on grounds of free speech, association, taking, etc.

      Note: I haven’t read the Pruneyard decision or checked whether it’s still good law, and will leave those as exercises for the reader.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I didn’t realize Pruneyard held in NJ was well. Pruneyard was a California case, so would be directly relevant to Twitter et al… but only by analogy, it’s not direct precedent.

      • J Mann says:

        Pruneyard is a US Supreme Court case, so it holds everywhere (unless the US SCt has modified it).

        The parties are free to argue that there are relevant differences between the NJ and CA free speech protections or other relevant facts, but assuming that the relevant facts were the same, Pruneyard would hold in NJ.

    • Garrett says:

      Yes. I could probably file a nice lawsuit against Reddit. And maybe win.

      But it would involve a lot of time and money. Mostly money. And it’s not a worthwhile area for me to throw buckets of cash at.

  3. Programmers here: what has been your experience with unit tests?

    In my experience, the function of a unit test is to fail anytime any change is made to the code for any reason, and they don’t actually catch bugs because of mocking abuse. Often every line of code in a function being tested will feature mocked objects. I remember a grand total of two times a unit test caught bugs, this is an exact number, as I was shocked when it happened. Of my co-workers about half are aware of the shortcomings of this style of unit testing, but do it because it’s easier to do it half-assed but fast, the other half don’t appear to grasp that the purpose of tests is to find bugs rather than increase code coverage.

    • johan_larson says:

      Generally I find that mocking frameworks and such complicate things more than is necessary. If you have a well designed unit of functionality, it should have some manageable number of input and output interfaces, and mocking those by hand should be feasible. If that’s really not possible, the unit is probably misdesigned and should be refactored somehow.

      One thing to keep in mind is that not every darn thing needs to be unit tested. Some things are complicated and messy and reliant on timings and such things. They can often be left to other tiers of testing, such as integration and release testing.

      One strategy I find useful is to isolate functionality into pure (stateless) functions as much as possible. This sort of functions are easy to reason about and trivial to test.

    • T3t says:

      I’ve been (fruitlessly) having this exact same discussion at work. To make sure that everyone is on the same page: I am defining a “unit test” as one that mocks all dependencies – not just 3rd party libraries or things across a network boundary, but also things like function calls within the same class/namespace/service/etc.

      IMO, the only thing that sort of “unit test” does is duplicate (a tiny subsection of) the business logic of the unit being tested. As you say, this will cause the test to fail when the implementation of the function under test is changed (and only then!). The test passing or failing thus provides ~0 signal as to whether any given code change contains a bug.

      I prefer to write integration tests (defined here as any test where the function under test makes unmocked function calls of any kind), which can encode actual business logic as the condition for a test’s success or failure, as opposed to just the implementation of a function.

      The part that is frustrating to me is that this seems trivially correct, and it makes sense to stop wasting time on this style of testing, even if you don’t take into account the opportunity cost vs. more effective forms of testing (integration tests, property-based tests, literally anything which doesn’t require a linear(!) investment of developer hours for correspondingly greater “coverage”). The fact that it seems “trivially” correct worries me, because that is often a sign that I am missing something obvious, but nobody who I have brought the topic up with has been able to give me anything resembling a defense of the current practice.

      I have thought of a few such defenses myself as an exercise (i.e., writing a unit test forces the developer to think through a specific example of the function’s use, and its expected input and output), but these fall to the “opportunity cost” argument (since other forms of testing do this as well or better than unit tests). The other argument is that “unit tests” are well-supported by existing infrastructure and tooling, which may very well be true, but this is still not an argument for 1) wasting time, 2) not improving the infrastructure and tooling to a point where we can begin to write actually useful tests.

      • Not A Random Name says:

        First off, I’m working people use a broader definition of unit test then you do. So that might be a source of confusion right there. If you say “unit tests are useless” and I say “unit tests are important” we might be agreeing without any of us noticing.

        That said, I don’t generally write unit tests to find bugs in my software. Either I write them first and then implement my logic – or I write tests to cover edge cases and such, expecting them to be green. Either way it’s rare that I find a bug in my implementation this way.

        Really, the big advantage of unit tests is not to know that you’re bug free. You’re (probably) not because you (probably) forgot some tests you should’ve written. Or at least that happens to me. Anyway, it’s mostly about being able to refactor freely and still be reasonably sure that I didn’t accidentally break anything. And that actually works quite well so far.

        As a last aside, I’ve been taught that tests that duplicate business logic are a code smell. Rather hard coding the in- and (expected) outputs is the way we usually go. The idea is to not care how it works, just to know what you want to put in and what you want to get out and that’s it.

        • T3t says:

          Yes, I definitely try to make sure that I’m not arguing about definitions 🙂

          Mapping input to expected output is definitely a good way to protect yourself while refactoring, agreed! Treating the function as a black box is mutually exclusive to mocking the behavior of its dependencies, though.

          • Not A Random Name says:

            Treating the function as a black box is mutually exclusive to mocking the behavior of its dependencies, though.

            Strictly speaking this is true of course. How much it really matters depends a lot on how much the code under test is working with dependencies. If you just have to mock a couple of function calls then it’s usually not too much of a difference.
            Say you test a function that takes an ID as input. The first thing your code does it to load the corresponding object from the database. This part you mock, but basically that is still “specifying the inputs of your code”. It’s not black box but it’s still in line with the idea of just providing the inputs and making sure the outputs match.

            In situations where you have to start mocking and it never stops I’d be more inclined to think your code does more than it should. God classes would be an example of this. They do everything so they depend on everything. But of course there might also be good reasons. And then, yea, mocking everything can conflict with treating your code as a black box.

    • Enkidum says:

      Less deep question: can anyone recommend a good introduction(s) to unit testing? I’m a reasonably competent coder and as interested in the conceptual/philosophical underpinnings of good code as I am in the nitty gritty.

      • johan_larson says:

        I’m not sure what to recommend. I don’t think the field has a definitive classic work that lays down the law on how to test software.

        It might be useful to know where you are at in your own work. Do you have tests at all? Have you made an effort to measure how much of your work is covered by tests? What is puzzling you about testing? (For example, are you wondering whether you have enough tests? Or do you want to know whether your tests are good enough?)

        • Enkidum says:

          I don’t test, but it seems appealing from what I’ve heard.

          We’re a small team (science lab, 5ish active coders) that is increasingly trying to build modular tools that we can all use, and make available to others as open source software that will be easily expanded-upon for their own purposes. These are mostly for experiment design, control, and analysis.

          We currently waste a lot of time reinventing the wheel due to unclear and unmaintainable code.

          • johan_larson says:

            Well, the first part is to write tests. If you google [Java unit test framework tutorial] (substituting whatever language you are using) you should find instructions on how to write and run tests at all.

            Second, realize what unit tests are for. They protect code against inadvertent breakage by future developers. Presumably you as the writer made sure your code worked for all the cases you are interested in, so you don’t need them right after writing the code. Unit tests are not there to verify that you got it right.

            Third, when you are writing new code, try to think about what you want to test. This should be the most intellectually dense parts of the code, the parts you had to carefully consider and discuss with colleagues, the part you might have drawn Venn diagrams or truth tables for or something like that, to make sure you got it right. All of these are signs that the code is tricky and valuable, and deserves to be protected by unit tests against inadvertent breakage. Don’t bother trying to unit test simple glue code or obscure error handling; it’s just not worth it.

            And finally, when writing code, try to think in term of testability. If you need to test a block of code that calls out to an external system, you really want to be able to test it without doing the call-out. That means there need to be ways to substitute the parts that do the calling out with simpler components that just return answers directly. That’s what “mocks” and “fakes” are for.

            You might also try the technique I mentioned above of isolating code in pure functions for testability. It’s a basic technique, but very useful when it works.

            Is this useful? I could go into more depth, if necessary.

          • SamChevre says:

            @johan larson

            Not the OP, but that is super helpful. Anything more would get into effortpost territory, but I would read it and refer to it and point people to it.

          • Enkidum says:

            @johan_larson – thanks very much for this. There have been multiple cases when we designed the central toolbox we’re all currently using where we had to sit down and draw Venn diagrams / flow charts / truth tables etc, and we ended up designing code that really works quite well, but everyone else is scared to make any modifications (and even when I do, I get a little nervous because I’m no longer Past Enkidum).

            I’d love for there to be some defence against obvious mistakes that they might make, and it’s my understanding that unit testing helps with that. Of course we’d have to have a culture in place that is willing to put in the conceptual effort to understand it, and I suspect that is up to me and one other guy in the lab, unfortunately.

            We do a lot of stuff that involves getting/sending external signals (from, e.g., experimental hardware), and so sounds like I should be doing a lot of mocking/faking. We’ve kind of done that in a very informal way, sounds like I should be learning about it from a more principled perspective.

            Thanks again. I don’t have any particular questions at the moment, will maybe get back to you in a few weeks if/when I’ve experimented some more.

          • Viliam says:

            @johan_larson

            realize what unit tests are for. They protect code against inadvertent breakage by future developers.

            I think you are underselling unit tests here.

            If you write unit tests before implementing the actual code…
            – you can check how it feels to use your API;
            – it makes you think about the edge cases (“what happens if the ‘find’ function is looking for something that isn’t there?”);
            – both of the above gets documented via test code;
            – you can show it to your colleague(s) and ask for feedback
            …this all before you spent time implemented, so it’s still cheap to change opinion and redesign.

            Then, during implementation you can run the tests and see how many of them pass. It’s a bit like playing a video game, where you reach a new “achievement” every time you implement some new functionality. Positive feedback is psychologically important, and often rare to get at a job.

            The colleague who reviews your code can look at the tests, think about cases you have missed and add them.

            Only then, as you said, after the feature is completed, having the tests run regularly will warn you against people breaking it in future. The advantage of automatic tests is the fact that they are automatic, so you can cheaply run them several times a day during several years of development. A human tester would get crazy, or more realistically the testing wouldn’t be done thoroughly.

          • Enkidum says:

            What would be the benefits/downsides of going back over existing code, adding unit tests and refactoring as necessary? Obviously one would only want to do this for mission-critical stuff, I think.

          • johan_larson says:

            What would be the benefits/downsides of going back over existing code, adding unit tests and refactoring as necessary?

            That’s probably not a good investment. Instead, I suggest you spend your time on incremental testing and refactoring as you work with the code.

            When you need to make some changes to a class or module that is a bit fugly and has no tests, start by adding a bunch of tests that encapsulate the existing functionality. You may need to make some changes for testability here, but keep them small, because without tests you have no protection from breakages. You are operating on the high wire without a net.

            Once you have those unit tests, you can proceed more confidently with refactoring to clean up the code. And then, finally, you can add your new changes, along with any added tests to capture the new behaviors.

            If you want to know more about this, try reading Michael Feathers’s “Working Effectively with Legacy Code.”

            If that’s not enough, and you really want to spend some time up front on verification, I suggest investing the time in integration tests. These are tests that run the whole system end to end, and then check the results. If your system normally reads live data from sensors or something like that, you should probably add a test mode that reads data from files, to make the results repeatable.

          • Enkidum says:

            Thanks again, your advice seems sensible, and you’ve recommended that book before and I think I’d best read it.

            Related rant: I ran an analysis yesterday that returned all NaNs, which was insane because I’ve run exactly the same code numerous times, on the exact same data set even, and it always worked fine. The trouble is that the methods are extremely abstract and generic, meant to run a very broad range of analyses (you specify the details of the analysis in the arguments at runtime), and I wrote them long enough ago that it’s a real pain to work through them. So I spent three hours going through line by line, looking at the results of each step and getting increasingly perplexed because everything looked like it was behaving as it should.

            But it was hard to do this, essentially because after making solid core code, I’d ended up building methods that called methods that called methods that actually called the core code, in a very inefficient way. (Essentially, I wrote an original script that ran analyses using the core code, then two months later realized I needed something that did something different with some of those results, and so I wrote a script that called that script, repeat two or three times over a year or so and you have nested chaos.)

            At the end of the three hours, I’d checked every step and the damn data was fine. And I ran it again, changing nothing at all, and it was still fine.

            Then I realized that when I had thought I was getting all NaNs, I was simply looking at the wrong field of my returned structure.

            At this point I decided it was time for a beer.

    • Eric Rall says:

      Of my co-workers about half are aware of the shortcomings of this style of unit testing, but do it because it’s easier to do it half-assed but fast, the other half don’t appear to grasp that the purpose of tests is to find bugs rather than increase code coverage.

      Well, there’s your problem. If your co-workers either don’t understand how to write unit tests properly or know and don’t care, and if management is okay with that, then of course your unit tests are going to suck.

      The ideal for unit tests and mocking is to write unit tests in pairs across boundaries: so your unit tests for Foo will mock out Bar with the assumption that Bar will behave in certain ways in certain situations, and in order to validate that assumption there should also be a unit test for Foo that confirms that it actually does behave in the way Foo is assuming. I say this is the ideal, because it’s a lot of work to write and even more work to audit and maintain.

      In my experience, the most fruitful level of testing is usually component/module testing. You’re still using mocking on component boundaries, which lets your write tests that are lighter-weight to run and provide more actionable failure data than end-to-end tests. And you might still use a “unit testing” framework to write and execute your component-level tests. But compared to unit tests, the failure modes you mention are less tempting: component tests are generally approached with a more functional mindset (as opposed to unit tests, where it’s tempting to just copy the logic of the code you’re testing) that makes them better at finding actual bugs, and there are fewer and simpler boundaries to mock, so you’re directly testing more real logic, and so the ideal I described earlier for tests on the other side of the boundary to validate your mock behavior is more tractable to establish and maintain.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I find they’re better at catching bugs during development than they are at catching bugs later. I do tend to prefer fakes to mocks (a “fake” is a very lightweight but functional version of the dependency, a “mock” is where you literally script the expected call and response), which I think avoids some of the fragility.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      This reminds me of a constant irritation I had in school when taking notes. If I took them, I didn’t need them, because I remembered whatever I wrote down. But if I didn’t take them, I couldn’t remember the lecture.

      It’s worth considering that a lot of software testing is like that – the act of writing the test forces you to think about the design of the primary program well enough that it doesn’t develop the bugs your test is designed to catch. Also, consider whether you’ve ever modified the original program in the process of writing the tests – a sign that test writing is catching bugs before they even manifest.

      Meanwhile, unit tests can be useful if the software is being modified by multiple developers, who aren’t all aware of the intended design of each part of the program. That suggests that the way to write unit tests is to assign them to someone who didn’t write the original program, and is trying to follow the spec instead (or guessing at the spec, as is often the case).

      Finally, I find unit tests are useful for unusually dense code that will become a core for many parts of the rest of the program, such as grammar parsers, or physics engines for games.

    • Gobbobobble says:

      Even poorly organized (e.g. mock-all-the-things) unit tests are one tool to get working code out of bad programmers. A lot of the business logic is tautological if you go mock-heavy, but it will catch NPEs and the like. So you tell your overseas sweatshop consultants to meet code coverage thresholds in order to spend a little less time cleaning up after them.

      There are also useful things that can be done with unit tests by people doing them well. Unfortunately most companies that mandate unit tests are just following the “certify you’ve tested this at all” criteria and little effort is expended to have them signal anything more than that bare minimum.

      • ” it will catch NPEs and the like”

        Maybe on a non-compiled or dynamically typed language, but that’s a whole different rant. In a statically typed, compiled language created using a modern IDE, I don’t see how an NPE gets passed the IDE/compiler but gets caught by a mock-only test. I was serious when I said that every line in a function under test apart from “}” will feature an object being mocked, and these were written for a statically typed, compiled language. This kind of function isn’t hitting memory outside that possessed by the mocks, so how will it get an NPE? Maybe it will detect infinite loops, though modern IDEs are usually pretty good at that too.

        “So you tell your overseas sweatshop consultants to meet code coverage thresholds in order to spend a little less time cleaning up after them.”

        How do you know you won’t get machine-generated unit tests? Which you will IMO deserve. It’s my hope that machine-generated unit tests will solve this problem. Ultimately I think it’s an example of the politician’s syllogism:

        1. We’re getting low-quality code from these consultants, something must be done.
        2. Making them meet code coverage standards is something.
        3. Therefore, making them meet code coverage standards must be done.

    • Three Year Lurker says:

      Unit tests catch numerous typo-level mistakes in my code whenever I refactor or rewrite some large chunk, the same way a compiler catches syntax errors.

      I view them as a way of proving that some area of code has the behavior I think it has.
      They also serve as a record of all the things the program should be capable of doing, or edge cases it needs to cover. If some innocuous change breaks an edge case, manual testing is less likely to catch that than automated unit tests.

      Sounds like your unit tests are too small scale to be useful. If you have a function for adding two numbers, writing a unit test is a waste because of course adding numbers works.

    • brad says:

      Write tests. Not too many. Mostly integration.

    • DarkTigger says:

      Maybe I’m the one of those who hasn’t grasped the purpose of unit tests, but shouldn’t a unit test only fail, when something unexpected changed at the interfaces of the tested object?
      So the main benefit of unit test shouldn’t be that they find bugs, but that one can change on part of the code while beeing sure that no other part that depends on it, need to change too.

      So if my understanding is right, your tests either do not test the right things, or they tell you what they should tell you (that your change will have affects on depending functionallity).

      • Murphy says:

        A lot of tests are poorly designed.

        A lot of systems are not as agnostic to what they interact with as the ideal.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        [S]houldn’t a unit test only fail, when something unexpected changed at the interfaces of the tested object?

        They can fail if someone changes the underlying implementation of production code. But yes, the only way you’ll know is if that code returns an unexpected answer – which is the only time you’re supposed to have to know (assuming your code coverage is complete).

      • “Maybe I’m the one of those who hasn’t grasped the purpose of unit tests, but shouldn’t a unit test only fail, when something unexpected changed at the interfaces of the tested object?So the main benefit of unit test shouldn’t be that they find bugs, but that one can change on part of the code while beeing sure that no other part that depends on it, need to change too.”

        That’s what I’m saying, the test would fail (i.e. find a bug) if you make a change like that. But in my case it almost never happened since mocking abuse meant the other functions calling it were not actually calling it, it they were calling a mock of it. So long as you didn’t rename the function,(which the compiler would detect and tell you there’s a problem before the test even ran) you could do anything you wanted to the inside of the function with certainly that unit tests of other classes that called that function wouldn’t ever notice a difference.(And yes, I heard “you’re supposed to do that,” but if that’s the case, you can’t cite this as an advantage of unit testing.)

    • Murphy says:

      In an old job of mine, they were a somewhat conservative bunch who hadn’t got around to using mocking much or continuous integration.

      So they had the nightly build and for quite a while I had the task of looking at failed builds and failed unit tests and tracking down the root cause of a failed set of tests.

      And I think that the clumsier, slower, less elegant type of tests caught a hell of a lot of bugs. Sometimes tests would fail because of the knock on effect of something on the other side of the codebase.

      And it wouldn’t have been picked up with mocking.

      The tests were slow and cumbersome and there were a few which failed the day before and after daylight saving times switches…. but those actually worked pretty well in general.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        I think that the clumsier, slower, less elegant type of tests caught a hell of a lot of bugs. Sometimes tests would fail because of the knock on effect of something on the other side of the codebase.

        The downside of slow, cumbersome tests is that it grows increasingly hard to tell over time whether the code it tests has a bug, or if the test itself is buggy. If a test failure leads to a day-long bughunt just to verify whether the bug is in production, you’re arguably better off not having that test. (Of course, you’re much better off with smaller, simpler tests that obviously can’t fail unless the production code is buggy.)

        Those slow tests might be the fastest way to find something wrong with legacy code that has never had a test suite written against it, but in that case, the goal isn’t supposed to be to find something wrong, but to find everything that is wrong.

        I’m reminded of projects I was on in which most of the code was developed long before there were efficient test frameworks, and we’d bite the bullet and create all those tests… and uncover literally hundreds of bugs. We’d then triage and prioritize them, and gradually bite away at the problem until only the toughest bugs remained. Often, the solution there was to retire the associated production code blocks, that hadn’t been in use for years.

        • Murphy says:

          Yes, sometimes they were a pain to diagnose… but if they’d just mocked up all their interfaces the changes which caused the failure would have made it into production and caused problems for clients that took a lot longer to diagnose than the few hours I had to sink in.

          And most of the time the failure causes were easier to diagnose.

          The drive for elegance is seductive but not always well aligned with the drive for a good working product.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            It’s not mere elegance I’ve driving for. Consider the case where they mock up all their interfaces, the test fails, and after several days of testing, they trace the bug… to the mockup. (I’ve had this happen.)

            Meanwhile, the customer is either banging on the door asking when the release will finally come, or worse, opts not to renew the license next year.

            Naturally, I’ll never say mockups are never good. They’re just… tricky. Sometimes.

            I had one test where the failure happened because the mockup returned the same value every time, and the coders “coded to the mockup”. I had another where the mockup smartly returned random values, including some it shouldn’t have been returning. For extra hilarity, those random values are handled without issue, unless they interact with random values from a wholly different part of the program.

            Then there’s the time I tested two collection objects containing immutable data, that had the same information, and yet were failing an equals() check in Java. It took an entire day of very intense staring and hair loss before discovering that one of them had a member with one field that had been constructed normally, while the other member’s one field had been deserialized, and the equals() method had an == buried inside that looked 100% correct to the inexperienced eye.

            So, yeah, OP: three potential pitfalls to keep in mind.

    • DinoNerd says:

      Testing is one of those areas that is regularly done badly. It’s lower status and lower pay than developing, and so the more skillful the software engineer, the less of it they do. And this includes test development.

      Where I work, we’re cursed with a testing framework designed only for certain types of software, and useless for other types. (IIRC, it’s at its best if your code lives in a library, that can be linked from a test process.) The powers that be have decreed that we will use it for all automated pre-submission testing, and we will have pre-submission tests. This has had all the usual results; I’m so far still producing excuses instead of tests, and hope to keep doing so until the mandate gets out of the list of “top 5 things management cares about”, which it inevitably will.

      In other jobs, I’ve dealt with masses of totally undocumented tests, which “failed” in various random ways. This set of managers cared about code coverage metrics, so deleting the bad tests was rarely an option – instead, we had a long long list of tests whose results should be ignored, unless they caused a crash rather than merely a “failure” report. And the tests themselves were commonly created by contractors, in a situation with strong rules about renewing their contracts lest they be legally deemed “employees”.

      I believe that good unit testing is possible, but only happens when a conscientious and highly talented young engineer writes the tests. Unfortunately, this engineer will soon be promoted out of the test writing zone, and/or realize that doing testing well will doom them to low salary and low status forever. (This is why I specified “young” :-()

      They also need enough control over their environment to make good engineering decisions. This means good software boundaries (you can’t test a disorganized mess in any detail), and a lack of stupid (but required) test infrastructure and/or stupid management rules.

      They also need to be able to decide what constitues a “unit”, for purposes of unit testing. Get that wrong – and most do – and everything else is wrong too.

      • thevoiceofthevoid says:

        Yikes, having managers who didn’t care whether your tests passed as long as they satisfied the coverage metrics…that sounds pretty close to peak Goodhart.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        I’ve dealt with masses of totally undocumented tests, which “failed” in various random ways. This set of managers cared about code coverage metrics, so deleting the bad tests was rarely an option – instead, we had a long long list of tests whose results should be ignored, unless they caused a crash rather than merely a “failure” report.

        My gut instinct is that the code coverage incentive is correct, and what’s broken is incomplete coverage in the specification. No one’s documented what module is supposed to return on some esoteric input from that test everyone wants to delete, because no one has a firm idea of what should be correct. And the only thing lower status than writing tests is writing documentation, so that test just languishes there like a heat stroke victim.

        • johan_larson says:

          Code that is not used outside of the organization is almost never documented. No one takes the time, because all the users are typically within shouting distance of each other.

          What might be possible by conscientious engineers and meticulous managers is making sure design documents, a) are stored in a well known location, and b) are updated to reflect any changes that happened after implementation and testing was complete. Having that available helps later engineers who are trying to understand why the code was written a certain way, after the original coders are gone.

      • Viliam says:

        I believe that good unit testing is possible, but only happens when a conscientious and highly talented young engineer writes the tests.

        Data point: At my current project, the average age is almost 40. Writing unit tests is considered a part of implementing the functionality; the unit tests are also reviewed during code review. When we talk with managers and estimate a task as taking X days, that means including the tests. Obviously, if we tried to do the tests as a separate task, it would never get sufficient priority to actually happen. Therefore we simply insist that testing is an inseparable part of implementing the task.

        I am not saying that the tests are perfect; I see many opportunities for further improvement. But even as they are now, our project has fewest bugs in the entire company, and everyone notices that. (Unfortunately, some people opine that it means that our project is too simple, so the team should be reduced and some people transferred to help other projects, like the ones that have 10% the functionality but their teams are drowning in bug reports. So far, these voices are not important enough, but I see the writing on the wall…)

        • DinoNerd says:

          That’s an excellent approach. I used that – after a fashion – in my latest project – I specified an “acceptance test” required to pass 100% before checkin.

          Unfortunately, the acceptance test could not be automated by our made-of-fail but mandatory test infrastructure, so I wrote it in a way that wouldn’t have been useful even if it could have been automated, and discarded it once the code was committed to the main repository (actually, after it had been in the product for a month or two with no isues reported).

          In a different managerial environment, I would have tested against a spec, rather than by requiring identical output from the new and old processes (running them in parallel). Then I’d have tests which would continue to be useful. But that wasn’t an option, so I made the choice that was safer in the short term and less so in the long term. (Also, FWIW, my peers/reviewers thought my spec/documentation was overly detailed.)

    • Viliam says:

      A larger project without unit tests usually becomes a maintenance nightmare. Of course, this won’t prevent its authors from insisting that all problems are completely unrelated to the absence of testing. And, in some sense, yeah; each specific bug is caused by some specific mistake. It’s just… so predictable from outside.

      (But there are all kinds of perverse incentives in the industry. If your project is full of bugs, you may be perceived as hard-working, especially if you sometimes work overtime to fix them. On the other hand, if your project works flawlessly, it tempts managers to think that it is too easy and overstaffed. Just saying that making better software is not necessarily the best strategy.)

      There are ways to ruin good ideas by insisting on doing them especially in the situations where they don’t make sense. Just like it’s often a waste of time to document getters and setters, the same is true about testing them. Resources are limited, prioritize.

      Some people make holy wars around unit testing vs integration testing. I’d say both of them have their role. An integration test shows that everything works together, which is good to know. But it takes a lot of time, especially when you have many of them; also they probably have a lot of overlap. Unit tests are faster, so you feel comfortable with writing and running lot of them; but if you don’t have full coverage, there is always a chance that all unit tests will run correctly, but the application won’t. Maybe you should run the unit tests at each commit, and the integration tests either nightly or once in a week; depending on how many there are; which should depend on the size of the project.

      You can also have a holy war about mocks vs simplified implementations. Specifically with database functionality, there are arguments for having a separate test database. My recommendation is that you should have a large database (if possible, an anonymized recent copy of the production database) for integration tests, which could simultaneously serve as performance tests; but you should have either a small database or mocks for unit testing. Unit testing on large database (initialized before each test?) will make testing very slow, which will make you less likely to run tests often. On the other hand, an integration test on a database that is orders of magnitude smaller than production can run well, only to find later that the production crashes because of timeouts or memory overflow.

      But just because people don’t agree on exact details of automatic testing, it doesn’t mean that “automated testing, yes or no” is open to debate. No automated testing implies lots of bugs, especially if multiple people work on the same project, and the requirements keep changing.

      I wrote some complicated code, like functions recursively calling each other (in the most extreme case: functions recursively calling each other, which returned functions recursively calling each other), where no matter how much I read the code and it seems okay, I wouldn’t put high certainty on it actually working correctly. But if I have a unit test where I run the algorithm on some real-life data (a big messy structure, not written by me) and compare the outcome with the previously stored outcome that I verified by hand, plus I run it on dozen different simple examples written by me, and everything works okay; then yes, the combination of the code + tests makes me comfortable.

      On the opposite side, I worked on a project that had spaghetti code and no automated testing. Trivial changes took weeks and everyone was paranoid, because you could never be sure that you didn’t accidentally ruin some important functionality. An example of such trivial change: in alphabetical sorting of a table, make the null value appear… I don’t remember whether first or last… but it was the opposite of what it was previously. Took more time than the previously mentioned recursive functions.

      When my project depends on someone else’s project, and I hear that the other team doesn’t believe in automated testing, I learned to expect the worst. I usually spend more time finding and documenting their bugs than developing my own code. It is possible for a project to be full of bugs even if it’s used in production for years. You simply call the endpoints in a different order than the previous users (including the testers) did, and the whole thing crashes. Or you call an endpoint that was implemented but the other users didn’t need it… only to find out that it e.g. generates an JSON or XML file that is not even syntactically valid JSON or XML. Things like this simply cannot happen if you have an automated test that calls the endpoint even with extremely simple values and verifies the result.

    • sidereal says:

      I mainly write research oriented throwaway code, so I don’t have some strict QA demands. I don’t worry about line-by-line coverage as much as functional coverage, but in general unit tests are helpful for sanity checking new commits, just to make sure I didn’t break something. And continuous integration does help keep multiple developers on the same page.

  4. johan_larson says:

    Let’s talk about another weird Magic card, Inverter of Truth from the Oath of the Gatewatch set.

    2BB gets you a 6/6 flying creature, and this special effect:

    When Inverter of Truth enters the battlefield, exile all cards from your library face down, then shuffle all cards from your graveyard into your library.

    If you play this card early, you get a fairly powerful creature, and a lot of information about what cards you’ll be drawing in the near future. But because you probably only had a handful of cards in your graveyard, time is very short because you’ve pretty much milled yourself out. That doesn’t sound like a good deal. At best it’s a high-risk strategy.

    I guess the other way to use this card is if the game is running long and you’re just about out of cards. You turn your graveyard into your library, and you can keep playing. It’s defense against a mill deck. That seems more plausible, at least for a sideboard card.

    • Kindly says:

      Combo deck with Jace, Wielder of Mysteries?

    • mendax says:

      It seems unlikely as a sideboard against mill. There are better effects to protect against that, and mill is rarely played or effective.

      A deck that wants to play a 6/6 flyer for 4 cmc is not a deck that wants games to go long.
      One might play it along with self-mill, in order to get more cards in the yard, or more front-loaded offensive cards that, if re-drawn, could help make that final lunge before your new deck runs out. Seems tricky.

      Cool, but not as cool as T2 Dauthi Slayer, T3 Dark Ritual + Hatred paying 18 life

    • Anaxagoras says:

      It was one of my favorite cards in Oath of the Gatewatch (a set that had a lot of cool components, but was less than the sum of its parts). It’s a distinctive effect, though not an unprecedented one — see Morality Shift or Paradigm Shift — and it can be used to set your deck to a handy controlled set of cards. In practice, however, those combos tend to be hard to pull off, and worse than Doomsday or reanimator.

      That Inverter of Truth is a well-statted creature is nice, and does make it easier to work with than the other types that produce similar effects, but that’s not enough. Playing it fairly, as an overstatted flying beater that gives you a clock to end the game, also doesn’t cut it outside of limited, and indeed, in plenty of constructed formats, a 6/6 flyer for 4 isn’t good enough.

      My favorite thing about it is the art, actually. I love how it’s turning the clouds themselves into bismuth, and the strange structure of the creature itself.

      • Tarpitz says:

        My vague memory is that it wasn’t even good in limited, actually. I think it requires a good Doomsday-style deck in a format where Doomsday isn’t legal to be good – and to the best of my knowledge Doomsday-style decks have never yet been good in any format.

        But yes, it’s a janky combo piece that has no current or likely future competitive applications.

        • semioldguy says:

          I mean Doomsday decks (that actually center around the card Doomsday) have certainly been good before. It’s absolutely viable in Legacy, though not top tier today, and I have played a Doomsday deck to decent success in the past. There was also a time when it was quite strong in Vintage/Type I.

          The problem with Inverter of Truth is that there are too many hoops to jump through to set up your ideal deck, and the creature itself can’t reliably secure a win. Doomsday itself lets you handpick the exact cards you need to win without having to manipulate them to a certain area first. If you were going to get a collection of cards into your graveyard that could win you the game, casting something like Yawgmoth’s Will is almost always just a better option than trying to shuffle those cards back into your deck. And if you want to get cards from your library into your graveyard there are much more efficient/competitive ways of doing that as well.

          • johan_larson says:

            In Oath of the Gatewatch limited, if you got this creature, how would you build around it, and when would you hope to play it?

          • semioldguy says:

            Having it in Limited I would be more likely to trade units with my opponent and would probably favor an aggressive strategy. I would also likely wait to cast it until after I had cast most of my other cards in hand and/or I was either (1) behind enough and had no choice, (2) my opponent has played most or all of the cards in his hand so as to be least likely to answer it, or (3) had built up a graveyard of seven or so cards, as long as they would be enough to maintain or gain an advantage to win. Most games don’t last dozens of turns, so an extra seven or so turns is usually more than enough time to win safely, especially if you know you’ll always draw something mostly-relevant and not a bunch of lands.

          • Tarpitz says:

            I would put it in my sideboard and leave it there.

    • sidereal says:

      Straight mill is almost never a viable strategy, and if it is, there often are more potent sideboard options.

      On the surface it could fit in a suicide zoo deck, (a la phyrexian obliterator). Or possibly as some sort of combo enabler, but in that role it’s quite clunky. More likely just another irrelevant rare.

    • moonfirestorm says:

      All remarks should be taken as applying to Constructed: I do not feel qualified to comment on Limited.

      It’s part of a long-standing tradition of overpowered creatures with various drawbacks (Eater of Days, Abyssal Persecutor). It’s likely a callback to Leveler, which was a 5-mana 10/10 that exiled your library with no shuffle effect. Typically the idea is to just bypass the drawback somehow (Torpor Orb and similar to make it not trigger, manifest it so it doesn’t ETB with any abilities, maybe Stifle the trigger). A 4-mana 6/6 isn’t much of a payoff, but you also have a few turns to survive, especially late-game when you have a fair number of cards in your graveyard. It’s not a very good card though, and unless you’re building a specific deck around it, it’s likely not going to be used.

      It’s more interesting to think of it in terms of the references it makes: Wizards really likes to print inter-block interactions, and I think that’s what they were doing here.
      – The block prior to Oath of the Gatewatch was Khans of Tarkir block, which introduced the manifest mechanic. If you manifest Inverter of Truth, you can use its stats without suffering the drawback, as it will already be on the battlefield by the time it’s face-up and gains its ETB trigger.
      – Oath of the Gatewatch itself tied Eldrazi to exiling cards from your opponent’s library, and then putting those exiled cards back into the graveyard in exchange for effects (see Blight Herder for an example of this). This actually makes Inverter of Truth worse, as you’re turning on all of these sort of cards.
      – The block after Oath of the Gatewatch was Shadows over Innistrad, which had a focus on self-mill and having a well-stocked graveyard (see the Delirium mechanic, and stuff like Shards of Broken Glass). Inverter is far more playable if you’re expecting to have milled 20ish of your own cards into your graveyard.
      – Inverter of Truth is a callback to the legendary Eldrazi from the original Rise of the Eldrazi set, which would shuffle your graveyard back into your library when put into the graveyard from anywhere. Inverter has a significantly less powerful version of the effect.

      This is not a good defense against mill: it’s a dead card until mill is about to win, and then just makes them have to do it again. It’s like gaining 10 life against an aggro deck: ok yeah you aren’t dead right now, but you haven’t solved the underlying problem. If you’re going to do something like that you need something like Gaea’s Blessing or the aforementioned Eldrazi where they are completely incapable of winning until they deal with it. Far better is to attack mill at its weaknesses, namely that they aren’t actually interacting with the board.

  5. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Anyone want to try to unpack this Buzzfeed article?
    It seems to be saying “Hillary Clinton is dim/incapable of learning, but Tulsi Gabbard really is a witch (maybe Andrew Yang too).”

    • cassander says:

      During the 2016 US presidential election, international troll armies, misogynist incels, neofascists, and white nationalists all learned how to do the same thing — infiltrate poorly moderated social networks to seed propaganda.

