Open Thread and Link Farm, Spiders Will Eat Us All Edition

two-countries

  1. LSE Business Review – Gender quotas and the crisis of the mediocre man
    “Quotas aren’t anathema to meritocracy: they increase competence levels by displacing mediocre men.”
  2. White Women Are Less Likely to Protect Black Women From Sexual Assault, Study Finds | Teen Vogue
  3. Minority Neighborhoods Pay Higher Car Insurance Premiums Than White Areas With the Same Risk – ProPublica
  4. Women Supreme Court Justices Are Interrupted More Often During Oral Arguments, Despite Talking Less
    Gender is far more influential a factor than seniority.
  5. Spiders could theoretically eat every human on Earth in one year – The Washington Post
  6. Opioid Deaths Plummeting in States with Legal Weed
    Jeff Sessions, of course, doesn’t give a shit. The willingness to have more people die in order to preserve the moral purity of one’s anti-drug stance is, to me, perhaps the most bewildering conservative position. (Think also of the needle exchange issue.)
  7. Toxic masculinity is bad for the Jews
    “It’s not an accident that the JDL is trying for a comeback in the US now. Fascism, white nationalism, Trumpism, are ascendent, and so is antisemitism.”
  8. Complaint Alleges Immigration Detention Center Sexual Assaults Are Ignored | Teen Vogue
  9. KY law would allow student groups to discriminate against LGBT people | TheHill
    This is what “religious freedom” means to the Christian right – the right of a (taxpayer-funded) Frisbee Club student club to exclude queers. (In theory the law is limited to “religious or political” student groups. Sincere thanks to Michael for the correction.)
  10. Election 2016: Did New Voting Laws Tip the Balance?
    The answer: No, it didn’t, according to this study. In fact, voter suppression laws may have hurt Trump more, because – in a reverse of what typically happens – in 2016 Republicans had more first-time voters, who are more likely to be deterred; and perhaps also because Democrats mitigated voter suppression laws through get out the vote efforts.
  11. Few Democratic voters back Syria bombings. So why do so many Democrats in Congress? – Vox
  12. The Debate Link: What We Now Know About Sex Discrimination
    “In a landmark decision, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that discrimination on basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination, prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.”
  13. My Third April Fools’ Confession | Thing of Things“In Patria, it is generally agreed upon that every man a woman has sex with the month before she conceives a child is that child’s father. … Most children have five to ten fathers. Of course, few women have five to ten lovers at any given time; it is usual, when a woman decides to try to conceive, for her to choose a small number of beloved friends to have sex with once or twice.”
  14. Doctor Who’s Bill Potts to be show’s first openly gay companion | Television & radio | The Guardian
    Captain Jack was openly bi, I thought? Although he was more of an occasional guest star than a companion.
  15. GOP lawmaker: The Bible says ‘if a man will not work, he shall not eat’ – The Washington Post
    This was said to justify cutting SNAP (aka food stamps).
  16. Economic growth in the US: A tale of two countries | VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal
  17. FBI Arrests Hacker Who Hacked No One – The Daily Beast
    He wrote software that hackers (and also, legit users) have used.
  18. Mike Pence’s Marriage and the Beliefs That Keep Women from Power – The New Yorker
  19. The American economy isn’t actually becoming more concentrated – Vox
    In short: In the past, a lot of people moved to areas where economic growth was concentrated, and this was good. Today, economic growth is concentrated in coastal cities like San Francisco; but people don’t move there, because the rent is too damn high, because we have too many single-family houses and not enough apartment buildings.
  20. If I Ran The Zoo: 16 recommendations for Fixing Obamacare
  21. Kansas’ Governor Brownback Stops 150,000 Poor People From Getting Health Care
  22. No, Diversity Didn’t Kill Marvel’s Comic Sales – CBR
    But it’s frightening to see how much their sales have collapsed – including in their best-selling comics about white men. If they don’t find a way to stop that trend it’s hard to see how they stay in business as a comics publisher.
  23. No, millennial men don’t want to keep women in the kitchen.
    How bad statistics leads to a clickbaity headline about sexist millennials.
  24. Joss Whedon’s ‘Batgirl’ movie reveals a weakness in a key argument for diversity – The Washington Post
    I think a more compelling argument for diverse creators is, we’re leaving talent lying on the table. (See link #1).
  25. The Death of the White Working Class Has Been Greatly Exaggerated
  26. And also: Is white mortality rising? Not really.
  27. Why It’s Time to Legalize Prostitution – The Daily Beast
  28. New poll shows what Americans really think about taxes: the rich should pay more – Vox
  29. Even among lower-income Republicans. But the poll could have asked more nuanced questions, imo.
  30. Settling the birth-order debate once and for all – The Globe and Mail
    Birth order has no effect on personality, according to the largest study yet done. First born children are smarter on average – but only by a single IQ point.
  31. Speaking of legalizing prostitution, I had an argument about that over at A Moment of Cerebus, which took place first on this thread, and then on this thread.
  32. Lies, damned lies and sex work statistics – The Washington Post
  33. Students Blockade Athenaeum to Protest Conservative Speaker
    Not only is this behavior wrong morally (because censorship), the speaker – Heather MacDonald – will only have her profile raised by this. I would be surprised if she doesn’t get more bookings because of the publicity this brought her.
  34. I’m kinda in love with this cover of We Will Rock You by Max Raabe.
  35. The voting rights issue no one talks about: Ending the disenfranchisement of felons will strengthen democracy – Salon.com
    This is an issue that swings some congressional elections.
  36. Nation’s largest Jewish denomination encourages congregations to protect undocumented immigrants
    Although the way ICE been acting lately, I’m not sure they wouldn’t enter a synagogue to arrest someone.
  37. Creationist ‘teach the controversy’ bill presented in Iowa Legislature
    The bill also requires schools that teach students about climate change to also teach them climate denialism. This is what conservatism stands for – anti-science, pro-lying to students.

bumper-stickers

This entry posted in Link farms. Bookmark the permalink. 

88 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, Spiders Will Eat Us All Edition

  1. 1
    desipis says:

    There’s something amazingly metaphorical about a political rally turning into a shoving match using a dumpster.

  2. 3
    Michael says:

    “This is what “religious freedom” means to the Christian right – the right of a (taxpayer-funded) Frisbee Club to exclude queers.”
    From the text of the article, it seems like they were proposing that a “Catholic Club” or a “Protestant Club” should be free to exclude queers. That’s a bit more complicated- most people wouldn’t want a Frisbee Club to be free to exclude atheists but would be perfectly okay with a Protestant Club excluding atheists.

  3. 4
    LTL FTC says:

    In #1, “competence” is defined as how much money a politician would make outside of politics. Seriously. A male economics professor losing a spot on the party line to the inheritor of a successful Volvo dealership is a victory of female excellence over “mediocre” men.

    By this metric, the most recent election in the US was also a victory of competence.

  4. 5
    Ampersand says:

    Seriously. A male economics professor losing a spot on the party line to the inheritor of a successful Volvo dealership is a victory of female excellence over “mediocre” men.

    That’s very inaccurate, LTL. (BTW, is that pronounced “little” or “Ell Tee Ell?” That’s not a dig or related to this discussion at all, I was just wondering.)

    But our measure of competence relies on a comparison of the private incomes across people with the same education, occupation, age, and residence in the same geographical region (members of municipal councils in Sweden typically keep their private job). A competent politician, we argue, is a person who makes more than the median amongst politicians with similar characteristics. Remarkably, this competence measure is closely correlated with results from enlistments tests of the intelligence and leadership capacity of those who did military service. It is also related to measures of political success and the quality of service delivery.

    The idea that, holding education, occupation, age, and geography constant, difference in income at least partly reflect differences in competence, doesn’t seem all that incredible to me. I don’t imagine that competence is the only factor – luck obviously matters, too – but averaged across a bunch of people, I’d certainly expect competence to be one important factor.

  5. 6
    Ampersand says:

    “This is what “religious freedom” means to the Christian right – the right of a (taxpayer-funded) Frisbee Club to exclude queers.”
    From the text of the article, it seems like they were proposing that a “Catholic Club” or a “Protestant Club” should be free to exclude queers. That’s a bit more complicated- most people wouldn’t want a Frisbee Club to be free to exclude atheists but would be perfectly okay with a Protestant Club excluding atheists.

    Michael, thanks for the correction. I’ve updated the post.

    That said, I do think it’s not as benign as the proponents claim.

    1) The law says that student “religious or political” groups are exempt from any non-discrimination rules, not only religious groups.

    2) The Hobby Lobby case, and similar cases, shows that conservative Christians expand what “religious organization” means in order to enlarge loopholes from laws. In practice, a “religious” organization would probably mean any organization at all that declares itself to be faith-based, regardless of if the organization’s main activities have anything to do with faith.

    3) (Note that in Kansas it’s ALREADY the default that all these clubs can legally discriminate against LGBT students; what this new law does is prevent colleges from making local campus rules forbidding clubs from discriminating against LGBT students).

    For reference, here’s the text of the relevant portion of the law:

    “No recognized religious or political student organization is hindered or discriminated against in the ordering of its internal affairs, selection of leaders and members, defining of doctrines and principles, and resolving of organizational disputes in the furtherance of its mission, or in its determination that only persons committed to its mission should conduct these activities.”

  6. 7
    Ampersand says:

    Desipis: That there’s a lot of anti-Trump fake news is not at all surprising, alas. Rage-sharing is big on both the right and the left, so it’s an easy way for clickbaiters to make money on both the right and the left.

  7. 8
    Kohai says:

    Amp,

    I think you inadvertently posted the “legalize sex work” link twice at numbers 27 and 31. I’m highly in favor of decriminalization, so feel free to continue doubling up on the pro sex worker posts. :)

  8. 9
    Ampersand says:

    Whoops! Thanks, Kohai. :-) I changed link 31 to a link to another blog where I was arguing with people about sex work.