      Gabbard, though, is the perfect candidate for political bad actors to weaponize. She has spent most of her political career defending policies that line up with the interests of extremist groups and dictators. Her unusual political background is perfect for extremists looking to paint her as a covert Republican — or worse.

      The ability of the left to imagine themselves as plucky underdogs battling a vast tide of reaction never ceases to amaze me.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        The ability of the left to imagine themselves as plucky underdogs battling a vast tide of reaction never ceases to amaze me.

        I think the most revealing thing is their obsession with 4chan becoming “a white nationalist message board.” That’s a huge misunderstanding of heretics (Outgroup Homogeneity Bias). 4chan has moderators, and when they’re doing their job, /pol/ is a containment board. The ideal is a classical liberal one of free speech with time and place restrictions: you have the right to talk about being a white supremacist or My Little Pony fan, but in a restricted place to minimize disrupting everyone that bothers. If the mods are asleep, some people post ponies or say racial slurs for the lulz.
        But even if it’s true, why do leftists think that an anonymous board for posting anime images would become the primary place for expressing racism and other heresy, unless IdPol leftists control civil society and can get you fired, etc.?

        • mdet says:

          The people I know who frequent /pol/ and similar forums don’t exactly keep that content contained to the forum. Within the context of 4chan, /pol/ might act as a quarantine, but in the context of society at large, it might do more to normalize “edgy” content. I can’t say with confidence that it does, but it makes sense that it could.

          As for the second point — the Klan managed to get away with a huge amount of harm even while feeling a need to wear hoods.

        • DarkTigger says:

          4chan regularly floods twitter or other social media, with their bullshit.
          Journalists spend a lot of time on twitter and other social media (a lot more than the average member of the public does), therefor journalists get a lot of exposure to the more concentrated kind of 4chan-bullshit.

          • Aftagley says:

            Also, this specific journalist’s whole beat is the nexus between the weirder parts of the internet and real life.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        It’s easier to understand if you remember that there are a lot of journalists, and they’re all taking turns.

      • Aapje says:

        @cassander

        infiltrate poorly moderated social networks to seed propaganda.

        Of course, “seed propaganda” is just code for people speaking their mind, so this is a call for censorship.

      • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

        Bad comment.

        right – underdogs? – scotus – senate – um president – lol!

    • C_B says:

      I read it as saying, “Tulsi Gabbard is a witch, but she’s clearly an authentic, American-grown witch. Opportunistic foreign interests are taking advantage of her witchery by signal-boosting her, but there’s no reason to believe she’s directly involved in these campaigns. By suggesting otherwise (accusing her of being an actual, compromised foreign agent), Hillary Clinton is both wrong, and hurting her own cause by crying wolf, lowering the left’s credibility when crying foul on things that are actual Russian interference in the future.”

      This seems like a pretty reasonable take if you believe Gabbard is wrong about everything but not a Russian spy.

      • albatross11 says:

        I think “Russian asset” is what you call your opponents when you want to smear them, but you don’t think anyone will buy “white supremacist” or “alt-right” or “literally a Nazi.”

        • Nick says:

          House Democrats should form a committee to determine who is and isn’t a Russian asset. I’m sure this will never go wrong.

          • Erusian says:

            Sometimes I do think that the days of the HUAC were better in that it was at least all out in the open. Whether you think it’s the Democrats or Republicans who need a “Have you no shame?” speech, they’re unlikely to get it without an institution to rally against.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Don’t forget that HUAC was a communist plot.

        • Dan L says:

          It’d be nice if more journos wrote articles pushing back on that, wouldn’t it?

          EDIT to walk back the snark, but I don’t see how this comment does anything but reinforce shitty takes. If Buzzfeed is reliably trash – a proposition that probably deserves caveats but not defenses – then this thread is demonstrating discourse one level below that.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        This seems like a pretty reasonable take if you believe Gabbard is wrong about everything but not a Russian spy.

        So basically, the author’s taking it for granted that 2019 orthodoxy is right, and Hillary is hurting that cause by saying crazy, outdated things about Manchurian candidates.

        • C_B says:

          Sounds about right to me, yep. Are…are we surprised that Buzzfeed is on the woke train here? I thought that was mostly a given.

          • Dan L says:

            Perhaps ironically, distinguishing between performative outrage and epistemic failure is itself an anti-inductive problem.

    • albatross11 says:

      P(waste of time | Buzzfeed article) is pretty high. But if I want to get a relatively quick understanding of what Tulsi Gabbard’s actual beliefs/proposals/history are, where should I look? Any suggestions?

    • viVI_IViv says:

      She’s a witch but the Russian incel bots weaponize her without her knowing.

  6. DragonMilk says:

    So the Supreme court is hearing out the funeral home case, where I’m being voxplained that the owner cited dress code of suit and tie when a guy announced he was going to be a girl going forward. Interestingly, the right wing is joined by radical feminists who I thought were completely ostracized in the last five years since the New Yorker came out with their primer.

    Apparently “TERFs” are the dominant in the UK, though. Which got me wondering, in your country (please specify), do feminists tend to include men who say they’re women, or take the stance that is now un-PC in the US that only those born women can know the actual experience of womanhood, oppose the patriarchy, etc.?

    • albatross11 says:

      It’s striking how often a chunk of the media become the internal communications of a political/social movement, and then hijack it in various ways. It seemed to me that exactly this happened with the Tea Party, to our enduring cost.

      There’s not an obvious reason anyone should decide who is or isn’t part of their movement, or what their movement should believe, based on the opinions of the folks with the megaphones. But it very often works out that the megaphone owners do, in fact, end up determining that stuff.

    • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

      Feminists tend to include all sorts of people, but they are part of ideological family that requires a hierarchy of whose feelings are more important. There’s definitely losers on this hierarchy, but no winner is undisputed.

      • Aapje says:

        Of course, people typically want themselves to be the winner, although some do this very subtly, by declaring other groups to be more important than themselves, but then giving the megaphone only to those members of these groups who are very much alike themselves.

    • Murphy says:

      In the UK there seems to be a fair bit of conflict.

      A lot of it seems to be inter-generational with many older, more conservative feminists not being all that keen on trans people, viewing FtM as traitors and MtF as imposters trying to steal into female spaces.

      The right wing and the TERF/Rad feminists seem to share a significant overlap with right wing twitter reposting the same anti-trans memes etc.

      • Aapje says:

        viewing MtF as traitors and FtM as imposters trying to steal into female spaces.

        I think that you mixed those up.

        The right wing and the TERF/Rad feminists seem to share a significant overlap with right wing twitter reposting the same anti-trans memes etc.

        On both sides there is the idea that these are not real women, although the TERFs seem to at least theoretically blame irreversible gender enculturation, while conservatives argue that biological men and women are mentally different due to biology.

        • Murphy says:

          I think that you mixed those up.

          Yes, yes I did. Cheers

          Edited.

          On both sides there is the idea that these are not real women

          At least in the memes, there’s also the shared obsession with the idea of trans people attacking and raping girls in changing rooms or similar.

          They seem to re-tweet the same uncited, un-sourced stories of innocent helpless little girls being forced by the evil oppressive school system to endure big hairy people with 12 inch penises masturbating while staring at them in the womens changing rooms.

          • Aapje says:

            At least in the memes, there’s also the shared obsession with the idea of trans people attacking and raping girls in changing rooms or similar.

            One of the strongest beliefs about male/female differences, including among feminists who believe in zero biological differences, who typically seem to not want to even entertain the possibility that this difference is not true, seems to be that men are way, way more likely to use (sexual) violence than women.

            I feel for TERFs (a bit), because they actually seem to be less hypocritical than the feminists who also strongly believe in encultured toxic masculinity, but who either believe that transitioning makes this magically go away or that women should not be protected from transfemale violence like they should be protected from male violence, because trans people are more oppressed.

            PS. The scientific evidence is pretty strong that the difference is far, far less than people typically seem to believe.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            At least in the memes, there’s also the shared obsession with the idea of trans people attacking and raping girls in changing rooms or similar.

            The “obsession” is not about trans people, it’s about people pretending to be trans in order to access female spaces. Specially that you can live your entire life as not trans, and then become trans the day you’re sentenced to jail for whatever crime.

          • Aapje says:

            @jermo sapiens

            That is a conservative view, the TERF view is more that these people may be honestly trans, but are still encultured with rape culture or such.

            What these share is more or less what Murphy describes: that if you allow those who identify as a woman but used to be a man into female spaces, sexual assaults will happen.

    • jermo sapiens says:

      My country = Canada.

      There is currently a struggle between feminists who accept M2F as women and those who do not. Meghan Murphy, banned from twitter for tweeting “men aren’t women”, is scheduled to speak at the Toronto Public Library, and this is causing quite an uproar, with Toronto Mayor (ironically named) John Tory publicly chiding the library for letting this feminist speak. The TPL also held a public meeting where various activists came in to explain how allowing this woman to speak was very detrimental to their well-being.

      The label of feminism is a useful one politically and will be fought over by both sides.

      This is happening as an M2F Canadian cyclist just won the world championship in some type of sprinting race, which reignited the debate over transgender athletes, where M2F win a remarkable number of professional competitions, and F2M dont even participate in professional M sports.

      • albatross11 says:

        Yeah, letting M2F trans athletes compete in the womens’ division basically means that the cis women get blown off the field. I think 14-year-old boys soccer teams pretty commonly beat national womens’ teams. Testosterone is a helluva drug, even more popular than lots of people with megaphones imposing the social truth that women and men are biologically the same, testosterone doesn’t matter for sporting performance, etc.

        • Statismagician says:

          I’m curious, is anybody actually making the claim that testosterone doesn’t matter for athletics, or is it more of a ‘pay no attention to the hormone behind the curtain’ sort of thing?

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            I believe the claim is MtF competitors have testosterone within acceptable limits, so that’s okay.

            (How “acceptable limits” relate to actual testosterone levels found in typical men and women is a different story altogether.)

          • Statismagician says:

            Yeah, that doesn’t fill me with confidence. I’m not a biologist, but surely the presence or absence of (high levels of) testosterone during development has a lasting effect on athletic ability (however measured), regardless of current sex? It’s not as though all the extra muscle would just disappear after transtition, unless I’m badly mistaken. And the sorts of MtF people who’d then go on to compete at a high level are exactly who I’d expect to maintain their training regimens.

          • DarkTigger says:

            @Statismagician
            Well, I regularly stumble on people that claim sex (as in the biological thing) makes no difference on athletic abilities, but gender (as in cultural norms) is responsible for all differences.
            So a XX-Chromosom carrier would be able to reach the same athletic level as a XY-Chromsom carrier if they would be treated “really equally” from birth.

          • albatross11 says:

            DarkTigger:

            I see that stuff every now and then, too. It’s so obviously nonsense that I’m amazed anyone can be made to believe it, but somehow, people can get published in serious outlets and can even get books published on the theme. It’s falsified by opening your eyes and interacting with humans for a couple weeks, or more thoroughly by looking at data from track-and-field, sporting contests (the U14 boys defeating the womens’ national soccer team), or various experiments.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I think I’ve also seen a claim that athletic performance doesn’t have that strong a correlation with testosterone.

          • DarkTigger says:

            @albatross11
            You just have to have enough of a true scottsman version of “really equal”.
            You know stuff like, girls are not expected to be strong and atheletic at age 3, and boys are, and this leads to long time effects, and get told to eat differently etc.
            Which just might be possible.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            The male human body seems to vary by both testosterone production and sensitivity, so a man can have high testosterone and yet poor athletic performance or mediocre testosterone and great performance.

            I suspect that these are more or less inversely correlated, where high-T men tend to have lower sensitivity and vice versa, with the very best athletes having a bit of a defect in their tuning.

            A common argument in favor of legalizing doping is that it evens the playing field, while a common argument against is that doing so would result in different winners: top responders. In the case of testosterone, these are presumably people with very low natural production and very high sensitivity.

            It is fairly obvious that giving people testosterone helps a lot, as Eastern European women had enormous success when using it, where the records set during that period had to be scrapped to give cleaner athletes a chance to set new athletic records.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I can’t figure out what sports are trying to optimize for. The answer might be that they’re trying to optimize for interesting contests while pretending that that they’re rewarding personal qualities.

            Why aren’t athletes required to use standardized equipment? Instead, they’re rewarded for being on a side which (for various reasons) has access to better equipment.

          • acymetric says:

            That’s only really true for some sports, and not for what tend to be the more popular ones. Most sports that do rely on equipment (say, baseball) have restrictions so everyone is more or less operating with the same equipment or at least similar within a range of limits.

            Do you have an example of a sport where this legitimately is the case?

          • AlphaGamma says:

            @acymetric: Some forms of motor racing (though there are spec series) and perhaps also cycling and skiing.

            Swimming in the skinsuit era.

            And it’s hit the news again because of the shoes that Kipchoge and Kosgei used in their recent high-profile marathon runs.

            But it’s true that, as you say, in the most high profile sports (except of course Formula 1), the same equipment used by top-level athletes is available to amateurs and affordable to ordinary people in the Western world.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            acymetric, I think you have a point that this is mostly less popular sports– presumably football teams can spend well beyond the point of diminishing returns on their shoes.

            There can be significant equipment differences on an international level.

            https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-lacrosse-team-buys-cleatless-kenyans-new-shoes/

          • Aapje says:

            Formula 1 greatly restricts the freedom to develop the car. It’s not spec, but very far from unrestricted.

            Road cycling recently banned any clothing that changes the body shape more than a little. There are also lots of restrictions on the bikes (road legal vs triathlon legal is a thing).

      • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

        where M2F win a remarkable number of professional competitions

        Do they? Name three athletes who have done so.

        F2M dont even participate in professional M sports

        Not true. Chris Mosier was on the US duathlon team (meaning that to date only trans men and not trans women have been represented the US in any sport). Also, Schuyler Bailar swims for Harvard.

        • jermo sapiens says:

          1

          2, 3

          4

          5

          Ok that’s enough googling for now.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            Ah yes, the infamously professional “Connecticut state HS track championships”. And Fallon Fox has never won a “professional competition”. That leaves you with two, one of whom is the cyclist you mentioned before. I struggle to call that a “remarkable number”.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            I believe my point stands, regardless of whether I was a little bit too hyperbolic in writing the words “remarkable” and “professional”.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            Stands how exactly? As far as I can tell, the remainder of your point is “more than zero trans women have won competitions”, given that the claims that trans women winning is remarkably frequent and that trans men never play professional sports are demonstrably false.

            In fact, the evidence seems to suggest that trans women are heavily *underrepresented* in sport! Even if we take a low estimate of 0.1% of women being trans and generously assume you’d manage to find 10 examples, I’m pretty sure there are considerably more than 10,000 women who have won professional sports competitions in the world.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            My point is that M2F have an unfair advantage in sports when they compete against women.

            As having M2F even competing against women is a relatively new phenomenon, I wouldnt expect to find 100s and 100s of examples. But I would expect to see more and more cases of M2F dominating competitions, and this has been the case the last few years.

            As for the percentage of trans people having a low estimate of 0.1%, I recall seeing a figure a few years ago of 0.03% of genpop being trans, which was disputed by trans activists because many are in the closet. While the trans activists have a point, who knows what proportion are in the closet. 67% of trans people being in the closet, corresponding to your low estimate of 0.1%, seems high. And obviously, if you’re in the closet, you’re not competing in women’s sports.

          • Statismagician says:

            @jermo_sapiens – I think that’s a bad figure; IIRC a decent-methodology BRFSS study in 2016 found more like 0.35%. The 0.03% was, again IIRC, from a questionable UC Berkeley look at the topic.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            IIRC a decent-methodology BRFSS study in 2016 found more like 0.35%. The 0.03% was, again IIRC, from a questionable UC Berkeley look at the topic.

            Duly noted. Thanks.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            I was basing the proportion off the figure of 0.5% for trans people in general I found from quick Google. I’d expect the figure for trans women to be somewhat higher, as I believe they are more common than trans men. Plus you would expect it to be higher still in the relevance reference pool of relatively young women.

            My point is that M2F have an unfair advantage in sports when they compete against women.

            OK, but that didn’t appear in your original comment at all, so you can understand why I was confused.

            I would expect to see more and more cases of M2F dominating competitions, and this has been the case the last few years

            According to who exactly? Certainly not the two examples you provided. Given that I provided two examples of F2M athletes, you could equally say that trans men have been dominating competitions which would obviously be somewhat problematic for your theory about the importance of assigned sex at birth.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Given that I provided two examples of F2M athletes, you could equally say that trans men have been dominating competitions which would obviously be somewhat problematic for your theory about the importance of assigned sex at birth.

            You mean sex observed at birth.

            I’m looking for results for Mosier, pre and post-transition, but I’m having a hard time.

            Does Mosier take testosterone supplements or the something similar?

            My “theory” that men and women have different physical abilities is the basis for all of women’s sports. If you disagree with my “theory”, I’m assuming you would support abolishing the women category altogether?

          • Elementaldex says:

            As a data point which I am unable to produce a source for as I expect one does not exists: Veteran (Age 40+) Women’s fencing in the USA is currently being dominated by a M2F and the other Vet women are ticked about it.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            You mean sex observed at birth.

            Well they mean the same thing, but I can understand if you prefer to use a less common phrase that doesn’t smuggle in the suggestion that sex is arbitrarily assigned.

            Does Mosier take testosterone supplements or the something similar?

            I would assume so, just as trans women (at least, those playing sports) take estrogen supplements.

            My “theory” that men and women have different physical abilities is the basis for all of women’s sports. If you disagree with my “theory”, I’m assuming you would support abolishing the women category altogether?

            I don’t disagree with your theory, and outside of a handful of people who hold the obviously ludicrous belief that gender differences in sport performance are entirely down to culture I don’t think anyone else would. That’s why women’s sports have limits on testosterone levels. The mainstream view that you need to argue against is that the governing bodies that set the relevant regulations do so in a way that is sufficient to give a level playing field, not that cis men and women are exactly the same.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @jermo sapiens

            My “theory” that men and women have different physical abilities is the basis for all of women’s sports.

            To be fair, this is also the basis for leagues in all sports. It’s only for “reasons” that the most elite women competitors in muscle-based sports aren’t sorted into the intermediate men’s leagues, and vice-versa for the flexible-based sports.

  7. mdet says:

    It’s about that time of year, the time when I feel compelled to watch Thriller. Many have called it the greatest music video of all time. And it strikes me that music videos are one art form that I’ve never seen a discussion of on SSC. So — Does anyone still watch music videos in the YouTube era? What makes a good music video? What are some of your favorite videos, past and especially present? Is Thriller truly #1?

    A few qualities that a music video could be evaluated on:
    —Are the musicians themselves in the video? (can sometimes distinguish between videos that are nothing more than a fun promo vs ones that aspire to be more)
    —Is there dancing?
    —Is there a story?
    —Is there a theme or meaning to the video?
    —How closely do the visuals correspond to the music and/or the lyrics?

    • Well... says:

      I don’t usually care about any of the qualities you listed. I think of music videos more as short experimental films that might or might not closely integrate with the music itself. I’m looking for cool imagery and energy. I tend to like videos more when they’re absurd or surreal but that isn’t a rule. And of course it helps when I at least like the song, but bonus points if I really like the song. Some of my favorite music videos are:

      – “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails
      – “Rain Will Fall” by I Mother Earth
      – “Karma Police” by Radiohead
      – “Heart Shaped Box” by Nirvana
      – “Rubber Johnny” by Aphex Twin
      – “Frozen” by Madonna
      The original video for “Leader of Men” by Nickelback
      – “Gimme Some Mo” by Busta Rhymes
      – “40 Glock” by Donkey

      And there are many other great ones.

      • mdet says:

        I was originally going to make a list of recent vids I liked instead of just picking a favorite, and I included J. Cole’s ATM for it’s homage to Busta Rhyme’s Gimme Some More.

        I also love how absurd & surreal the video for Sicko Mode is. At one point the line “out like a light” is matched with a quick shot of a dancing person with a glowing lightbulb for a head, at another point the camera zooms so far onto Drake’s face it reveals a woman twerking on the edge of his eyelid, there’s a man who gets crushed flat by a meteor, it’s all over the place.

      • mdet says:

        Also, by “visuals corresponding to the music” I wasn’t trying to suggest that the video needs to be a literal interpretation of the song. I was including videos like Take On Me, where the lyrics are irrelevant, but the rhythm, pacing, and “arc” of the video perfectly matches the song itself. Rewatching it, I think even the part with the waitress pulling the pencil from her ear and taking the order, and the wobbling of the ceiling fan later in the video might all be on beat.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      Well, in the “eye candy set to music” department, there’s Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, a-Ha’s Take On Me, and most of the stuff from Weird Al, and OK Go… granted, most of my video watching happened in the 1990s, though.

    • mdet says:

      Possibly my favorite video in recent years is the video for Kendrick Lamar’s Element (Content Warning: Hip Hop). The song itself has Kendrick promising to fight and even kill anyone who gets in his way, while also being sure to “make it look sexy”, but listeners familiar with Kendrick will notice that he raps using the high-pitched voice associated with his deliberately-ignorant, impulsive, “take these lyrics with a grain of salt” persona. The video adds another layer to the song by featuring images of innocent little black boys juxtaposed with images of grown black men fighting and bloodying each other, implicitly criticizing how violence and aggression get associated with manhood. It also creates an intentional dissonance between the images and the lyrics. Does this violence look sexy? On the one hand, yes — each of the slow-mo shots is composed as if it were a painting brought to life. On the other hand, the scenes look more painful than exciting. Good vid.

    • Urstoff says:

      No explicit criterion other than “was it a worthwhile experience over and above listening to the music alone”.

      A few videos come to mind:

      Metallica – The Unforgiven [Theatrical Release]
      Mastodon – The Motherload
      A-ha – Take on Me
      Megadeth – Peace Sells // Twisted Sister – We’re Not Going to Take It [both have delightfully cheesy teen angst directed at dad moments]
      Pantera – 5 Minutes Alone [the classic use of the ‘guitar cam’]
      Refused – New Noise [just very energetic]
      Faith No More – Falling to Pieces [very well could be the most 1990 piece of art in history, even moreso than Ice Ice Baby]
      Ghost – Year Zero [just a good aesthetic for the song, plus nudity]
      Kanye West – Runaway

    • Unsaintly says:

      I very much enjoy music videos in the age of Youtube. I personally classify them into four categories:

      1) Official Music Videos. These are by the artists and officially released by them or their organization
      2) Fan Music Videos. These tend to take clips from TV/movies and set music to them. The sort I see most often are AMVs (anime music videos) because I am an anime nerd. Some AMVs have extremely high production values and feel professional.
      3) Clipshow Music Videos. Similar to Fan Music Videos, but they tend to be a series of fanart still images set to the music. Usually the least interesting of the music videos, but can still be done well.
      4) Animatic Music Videos. These are animated videos drawn by the fans and not using official material. Most of them tend to be sketches rather than full animation, but a few “finished” examples exist.

      My favorite Music Video is Motion City Soundtrack’s LGFUAD, as it does a very good job at conveying the message that may otherwise be missed in the main song.

      There are a lot of great AMVs, and I’d have a hard time picking a favorite. But one that I happened to have seen recently is Greatest Show featuring Revue Starlight

      And an example of a well done Clipshow Music Video is The Stereotype Song

      Finally, a good Animatic is Only Human from the Death Note musical, set to fan animated Good Omens video.

    • Enkidum says:

      One of the best recent videos has to be Nobody Speak by Run The Jewels. The guys do appear in the video, but only in blink-and-you’ll-miss-them moments. There’s definitely a story to the video, but the only relation to the music is that political negotiations can involve a lot of bragging and shit-talking.

      • mdet says:

        I also didn’t mean to suggest that the artist appearing in the music video was bad. What I was trying to get at with my criteria was that there are different styles of music video, or at least, different axes that a music video can be good along.

        Promo video — Mostly a montage of the musician(s) wearing fancy clothes, surrounded by attractive people, doing cool stuff, etc. The goal is to make the musicians look as cool / sexy / fun / rich as possible.

        Dance video — A dance video

        Short story — Narrative that may or may not be related to the literal lyrics

        Message video — Video that tries to communicate some theme or idea, without necessarily having a narrative, like This Is America. Category needs a better name.

        Visual conceit — An interesting visual conceit that the video is based around, like Kanye West’s Power

        Non sequitur — Not really any attempt at anything coherent, just a bunch of stuff that’s interesting to look at while the music’s playing

        The categories are overlapping of course, but each is going to come with its own set of expectations and criteria to be judged on.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Music videos are definitely still current.

      The biggest new artist around, Billie Eilish, has had her popularity fueled in no small part by some very, very interesting music videos. Arguably the biggest current artist, Beyoncé, has also made waves with her music videos within the last few years.

      It’s not the 80s anymore, so videos aren’t quite what they were. But YouTube as a medium arguably makes them just as important as they ever were.

    • EchoChaos says:

      DragonForce’s new video for Razorblade Meltdown is absolutely wonderful.

      Wind Rose’s Diggy Diggy Hole is a favorite of my kids.

    • Glen Raphael says:

      I’m a sucker for stop-motion animation. Two of my favorite music videos involve jellybeans and sleeping people:

      Kina Grannis – In Your Arms (there’s a making of video – they didn’t cheat!)

      Oren Lavie – Her Morning Elegance

      Pomplamoose plays fun projector games – here’s Happy Get Lucky

      Honorable mention: anything by OK Go – their songs all suck but have fabulous visuals. Here’s The One Moment (super-high-speed video) and The Writing’s On The Wall (optical illusions).

    • thevoiceofthevoid says:

      If you like alt-rock in general or They Might Be Giants in particular, https://dialasong.com/ has a nice collection of music videos for their newest songs. (they’re all embedded from their YouTube channel, ParticleMen). I particularly liked the first one, Erase. Very abstract, with rhythmic colors in time with the music. There’s a section of “kinematic typography without the text” in the middle that I found amusing. Throughout the project, they experimented with a wide variety of music video styles. Personally I thought the first D-A-S revival (2015) was somewhat superior to the second (2018), at least with regards to the video quality.

    • Corey says:

      Mostly I like the song then watch the video. We do have a YouTube playlist we pick from each school morning where the kids watch a couple. It’s a mix of popular old-school ones (e.g. Take On Me, Sledgehammer), newish music the kids like (Taylor Swift and such) and juvenile (Narwhals).

      Sometimes the video adds good stuff, like the part of Weird Al’s “Fat” before the song starts. “Yo! Ding-dong! Ding-dong, man! Yo!”

    • Nornagest says:

      “Thriller” is great, but it’s arguably closer to a short musical — it has a lot of content besides the title song.

      Some of my favorite music videos in the last decade or so have been amateur work. A couple of examples:

      ASP, “Krabat” (visuals ripped from an early animated film of the title story).

      The Decemberists, “The Mariner’s Revenge Song”

      And one professionally done one: Ghost, “Square Hammer”. My favorite-ever music video might be Iron Maiden, “Two Minutes to Midnight” (hmm, there’s a theme here), but that’s a fairly early one.

  8. Lambert says:

    Now it’s .25, what’s up with all the weird low-level constitutional crisis stuff being filed in the Court of Session?
    Is Scots Law favourable (considering it’ll end up in the SC eventually anyway).
    It it just that the Scots are remainers overall so their judges are more likely to be in favour of this stuff?

    • AlphaGamma says:

      I think it is differences between Scots and English law- mainly the nobile officium.

      • episcience says:

        This, and also Jo Cherry is an SNP MP.

        Possibly also because the Scottish courts are more sympathetic than the English courts — see the result of the prorogation cases, where despite the Supreme Court saying the law was identical in the two decisions the Court of Session held prorogation to be justiciable and the Divisional Court did not.

  9. Cliff says:

    Can someone explain to me the reason why “blackface” in the sense of say Trudeau coloring his face brown for an Arabian Nights-themed party is racist?

    I’ve read multiple articles purporting to explain this, and every one has said “In the 1910’s there were minstrel shows where white people colored their face black and pretended to be black people in order to mock and stereotype blacks”. I totally get why mocking black people is considered racist, but what does that have to do with dressing up as an Arabian prince or Michael Jackson for a party?

    I considered the possibility that it would “evoke” minstrel shows, but nobody alive has witnessed one, have they?

    • HowardHolmes says:

      but nobody alive has witnessed one, have they?

      For the record, I have been to several. The faculty and administration used to put them on annually as fund raisers for our school. I’ve also drunk at many a “white” drinking fountain. I’m 71 and raised in Texas.

      • Gobbobobble says:

        It’s not exactly your cohort raising hell about it, though

        • Plumber says:

          @Gobbobobble says: “

          It’s not exactly your cohort raising hell about it, though”

          Speaking of who is raising Hell about politicians past wearing of blackface, I found it interesting that when it came to whether Virginia Governor Northram should resign after the yearbook revelation a higher percentage of white Virginian Democrats said yes than black Virginian Democrats.

          My guess for why is that black Democrats are on average older than white Democrats and thus more familiar with and forgiving of the past, but I’m curious about contrary guesses about why.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            My guess for why is that black Democrats are on average older than white Democrats and thus more familiar with and forgiving of the past, but I’m curious about contrary guesses about why.

            My guess is that white Democrats are terrified of appearing to condone any kind of bigotry, while black Democrats can be more honest.

    • Papillon says:

      I wouldn’t spend much time trying to figure out “why” things are offensive; the standard seems to be “does a substantial proportion of the relevant population find it offensive?”. There might be some connection to empirical reality (like the one you mentioned), but ultimately it comes down to feel, like many other social norms (which isn’t a bad thing, to my mind).

      • Radu Floricica says:

        which isn’t a bad thing, to my mind

        I find gay marriage offensive.

        I don’t, btw, but that’s why I believe we should err in favor of being more tolerant than less. There is a whole other discussion of things that should be promoted vs accepted – and on the “promoting” side I am in favor of being a lot more restrictive. A current example would be abortion: it is nobody’s f*ing business if a woman decides to have an abortion. Encouraging abortions as a fashion is, IMO, evil.

        • Papillon says:

          I think you’re mixing two distinct concepts here: offense and moral permissibility. I’ll assume utilitarianism to make this argument clear, and contrast two cases.
          First, let’s look at your case, gay marriage. On utilitarianism, gay marriage is almost definitely permissible, because the harm caused to those sincerely offended by the practice looks to be far less than its benefits. It may even be morally impermissible to be offended by gay marriage, because such offense itself offends many others, and perpetuates some oppressive worldview.
          Let’s take a second case for contrast, the social norm to take off one’s hat when one enters a room. (For the sake of argument, assume this norm is as strong as it used to be). Taking off one’s hat seems to be a a morally neutral act, and the offense caused is genuine. The historical genesis of this norm doesn’t seem morally relevant; if it is well understood that most members of a society are offended by the wearing of a hat indoors, it seems morally encumbent on all members to abstain from the practice, in general. (Though neglecting this duty couldn’t be too grave a sin).
          I think the original case, blackface, has the same moral “shape” as my second case (neglecting to take off one’s hat). The moral “weight” may be much greater, though.

          • EchoChaos says:

            because the harm caused to those sincerely offended by the practice looks to be far less than its benefits.

            I strongly disagree here, and I suspect that most utilitarians are using definitions of harm and benefits I disagree with.

            What is the harm and what are the benefits?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            On utilitarianism, gay marriage is almost definitely permissible, because the harm caused to those sincerely offended by the practice looks to be far less than its benefits.

            How did you deduce these benefits?

          • Papillon says:

            I’m new here, not sure why I can’t directly reply to @EchoChaos or @Le Maistre Chat. No sixth-level comments allowed I guess? Anyway:
            I shouldn’t have used the gay marriage case to make my point, I’ve committed myself to a position that I have no interest in defending. What I was trying to convey can be put as simply as: The ethical duty to be polite, or to avoid causing offense (which is not necessarily an absolute duty), is independent from the psychological origin of the potential offense. There may be many other relevant concerns, though, which could outweigh one’s concern for politeness.
            Possible examples:
            1. A handicapped man hates the word “blue” and physically recoils upon hearing it, because he believes that its utterance causes earthquakes.
            2. A white historian discovers that the n-word’s historical origins are a complete fabrication, but his discovery receives little attention. Does he have moral license to begin using the word liberally?
            3. The aforementioned taking-off-one’s-hat case.
            4. Many people believe that the word “faggot” originated with the practice of burning homosexuals alive. This is not the case. Should they care less about avoiding the word once they discover this?
            I should note that I’m not claiming that the offended party should continue being offended once their reason for offense is shown to be founded on untruth (nor am I claiming the reverse). I am only claiming that the ceteris paribus ethical act is to avoid causing offense, regardless of the reasoning for the offense on the part of the offended party. Of course, ceteris is not usually paribus, which is what I was trying to demonstrate with gay marriage.

          • Clutzy says:

            I’m not even offended by gay marriage, but its one of the things I see very few benefits for on a societal level.

            TBH, without the old norms and with the current accuracy of DNA testing for parentage, this is true of all marriage from the perspective of the state.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Papillon

            Indeed, deeper than this and we all reply to the root comment. Idiosyncratic, but you get used to it.

            Your general point is somewhat agreeable in that the fact of giving offense is independent of if the offense is reasonable. But the societal reasonableness of what you are doing is critically tied to it and can’t really be separated.

            Saying you’re wearing a blue shirt is normal. Someone who freaks out about that needs the help of a psychiatrist and will probably get one, either himself or involuntarily. The psychiatrist will probably not use that word initially, but would eventually to help him.

            The societal decision of which side is reasonable to each of those is a very important decision that isn’t immediately apparent just because of root facts.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I believe that insults are very contextual– they’re partly a matter of tone of voice and partly a matter of the history of the person hearing the possible insult.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Clutzy

            I’m not even offended by gay marriage, but its one of the things I see very few benefits for on a societal level.

            I don’t think it should be assumed that marriage is meant for social reasons. I think it should be assumed that marriage is meant for intimate reasons, and the social acknowledgement of a marriage is society’s and government’s acknowledgement of the supremacy of the intimate in the intimate realm.

      • EchoChaos says:

        the standard seems to be “does a substantial proportion of the relevant population find it offensive?”.

        I echo @Radu Florcica here. We clearly do not follow that standard. A higher percentage of Americans are offended by drag queen story hours than by blackface.

        It has more to do about whether the class in power is offended than whether the general populace is.

    • ECD says:

      And more recently it was surprisingly common in media, combined with painfully stereotypical writing/performances. The original Get Smart (which I’ve been watching on Amazon) is mostly excellent, but oh boy can some episodes be pretty terrible on this, though almost exclusively yellowface, not blackface.

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      Wow, Cliff, I was just going to post about Blackface myself. So I’ll just add on to yours.

      I understand that now it is considered inappropriate to go in blackface, so anyone who’s done it in the last five years or so is tone deaf to today’s culture, or is just an edgelord. A politician is supposed to not offend our culture (other than Trump), so it makes sense to hurt someone who’s done it recently.

      But why is anything wrong with doing it 30 years ago, when there was no such cultural taint to it? Does anyone here see anything inherently wrong with blackface? It seems to me that a White person dressing up as Obama, or Martin Luthor King, or Shaquille O’Neal would normally darken their faces a bit to get it right. How would that be offensive? Obviously that is different than a minstrel show blackface, so it seems to me that context matters greatly in this. Does anyone here believe that Trudeau or the Virginia governor should any political penalty at all for blackface done decades ago?

      • Well... says:

        The offense taken could be read as an attempt by people who feel otherwise powerless to exercise a bit of power. Reminds me of the Evergreen State kids asking the president of the university to stop gesticulating so much because it made them feel unsafe, then laughing when he apologized for it.

      • Cliff says:

        Does anyone here believe that Trudeau or the Virginia governor should any political penalty at all for blackface done decades ago?

        Keep in mind that the Virginia governor was posing for a picture with a guy in a KKK outfit (if he was not in fact in the KKK outfit himself).

        But yes that was something I was wondering as well, why it is applied retroactively if people at the time didn’t consider it offensive- but I’m not that old so I’m not really sure how far back this goes although I can’t recall it more than 10-15 years ago I guess.

      • JayT says:

        I understand that now it is considered inappropriate to go in blackface, so anyone who’s done it in the last five years or so is tone deaf to today’s culture, or is just an edgelord.

        Blackface was definitely frowned upon as of 2001, when Trudeau did it.

      • Enkidum says:

        But why is anything wrong with doing it 30 years ago, when there was no such cultural taint to it?

        By “cultural taint” here you mean “most white people didn’t care”. Black people sure as hell did.

        I realize that sounds like I’m trying to be snarky, but I’m not – that is literally how that reads to me, and I’m not sure how to parse it otherwise. There has never been a time, so far as I’m aware, when there was widespread black approval of blackface. It certainly might not have been in their top ten concerns about shit that white people did, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t hurtful. The difference now is that we (I’m assuming you’re white) have noticed.

        For example, there were petitions by Canadian blacks against blackface as early as 1841.

        For what it’s worthI had a black friend who did whiteface one year for Halloween and it went over very well. The shit is complicated, and it’s hard for some people to accept that it’s not symmetrical. But it isn’t.

        That being said, clearly having worn blackface 30 years ago isn’t a death knell for your career. Trudeau just got re-elected in one of the wokest countries in the world.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Trudeau wore blackface so much that he now officially qualifies for being a minority government.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Yes, that joke is making the rounds right now in Canada.

            But Trudeau being woke himself, only the right-wing media was trying to paint him as a racist monster, and there were many other woke black people saying that it was unfortunate Trudeau had done, but the real danger was electing a Conservative.

            If the Conservative leader had done that, it would have been a totally different story. This episode illustrates that blackface is more of a weapon to be used against conservatives, and not really something that offends people that much. It’s easily forgiven when done by your own side.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @jermo sapiens

            Sure, and the Virginia offenders were both Democrats and are still in office too, although they haven’t gone back to the voters yet.

            The idea that a member of the tribe offending needs correction but not so severe that the other tribe gains power is hardly surprising.

            The Republicans have the same thing with Trump. He’s committed several decorum violations that would’ve been front page right-wing news had a Democrat done them.

          • Enkidum says:

            I really don’t think the blackface was the primary determinant of Trudeau’s results – I think if the pictures had never come up, the end result would have been the same. Of course this is a counterfactual that we can never actually verify, but it certainly feels that way to me. The people who would have been offended enough to not vote for him would mostly have been voting NDP anyways.

            I agree that 20-year-old blackface would be weaponized differently against a conservative, largely because it could be.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Enkidum

            Nor do I. I was just making a joke about the fact that blacks are a minority and now so is Trudeau’s government.

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            I was just making a joke about the fact that blacks are a minority and now so is Trudeau’s government.

            Sorry to be a spoilsport, but that seems to be in somewhat poor taste. Not offended, personally, but I can see how someone could be and I’m not sure I’d blame them.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Faza (TCM)

            I genuinely don’t see it as such. I got it from a Canadian, and as jermo sapiens said, it’s a modestly common one up there recently.

            What part of it do you see as offensive?

          • Enkidum says:

            Oh right… speaking as a woke-is white dude I find that pretty funny tbh. But I have not asked any friends with more melanin than me what they think.

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            What part of it do you see as offensive?

            No, you misunderstand: I actually find it funny.

            Nevertheless, the joke – and moreso the explanation – may rub some members of said minority the wrong way and – like I said previously – this is one of those instances where I wouldn’t necessarily argue against it.

            Typed text is notoriously bad for conveying tone, so I’ll just lay my cards out flat: I remember what got you banned the last time and I enjoy your presence here, so I thought I ought to give you a heads-up that this joke (but especially the tone of your explanation of it) could be bad. I’m trying to offer advice as – if not a friend – at least a well-wisher; a bit of a mess though it is.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Faza (TCM)

            Ah. Thank you for that, then.

            Since I can’t edit any of the comments anymore, I will have to plead for dispensation if someone finds it too offensive.

            It is meant in a light-hearted spirit and not to offend at all.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            the joke, in case anyone doesnt get it, is that Trudeau did get a “minority government”, which means he got a plurality of seats in the house but not a majority of seats.

          • Enkidum says:

            FWIW I have now told the joke to two Canadians of colour both of whom thought it was funny and could not see why it wasn’t. So the official court of my two friends has spoken and they don’t care, case closed.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Enkidum

            I accept the verdict of the court of Enkidum and his buddies.

          • Randy M says:

            @EchoChaos Beware setting precedent.

        • Mark V Anderson says:

          @Enkidum

          By “cultural taint” here you mean “most white people didn’t care”. Black people sure as hell did.

          I am skeptical. Do you have cites for blackface decades ago that is not meant to be making fun of Blacks as being hated by Blacks? As I said, a White person dressing up as a respected Black person? Someone else mentioned that it was not acceptable in 2001. I am skeptical about that too. I’m certainly not woke so might have missed some references, but it doesn’t seem to me that any time a White person darkened their skin to appear as a Black was considered inherently disrespectful occurred more than 5 years ago.

          Edit: I was reading wikipedia about blackface, and they define it as a caricature of a Black person. So does that mean my examples of darkening one’s face to represent a Black person in a respectful fashion is not blackface by definition? So one could defend such a costume as not really blackface? I don’t think that is the popular definition of blackface, but maybe I am wrong.

          • mdet says:

            I haven’t seen the movie Trading Places but I understand there’s a blackface gag in there. Given that Eddie Murphy willingly starred in the movie, and that my dad (who is black) recently enthusiastically recommended the movie to me, there are at least some black people who consider blackface to be funny under certain circumstances.

            To the last paragraph: I mean, words aren’t real. Changing how you use a word isn’t going to change how other people feel about the concept.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @mdet

            Black members of my family LOVED Tropic Thunder, which has an entire character who is a blackface gag.

            It’s clearly occasionally acceptable.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I’m afraid Trading Places is extremely problematic, though you might not want to read that review if you remember anything at all about the movie. (such as that Ophelia actually saves Winthorpe… twice, IIRC)

          • Clutzy says:

            I actually have observed that, when blackface is funny, and there are black people involved in the process, its pretty much accepted. And as it should be.

            Making fun of something that is old and racist is totally legitimate. Like if Quentin Tarantino does a 1920s era movie where Leo Dicaprio reprises (sort of) his role from Django, and there is a blackface entertainer that gets shot, that would probably work out fine.

          • Aapje says:

            @Clutzy

            Making fun of something that is old and racist is totally legitimate.

            Of course, but it goes beyond making fun of things. There often is a condemnation of the person as a horrible racist, even if it was culturally accepted when they did it and/or the level of racism involved is minimal or non-existent.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        As best I can tell, once a given thing is agreed upon as offensive, some people will match it to other things and infer they’re offensive, too. Sometimes it’s justified on inspection, sometimes not, and people’s cognitive budgets do not permit investigating every instance. It’s a mess.

        I think there’s a difference between minstrel-type blackface, which cast blacks as objects of perpetual ridicule, and costumes where you could draw any link at all to some time or place where one group of people had noticeably different appearance.

        I’ve seen Asian image stereotypes, for example, and they simply don’t bother me, even though I’m half Vietnamese and have even been bullied about it when I was a kid. It might get to me if I was stuck in some hypothetical cod-Vietnamese neighborhood where everyone was a loser and everyone knew it was because we all, I dunno, ate too much asparagus, and someone dressed up as a Vietnamese asparagus junkie.

        That’s the essence of that vector of offense, as I see it: either kicking someone while they’re down for something they can’t help, or taking one of their points of pride and mocking it as if it’s nothing (cf. cultural appropriation). If the costume is doing neither, it’s fine; it might even be positive. If the costume mocks something I no longer identify with, it’s arguably goofy, but unimportant. If someone unironically wants to think “my people” squat in rice paddies all day and sleep with water buffaloes, that’s their problem, not mine.

        But why is anything wrong with doing [blackface] 30 years ago, when there was no such cultural taint to it?

        On the contrary: there was. I recall an episode of the sitcom Gimme A Break that had Joey Lawrence’s character appear in blackface, doing some sort of Al Jolson-esque bit, and everyone’s suddenly very uncomfortable. Nell Carter’s character later chews him out over it. (She dropped the N-word in there, too. I used to think television censorship was monotonically decreasing from Ozzie & Harriet to today, but that’s one counterexample.)

        • EchoChaos says:

          either kicking someone while they’re down for something they can’t help, or taking one of their points of pride and mocking it as if it’s nothing

          Note that again this is still okay against acceptable targets.

          See: Every single Southern inbreeding joke that is a regular on Reddit and such boards, for example.

          Southern whites are acceptable targets, so you can call them inbred hillbillies all you want, dress up as a hillbilly and it’s totally fine.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Southern whites are acceptable targets, so you can call them inbred hillbillies all you want,

            While calling Arabs or Pakistanis inbred is racism.
            (Though Christian Arabs tend to practice Church-mandated exogamy, which may help explain why Ralph Nader is white? It’s all so complicated.)

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Note that again this is still okay against acceptable targets.

            Then please accept this as a proposed good-faith interpretation of “offensive”, based on a pair of tests I think everyone could agree on.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Paul Brinkley

            I agree with this as a basic definition of “giving offense”, and I think it’s a good effort at that.

            I am just pointing out that by this good faith effort, it is not even slightly being followed against some right-wing targets.

            And I do try not to do such things, but my frustration stems from the fact that lefties who are aggressive about slapping down blackface and racism immediately bring up inbreeding as a stereotype against my ethnic group.

            I’m not from Alabama, but having your state be the punchline for inbreeding jokes is offensive to a substantially larger degree than what Trudeau did, for example.

          • Plumber says:

            @EchoChaos says: “…you can call them inbred hillbillies all you want, dress up as a hillbilly and it’s totally fine”

            FWIW, I remember my Dad in the 1970’s saying that The Beverly Hillbillies television show was “insulting to mountain people” and I shouldn’t watch it, and he was very Left, though that he was a country music fan may have had something to do with his umbrage.

            I do get your point though, “Laugh In” had a broader amount of targets to mock, while “Who’s Line Is It Anyway” pretty much only had ‘hillbillies’.

          • Enkidum says:

            FWIW I also find hillbilly-mocking to be offensive, and wish my people would stop doing it. It’s usually used as a shortcut to assume that conservatives who happen to be poor are also idiots.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Enkidum:

            It’s usually used as a shortcut to assume that conservatives who happen to be poor are also idiots.

            This. I feel like hillbilly jokes are used to assume that we live in a meritocracy for white people, so any poor white people are idiots (unlike poor PoC, who are wise and deserve better).

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Plumber / Enkidum

            Please don’t think I’m pointing at “all the left”. I know there are absolutely lefties who despise such things.

            And I’m not banning all redneck jokes (nor would I have the right to, I’m no redneck, although I have plenty of friends who are). The Blue Collar Comedy Tour or Jeff Dunham are very red tribe redneck comedy acts beloved by hillbillies across America.

            I am just emphasizing that the rules aren’t consistently enforced and that claims by liberals that they care about offense come across as tin-eared to conservatives for this reason.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @EchoChaos:

            And I’m not banning all redneck jokes (nor would I have the right to, I’m no redneck, although I have plenty of friends who are). The Blue Collar Comedy Tour or Jeff Dunham are very red tribe redneck comedy acts beloved by hillbillies across America.

            Well yeah. That’s laughing with a class, not at them.

          • Enkidum says:

            @echo, maistre:

            I think we’re all agreed (on this at least).

          • Aapje says:

            In general, I think that it makes a huge difference whether humor is respectful or not, but that this doesn’t map directly on whether stereotypes are used or anything like that.

            Many people like teasing humor, but there is a big difference between seeking out someone’s weak spot to twist the knife vs recognizing and noting that they are different. People often demand that their personal or group uniqueness is recognized and respected & it seems to me that true friendship cannot exist without this.

            Ultimately, I think that the difference is whether people signal that they care about you and will defend you from severe harm, even if they disagree with your choices and/or would hate to be like you; or whether they signal that they would gladly be part of a lynch mob if they had the chance.

          • Plumber says:

            @EchoChaos says: “…Please don’t think I’m pointing at “all the left”. I know there are absolutely lefties who despise such things”

            Thanks and no offense was taken.

            As a semantic aside I like your use of “lefties” instead of “Leftists“, as (to how I’m used to thinking of the terms) “the Left” includes former President Jimmy Carter, but he never was a “Leftist”, which used to be limited to Anarchists, Communists, Socialists, and readers of The Nation (little joke).

            Even though there was little difference between what polls said their voters policy preferences were, Sanders in 2016 was a Leftist and Clinton wasn’t, kinda hard to explain the difference it has something to do with relative faith in the existing power structure.

            Franco and Pinochet were “Rightists”, the rough equivalent term, but there just aren’t any prominent American proponents that I can think of, I suppose Pat Buchanan could be the closest, but even he doesn’t go that far.

            Come to think of it that’s kind of an imbalance, for most of my lifetime I’d say that the median political view was slightly center-right in the U.S.A. (and probably had been since Eisenhower was elected), but the further Left has outnumbered the further Right at least since the 1930’s.

            Since the 2008 crash and enough of “Generation Y” having the vote the broad Left are now the majority of voters, with the “Old Left” now overwhelmingly in their graves.

            If I have to guess (and history rhymes) I’d say that the ‘Millennial’ Left will probably peak in five years (just as the Old Left peaked in 1944, and the previous “New Left” peaked in 1972) and the next rightward backlash is due to peak about ten years after that, when I’m due to retire in 2034.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Plumber

            Getting the Plumber seal of approval is all that I need. I’ll try to remember to use that terminology more.

            There have been some genuine “Rightists” in American politics. Steve King of Iowa right now is a good example, but I agree that the general force there is with the Leftists.

            I also suspect the number of both with rise with Latinos becoming more of a force in American politics, as both “Leftism” and “Rightism” are more powerful south of the border.

    • eyeballfrog says:

      I wouldn’t have faulted him for that one, but the one where he’s wearing a banana T-shirt and has a sock stuffed down his pants was a little too spicy for me.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      It is a classic Toxoplasma of Rage stuff. See Scott´s post with that title.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      I considered the possibility that it would “evoke” minstrel shows, but nobody alive has witnessed one, have they?

      One was broadcast on British national television until 1978.

      EDIT: And even after it was cancelled, a stage version continued until the late 1980s.

    • Aapje says:

      @Cliff

      The BBC ran a minstrel show from 1958 to 1978. This seems to have been very popular in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. One of the performers is a Canadian, although I see no evidence that the show was run in Canada or popular there.

      Presumably, the reason why all blackface has is called offensive by the blue tribe is that they are afraid of edge cases, dissension in their ranks, want to virtue signal and because there is a general hunger for evidence of structural/implicit racism.

      [EDIT] Ninja’d by AlphaGamma

      • Enkidum says:

        And the Black and White Minstrel show was widely seen as incredibly offensive, indeed as your link says there were petitions against it and it was even cancelled for a year in 1969, at the height of its popularity. The fact that mostly white audiences didn’t find blackface offensive when black people clearly did is not really a great argument, I think.

        • albatross11 says:

          There are two questions:

          a. Do blacks find blackface offensive?

          b. Should I also find it offensive on their behalf?

          It seems pretty clear that a lot of blacks find blackface pretty damned offensive. That doesn’t automatically mean I should also find it offensive. (I found PZ Myers’ stunts with consecrated hosts to be pretty offensive, but I’m not surprised that non-Catholics mostly didn’t care.) Offending most black voters seems like a pretty bad strategy for a politician, and in general going around edgelording is a bad way to live, but that doesn’t mean I need to take offense on anyone else’s behalf–especially for stuff done long ago.

          Pictures of people in blackface decades ago seem like an utterly silly reason to change your vote. Just as I wouldn’t change dentists or accountants because of an embarrassing, in-poor-taste picture of them in college, I also wouldn’t feel any great need to change governors or prime ministers on that basis.

          • Enkidum says:

            Agreed with at most minor caveats.

            FWIW, my answer to (b) is “if the answer to (a) is ‘yes’, then almost certainly yes”. And for the most part, I suspect it’s yours as well. That doesn’t mean we need to revisit every single case from the past and act shocked, but I very much doubt that if you or I were at a private party where cell phones were banned and some white dude came out in blackface we’d be comfortable. And I submit that our discomfort is not merely self-serving, we actually find it extremely distasteful, at the very least.

            Very much agreed about the decades-old pictures, and my impression is that most black people would agree (although I am not most black people, nor even just one of them). Cf. George Wallace’s final re-election campaign, etc.

          • gbdub says:

            Let’s be sure not to confuse “is” and “ought” though – I’d be uncomfortable with your hypothetical party goer, but mostly because BLACKFACE IS BAD has been drilled into my head repeatedly, and because said partygoer is obviously willing to violate social norms, rather than any visceral reaction of offense.

            But ought that be true? It’s easy to imagine a world where at least some sort of tasteful blackface (e.g. a good faith attempt at a T’Challa cosplay) is perfectly acceptable, without that world being inherently hostile to black people.

          • Enkidum says:

            It’s easy to imagine that world, and I think I agree that it would probably be better than the one we live in, but I don’t think we live in it.

        • Aapje says:

          @Enkidum

          I probably was unclear, since you missed my point.

          My second paragraph reflected on why the blue tribe tends to get upset over blackface that is not minstrelling, including homages, simple dress ups and blackface traditions that are not related to and like minstrelling, such as Border Morris and Zwarte Piet.

    • gbdub says:

      Signal boosting the original question, because I don’t think it’s been answered yet despite some interesting conversation on other tangents.

      It is easy to see why “dressing up as an exaggerated racial stereotype and mocking another culture” is considered offensive. It is easy to understand why people might be bothered by black performers unable to find work because racist producers hire white people in makeup instead.

      It is less obvious why “using makeup to darken your skin to better portray a character who has darker skin than you” should be offensive to the point of taboo, regardless of context.

      Consider the following (assume everybody is wearing racial makeup):
      1) a minstrel show
      2) a white person costumed as a generic stereotypically black person in an exaggerated “humorous” way
      3) a white person dressed as a specific black character or celebrity (e.g. Shaq, Shaft, Michael Jackson) in an exaggerated or “humorous” way
      4) a white person dressed as a specific black character or celebrity in a neutral or positive way (e.g. an MCU Nick Fury cosplay, MLK for a class report)

      I think all of these are distinct, and would probably feel pretty differently about all of them, and I honestly suspect most people of any race would too. But in the prevailing public discourse, all are simply Blackface, and therefore Bad. Does it actually makes sense to treat them that way?

      • EchoChaos says:

        Also add:

        5) a white person playing a white character who is wearing blackface as part of his character, e.g. Robert Downey Jr. playing Kirk Lazarus in Tropic Thunder.

      • Faza (TCM) says:

        [I]n the prevailing public discourse, all are simply Blackface, and therefore Bad. Does it actually makes sense to treat them that way?

        I kinda fail to see how we could answer “yes” to a non-rethorical version of this question and still remain sane.

        It would help if the word “Blackface” was relegated to being simply a theatrical term of art, just like “Whiteface“.* Then we could have productive discussions over:
        a. whether this was a particularly useful theatrical tool and where is it justified, if at all (e.g. Poland doesn’t have a great many black actors, so how should Othello be portrayed?)

        b. whether altering your appearance to reflect a different ethnicity than your own is a good thing or not.

        * TIL about the other kind. I… don’t know what to think, really.

      • Aapje says:

        6) A white person dressed as a traditional archetype, where the main reason for the traditional blackface was to allow poor people to be incognito to employers, friends, family, their children, etc.

        • acymetric says:

          Wait, what?

          • Aapje says:

            There is evidence going back to 1450 of blackface being used in Britain to be able to transgress on social and legal norms, without sanction. For example, to allow the out of work laborers and builders to beg and dance for money, while not losing out on work because people don’t want to hire beggars and dancers. Or to poach deer that belong to the nobility. In 1723, it became a capital offence to appear “in disguise, either by mask or by blackened face.”

            In my country, Sinterklaas is heavily disguised with fake white hair, a big fake beard, fake eyebrows, a red miter and fancy red clothing. Zwarte Piet has blackface, colorful clothing and gives out candy. So both archetypes are heavily disguised. I’ve heard quite a few stories of how the much poorer people of 50+ years ago would be able to make these disguises cheaply with cotton wool and soot, while the richer people would have fancier disguises. A key part of the festival is to convince kids that Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet are real, rather than people they know.

            Note that these long-lasting traditions tend to change over time, based on what people want from the tradition, their beliefs and popular culture featuring the traditions and ‘telling’ people what to do. So you can typically find some ‘problematic’ historic elements, but that doesn’t mean that the current or dominant way to celebrate it is/was racist.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            Aapje’s comment reminds me of something that kids did at Halloween when I was a kid in the ’60’s. Kids who were too lazy to make or buy a costume would just darken their face with charcoal and go trick-or-treating that way. It actually had nothing to do with race — they said they were dressing as hobos (dark because they were dirty, not a different race). But it might be considered blackface.

  10. So the last trailer for Rise of Skywalker was released, and it appears to feature the heroes riding horses in space on the outside of a Star Destroyer. I’m most likely going to end up seeing this in the theater with my family. Any tips on how to get completely shitfaced before this scene occurs? I’m not above purchasing a Star Wars-branded hip flask.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      I strongly recommend getting absolutely plastered before watching this probable-crap-show, but are you sure you want to do that with your family?
      Thankfully, most theaters now have bars. If you skip eating, you’ll absorb the alcohol quickly. 2 tall pours should be more than enough to give you a pleasant buzz!

    • johan_larson says:

      Try to recreate some of the drinks served at the Galaxy’s Edge exhibits at the Disney parks?

      https://www.insider.com/star-wars-galaxys-edge-disneyland-best-drinks-2019-6#the-fuzzy-tauntaun-is-buzz-worthy-7

    • Well... says:

      Alcohol, at least in a quantity small enough to fit in a flask, is not a strong enough drug to make the Disney children’s fantasy space opera suitable for adults.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Ketamine seems ideal. “It induces a trance-like state while providing pain relief, sedation, and memory loss.”

    • John Schilling says:

      If you’re planning to get completely shitfaced during a movie, I recommend waiting until it has been out for several weeks and you can see it in a nearly-empty theater. The staff doesn’t complain if you’re screaming at the movie in a nearly-empty theatre, because you’re not complaining (well, not to them) and it’s more fun for them than showing the movie to a dead theater. Don’t ask me how I know this. Also, three banana daiquiris before the movie, smuggle in a 2-oz bottle of Everclear (the real stuff, not wimpy 151 proof), and make sure the good Scotch is out of reach for the post-movie binge.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      I take it you have ethical qualms with pirating it, getting your family to watch it at home while you roll an office chair up to the liquor cabinet?

    • theredsheep says:

      Today’s college students have pioneered a valuable technique known as the “pregame,” so you needn’t bring an especially large amount with you. Assuming your spouse is driving, you can show up fairly drunk, and smuggle in only two standard drinks. I am told the typical body metabolizes about one drink’s worth of alcohol per hour, so steady sipping of a fairly strong liquor should maintain a consistent BAC for a full two hours. NB I am not a very experienced drinker and that may be incorrect, etc. If you sober up slightly it won’t be disastrous.

      Now, that alcohol will make you have to pee, so you’ll have to decide whether to smuggle in a Foley catheter or bottle, or go to the bathroom at a point when no expensive SFX are onscreen, or simply urinate in your seat like a lower primate. Definitely do one of those options, as this movie does not sound like it’s worth kidney stones, impotence, or whatever else happens when you hold it too long.

      • johan_larson says:

        How drunk to you really need to be, though? I should think walking in with two pints of beer in you would be plenty. And there’s probably a bar right next to (or even inside!) the theatre that would be happy to oblige.

        • theredsheep says:

          1. I personally would want to be quite drunk, but I’m simply not going to see it. Was proceeding on the assumption that he’d want to be pretty well out of it.

          2. My local theater has no such liquor options, but we’re in a pretty non-cosmopolitan area and we ate a Cat 5 storm last year so there aren’t that many options. Don’t know about the writer of the first post.

        • DarkTigger says:

          I agree with johan here. Cinemas around here tend to sell 0,5 liter bottles of beer. Taking them (on an empty stomach) into the theater before the ads start usually is enough for movies, that require inebriation to be enjoyable.

      • Garrett says:

        smuggle in a Foley catheter or bottle

        Pro-tip: Consider condom catheters instead. No internal application required.

    • Protagoras says:

      If you don’t mind mixing your SF inspirations, my recipe for a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster was overproof cinnamon schnapps (e.g. Phillips Hot 100), overproof peppermint schnapps (e.g. Phillips Blue 100), gin (any; gins are sometimes over 80 proof, and obviously keeping with the theme pick one of those on the higher end for this), overproof rum (e.g. Bicardi 151), and overproof vodka (e.g. Everclear) in equal parts. Even a fairly small flask full of that would be quite sufficient to get you completely shitfaced. The flavors of the first two dominate (just half and half cinnamon and peppermint schapps is a drink sometimes called a fire and ice), but including the others gives it a lot less bite, though with the liqueurs it still doesn’t taste nearly as overwhelmingly of the alcohol as you might expect.

      • Aftagley says:

        … your recipe is missing an olive.

        • Protagoras says:

          I hate olives. But of course someone could add that.

        • Ketil says:

          A twist of lemon, surely? Wasn’t it described as being hit with a brick wrapped in a slice of lemon, or something to that effect?

          • Protagoras says:

            I normally have my martinis with a twist. But for this drink, the peppermint is based on the original (there’s “qualactin hypermint extract” in the fictional recipe), and I am suspicious of mixing mint and citrus. Again, some might be more obsessed with authenticity.

      • noyann says:

        With mixes like Fire and Ice, do you usually shake or stir them, or pour the ingredients in a way that keeps mixing low (eg. over a spoon so that they are “stacked” in the glass”)? Would make a very different mouth sensation and taste contrast, I guess.

        • Protagoras says:

          I tend to go for shaking or stirring. If the flavors are part of the same drink, they’re supposed to be there together, as far as I’m concerned, and any effort to minimize mixing is probably more concerned with appearance than flavor. I don’t really care about appearance (except in the case of using dry ice instead of regular ice to cool drinks; that’s just awesome. And also has the advantage of not watering them down).

          • noyann says:

            Ah, thx. I thought that the non-mixing would allow ‘strands’ or ‘bubbles’ of different aroma concentrations to produce more change in what hits the tongue and thus intensify the experience. Similar to the water of molten ice in an almost finished wisk(e)y (nooo, don’t beat me!!) or the bigger grains of fleur de sel.

    • eyeballfrog says:

      The theaters around here sell alcohol in the lobby. It’s probably overpriced, but they can hardly object to you having it.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      That sounds like a very American problem. Here in the Balkans, you would just take into a theater plastic bottle sold for water, which you had dilligently replaced with vodka.

      I think that this will be a first Star Wars movie released in my lifetime I am not going to see in the theater.

    • broblawsky says:

      Just drink on an empty stomach; that’s what works for me.

    • viVI_IViv says:

      Tweet to Mark Hamill to ask if he knows where you can find the green space-cow milk.

    • bean says:

      Wait, what? I can’t help you with getting drunk, and I refuse to recognize the canon reboot. Everything I learn about what’s happened confirms the wisdom of this decision.

    • albatross11 says:

      It’s probably no dumber than space bombers.

      • mdet says:

        Space bombers is in the same spirit as the space dogfights of the original trilogy to me. George Lucas has stated that he lifted the Death Star trench run from the WWII movie The Dam Busters, and space bombers maintains the same “Mid 20th-century warfare with a space-age coat of paint” style that Star Wars had from the outset. Riding horses across the outside of a Star Destroyer in space sounds terrible to me, less because of its inherent implausibility and more because it flagrantly violates the core stylistic conceit. I’m not up on my WWII history, but I don’t think Horseback Warriors vs Aircraft Carrier was ever a thing that happened (I absolutely want to hear that story if I’m wrong though).

        • viVI_IViv says:

          Space bombers is in the same spirit as the space dogfights of the original trilogy to me. George Lucas has stated that he lifted the Death Star trench run from the WWII movie The Dam Busters, and space bombers maintains the same “Mid 20th-century warfare with a space-age coat of paint” style that Star Wars had from the outset.

          Obviously Star Wars was never about representing orbital mechanics accurately, but the difference is that space dogfights look cool, while the space bombers from TLJ look lame.

          • smocc says:

            Star Wars already had space bombers both in the form of the TIE bomber, and the Y-Wing, though the Y-Wings are pretty clearly the equivalent of torpedo bombers instead of a high-altitude bomber.

            My problem with TLJ’s bombers was they basically forced the cognitive dissonance of gravity-inside vs gravity-outside on me (especially considering Leia floating in space later on). The Y-Wings shot space missiles, and the TIE Bombers are shooting magical balls of light and aren’t around for long enough for you to think about it anyway. But TLJ seemed to really, really want me to see how the bombs “fall.”

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I didn’t mind the bombers, and get annoyed at people who think they mattered, but you are accurate that I had to stop and think about how the bombers worked while watching the movie. That’s a good point.

        • bean says:

          I’m not up on my WWII history, but I don’t think Horseback Warriors vs Aircraft Carrier was ever a thing that happened (I absolutely want to hear that story if I’m wrong though).

          Only in Afghanistan, and it wasn’t anything like that scene.

    • Ohforfs says:

      Wow. That’s better than literally jumping the shark. That’s hilarious! I mean, what’s next? King Arthur? Hitler? Robin Hood joining the Rebel Alliance?

    • Tarpitz says:

      When I went to see the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, I prepared by watching the first two at home, and drinking rum every time someone said the word “Captain”. I then took a further hip flask of rum into the cinema with me, but honestly at that point it wasn’t really necessary.

  11. TakatoGuil says:

    So, since 13 of the House Republicans who illegally stormed the inquiry hearing already had access to everything they were demanding access to, what motivations are there besides:

    1. Desperate stunt to manipulate those too ignorant to understand how the impeachment process works

    2. Laughable Hail Mary to delay the House from learning more of Trump’s quid pro quo-related crimes, possibly by witness intimidation

    3. Utterly pathetic attempt to plant devices in a SCIF for further espionage purposes

    • broblawsky says:

      There’s one other possibility: an attempt to prove loyalty to Trump, both in order to curry favor with him and to support their personal reelection campaigns. Maintaining the appearance of solidarity is enough to keep the loyalty of the base, even when the action being undertaken accomplishes nothing.

    • Murphy says:

      I’d go with much more mundane:

      1:photo opportunity.

      2:playing up claims of being the underdog.

      3: build perception of persecution and “war” to rile up their voter base.

      After all, the whole impeachment process is just for show anyway.It doesn’t matter if the accusations are true or not. At that level of power all that matters is power and the dems don’t have the votes to push it through.

      Trump could have sexual relations with a toddler on live national TV while a team of federal judges verify his biometrics/identity and there would still be approximately a 0% chance of impeachment because nobody wants to hand a victory to the other tribe.

      • Enkidum says:

        So why did they cave over Nixon?

        • Murphy says:

          Partisanship has increased dramatically since then.

          https://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2014/06/FT_14.06.13_congressionalPolarization.png

          http://www.mamartino.com/projects/rise_of_partisanship/

          Compare 1969

          http://www.mamartino.com/projects/rise_of_partisanship/img/1969.jpg

          to 2011:

          http://www.mamartino.com/projects/rise_of_partisanship/img/2011.jpg

          the late 60’s and early 70’s were a time of cross-party cooperation or at least a certain amount of agreement.

          Now it’s more like 2 tribes at war, ready to stab defectors in the back if they do something evil like talk with the evil outgroup.

          And I’m not even talking in hyperbole. Trump could quite literally pull an Epstein on national television and not get impeached because in such a situation facts don’t matter.

          Equally he could be a literal saint who never did anything wrong ever… and if the dems had the votes they could impeach him.

          I lean less towards the saint assumption but the point is that at that level power is the only currency and truth holds no sway.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think the driver for the Republicans turning on Nixon was largely the fear that tying the party to Nixon was going to end up like tying yourself to a lead brick and taking a swim.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Because they thought it would help them.

          If Ford had been re-elected, it would be much easier to impeach future Presidents and Clinton would’ve probably been convicted too.

          Republicans believed that if they threw the obviously corrupt but very popular Nixon under the bus, his base would stick with them because of their integrity.

          That turned out to be false, and Republicans lost the only Presidential election they would lose between 1964 and 1992. So both sides came to the conclusion (probably right) that impeaching your own guy didn’t win you points with the other team and loses you points with your own.

          Hence why Clinton was defended to the hilt, and so is Trump.

          Truth or falseness of the accusations is essentially irrelevant.

      • TakatoGuil says:

        Your 1, 2, and 3 are all subsets of my first option.

      • ECD says:

        Trump could have sexual relations with a toddler on live national TV while a team of federal judges verify his biometrics/identity and there would still be approximately a 0% chance of impeachment because nobody wants to hand a victory to the other tribe.

        This, by the way, is the type of performative cynicism I find remarkably unpleasant. I don’t like President Trump. I do not care for the Republican Congresspeople. However, if Trump were to rape a child on national television he would not be president by the end of the day.

        Consider Roy Moore and the lost Alabama senate seat. Those allegations were bad, but far less bad than what you’re claiming and it was still enough to force a large portion of Republican politicians into criticism and withdrawal of support. Or, for the other side, consider Franken, for all the recent attempts at rehabilitation via press. People, even powerful people, do resign under pressure from their allies all the damn time.

        • jermo sapiens says:

          It’s a hyperbole. I agree that this one is in poor taste, but figures of speech in general should not be construed for more than what they are.

          • ECD says:

            I actually disagree. This sort of ‘power is all’ ‘no one has principles’ cynicism is extremely common in this forum and I think it is both harmful and unwelcoming.

          • Corey says:

            The cynicism is indeed harmful, it’s difficult to get motivated about politics when lol nothing matters.

            On the other hand, there is a serious problem with reality bubbles, and no solution (or even improvement) that I can imagine, so maybe we really will get to the point where it’s literally impossible for your “team” to do wrong or other teams to do right.

            I agree we’re not there yet. Probably.

          • quanta413 says:

            On the other hand, there is a serious problem with reality bubbles, and no solution (or even improvement) that I can imagine, so maybe we really will get to the point where it’s literally impossible for your “team” to do wrong or other teams to do right.

            I keep voting for a third team, but I often hear that’s a waste of a vote.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            This sort of ‘power is all’ ‘no one has principles’ cynicism is extremely common in this forum and I think it is both harmful and unwelcoming.

            FWIW, I don’t care for it, either. It feels like that habit Vox has – that I’ve heard us complain about – of slipping from their legitimate “explaining” voice to their less legitimate “our opinion” voice without being overt about it.

            If you’re gonna speak cynically, don’t speak in the same way that you speak descriptively.

        • Murphy says:

          Consider Roy Moore and the lost Alabama senate seat.

          No significant Republican organization in the state dropped their support for Moore, except the Young Republican Federation of Alabama.

          Republican chair Jerry Pow said that he would support Roy Moore even if he committed a sex crime because he “wouldn’t want to vote for Doug” Jones, the Democratic candidate.

          Covington County Republican party chairman William Blocker stated that he would still vote for Moore even if he had committed a sex crime.

          Ivey also said she planned to vote for Moore because “we need to have a Republican in the United States Senate,” even though she said she had “no reason to disbelieve any of” the allegations against Moore.

          It didn’t even affect his funding with the Republican National Committee.

          And a lot of the reactions line up exactly with my cynicsm.

          Kellyanne Conway, when asked about Moore, alluded that it was more important to vote for Moore even if he were guilty of the alleged sexual offences, stating “I’m telling you we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.”

          And as for the voters.

          He only lost by 1.5%.

          That sounds like even most of the voters didn’t care.

          Why would you even link that example? it’s devestating for your case. The reactions to that case kinda show your view to be idealistic to the point that it likely misleads you and the long string of politicians declairing they’d support him even if they were certain the accusations were true because better a sex offender than a democrat…. that strongly supports my cynical worldview.