  9. 10
    MJJ says:

    I can see the rationale for allowing political clubs to discriminate. After all, you don’t want people who disagree with you to force you to accept them into the club and then basically vote to change the club entirely. Also, given the nature of politics, I doubt many clubs would discriminate against people who were not actively trying to change the club’s philosophy; I can see a “traditional sexual morality” club not wanting to include non-celibate gays (because it would almost certainly require watering down what the club stands for), but a club that is focused on immigration issues, or on tax issues, or on trade issues likely would not want to turn away any potential allies based on race, sexuality, gender, etc., as it would decrease their influence.

  10. 11
    Harlequin says:

    a club that is focused on immigration issues, or on tax issues, or on trade issues likely would not want to turn away any potential allies based on race, sexuality, gender, etc., as it would decrease their influence.

    Unfortunately, “engaging in discrimination is illogical because it harms my cause” is, historically, not something that prevents discrimination. (You think Jim Crow was economically beneficial for the South?) While groups may be single-issue, people are not.

  11. 12
    Ortvin Sarapuu says:

    I wondered how that study defined ‘mediocre’.

    ” our measure of competence relies on a comparison of the private incomes across people with the same education, occupation, age, and residence in the same geographical region (members of municipal councils in Sweden typically keep their private job). A competent politician, we argue, is a person who makes more than the median amongst politicians with similar characteristics.”

    So when they say it displaces ‘mediocre’ men, they mean it displaces low-earning men.

    I’m not sure that removing low-earning people from politics is a good thing. In fact the idea that general competence and worth as a human being is best reflected by income is something that I don’t usually expect to co-exist with support for political gender quotas, although perhaps I’m being naive about the power of neoliberal feminism.

  12. 13
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Ampersand says:
    1) The law says that student “religious or political” groups are exempt from any non-discrimination rules, not only religious groups.

    And do you think that’s worse? I think that’s great! People should be able to exercise their freedom of association and belief without having to pretend that it’s god-based. Things are a lot more open that way.

    Don’t you want the feminist club to be able to refuse admission to MRAs? Don’t you want the Campus Democrats to be able to refuse membership to Republicans? Don’t you want the Gay-straight Alliance to be able to refuse memberships to the “gays are evil sinners” crowd?

    If you want free exercise of politics, political groups need to be able to form their own membership criteria. Some of those criteria will be admirable; some will be neutral; some will be evil; most of those labels will change depending on your viewpoint.

    I suspect the real problem is differential funding, which suggests the issue is less one of discrimination than of financial capture. You can have a school where a lot of fungible money is selectively steered towards a lot of discriminatory groups, which I agree would be a bad use of funds anywhere and more to the point an inappropriate use of public funds.

    If schools exercised less control over splitting up student funding, then we wouldn’t need to be so concerned that they give it to the ‘wrong’ (insert your definition here) sort of folks.

    2) The Hobby Lobby case, and similar cases, shows that conservative Christians expand what “religious organization” means in order to enlarge loopholes from laws.

    Can we all be honest enough to say that everyone does this? Whether you’re talking about title 9 or the RFRA or “racism”, everyone is desperately trying to expand these powerful laws so they can win the fight without ever entering the ring. Sure would be nice if the laws were a bit less expansive, and I agree that conservative groups do this, but this is totally not a “conservative thing.”

    In practice, a “religious” organization would probably mean any organization at all that declares itself to be faith-based, regardless of if the organization’s main activities have anything to do with faith.

    See, one nice thing about allowing political groups is that you avoid the god stuff. If you want to start an LGBT-allied group, or a no-platforming-for-conservatives group, you can. If you want to start an LGBT-hostile group, or a Charles Murray group, you can. Nobody needs to try to find a godly motivation, which also means that we keep the schools far away from the “judging godly motivations” problem.

  13. 14
    LTL FTC says:

    (Amp: its pronounced L.T.L.F.T.C., as in “long time listener, first time caller. Though I dont listen to call-in talk radio, I thought it fit)

    My clumsy analogy aside, this captures it:

    In fact the idea that general competence and worth as a human being is best reflected by income is something that I don’t usually expect to co-exist with support for political gender quotas

    If it takes adopting the Trump Theory of Political Worthiness to secure a set aside for Our Team, then a-Trumping some will go.

    I hate to cast aspersions, but here goes: the particularly craven nature of the assumption required to define “competence” signals to me that this study would probably never have seen the light of day until they found a variable that proved their point.

  14. 15
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    #1 is pretty silly.

    First, there’s the implication that “opposition to strict gender quotas in political representation” is motivated by the Mediocre Man instead of the many other political, social, and/or moral reasons to oppose it, which… well, god knows where they get that. Nice slogan, bad science.

    There’s also this gem of an assumption:

    Mediocre leaders have a strong incentive to surround themselves with mediocre followers, so as to bolster their chances of remaining in power.

    This is similarly ridiculous. The more likely explanation is that mediocre people are, well, mediocre, which is to say that they are not especially good at attracting, leading, vetting, or retaining expert followers. The other option is to assume that mediocre folks just to happen to be mediocre everywhere except in the one area of political wrangling, and that the imbalance is common among all mediocre politicians… yeah, sure.

    And finally, that writeup ignores what is literally the most obvious explanation for the improvement: If you are forced to fire people from any large organization which has an overly long in-service time, as a rule the overall competence will go up.

    The larger the population is, the more easily that you can trim off the left tail. IOW, the effect probably doesn’t come from “gender parity,” and it doesn’t come from “being female.” It probably comes from “being obliged to replace a portion of existing politicians with new people.”

    And of course there’s the issue about “how to measure political competence.” Which i have no idea how to do, but I suspect that however you do it, there has to be some serious value-judging going on.

  15. 16
    Harlequin says:

    LTL FTC:

    I hate to cast aspersions, but here goes: the particularly craven nature of the assumption required to define “competence” signals to me that this study would probably never have seen the light of day until they found a variable that proved their point.

    From the article Amp linked:

    Remarkably, this competence measure is closely correlated with results from enlistments tests of the intelligence and leadership capacity of those who did military service. It is also related to measures of political success and the quality of service delivery.

    So they did at least some minimal checking on whether this was reasonably linked to how people performed as politicians; I imagine income is an easier variable to collect than the other ones they mention.

    That doesn’t mean I agree with its use here. For instance, I imagine charisma is a big hidden variable, as it would allow you to convince people to put you up for office, and to pay you more, without actually being any better at the job itself than other people. And it’s still an economic indicator. The fact that they control for occupation and other factors reduces my objections (variation between occupations is typically bigger than variation within occupations–so an above-average-income trash collector would be preferred, if the study is right, to a below-average-income surgeon) but it still bothers me. I’d rather see this study with those measures of political success and quality of service they used for comparison, although it’s probable those have their own systematic effects.

    Ortvin Sarapuu:

    I’m not sure that removing low-earning people from politics is a good thing.

    Is it better or worse than preferentially removing an entire gender from politics?

  16. 17
    nobody.really says:

    New study of election results, analyzing the effects of effects of wealth, authoritarianism, and racism on voting behavior–specifically, on people’s propensity to vote Democratic or Republican in the last election, relative to people’s propensities during prior elections.

    Wealth: In the last election the bottom 20% went slightly for the Republican—a rare outcome, but only modestly so. The shocker is that in the last TWO elections, the top 20% were more likely to vote Democratic, a phenomenon never before seen in the study’s almost 70 years. And this was especially true in the last election.

    Authoritarianism: Are you more likely to say you want kids to be considerate, or well-behaved? Self-reliant, or obedient? Authoritarian people tend to favor the latter alternatives. By these standards, Trump boosters were slightly LESS likely to favor authoritarianism than prior Republican voters were. Trump folk lean more toward the anti-establishment hippy than your typical Republican does.

    Racism: There’s an unprecedented divide in how Trump and Hillary voters respond to racially-coded questions. Racism is a stronger predator than authoritarianism in predicting your vote in the last election. No big surprise, I guess.

    Oh, wait, there IS a surprise: This is actually good news! Trump voters are slightly LESS likely to give the racist response than were Romney voters. The big change is that Hillary voters were MUCH less likely to give the racist response than any previous cohort of Democratic voters. So EVERYONE is less racist than in the past—but Democrats are becoming less racist faster than Republicans are. We is woke?

  17. 18
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Thx for that link.

    I was surprised to read that the “children should be self-reliant” is coded as “liberal”. Maybe it’s a holdover from the old days….

    Also:

    The shocker is that in the last TWO elections, the top 20% were more likely to vote Democratic, a phenomenon never before seen in the study’s almost 70 years. And this was especially true in the last election.

    Not so much of a shocker if you look at the numbers.
    The WaPo article doesn’t report n or error bars, and it also uses the annoying “circle technique” that makes small numbers look bigger** and it also shows a graph scale which only goes down to 100 but actually uses a number smaller than 100 –sloppy work, that.

    But anyway, it looks like the circle for “top 5%” is about 1/2 the diameter of the “100” size, which would mean N is roughly 25, which would probably make the “shocker” the result of expected variance due to low sample size. And which would probably impact its predictive value for the other 15 million folks in the top 5%.

    **(people usually tend to scale by radius, but the circles are scaled by total area. Draw a circle and ask some folks to draw one “half the size” and you’ll see the issue.)

  18. 19
    Jake Squid says:

    (Amp: its pronounced L.T.L.F.T.C., as in “long time listener, first time caller. Though I dont listen to call-in talk radio, I thought it fit)

    Damn. I was sure that “LTL” was “Less Than Load” and I just couldn’t figure out how FTC related to trucking. I’ve clearly been paying too much attention to the freight portion of work for too long.

  19. 20
    Harlequin says:

    A couple of notes on nobody.really’s comment above (since I was a little confused–to be clear, I don’t think this was intentional on nobody’s part, and I’m just clarifying in case somebody else has the same questions I did).

    The shocker is that in the last TWO elections, the top 20% were more likely to vote Democratic, a phenomenon never before seen in the study’s almost 70 years.

    This is among white voters only. It’s still interesting, of course!