          I’ll expand on my statement. 6 months later a large fraction of voters would still vote for him while declaring the video to be fake.

          You describe my view as

          ‘power is all’ ‘no one has principles’

          I wouldn’t 100% agree. Plenty of people have principles.

          But a large fraction of humanity will betray their most cherished principles when winning or losing a tribal conflict is at stake.

          Senators and congress people are not randomly selected. They’re the most political of politicians. The ones who managed to crawl over enough bodies to reach the top. The ones most willing to trade principles for power.

          If the senate and congress was made up of a randomly selected sample of rep/dem voters then sure, principles would probably win a lot more.

          But thats not who’s there. And at the top power is king.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Alabama is the most Republican state in the nation. Jeff Sessions’ prior Senate race was literally uncontested because Sessions was so safe.

            In 2016, Richard Shelby won 64-36.

            That means at minimum a quarter of Republicans abandoned Moore.

            That is a devastating turnaround, which shows that no, a major scandal like that ENDS you.

            Trump losing a quarter of his current support would absolutely mean he gets impeached.

            Edit: Quarter, not third. Although probably worse than that due to lower turnout.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @EchoChaos

            64% (Richard Shelby) | 48% (Roy Moore) => one quarter lost, not a third.

            It’s not quite comparable as the total turnout for the 2017 special election was only 2/3rds of the 2016 turnout.

            But your point still stands.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @anonymousskimmer

            You are absolutely right. Corrected.

            I calculated and got 1.333% for 64/48, but of course that is 4/3 and means he lost a quarter.

          • ECD says:

            EchoChaos has addressed the main point, but more critically, you’ve slid from ‘could rape a toddler on live tv and not be impeached’ to ‘could be credibly accused of sexual offenses and not lose all support.’

            I wouldn’t 100% agree. Plenty of people have principles.

            But a large fraction of humanity will betray their most cherished principles when winning or losing a tribal conflict is at stake.

            Senators and congress people are not randomly selected. They’re the most political of politicians. The ones who managed to crawl over enough bodies to reach the top. The ones most willing to trade principles for power.

            If the senate and congress was made up of a randomly selected sample of rep/dem voters then sure, principles would probably win a lot more.

            But thats not who’s there. And at the top power is king.

            1) I don’t believe this is true and you provide no evidence for it.
            2) Even if it was true, they have to be elected. The person who didn’t vote to impeach the toddler rapist would not be re-elected. They would probably not even serve out their term,

            ETA:
            Also, though I disagree with your cynical and tribal viewpoint, even if it were correct, in almost no case does disavowing one criminal asshole require a tribe to surrender the fight. Instead, they vote out the asshole in the primary, or force them to resign and have a special election and elect a new, non-criminal, non-asshole member of their tribe.

            Roy Moore is actually extremely interesting on this topic. The timing meant that there was no other option and even though the offenses were not proven, it was still enough to cause him to lose. That seems like extremely strong evidence that your cynicism is misplaced.

          • Murphy says:

            @ECD

            1) I don’t believe this is true and you provide no evidence for it.

            You seem to have ignores the long string of quotes from his fellow politicians declaring they’d support him even if it was certain he he definitely did it.

            And at the level where things like impeechment matter, those are the people involved and the ones with votes.

            I provided the evidence of the exact case you seem to think supports your case… but actually shows my cynicism is more accurate.

            Yes, the general electorate aren’t quite the same. But a large fraction of them still don’t care. Trump would likely be in trouble at the next election. He’d probably get less than 20 to 30% of the vote after such a toddler related event.

            And that 20 to 30 percent would be screaming that the video was fake or part of a conspiracy.

            in almost no case does disavowing one criminal asshole require a tribe to surrender the fight

            Unfotunately the office of president is one such case where it’s too big a loss to accept.

            And as noted in the quotes from the article you linked, Moore wasn’t even disavowed. Most of his party with a handful of exceptions continued to support him because better him than a democrat.

          • ECD says:

            Unfotunately the office of president is one such case where it’s too big a loss to accept.

            Except for, you know, the vice president.

            And as noted in the quotes from the article you linked, Moore wasn’t even disavowed. Most of his party with a handful of exceptions continued to support him because better him than a democrat.

            Well, not if you don’t skip over the first part of the section on Republican Responses:

            Several Republican leaders said that Moore should step aside if the allegations were true.[59] Prominent Republicans such as John McCain and Mitt Romney called for Moore to drop out of the race after the allegations were reported.[2][3] Republican U.S. Senators Mike Lee, Steve Daines, Bill Cassidy, and Ted Cruz withdrew their endorsements of Moore’s Senate candidacy[60][61][62][63] and National Republican Senatorial Committee chair and Colorado senator Cory Gardner suggested that, due to the allegations, Moore should be expelled from the Senate if he wins the election.[64] The National Republican Senatorial Committee ended its joint fundraising arrangement with Moore, although the Republican National Committee continued its arrangement with him.[65] Days later, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he believes the women who made the accusations and that Moore should “step aside”.[5] Speaker of the House Paul Ryan also called for Moore to abandon his campaign.[4]

            The only things I can find where people said they would vote for him even if he were guilty are:

            Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, when asked about Moore, alluded that it was more important to vote for Moore even if he were guilty of the alleged sexual offences, stating “I’m telling you we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.”[70]

            Quote is not in the linked text, but can be found here, but does not support the interpretation given as in it Ms. Conway does not actually reference believing the allegations.

            Speaking on “Fox and Friends” Monday morning, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager weighed in on the Alabama Senate race based entirely on arguments about Moore’s Democratic opponent, though she declined to answer when pressed if that meant she was endorsing Moore.

            “And Doug Jones in Alabama? Folks, don’t be fooled, he’ll be a vote against tax cuts,” Conway said during an appearance on Fox & Friends. “He’s weak on crime, weak on borders. He’s strong on raising your taxes. He’s terrible for property owners.”

            “I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through,” she added later.

            The same piece goes on to say:

            The allegations against Moore surfaced while President Trump was in Asia, which allowed the president to duck questions. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that “if these allegations are true” the Administration hoped Moore would “do the right thing and step aside” and Trump said he might have “further comment” later.

            Again, folks did the ‘if guilty he should stand aside’ dance. There was also the occasional, ‘even if guilty, shouldn’t be a crime,’ from fringe figures.

            Then there were these folks:

            Marion County Republican chair David Hall said that the accusations were irrelevant, presumably because the alleged crimes happened “40 years ago”. Bibb County Republican chair Jerry Pow said that he would support Roy Moore even if he committed a sex crime because he “wouldn’t want to vote for Doug” Jones, the Democratic candidate.[76] Covington County Republican party chairman William Blocker stated that he would still vote for Moore even if he had committed a sex crime. However, the chair in Geneva County, Riley Seibenhener said he would not support Moore if the allegations were true.[77]

            Who, despite being minor local figures are covered here because this is a man-bites-dog position. You can, if you try hard enough, find crazy assholes to support any position. However, despite Justice Moore being a long time power player in Alabama, who got reelected to the Alabama Supreme Court after being removed for refusing to comply with a court order, lost an election, which frankly would not have been losable, but for the actions/inactions of republican voters. And this was a situation where, unlike impeachment, the result isn’t ‘and another member of your tribe takes over the position.’

            There were serious stakes and people either crossed over, wrote in, or stayed home, rather than vote for Justice Moore. The fact that you imagine that proves your point is confusing to me.

    • teneditica says:

      Srsly? Maybe they wanted everyone to have access to it? What a ridiculously uncharitable post.

      • Enkidum says:

        I think in this case a charitable reading is incoherent. The idea that every aspect of congressional investigations need to be made publicly accessible is crazy, and certainly several of the people who did the storming were part of confidential congressional investigations of, e.g., Hillary Clinton.

        • mitv150 says:

          The issue is not “every aspect of congressional investigations need to be made publicly accessible.”

          The issue is that they should either make none of it public or all of it public, and not just the parts that help their argument. Because making it completely private is not going to happen, i.e., there is no chance that anything damaging to Trump will not be given immediately to the press (possibly in advance), you are better off making the whole process transparent by releasing full transcripts immediately.

          • Murphy says:

            In that case the same logic should have applied to confidential congressional investigations of, e.g., Hillary Clinton.

        • teneditica says:

          You’re moving the goal posts.

    • Aftagley says:

      1,2 and 4 – attempt to change the narrative. The republicans desperately want the discussion to shift from a substantive talk about what Trump’s done to a process talk about how his impeachment is being carried out.

    • S_J says:

      So, since 13 of the House Republicans who illegally stormed the inquiry hearing already had access to everything they were demanding access to, what motivations are there besides:

      You may be assuming that they knew this before they attempted to enter the room.

      Speaking from a position of mostly-ignorance on this event: if that knowledge was not available to those Republicans before they entered the room, does that change your position?

      • TakatoGuil says:

        If those Republicans did not know that their membership on certain committees granted them the right to be in that room (and I am absolutely positive that this is not the case anyway), then they should be immediately kicked out of the House and replaced by 13 people who understand what their job’s rights and responsibilities are.

        • TakatoGuil says:

          Too late to edit, but I just noticed it might seem I’m implying that it’s not the case that the Republicans are allowed in instead of what I actually mean, that it’s not the case that the Republicans didn’t know any better.

      • John Schilling says:

        Those thirteen Republicans were actual members of the House Intelligence Committee or one of the other committees participating in the meeting. They are allowed to participate in meetings like this one. Participating in meetings like this one is their job. Well, part of their job. The other part is to report back to the rest of the GOP about what happened but without blabbing the classified specifics.

        If a member of the e.g. the House Intelligence Committee doesn’t know that they are allowed to quietly and uncontroversially walk into the House SCIF to participate in a classified HIC meeting, then that puts them pretty near “too stupid to live” territory. And it doesn’t say much about the Republican Party that it chose such bozos to represent it in this arena.

        This was not a matter of a bunch of Democrats going into a locked room with a “No Republicans Allowed” sign and then burying the details in some obscure corner of the bureaucracy. The appropriate Republicans were invited from day one, where “appropriate Republicans” means basically the ones the GOP selected at the start of the 116th Congress to attend this sort of meeting.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Yes, their specific complaint, as I understand it, is not that they aren’t allowed in, but that their access to those materials, traditionally granted to all members of the committee unrestricted, has been restricted for Republicans to only with a Democrat staffer escort.

          This is obviously to prevent Republican leaks, but it’s still rather offensive and against tradition.

          • TakatoGuil says:

            Well, Republicans have been rather offensive and against tradition (*cough* stealing a Supreme Court seat in addition to a wide variety of federal judge positions *cough*) these last few years, so I can’t say that there’s much room for them to complain now that the tables have turned.

          • cassander says:

            @TakatoGuil

            How is the senate not consenting to a nominee “stealing” a supreme court seat?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @TakatoGuil

            Sure, it could absolutely be a case of “what goes around comes around”. Although reciting the long list of both sides back and forth norm violations would be fun, but let’s leave it at “both sides feel the other started it”.

            I am just pointing out they are making a real and actual complaint, not being idiots.

          • TakatoGuil says:

            @cassander
            For the Senate not to consent, it would have had to hold a vote. That never happened. That’s both offensive (because the only reason not to hold a vote instead of just not confirming a nominee is the knowledge that actually holding the vote will lead to confirmation) and against tradition (because of how blatantly partisan it was).

            @EchoChaos
            My point is that the Republicans actions in the last few years are sufficiently fractious as to make complaints about “offense” and “against tradition” null and void. It is not a question of “who started it”, but a question of magnitude.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            It is not a question of “who started it”, but a question of magnitude.

            I’m sure that from your perspective, the magnitude of the Republican’s sins is far greater than the Democrats, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that from the perspective of Republicans, it’s the opposite.

          • TakatoGuil says:

            Perhaps, but I will note that only one of us can be right and I have, “Prevented a democratic president from placing qualified applicants in various judicial roles including the highest one possible for no reason that wasn’t partisan, crippling the judicial branch for a couple years in the process,” as my evidence so while I suppose there could be something equivalent I’ve not heard about, the mere fact that someone disagrees with me is not proof that I am wrong nor even a suggestion that I need reconsider without really strong evidence.

            Remember that Anakin’s point of view was wrong.

          • cassander says:

            @TakatoGuil says:

            For the Senate not to consent, it would have had to hold a vote. That never happened.

            (A) No it doesn’t. the senate can refuse it’s consent however it wants to. It has complete authority to set its own rules.

            (B) Forgive me for doubting that you’d feel much different had mcconnel simply voted garland down.

            (because the only reason not to hold a vote instead of just not confirming a nominee is the knowledge that actually holding the vote will lead to confirmation)

            No, the consequence of holding a vote is that a number of republican senators who were supporting McConnell in private while remaining studiously silent on ht matter in public would have to publicly declare their true position. And it’s possible that that would result in confirmation, but it’s much likelier that it results in a refusal of consent after McConnell does some whipping and offers a few favors. Had the republican caucus not supported McConnell, he could not have done what he did.

            “Prevented a democratic president from placing qualified applicants in various judicial roles including the highest one possible for no reason that wasn’t partisan, crippling the judicial branch for a couple years in the process,” as my evidence so while I suppose there could be something equivalent I’ve not heard about,

            Do I really have to dig up the quotes from republicans during the bush administration about them complaining about exactly this? This is not a new game.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            “Prevented a democratic president from placing qualified applicants in various judicial roles including the highest one possible for no reason that wasn’t partisan, crippling the judicial branch for a couple years in the process,” as my evidence so while I suppose there could be something equivalent I’ve not heard about

            I’m sure you’ve heard of the Mueller investigation, which crippled the executive branch for a couple of years in the process, for no reason that wasn’t partisan.

            And then, after the Mueller flop, maybe you’ve heard of the impeachment inquiry, which is meant to cripple the executive branch for a couple of years, for no reason that isn’t partisan.

          • TakatoGuil says:

            @cassander
            I won’t forgive you for calling me a hypocrite for no reason, no, because I wouldn’t have been. But thanks for asking me to!

            Gang of 14 also didn’t screw with a Supreme Court seat, didn’t hold up appointments for years and didn’t involve no votes being brought forward altogether, just filibusters. Different set-up.

            @jermo sapiens
            Mueller’s investigation did absolutely nothing to hamper the executive branch. You are egregiously misinformed if you think that it did. The impeachment inquiry, meanwhile, is investigating crimes that a variety of state officials say happened – including now John Bolton. Not partisan, and neither would actually be a problem if they were under my simple measure of “Once you’ve screwed with the Supreme Court for partisan BS, until you’ve proven trustworthy again, you do not deserve to be treated kindly or charitably,” already illustrated above.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Mueller’s investigation did absolutely nothing to hamper the executive branch. You are egregiously misinformed if you think that it did.

            You can claim that 1+1=3 in the most insulting tone you can muster, it wont change that 1+1=2.

            Once you’ve screwed with the Supreme Court for partisan BS, until you’ve proven trustworthy again, you do not deserve to be treated kindly or charitably

            The Supreme Court could still hear cases. Are there any particular reasons why you needed the Supreme Court to have 9 judges between the death of Scalia and the appointment of Gorsuch? I take it that you are very much opposed then to calls by Democrats to pack the court with extra judges.

          • cassander says:

            @TakatoGuil says:

            I won’t forgive you for calling me a hypocrite for no reason, no, because I wouldn’t have been. But thanks for asking me to!

            Look, I hear this claim on occasion. I am deeply skeptical about it. I could pretend otherwise, but it is what it is. I merely ask you to consider that you might be engaged in some motivated reasoning on the subject.

            Gang of 14 also didn’t screw with a Supreme Court seat, didn’t hold up appointments for years and didn’t involve no votes being brought forward altogether, just filibusters. Different set-up.

            (A) The gang of 14 were the people that brought a temporary end to a standoff, not the people who were causing it.

            (B) Filibustering is literally preventing matters from coming to a vote, and judges absolutely were held up for years without one, like Janice Rogers Brown. Some were never appointed, despite never having been voted down. Hariet Meirs was nominated for the supreme court and was defeated without a single vote being cast.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            @EchoChaos

            I am just pointing out that by this good faith effort, it is not even slightly being followed against some right-wing targets.

            And I do try not to do such things, but my frustration stems from the fact that lefties who are aggressive about slapping down blackface and racism immediately bring up inbreeding as a stereotype against my ethnic group.

            One of the primary methods I see Americans use to get their way, is to appeal to their audience’s sense of right and wrong. (Both left and right do this, and since you’re on the right, I’ll talk about the left.) Everyone knows oppression is wrong, so if the left sees oppression in an issue, they play that up. Everyone knows hurting children is wrong, so if the left sees children getting hurt, they play that up. Same for mocking people, stealing, cheating, and so on. People on the American right, being largely normal Americans, listen to the appeal to their morality, and feel guilty, and then concede.

            The way I see it, you can complain about the left’s selection of when to appeal to morality, and hope there’s someone listening who can enforce your morality with big sticks. I think we’ve done a thorough exploration of the ways that’s likely to play out.

            Another thing you can try is to use the same tool they think is legitimate, and appeal to their sense of morality in kind. People on the American left, being largely normal Americans, believe everyone deserves some base amount of respect, to appeal to their sense of respect. I think we’ve done less exploration of those ways. To wit, people will divide – as the right does – into people who internalize the appeal, and concede, and those who stick to their priors. Keep pushing, and you either continue to peel off more and more, leaving the stalwart few who look more and more unhinged, or you level off because your morality is actually butting up against what’s rightfully intolerable. Either way, you will have made progress.

            And either way, you will have to keep mindful of where the actual pushback and bad faith is coming from. You’re not likely to hear a bunch of people saying “you know, you’re right”; you only hear the pushback, and it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you haven’t gotten anywhere, because quiet people sound like nothing.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Paul Brinkley

            I think you meant this for a different thread.

            You’re not likely to hear a bunch of people saying “you know, you’re right”

            I have seen several lefties do exactly what you’re saying, fortunately, but SSC is a bit of an odd place.

            I think we can all agree it would be a better world if we all lived up to @Plumber’s example.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            I did, sorry. Good thing I included a quote.

            WWPD, indeed…

          • Plumber says:

            @EchoChaos & @Paul Brinkley,

            Thanks, you guys are very kind.

            I have admitted to have changed my mind about some past options I used to have but I can really only remember two times where I posted that I was wrong about something I posted on SSC, the first time the coffee wore off and I had been unkind towards libertarians, and the second time the argument was fresh in my mind  (IIRC I argued against that “the Democrats are now the Party of the poor and the rich and the Republicans are the Party of the middle-class), but in that case the reporter of the new facts that changed my mind wasn’t writing for The American Conservative or The National Review, or even one of the (few) Washington Post or (fewer) New York Times token conservatives – instead he was a grey haired pro-union Democrat (so “my tribe”), and while he has been a Cassandra about Democrats not doing enough to retain Rust Belt working-class support, he’s still anti-Republican Party and if the numbers had shown that the Republicans were still the “plutocrats party” I’ve little doubt that he would’ve said so, but the new numbers show’d what they show’d, and my arguing the correct position of 15+ years ago made me wrong now, for a reasonable definition of “now” (the last two years not the last two decades), and a reasonable definition of “the rich” (not just Peter Thiel), yeah the Democratic Party is now the Party of the rich, and not to acknowledge that when I found that out would’ve been deceitful.

          • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

            My armchair non-american impression is that Republicans are a party of labour producers and Democrats are a party of labour consumers. Democratic values, such as importing large amount of labourers unmolested, seem like they should appeal to both to people who don’t work and are OK with living off welfare and highly-paid superflous workers like HR and PR, since there’ll be more freed money and goods for them. Republican goals of bringing back manufacturing and improving labourers bargaining by reducing competition seem like they should appeal to those who produces or aspires to produce actual goods.

          • Once you’ve screwed with the Supreme Court for partisan BS, until you’ve proven trustworthy again, you do not deserve to be treated kindly or charitably

            Would that apply to both FDR and Lincoln?

            FDR notoriously threatened to pack the Supreme Court in a successful effort to get them to change their view of his farm program, resulting in the expanded interpretation of the Commerce Clause that is still with us, the doctrine that lets the federal government criminalize the act of growing and consuming marijuana within a single state on the theory that that can be justified as regulation of interstate commerce.

            Lincoln actually did pack the Court, appointing Stephen Field as the tenth justice.

            So it is your view that neither of them deserves to be treated kindly or charitably, at least until they have done something that proves them trustworthy?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Well, yes, neither of them should be treated charitably at all. 🙂

            But I agree that things can and do deescalate at times politically in America.

    • Corey says:

      A 4D-chess explanation I just made up (I don’t think it’s true, reality is always dumber than this):

      Trump has a penchant for doing something, denying having done it, getting all the supporters to enthusiastically deny it, then admit to it, getting all the supporters to enthusiastically support it.

      A common theory holds this is a power move: you don’t intend people to believe the lies so much as to demonstrate your ability to get your underlings and/or fans to lie on your behalf.

      This could be a similar power move from the GOP: get everyone who was Very Concerned about Hillary’s emails to argue that a breach of classification policy is heroic. Not to actually convince people, but to demonstrate the grip on the base’s reality.

      • Aftagley says:

        Not to actually convince people, but to demonstrate the grip on the base’s reality.

        Yeah, but to whom? The only potential audience I can imagine is fellow elected republicans as a way of keeping them in line, but most of them are in the base these days.

        • John Schilling says:

          Most of them are publicly proclaiming themselves to be part of Trump’s base. Trump may feel they need to be reminded to keep doing that, and he may have good reason to feel that way.

  12. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Which social media sites have public edit histories? So far I’ve got Facebook, Stack Exchange, and Wikipedia.

  13. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    https://khn.org/news/domestic-violences-overlooked-damage-concussion-and-brain-injury/

    This points at a serious problem but underestimates the scope. I’m going to use brain injury to cover both concussion and sub-concussive injuries.

    The article focuses on women injured by male partners, and this is a huge thing. However, it leaves out male injuries, and it leaves out same-sex couples.

    When I posted about this on facebook, I said that women were at greater risk than men because of the strength differential. I still think a strength differential increases the risk, but abusive women use weapons. Sometimes an aggression differential matters a lot more than a strength differential.

    Children are also at risk, both inside and outside of their families.

    • Enkidum says:

      I think the other big one is men just being more violent in general. I’m generally very wary of claims about inherent differences between sexes, but that seems to be one of them (something something overlapping distributions etc).

      • Aapje says:

        @Enkidum

        Domestic violent studies actually very strongly suggest that women are more often violent, although men may be more brutal. The latter is hard to disentangle from differences in strength.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          “Brutal” meaning more likely to cause significant damage?

          • DarkTigger says:

            I expect something like “more likely to use the fist instead of the palm of the hand when hitting”, “more ready to strike points on the body that can incapitate someone”.
            Which are all more likely to cause significant damage.

            On the other hand. In my rather meager expirience in Martial Arts training is any indication, at zero training there are a handful of mistakes I saw women do, that I did not see any men do, when hitting with the fist. So maybe men just have a higher “background trainings” level concerning physical violence that lead to more significant effects?

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            Imagine a person whose absolute strength, relative strength to their opponent, level of training/expertise and access to weapons gives them a realistic option to merely cause limited damage. If this person would have used more violence if they were stronger, better trained, had a gun, etc, then the actual level of violence doesn’t reflect the brutality of the person. The person is not limited by how much violence they would like to do, but by their ability.

            So this can explain why women cause fewer deaths* and serious injuries**, but the reason can also be that women actually intend to do less violence. There is no direct way to tell the difference, AFAIK.

            Indirect evidence, like women being more often violent is compatible with women being equally (or more) brutal, but also with women being less condemned for violence against men, which seems true and is presumably at least partly because women are weaker. In the hypothetical case where women would be equally strong, all possibilities seems compatible with the facts (women doing less, equal or more damage).

            * Although it seems far easier for women to present killings of their partner as self-defense
            ** Men are known to seek healthcare less and there is a strong stigma against men who admit to being abused by a woman, so it seems likely that men will (far) more often blame their injuries on non-DV reasons*** or evade healthcare altogether.
            *** Which women also did far more in the past, when the stigma against women accusing their husbands was far stronger

          • b_jonas says:

            Re Aapje, “Which women also did far more in the past, when the stigma against women accusing their husbands was far stronger”: yeah, the cultural expectation that women are supposed to tolerate abusive family seems so alien to me when I read Kalevala chapter 23.

        • herbert herberson says:

          brutality is what matters. the fact that female violence is ineffective isn’t some minor side-trivia that is unrelated to the fact that its surprisingly common, its the reason for it. this is not the kind of thing a study can pick up, but it is the kind of thing a human being can see pretty easily

          • EchoChaos says:

            This seems obvious. For physical abuse, the weaker partner, especially if the difference is as dramatic as average man versus average woman, is at substantially more danger of short term and long term harm.

          • albatross11 says:

            It would be interesting to investigate this. I’d expect that both biology and society incline men to be more violent than women, but either or both may also install some blocks against being too violent against *your* woman. But it would be interesting to know what the DV statistics look like for gay and lesbian couples.

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            I’d expect that both biology and society incline men to be more violent than women, but either or both may also install some blocks against being too violent against *your* woman.

            IDK, much of my upbringing strongly emphasised that you shouldn’t hit a woman under any circumstances whatsoever and I have good reason to believe this to be the overwhelmingly prevailing message.

            That this later got diluted (in certain circles) into: “I’d never hit a lady, but that’s no lady” is another matter. Nevertheless, I have never encountered an “it’s acceptable to be violent towards women” message in the wild – not even growing up in the Middle East.

          • albatross11 says:

            FWIW, I grew up with the same rule. Hitting a woman was basically equated, in my upbringing, with being white trash[1].

            [1] That is, it was equated with being from a low-class uneducated background.

          • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

            Are you suggesting men are normally violent and expected to be violent against someone else’s woman?

            If anything, blocks against “your” woman would be loosened since it’s man’s responsibility to discipline her. Same as it being unacceptable to beat someone else’s children. Of course both are predicated on being just – unjustly beating anyone is frowned upon.

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            FWIW, I grew up with the same rule. Hitting a woman was basically equated, in my upbringing, with being white trash[1].

            [1] That is, it was equated with being from a low-class uneducated background.

            Oddly enough, it’s my impression that the “no hitting women” rule was a thing in the lower classes just as much as in the higher ones (growing up in a Communist country meant that my peer group was pretty diverse class-wise). Of course, even the lower class needs someone to look down on, so the meme was that beating women was something the lumpenproletariat (essentially: the criminal element) did.

            Also, I think ARabbiAndAFrog brings up a good point: if there was any situation where violence against a woman would be in any way acceptable, it would be when it was your woman and she did you wrong – essentially the exact opposite of the original proposition.

          • quanta413 says:

            this is not the kind of thing a study can pick up, but it is the kind of thing a human being can see pretty easily

            I otherwise agree, but this statement makes no sense to me. I’m pretty sure you could pick this up in a multiple types of studies which greatly strengthens the evidence.

            You could also look at things like hospital admittances for violent trauma, etc.

            Not looking at domestic violence, but all crimes, men are arrested much more often than women, but the gaps aren’t as large if you look at crimes like fraud, embezzlement, or forgery. It’d be very strange if domestic violence didn’t follow the broader criminal pattern (and the well measured differences in aggression levels and upper body strength).

        • Garrett says:

          Related, but different point: I’ve also heard [citation needed] that women are much more likely to strike first. Perhaps under the assumption that the man won’t strike back.

          • spkaca says:

            “Perhaps under the assumption that the man won’t strike back.”

            An assumption that can exist and create a structure of incentives. Anecdotage: one man, known to me, received several physical assaults from his wife over several years. It stopped after the one and only occasion he hit her back.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Anecdotage: one man, known to me, received several physical assaults from his wife over several years. It stopped after the one and only occasion he hit her back.

            A mite depressing, but that happened to me too, around age 11. I had a bully abruptly stop bullying me forever after I got mad at him once.

            It is possible that a careful adult could solve a lot of bullying among kids by teaching the victim to attack back. The trick as I see it is to make clear to the victim that they aren’t to attack out of vengeance, but rather to make the bully think picking on them only brings trouble. This might be easy, if the victims are naturally pacifist – getting them to retaliate even once will be the hard part.

          • cassander says:

            if the victims are naturally pacifist – getting them to retaliate even once will be the hard part.

            I suspect that the harder part will be that, on average, the victims are considerably smaller than the persecutors.

          • acymetric says:

            A mite depressing, but that happened to me too, around age 11. I had a bully abruptly stop bullying me forever after I got mad at him once.

            I hesitate to propose this as a real solution, as there are all kinds of potential problems, but I had a similar experience right around the same age (except that basically everyone stopped bullying me, not just the one kid). I got suspended for 3 days, but I suppose it was worth it?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Same experience here with a bully. Both major problems have been pointed out — the bully is likely larger and/or stronger than his victim. And the authorities frown on hitting back, especially effectively.

            (At one point in a different school, through experimentation I found they also frown on being in a fight without hitting back.)

          • Nick says:

            (At one point in a different school, through experimentation I found they also frown on being in a fight without hitting back.)

            So the only thing that doesn’t get you in trouble is being the bully.

          • Randy M says:

            So the only thing that doesn’t get you in trouble is being the bully.

            Finding the precise limit at which point the rules will be enforced and staying there.

          • ana53294 says:

            (At one point in a different school, through experimentation I found they also frown on being in a fight without hitting back.)

            It may be my experience, but there is a strong gender factor.

            A boy is not supposed to hit back a girl; a girl can choose to hit back or not, when attacked by a boy, and the boy will always deserve universal scorn*.

            *Either “You got hit by a girl” or “So you hit girls now, strong man?”

          • albatross11 says:

            Something like this happened to me, too, but it was more gradual. At some point in high school, I realized I was big and strong enough not to put up with bullying from people, had three fights/conflicts in about a month, and was no longer considered a fun target for hassling. For a couple of those, I got in moderate amounts of trouble, but nothing very serious.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think the practical goal is “make it clear that bullying me is not very much fun.” It’s actually okay to lose the fight, as long as that message is clear.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            [T]he harder part will be that, on average, the victims are considerably smaller than the persecutors.

            If so, that’s readily confirmed by inspection, and the solution is fairly easy in most cases: “why don’t you pick on someone your own size?”. (Well, except for laws that seem to make protecting school bullying victims practically impossible.)

            That said, albatross11 nailed it. If you’re the victim, and you’re smaller, you’ll lose in any toe to toe fight. However, you can make the price prohibitive. I’ve yet to see any victim who was so small that they couldn’t reach a bully’s nuts.

            (At a tangent, this is why I also don’t buy the argument that armed citizens should give up rebelling against a modern armed government as a lost cause. The point isn’t to go toe to toe.)

          • The Nybbler says:

            So the only thing that doesn’t get you in trouble is being the bully.

            Sure, especially if you’re in a group. As one vice-principal put it “They say you started it, and there’s three of them and one of you.” (the exact number I may not remember at this point). At another meeting they pointed out that I was involved in more fights than any one of the bullies, therefore the problem must be me.

            A valuable lesson, if not a very happy one: No one will defend you but you, and those who claim the duty will punish you for usurping it.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            A valuable lesson, if not a very happy one: No one will defend you but you, and those who claim the duty will punish you for usurping it.

            Umm, waitaminute. That wasn’t true for the bully; he had two others defending him. So that lesson isn’t quite right.

            Better lesson was probably “make yourself some friends”. They might not even have to be physically strong ones.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      When I posted about this on facebook, I said that women were at greater risk than men because of the strength differential. I still think a strength differential increases the risk, but abusive women use weapons.

      This. “Wife beats husband with frying pan” was played for laughs over numerous decades.
      Presumably abusive men know they can keep their wives fearfully in line with just fists.

      • mtl1882 says:

        Yeah, and I think this is very significant. I think there is a definite cringe factor most people have when it comes to a man hitting a woman that does not automatically trigger in the reverse situation. Whether this is rooted purely in cultural norms or goes deeper, I don’t know. But I think that in addition to the size differential, until recently, women in most communities were a lot more likely to be “stuck,” and were therefore generally and correctly perceived as more vulnerable. If they weren’t significantly weaker, they generally were more dependent financially and otherwise (even their clothing was pretty restrictive in a physical situation). At the very least, a man with a wife who sometimes got out of control could decide to take a lot of business trips and spend a lot of time at the office. There is also the major factor that they were quite often pregnant or nursing, and menacing a woman carrying a baby is more disturbing. Historically, it was much more socially than legally enforced, so it could function as a good rule of thumb without making a claim to the clean, impartial logic that is supposed to drive of the criminal justice system. It’s not an issue of cold logic, but it’s not random.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      When I posted about this on facebook, I said that women were at greater risk than men because of the strength differential. I still think a strength differential increases the risk, but abusive women use weapons. Sometimes an aggression differential matters a lot more than a strength differential.

      To be fair, men can and do use weapons, too. (I knew a prosecutor who could recount some rather gruesome incidents.)

      In light of the subthread on offense, this all raises a question I find interesting: how many people who think there ought not be such a thing as “punching up or down” with regard to offending people, think there also ought not be such a thing as “punching up or down” with regard to inter-gender assault? And similarly, for the other side? For those who think black-on-white racism exists and is wrong, do you also think woman-on-man assault is wrong?

      Or do you, perhaps, believe both are wrong, but they’re both “less wrong” (heh) than the same act in the opposite direction?

      I could see this being the preferred view of someone trying to be realist. I.e. punching up is still wrong, but more forgiveable, precisely when less damage is done. And because less damage is predicted.

      It’s even amenable to special circumstances. Woman hits man: “minor” assault. Man hits woman: major assault. Woman hits man with a weapon: also major. Lesbian mocks het males: minor insult. Lesbian mocks het males on her YouTube channel: major insult. And so on. Seems workable in light of both sides’ concerns.

      • Aapje says:

        Seems workable in light of both sides’ concerns.

        It has major problems, though. How about a woman hitting a much weaker man? A woman hitting an equally strong man? Etc, etc.

        Ultimately, you are taking valid reasons to judge people differently, like strength, but then don’t apply them directly to the situation, but instead apply them first to stereotypes, which you then apply to specific situations: Men strong + women weak = man hit woman not so bad.

        In theory, many progressives oppose this (although far more than do so in practice and/or they only apply it to their ingroup).

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          It has major problems, though. How about a woman hitting a much weaker man? A woman hitting an equally strong man? Etc, etc.

          That’s why I mentioned “special circumstances”. You can add whatever mods you think are appropriate, including a generic catchall where any special circumstance can be brought up and addressed. AKA a trial.

          And yes, trials work by what I consider a form of default logic, which is based on applied stereotypes. “X is innocent” unless we know more (X hit someone). Then we move to a new default (“first degree assault”) until we know more (X is a woman). Then a third default (“misdemeanor assault”) until we know more (X is Ronda Rousey), etc.

          I mean, we both know lots of people complain about trials being unfair, special interests, blah blah blah. I’m just trying to equip the crowd who can’t get past first principles with a better system for armchair judgement, given that that’s their hobby of choice.

          • quanta413 says:

            And yes, trials work by what I consider a form of default logic, which is based on applied stereotypes.

            This may be the most bizarre description I have ever heard of how the legal system works. Specifics are important in the judicial system, and statistics based suits like class actions or disparate treatment are more of an exception. But those still don’t function based upon stereotypes.

            Then we move to a new default (“first degree assault”) until we know more (X is a woman).

            You need to show where U.S. law says that it’s not first degree assault if if a woman punches someone in the face unprovoked if you’re going to make such an extreme claim.

            If instead what’s going on is that women are less likely to be charged with assault because they are less likely to cause enough damage to meet whatever describes “assault” (or battery), then you have how things work exactly backwards.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            This may be the most bizarre description I have ever heard of how the legal system works. Specifics are important in the judicial system, and statistics based suits like class actions are more of an exception.

            I admit it’s not a description I normally see on the internet, but is it really that bizarre? You say specifics are important. I notice that those specifics are based on stereotypes, often based in turn on statistics.

            Default: X is innocent. Basis: people are stereotypically innocent.
            Default: X is guilty, given that X hit someone. Basis: people who hit are stereotypically guilty.
            Default: X is less guilty, given that X is female. Basis: women who hit are stereotypically hitting in response to being victimized.
            Et cetera.