    Oh, wait, there IS a surprise: This is actually good news! Trump voters are slightly LESS likely to give the racist response than were Romney voters. The big change is that Hillary voters were MUCH less likely to give the racist response than any previous cohort of Democratic voters. So EVERYONE is less racist than in the past—but Democrats are becoming less racist faster than Republicans are.

    Note that Trump voters still score higher on this scale than they did 30 years ago when tracking started; Romney was a high water mark for Republican scores on these measures [insert sarcastic comment wondering why]. However, I don’t know how much of that is individual voters getting more racist and how much is the increased ideological sorting that’s happened since the 80s. This uses the same scale that was under discussion by Elusis and g&w in this recent comment thread.

  20. 21
    nobody.really says:

    I was sure that “LTL” was “Less Than Load” and I just couldn’t figure out how FTC related to trucking.

    Talk to this guy.

  21. 22
    Phil says:

    There’s a subject that I’ve been wanting to discuss with smart and well-meaning and analytical people, and since this is an Open Thread as well as a link farm, I figure this might be a place to do it.

    My issue is: I really don’t believe that cultural appropriation is wrong, and I think that people who are offended by it, or who “call it out” are going down a really problematic path.

    It isn’t that I don’t understand what cultural appropriation is, or that I haven’t heard the many reasons that people think it’s bad or harmful or offensive. I could definitely write a paper articulating lots of reasons that it’s wrong to wear a headdress at a music festival, or to dress as the goddess Kali for Halloween, or to put one’s hair in braids. I just–if I’m being honest with myself, deep down–don’t believe those reasons.

    And it’s not like I want to go out of my way to be a jerk. I have no desire to wear a headdress, or a Kali Halloween costume, or to put my hair in braids. But I think that our cultural discussions about what is and isn’t offensive are important, because I think the very notion of what is “offensive” require a certain amount of societal consensus. I can see that there are a lot of well-meaning and intelligent people who are working to try to expand the notion that cultural appropriation is offensive, and I personally believe that they’re wrong.

    But…I sort of want to believe otherwise? Like, I was wrestling with this (not literally; just in my head) the other day, and it reminds me of when I became an atheist. I wanted to believe in God, and in an afterlife, and in angels and all of the non-materialist things that my mom’s church preached. And I tried to believe in all that stuff, and to set aside thoughts that it wasn’t real, and to proceed in good faith as if it might be real, and ultimately I just couldn’t do it. I don’t think that wanting to believe in something makes it real, and I don’t think one can make oneself believe in something through sheer force of will. I just don’t believe in the supernatural, because it’s not real.

    I’d like to believe that there’s something wrong about cultural appropriation, because I like to think of myself as a progressive and a liberal and a person who cares about equality and justice and fairness. So there’s tribalism at play, and self-concept, and a lot of important factors that make me want to be on the side that the people I like and respect are on. And I don’t want to be some asshole arguing with my friends on their Facebook walls while kind and goodhearted individuals argue against me and racist Trump supporters cheer me on.

    These are the beliefs/ideas that I’m having a hard time reconciling with a “Don’t Appropriate Cultures!” mindset:

    1.) It is wrong to prohibit someone from doing something based solely on the color of their skin, their ethnic background, their sex, their gender, etc.

    2.) People are more important than things, and people are not things. So mocking or being disrespectful toward an object is not the same thing as mocking or being disrespectful toward a human being.

    3.) A person’s right to feel strongly about an object or a practice or a thing deserves the same respect as a person’s right NOT to feel strongly about it.

    4.) Criticism or mockery of ideas is not the same as criticism of people. Religions, cultures, politics– those are ideas.

    5.) In practice, the vast vast majority of criticism that is made in our public discourse about cultural appropriation takes the shape of shaming women for choices they’ve made about their appearance. Since I believe that shaming women for choices they’ve made about their appearance is usually wrong, it ought to take a really compelling, indisputably ethical reason to do so.

    Here are some links that I’d describe as examples of “shaming women for choices they’ve made about their appearance.” Obviously, when it comes to shaming women, the perpetrator can be male or female.

    Model Accused of Cultural Appropriation for Braiding Her Hair

    Don’t Do It Girl: How to Avoid Cultural Appropriation at Coachella

    White Girls, Take Off Your Hoops

    It’s a Slap in the Face When White Women Wear Black Hairstyles

    White Girls: Stop Wearing Nameplate Necklaces

    Anyway, I thought I’d throw this out there, and see if anyone else is struggling with this, or if there’s someone who once felt as I do, and then had an epiphany.

  22. 23
    Ben Lehman says:

    So, I’m not sure I’m up for a full-scale cultural appropriation discussion (which is polite-speak for: I’m really not going to do this.), but, Phil, do you mind a question about your framing?

    Namely, I’m really puzzled why you talk about wanting to believe that cultural appropriation is bad. I am just boggled by that. I cannot imagine wanting to believe that. Like, if I don’t understand why someone thinks something is wrong, I might want more information about it. I might want to understand why they believe this is wrong. But I can’t comprehend wanting to believe that it’s wrong. If I have enough information to make an informed judgement, I will. If I don’t, I want the information (why do you think that this is wrong?), not the judgement.

    Is this just quibbling over a difference of wording? Or is this just a totally different moral basis? I don’t understand, so, I want to know.

  23. 24
    Ampersand says:

    I don’t really have time right now, but I’m going to drop these links here:

    The Appropriateness of Appropriation | Alas, a Blog

    Reflections on Amandla Stenberg "Calling Out" Kylie Jenner for Cultural Appropriation

    Appropriate Cultural Appropriation

    That last one is lengthier, and is discussing appropriation specifically in the context of writing fiction.

  24. 25
    desipis says:

    I’m really puzzled why you talk about wanting to believe that cultural appropriation is bad. I am just boggled by that. I cannot imagine wanting to believe that.

    Ben, I’m obviously not Phil, so I can’t speak for him, but I’m not particularly boggled. I read it as wanting two things:
    a) social acceptance from the group holding those beliefs. That is the subgroup of progressives that believe cultural appropriation is always wrong (or in Phil’s analogy, the Christian community of his mum’s church).
    b) a simple moral code in order to avoid the cognitive effort required to make independent moral judgements.

    It seems Phil is experiencing a form of cognitive dissonance by feeling the desire for the above while simultaneous wanting the social acceptance from the broader group of people who beliefs are more consistent with the 5 points he listed, and wanting to avoid the cognitive effort of holding a moral code inconsistent with his personal experiences of pain and empathy.

    You, on the other hand, appear quite comfortable with a using a straight forward rational approach to the issue. I would hazard a guess that you neither feel that your social identity threatened by your reasoning process, nor have emotional experiences that conflict with your conclusions.

  25. 26
    Ampersand says:

    Unless Phil says he’s comfortable with it, I’d like people to avoid analyzing Phil any further. If Phil chooses to answer Ben’s questions, that’s fine; but I don’t think other people should try to speculate about Phil’s thought process, or answer the questions on Phil’s behalf.

  26. Phil,

    I am also wondering about your framing, specifically why you frame things in terms of absolute right and wrong in the first place. Cultural appropriation is a process that goes on all the time, on all different kinds of cultural, personal, political, creative, intellectual levels. It would seem to me the question is whether it is done responsibly, with integrity, with a sense of respect (and these are things about which people can disagree quite vehemently, of course), not whether it is right or wrong to do it in the first place.

  27. 28
    David Simon says:

    Richard Jeffrey Newman, I’m only familiar with the phrase “cultural appropriation” used in a negative connotation. Have you often heard it being used in a neutral or positive sense? In those senses, does it mean something like “cross-cultural participation” or “properly-sourced derivative work”?

  28. 29
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    I’d like to believe that there’s something wrong about cultural appropriation

    OK, then, if you want to go whole hog:

    1) Read and talk only to folks who think it’s horrible. There are plenty of them on the internet. If you’re lucky enough to be in college, there are probably plenty of them there.

    2) Don’t read or talk to many people who disagree. Better yet, do not permit disagreement at all. Discard opposing viewpoints as nonexistent, irrelevant, thoughtcrime, racist, colonialist, sexist, dehumanizing, or whatever preferred moniker works for you. This is much simpler than engaging with them. Like, see RJN’s comment? See how he’s being fairly reasonable? Do not read any more of his posts; you cannot be reasonable.

    3) Keep a hard-line view on who has the right to raise the issue, debate it, deny it, and make a ruling. So long as your side, and only your side, are the cops, judges, and juries, then you are sure to win the arguments. Requiring an element of “dominance” or “power” is really helpful here, since it usually allows you to entirely ignore anyone who tries to force the “CA works both ways” issue.

    4) Try not to use too many specifics. If you assert that some CA is acceptable and other CA is not, or if you get too specific, you may be asked to define the line–and that can be very dangerous to your position (though #2 offers ample defenses, if folks press too hard.) The most popular way is a sort of motte-and-bailey: using vague words like “respect” and “responsibility” and “privilege” allows you to move the goalposts, and if it doesn’t go well there’s always #2. Maybe your motte is “literally and fraudulently stealing music from black jazz artists” and your bailey is “using any African-inspired music without a specific shout-out to BLM,” but whatever works for you is fine.

    5) Always remember, CA is bad, so any appropriation you like needs to be defined as non-CA, at least in that conversation. Also remember that people who want a definition or a line are best defined as ” ___ists, who are trying to see how much appropriation they can get away with.”

    That usually seems to do it.

  29. 30
    Chris says:

    I like the idea that cultural appropriation can be done either well or not well, and am much more comfortable with that then the notion that it’s, say, always wrong for white people to wear dreads.

  30. 31
    Sarah says:

    @David Simon, I’ve heard “cultural appreciation” for positive examples of what is called “cultural appropriation” when it’s (perceived by the speaker to be) negative.

    For me this topic is really complicated by the fact that I believe cross-cultural transmission of words, ideas, clothes, food, etc. is inherently human, and therefore pretty much inevitable, as evidenced by tens of thousands of years of human history… so to me, “cultural appropriation” means something more like “irresponsible, hypocritical, insulting, or otherwise harmful treatment or (mis)use of another culture’s signifiers,” and avoiding it is a matter of trying to be responsible about culture sharing and endeavor to avoid or reduce harm.