            Would it help to think of it as a computer algorithm? Think about how you would design it.

            I think if a court produced a finding of fact that a woman hit someone, the default position would be that they’re guilty of assault, but that’s only because a formal finding of fact would (I think) automatically come with a brief debate over why it happened, concluding that it had been unprovoked.

            But when the claim “X is a woman” first enters the judicial system, it isn’t in formal court; it’s typically (I’ll venture) when the dispatcher is taking the call, and then it undergoes another informal filter when the LEO arrives to assess the situation. Maybe you know more than me about how things play out when a guy calls 911 and says his wife is beating him, but I’m betting the dispatcher’s metaphorical eyebrow goes up even as they professionally direct an LEO to the scene, who in turn is probably expecting nothing much until they find out, holy crap, the wife is a UFC contender.

            Or, as I’m guessing is more frequent than a formal arrest, the LEO informally rules that the guy’s probably going to be fine after the LEO delivers a stern warning to the 140-lb Mrs. Knuckles and then reports back an “all clear when they get back to the patrol car.

            So to be clear, it sounds like you’re saying that LEO is going to treat “woman hit her husband” 100% equally to “man hit his wife”, ceteris paribus, and I’m saying that LEO is probably going to be a bit pragmatic, in the way that any official will be when trying to save a little paperwork. Do you think that’s accurate? If so, can you persuade me that I missed something?

          • quanta413 says:

            Default: X is innocent. Basis: people are stereotypically innocent.
            Default: X is guilty, given that X hit someone. Basis: people who hit are stereotypically guilty.
            Default: X is less guilty, given that X is female. Basis: women who hit are stereotypically hitting in response to being victimized.
            Et cetera.

            Would it help to think of it as a computer algorithm? Think about how you would design it.

            That is not at all how the first step works. I am not aware of a single crime where you are stereotypically considered guilty of a criminal violation even if 90% of the people who the cops bring in are guilty. Even if 90% of the whole population is known to be guilty. If that was true, the state could mail out speeding tickets each month without even putting cops on the road and require citizens to prove they’d always driven below the limit.

            The idea that people who hit someone are “stereotypically guilty” is a slightly strange way of putting it, but I agree that that’s roughly accurate.

            The third step is statistically true, but not how it’s going to work in court. Now, a woman can make an affirmative defense i.e. admit she was guilty of hitting her husband but try to prove it was because he was abusing her, but unless I’m mistaken the burden is still on her to prove the abuse (although not to the standard that would require convicting the husband). And the same would be true if a husband hit his wife; he too could raise a defense that he had hit his wife but it was in self defense.

            Now, in court, it may be that this defense works more often for women. But that completely meshes with my story that injuries or abuse in each specific case is what matters more.

            And there is no way in hell I’d design an algorithm like that for people in a legal system. When you design an system to operate on measures that happen to be correlated with what you want right now, but don’t have to be correlated with what you actually want you’re making another example of Goodhart’s Law in action. People in the legal system would abuse rules based upon statistical averages to the hilt, and the very assumptions that originally linked what you cared about (guilt in individual cases) to group averages would likely break.

            Now that you measure the wrong thing, you’ll get a lot of what you measured and not much of what you wanted.

            So to be clear, it sounds like you’re saying that LEO is going to treat “woman hit her husband” 100% equally to “man hit his wife”, ceteris paribus, and I’m saying that LEO is probably going to be a bit pragmatic, in the way that any official will be when trying to save a little paperwork. Do you think that’s accurate? If so, can you persuade me that I missed something?

            Notably, you’ve switched your claim from being about how trials work

            trials work by what I consider a form of default logic

            or how the legal system works when filing charges

            Then we move to a new default (“first degree assault”) until we know more (X is a woman).

            to how a responding LEO would work. That’s a different topic because LEOs necessarily have to respond more quickly and with much less knowledge of what’s going on. When speed matters and uncertainty is high, you may decide that taking shortcuts and being less accurate now in order to get things done now is worth it. The system above the LEO can prevent many mistakes from propagating further through the system since it has the luxury of time to do more fact finding.

            Also, I have said nothing about how police officers operate so here

            it sounds like you’re saying that LEO is going to treat “woman hit her husband” 100% equally to “man hit his wife”, ceteris paribus

            You’re thinking things that I didn’t say or even imply. If you talk about trials and charges which involve judges and attorneys, and then I respond about how those usually work why would that describe how I think officers work?

            What little I’ve heard about domestic violence incidents is that LEO’s are extremely cautious about entering any domestic violence incident. Doesn’t matter what the specifics are. I’ve heard some would rather enter a bar and break up a bar fight.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            To cut to the chase:

            trials work by what I consider a form of default logic

            Ohhhh. Whoops. Yeah, I meant the entire legal system in there, sorry.

            I mean, I still think trials work by default logic, only with a lot of the information already brought forth (e.g. the LEO judged it was worth making a formal arrest).

            I am not aware of a single crime where you are stereotypically considered guilty of a criminal violation even if 90% of the people who the cops bring in are guilty.

            So, you were drawing the line between first step and second step wayyy earlier than I did. There’s a point in court where, once the prosecution has brought forth enough information, the court’s going to assume the defendant is guilty if the defendant says nothing. That’s where I’m drawing that line.

            Even if 90% of the whole population is known to be guilty. If that was true, the state could mail out speeding tickets each month without even putting cops on the road and require citizens to prove they’d always driven below the limit.

            If you like, break this process up into smaller steps. The legal system assumes you deserve a speeding ticket on the basis of a couple of photographs from their camera. It assumes you’re innocent if they don’t get your check. It assumes you deserve a court date if their officer checks the photos again and confirms they have the right make, model, color, etc.

            (Like I said before, this is probably going to come off to you as “technically true, but very oddly phrased”. That’s fine. I just think it’s a cleaner way to think about how the system functions, given that I had to visit a subset of it from a logic programming direction for a previous job.)

            What little I’ve heard about domestic violence incidents is that LEO’s are extremely cautious about entering any domestic violence incident. Doesn’t matter what the specifics are. I’ve heard some would rather enter a bar and break up a bar fight.

            I think it depends a lot on the part of the US. If it’s some apartment complex in a big city, I expect LEOs to be a lot more formal and circumspect. If it’s a small town, the LEOs are likely to be familiar with the couple’s history. They might even know them personally.

            I know a defense attorney in VA who told a story of a stabbing incident. Town of ~10k people IIRC. Her tone was clear about where the guilt probably lay. (To your credit, she treated it professionally, and her client ended up walking; to mine, he totally did it, but nothing much came of it afterward. The judge probably knew that, and let it go anyway.)

          • quanta413 says:

            There’s a point in court where, once the prosecution has brought forth enough information, the court’s going to assume the defendant is guilty if the defendant says nothing. That’s where I’m drawing that line.

            Concluding something after you have enough evidence in that direction if no additional evidence is forthcoming seems pretty far from the normal connotation of the word “assume”.

            Not what you’re saying, but I’m pretty sure silence itself can’t be held against you. And if I remember correctly there are different legal systems where silence can be held against you.

            If I was trying to describe it in term of defaults, I’d say that the U.S. system has specific defaults that often are intentionally set in a way that doesn’t agree with the average or typical case. You could phrase everything in terms of default logic, but the choice of default in the legal system is often not going to match the default you’d get by asking “what is true in the world?”.

            I think it depends a lot on the part of the US. If it’s some apartment complex in a big city, I expect LEOs to be a lot more formal and circumspect. If it’s a small town, the LEOs are likely to be familiar with the couple’s history. They might even know them personally.

            I know a defense attorney in VA who told a story of a stabbing incident. Town of ~10k people IIRC. Her tone was clear about where the guilt probably lay. (To your credit, she treated it professionally, and her client ended up walking; to mine, he totally did it, but nothing much came of it afterward. The judge probably knew that, and let it go anyway.)

            I agree that small towns will like operate differently especially pre-trial. Local LEO can operate with way more knowledge of individual people which is going to make everything different. I don’t think I’d say that involves default reasoning (or maybe it sot of does, but both that and more legalistic reasoning are both going to be partly overridden by specific knowledge that LEO’s have).

      • quanta413 says:

        Or do you, perhaps, believe both are wrong, but they’re both “less wrong” (heh) than the same act in the opposite direction?

        Moral considerations do not flow from statistical averages over groups.

        Women are physically less dangerous to men on average, so the average case of a woman punching a man will be less damaging than the average case of a man punching a woman. But average cases aren’t real cases.

        It shouldn’t matter who is hitting whom in the sense of “what groups do these people belong to?” It matters why someone is hitting someone else and how much damage they are doing to the other person in each specific instance.

        • Aapje says:

          ‘No hitting’ seems like a pretty decent rule, even if the damage is little. Why would we need to allow anyone to hit people for no good reason?

          Also, an interesting question is the extent to which physical abuse and psychological abuse is related. It seems plausible that women are a lot more effective at psychological than physical abuse, so if our acceptance of both is calibrated based on physical damage, women get to mete out more psychological damage than men.

          • quanta413 says:

            I agree it’s usually bad to hit people, and “no hitting” is a fine rule. I also think it’s worse if it hurts them more. That’s the distinction I’m trying to make.

            It’s ok to hit someone in self-defense, although I can’t think of many other situations where it’d be ok.

            Also, an interesting question is the extent to which physical abuse and psychological abuse is related. It seems plausible that women are a lot more effective at psychological than physical abuse, so if our acceptance of both is calibrated based on physical damage, women get to mete out more psychological damage than men.

            Maybe? I haven’t noticed a pattern, but in the same way that men are more likely to attack other men than women, I wouldn’t be surprised if women are more likely to psychologically attack other women than men.

          • LesHapablap says:

            If you count sleep deprivation as torture, and most people regard it as at least a form of psychological torture, then I believe most women commit psychological abuse in most relationships.

            This came up today as one of my staff was too fatigued to do his job properly today, as his often-manipulative fiancee kept him up all night crying and arguing. Every guy in the office had similar stories of our significant others doing the same thing. It is extremely draining and stressful, especially if they do it multiple nights in a row.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          It shouldn’t matter who is hitting whom in the sense of “what groups do these people belong to?” It matters why someone is hitting someone else and how much damage they are doing to the other person in each specific instance.

          I think this isn’t how jurisprudence is normally carried out (at least, in the US, and I’m guessing most Western nations). Moreover, I think it’s not even seen as the ideal practice. Children can have extremely negative intent when they hit each other, but US policy is to treat them with metaphorical gloves named after them. Why? Assault is assault, but these are kids – tiny humans with little experience in where to plant fists.

          Unless they’re 220-lb 15YO kids with gang experience, etc.

          Similarly, if an average person hits another average person, that’s assault, a misdemeanor. If the former person happens to be a pro boxer, however, that’s assault with a deadly weapon, a felony.

          Finally, we don’t say “no harm done” and move on if someone drives their car on a busy sidewalk in anger and manages to hit zero people.

          Now maybe you’re saying we can still express judgement as a function whose inputs are intent and damage, and if so, I won’t disagree. But in that case, I’ll say that intent is determined only indirectly, which is how a lot of this gets complex; and I’ll say that we all have elaborate formal systems for handling that complexity, so now the question is about what we want to argue about. If we want to argue over what to do formally, then I’m going to say we’ll have to read up on what our formal systems do, and prepare for a lot of inside baseball. If we want to argue on what a layman’s deontology should be wrt assault, then I’m going to say we should probably look at the default logic system I mentioned earlier, with the implied assumption that the formal system might overrule in cases we haven’t considered yet.

          • quanta413 says:

            I think this isn’t how jurisprudence is normally carried out (at least, in the US, and I’m guessing most Western nations).

            What I’m saying is closer to how jurisprudence works in the U.S. (although lacking in all nuance) than what you’re saying. Although I was describing moral considerations not jurisprudence. Let’s look at a description of the California Penal Code for example or the text. You’ll notice there is lots of detail about your specific intent (the “why?” that I was talking about) that has to be proved to convict you of assault. It’s all about the specifics of each case, not about making judgements based upon statistical averages and revising by adding detail.

            Similarly, if an average person hits another average person, that’s assault, a misdemeanor. If the former person happens to be a pro boxer, however, that’s assault with a deadly weapon, a felony.

            You don’t have to hit someone for it to be assault, that’s battery. In California “An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another” and ” A battery is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.”

            Someone being a former pro-boxer doesn’t legally triggers an upgrade to “with a deadly weapon”. Hands and feet aren’t considered deadly weapons unless they are used in a way that would likely cause “Great Bodily Injury”.

            But whether or not this is true depends on the specifics of the case. Someone who wasn’t a pro-boxer could plausibly strike with enough force, and you don’t have to use something statistically proven to be a significant source of great bodily injury to people. If you attempt to injure someone by beating them in the face with a frozen durian or something equally ridiculous, that might get you the upgrade to “with a deadly weapon” even though there may have been no significant sample of assaults by frozen fruit before much less durian.

            Finally, we don’t say “no harm done” and move on if someone drives their car on a busy sidewalk in anger and manages to hit zero people.

            We’re getting pretty far afield of the original examples now, but I don’t see how this helps your point rather than mine. My original response was about cases where someone succeeded in causing harm. The law also takes into account intent to cause harm but intent usually requires “a guilty mind”. It depends on the specific of the given incident not on statistical averages.

            Now maybe you’re saying we can still express judgement as a function whose inputs are intent and damage, and if so, I won’t disagree. But in that case, I’ll say that intent is determined only indirectly, which is how a lot of this gets complex; and I’ll say that we all have elaborate formal systems for handling that complexity, so now the question is about what we want to argue about. If we want to argue over what to do formally, then I’m going to say we’ll have to read up on what our formal systems do, and prepare for a lot of inside baseball.

            We express it as such, and the formal system tends to work closer to the way I described morality. I’ve made my mild inside baseball argument already.

            I say “tends to” because class actions or disparate impact suits may work differently in that they consider the average effect of the behavior of some legal entity like a corporation on some group like employees or consumers. But this is partly in order to get around issues of time and expense in dealing with lots of little suits and uncertainty.

            If we want to argue on what a layman’s deontology should be wrt assault, then I’m going to say we should probably look at the default logic system I mentioned earlier, with the implied assumption that the formal system might overrule in cases we haven’t considered yet.

            Layman’s deontology has some stereotype-based rules and takes shortcuts, but I think people are often aware that these are shortcuts. In cases of uncertainty, you often have to fall back upon a guess when making a decision but that’s due to lack of knowledge not because the morality (or legality) of any given situation is determined by stereotypes or averages. But when people know the full details, I think they’re pretty flexible about interpreting what seemed like rules without exceptions if you interpret what they say literally.

            In practice, I agree that people may be somewhat careless, but that’s because a lot of the time there isn’t enough benefit to gathering the necessary information to making an accurate moral judgement. Making the moral judgement often has no bearing on what that person will do, because the incident is very far away and doesn’t directly affect them.

            The “men hitting women” rule I think probably is somewhat stereotype based, and I think likely has some roots in human reproductive biology as well as in the fact that women tend to be physically weaker.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Let’s look at a description of the California Penal Code for example or the text. You’ll notice there is lots of detail about your specific intent (that’s the “why?” that I’m talking about) that has to be proved to convict you of assault. It’s all about the specifics of each case, not about making judgements based upon statistical averages and revising by adding detail.

            I think we’re not really disagreeing. I’m saying that, in this case for instance, the CPC defaults to you being innocent of assault unless there’s information brought forth that indicates your specific intent. If that information is absent, the CPC defaults to your innocence. That’s all.

            Well, that, and the unwritten assumption beneath it, that the court believes that if there is no such information, then it’s more likely that you’re innocent of assault. But that’s a claim about probabilities. It’s a stereotype, in the dry sense of the word.

            [pro-boxer stuff]

            Okay, fine, I’ll buy that. But it doesn’t change my overall point. Similar to above, I’m saying that if you can produce evidence that someone struck with enough force, in a way likely to cause Great Bodily Injury, then the new default is different than the default the court would have used absent that evidence.

            If it feels like I’m making a technically true claim in a very odd way, then I think that’s probably the way to take it. I think we both agree that our formal justice system has built up a great deal of rules for treating all sorts of cases, and I also think they all boil down to default reasoning, but in a way you probably needn’t consider interesting, since I think the original debate is more about how we should think about cases from our armchairs.

            The “men hitting women” rule I think probably is somewhat stereotype based, and I think likely has some roots in human reproductive biology as well as in the fact that women tend to be physically weaker.

            That’s what I think, too. And, deontologically speaking, I’m willing to say it’s the rule we ought to retain. I don’t think of applying that rule as careless in the lazy sense. Rather, people make judgements like this, and we’d probably bankrupt ourselves if we made full investigations of every hitting. (And at the same time, if we run across evidence in normal course that we ought to look further, then the shoe’s on the other foot.)

          • quanta413 says:

            If it feels like I’m making a technically true claim in a very odd way, then I think that’s probably the way to take it. I think we both agree that our formal justice system has built up a great deal of rules for treating all sorts of cases, and I also think they all boil down to default reasoning, but in a way you probably needn’t consider interesting, since I think the original debate is more about how we should think about cases from our armchairs.

            Ok, maybe why I’m confused is your original examples seemed to me to be based upon reasoning from averages or modal cases across groups or something like that which didn’t imply the same thing to me as “default” does. If I hone in on the idea of “default” reasoning or logic that seems broader and more flexible. A default can be constructed without any particular reference to groups, and a default may be chosen that doesn’t line up well with typical cases. I think the system isn’t quite conceived this way although it will agree in as much as there are logical equivalencies.

            You can describe the legal system from a more traditional view that involves a more ordinary form of logic combined with a large amount of its own tradition of interpretation. The system itself is written in that manner and presented that way. I don’t know that much is gained by attempting to rephrase the whole system into default logic that may or may not appropriately preserve the meaning, and I think quite a bit may be lost if you’re not careful about the translation.

            For example, case law often flows from specific single cases that were ruled a particular way for such and such reasons. Then the single specific case affects all future cases with close enough specifics (in theory, judges may or may not like certain precedents). The flow is kind of backwards from the natural flow of a logical system that moves from general to specific. But you could if you liked, say that precedents create new defaults or subdefaults or something like that.

      • Corey says:

        how many people who think there ought not be such a thing as “punching up or down”

        How many such people even exist? I don’t know of anyone who thinks you can’t or shouldn’t punch *up*. (With the usual caveats that it’s a big world and I’m sure there’s somebody)

        • Randy M says:

          I don’t know of anyone who thinks you can’t or shouldn’t punch *up*.

          That depends on how metaphorical “punching” is, but if we’re closer to the literal side of things–fists or boycotts vs jokes or complaints–I think you shouldn’t punch up or down.

          Now, back, that you can do. Punch back good and hard.

          • Corey says:

            I’ve never thought of punching up or punching down in terms of actual punching, just being the butt of jokes.

          • Randy M says:

            I think I misread Paul’s question. Yeah, generally the term is used in comedy or the like.

            Though it’s a problematic phrase, come to thing of it, because the analogy doesn’t work; one does not choose targets for punching based on their societal power.

        • quanta413 says:

          If the effect is relatively harmless like most jokes or criticism, I don’t see why someone shouldn’t be allowed to “punch” up, down, or sideways. They may make a bad joke or a stupid criticism, but there should be healthy leeway here as long as the intent isn’t malicious.

          When actual harm will be done, I don’t think people should “punch up” or “punch down”. For example, it’s not acceptable to slander or assault people.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          @Corey, Randy M, quanta413

          I was talking about “punching up” in either jokes or physical punches. Generally, any damage, including reputation, feelings, or property. I’m sometimes bold like that. But that’s the thing: people are sensitive to both, if we go off what people say.

          Slander (and libel): Everyone seems to agree it’s wrong in any direction.

          Jokes: I see two major sides. One says punching up is okay, punching down is not. The other says they should either be both okay or both not.

          Fists: I see two major sides. The side the OP brings up, says that punching up is okay (or at least less not-okay), punching down is not. The other side, that I’m more used to, says both aren’t.

          So I’m talking about how Jokes-1 seems to line up with Fists-1, and Jokes-2 lines up with Fists-2, in theory. (And if we’re trying to be more realist, we lean toward Jokes-1 and Fists-1.) But when I look at the real world, the group that takes Jokes-2 seems to line up roughly with Fists-1, while the Jokes-1 side seems to line up behind Fists-2, and I’m wondering (1) whether that’s really true, and (2) if so, why.

          • Randy M says:

            This reminds me of the saying “They call our speech violence and their violence speech.”
            There’s not reason for the same rules to be applied to assault and critique.

          • quanta413 says:

            I’m think people who openly believe Fists-1 are rare and weird enough that what they think about Jokes may reflect some other consideration that we’re not taking into account in the abstract.

            But my vague feeling is that most people who believe Fists-1 also believe Jokes-1. People who believe Fists-2 I think may believe either Jokes-1 or Jokes-2.

            But what you’re saying is somewhat vague, so maybe I’m just coming up with different examples to fill in the specifics than you are.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Okay, some examples of what I’m thinking of.

            Jokes-1: “Lesbians can mock straights, but straights should never mock homosexuals. Blacks can mock whites, but whites should never mock blacks.”

            Jokes-2: “No one should mock other people; it’s disrespectful. It doesn’t matter who’s a member of which group. At best, the mocker is just eroding social trust.” or “Mocking other people might erode social trust, but if it’s clearly just jokes, then everyone should just take it as that and nothing more, and any group can be a target.”

            Fists-1: “A man should never hit a lady. But it’s probably nothing when a woman hits a man; in fact, he probably had it coming, like, he just said something boneheaded. Just a little marital spat.” or “Boys shouldn’t hit girls. Girls probably shouldn’t hit boys, but if a boy can’t take a hit from a girl, he’s got other problems…”

            Fists-2: “Hitting is never okay (unless it’s self-defense, then maybe). If it’s kids, they’re grounded. If they’re grownups, it’s assault.”

            I’ve seen a lot of Jokes-1 on various media feeds, through either positive (rare) or negative (more common) affirmation. It seems to line up with people who are also avowed pacifists (Fists-2). I see Fists-1 people who get irritated that we can’t all have one big ol’ roast where anyone’s a target, since it oughtta be all in good fun.

  14. fion says:

    It’s a well-known fact in politics that the other side lies and my side is honest. Left-wingers believe the right-wing politicians and press lie, and right-wingers believe the left-wing politicians and press lie. I am a left-winger and, surprise surprise, I believe right-wing politicians and press lie.

    But I think this is actually true, and not just a product of my bias, at least here in the UK. Here is a summary of violations of IPSO (press regulator) rules by various newspapers in the UK. The second plot in that link shows specifically inaccuracy rulings. All of those papers are right-wing with the exception of the Daily Mirror, a left-wing tabloid paper. The Daily Telegraph and The Times are supposed to be serious newspapers, while all the others (including the Daily Mirror) are considered lower quality papers.

    Apparently IPSO doesn’t cover the Guardian or the Independent, which are generally considered to be “serious” and left of centre. But here is an article in, um, the Guardian (ok, I know how this looks, but its data comes from an independent source) saying that the Guardian is the most trustworthy, accurate and reliable newspaper in the UK.

    So is this just another manifestation of me believing that “my side” is better and ignoring (or being unaware of) evidence to the contrary? Or is it actually true that right-wing sources are more prone to lying to further their agenda than left-wing sources? Is it true in the UK but false elsewhere?

    • Lambert says:

      It’s not like the Guardian and the Independant talking out their arses is unheard-of.

      And anyway, smart people don’t tell flat-out lies. They weave cherry-picked half-truths with speculation to create a narrative that nobody can poke a definite hole in yet doesn’t reflect what the real world is like.
      And I’m talking about both sides here.

      • EchoChaos says:

        Or even entirely true things that are made important.

        Mass shootings in the United States are a good example for the left. They are rare and statistically basically dangerless to the average American. Being killed by a rifle in the United States is less likely than being killed by a blunt object (club, etc).

        Or immigrant killings, if you want to take a right-wing talking point. First generation immigrants are substantially less likely to murder than the average American.

        But without telling a single lie, just by emphasizing every single mass shooting/immigrant killing, you can create a narrative that the United States is a shooting zone for the innocent/flooded with dangerous foreigners.

        • AlexanderTheGrand says:

          What a valuable perspective, thank you. I think sins of emphasis are one of the most important things to keep in mind when navigating today’s world.

          Another phrasing of this is that OP may be objectively right about their claim, but using that metric as a measure for “news source goodness” is a subjective choice.

        • Enkidum says:

          Note that this is essentially the same analysis that Chomsky has made about the media’s foreign policy coverage for many, many years (with the addition that he added that most of this selection process is unconscious).

          • quanta413 says:

            I think it’s all mostly unconscious regardless of the topic at hand.

            I think that’s why practically all the noninterventionist politicians or pundits in the U.S. tend to be considered whacko along some other random direction. The selection process for stories favoring “America should spread freedom and democracy” is just so strong that the only significant people challenging it are fringey weirdos. Tons of paleoconservatives, communists, libertarians, and anarachists would prefer a much more isolationist policy, but outside the fringed everyone is pretty pro-intervention.

          • DeWitt says:

            The blade itself incites to violence. Indeed.

      • fion says:

        Yeah, the cardiologists/Chinese robbers thing is definitely a huge issue. But I think it’s the case that the Mail, Sun etc tell flat-out lies in addition to that.

      • albatross11 says:

        A common pattern I’ve seen is reporters who tell a story that follows some comfortable/desired narrative, and then either omit the contradictory facts that would undermine the narrative, or downplay them. NPR seems to leave them out or downplay them; the New York Times seems to like to stick them in the last couple paragraphs of the story.

        • CFDguy says:

          Funny story,

          As a young man, I listened to NPR every day.
          A while back one of their stories was basically:
          “Innocent black man shot by cop; he didn’t have a gun.”

          I thought that was some very weird phrasing, and looked it up in the newspaper. Their version was:
          “Man shot for attacking cop with knife.”

          I haven’t touched NPR since then.

    • Murphy says:

      I believe it’s entirely possible.

      There is no law of the universe that society matches reality at the mid point.

      But there’s a couple of meta-problems.

      Lets say we we both design a protocol that can be carried out by a soulless unfeeling automaton to examine data on the issue in some way.

      One of us gets back the result and one of us the results say the left is worse, the other says the right.

      Lets say our actual methods are equally “good/bad”

      Now we want to let the world know about our findings.

      What are the odds that one of us will find it harder to publish in a scientific journal or in the guardian?

      I remember an old story about a researcher who found that one side of the political aisle showed on average more [negative personality trait].

      They were getting lots of media attention and citations.

      Then a minor flaw was found in their data analysis, left and right columns had been swapped, the exact same thing applied but to the other political persuasion. Suddenly the citations and mentions in news articles dried up.

      Re-run this a few hundred times.

      So imagine a hypothetical reader, they search the news and the literature. what do they find? probably a large dataset highly biased by the views of publishers and academia.

    • MorningGaul says:

      According to the wikipedia article on the IPSO (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Press_Standards_Organisation):

      IPSO is a self regulator paid for by its member publishers though the Regulatory Funding Company.[18]

      Which makes me think “what would be different if the IPSO was a sockpuppet dedicated to give negative publicity to the competitors of their members?”

      That’s not saying I give much credit to the daily mail, I don’t even know what the members of the IPSO are, but that’s only weak evidence by itself.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      In no way is Guardian more reliable than Financial Times, so your source is, um, not trustworthy (it conveniently omits FT). All British online media except FT and BBC seem, from my continental perspective, blatantly biased toward their prefered political agenda, much more than serious American ones.

      • fion says:

        Yeah, good point; FT is pretty good quality and it’s a shame they were excluded. Maybe it’s because their readership is smaller? BBC these days is basically just another mouthpiece for the government.

        • Aapje says:

          FT is no more excluded than The Guardian. They chose not to sign up to IPSO.

          Note that IPSO is itself a rival to IMPRESS, which is another regulatory agency that no big newspaper signed up for, but whose membership gives an exemption to the GDPR, because they have official approval.

          So there are (political) layers here, where membership of these organisations may be an attempt to fight regulation and/or to get a competitive advantage over informal journalism.

          • fion says:

            I think AlesZiegler may have been referring to my second link, which listed the Sun, Mail, Times, Express, Telegraph, and Guardian. The source is OFCOM but I haven’t tried to chase down the numbers nor why these papers were chosen.

    • teneditica says:

      > IPSO is funded entirely by the shadowy Regulatory Funding Company (RFC) which is dominated by a handful of national and regional publishers.

      > The RFC writes the rules which dictate what IPSO may or may not do, and (as then RFC chair Paul Vickers made clear to the House of Lords Communications committee) must approve any rule changes.

      > IPSO’s rules are therefore written and controlled by the very newspapers it purports to regulate “independently”.

      Source: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mediapolicyproject/2016/10/31/impress-vs-ipso-a-chasm-not-a-cigarette-paper/

      • fion says:

        If anything this makes it even more damning for the IPSO members such as the Daily Mail who have been found to be full of factual inaccuracies.

    • Fitzroy says:

      Also, bear in mind that IPSO does not independently audit newspapers at will, but it responds to complaints from the public.

      If the progressive left are more likely to make complaints about inaccuracies in the right-wing press than vice versa (and I suggest that this is the case) then you will necessarily see more findings of inaccuracy against the right-wing press than the left but that is not necessarily reflective of reality.

      • fion says:

        If the progressive left are more likely to make complaints about inaccuracies in the right-wing press than vice versa (and I suggest that this is the case)

        I think it probably is the case, but it would be the case if the progressive left was made up of disproportionately more fact-conscious people than the right. I suggest that this is the case.

        • jermo sapiens says:

          I think it probably is the case, but it would be the case if the progressive left was made up of disproportionately more fact-conscious people than the right. I suggest that this is the case.

          I would suggest that both the right and left have preferred policies and worldviews, and that both the right and left emphasize facts which support their policies and worldviews, and downplay or deny facts which do not.

          What makes a person right-wing or left-wing is their temperament: do they value order over novelty, safety over adventure, etc…, not whether they are more “fact-conscious”. To the extent that fact-consciousness is a thing, I would expect it to be normally distributed across both the left and the right.

          To paint your ideological enemies as allergic to facts is lazy and trite, and suggests to me that your exposure to them is done through an ideological filter.

          • fion says:

            To paint your ideological enemies as allergic to facts is lazy and trite, and suggests to me that your exposure to them is done through an ideological filter.

            And yet there are successful movements in politics right now that are heavily based on the confident assertion of factual inaccuracies. I am opposed to such reprehensible dishonesty and so the charlatans in question are my “enemies” in some sense. Do you see the problem this poses? Any liar, however brazen, can ignore those who challenge them as “painting them as allergic to facts, which is lazy and trite”.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            And yet there are successful movements in politics right now that are heavily based on the confident assertion of factual inaccuracies.

            Like this?

          • And yet there are successful movements in politics right now that are heavily based on the confident assertion of factual inaccuracies.

            Most obviously the climate catastrophe movement, which confidently asserts negative implications of climate change enormously larger than the IPCC projections.

            Two of my favorite quotes from an IPCC report:

            Some low-lying developing countries and small island states are expected to face very high impacts that, in some cases, could have associated damage and adaptation costs of several percentage points of GDP.

            With these recognized limitations, the incomplete estimates of global annual economic losses for additional temperature increases of ~2°C are between 0.2 and 2.0% of income … .

        • Phigment says:

          I think it probably is the case, but it would be the case if the progressive left was made up of disproportionately more fact-conscious people than the right. I suggest that this is the case.

          Devil’s advocate:

          This would also be the case if the right-wing was made up of disproportionately more fact-conscious people than the left, such that they were more likely to report problems in even right-leaning publications.

          Indeed, you would EXPECT publications that catered to more fact-conscious people to get more complaints about factual inaccuracies than publications whose audiences care less about getting the facts right. And you would expect left-wing publications to mostly be patronized by a left-wing audience, and right-wing publications to mostly be patronized by a right-wing audience, so…

          I have no idea if any of this is true, obviously, but that’s the point; it’s easy to construct a plausible story for any particular observation. Making up narratives that confirm your own biases is a trap, and it’s not a hard trap to walk in to, because the bait is very, very tempting.

          • fion says:

            Good point well made. In my defense, I was mainly offering my “just so” story as a counterpoint to that of Fitzroy.

    • Two McMillion says:

      It’s not particularly difficult to find an issue where one “side” is lying and the other is telling the truth. The problem is that there are lots of issues and each side is likely lying about at least some of them.

      Additionally, the worst lies are always told using the truth- or rather, a portion of it, with the inconvenient bits omitted.

      • Yeah, we could back and forth on examples of lying but what’s the point? There is no grand arbiter of lies, so the question isn’t going to be resolved.

    • Aapje says:

      @fion

      There is a difference between lying and telling falsehoods. Telling a falsehood that you sincerely believe is true, is honesty of the deceptive kind.

      The other side is more honest than you* think, because they actually tend to believe things that you considers so obviously false that only total idiots could believe it. Since they seem capable of dressing themselves, people tend to conclude that the other side is being deceptive. Your own side is also more honest than the other side tends to think, because you honestly believe things that the other side considers so obviously false that only total idiots could believe it.

      Both sides cherry pick evidence, typically believing that the evidence that supports the other side is poorer.

      I could go on and on.

      * No matter what your side is.

      Apparently IPSO doesn’t cover the Guardian or the Independent, which are generally considered to be “serious” and left of centre.

      The actual reason is that IPSO only regulates those who sign up for it, which The Guardian didn’t. I don’t understand why you would trust IPSO to tell you anything about how accurate newspapers are, when newspapers can just decide to not participate.

      There are a ton of possible explanations of why right-wing newspapers top the rankings, other than that right-wing newspapers are more often wrong/deceptive, for example:
      – Right-wing newspapers are more masochist or more interested in being correct, signing up and/or staying signed up even when they know they will face many corrections
      – IPSO has a left-wing bias (most newspapers seem to be leftist, UK newspapers make the rules for IPSO, 1 + 1 = ?)
      – Right-wing newspapers are less likely to correct stories without intervention by IPSO (most investigations seem based on complaints)
      – Right-wing readers are less likely to complain than (a subset of) left-wing readers
      – Left-wing media state things in a way that is equally deceptive, but not technically false (or the falsehood consists of a quote, which is not rebutted)

      saying that the Guardian is the most trustworthy, accurate and reliable newspaper in the UK.

      I was able to very quickly find an article where The Guardian proves its own statement to be a falsehood in the next paragraph of the same article (bold is mine):

      When asked to provide evidence that mothers were making up abuse claims, she said she had personal experience and “submissions from people that this is the case”.

      The claim is a prominent grievance among men’s rights groups, but has been widely discredited in multiple studies.

      According to researcher Jess Hill, who has authored a book on domestic abuse called See What You Made Me Do, one of the most thorough studies on false abuse allegations from Canada found that non-custodial parents, usually fathers, made false complaints most frequently, accounting for 43% of the total, followed by neighbours and relatives at 19% and mothers at 14%.

      I suspect that this mistake is because The Guardian didn’t listen to what Hanson actually said, but interpreted it as something very different based on a stereotype & then set out prove that stereotype false.

      I followed The Guardian a bit in the past and they got called out for their biases and mistakes in the comments a lot, until they closed the comments for most (if not all by now) articles.

      • fion says:

        You make a lot of good points, and unfortunately I need to leave in two minutes so I don’t have time to try and respond properly, but I do want to disagree with your statement that most papers seem to be leftist. The Guardian and the Mirror are on the left, and some people make an argument that the Independent is as well, though if so it’s only very weakly, but all the other papers (pretty much) are on the right. The Mail, the Express, the Telegraph, the Times, the Sun, the Star… Maybe we could make an argument that the FT is near the centre, but definitely on the right of centre.

        • Aapje says:

          Are you talking about the papers that were features in the article you linked or the general newspaper landscape? In most Western countries, the general newspaper landscape seems to lean left relative to the populace.

          Then again, the UK is very tabloidy, so they might be different.

          • fion says:

            I was only really talking about the UK (but I think what I said is true of the “general newspaper landscape” in the UK).

            It’s interesting that we seem to be such an outlier (assuming your impression is correct).

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      I’ll say it again: media bias isn’t just in what a source says that might be false, but also in what it doesn’t say, that might be true.

      (Some of this is touched on above. A source can and will leave out context, including context that will make their core story much less important than it’s reported to be.)

    • John Schilling says:

      It’s a well-known fact in politics that the other side lies and my side is honest

      Are you using the definition of “lie” that means only making explicit and provably false assertions of fact, or the definition of “lie” that means acting with malicious indifference to the truth such that other people end up believing falsehoods?

      Because the left basically controls the journalism schools, along with the universities in general, and mostly doesn’t even bother to deny that any more. Journalism schools are where reporters learn how to present whatever view or narrative they are pushing while carefully avoiding explicit assertions of provably false fact. And how to edit newspapers so as to make sure individual reporters don’t slip up on that point. So they wind up pretty good at avoiding type-1 lies in their journalism.

      The right gives the left no credit avoiding type-1 lies when they catch them in so very many type-2 lies. And they don’t bother as much avoiding type-1 lies themselves because A: they are at least consistent in not caring and B: they don’t have as much access to first-rate journalism graduates.

      The amount of false stuff you’ll wind up believing if you uncritically read a “right-wing tabloid” is probably not too far off what you’d wind up with from a “serious left-leaning newspaper”, but with the right-wing tabloid it’s easier to apply critical thinking to catch the lies and easier to blame the right-wingers for blatantly lying to you rather than admit you were fooled by clever half-truths.

      • Enkidum says:

        I think this is a pretty good analysis… but isn’t it worse to blatantly lie than end up producing clever half truths?

        • Statismagician says:

          Epistemologically, sure, but possibly not in practical terms – depends on the lie and the half-truth and who believes which.

        • John Schilling says:

          Why? They both produce the same undesirable end result, they both reflect the same malevolent intent, and the clever trickery is usually harder to catch.

          Mostly, I think we give clever trickery a pass because we want to be able to use it ourselves without thinking poorly of ourselves. That’s not a good thing.

          It’s also not good that we are producing a generation’s worth of people who, when caught telling type-2 lies, will be outraged and indignant about being treated as liars and will support each other in this outraged indignation. We’re replacing respect for the truth with respect for cleverness in deception.

          • Enkidum says:

            They both produce the same undesirable end result

            Yes.

            the clever trickery is usually harder to catch

            Yes.

            they both reflect the same malevolent intent

            Hard disagree. I think the vast majority of such cases are ones where the people involved are sincerely misleading themselves just as much as they are anyone else.

            EDIT: Actually I also don’t think I agree with the first claim, now that I think about it. Believing things that are obviously and verifiably false seems worse to me than believing things which are misleading because taken out of context, or something along those lines.

          • John Schilling says:

            We’re talking about people believing things that are objectively and verifiably false in both cases. The “misleading” statements, mislead people into believing something more than what was explicitly stated – that’s pretty much the definition of misleading – and that something more is objectively false even though the misleading statement was just fuzzy.

            And if you put yourself forward as a journalist, then no, you don’t get a pass on that because you “sincerely believe” the false thing. You’re supposed to have been the one who figured out whether it was true or false, so you could tell the rest of us.

            And really, if we find that you always very carefully stop short of explicitly stating that false thing while you keep “misleading” other people into believing it, then we’re going to be skeptical of the bit where this was allegedly a sincere mistake on your part, because how did you know exactly where to stop?

          • Enkidum says:

            It seems to me that the logical extension of your argument is that good journalism is impossible.

            There have been, in the entire history of the human race, precisely 0 people who are immune to cognitive biases about things they care about. That’s kind of the point of websites like the one we’re currently commenting on.

            Reputable newspapers have practices in place to mitigate some sources of bias, such as printing no overt falsehoods, and trying to get quotations from opposing sources. Plenty of things still slip by. But it’s still better to have those practices than not.

            There’s just as much bias, lies by omission, and so forth in right wing as left wing papers. But what you’ve argued is that there’s an ADDITIONAL thing in the right wing ones that isn’t there in the left: outright deliberate falsehoods. This means they’re worse. I can’t parse this any other way.

          • albatross11 says:

            What we want from journalists and scientists is an honest and competent best-effort at getting to and reporting the truth. Their biases will screw them up sometimes, other times they will just flat make mistakes, but they should be making a serious attempt at learning the truth and conveying it accurately.

            Management and funding sources and social pressure can all create an incentive for the journalists/scientists to fudge their answer or stop looking once they have what looks like a desired answer. But the best ones don’t like to do that, so mostly they just figure out what they’re not supposed to study and then go look into something else.

          • John Schilling says:

            It seems to me that the logical extension of your argument is that good journalism is impossible.

            Perfect journalism is impossible. Good journalism is quite possible.

            Good journalism almost certainly requires that journalists not operate in ideological bubbles, left or right. It also requires that they not rely too much on the “you can’t prove this wasn’t an honest mistake” when their mistakes keep coming so close to the provable-misconduct line and always in the direction preferred within their bubble. This isn’t the journalism we have, at CNN or Fox News, the Washington Post or the Washington Examiner, or as near as I can tell at their British counterparts. I don’t think I am out of line in demanding better, and withholding trust until I see better.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Reputable newspapers have practices in place to mitigate some sources of bias, such as printing no overt falsehoods, and trying to get quotations from opposing sources. Plenty of things still slip by. But it’s still better to have those practices than not.

            Bias can be thought of as the motivation to believe certain things. Since, as you say, “precisely 0 people […] are immune to cognitive biases about things they care about”, it ought not surprise you that if the motive to believe certain things is greater than the motive to be Tarskishly correct, then it’s great enough to color not just the object level content, but also even the practices to mitigate bias in that content.

            How many times have you seen an article where “$opposingSide could not be reached for comment?” How hard do you think that journalist tried? Did they call ahead, schedule an interview for the following week, and sit down for half an hour or so like they did with the primary source? Or did they leave an email with a request for comment two hours before the story had go out the door? How do you know? How many times have you noticed the big sheet of laminated colored plastic between a newspaper’s news section and its opinions section, so that readers could not fail to notice they were venturing into non-factual claims? Or the unmissable switch from 10-pt Times-Roman font to 15-pt Comic Sans?

            There’s just as much bias, lies by omission, and so forth in right wing as left wing papers. But what you’ve argued is that there’s an ADDITIONAL thing in the right wing ones that isn’t there in the left: outright deliberate falsehoods. This means they’re worse. I can’t parse this any other way.

            Suppose I give you two buckets of water. One has normal looking water. The other has bits of dirt visible in it. Which one are you more likely to pour through a filter and let sit with an iodine tablet for half an hour before you drink it?

            What if you later find out both were pulled from a stream teeming with harmful microbes? Which bucket is more likely to have you sitting at the latrine an hour later with a case of the runs? The one you filtered because it was obviously dirty, or the one you went ahead and drank because it looked clean and you were really thirsty?

            It seems to me that the logical extension of your argument is that good journalism is impossible.

            It’s about as impossible as good science. Which is to say, it’s as impossible as performing science in a way that never produces false results. Which is to say, as impossible as something that we don’t really think of as good science, but rather “impossibly perfect science”.

            Good science, by contrast, still produces false results, but in the limit, results whose degree of falsity decreases. Good journalism can do the same. But that journalism is only good if the journalists are motivated to Tarskian levels of truth, more than to any other beliefs they might have.

            And the best known way to do that is to make sure the journalist pool has people with diverse sets of prior beliefs, then let them do their thing, both normal reporting and bias mitigation, and then aggregate the whole thing using a trusted mediator, and expect results which might still be false, but in the limit, less false than any single source. Then you do that again the next day, and the next, so that that limit is more likely to work in your favor.

            These days, that trusted mediator is going to have to be yourself, and even that doesn’t work unless you’re that devoted to Tarski, too.

        • Lambert says:

          No. Blatant lies are easier to disprove.

        • benwave says:

          I think it’s not better, because I think the point of a newspaper is TO be a reliable/credible source of information, not to NOT lie. Misdirection or lying still makes the newspaper less credible, and me less likely to take what it says seriously.
          I am aware that this is not what most newspaper readers select for, but allow me my own preferences here 😛

      • fion says:

        I don’t know about your country, but in the UK, the left absolutely does not control the journalism schools. Journalists are heavily dominated by the privately educated. They’re upper-middle class (not to mention white and male). They went to school and university with the people who ended up being the politicians (and the bankers and the businessmen…). In fact they’re often the same people. Johnson was a journalist; Osborne is now an editor. They represent a rich, right-wing club and their journalism reflects that. There are a few exceptions, but only a few.

        Also, unlike in the US, there is much less money on the left of British politics, which I think is a big contributor to the problem.

        And don’t fall into the trap of thinking that this is “serious left-wing papers” vs. “right-wing tabloids”. The Times and the Telegraph are “serious” papers and the Mirror is not. I know there’s a popular idea around here that the left are the middle class elite and the right are the ordinary working people, and that might be true in the US, but I really want to push back against the idea that it’s true in the UK.

  15. I W​ri​te ​B​ug​s No​t O​ut​ag​es says:

    What’s a good period for dollar cost averaging? As in, I have a pile of cash, and want to put it into stocks over X years.

    Bonus question: how does the answer change if instead of cash, I have an insufficiently diversified stock portfolio, and want to move it into ETFs?

    • mitv150 says:

      It is my understanding that dollar cost averaging is not meant to tell you over what time to invest a specific pile of cash, but to tell you that there are significant benefits to continuous regular investment, regardless of where the market is at any given time.

    • DinoNerd says:

      Good question. With the money in hand, and not earning much of a return, there’s a bit of a tradeoff. You don’t want to invest it all at a market peak, but you don’t want to stay out forever. It looks to me like we’re currently having scary corrections every couple of years, and a recession or crash approximately once a decade. I’d use those numbers to decide, and probably err on the side of shorter – so maybe 1-2 tyears. But I’m just a random casual investor, not any kind of expert.

      With insufficient diversification or other portfolio rebalancing, I’d move faster, because this is a regular event. My ideal for stock from the company I work for (stock plan or RSUs), is to just routinely unload it at the point where its gains become “long term”. But if there’s a lot of money involved, I might sell a chunk of stock a week until I’m rebalanced, rather than all of it at once. (I also know the company cycle – there’s usually a dip twice a year right after the stock plan delivers stock to employees, because of immediate profit taking, so I try to sell the month before.) And I’m sloppy – I never seem to manage to rebalance on time.

    • Why wouldn’t you just put the whole thing into stocks immediately? Or put half in stocks and keep half as cash?

      • I W​ri​te ​B​ug​s No​t O​ut​ag​es says:

        Well, I don’t simply want to maximize the expected value of my investments. I want to maximize the expected utility of my investments, which is, uh, proportional to the logarithm of the value…

        Haha, just kidding, the expected utility is determined mostly by whether I invest right before a crash and get totally pissed about that.

        • Corey says:

          The standard defense: If your timeline is long enough for the money to be in stocks, crashes don’t matter, just wait them out and eventually you will be better off.

    • sidereal says:

      There’s probably not really a satisfactory answer. I have seen many people suggest half in a lump sum and half in installments over a year. But on average 100% lump-sum-today will outperform, at slightly higher variance and larger risk of regret. Time in market, and all that.

  16. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Summary of The Body Keeps the Score, a book about the debilitating effects of trauma and ways out the effects.

    What would a society which made major, effective efforts to minimize trauma look like?

    If the body is that essential for the good functioning of the mind, uploading is going to be even harder than it currently appears to be.

    • Ohforfs says:

      Read and weep. But most likely it’s not as bad today.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auguste_Ambroise_Tardieu

      (Hmm, the article on wiki doesn’t give justice to him, in the way that it doesn’t paint accurate picture of his findings, limiting itself to mostly sexual abuse. His findings were also about even more widespread physical abuse)

    • Aapje says:

      @Nancy Lebovitz

      The book (or the reviewer) seems to make the classic mistake where when A can cause B, they conclude that B means that there is A. They even go so far to argue that learning is a sign of trauma!

      When being human is equated to being traumatized, then the solution to remove trauma is…

      What would a society which made major, effective efforts to minimize trauma look like?

      Mass graves or dehumanizing people by wireheading.

      Many believe that moderate trauma is necessary for growth and the absence of trauma is very damaging, like too few pathogens can cause lots of auto-immune disease.

      Can you have love & friendship if you try to eliminate even moderate trauma?

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        On the other hand, if a problem is presented as overblown, the problem still might be serious.

        Suppose that minor trauma is a part of life, but major trauma is destructive and somewhat avoidable.

        • Aapje says:

          I’m not saying that the problem isn’t serious. I’m arguing that presenting completely normal human behavior and experiences as severe trauma is a very bad idea.

    • b_jonas says:

      > What would a society which made major, effective efforts to minimize trauma look like?

      Scott’s fiction piece “https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/06/19/the-gattaca-trilogy/” has a paragraph on this. Read from “Anton was five years older.”

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        @ b_jonas

        Thanks– I’d missed the GATTACA piece.

        Have some related sf.

        By Sheckley (title forgotten): Everything in life depends on your mental health score. Showing anger will lower your score. Eventually, he can’t pass for calm any longer and he’s imprisoned for life in VR. Faint memory– there’s some looming threat, and anyone who’s aggressive enough to face it is imprisoned.

        By Tom Purdom (title forgotten): There’s psychotherapy where actually works. It’s so expensive people are wrecking themselves trying get enough money.

        By Margaret St. Clair (Rations of Tantalus/The Rage): People are required to take tranquilizers to prevent fits of rage, and the viewpoint character can’t get quite enough of the tranquilizer. It turns out that the tranquilizer causes the fits of rage, and the other part of the problem is not being allowed to show normal amounts of desire and frustration.

  17. mitv150 says:

    Any perspectives on ADHD in younger children?

    My five year old (kindergarten) is showing a lot of the classic signs and several of the education folks at school have expressed concern. I’m being told to wait until the end of kindergarten for evaluation.

    I don’t really see the point to this. If therapy or medication can benefit, why wait? Do they expect him to grow out of it? What’s the concern?

    My biggest concern is that, due to some of his struggles, either he or the school will form the notion that he is “bad student” and that this will hamper his further development.

    • acymetric says:

      My biggest concern is that, due to some of his struggles, either he or the school will form the notion that he is “bad student” and that this will hamper his further development.

      Unless your school is very small I would not worry about this at the kindergarten level. I probably wouldn’t worry too much about it even if it is a small school. People love a redemption story, so if it turns out the kid does have ADHD and in a year or two he gets proper treatment/medication and he turns into an excellent, attentive student that might even be better than if he had been a good student all along.

      As far as “why wait”, 5 years old seems awfully early to start treatment. Doesn’t basically every 5 year old show some signs of ADHD?

      • acymetric says:

        **Disclaimer about my opinions: Obviously I am not a doctor. I did receive an ADD diagnosis sometime around the 7th grade. Took Concerta for about a year, hated it and never took any medication again. 2 degrees (admittedly both are undergrad, but whatever) later I think I’m doing alright. I’m not opposed medication for ADHD in principal, but I believe it is massively overdiagnosed and that even for legitimate diagnoses it the medication is over prescribed.

    • bean says:

      I started on ADD meds during the summer before 1st grade. I still remember the first day I took them. I had been struggling to read before, but about 15 minutes after the first pill, I sat down and read through a stack of books. I’ve been on some form of medication (first ritalin/concerta, now modafinil) ever since. No notable long-term effects from starting that early.

      Not sure what to say over starting now vs starting later. I’d suspect that you won’t get pigeonholed too much, although it depends on exactly how it manifests. Mine was very much of the “staring into space” variety back then, and I was smart enough to get my work done, so I didn’t have trouble in kindergarten. It later became more outwardly weird, but I suspect that was rebound/withdrawal from the ritalin based on how I am on modafinil.

    • Statismagician says:

      My brother has ADHD. A specialized tutor helped him a lot with reading and math skills, but that started in (I believe) second or third grade; prior to that there isn;t really a lot of actual learning that’s done in school, as opposed to socialization and daycare. Similarly, many ADHD medications do weird things to brain or metabolic function; best to put that off as long as possible in a growing child. I forget which medication he ended up taking, but it seriously suppressed his appetite – he ended up very underweight and had to follow a diet plan.

      Also, mental health care generally, and particularly childhood ADHD, is really, really, really, unimaginably bad at both the specificity and sensitivity parts of accurate diagnosis; Scott has a post on this somewhere, I believe.

    • rahien.din says:

      For one, it’s because of the way kids develop. Every kid under 5 would meet diagnostic criteria for ADHD – according to the instruments used to diagnose ADHD, their attention span is “low” and they are “impulsive and hyperactive.” Between 5 and 6, you can diagnose ADHD but it should be done carefully. So, your kiddo is right at the cusp of being able to be evaluated.

      For two, it’s because stimulants will improve any person’s degree of focus, whether they have ADHD or not. So, even if your kiddo has improved focus with atimulants, it doesn’t mean they have ADHD.

      You know your child better than anyone. But as a bystander, I would want to reassure you that even if your kiddo has ADHD and goes untreated – and even struggles – for a while, they’ll still be okay. Medicines help. And when that happens, they will see that they’re not “bad,” they just benefit from certain treatments.

      So it’s worth taking this step by step and not rushing. Talk to your pediatrician, maybe initiate an assessment, see what it tells you, and go from there. Another option is psychoeducational testing – the school is required to provide this upon request, at no charge.

      • mitv150 says:

        Thanks for your thoughtful response. To be clear, I am definitely not rushing in to anything, this is a long going conversation of several years. I am trying to avoid being irrational in either direction: “drugs are bad! it’s just a phase” or “he’ll be hopelessly left behind if he’s not doing calculus by the end of kindergarten.”

        That being said, tt is not at all clear to me how your response speaks in favor of delaying treatment/diagnosis.

        If medication will help my child focus and be happier and more comfortable in school, but he doesn’t “have ADHD,” why is that a problem?

        If he is going to “grow out of it,” he’ll do so whether he takes medication now or not, but he’ll have been happier throughout.

        Is there a specific answer to this question, other than vague assertions that we shouldn’t medicate if we don’t have to?

        • rahien.din says:

          First and foremost : see your pediatrician. It seems like you have been really worried. In order for someone to help you, they would first have to ask you a lot of questions. However innocuous those questions could be, it’s not appropriate for random strangers to ask you those questions… or to know their answers!

          That said, he may be more focused on stimulants, but it’s not clear that he will certainly be happier. Kids who take stimulants may have appetite suppression. They may have headaches. And they may exhibit less personality – the drugs work by turning up the “executive functions” dial, and sometimes people are so hyperexecutive that they get kind of robotic. People don’t like that and they sometimes prefer the ADHD.

          These adverse effects may be acceptable if the drug helps the kid recover from a deficit. IE, there is what you call a “therapeutic balance” : the good effects outweigh the bad effects in a way that A. is meaningfully good to the patient, and B. allows their physician to make correct predictions. So if they have a diagnosis of ADHD, we can predict they will have trouble, and we can treat to reduce the probability of that trouble, which is what the patient wants.

          If there is no such deficit… then there isn’t a reasonable, non-Faustian way to determine that therapeutic balance. IE, you can balance out “trouble from disease” and “trouble from medicine,” but you can’t balance out “doing fine” and “trouble from medicine.”

          The latter case (fine vs adverse-effect-but-better-than-fine) is no longer a medical problem. It’s an engineering problem. Nootropics are a different kind of gamble.

          So he needs a diagnosis.

          • acymetric says:

            And they may exhibit less personality – the drugs work by turning up the “executive functions” dial, and sometimes people are so hyperexecutive that they get kind of robotic. People don’t like that and they sometimes prefer the ADHD.

            This was pretty much exactly why I discontinued when I was younger.

          • mitv150 says:

            Thank you – this was a very cogent response and makes a lot of sense. I am asking random strangers for perspective, not for an answer. Of course I will consult with our pediatrician and other relevant health professionals.

            What touched off my initial question is that I was specifically advised not to evaluate until the end of the school year (coinciding with his 6th birthday).

            My takeaway from this is: 1) I should not avoid evaluation, because evaluation and treatment may help. I now understand where the advice to avoid evaluation is coming from, so that helps me understand why its not for me.
            2) I should be very aware that a diagnosis (and therefore prescribed treatment) may not be right at this age (or any age).
            3) If medication is prescribed, I should be extremely watchful with respect to therapeutic balance.

        • Etoile says:

          Not a doctor, but as a parent I’ve read things out on the internet about it. It seems like, in the US at least, they tend to wait til 7 to diagnose it.

          One example that may lead a normal child to get diagnosed: boys mature slower than girls, and younger kids struggle more than older ones with sitting quietly and focusing. Thus, yours is a December boy, evaluated against the standard set by almost entirely January girls in your child’s school cohort, he will seem behind. (Obviously this is extreme, but you get the idea.)

          I don’t think it is a problem to get evaluated, as LONG as you don’t let the school pressure you into starting medication or placing him into “Special Ed” – an abyss from which it seems hard to climb once there.

          Also, luckily, it seems like getting evaluated and diagnosed does not equal medication: there’s all sorts of literature and providers out there who look at medication as last resort, and will recommend more physical exercise, reducing screen time, instituting routines, reducing sugar, delaying school by a year (i.e., start in 1st grade instead of Kindergarten) before prescribing the meds.

    • There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that ADHD meds can do more harm to kids rather than adults. There is much greater risk aversion as far as giving meds to children, which accounts for the reluctance, but this doesn’t seem too rational. On the other hand, the benefits are also essentially non-existent. Unless you are planning on tiger-parenting your kids, any head start they get now isn’t going to last to adulthood, just as the official program Head Start does not last to adulthood. And you’ll have to deal with paying for treatment and medication and dealing with all the bureaucracy, so ultimately I’d say no, don’t do it. See this if you have great trust in the “education folks at school:”

      https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/younger-kindergarteners-more-likely-to-be-diagnosed-with-adhd-2019011215756

    • baconbits9 says:

      It is not clear that ADHD is an innate disorder rather than being created by the school system itself. There was a Harvard study recently that claimed a 30% increase in ADHD diagnosis by birth month across the enrollment date (ie the kids born in the last month possible while being in that class had 30% higher diagnosis rates than the kids born in the first month), which would be pretty damning on its own.

      Additionally ADHD diagnosis has been increasing for the past 20 years, and at a fairly linear rate (which is not what you expect if the increases are from refining diagnosis and catching more marginal cases). This is correlated with an increase in schoolwork for young kids and pushing learning back earlier and earlier.

      My (layman, but reasonably informed and highly interested as a home-schooler) opinion is that schools currently are actively preventing natural development paths and these are causing significant issues for many kids. Focus and attention should be viewed as skills to be learned and not paper over with medication (except as a last resort).

      • mitv150 says:

        My (layman, but reasonably informed and highly interested as a home-schooler) opinion is that schools currently are actively preventing natural development paths and these are causing significant issues for many kids. Focus and attention should be viewed as skills to be learned and not paper over with medication

        This, if accurate, represents the best argument I’ve seen to avoid evaluation/diagnosis at a young age. If I understand correctly, you are suggesting “ability to pay attention” is more of a trainable skill than is accepted by the current paradigm. This suggests that medicating for ADHD may actively prevent the development of focus skills because reliance on the medication renders such skill development unnecessary.

        Is there any research to support this proposition?

        • acymetric says:

          I would say that another possibility is that even if it isn’t so much “learnable” (it probably is to at least some extent for the typical person) it is probably a part of childhood/brain development. Given that there are plenty of other areas where we don’t expect 5 year olds to be fully developed, I’m not sure why “attention span” or various other ADHD metrics would be one of them. Some of those kids are maybe just a year or two behind. The problem with starting medication at that age is…you never figure out if they were just going to grow out of it.

          I guess every couple years you could stop the medication for a while and see if they can still hack it (having grown out of it) but at that point it would be a little surprising if they could since they’ve never had to try to operate without the medication boost.

          That said, I don’t think you need to avoid evaluation at that age, just to be wary of immediately jumping to medication or of assuming that any resulting diagnosis is a permanent state for a 5 year old developing child.

        • baconbits9 says:

          I would say that focus and attention have aspects like weight, where there is both a strong natural tendency plus the ability to interfere for a different result (within limits).

        • baconbits9 says:

          Thinking about and rereading what you wrote I wanted to clarify something by way of example:

          There is research from the 70s (I don’t know if it has held up or not, just an example) that claimed early reading and having to focus on small words on a page caused vision problems in kids which required glasses to correct them. There are a couple of possibilities assuming the first part is true.

          1. The damage was more or less permanent and glasses were pretty much the way to go.
          2. The damage would be reversed with time without glasses.
          3. The damage would be reversed with time without glasses, but only if the kids stopped reading for a long enough period.

          I don’t have an opinion yet on ADHD and if it requires medication etc once it is inflicted, but I want to be clear- ADHD as a diagnosis came with other behavioral issues beyond a lack of focus for many kids. I think that the school system is actively causing damage to kids who are pushed beyond their developmental level to much, not simply that ADHD is a descriptive term for how the kids would behave in a better environment.

          If a child is showing signs of ADHD it might be any of

          1. Its just an age thing and they will grow out of it with time.
          2. Its the early stages of ADHD caused by something other than the school system.
          3. Its the early stages of ADHD caused by the school system.

          In the case of #3 just waiting and observing would likely not have the desired effect (or might but at an unacceptable rate, lots of variables), but it could be that at some point ADHD medication is the best option, like glasses would be in the above example.

      • Drew says:

        Focus and attention should be viewed as skills to be learned and not paper over with medication (except as a last resort).

        I agree with everything but this conclusion.

        We agree that schools are putting kids into a situation that they’re not adapted for. We agree that people can learn to function in unpleasant environments.

        But this doesn’t imply that there’s any virtue in learning to tolerate unpleasantness for unpleasantness’ sake. Often, it’s simpler to remove the unpleasantness.

        For instance, my water-heater died. I’m sure I could learn to endure cold-showers. But I’ll just fix the water heater.

        Similarly, now that I’m mature, I CAN endure long morning meetings without coffee. But why would I choose to do that?

        • baconbits9 says:

          My disagreement here is that your water heater is static, more or less it works or doesn’t work, and fixing it doesn’t impede its growth (because it has none). The correct option is to do your best to improve the environment for kids rather than keep them in an unhealthy environment and give them medication so that they don’t notice it.

    • Drew says:

      I was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age.

      The doctor prescribed a dose that was — in retrospect — unreasonably high. This became a problem because: the doctor was an authority figure, I tried to be agreeable in general, and my parent had just finished explaining how I was a broken disappointment.

      The result was that I didn’t advocate for myself and so spent several years on a dose of ADHD medication that was fairly unpleasant and just accepted the side-effects as normal. If I’d spoken up, I suspect my treatment could have been modified to be unpleasant.

      This is not an argument for or against diagnosing early.

      But, if you’re going to put your 6-year-old into ANY sort of long-term treatment, you have a an duty to be really, really, really proactive about questions like “how does this medication make you feel?” and “no, really, how does the medication feel?”

      • noyann says:

        > If I’d spoken up, I suspect my treatment could have been modified to be unpleasant.

        *less* unpleasant? Or a shift from ‘fairly unpleasant’ to merely ‘unpleasant’?

  18. albatross11 says:

    The blackface discussion below raises a kind of interesting meta-issue that seems appropriate for a CW-permitted thread: When some action or symbol or word choice is decried as offensive, the speaker doesn’t just mean “this offends me” or “this offends many people,” he generally means “you should also be offended on behalf of the people offended by this.” So if most blacks find blackface offensive, but most whites don’t really care, then the argument is that whites should take offense on behalf of blacks.

    Deciding whose offense should be taken up by others, whose should be ignored, and whose should be silenced or attacked as itself offensive is where the action is, here. There often seems to be a notion that we’re obliged to take offense on behalf of some groups or individuals. Some examples:

    a. PZ Myers’ treatment of consecrated host was quite offensive to a lot of Catholics–should everyone have joined in on our offense? Were non-Catholics obliged to join in on our offense?

    b. There have been occasional jackass publicity-seekers who announced their intention to, say, tear up a Koran on TV or something, offending the hell out of a lot of Muslims. Are non-Muslims obliged to join in on their offense?

    c. Many people with traditional values are offended by open homosexuality. Lots of people are offended or at least made very uncomfortable by trans people. Are the rest of us obliged to take offense on their behalf?

    d. Various cartoonists have drawn pictures of Mohammed, which offends some Muslims. Are we obliged to take offense on their behalf?

    e. Some people find some previously-widely-used terms offensive, like “Oriental,” “colored,” “blind,” “retarded,” etc. Are we obliged to take offense on their behalf, when those words are used?

    f. Some people are offended when aspects of their cultural heritage are used by others (or used casually by others). Should the rest of us join in on their offense?

    g. Some people find the names of sports teams (Redskins, Indians, etc.) offensive and demand they change. Are the rest of us obliged to also find those things offensive.

    h. Some people find interracial couples to be really offensive and upsetting. Should the rest of us join in and demand that interracial couples not offend those folks with their presence/visibility?

    i. Some people find disrespect toward the flag very offensive. Are the rest of us obliged to go along?

    and so on.

    A huge number of public outrage-fests and think-pieces seem to follow this pattern. The argument is over whose offense matters and whose doesn’t. The argument seems to be that we all are obliged to adopt a kind of transitive offense from some groups, but definitely not others. The people who are offended by being called “Oriental” instead of “Asian” deserve our support; the ones offended by gay or interracial couples appearing in public deserve our scorn. Either kneeling during the National Anthem or standing during it is offensive, and we just need to decide which one.

    I’m not convinced that transitively taking offense makes the world a better place very often. It’s mixed in with the normal social expectation of politeness, though–if you’re going around offending people all the time intentionally, I’m probably going to think you’re an asshole and treat you accordingly. OTOH, there are definitely people who take offense as a strategy, and others who are very sensitive about issues I don’t think are really all that important. And taking offense in public is also a way of getting a lot of attention, which is why we get a lot of it at present.

    • acymetric says:

      I have a lot of thoughts on this but I’m not really sure how to put them down coherently. While I mull it over, I’ll ask this: Is “blind” actually considered offensive now?

      • albatross11 says:

        I’ve seen people who seem to think it is, but most people don’t. It’s probably more like “black” vs “African-American,” where there was a push to change the acceptable term but it never really got much traction.

        • Nick says:

          Huh, I was told all growing up not to use “black”. Has that changed? Have the PC folks given up on that one?

          • mdet says:

            My memory only goes back to the 90s, but “black people” is entirely inoffensive and the default term outside of professional-speak. “African-American” probably got outvoted for being too verbose.

          • Plumber says:

            To me “black” implies skin color (with some caveats, Beyonce is ‘black’ despite her shade), while ‘African-American’ implies someone ‘black’ who’s ancestors have been on this continent for generations, so both Barack and Michelle Obama are black, but only Michelle is African-American (though arguably he is by marriage).

          • mdet says:

            Ironically, I use the terms the opposite way. Idris Elba is black, but he’s not African-American. Elon Musk is African-American, but he’s not black. Barack Obama is both African-American and black, Michelle Obama is black but not African-American.

          • Plumber says:

            @mdet,
            I get that, it’s putting the “African” as where the family recently migrated from, but when the specific nation on the continent is known (Kenya) and recent then “Kenyan-American” would be used instead (though actually that would be his Dad, with Barack being a “mixed Kenyan and Kansan” with “African-American” being used for those who’s immigrant ancestors are very far back.

            This also goes for “European-Americans”, someone who has both parents born in the same other nation (i.e. Ireland) would be “Irish-American, but add an Italian parent as well (a common mix) and then the general continent is used

            I do realize that “Asian-American” is commonly used even when the specific nation ancestry is known, but what you gonna do?

            Really I wanted a way to distinguish say Kamala Harris (Indian and Jamaican-American) from say Corey Booker (but even that doesn’t quite fit, most ‘African-Americans’ have some European ancestors as well, and it seems most who have American great-great-grandparents verbally claim some American Indian ancestry as well, whether black or white.

            I know at work I’m referred to as “one of the Irish guys” though my ancestors are decidedly more mixed.

    • jermo sapiens says:

      It’s a demonstration of power.

      PZ Myers can be extremely offensive towards christians because his side has the cultural power and christians are not only “not protected” by the left, they are actively oppressed. He would never do that towards muslims, which are a protected class of the left. The ones that attack christians and muslims (e.g., Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens) get rebuked strongly.

      Meanwhile saying stuff like “men arent women” can get you banned for life from twitter. There is no other logic for what is allowable or not in public life. Offend the left, get destroyed, offend the right, get promoted.

      By enforcing leftwing taboos and laughing at rightwing taboos, the left is just demonstrating what it can do.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Yeah, that sums it up perfectly.

      • The Pachyderminator says:

        PZ Myers can be extremely offensive towards christians because his side has the cultural power and christians are not only “not protected” by the left, they are actively oppressed. He would never do that towards muslims, which are a protected class of the left.

        That’s not true, though. The infamous communion host incident also included desecrating some pages from the Koran.

        • albatross11 says:

          Just for the record, I’d have considered him an asshole for the Koran thing even if he’d never done anything with consecrated hosts. I’m not offended by it, exactly, I just think doing it with the goal of getting attention and offending people marks you out as an asshole.

          • Randy M says:

            To differentiate between two offensive incidents, I think there’s a big difference between Koran burning and Mohammed drawing.
            In our culture, we use cartoons as a way of communicating pithy points. Yes, those points can be offensive, but the act itself isn’t. Our country itself, it’s founders, other religious leaders, present day leaders, they’re all fair game.
            On the other hand, we use book burning as a way of declaring anathema.
            It’s a difference of saying “There’s a problem with X” versus “X has no place here.”

            Muslims who are offended by the latter are trying to get equality (on this point, at least). But Muslims who are offended by the former are trying to get special treatment.

            There’s a case to be made for “respect each group with the form that is meaningful to them” but it’s definitely more of a demand than “don’t revile us in particular.”

          • The Pachyderminator says:

            @albatross11 Oh, I agree. I don’t like any of the “new atheists,” but IMO Myers is easily the worst of a bad lot, and the stunt in question is a good illustration of why. It had no intellectual point, nor was there anything interesting about it. Its sole purpose was to hurt religious believers and laugh at them for being hurt.

          • Nick says:

            @Randy M

            Muslims who are offended by the latter are trying to get equality (on this point, at least). But Muslims who are offended by the former are trying to get special treatment.

            There’s a case to be made for “respect each group with the form that is meaningful to them” but it’s definitely more of a demand than “don’t revile us in particular.”

            This reminds me of something I don’t think I’ve articulated before, which is that some such requests seem to appeal basically to respect, but aren’t actually consistent with respect. Like, there’s such a thing as courtesy, where many non-Catholics will still address a priest as Father, or total strangers will call PhDs Doctor, and it’s basically a matter of politeness and not anything meant, and not something anyone can be made to do, either. But I think we more commonly think of respect as something that should be sincerely felt and given.

            So for instance I run into problems processing requests for me to “just use the damn pronouns,” as a matter of common decency or respect no less, because it seems like I’m being asked to pretend. To put on a show of affirming a chosen gender when I actually don’t. I certainly haven’t had the experience, so maybe I’m misunderstanding it, but from my armchair that sounds more offensive.

            ETA: wording, a bit

          • Randy M says:

            But I think we more commonly think of respect as something that should be sincerely felt and given.

            If you want self-esteem, you want to be given heartfelt respect.
            If you want to demonstrate power, you want even people who dislike you to feel the need to acquiesce.
            Pronouns are a mix, I think, or varies by individual.

            In the case of titles, using them is also a demonstrating respect for the organization that bestows them. Someone who feels the Catholic church has zero authority may chaffe at using the term ‘Father’ in the same way they would a doctor with a mail-order diploma or a general appointed by a tin-pot dictator.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            I think there’s a big difference between Koran burning and Mohammed drawing.