    For example, I absolutely understand and believe Native American people when they say that it hurts them and their culture more generally to see their religions and stories rinsed and stretched out and made to fit into the “spooky” premise of the most recent Supernatural episode’s monster du jour, or that it’s deeply insulting when people with no connection to their culture wear headdresses stripped of the respect and authority they are intended to convey at a music festival for fun, when native people who wore them were abused by the government for failing to assimilate within the last hundred years.

    I also see a huge difference between those kinds of things and (to use the example in one of Phil’s links) asking people not to wear necklaces with their names on them. (Though I did read to the end of that link, and the author explicitly says that’s not what she’s doing.)

    But ultimately, sometimes, the harm-reduction attitude means you just have to take someone’s word for it if using this one particular style of dress or imitating this particular kind of slang or riffing off this one particular religious belief does more harm than good. There are a lot of cultures in the world, and a lot of clothes to wear, a lot of words to use, and a lot of mythological sources to draw inspiration from; it usually doesn’t have to be that one in particular.

  31. 32
    Phil says:

    Ben Lehman:

    Namely, I’m really puzzled why you talk about wanting to believe that cultural appropriation is bad. I am just boggled by that. I cannot imagine wanting to believe that.

    That’s a good question. I guess the answer is twofold. On the one hand, as desipis indicated, there is a tribalism angle. The people that I like and respect and choose to affiliate with all seem to have really strong (negative) feelings about cultural appropriation. In general–and I don’t want to paint everyone with the same brush, but in broad strokes–when I see people on social media arguing about this, I mostly see people who are (in my perception) kind and thoughtful and well-intentioned arguing with people who range (again, my perception) from kinda-jerks to intentional, over-the-top jerks. So, there is some cognitive dissonance when I think, gosh, all these people whose opinions I respect are on one side, and I’m on the other with a lot of people who hold some really unsavory views.

    The other half of the answer, if I’m being honest, is that it’s a rhetorical tactic to have a discussion without making the person(s) on the other side feel as if they’re being personally attacked. Like, I dunno if you’ve noticed, but sometimes when you have discussions on the Internet about stuff that involves race and culture and ethnicity, people can take things really personally and can get really upset. And there are good reasons for that–I don’t necessarily blame them. But it can make discussion difficult, especially if (see above paragraph) you’re taking the same side as people who routinely attack them. So I think that framing the discussion from the perspective of wanting to have an epiphany as opposed to wanting to tell people why they’re wrong might have some value.

    Amp:

    Unless Phil says he’s comfortable with it, I’d like people to avoid analyzing Phil any further.

    I appreciate this comment. I am comfortable, though, with someone offering a gloss on what they think I meant if I wrote something unclear. I mean, I don’t plan to personally be the main subject of whatever discussion takes place, but I’m cool with it in principle.

    Richard Jeffrey Newman:

    I am also wondering about your framing, specifically why you frame things in terms of absolute right and wrong in the first place.

    That’s a good question. It’s probably necessary to have an agreed-upon definition of cultural appropriation. I would probably say it occurs when a person of one culture wears or uses objects or recognizable non-human elements that are historically associated with another culture. (In modern usage, appropriation is typically viewed as negative when the appropriator is a member of a dominant culture –usually of European descent–and the culture being borrowed from is of a marginalized group.)

    I make the distinction “non-human” because I think there’s difference between using a thing and using a person. Owning a slave is not the same thing as owning a hat. Dressing up in a ninja outfit for Halloween is not the same thing as dressing up as a Japanese person for Halloween.

    Cultural appropriation is a process that goes on all the time, on all different kinds of cultural, personal, political, creative, intellectual levels.

    I think you are correct here, and to me, this is why it seems silly to call cultural appropriation wrong. (You seem to agree that it is silly to call it wrong as a matter of course, so I guess I’d be interested to hear some examples of perfectly fine appropriation.)

    It would seem to me the question is whether it is done responsibly, with integrity, with a sense of respect

    I think this is where I get lost, because, if we’re talking about things and not people, I do not think it is ever necessary to treat things with integrity and a sense of respect. When Andre Serrano submerged a crucifix in urine and photographed it, that seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do, assuming he bought that particular crucifix, and that he didn’t, like, give it to someone afterward and not tell them it was covered in urine. Some people think that crucifixes are sacred. That’s great; they have a right to think that. But it’s completely inappropriate for Person A to expect Person B who doesn’t believe that crucifixes are sacred to act as if they are. When that happens, my gut instinct is to be much more offended by Person A than by Person B.

    With regard to the question of why it has to be either good or bad, right or wrong, I guess my perception is: that seems to be how these things work? I mean, if we accept the premise that the notion of what is “offensive” requires some kind of societal consensus, I think we do tend to try to sort things into “good” or “bad.”
    It’s fine–and I think noble and valiant–to make a case for nuance in these kinds of cultural debates, but I think the spectre of being taken as offensive has a chilling effect that creates a sort of offense expansion.

    Consider: if I were a white female tenure-track professor, and you were my mentor, and I told you that I wanted to wear a daishiki or a hijab (because I feel pretty in them) to a campus party where lots of people would be taking pictures and instagramming, what would be the most appropriate professional advice for you to give? A) “Go for it! As long as you do it responsibly, with integrity and respect.” or B) “I strongly urge you to wear something else.”

    gin-and-whiskey:

    OK, then, if you want to go whole hog:

    Would it be fair to say you are not exactly giving this advice in good faith?

    Chris:

    I like the idea that cultural appropriation can be done either well or not well, and am much more comfortable with that then the notion that it’s, say, always wrong for white people to wear dreads.

    But what about the notion that it’s just…not wrong for white people to wear dreads? Or…that the ability to wear dreads should not be dependent on factors that a person can’t control, such as the race they happened to be born into?

  32. Phil:

    I would probably say it occurs when a person of one culture wears or uses objects or recognizable non-human elements that are historically associated with another culture.

    You may think this is a quibble, but I wonder about “historically associated.” The hijab, to use the example you give later on in your comment, is not just “historically associated” with Islam. It is part of the lived experience of Muslims who are alive right now. More to the point, to pretend that the white female tenure track professor has no relationship whatsoever—cultural, political, whatever—to the contemporary meaning(s) of the hijab, beyond its material properties or what it looks like on her, is not simply to decontextualize the hijab as a material object, it is to decontextualize the professor entirely, not to mention that it delegitimizes any claim Muslim women have to the meaning of their own lived experience.

    I’m saying this not to come down on one side or the other of absolute right or wrong—though people reading this blog can probably guess what I would tell the professor in your hypothetical—but rather to clarify the terms of the question. There is a difference, it seems to me, between wearing jewelry based on, say, ancient Babylonian idols—to pick a random example of a culture that I assume is a truly “dead”—and wearing something that is part of a contemporary, living tradition, not only but especially when you live in a country where that tradition has a living presence.

    I think this is where I get lost, because, if we’re talking about things and not people, I do not think it is ever necessary to treat things with integrity and a sense of respect.

    But things are not disconnected from people. If we live together and you mistreat things that belong to me, then how is that mistreatment not also disrespectful to me? I get that this raises the question of whether and in what sense, for example, the hijab “belongs to” Muslim women, and I agree that is a difficult and thorny question, which I don’t have time to engage right now. I just want to point out that I think you too easily dismiss the social, cultural and political contexts in which people and things coexist and through which they are connected.

  33. 34
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Phil says:
    April 20, 2017 at 2:20 am
    gin-and-whiskey:
    Would it be fair to say you are not exactly giving this advice in good faith?

    It was entirely tongue in cheek, as I expected would be clear from things like “telling you to disregard RJN and never read his posts again, because he is being reasonable.”

    I could definitely write a paper articulating lots of reasons that it’s wrong to wear a headdress at a music festival, or to dress as the goddess Kali for Halloween, or to put one’s hair in braids. I just–if I’m being honest with myself, deep down–don’t believe those reasons.

    And it’s not like I want to go out of my way to be a jerk.

    Who does?

    Look, if you want to be responsible for making your own judgments, keep going as you are. If you want to cede those judgments to other people who don’t necessarily know you; who don’t necessarily share your values; who will probably use different forms of analysis for you and them; and who will probably put their own interests before yours, that’s your call.

  34. 35
    RonF says:

    nobody.really @ 17:

    For instance, respondents are asked whether it’s better when children are considerate (likely more liberal) or well-behaved (likely more authoritarian), or whether they should be self-reliant (likely more liberal) or obedient (likely more authoritarian).

    These results don’t make a lot of sense to me. For one thing, I don’t see how these things are set against each other. Children – indeed, people – should be both considerate AND well-behaved, self-reliant AND obedient, etc.

    Secondly, I don’t agree with the assignments of liberal vs. authoritarian. For example, after a quarter-century of observing and interacting with Scouts and their parents it’s pretty clear to me that liberal parents are the least likely to let their kids be self-reliant. In fact, they are the most likely to be “helicopter” parents and continuously intervene with their child to make sure he’s doing/wearing/using what they think is right or necessary and not let him make his own decisions, and to try to keep in touch with him at all times on campouts, etc.. It’s the more conservative parents who tend to let the kid act and learn on his own and depend on his own resources. I would say that conservative parents are definitely more likely to require their child to be obedient (7th point of the Scout Law) for sure, but when you have a group of young men out in the woods with axes, knives, saws, fires, etc., obedient is a good thing.

  35. 36
    RonF says:

    Does a ban on cultural appropriation mean that I should not eat at a restaurant that serves anything but Mexican food if the kitchen staff is Mexican? That would wipe out 80% of the restaurants in the country.

  36. 37
    nobody.really says:

    Does a ban on cultural appropriation mean that I should not eat at a restaurant that serves anything but Mexican food if the kitchen staff is Mexican?

    Yes. But that would be true even without a ban on cultural appropriation. Or Mexican staff. It’s true because Mexican cuisine rules. Especially Oaxacan.