            I don’t see one (assuming you mean drawing Mohammad as deliberate provocation rather than without realising that it’s offensive). Is burning a Bible significantly different to desecrating a host? That’s the same thing.

          • Randy M says:

            I don’t see one (assuming you mean drawing Mohammad as deliberate provocation rather than without realising that it’s offensive). Is burning a Bible significantly different to desecrating a host? That’s the same thing.

            I did try and explain the difference, but I’ll give it another go. A cartoon is something we use to communicate an argument. The medium is not offensive in our culture, even if the message can be. (some) Muslims reject any right of even non-Muslims
            to draw Muhammad in any way because in their culture they see artistic depictions of the sacred as blasphemous. We do not. The offense was due to the foreign cultural values the minority group was trying to impose as a one-sided norm.

            When an artist uses a cartoon to make a point, he is not doing something we view as fundamentally offensive. This doesn’t hold for book burning.

            There have been times when drawing Muhammad was done as a way of pushing back against the encroaching norms against speech that minority groups claim offense at. This is somewhere in the middle, it has a clear message and argument to it beyond just the hurt feelings–establishing a universal norm.

            I don’t know exactly the form Meyer’s desecration took. It might fall under one category or another. Edit: Looking this up, I found a report that he threw it in the garbage and took a picture. This seems like a deliberate gesture of contempt rather than making an argument in pictoral form; much closer to book burning than drawing a cartoon is, and also not a commonly done practice is a variety of other contexts.

          • mitv150 says:

            I don’t see one (assuming you mean drawing Mohammad as deliberate provocation rather than without realising that it’s offensive).

            The binary you’ve presented begs the question. There are spaces, e.g., art, where one may wish to draw Mohammed that is both not a deliberate provocation and while realizing that some find it offensive.

            There really are no spaces where one would burn a Koran other than for deliberate provocation and offense.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            @Randy M
            I think you’re isolating the act of cartoon drawing from the motive but not doing the same for book burning. If you ignore motive, there’s nothing wrong with drawing any cartoon, but equally it’s fine to burn books if say you would otherwise freeze to death. If you’re going to say that book burning or host desecration are different because they’re contemptuous, then you need to also defend the motives of cartoonists. I think that it is reasonable to argue that say the Jyllands-Posten cartoons were less “objectively offensive” than in some sense than someone burning a Koran or Bible, but that’s entirely based on the intent and context, not the act itself. Burning a book as protest against severe religious censorship would be far less “objectively offensive” than either (indeed I would view that as morally commendable).

          • jermo sapiens says:

            I think that it is reasonable to argue that say the Jyllands-Posten cartoons were less “objectively offensive” than in some sense than someone burning a Koran or Bible, but that’s entirely based on the intent and context, not the act itself.

            I dont think offense can be objectively determined. The cartoons episode just demonstrated an incompatibility between western culture and Islam. We dont have the notion that drawing something is offensive, while in Islam, drawing Mohammed or Allah is a big deal.

            There is another level of offense that can occur if the drawing itself is disrespectful, but that is not what Islam forbids, Islam forbids any kind of drawing.

            In this case anyways, when liberal western culture ran up against Islamic teachings, liberal western culture folded like a cheap suit.

          • Randy M says:

            think that it is reasonable to argue that say the Jyllands-Posten cartoons were less “objectively offensive” than in some sense than someone burning a Koran or Bible, but that’s entirely based on the intent and context

            Well of course it’s based on context. In the context of the cultures in which the controversy took place, book burning is always an offensive act, and cartooning (in a publication) is always a valid form of expression (and the message itself may be an offensive one, but that wasn’t what the dispute hinged on). Whereas in the Islamic culture, any depiction of their sacred objects is offensive. That’s fine for them, but we don’t have an obligation to live by their rules. I consider it superogatory to honor others by their own customs.

            Now, is there some situation where throwing an object in the garbage is a valid form of expression? It’s less of a defined symbolic act, but the medium seems to me significantly closer to book burning that cartoon drawing.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            In western society, offensive cartoons are just a part of life. See: 90% of political cartoons.

            When a cartoonist draws something heaping abuse on their outgroup, people who respond with death threats are treated as the problem. But apparently when someone draws Mohammed, even in an innocuous context, the fargroup are totally in the right to issue threats and really the cartoonist should have known better.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            When a cartoonist draws something heaping abuse on their outgroup, people who respond with death threats are treated as the problem. But apparently when someone draws Mohammed, even in an innocuous context, the fargroup are totally in the right to issue threats and really the cartoonist should have known better.

            The principle seems to be that everyone should be tolerant and practice liberal values, except Muslims. They have a right to be homicidally offended, though Leftists never make it clear why.
            We can infer that they consider Muslims a race, so this is “punching up” against racism, but I’ve never seen anyone murdered for making caricatures of black people. So the exception is unique and inscrutable.

          • DeWitt says:

            They have a right to be homicidally offended, though Leftists never make it clear why.

            Because we don’t tend to believe it. The ones that do believe it are generally happy enough to inform you of their crazy beliefs and you’re free to write them off as fringe nuts. What you don’t get to do is imply, constantly, every chance that you have, in every open thread it comes up, that this is anything more than a fringe element of the left, and I still want you to stop doing so.

          • albatross11 says:

            mitv150:

            So it seems like you’re making the distinction between:

            a. Doing stuff that’s intended as offensive in our culture and taken as offensive in their culture.

            b. Doing stuff that’s normal in our culture and taken as offensive in their culture.

            With (b), you might do it without trying to be offensive, just as part of your normal day-to-day life. With (a), it can only be done as an intentional provocation.

            Am I understanding your point?

          • albatross11 says:

            The principle seems to be that everyone should be tolerant and practice liberal values, except Muslims. They have a right to be homicidally offended, though Leftists never make it clear why.

            I don’t think many people justify something like the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Many people think the cartoonists were bad people for the way they behaved toward Islam, but outside of fundamentalist Muslim circles, I don’t think you’re going to find many people saying shooting the cartoonists was justified.

          • mitv150 says:

            @albatross11

            Yes, you have it accurate. (note that my reply was to thisheavenlyconjugation, not directly to your comment)

          • Aapje says:

            @albatross11 mitv50

            Such a distinction assumes that all that matters is whether you know that something is offensive is to someone. However, if people have to refrain from anything that is offensive to someone or to a group, then almost nothing is allowed anymore.

            I reject the idea that if you know that people take offense, you are obliged to change. At the very least, there should be a cost vs benefit decision, although in a somewhat liberal society, you simply have the right to do everything that is not banned by law.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            @Randy M

            Now, is there some situation where throwing an object in the garbage is a valid form of expression? It’s less of a defined symbolic act, but the medium seems to me significantly closer to book burning that cartoon drawing.

            That’s not the relevant analogy. My point is that

            in the Catholic culture, disposing of certain crackers in a perfectly normal way is offensive.

            And therefore if you are being consistent you should also conclude

            That’s fine for them, but we don’t have an obligation to live by their rules. I consider it superogatory to honor others by their own customs.

            in this case.

            @Gobbobobble
            Is that directed at me, and therefore either wilful or incredibly stupid mischaracterisation of my beliefs? Or are you injecting irrelevant low-quality snark at some non-present and quite possibly imaginary outgroup? Either way, it’s bad and you should feel bad.

          • Randy M says:

            That’s not the relevant analogy. My point is that

            in the Catholic culture, disposing of certain crackers in a perfectly normal way is offensive

            That’s not a direct quote, but rephrased like that, yes, this is a less offensive act in American culture than burning a book.

            Because of other factors discussed (intent, message, etc) I’d put Meyer’s action on par with “draw an offensive cartoon of Mohammed to piss off censorious muslims” and well above “treat Mohammad like you would any other person and use his image to make a point.” Which is about on par with the cleaning lady accidentally throwing out the wafer left in the wrong place.

          • Nick says:

            Myers’ act was not simply about disposing of certain crackers. He acquired consecrated host to perform it, which requires passing oneself off as a Catholic and making off with the host in secret. This is more akin to stealing a Bible from a church to be burned than simply buying one, and it is phenomenally disrespectful.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Is that directed at me, and therefore either wilful or incredibly stupid mischaracterisation of my beliefs? Or are you injecting irrelevant low-quality snark at some non-present and quite possibly imaginary outgroup? Either way, it’s bad and you should feel bad.

            It was in response to the general line of “cartoons aren’t offensive in the West”, actually, but if you wanna sanctimoniously clutch pearls, go right ahead.

          • albatross11 says:

            Aapje:

            If you are going out of your way to piss someone off, I’m generally going to think you’re kind-of an asshole. If you’re going about your normal business and piss someone off inadvertently, I’m not generally going to think you’re an asshole.

            If some non-Catholic goes up and takes communion out of ignorance, or even out of just wanting to blend in and not caring much about our rules, I’m not going to think they’re a bad person. Even if they walk out with the consecrated host in their hand without intending to do anything offensive, I think they’re just people who inadvertently did something offensive to the beliefs of Catholics. But if they plan to take the consecrated host and publish pictures of tossing it in the trash or stomping on it or something, going out of their way to offend people, I’m going to think poorly of them. There can be reasons why you need to do something that offends someone else (think True, Necessary, Kind), but if your goal is “this’ll really piss those bastards off,” you’re probably just being a jerk.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The ‘asshole’ thing seems to be a superweapon based on appeal to politeness rather than formal rules. Problem is, since it fails to apply any judgement to the demands being made, just the refusal to accede to them, its effect is to ratify unreasonable demands.

            A Catholic priest expecting you not to take a consecrated host from his hand, conceal it, and later defile it is one thing. An Imam demanding that no one draw Muhammed is quite another, and I’d argue if you’re going to apply some sort of “asshole” standard, those making demands that no one draw Muhammed are the assholes.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @DeWitt:

            Because we don’t tend to believe it. The ones that do believe it are generally happy enough to inform you of their crazy beliefs and you’re free to write them off as fringe nuts. What you don’t get to do is imply, constantly, every chance that you have, in every open thread it comes up, that this is anything more than a fringe element of the left, and I still want you to stop doing so.

            What is the mainstream leftist (for values of “left” that extend as far as Theresa May) position on violent crimes (crimes under Western law, that is) inspired by Islam?
            When they disagree with another belief system, like Christianity or racism, they seem very concerned about stopping it well short of the feared actions, not allowing the number of people with odious beliefs to increase, etc. So if orthodox Islam inspires certain violent acts, what is the Left proposal to stop it? What’s your equivalent of an immigration ban?
            (I’d be thrilled if the answer was “an immigration ban”, because then it would be consensus and I wouldn’t have to support Trump.)

          • DeWitt says:

            What is the mainstream leftist (for values of “left” that extend as far as Theresa May) position on violent crimes (crimes under Western law, that is) inspired by Islam?

            Thank you for asking this rather than making assumptions. I very genuinely appreciate that.

            The mainstream leftist opinion is that crimes inspired by Islam are dangerous and need to be halted. You see this in no leftist parties being in favor of putting Islam above the law, none of them asking for muslims to be pardoned, or even just giving them lighter sentences. The US hasn’t had a large attack in a while, so, enjoy.

            https://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/16/world/paris-attacks/index.html

            A country sees more than a hundred people get shot, and the president of France, someone from the literal Socialist Party, decides this means war.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            https://exmuslims.org/

            This is an organization of ex-muslims, mostly homosexuals and atheists.

            They say they have no political home– the right isn’t fond of homosexuals and atheists and the left is unwilling to acknowledge how dangerous mainstream Islam is to ex-Muslims.

            For what it’s worth, I mostly hang out in leftish circles, and it took me some work to internalize just how much Muslims and ex-Muslims are at risk from other Muslims.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            @Gobbobobble
            What do you mean?
            This

            When a cartoonist draws something heaping abuse on their outgroup, people who respond with death threats are treated as the problem. But apparently when someone draws Mohammed, even in an innocuous context, the fargroup are totally in the right to issue threats and really the cartoonist should have known better.

            is evidently snarking at someone (unless you mean to say you are genuinely expressing that opinion). Who?

          • John Schilling says:

            The mainstream leftist opinion is that crimes inspired by Islam are dangerous and need to be halted. You see this in no leftist parties being in favor of putting Islam above the law, none of them asking for muslims to be pardoned, or even just giving them lighter sentences

            I don’t recall anyone on the right suggesting that James Alex Fields should be pardoned, either, so I guess we’re all one big happy family here.

            But what’s the left’s position on how Islam should be treated for its role in inspiring crime? If crimes inspired by Islam are dangerous and need to be halted, should the left perhaps be looking to halt them at the source?

            Because that’s something the left seems to favor in other circumstances. James Alex Fields, therefore the far right is a Nazi menace that needs to be stopped from inspiring dangerous crimes; it should be opposed and ridiculed and punched and driven from polite society wherever lefitists hold sway. Some anti-abortion murders that mostly petered out a decade ago, therefore Fundamentalist Christians are a menace that needs to be stopped, etc. Elliot Rodger, therefore Incels are the scum of the Earth and need to be thoroughly marginalized less they inspire any more crimes. Etc, etc, etc.

            As Nancy Lebovitz notes, Islam inspires its followers to go out and kill anyone who decides not to be a Muslim any more, and they’re not at all secretive about that. Therefore, Islam is…

            Help me out here.

          • DeWitt says:

            You’re Americans. Signaling your support of Islam is cheap in countries where muslims are a statistical footnote. Half of them are your own people turned convert, they’re not particularly orthodox, and blend in very easily due to these things. Noticing that they’re not treated as harshly by the left as people arguing for abortion or the murder of all women is something Scott picked up on five years ago with I Can Tolerate Anything But The Outgroup: muslims are a fargroup for American leftists. Extremely few of them know any muslims, fewer still know any conservative muslims, and they don’t have a visceral reason to care. Signaling allegiance to the ingroup is much more important to them than worrying about a bunch of native-born blacks and whites who converted to a trendy religion.

            In here, the response to the question is that we haven’t gone so full-on partisan that nobody can get along anymore. Leftists that govern do actually have to deal with muslims that aren’t basically regular people who stopped eating pork and so going along with whatever they say isn’t at all viable, so I feel comfortable to say that you’re noticing a particularly American problem here.

          • SamChevre says:

            It seems to me that “outgroup homogeneity” is really confusing this discussion.

            Islam is not one thing, any more than Christianity is.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            @Le Maistre Chat @John Schilling
            The mainstream leftist view is approximately:
            Islamic terrorists : Islam :: Westboro Baptist Church : Christianity
            (This isn’t to say the magnitude of wrongdoing is remotely comparable, but the attitude that “these terrible, nonrepresentative Muslims/Christians have twisted the core, peaceful teachings of their religion and do not represent the vast majority of nonviolent/non-asshole Muslims/Christians” is the same.)

          • John Schilling says:

            The mainstream leftist view is approximately:
            Islamic terrorists : Islam :: Westboro Baptist Church : Christianity

            OK, but the mainstream leftist (as opposed to merely liberal) view seems to be that organizations like the Westboro Baptist Church prove that Christianity as a whole needs to be kept down lest it return to its bad old ways across the board, that Christians should be presumed to be bible-thumping joy-hating gay-lynching bigots until proven otherwise, and that anyone who isn’t that will have the decency to not call themselves “Christian” in public.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Name three.

            Here’s six.

            “You built a factory out there, good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads that the rest of us paid for. You hired workers that the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.”

            “Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea, God Bless, keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and paid forward for the next kid who comes along.”

            “I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.’ No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own – nobody.”

            “Other countries around the world make employees and retirees first in the priority. For example, in Mexico, the bankruptcy laws say if a company wants to go bankrupt… obligations to employees and retirees will have a first priority. That has an effect on every negotiation that takes place with every company in Mexico.”

            “Every time the U.S. government makes a low-cost loan to someone, it’s investing in them.”

            “To fix this problem [of stagnant wages] we need to end the harmful corporate obsession with maximizing shareholder returns at all costs, which has sucked trillions of dollars away from workers and necessary long-term investments.”

      • TakatoGuil says:

        Christians are not oppressed by the left. They are allowed to congregate in places of worship unmolested. They are not fired for being Christian except when Christians insist their religion interferes with the course of their job, which happens to people of every religion (a Muslim taxi driver who refuses to drive drunks around because alcohol is forbidden is soon going to be a Muslim without a job). They are not attacked for their faith, nor forced to hide it, again excepting situations when anyone would be expected to leave their faith at the door. Christians are allowed to preach peaceably in public places, including state-funded places such as colleges – I know, because there was always a dude with a sign about how much God hated me at my college.

        Look at Soviet Russia, modern day China, or modern day Iran for a picture of what religious persecution of Christians looks like. Hell, read the last few books of the Bible for a picture of what religious persecution looks like – or even Reformation Europe.

        • albatross11 says:

          We don’t have a lot of religious oppression in the US, thanks to laws going all the way up to the constitution forbidding it. On the other hand, in mainstream media culture, things that offend Christians seem less upsetting to a lot of people who get a lot of airtime than things that offend some other group–Muslims, for example.

          As best I can tell, this is pure “I can stand anything but the outgroup.” For the kind of people who become media elites, American Christians (especially fundamentalist Christians) are the outgroup, whereas Muslims are a faraway group that doesn’t register in local conflicts.

          • TakatoGuil says:

            Keep in mind that nearly seven-tenths of the country is Christian. Even media elites can’t actually afford to do stuff that is outright offensive to every Christian – that would completely wreck their ratings. They can afford to piss off fundies, but that’s because there’s so many moderates that will just roll their eyes and move on.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Keep in mind that nearly seven-tenths of the country is Christian.

            Exactly. If Christians are currently being treated like this at 70%, imagine what will happen when they’re 60% or 50%.

          • TakatoGuil says:

            @jermo sapiens
            I imagine they will be allowed to congregate in places of worship unmolested. They will not be fired for being Christian except when they insist their religion interferes with the course of their job. They will not be attacked for their faith, nor forced to hide it, again excepting situations when anyone would be expected to leave their faith at the door. Christians will be allowed to preach peaceably in public places, including state-funded places such as colleges.

          • Nick says:

            @TakatoGuil
            You are literally copy and pasting part of your prior answer. Please don’t do that. But since you did, I’ll respond to a few more directly.

            I imagine they will be allowed to congregate in places of worship unmolested.

            Beto was saying, what, last week that we should revoke tax exemption for churches that don’t support same sex marriage? How exactly will they congregate in places of worship unmolested when they are being taxed out of existence?

            They will not be fired for being Christian except when Christians insist their religion interferes with the course of their job,

            It matters a lot who decides what “the course of their job” is. Like deciding that hospitals are required to perform abortions or that doctors are required to make referrals for procedures they consider harmful.

            They will not be attacked for their faith, nor forced to hide it, again excepting situations when anyone would be expected to leave their faith at the door.

            That must be why Senators have been quizzing judicial nominees in their membership in the Knights of Columbus. Because membership in a private charitable organization is just part of leaving their faith at the door.
            ETA: removed some snark

          • jermo sapiens says:

            @TakatoGuil:

            I know, because there was always a dude with a sign about how much God hated me at my college

            I suspect this has shaped your attitude towards Christians and I dont blame you. Hopefully you’ll come to see that most Christians see the “dude with the sign” as a complete moron.

          • TakatoGuil says:

            @Nick
            If Jermo wants to ignore my initial response to him in favor of “If the oppression I’m baselessly claiming exists now is as bad as I baselessly say it is, imagine how much worse this slippery slope fallacy could be later!”, then I will repeat my point to him as many times as it takes.

            Anyway, Beto wants churches to be held to the same standards as other 501(c) organizations, which are not allowed to use their exempt money for political purposes. Churches do that today. It is not oppression to say that they should follow the same laws that apply to everyone.

            As for doctors, part of the job is getting patients treated. If you refuse to do what the evidence-based consensus says treats the problem, and you refuse to refer them to someone who will in America’s shitty medical system where referrals are as necessary as they are, you are impeding treatment and yes, need to be removed. Personally, I’d rather we have a saner medical system so that referrals weren’t necessary, which would seem to resolve the issue.

            The Knights of Columbus thing was wrong (I wasn’t surprised to see Harris involved when I googled it — I really don’t like her), but I don’t think it stopped the judge from getting the position and even the Washington Post called it bullshit so that’s left-leaning media stepping up for Christians, not oppressing them. Also note that it’s specifically anti-Catholic bigotry, not anti-Christian bigotry. The former was a historical problem and it’s not surprising to see that there’s still some vestiges left of it today. Hopefully journalists on both sides of the aisle will continue to decry it when it occurs, and judges will continue to be confirmed despite any bigoted attempts against them.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            then I will repeat my point to him as many times as it takes.

            “There are five lights.”

            (regardless of context, this tactic makes you A Dick)

          • Nick says:

            @TakatoGuil

            Beto wants churches to be held to the same standards as other 501(c) organizations, which are not allowed to use their exempt money for political purposes. Churches do that today. It is not oppression to say that they should follow the same laws that apply to everyone.

            Some churches may be abusing their status, but the question Beto was answering was whether it should be revoked for opposing same-sex marriage. That’s not political purposes. Here’s the exchange:

            “Do you think religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?” Lemon asked.

            “Yes,” O’Rourke replied. “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone, or any institution, any organization in America, that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us. And so as president, we are going to make that a priority, and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”

            As for doctors, part of the job is getting patients treated. If you refuse to do what the evidence-based consensus says treats the problem, and you refuse to refer them to someone who will in America’s shitty medical system where referrals are as necessary as they are, you are impeding treatment and yes, need to be removed. Personally, I’d rather we have a saner medical system so that referrals weren’t necessary, which would seem to resolve the issue.

            The doctor’s job is deciding what is and isn’t treatment. Doctors are not the instruments of the patients’ wills. That was actually a case in Canada, anyway (where jermo is from), where referrals are not so necessary.

            The Knights of Columbus thing was wrong (I wasn’t surprised to see Harris involved when I googled it — I really don’t like her), but I don’t think it stopped the judge from getting the position and even the Washington Post called it bullshit so that’s left-leaning media stepping up for Christians, not oppressing them. Also note that it’s specifically anti-Catholic bigotry, not anti-Christian bigotry. The former was a historical problem and it’s not surprising to see that there’s still some vestiges left of it today. Hopefully journalists on both sides of the aisle will continue to decry it when it occurs, and judges will continue to be confirmed despite any bigoted attempts against them.

            I appreciate that, FWIW, but I don’t think things are quite the way you put it. For one thing, anti-Catholic bigotry waned a long time before this, and the recent stuff is not coming from Protestant objections to Romish practices, so I think the recent waxing is something new. For another, it wasn’t just Harris, it was also Senator Hirono and, with the Amy Coney Barrett and People of Praise case, Senator Feinstein.

            I would love to see it wane again, but I don’t think that’s the trend. And regardless, counterexamples are helpful when you make a blanket statement.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            If Jermo wants to ignore my initial response to him in favor of “If the oppression I’m baselessly claiming exists now is as bad as I baselessly say it is, imagine how much worse this slippery slope fallacy could be later!”, then I will repeat my point to him as many times as it takes.

            I’m not ignoring it. Others have answered your earlier point quite well, and I didnt feel the need to add anything.

            And my point is that at 70%, Christians currently punch well below their weight in terms of cultural influence, and they are the designated outgroup for the elite. You are almost right when you say “media elites can’t actually afford to do stuff that is outright offensive to every Christian”, they get away with as much as they can considering the 70% figure. As that number goes down, they will be able to get away with more and everything indicates they will do more.

            I invite you to visit a 70% Muslim country to see the difference.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @TakatoGuil

            You are in fact stating the oppression that people are concerned with right now.

            “just being forced to follow the law” is a problem if the law says that Christians can’t for example affirm basic doctrines of their faith without losing the protection of that law.

            If it is a basic doctrine of my faith that homosexuality is sinful and that dressing as the opposite sex from your birth sex is sinful (both are true), then requiring me to violate that in order to have the protection of law IS oppression, just as much as it would be to deny a Muslim woman the protection of law unless she removes her hijab.

            And saying “the law in its majestic equality makes both Christians and Muslims remove head coverings” is not changing the fact that such a law is oppressive.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            The doctor’s job is deciding what is and isn’t treatment. Doctors are not the instruments of the patients’ wills. That was actually a case in Canada, anyway (where jermo is from), where referrals are not so necessary.

            My brother is a Dr in Toronto and he’s devoutly Christian (unlike me). If a patient asked to be euthanized he would have to give him a referral or be expelled from the College of Physicians. In which case, Canada would lose a specialist in internal medicine to the USA.

          • Aftagley says:

            The Knights of Columbus thing was wrong (I wasn’t surprised to see Harris involved when I googled it — I really don’t like her), but I don’t think it stopped the judge from getting the position and even the Washington Post called it bullshit so that’s left-leaning media stepping up for Christians, not oppressing them. Also note that it’s specifically anti-Catholic bigotry, not anti-Christian bigotry. The former was a historical problem and it’s not surprising to see that there’s still some vestiges left of it today.

            Whoah whoah whoah, hold up. I don’t like Harris either, but calling this out as anti-catholic bias is going to far. First up, disclaimer. I was born and raised Catholic and went to Catholic school. I’ve had to deal with many Knights of Columbus over the course of my life.

            If you go to the list of questions asked to the judge about the Knight’s of Colombus, they all refer directly back to specific policy positions advanced and advocated by the Knights of Columbus.

            If someone is coming before you and is a member of a group that advocates for some extreme positions (beyond those of the catholic church) then asking if someone who’s a member of that organization if their past affiliation with that group will influence their future judgement isn’t beyond the pale.

          • Nick says:

            @Aftagley

            If someone is coming before you and is a member of a group that advocates for some extreme positions (beyond those of the catholic church) then asking if someone who’s a member of that organization if their past affiliation with that group will influence their future judgement isn’t beyond the pale.

            (emphasis mine)

            I don’t know what you mean. In the first set of questions, the KoC donated against legalizing same-sex marriage; that is a position of the Catholic Church. A KoC magazine article said contraceptive pills can have bad side effects on reproduction, mate selection, etc.; that’s not the position of the Catholic Church or KoC because it’s an entirely empirical matter*. In the second set of questions, the KoC leader said abortion is the killing of the innocent, and the position of the Catholic Church is that abortion is the killing of the innocent, and then the same-sex marriage question comes up again.

            So no, none of these positions is over and beyond the teaching of the Church, nor are they or should they be out of the ordinary for Catholics to believe. So insofar as membership in this organization is taken to be disqualifying, then membership in the Catholic Church must be taken to be disqualifying. That’s a religious test for office.
            ETA: emphasis in quote
            ETA: *Okay, on second thought, I’m playing a little fast and loose here. The Catholic Church, and the KoC, take plenty of empirical stances: prayer works, God exists, etc. But even supposing, rightly I’m sure, that the magazine is run with an editorial policy in mind, this can hardly be construed as “the position of the KoC.” The KoC could start campaigning against contraceptive pills for their bad side effects, but to my knowledge they haven’t. One reason for suspecting they haven’t is that if they had, we would surely have heard about that instead of this article.

          • TakatoGuil says:

            @jermo
            Until Nick responded specifically to my repetition, no one actually had addressed my general point – Nick had a specific sort of quibble, but I explained what I meant by it and he agreed in a general sense. And for the record, I was a Christian at the time I was in college and I rolled my eye at him as much as anyone else. Fact remains, Christians are allowed to come onto government-funded institutions and profligate hate speech against me, so the idea that they are being oppressed, thrown to lions, etc, remains laughable to me.

            However, comparing America to the 70% muslim Kazakhstan, I see that there is little freedom of the press there. Is that what you think is necessary to protect Christians from oppression?

            @Echo
            “You can’t be this kind of tax-free entity and produce political ads,” is what I meant, because it was what I erroneously thought Beto had said (I misremembered, and am embarrassed for having done so). It is very different than a no face coverings law because it is not specifically designed to be anti-Christian. There is nothing in the Christian faith that requires that churches be able to participate in the political arena, and the freedom of religion that is understood in America generally expects that they be separate entities.

            @Nick
            I was aware of the Hawaiian as well (I said “Harris involved”), but wasn’t aware of the second incident. Still though, apparently Aftagley has a better defense for the situation than I do. (EDIT: Or you’ve already noticed, but either way I’m bowing out of this whole thing because trying to debate with you, an enjoyable partner who I have enjoyed talking to this morning, is a lot less fun when I’m going to get called an Orwellian dick by random passersby, so I hope Aftagley is fun to talk to!) As stated above, I misremembered the Beto incident (I genuinely thought it was a 501(c) thing; those come up a lot), and can’t say I’m impressed with that kind of attitude. I’m a gay man and I don’t expect any church to be forced to marry me to my future husband. Frankly, I wouldn’t even want them to, but I’d much prefer a venue that likes its practitioners. As for the doctors thing, there are medical boards and guidelines doctors have to follow regardless of their inclinations for the exact reason that doctors aren’t always right. They don’t have to be instruments of their patients’ wills, but a person shouldn’t be rolling the dice to see if they’ll be able to get a treatment that’s available to the public or not. It’s their health, not the doctor’s. TBH, it feels to me like if Caesar says, “Send them to a different doctor,” that’s a pretty simple “submit to Earthly authorities,” deal that the Bible is pretty clear Christians are supposed to be doing.

          • albatross11 says:

            The longer quote from Beto disqualifies him from being president, IMO. It sounds like something Trump would say, just from the other side.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @TakatoGuil

            That’s not even quite the law. Churches are allowed, as are other 501c3 organizations, to make statements on ISSUES, but they are not allowed to endorse candidates. They may also endorse and fund ballot measures. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/charities-churches-and-politics

            They are also limited in what they can spend to lobby, but those limits are no different for churches than any other 501c3. So Beto is indeed asking for a specifically anti-Christian law, for certain Christian interpretations.

            Given the corrected interpretation, do you agree this is a specifically anti-Christian law?

            If you agree with the first, do you agree that Beto is in fact attempting to oppress Christians, whether successful or not?

          • Nick says:

            (EDIT: Or you’ve already noticed, but either way I’m bowing out of this whole thing because trying to debate with you, an enjoyable partner who I have enjoyed talking to this morning, is a lot less fun when I’m going to get called an Orwellian dick by random passersby, so I hope Aftagley is fun to talk to!)

            Sorry to hear that, it’s been a good conversation. @Aftagley is a decent guy so I think it will continue to be a good one.

          • Aftagley says:

            @Nick

            I hope so, but I’m having trouble writing a defense of my previous statement. Usually when that happens, it means the position I’m trying to defend is weak, so I’m not sure how good a discussion partner I’ll be here. (Also I’m pretty slammed with work today).

            First off – you’re correct. The KoC doesn’t stray from official catholic teachings. I’d argue they cherry-pick which aspects of catholic teachings they care about supporting politically, but their positions are defensibly catholic. In this aspect, they aren’t “extreme.” Re-reading my point, it looks like I’m alleging this, so I’ll retract that claim.

            That being said, compared to polling of the catholic community in America, they are pretty extreme. KoC continues to denounce gay marriage, while a majority of US Catholics support it. Same with abortion – a majority of US Catholics are in favor while KoC continues to take very extreme measures against abortion (I don’t care what your beliefs are, intentionally deceptive Crisis Pregnancy Centers are ethically suspect and qualify as extreme). This keeps happening – average catholic opinion, at least in America, corresponds far closer to national averages on topics than it does to official church teachings.

            So, that’s what I meant – the KoC is a conservative subgroup picked from a pluralistic larger community of Catholics. In the same way that disliking an exclusively left-handed group of avowed Marxists wouldn’t imply a larger distaste for the sinister folk among us, I don’t think that being leery of a Knight of Columbus implies any larger anti-Catholic bias.

          • Aftagley says:

            On second thought, no, my argument above is bad. I can’t simultaneously claim that the Catholic church as a community is a pluralistic group that isn’t always bound by doctrine AND that the knight’s of Columbus are all totalitarian and only follow church doctrine.

            Hmm, I’m not sure where to go from here. I still don’t think that her asking those questions indicates an anti-catholic bias, nor do I think they were unfair to ask, but I’m having trouble figuring out why.

          • Aapje says:

            Beto seems to argue that churches should be taxed when they engage in anti-gay marriage politics, but not when engaging in pro-gay marriage politics. Then the defining characteristic that he wants to tax is not them engaging in politics, but the contents of their politics. Since that political stance is a part of certain religions, that is political as well as religious persecution.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            This keeps happening – average catholic opinion, at least in America, corresponds far closer to national averages on topics than it does to official church teachings.

            This is such a well-known fact that Americanism was declared a heresy in 1895.
            (However, what was Americanism in 1895 is basically official Catholic doctrine since Vatican II. So I don’t know where this leaves us.)

          • quanta413 says:

            On second thought, no, my argument above is bad. I can’t simultaneously claim that the Catholic church as a community is a pluralistic group that isn’t always bound by doctrine AND that the knight’s of Columbus are all totalitarian and only follow church doctrine.

            Hmm, I’m not sure where to go from here. I still don’t think that her asking those questions indicates an anti-catholic bias, nor do I think they were unfair to ask, but I’m having trouble figuring out why.

            I think some American thinking on this point tends to be torn between a sort of radical individualism and reality, and we often don’t have very coherent ways of thinking about how various forms of group membership should intersect.

            From a hyper individualistic point of view, there’s nothing particularly special about religious belief over any other form of belief. If you’re supposed to wear a certain hat for a job, either everyone has to wear it (doesn’t matter if you’re Sikh; no one gets extra privileges as virtue of some other group membership) or no one has to wear it (we can all wear whatever hat or other head covering we like).

            But there’s a desire for religious membership in some sense be able to allow otherwise disallowed behaviors or grant protection for certain opinions in a way that membership in other groups typically doesn’t. At least not explicitly. Because trying to stamp out the religious belief of various groups in the past has often turned out so incredibly badly.

            If I was starting from scratch in utopia, I’d think about scrapping any and all religious carve outs, but only if I could widen the level of default liberty people get for most beliefs that aren’t in some way aggressive (as in, inciting physical violence or involving true threats or something).

            But in the real world, religion gets some special carveouts and respect by virtue of its age and number of believers, and I’d probably prefer that to stick around on balance even though I think it’s not really defensible as an abstract principle. There aren’t many other types of organizations large enough and significant enough to people to counterbalance the power of government or to provide a source of comfort and support when government fails.

          • Aapje says:

            @quanta413

            You could also reason the other way: the carve out should be for traditions in general, not just religious ones.

            Not necessarily arguing for this, but it seems something to consider.

          • albatross11 says:

            Aapje:

            Punishing the expression of the wrong ideas via the tax code is pretty obviously going to violate the first amendment. Beto isn’t stupid, so he knows this and is saying stuff to that sounds good to his base but that he knows can never be done.

          • Aapje says:

            @albatross11

            If promises that violate constitutional and human rights are a valid (Democratic) election strategy, then a lot of the (Democratic) criticisms of Trump seem rather hypocritical.

          • Nick says:

            @Aftagley

            So, that’s what I meant – the KoC is a conservative subgroup picked from a pluralistic larger community of Catholics. In the same way that disliking an exclusively left-handed group of avowed Marxists wouldn’t imply a larger distaste for the sinister folk among us, I don’t think that being leery of a Knight of Columbus implies any larger anti-Catholic bias.

            You’ve already given up the argument for different reasons, but I want to push back on this, anyway. In England for many centuries Catholics were forbidden from holding public office. Of course, it wasn’t a matter of blood—some cradle Catholics pursued public office by leaving the Church and becoming Anglican.

            Your argument seems to be saying that it’s okay to be suspicious of the KoC for nothing other than being orthodox Catholic in its political pursuits*. In other words, if the KoC or Buescher himself simply disavowed Catholic teaching, everything would be fine. That’s still a religious test for office—it’s just one requiring heresy rather than apostasy.

            ETA: *Granted, your fake crisis pregnancy centers example speaks against this somewhat.

          • Aftagley says:

            Your argument seems to be saying that it’s okay to be suspicious of the KoC for nothing other than being orthodox Catholic in its political pursuits*.