    (“The best book on programming for the layman is Alice in Wonderland; but that’s because it’s the best book on anything for the layman.” Alan Perlis)

  37. 38
    Phil says:

    Richard Jeffrey Newman:

    The hijab, to use the example you give later on in your comment, is not just “historically associated” with Islam.

    That is true, but I don’t think the two qualities are mutually exclusive. So, for the purposes of defining Cultural Appropriation the historical association seems to be more important, doesn’t it? I mean, maybe we can come up with examples of appropriation that involve objects that were invented in 2016, but I don’t see a lot of that being discussed. Whereas, if a Muslim designer created an outfit in 2016 that was distinctive and unique and looked nothing like anything that had ever been historically associated with Islam, and an American designer created a version of that outfit to dress white models in, I think we’d call that plagiarism, or some other variation on theft of ideas, not cultural association. (It might also be copyright or trademark infringement, but those are legal terms, and I think the whole notion of cultural appropriation is that it’s a societal/cultural issue, not a legal one.)

    More to the point, to pretend that the white female tenure track professor has no relationship whatsoever—cultural, political, whatever—to the contemporary meaning(s) of the hijab, beyond its material properties or what it looks like on her, is not simply to decontextualize the hijab as a material object, it is to decontextualize the professor entirely, not to mention that it delegitimizes any claim Muslim women have to the meaning of their own lived experience.

    That may be true, but the point of the hypothetical example and question about the tenure-track professor in comment #32 was not to argue about the incredibly sophisticated and abstract principles that may be at play when a white woman wears a hijab or a daishiki–quite the opposite. The point of that example was to support my claims that “we do tend to try to sort things into ‘good’ or ‘bad,'” and also “the spectre of being taken as offensive has a chilling effect.” I made those claims in response to your statement “wondering about [my] framing, specifically why [I] frame things in terms of absolute right and wrong in the first place.

    Of course you would advise the white woman in question to wear something else! I would, as well. For the most part, any ethical person in the position of a mentor who isn’t an idiot would offer the same advice. So, I would say, for practical purposes, it is a question of right and wrong. You are not exactly wrong when you say “the question is whether it is done responsibly, with integrity, with a sense of respect,” it’s just that those things don’t matter when you have to make a yes/no choice. They likely wouldn’t matter to you, as you indicate when you say “people reading this blog can probably guess what I would tell the professor in your hypothetical.” But they also wouldn’t matter to me–and I’ve already said that I can’t bring myself to believe that cultural appropriation is somehow wrong.

    Sorry to use so many words, but that is why I framed it as an issue of right vs. wrong.

    RonF:

    Does a ban on cultural appropriation mean that I should not eat at a restaurant that serves anything but Mexican food if the kitchen staff is Mexican? That would wipe out 80% of the restaurants in the country.

    I realize you’re being tongue-in-cheek here, but I don’t believe you are using the term “cultural appropriation” in a way that comports with modern usage. (i.e, appropriation is typically viewed as negative when the appropriator is a member of a dominant culture –usually of European descent–and the culture being borrowed from is of a marginalized group.) The Mexican workers in restaurants would typically be viewed as members of a marginalized group, not as the dominant culture.

    Also, I don’t think most serious writers about cultural appropriation are advocating a ban in the sense of a legal prohibition on appropriation. Rather, I’d say that they are working toward codifying and expanding a societal stigma on the use of objects and elements of other cultures by members of a dominant culture.

    Sidenote: I wonder what part of the country you live in, if you honestly believe that 4/5 of all restaurant kitchens are staffed by Mexican workers? My experience is that it is definitely the case that the vast majority of back-of-the-house workers in Southern California and most of the Southwest and Texas come from the area’s economic underclass, which is comprised principally of Latinx people–chiefly from Mexico. But in large parts of the American South the economic underclass is black, and in lots of restaurants in the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest you’ll find white people working as cooks and dishwashers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t break down the ethnicity of workers by specific job, but their 2016 numbers are that about 25% of restaurant employees are “Hispanic or Latino.”

  38. 39
    desipis says:

    Of course you would advise the white woman in question to wear something else! I would, as well. For the most part, any ethical person in the position of a mentor who isn’t an idiot would offer the same advice. So, I would say, for practical purposes, it is a question of right and wrong.

    I’m a little unclear what you mean here Phil. If you don’t believe cultural appropriation is wrong, then why would you offer that advice? Would you do it primarily out of concern of the outcomes for white professors career, or do you still consider her clothing choice to be morally wrong for reasons other than cultural appropriation?

    I don’t think I would offer the same advice. I would offer similar advice to that which I would a young man who wanted to women’s clothing. I would point out that as a result of diverging from expected behaviour many people will react with offence and prejudice; some on the basis of rationalised dogma, others on gut instinct. Those reactions could have long lasting consequences. I would advise that since I couldn’t measure their desire to wear such clothing, I couldn’t judge whether it was strong enough to justify the social consequences. That judgement would remain with them.

    Of course the political zeitgeist has certainly shifted in different directions in terms of institutional tolerance for each of the hypothetical, so I would make different emphasis in each case.

  39. Phil,

    So, for the purposes of defining Cultural Appropriation the historical association seems to be more important, doesn’t it?

    I don’t have much time to respond in detail, but I will say that I don’t agree with you here and that this understanding of cultural appropriation may be why you can’t bring yourself to think it’s wrong.

  40. 41
    Ampersand says:

    I mean, maybe we can come up with examples of appropriation that involve objects that were invented in 2016, but I don’t see a lot of that being discussed.

    I’ve certainly seen “cultural appropriation” discussed in the context of relatively new fashions. Two examples:
    Harajuku "cultural appropriation" – Google Search

    Nameplate necklaces: This shit is for us

    I think that sometimes claims of cultural appropriation are over-the-top and trying to control things that can’t be controlled. As Sarah says, picking up culture from other humans is inherent behavior in humans.

    Other complaints are more reasonable, though. “Hey, stop using a racist caricature of my people for your sports team logo” is not an unreasonable request.

  41. 42
    Humble Talent says:

    Hey Barry,

    Just saw this… Don’t know if you were aware.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cn5FmLNnZNg

  42. 43
    Ampersand says:

    Thanks for the head’s up.

    I haven’t seen this one before, but he’s not the first angry-sounding youtuber to do an episode or two about my comics. I guess those guys need a constant stream of grist for videos. I didn’t listen to more than a few minutes, but from what I saw, he’s not making interesting arguments.

    I am pretty goggled at how big an audience these folks have. For me, I don’t love this format, even when I agree with the person talking; I can read an argument in prose so much more quickly than I can listen to an argument on Youtube.

  43. 44
    Phil says:

    I can read an argument in prose so much more quickly than I can listen to an argument on Youtube.

    Right? I get so annoyed when I am reading a digital news source and I click on an interesting-sounding headline only to find that there is a video instead of an article.

    Also: while I can imagine it is annoying to experience someone’s anger at your creative work, I tend to believe there’s no such thing as bad publicity. So…congratulations, Barry!

  44. 45
    Seriously? says:

    I have always been repelled by any attempts of judging the morality of an action by the worthiness of the victim. Punching up is just as abhorrent to me as stomping d0wn. Raping an identity thief is no more defensible than raping a nun. It may be OK to shoot someone in order to prevent him from doing something you think is wrong. Shooting him for something that he has already done should be left to the State and its actors.

    By this measure, it is A-OK to use the symbols of a dead culture, but it is morally equivalent to immerse a crucifix in urine, cast Mohamed in a porn movie, or Shiva as the big bad in a fantasy story. So when someone offends people who have never done him any wrong, I ask myself a simple question – “How do I feel about the people taking offense?”

    You take offense because your ‘holy’ book of fairy tales has been disrespected? Meh.

    You don’t want anyone using something your crowd popularized? Tough luck.

    You take offense because your ‘old country’ is being portrayed with ignorance and disrespect? Yeah, it sucks, but you’ll get little sympathy from a Slav.

    Someone is making fun of an experience that nearly destroyed your life? Lessee how we can ruin his life.

    (I know someone who lost his car and job soon after he made jokes involving the bombing of Belgrade in front of someone he knew had her face scarred by glass shattered by American bombs. Adrestia may have had a bit of help there.)

  45. 46
    Sarah says:

    The conversation has moved on from this point somewhat, but, RonF, I think your gloss of nobody.really’s quote about authoritarianism is incorrect.

    The relationships aren’t considerate/self-reliant = liberal, well-behaved/obedient = authoritarian = conservative (I’m assuming you’re linking authoritarianism with conservatism based on your paragraph contrasting liberal vs. conservative parenting styles).

    The relationships are considerate/self-reliant = less authoritarian, well-behaved/obedient = more authoritarian.

    I would assume that people all across the political spectrum can be more or less authoritarian. When I’ve encountered it, authoritarianism is generally discussed alongside right-leaning politics, where conservative politics are linked to higher authoritarianism and classically liberal/libertarian politics are linked to lower authoritarianism. I haven’t seen as much discussion about the authoritarian levels of different kinds of leftists, but I would assume there are both permissive and authoritarian leftists, simply because every political alignment chart that has an authoritarian-vs-libertarian axis puts a few people in the libertarian camp to the left of that axis as well as the right.

  46. 47
    Harlequin says:

    Why do conversations about cultural appropriation focus on fashion so much? I don’t know that much about the theoretical underpinnings, to be honest, so I don’t know if there’s a reason. (That is a serious question, not a complaint, since I know that can be hard to tell via writing!) Most examples people cite are usually fashion; music and food are less common, and I’ve also seen stuff like yoga mentioned. But fashion dominates, by far.

    I agree largely with Richard @27. When I’m thinking about instances of cultural appropriation that have bothered me, I often think of a later season of Project Runway, because it was such a good illustration (although, in the grand scheme of things, not at all important). Near the end of the show, one contestant, who was Native American, made some clothes that were very Native American-inspired, and she was eliminated from the show based on those clothes. (This wasn’t the first time she’d used Native American fashion for inspiration, with variable success, but these were the mostly clearly Native American she’d done.) In the finale, a different contestant used a “tribal”-ish geometric print in many of her clothes, and was praised for that. So it was uncool to have a Native American contestant making clothes that were fusions of her heritage with modern US fashion. But it was very cool for a white designer to use exotic-looking context-free printed fabric in her purely mainstream US fashions. Hints of non-mainstream were fine; actually being non-mainstream was punished. Which I think is a restatement of what some of you have said above, but I thought it was a nice illustration.