            Not quite. My opinion (read: bias) on the KoC is that they are a politically motivated subgroup that just happens to be made up entirely of Catholics. I think that the tapestry of catholic beliefs doesn’t track naturally onto either political party and that the KoC cherry-picks which Catholic causes they’ll motivate around by which ones are both Catholic and Red Tribe (IE firmly pro-life, but only pay lip service to ending the death penalty).

            This beliefs is heavily influenced by my history with the KoC and knowledge of some of the membership (somewhere between 60-100 people). This article is a more eloquent explanation of my trepidation around the Knights and their current leadership.

          • Plumber says:

            Regarding whether “Christians are now oppressed in the U.S.A.”, my guess is that it depends on relative to what, compared to Sudan?

            Mostly not, and some new ‘oppression’ is from feeling a loss of dominance, from Pew Research in 2017 on: How Americans Feel About Different Religious Groups (including atheists) in which those polled were asked to rate how warm or cold they felt about other Americans in different sects (and atheists) from 0 degrees (very cold) to 100 degrees (very warm) and compared to a similar study in 2014 most groups received warmer ratings.

            The ratings were:

            Jews 67°

            Catholics 66°

            ‘Mainline’ Protestants 65° (Episcopalians, Methodists, et cetera)

            ‘Evangelical’ Protestants 61° (Baptists, Pentecostals, et cetera)

            Buddhists 60°

            Hindus 58°

            Mormons 54°

            Atheists 50°

            Muslims 48°

            so most Americans are “warm” towards Christians, but are there places and subcultures in the U.S.A. that are “cold” towards Christians?

            Yes.

            From The New York Times: A Confession of Liberal Intolerance By Nicholas Kristof:
            “…consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.

            Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”…

        • Nick says:

          They are not attacked for their faith, nor forced to hide it, again excepting situations when anyone would be expected to leave their faith at the door.

          Where are these situations? Please give me a list of cases where my religion is not welcome so I know what to avoid.

          • TakatoGuil says:

            I mean like, if you’re a therapist, you should be helping your patients without trying to convert them. If you’re a teacher, you should be teaching your students without trying to convert them. That kind of thing. I’m sure you’d agree that a depressed Christian shouldn’t be getting told by their atheist therapist that all of their problems are caused by “an irrational belief in sky fairy old man”?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @TakatoGuil

            I don’t think this is a good example. There are lots of therapists that specifically advertise themselves as “Christian therapists” who bring their faith directly into the room to help their patients.

            As long as they are honest, I don’t see a problem with a Muslim/Christian/Jewish/atheist therapist using their beliefs to help their patients, and it’s societally encouraged.

          • Nick says:

            @TakatoGuil
            I definitely agree with all that, but there’s the rather hairier cases of whether Christians can be teachers without being made to teach gender theory in school, or whether Christians can be doctors or run hospitals without being made to do things they believe are harmful, and other such cases. My job as a Christian isn’t to convert people in the workplace, but I’d like to be help people consistently with the corporal works of mercy. Faith without works is dead, etc.

          • TakatoGuil says:

            @EchoChaos
            There are also specifically faith-based teachers, but the generic example of either does illustrate the point, while the exceptions only further demonstrate that Christians are about as oppressed as people who like dogs.

            @Nick
            There’s definitely hairy cases, but that’s more a case of the world being a complicated place that makes it impossible to make everyone completely happy than it is of Christians being oppressed at this time.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @TakatoGuil

            As a matter of preference, I would prefer all teachers to state outright their biases in that way rather than hide them.

            If my therapist is an atheist who genuinely believes that irrational belief is causing my problems, I don’t want him to lie to me. I don’t see it being a better world when they are.

            And I will note that your point to Nick is exactly the complaint that most Christians have when they say they’re oppressed. Whenever two people’s happiness is discussed in terms of two people who can’t both be happy because of a contradiction, the left between almost always and always comes down on the side of the non-Christian.

          • salvorhardin says:

            So let me try to give a generic secularist response to this, bearing in mind that the OP may not agree with it and I don’t always agree with every implication of it myself.

            The relevant principles are:

            (a) If you are making decisions about the operation of a public accommodation, you should have to make them for public reasons, in the philosophical sense of public reason.

            (b) Religious beliefs do not count as public reasons. Neither do racial prejudices and some other kinds of prejudices. Note this is not the same as saying religious beliefs are morally equivalent to those prejudices, only that they equally must be excluded from public reasons.

            So a good rule of thumb, on this view, is that if you are performing an institutional function where you would justly be prohibited from discriminating against black people, you are also justly prohibited from making decisions about that function according to your religious beliefs. This of course leaves a lot of unanswered questions, notably what should count as a public accommodation, but it sheds good light on most of the specific situations raised in this thread.

            The pragmatic and historical justifications are similar too: the key claims include

            (1) that decision-makers in public accommodations, even if privately operated, exercise broad-scale coercive power that must be checked to preserve the effective autonomy of others; and

            (2) that there is no stable equilibrium where private institutions are free to discriminate or not, or to impose their religion or not, because historically private racist institutions, and likewise private theocratic institutions, had no qualms about using both state and private violence to get their way, so the only way to prevent that kind of intertwined oppression from taking hold again is to banish it entirely from the public square.

            (2) in particular deserves emphasis because I think most religious people who feel persecuted by secularist restrictions today underestimate the degree to which those restrictions are motivated by horror at the theocratic restrictions of the past. Christians are, on this view, not seen as powerless in any secure or long-term sense, but as recently defeated tyrants who have to be very carefully policed lest their tyranny spring up again. The recent rise of “integralism” will only lend more credence to this view.

          • Plumber says:

            @salvorhardin says: “…I think most religious people who feel persecuted by secularist restrictions today underestimate the degree to which those restrictions are motivated by horror at the theocratic restrictions of the past. Christians are, on this view, not seen as powerless in any secure or long-term sense, but as recently defeated tyrants who have to be very carefully policed lest their tyranny spring up again…”

            That’s an interesting insight as it’s puzzled me why conservative Christians in cities like (for example) San Francisco (where I work) aren’t more often treated with the blanket liberal tolerance that other faiths are (though there does seem to be more tolerance for heterodox views when the believer is also plausibly an ethnic minority), but when I think of it most of those in opposition to fundamentalists, etc. are migrants from areas where religious conservatism was dominat, usually including their family members, while those who grew up inside “blue bubbles” seldom care as much, if at all. 

            From my vantage point that the Baptist church doesn’t have a rainbow flag flying like the Methodist church up the street does just doesn’t seem like something to fight about, as for each their own (that Catholics do have an inside battle seems inevitable given their size and breadth of worshippers, and being the ‘universal’ church though).

            Like much of ‘the culture war’ it seems to me that just declaring a truce and accepting that a monoculture for a nation this large and populous isn’t feasible anyway is the way to go (and the historic solution, they were some State churches in the early Republic, but a Federal church was forbidden with the Bill of Rights).

          • EchoChaos says:

            @salvorhardin

            Christians are, on this view, not seen as powerless in any secure or long-term sense, but as recently defeated tyrants who have to be very carefully policed lest their tyranny spring up again. The recent rise of “integralism” will only lend more credence to this view.

            Yes, I agree. Liberals are treating Christians, the majority of the country, as a defeated foe that must be policed.

            Christians notice this.

          • salvorhardin says:

            @EchoChaos

            Not a surprise that traditionalist Christians notice it: but how many reflect upon the long, cruel centuries of theocracy that might cause secularists to so passionately regard that policing as necessary?

            And the “traditionalist” qualifier is key here, as modernist Christians of the “More Light”/”Open and Affirming”/etc type are not the foe and not treated as such. This matters because while certainly Christians broadly speaking remain the majority, as you say, I would dispute that traditionalists are. The polls on social issues would look very different if that were true.

          • Aapje says:

            @salvorhardin

            It doesn’t seem very coherent to argue that the religious must be severely restricted in their freedom because the religious used to severely restrict other people’s freedom. Also, when the religious restrictions seemed to be heavily based on social policing by a large religious majority, it is not obvious at all that it is necessary to police a religious minority in a secularizing society.

            Also, it is extremely and literally uncharitable to equate religion with oppression and ignore the good things they did and do.

          • Baeraad says:

            It doesn’t seem very coherent to argue that the religious must be severely restricted in their freedom because the religious used to severely restrict other people’s freedom.

            It’s perfectly coherent. If someone is going to get oppressed, then it’s preferable that it’s Them and not You. That reasoning doesn’t give you the moral high ground, but having the moral high ground isn’t much comfort when you’re being oppressed.

            Also, when the religious restrictions seemed to be heavily based on social policing by a large religious majority, it is not obvious at all that it is necessary to police a religious minority in a secularizing society.

            But Christians are not a minority in America. That’s a running complaint in this thread, that Christians should be treated better because they’re a majority. And if society is secularising, it’s doing it so slowly and listlessly that it’s very easy to imagine the direction turning at any moment.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @salvorhardin / Baeraad

            This is a defensible position. It’s also NOT the one general liberals claim, which is that Christians aren’t oppressed and that their complaints that they are should be taken as nonsense.

            I agree with the statement that we’re talking about traditional Christians, but saying “just change your beliefs and we won’t oppress you” hardly makes it better. Nor does the fact that such Christians are a minority.

            I do think you have described the actual motivation well, although I think your view on how bad Christian oppression was is pretty historically inaccurate.

          • Jaskologist says:

            This thread changed from “Christians aren’t oppressed” to “yeah, but they deserve it!” in just a dozen comments.

          • Nick says:

            @salvorhardin

            (2) in particular deserves emphasis because I think most religious people who feel persecuted by secularist restrictions today underestimate the degree to which those restrictions are motivated by horror at the theocratic restrictions of the past. Christians are, on this view, not seen as powerless in any secure or long-term sense, but as recently defeated tyrants who have to be very carefully policed lest their tyranny spring up again. The recent rise of “integralism” will only lend more credence to this view.

            The thing is that, for a variety of reasons, that fear is way off base today. I feel like I need to do an explainer on integralism. I’m not really the person for it, but I’m not sure there’s a better person for it on SSC, either.

          • Nick says:

            This thread changed from “Christians aren’t oppressed” to “yeah, but they deserve it!” in just a dozen comments.

            It’s the synchronic, rather than diachronic, Law of Merited Impossibility.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            @Nick @TakatoGuil
            Re: doctors, I think the most equitable norm would be this: A Christian doctor who believes that abortion is murder should, if advising a patient with an unwanted pregnancy, clearly state that they believe abortion is wrong, and offer to refer the patient to a different doctor if the patient’s beliefs conflict with that. Ditto re: HRT for gender-dysphoric patients or whatever else you’re alluding to.

            I feel like this avoids forcing doctors to advocate procedures they believe to be harmful, while not closing off options for the patient if the patient believes those procedures to be helpful.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @thevoiceofthevoid, I see where you’re coming from on the basis of social policy, but – as a pro-life Christian myself, though not a doctor – I would not be comfortable with that. You’re essentially telling people like me that, while we don’t need to personally perform (what we consider to be) murders, we need to make personal referrals to hitmen.

            It’d be better to let health insurers, or even the government, maintain such a registry themselves.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            @Evan Þ
            You make a fair point. I’ll weaken my recommendation to the pro-life doctor saying, “I believe abortion is fundamentally wrong, if this gravely conflicts with your beliefs then you should find another doctor,” rather than actively making a referral.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            You’re essentially telling people like me that, while we don’t need to personally perform (what we consider to be) murders, we need to make personal referrals to hitmen.

            This is a very real issue for my brother who is a doctor in Toronto, and who could lose his license if he refused to refer someone who was seeking to be euthanized.

          • salvorhardin says:

            On doctors specifically, one complicating factor is that the supply of medical practitioners is artificially restricted. It’s less defensible to refuse services on the ground that “they can go somewhere else” if you benefit from the use of state power to narrow the range of other places they can go.

            On intolerance for traditionalist religion generally, I should clarify that I personally believe this has gone too far in a way that undermines liberal principles of tolerance; as obnoxious as Jack Phillips, Hobby Lobby, etc are they should be free to run their businesses according to their values, just as secularists should be free to boycott them according to ours. The point I am making is that if you have historically not practiced tolerance toward others, you probably won’t get a positive reception when you demand tolerance for yourself.

            The Alliance Defending Freedom provides a good example here. A lot of the cases they take really are defending private religious people and organizations who just want to live out their beliefs in peace in their private lives. But when major figures in the organization work to defend the criminalization of homosexuality– mostly in other countries these days since they realize they’ve well and truly lost that fight here– their claim that they’re just trying to defend religious freedom rings hollow. And given the level of state and private violence that gay people were historically subjected to in the US before the defeat of traditionalism, and the level of violence they are still subjected to in those other countries, it’s understandable that an organization that elevates supporters of that violence would be condemned as a hate group, even though that overbroadly condemns those of its members who genuinely care about religious freedom and don’t want the state to impose their own religious beliefs on others.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Christians aren’t oppressed in the US in any extreme sense, but there are fairly common environments where they’re sniped at a lot.

          I think putting up with insults is work.

          • DinoNerd says:

            Yes, but show me a person who doesn’t get sniped at for something? I’m not keen on situations where some people or groups of people get sniped at a lot more than others, without being personally at fault – but I don’t see Christians as being in that situation in the US.

            Put another way, I own a political tee-shirt with a slogan of “no special rights for Christians”. The set of places where I could wear it without problems is much more limited than e.g. the set of places where Christians can and do prominently and visibly self-identify (via jewelry, bumper stickers, etc.) And I live in California, in particular the SF Bay area.

            And note that the sentiment I’m (not) expressing is not “no rights for Christians” but in effect “no rights for Christians that aren’t also available to atheists, Muslims, Jews, Bahai, Hindus, and members of random New Age sects”.

            Note also that the problems I’d experience would (just) be lots of offended Christians, and a few people who dislike politics being brought into the workplace etc. That’s enough to stop me from wearing it to anything much except a political rally protesting anti-non-Christian political speech or action, because I don’t especially want to snipe at random people in my environment.

            Also, finally, I bought the shirt while living in Colorado, during the decades where that was home base for some loud and well known Christian conservative movements. Having those people around for too many years makes it very easy for me to respond to “Christianity” emotionally as being all about using the power of the state to mind your neighbour’s business, in betwen committing nasty public acts of cruelty (e.g. picketing someone’s funeral to announce that the death was God’s punishment for sin.) I know not all Christians are like this – intellectually at least – but my gut insists those people are the majority, or the ones with real power.

            Am I sniping bringing this up? Not any more than other posters on this blog (not this thread) who’ve opined that no one can be moral without religion. I.e. I’m not chosing the option of maximum kindness, but neither are they. And neither of us are sniping per se.

            I suspect it’ll be a cold day in Hell before I get over my visceral reaction to in-your-face Christians, and anyone who mixes Christianity with politics. But I am capable of not letting it affect my behaviour to random small-C christians, at least 99.9% of the time.

            OTOH, if you turn up at my door to proselytize, better hope I’m in a good mood, and manage a somewhat frosty “I’m not interested in discussing religion, thank you” while firmly closing my door.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            I own a political tee-shirt with a slogan of “no special rights for Christians”. The set of places where I could wear it without problems is much more limited than e.g. the set of places where Christians can and do prominently and visibly self-identify (via jewelry, bumper stickers, etc.) And I live in California, in particular the SF Bay area.

            Suppose I owned a political tee-shirt with a slogan of “no special rights for blacks”, or “no special rights for LGBTQ”. What do you think is the set of places I could wear it without problems?

            And what do you consider to be “the set of places”? Is it strictly geographical – the total number of acres where I could wear such a shirt without problems – or might it also be in the virtual realm of online communication? (Suppose it’s not a shirt, but rather my email signature, or the tagline under my username or portrait in any typical online forum.) Or the virtual realm of online news? Popular film? Academic discourse?

            What was that Yglesias quote again? “Right is dominant in policy and cares about culture, left is dominant in culture and cares about policy”?

            I get the feeling your comment doesn’t account for how well you’ve got culture locked up.

            Note also that the problems I’d experience would (just) be lots of offended Christians, and a few people who dislike politics being brought into the workplace etc.

            I think this doesn’t help your point. If you dare wear your tee, you end up offending lots of people you rarely interact with anyway. If someone dares go around with the other tagline, they risk the fate of Justine Sacco.

            (Curiously, for a lot of righties, this is just peachy. They hang out in rural communities and small online enclaves. They’ll keep their RL friends just like their lefty counterparts do. But some of them will still look at Hollywood, mainstream media, and the government just as longingly as those lefties look at Wall Street, big energy, and… the government.)

            [Colorado, sniping]

            On the gripping hand, yeah. A lot of this is just that SMBC cartoon redux.

            Maybe we should just say “SMBC #2939!” as shorthand for “look, we’re just bitter over the other side’s snipers”, so we can move the discussion along.

          • cassander says:

            @Paul Brinkley

            What was that Yglesias quote again? “Right is dominant in policy and cares about culture, left is dominant in culture and cares about policy”?

            Except the right isn’t dominant in policy. Is government spending going down? is the regulatory burden being reduced? is power being devolved to the states? Other than gun control, policy is either not moving or moving left.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Except the right isn’t dominant in policy. Is government spending going down? is the regulatory burden being reduced? is power being devolved to the states? Other than gun control, policy is either not moving or moving left.

            The right controls the Senate, controls the White House (after a fashion), and got five justices on SCOTUS, and might score a sixth if something happens to RBG. And if you define right = conservative = slow change as opposed to swift, then every time policy stops or moves only slowly left is a victory for the right. It ain’t all roses on the left.

          • quanta413 says:

            Except the right isn’t dominant in policy. Is government spending going down? is the regulatory burden being reduced? is power being devolved to the states? Other than gun control, policy is either not moving or moving left.

            I think this is most easily explained by the Bryan Caplan theory of the left/right. “The left hates markets; the right hates the left.”

            On average, the right has a relatively weak belief in things like restraining government or reducing regulatory burden. After all, when they’re in power reducing those things would reduce their own power. And even “right-wing” voters are more motivated to punish the villain corporation or business owner of the week than they are to unleash more market competition. Or they’d really like to stick it to the left.

            Individual business owners themselves are not necessarily concerned with being pro-free-market either, since some regulations help them.

          • DinoNerd says:

            @Paul Brinkley You certainly have a point there, but it’s one from a different sub-thread. This one’s about gratuitously picking on people, not about political favoritism, and some animals being more equal than others. You would, currently, and in the US specifically, have “no special rights for <specifically protected group>” interpreted as a desire to specifically persecute that group, even if your statement were still more explicitly a complaint about Affirmative Action, and would be responded to accordingly.

            I’m not going to argue about the desirability or implications of that reaction this deep in a thread, where replies can’t be threaded. If you do want to discuss that, on its own or in contrast to the treatment of Christians qua Christians, start a new thread in any CW post, and I’ll probably rise to the bait and explore the question.

            What Nancy appears to be claiming, rephrased in blue tribe argot, would microaggressions etc. being directed at vocal or obvious Christians.

            Your (implicit) claim is either about political correctness (taboo speech) or about favoritism directed against you. (I’ll know which only if you start that thread.) Different topic, and more serious, at least on the latter interpretation.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            DinoNerd:

            “What Nancy appears to be claiming, rephrased in blue tribe argot, would microaggressions etc. being directed at vocal or obvious Christians.”

            Sort of. What I was thinking about was generic snark aimed at Christians in general, and Christians who want to keep the peace and/or don’t want to be involved in sticky situations need to not say anything about it.

          • DinoNerd says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            What I was thinking about was generic snark aimed at Christians in general, and Christians who want to keep the peace and/or don’t want to be involved in sticky situations need to not say anything about it.

            Ye olde “let’s all agree that those people are outgroup”, addressed to a group containing some of “those people”, with or without the speaker knowing this, or knowing whom.

            That used to be the normal experience of gays and others of deviant sexuality, and it it sucked then and sucks for Christians now.

            Where I hang out, it’s less common than the othering of gays earlier in my life/career, but I certainly believe you.

            The frequency would have to get pretty high for me to get overly concerned, with Christianity not being a valid (legal) cause for someone to lose their job, and essentially never attracting violence (“gay bashing”) – making it much much easier/safer for a Christian to be “out” than it was for a gay person. (Of course this is in the US or Canada.)

            I currently experience frequent “microaggressions” (if you want to call them that), in the form of people basically insisting that extroversion is required for happiness, particularly in old age. It’s annoying, and can be depressing – what if they are right, after all – but I’m raising it here only as an example of the random st0ff that everyone gets hit by. An awful lot of people see the world from their own viewpoint, and presume/insist in spite of evidence that everyone else should too.

            But I may be being systematically unfair to Christians. I’ve witnessed or been the target of too much bad stuff explicitly motivated by Christianity – even if other Christians would, and sometimes did, call the perpetrators heretical. So I probably can’t evaluate evidence dispassionately. (And this even though 2 of my grandparents were perfectly good/nice Christians, one of them being fairly devout.)

    • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

      An ideology lives and dies based on how powerful it is perceived and how serious everyone seem to take it. Some ideologies anyway.

      If you blasphemize, you show that you don’t take religion sufficiently seriously, you are the enemy. Same with some secular ideologies. If Church tells you to be offended when someone says Damn it or listens to heavy metal, you better be. When someone authoritative enough tells you to be offended at blackface, OK symbol or frogs, you better be as well.

      It seems pretty arbitrary because those things alone are powerless, but they can become a symbol of defiance. And defiance leads to satanism. Or racism. Or something.

    • EchoChaos says:

      I think this is basically what the “Culture War” is.

      Which culture gets to enforce its taboos on society through both law and social pressure is the essence of it at the core.

    • Randy M says:

      I agree with the points in the last paragraph. It’s a complex judgment based on the intent of both parties and culture.

      If I think you are offended as a weapon to try and win some policy battle, I’m inclined to judge against you. Likewise if you seem to be cultivating particular sensitivity.
      On the other hand, if there isn’t really a larger point behind the action, it’s one that is less presumption of innocence. And then, how reasonable is the action in the dominant culture? Wearing a dress of anther culture, say, is pretty different than burning a book. It’s usually an honor to have something named after you, so I don’t think having a team named “the Braves” should be offensive–but “Redskins” probably is a more legitimate grievance, because we don’t usually refer to people by physical characteristics.

      • Faza (TCM) says:

        we don’t usually refer to people by physical characteristics

        On the other hand, I’ve yet to see anyone take offence at the use of the term “white”.

        Not saying it never happens, it just doesn’t register on my radar.

        (Personally, I think it’s a useful term in a wide variety of situations.)

        • Randy M says:

          Eh, you know, I think you’re right. You can get away with saying “black” too.
          And it’s not lumping distinct ethnicities together that is the problem, because white–and black–do that too.
          I guess it’s more context, though, since I’m sure a baseball team named “the blacks” would go over poorly.
          Maybe it has nothing to do with the name, but the exaggerated iconography? But we’ve still got “fightin’ Irish” don’t we?
          Yeah, the rules are hard to articulate.
          Best to error on the side of not taking or giving offense.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Best to error on the side of not taking or giving offense.

            If that were a general rule, it would be reasonable.

            But I doubt that people will stop referring to the War of Northern Aggression as a just war in my presence. 😉

            In all seriousness, there are definitely social standards about what is a “reasonable” offense to take and what isn’t. While we should definitely be charitable to people, especially in meatspace, having the ability to control those boundaries is powerful.

          • fraza077 says:

            The New Zealand rugby team is called the “All Blacks”.

            The soccer team is called the “All Whites”.

            Foreigners (Americans in particular) do sometimes react poorly to this.

          • mdet says:

            The wikipedia page is unsure of where the moniker “Fighting Irish” came from, but it sounds as though it may have been started by Irish people who were affiliated with Notre Dame referring to themselves. The rules are hard to articulate, but I think one thing that’s generally agreed on is that people have a lot more leeway in what they say about themselves and their in-group. “The Redskins” would probably get a lot less flak if it was actually a team of Native Americans referring to themselves.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          “On the other hand, I’ve yet to see anyone take offence at the use of the term “white”.”

          Because I can’t resist. Possibly an edge case.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oi0jN-y6vfY

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            Oooh, awkward…

            That said, I didn’t necessarily take away that David Webb was offended at being called white, but rather that he implication that someone with his life history obviously had to be white (and even then “offended” may be too strong a word).

            Looking at the bigger picture, he has a bigger point than might otherwise be apparent. I mean: Obama was President for two terms. Assuming that black people can’t achieve pretty much anything they put their minds to after that seems… I don’t know… a bit racist, actually.

    • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

      This is an interesting article on the modern notion of offence.

      The argument is that offence (as used here) is about a slight on somebody’s (or some group’s) honour. That makes being offended on a group’s behalf makes slightly more sense – you’re trying to prevent a certain group from being disrespected rather than share some possible emotional response.
      Treating certain groups differently also makes more sense under this interpretation i.e. people [leftists] are trying to prevent groups they think are disadvantaged from being disrespected. Christians aren’t disadvantaged now or in recent history (according to common/standard thinking on the left; I’m not interested in arguing whether this is actually the case) and so this disrespect is less important.

    • DinoNerd says:

      This is a hard one. It can be a very good thing to amplify the voices of people who are not being heard, or (sometimes) use your own relative privilege to point out harm being done to people who don’t feel safe enough to speak out. But it can be a pretty terrible thing when self-appointed allies decide what other people need/want, and insist on giving it to them.

      And emotional harms are much harder to judge than more tangible issues. One person’s terrible interaction, leaving them depressed and suicidal, is barely noticed by another person of similar objective circumstances. In general, it’s not a great idea to do things especially likely to cause emotional harms, but at some point demanding that others walk on eggshells starts doing more harm than the behaviours you are trying to prevent.

      The internet doesn’t help, bringing together people who e.g. use a particular Anglo-Saxon (sic) word every second sentence, with people who regard the use of that word even once as putting the speaker permanantly beyond the pale.

      AFAICT, almost all Twitter outrage storms these days cause a lot more harm than any benefits they may provide. OTOH, I’m happy with e.g. a manager interrupting people who talk over other people, saying things like “I’d like to hear what < person you interrupted > had to say”, whether or not this is the more common pattern of a male talking over a female. I’m quite OK with people not laughing at – and even drawing negative attention to – jokes based on treating some specific group as stupid (etc.), particularly when there are likely to be people of the target group present.

      Bottom line – we could all use a lot more tolerance, and a lot less offence, and the more power someone has, the more true that is.

      OTOH, if you want to build yourself an echo chamber, taking offence at anything and everything is one way to get a group consisting only of clones. And with the internet being what it is, you have a much better chance of finding people who agree with you on all your pet peeves – or who are willing to keep silent where they disagree – than you would in person, where you might find yourself preaching to a non-existent choir, unless you can bribe people to be your supporters.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      The straightforward steelman, I think, goes like this:

      1. Everyone agrees that respect for people is important.
      2. Respect is not, however, universally due.
      3. Ergo, rules for when respect is and is not due are important.
      4. Since those rules are important, they require enforcement (assuming they are fair, etc.)
      5. That enforcement must be universal, given the above.
      6. Ergo, if you see someone hurt by a rule violation, you must try to defend them. QED.

      Because of #6, people will say offense to one of us is offense to all of us. More accurately, I think one is not offended on behalf of others, so much as they’re offended by someone breaking the rules for respsect.

      However, nowadays, the weak point is #4 – many people dispute whether the rules are fair. This is important, since if the rules aren’t fair, there will exist people with insufficient incentive to follow them. Anyone focused on #6 is going to be disappointed if they ignore #4.

      And so we have this rule where you can punch up, which people at the top have no incentive to follow.

      I can carry this further. There are meta-rules for figuring out fair rules, and one of them is “don’t abuse the rules”. Rules have a spirit, and if you break that spirit while following the letter, you’re in arguably even bigger trouble than if you’d just broken the letter, because you’re acting willfully.

      And so we have people pattern-matching ordinary acts to acts previously ruled offensive, uncovering vast amusement parks of offense. Some of that is willful, some lazy. But they remember to be “offended on behalf” and keep going.

      And so, incidentally, we also have people who will step right up to the brink of offending, say, Christians, without being outright offensive. And we have people who will think “ohh, they’re devout” and just stop inviting them to dinner, or offering to watch their kids… muttering that much more when they complain about something… passing over them for promotion because they’re “not a good fit”…

      Which is not to say everyone ought to be required to invite devout Christians over for dinner. Rather, it’s that everyone ought to not mutter evasively about disrespect, or offense – or their fashionable synonym, “microaggression” – when it happens to anyone else. (But it’s probably worth noting there’s a rift there, and asking how badly everyone really wants that rift to close.)

      Meanwhile, the respect system is still there, as a reminder to give fellow humans the kindness that encourages reciprocation and good humor. To violate its norms is to invite its collapse.

      • albatross11 says:

        Politeness norms are great, but they should be universal, right? If you know something offends me, even if you think it’s a silly thing to be offended by, it’s polite to avoid it in my presence. What we’re talking about is a set of norms in which offending some people is very bad, and offending others is a positive good.

        When someone wears blackface, people will respond with offense even if they’re white because they’ve learned that it is offensive. When a gay couple kisses in public, the same people will be offended at the old man who is visibly upset by this (by the standards he grew up with) highly offensive display. There’s something going on here, but it’s not politeness.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          Politeness norms are great, but they should be universal, right? If you know something offends me, even if you think it’s a silly thing to be offended by, it’s polite to avoid it in my presence. What we’re talking about is a set of norms in which offending some people is very bad, and offending others is a positive good.

          Agreed. But in turn, we’re assuming that your offense is in good faith. We both recognize that it’s possible to feign offense and control a great deal of behavior that way, and so we recognize the need (in a Schelling sense) to avoid even the appearance of doing so. Offense has to be based on trust, which is fragile, and therefore requires care.

          This may mean sacrificing some offenses. If I think your tie looks tacky or your style of naming variables in your code offends my sense of elegance, it’s better for me to just suck it up than to try to make you change, risk mistrust, and then deal with you saying you’re offended by my combover, say. Or, it may mean that I have to make sure it comes across as an “effortoffense”, and be prepared to explain the nature of offense in convincing detail. Bonus points if it sounds like natural conversation; the presumption is that we’re trying to be friendly, not curt. (Sorry to any Curts out there.)

          So:

          When someone wears blackface, people will respond with offense even if they’re white because they’ve learned that it is offensive.

          This is learned, and can only be argued by authority, so I think they need to suck it up. (If, OTOH, they’d learned the history of minstrel shows well enough to grok the offense, then they can put effort in and it works.)

          When a gay couple kisses in public, the same people will be offended at the old man who is visibly upset by this (by the standards he grew up with) highly offensive display.

          Some people are bothered by PDAs; if they are, they can probably be convincing about it, but they can probably just turn the other way, too, unless it’s noisy. So, case by case. Offense at the old man’s offense might be offense at the old man being careless with trust, again, depending on the case.

          To some extent, negotiating offense is just going to feel weird, because it’ll ground out as a rational discussion about irrational gut feelings. OTOH, if we SSCerati succeed in our goal to convert the world into ratbots, we will also solve the problem of offense, and can turn to more productive tasks like paperclip making.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Meanwhile, the respect system is still there, as a reminder to give fellow humans the kindness that encourages reciprocation and good humor. To violate its norms is to invite its collapse.

        Given that it is not in fact reciprocal, let it collapse.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          And live in a society resembling 17th century French court? How well do you expect that to go?

          I know respect systems have worked. I think I’d rather promote them and maintain them.

    • HowardHolmes says:

      There is no such thing as something that is offensive whether that be word or deed. Offended describes how someone behaves who chooses to act as if they were offended. A person will act as if they were offended whenever they think it is in their best interest to do so. It is their choice. We should generally ignore them. It is not any of our business. If we choose to act offended on their behalf it is to promote ourselves. These are all good reasons to not have friends. It is all way too much trouble. I do not get offended because I never choose to. I cannot imagine acting offended on behalf of someone else. These are all good reasons to have no friends. Surely I can find something to do besides talk. What a waste of time!

    • thevoiceofthevoid says:

      I think your examples can be (mostly) divided into three primary categories:

      1. A direct attack on the offendee’s group. The offender intentionally insults a group and/or desecrates their symbols. This includes a, b, d, and i; and e or f if the offender intended to mock or denigrate.

      2. An unintentionally poorly-taken reference to the offendee’s group. The offender says, does, or names something in reference to a particular group that they think is fine, but at least some members of the group find it offensive. This includes e, f, and g if the terms or aspects of culture were intended to be used neutrally or respectfully.

      3. The “offenders” are simply trying to live their life and make no particular reference to the “offendees”. This includes examples c and h–saying “I believe LGBT folks have the right to marry and to be addressed with the pronouns of their choice!” doesn’t mean “I hate conservative Christians!”, though it does necessarily imply “I fundamentally disagree with conservative Christians on an important issue.”

      Obviously, I think that the examples in category 1 warrant the most direct and/or secondhand offense, while category 3 warrants virtually none at all.

      As I bystander, I think the proper response to category 2 is usually “woah dude, I know you didn’t mean it like that, but some people find that term/costume/name really offensive.” Hopefully the slight was truly just a misunderstanding and can be resolved with minimal drama. However, “screw that, I think I’m being perfectly respectful and it’s only a tiny nonrepresentative group who are acting offended” is sometimes a valid response.

      Category 1 is in some ways thornier, since the intent clearly is to offend. Here, if you get involved at all you’re going to have to explicitly choose a side, e.g: Do you care more about the reverent treatment of religious symbols, or about comedians’ ability to criticize and mock religion? Once you’ve chosen, chastise and support accordingly.

  19. Statismagician says:

    Congratulations! You have just been appointed CEO of a large health insurance corporation, ExampleCare. You were selected due to your bold new ideas for improving member experiences and health outcomes while keeping our costs about where they are now – the Board will accept increased spending temporarily, but it has to pay off in similarly decreased costs down the line, say within five years. You have complete authority to change ExampleCare’s internal processes, covered services, public health and socioeconomic initiatives, etc. within the bounds of law. We offer a variety of insurance plans, ranging from ACA marketplace plans to Medicare Advantage options and state Medicaid subcontracts.

    It’s the evening after your appointment; the champagne has been poured, the cigars have been lit, and the Board is waiting for your speech. What new and exciting changes will ExampleCare be making?

    • Gobbobobble says:

      You know that thing TV shows do where the villain of season 1 becomes a hero in season 2?

      I’m selling ExampleCare to Private Equity. The way to improve health outcomes and reduce costs is to burn the whole parasitical health insurance industry to the ground.

    • albatross11 says:

      I’m working out how to partner with a discount airline and several foreign clinics to outsource as much of our patients’ optional surgeries and pharmaceutical purchases outside the US. We’ll cover that knee replacement at 70% here in the US, or take a flight to Mexico where our partnered orthopedic clinic there will do it for a lot less, and we’ll cover it at 100%. Members get cheap flights for short trips to various foreign destinations (Canada, Mexico, various Caribbean countries) as a benefit, and while we can’t formally tell you to buy your drugs there, your drug benefit covers 100% of costs there but only 50% in the US. Oh, and there’s an entirely informal website that lets you get someone else to pick your drugs up from Canada/Mexico/wherever for a small fee. We also are introducing an advanced telemedicine system where you go to a local clinic and are seen by a nurse/medical assistant, and then consult with a doctor in some lower-cost place over Skype. Add in some kind of on-call doctor in case you need to be seen hands-on by a doctor.

      Basically, the US medical system is in an unfixable cost spiral and has bound-in costs that can’t be lowered much, so let’s just do a damned end-run around it.

      • Steven J says:

        Outsourcing health care to other countries would plausibly work, but it doesn’t meet the original poster’s requirement that you plan be within the bounds of current law, which has lots of requirements about local provider network adequacy and maximum out-of-pocket expenses.

      • Garrett says:

        Would that actually be legal? It’s one thing to offer equivalent coverage when travelling abroad. More interestingly, if US health insurance *doesn’t* cover repatriation, why don’t they jump at the opportunity to cover medical care everywhere else? My current health insurance only covers me abroad if travelling on company business which I don’t understand.

        • johan_larson says:

          I was wondering the same thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were something in the legislation concerning medical insurance that required services paid for to be provided by formally qualified (US) health care professionals. That would torpedo a plan to source medical services across the border.