  47. 48
    RonF says:

    nobody.really @ 37:

    Yes. But that would be true even without a ban on cultural appropriation. Or Mexican staff. It’s true because Mexican cuisine rules. Especially Oaxacan.

    I’m afraid I cannot speak to the virtues of Mexican food from any recent experience. The EPA has banned me from even entering a Mexican restaurant ever since The Incident Of 1986. A hazmat unit was required to finish demolishing the restaurant’s bathroom, but fortunately my liability insurance covered the costs.

    (“The best book on programming for the layman is Alice in Wonderland; but that’s because it’s the best book on anything for the layman.” Alan Perlis)

    Early in my career I had a director with a fairly dry sense of humor. She saw me sitting at my desk reading a critically edited copy of Alice in Wonderland. She asked me what I was doing. I noted that our V.P. – her boss – had a staff meeting scheduled for us in an hour so I figured I should brush up on the department’s staff manual. She was greatly amused and we got on quite well after that.

    Phil:

    Sidenote: I wonder what part of the country you live in, if you honestly believe that 4/5 of all restaurant kitchens are staffed by Mexican workers?

    The Chicago area. Where I’ve been told by more than one food service manager that in order to be a food service manager you have to learn at least some Spanish or you simply will not be able to communicate with your staff. And after looking over the books in a local bookstore and seeing a book on the shelf entitled “Spanish for Restaurant Managers” I can believe it. Not to mention my observation of who is cooking my food and cleaning off the tables in just about every restaurant, fast food franchise and cafeteria I’ve ever been in around here.

  48. 49
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Sarah says:
    April 21, 2017 at 9:58 am
    The conversation has moved on from this point somewhat, but, RonF, I think your gloss of nobody.really’s quote about authoritarianism is incorrect.

    Has everyone read the actual survey and not just the reports? Here are the two questions (see p. 75) asked: “Which one is more important for a child to have?” (this was repeated for each question)
    1) Obedience OR self-reliance;
    2) Being considerate OR well-behaved;

    As always I am fascinated by the choices made here. For example, why those pairings? Why not randomize them? How did they decide against a rank order, or a sliding scale of importance for each trait? Why does the linked document have “both” and “neither” options–and why does it say the both/neither options should be omitted from the web version? What difference would it have made, if any?

    Or, to get more basic: Given that all of the four questions for “authoritarianism” are limited to asking about what traits children should have, should we even be calling this “authoritarianism” at all, as opposed to “child-rearing beliefs?” The claimed reason for a child-rearing proxy is that “respondents might not want to say they fear chaos or are drawn to strong leadership”–is that still facially rational in a poll which talks about other issues with big emotional and political weight?

    I’m fascinated by this because study design choices are such an obvious way to potentially affect outcomes, and because so few reports ever seem to look at study design. I like to encourage people on both sides to dig past reports, into studies, and I like to encourage them to be skeptical that researchers have made the right choices. Ergo my posts.

    But anyway, my own guess as to the questioning is that it may be a historical artifact: I guess the original drafters wrote questions with what made sense to them at the time, and if it’s a study over years then the question might have been preserved. It seems less likely that they would write that question from scratch in 2016.

  49. 50
    Harlequin says:

    The Chicago area. Where I’ve been told by more than one food service manager that in order to be a food service manager you have to learn at least some Spanish or you simply will not be able to communicate with your staff.

    This is regional even within the area, I think–when I lived in Chicago for a few years (starting about 10 years ago), most of the people working in restaurants in my neighborhood were black. I mean, I think Spanish-speaking restaurant workers are probably more common in the greater Chicago area, but it’s not universal.

  50. 51
    closetpuritan says:

    I’m in a somewhat similar position to Phil regarding cultural appropriation, though I think I’m less clearly to one side or the other of “cultural appropriation: bad or totally okay?”

    I’ve settled uncomfortably on “a lot of times when I agree with people about cultural appropriation being bad, there’s some sort of ‘adding insult to injury’ factor, and overall I’m less likely to categorize something as ‘bad cultural appropriation’ or ‘appropriation not appreciation’ than other people I mostly agree with.” Uncomfortably partly because of the tribal factors that Phil mentions, but importantly, because I have a great deal of doubt that I’m right, compared to some of my other positions, and it also seems like other people on all sides of the issue usually don’t make good arguments. As Phil alludes to, it is hard to entirely separate from tribalism–these smart people that I agree with on other things believe it, am I missing something? But if it seems like a lot of people from the not-dominant culture are objecting to it compared to the people in the dominant culture, and I’m from the dominant culture, that seems like another sign that I’m missing something. And like Phil, the fact that A. a lot of policing around cultural appropriation seems to focus on women’s fashion choices, and B. a lot of it also focuses on/justifies outrage with Respect for Religion… both make me uncomfortable and make me think the cultural-appropriation-policers are often missing something. I guess a lot of it boils down to discomfort with this persistent feeling that I, and maybe everyone with an opinion on this, don’t really know what we’re talking about. But perhaps by all rights I should be feeling this tenuousness about every controversial political opinion.

  51. 52
    closetpuritan says:

    On the subject of “culture of free speech” but not gov’t restriction of free speech, and cartoons:
    How Iowa’s farmer cartoonist became a national free speech martyr (note that this is from about a year ago, but I missed it the first time around)

  52. 53
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Recently, a philosophy professor published an article discussing aspects of transracial identity and linking them to aspects of transsexual identity. Then, it seems, the shit completely hit the fan.

    This is a fascinating summary–be sure to read the comments!

  53. 54
    desipis says:

    Our world outsmarts us – an interesting look at the divisiveness of modern politics. I especially liked this part:

    It’s time we asked whether political frustration, anger and resistance to conflicting ideas results in part from a basic lack of ability to sense how the present world works. The best defence against runaway combative ideologies isn’t more facts, arguments and a relentless hammering away at contrary opinions, but rather a frank admission that there are limits to both our knowledge and our assessment of this knowledge. If the young were taught to downplay blame in judging the thoughts of others, they might develop a greater degree of tolerance and compassion for divergent points of view. A kinder world calls for a new form of wisdom of the crowd.

  54. 55
    Ampersand says:

    Forgiver me, Desipis – I’m super busy right now (just got off a plane), and haven’t read the article at the link. But based just on that quote, I agree with it, but I don’t understand why the young are being singled out. Surely that’s good advice for every age group – and it’s not like older groups lack for people who practice blame rather than compassion.

  55. 56
    desipis says:

    Ampersand, I don’t think the author was intends to limit the advice to young people. I think it’s just that education was a bit of a sub-theme to the piece, particularly with the examples it uses, and the reference to young people is just an example application of the article’s core thesis.

  56. 57
    kirklas says:

    I like those top 1 percent, bottom 50% graphs for their punchiness, but sometimes I wish they didn’t look so equivalent, because we’re talking about 2.5 million people versus about 123 million people. Or as if everyone in the city of Houston received almost twice as much income as everyone in the states of California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois, and Michigan combined last year. (I’m not saying earned, because the uber-rich didn’t earn it in the sense that most people talk about when they use the word earn, but they received it)

  57. 60
    Ampersand says:

    To clarify, the comic cancelled was “Black Panther Crew,” a spinoff comic – the Black Panther comic, which TNC writes, is not cancelled. But still, it’s surprising they didn’t give it more than two issues before deciding. (They’re going to keep the title going through issue six, to let the storyline finish out.)

  58. 61
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    …On Heat Street, the right-wing website that frequently derides identity politics and its proponents, whom it deems “social justice warriors,” Ian Miles Cheong suggested that comics with a social message were bound to fail. “No one is buying Marvel’s lineup of social justice-themed comics,” he wrote. “It’s no surprise, given that few readers want politics to be forced down their throats.”

    One could, of course, argue that Captain America—introduced by Marvel in 1941—is no less political than Black Panther.

    The answer, of course, is not that “social messages won’t sell,” or “politics won’t sell.”

    Die Hard is more popular than Schindler’s List; both carry different social messages. Captain America (the Die Hard equivalent) is more popular than MAUS (the Schindler equivalent.) Amp’s political cartoons are outsold by Bloom County. And so on. All of those are political; some are simply more popular.

    Back in the 80s-90s when last I read it, the X-men had a surprisingly strong justice meme; they were constantly fighting against authoritarianism and prejudice. In case you missed a lot of the Holocaust allusions, they made sure to name a character “Holocaust”. Still, it was popular as heck. Other comics were more right-wing; they are now defunct. That doesn’t mean jack.

    Basically it depends on how good you are.
    TNC writes good editorials and good books, ; maybe he’s just not cut out for that genre.

    Think about it: Comics depict corrupt cops and violent cops all the time and have been doing that for decades. The government is the enemy in many comics I can remember; it is often the primary enemy in smaller storylines. So obviously “government is bad/evil/corrupt” will sell… if you do it right. Perhaps TNC did too much “tell and not show,” and/or too much editorializing.

    That’s my guess. Look at the panels on this page, for example: http://io9.gizmodo.com/marvels-cancelling-black-panther-the-crew-one-of-its-1795200916

    In those three panels, you are told that the mayor passed a curfew, that it was unconstitutional, and that the cops are pretty obviously going to cause problems. Note: you are told.

    Now, think of how good-selling comics work.

    First, you’d see the mayor make the decision. Perhaps he is corrupt/racist. Perhaps he is dumb. Perhaps he feels trapped and thinks this is the least worst option. (This may have happened here in prior panels.)

    Then you’d see the “unconstitutional” issue as a series of arguments. Those sell fine; hell, half of Daredevil is filled with that stuff. After all, in real life, what is or isn’t constitutional is usually an interesting topic for debate. You’d hope that the reader would agree with the author’s perspective, but you’d grant them the intelligence to disagree, or at least understand that this was a viewpoint as opposed to an objective fact.

    Then, you get the faceless cops. As TNC sarcastically puts it, “what can go wrong?” Well, in many good comics, this is for the reader to decide–or to discover. Are the Sentinels protecting innocent humans or killing poor mutants? Is Batman too strict or is Superman too lenient? Is the claimed solution–whatever it is–going to turn out to be the problem? Will the fix come from inside or outside?

    I don’t know how typical this excerpt is. I tried reading one and I didn’t like it so I didn’t bother to read more. But if these three “tell, don’t show” panels are representative, then it’s no surprise that this died, and blaming liberal content isn’t the answer.

  59. 62
    desipis says:

    You’d hope that the reader would agree with the author’s perspective, but you’d grant them the intelligence to disagree

    The current champions of the social justice movement explicitly don’t want to do this. It’s the same philosophy that’s behind all the de-platforming of conservative speakers at university colleges.

    The argument goes: many of the readers might have that intelligence, there may be some genuine (or potential) fascists that read the comic. If you present even a half-baked argument in favour of what the ‘bad-guys’ are doing, the fascists might (mis)read it as being in support of their fascism and become emboldened. Presenting the bad guys in anyway as human gives a platform to fascist views, and that can’t be allowed at any cost. Thus, the bad guys (or at least any bad guy that is racist/sexist/etc) have to be completely evil inhuman entities without a shred of reason to justify their positions.

    It’s the same argument used against rape jokes. If there’s even the slightest possibility a joke might be taken as permission by a rapist, that joke cannot be told.

    You can’t have nuance in stories, because that nuance might be misinterpreted as being in support of ‘bad things’. The only stories that can be marketed towards that crowd and be free of social justice criticism (and the subsequent twitter-rage-caused financial damage) will be those that are shallow preachy unsalable crap.

  60. 63
    Ampersand says:

    A few random notes about the “Crew” cancellation:

    1) The three panels G&W’s comment focus on are three set-up panels, and not at all representative of the issue’s storytelling (as G&W thought might be the case). (Nor does telling and not showing always equal low sales: Think of Claremont’s X-Men.)

    2) A bigger problem might be that the storytelling is pretty slow (and that’s clearly a deliberate choice). The first two issues develop the story gradually, focusing on character development. Black Panther, the title character, doesn’t even appear until the final page of issue two. That isn’t necessarily a bad choice, artistically – I like character development and slow-burn storytelling – but it might still be bad for month to month sales of a Marvel title. I don’t think slow, careful builds and character development are exactly the model that most best-selling Marvel books have taken. (Although probably there are exceptions.)

    3) Also a potential problem: The art in “Crew” is inexpressive and meh, and the action scenes unexciting and rote. (OTOH, plenty of comics with meh artwork and rote action scenes sell well, so maybe this doesn’t matter.)

    4) Marvel has been having enormous ongoing sales problems. And although it’s I’ve seen plenty of people point to the weak sales of something like “Crew” and other titles as proof that social-justice influenced comics sell badly, those same people ignore the weak sales of comics like “Star-Lord” “Bullseye” and “Rocket Racoon,” as well as the strong sales of titles like “Black Panther,” “Ms. Marvel” “All New All Different Avengers” “Mighty Thor” and “Captain Marvel.”(“Black Panther” hasn’t retained its incredible initial sales, but no one expected it to; overall, it’s done great for Marvel).

    5) I suspect that Marvel’s problem is a combination of higher prices than DC, and an increased reliance on line-wide “events” that squeeze extra sales from their existing readership for those “event” comics, but torpedo long-term readership growth. A large amount of Marvel’s output – including the comics that they put the most work into publicizing and selling – is simply impenetrable to new readers.

    6) It’s worth remembering that the sales stats most often bandied about are Diamond month-to-month sales – basically, the sales of monthly comic books to comic book stores – and that doesn’t tell the whole story. I saw someone on Twitter saying that “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” had terrible sales and is only kept alive to appease the SJW crowd. But actually, MGADD sells very well as trade paperbacks through bookstores and Scholastic book fairs; it’s just that those sales aren’t reflected in the Diamond numbers.

    7) In the end, the reason one comic sells well and another sells poorly are often pretty opaque. Sometimes great work sells poorly; sometimes poor work sells well. I think creating good comics is one factor that goes into good sales, but it’s not always the determining factor.

  61. 64
    Ampersand says:

    Oh, and sales isn’t the only measure of a comic’s success and legitimacy. Marvel’s “Vision” title didn’t sell very well, but it was an exciting, smart, and ambitious comic, and a critical darling. I think people will still be reading and talking about it years from now, long after this year’s big Marvel event has faded from memory.

    Or at least, that’s the hope.

  62. 65
    Ampersand says:

    Desipis, it’s funny that you’re arguing in favor of “nuance in stories,” when your own argument is so completely lacking in nuance.

    Yes, there are social justice people whose arguments are as shallow and lacking in nuance as what you describe – just as there are anti-SJW people like that. But no, that’s not the whole story.

    Also, when you say something like “the argument goes,” it would be helpful if you’d like to someone influential “explicitly” making that argument.

  63. 66
    RonF says:

    Hm. If this proves out, maybe the supposed “Russian” connection will actually have been an inside job after all. This was proposed back when the Wikileaks e-mails came out but was derided as a right-wing fantasy to detract attention away from the supposed collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

  64. 67
    nobody.really says:

    If this proves out, maybe the supposed “Russian” connection will actually have been an inside job after all.

    From the Washington Post:

    The family of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich refuted Fox News reports that he had leaked work e-mails to WikiLeaks before he was fatally shot last year in the District.

    * * *

    “As we’ve seen through the past year of unsubstantiated claims, we see no facts, we have seen no evidence, we have been approached with no emails and only learned about this when contacted by the press,” Rich’s family said in a statement. “We are a family who is committed to facts, not fake evidence that surfaces every few months to fill the void and distract law enforcement and the general public from finding Seth’s murderers.”

    * * *

    “There is nothing that we can find that any of this is accurate,” said Dustin Sternbeck, the chief spokesman for D.C police, which is leading the investigation into Rich’s death.

    * * *

    Law enforcement officials have said for months that Rich’s computer and e-mail activity have been examined and suggest nothing that would connect him to WikiLeaks, which, twelve days after Rich’s death, published 20,000 emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton and the DNC and forced the ouster of its chairwoman. “We’ve seen nothing that would change that,’’ said one law enforcement official.

    * * *

    The allegations were reported by Fox News, including WTTG-TV, the District’s Fox News affiliate. The reports cited a private investigator, Rod Wheeler, who Fox said was hired by the family and had previously worked for D.C. police. He also has been an on-air contributor to the Fox-5 news station.

    * * *

    The Rich family spokesman, Brad Bauman, also said Wheeler had not been hired by the family but by a “third-party” who Bauman says has a political agenda. He declined to identify the person citing legal concerns. He said Wheeler offered his services to the family “claiming he wanted to help.” Bauman said Wheeler and the family had an agreement that Wheeler not talk to the media.

    * * *

    Wheeler said he worked for D.C. police from 1989 to 1998 and was at one time a detective in the homicide unit. He said in an interview that he was told by a D.C. police detective involved in the investigation that there is evidence that DNC files were possibly transferred from Rich’s computer to a WikiLeaks representative. He declined to identify his source, and he did not return phone calls seeking comment after Rich’s family had publicly criticized him.

    D.C. police said Wheeler worked as an officer from 1990 to 1995 and they were checking records to determine if he served in homicide. Sternbeck, the police spokesman, said Wheeler was fired from the agency.

  65. 68
    Ampersand says:

    I watched “Dear White People” on Netflix and thought it was great – much better than the movie it was based on (and I liked the movie). It uses shifting main characters – that is, each episode follows a different character – which is something I really enjoy, as characters who at first seem shallow or simple get deepened once we see their perspective. I had some reservations (as I always do), but I’m really hoping there will be a second season.

  66. 69
    Harlequin says:

    And, now, the PI says he got the info from a Fox News reporter–not his own investigation–and was merely previewing their piece. More info may come out, of course, but right now it seems much more likely to be a distraction tactic (again).

  67. 70
    Harlequin says:

    desipis, I finally got a chance to read the article @54–thanks, that was really interesting!

    The part on statistics reminded me of this Ted talk (which I’ve probably linked before, since I refer to it a lot). A few more good examples of the way most people, even most science and math trained people, get things wrong about statistics, and some good perspective on the use of statistics in the criminal justice system.

  68. 71
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-05-16/cost-of-health-insurance-isn-t-all-about-fairness

    An interesting article on health insurance.’

    Personally I don’t think we should strive to equalize health insurance costs. It hides too much information–who (and what) is expensive. It also, as explained, creates disincentives for healthy people.

    Rather, we should strive to provide efficient insurance (which requires differential pricing.) Then we can openly provide subsidies for folks with high prices.

    Besides, open discussion and subsidies can be the best way to address public health concerns. Straight equal-payment insurance doesn’t provide any incentives to lose weight and prevent/cure Type II diabetes, for example, but rolling-average subsidies do. And so on.

    The meta-argument is also interesting. I’ve begin to conclude that the main reason that so many people are ultra-focused on equalizing insurance is that they DON’T want to discuss the reality of health care costs.

    Why do so many people want to keep this information in the shadows?

  69. 72
    Ampersand says:

    G&W, do you think there’s no incentive to avoid being fat and/or diabetic other than insurance rates? Because in fact, it seems to me that there are enormous incentives to avoid being fat and/or diabetic aside from insurance rates. (And yet, obesity and diabetes are common conditions. Which implies that the rates of obesity and diabetes aren’t primarily determined by incentives.)

    There’s an easy empirical way to test your claim. As far as I know, every wealthy country in the world protects people more from the cost of their health care than the USA does. Has this led to the USA having the wealthy world’s lowest rates of obesity and diabetes?

  70. 73
    Harlequin says:

    Also, being fat and being diabetic are not synonymous, though they are linked. Higher weight is linked to both increased rates of diabetes and earlier onset, but normal-weight people still become diabetic: lifetime chance of ~15% for women and ~20% for men at age 18, according to one study. (That’s just what I found quickly–there may be better versions.)

    Note, also, that this was self-reported; about a quarter of adults with diabetes don’t know they have it. I don’t know how weight would affect that. (Poverty is linked to obesity and less medical care; on the other hand, thin diabetic people, all else being equal, are less likely to be checked for diabetes than an equivalent fat person.)

  71. 74
    Elusis says:

    Amp, if people had to pay more proportional health care costs, maybe they’d be sensible enough to be born to different parents and not inherit genetic conditions, or grow up in areas with environmental health hazards and poor health care.

  72. 75
    nobody.really says:
  73. 76
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Ampersand says:
    May 17, 2017 at 9:35 am
    G&W, do you think there’s no incentive to avoid being fat and/or diabetic other than insurance rates?

    Er… no. Is there anything at all which you can point to that suggests I would make such a ridiculously absolutist statement? If not, I’d appreciate it if you could avoid straw-manning me here.

    Incentives and disincentives stack. If existing incentives/disincentives don’t work, it may be because they are the wrong ones, and/or because they are insufficient.

    Because in fact, it seems to me that there are enormous incentives to avoid being fat and/or diabetic aside from insurance rates.

    I’m not so sure there are so many “enormous” incentives. (Good pun, by the way.) There are certainly disincentives, but even those are long term. There are few direct incentives. If harlequin is right, a quarter of people don’t even know they’re diabetic: do they have huge disincentives as well?

    And yet, obesity and diabetes are common conditions.

    Well, they are common now. They were not always especially common. They do not need to be common. Most obviously, there are a ton of not-fat people who do not need to lose any weight at all to avoid getting fat, and if we could stop them from becoming obese the problem would go away in a couple of generations. Of course this would mean that we would have to stop pretending that fat is super OK, but as a relatively fat dude I’m fine with that.

    Which implies that the rates of obesity and diabetes aren’t primarily determined by incentives.

    How does that follow? Even if your assumptions are correct, that certainly isn’t “implied” by those assumptions.

    First, we mostly have disincentives, which are not the same thing (compare “punishing for misbehavior” and “rewarding for behavior.”)

    Second, if you want a special fatness exception to the concept that “behaviors generally respond to combinations of incentives and disincentives,” you will need to explain why. By and large we know that incentives work, though we don’t always know what particular combinations will be effective. It’s much more likely that the existing ones are too small and/or improperly aimed.

    Third, you may simply be overstating the disincentives of being fat and the incentives of not being fat.

    There’s an easy empirical way to test your claim.

    Er… not really. Every test of this type is rife with confounding factors. There is nothing easy about it.

    As far as I know, every wealthy country in the world protects people more from the cost of their health care than the USA does. Has this led to the USA having the wealthy world’s lowest rates of obesity and diabetes?

    This sort of graph, alone, is meaningless. It doesn’t even show the variable you’re talking about.

    First of all: is there any consistency internally? I have no idea how Korean health care works; do you? Do they have 5 times less cost protection than England? Does Korea differ substantially from France; is France twice as good as Canada?

    Second: Do the populations of the countries match? (No.)

    Third: Do the societies match? (Again, obviously: No.)

    Fourth: Does this hold for other countries, and why should we limit it to the ones on the graph?

    And so on.

    Elusis says:
    May 17, 2017 at 11:51 am
    Amp, if people had to pay more proportional health care costs, maybe they’d be sensible enough to be born to different parents and not inherit genetic conditions, or grow up in areas with environmental health hazards and poor health care.

    1) Obesity has roughly tripled since 1970, if Amp’s graph is accurate. Do you think the environment and health care are three times worse in the US than they were in 1970? Call me crazy but I think not.
    2) Is that misquote intentional? I suggested a combination of differential pricing AND ” openly provid[ing] subsidies for folks with high prices.” You appear to be pretending that I only said half of that.

  74. 77
    nobody.really says:

    I have the pleasure of working in Industrial Organization, a branch of economics that applies when the classical laissez-faire model produces predictably sub-optimal results. Insurance is a famously tricky example.

    Yes, we can often gain efficiency by structuring society so that people bear the costs of their own actions. Thus, if people choose to engage in expensive behaviors—whether that means buying a Rolls Royce, skydiving, or smoking—they should bear the costs of that decision. This gives them the socially-appropriate level of incentive to change their behavior—and also the freedom to NOT change their behavior provided they bear the resulting costs.

    But the key word there is choose. If you lack the power to control outcomes, then we no longer gain efficiency by allocating cost to you.

    Health care is one of those tricky examples. There are aspects of my physiology that will correlate with costs that I can’t change. And there are things I could change. Teasing them apart is tricky. For example, some risk factors are genetic. Other risk factors result from culture or upbringing, a matter you cannot control for yourself, but you may control for your offspring or wards.

    So perhaps you are more likely to incur larger health bills if you’re black (genetic), or if you were not breast-fed (cultural), but it is unclear how allocating additional costs to you could modify these facts about you–prospectively or retrospectively.

    Joe drinks too much, so maybe he should bear additional cost to reflect how his behavior adds to anticipated health care costs. Yet if Joe’s heritage makes him particularly susceptible to alcoholism, can we still say that he chooses his behavior? But then, what about Suzie? No, I have no reason to think that her heritage correlates with alcoholism—but that doesn’t mean that she INDIVIDUALLY doesn’t have the same susceptibilities as Joe; who can say?

    If we REALLY want to talk about behaviors that lead to higher healthcare bills, arguably the biggest avoidable behavior is seeking heroic treatments at the end of life. The challenge is that we can’t know FOR SURE that someone is at the end of life, and that heroic efforts would be wasted, except in retrospect. But experts can make statistical guesses.

    Of course, any suggestion that society pursue such a cost-saving measures is greeted with cries of “Elitists! Playing God! Death Panels!” So to some extent we substitute a market mechanism to make such decisions: We allocate medical attention not to where we think we can get the most bang for the buck, but to where there are the most bucks. Pregnant moms in Appalachia go without care while I ensure that my nonagenarian mother gets a third round of resuscitation—not really with the goal of preserving her now-wretched life, but to permit me to avoid recriminations from other family members that I failed to do all in my power to preserve her life.

    This is a collection of screwed-up incentives that even Industrial Organization has not remedied.

  75. 78
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    nobody.really says:
    Yes, we can often gain efficiency by structuring society so that people bear the costs of their own actions.

    Sure. And/or you can bear some of the costs, and share some wealth to make everyone richer.

    U.S. diabetes cost roughly $245 billion in 2013 due to lost wages and medical costs, and has only gone up. That’s somewhere in the range of $8500/person PER YEAR. Many of those people are poor. I would happily cut each of them an $8500 check if they cured their type 2 through meds, and keep them on some sort of yearly maintenance payment for a while to encourage compliance. People will do a lot of things to GET money which they won’t do to AVOID LOSING money. It’s a bit like the red-light-lottery study.

    If we REALLY want to talk about behaviors that lead to higher healthcare bills, arguably the biggest avoidable behavior is seeking heroic treatments at the end of life.

    I’m not sure about that. But in any case, my proposal forces people to overtly discuss risk and it would address that as well.

    People react differently to positive and negative incentives. People won’t vote for ‘death panels’ in the insurance context but a lot of that is that the current model hides information. I have no idea what we’ll do if we were asked to vote in favor of a $200 billion appropriation for expensive life-sustaining measures, where the information was clear.

    I don’t know why so many people are scared by this, unless they think their position is weak. If you have a compelling argument to support your claim, then you should be happy to discuss the costs and benefits openly. If you can’t justify the claim “society should pay for this through taxes,” how can you justify hiding the cost for that same claim inside of Byzantine insurance regulatory issues?

  76. 79
    desipis says:

    I watched “Dear White People” on Netflix

    I managed an episode and a half by which time I’d had enough angsty teen drama. I recommend “Shots Fired” for anyone wanting to watch a decent (police) drama that tackles current race issues.

  77. 80
    desipis says:

    gin-and-whiskey:

    Besides, open discussion and subsidies can be the best way to address public health concerns. Straight equal-payment insurance doesn’t provide any incentives to lose weight and prevent/cure Type II diabetes, for example, but rolling-average subsidies do.

    Except that argument assumes that consumers act rationally, and only a first year econ student would be daft enough to assume that…

  78. 81
    Humble Talent says:

    [This is indeed, as HT says, a non sequitur. I think it’s too early in the thread to allow it to digress from the subject this far, so I’m moving this to an open thread. –Amp]

    It’s something of a non sequitur, but I think Amp’s relative ignorance on gun handling is representative of a general ignorance of people regarding the handling and operation of firearms… Panel two where he’s holding the trigger guard as if it were a forward stock in particular is just jarring, and makes me think he’s never actually seen a longarm. It’s like you got all your ideas about guns from TV or something.

    And it’s not just this…. People saying “Ban all automatic guns” were beat to the punch by about 20 years, because aside from some staggeringly rare grandfather cases, they are. Those same people then say, “Well then, ban all semi-automatic guns” not realising that just means one trigger pull, one bullet fired… Which means basically every handgun and six-shooter revolver is technically a semi-automatic weapon.

    “How about ‘assault weapons’ then?” Well… No such designation exists. “You know the ones I’m talking about” Well no, and I don’t think you do, which ones are you talking about? “The scary black ones.”

    It blows my mind that the same people who like to look down the bridge of their noses at people to whom they feel so vastly intellectually superior to simultaneously attempt to push legislation on something they are so vastly… vastly ignorant about.

    [More off-topic discussion of gun control, moved from HT’s follow-up comment in that thread:]

    But… Writing this out, and the previous comment on guns…. It kind of clarified some thinking for me. Absurdities lead to absurdities. When Dylan Roof stole his mothers handguns and shot up a black church, the usual suspects, Obama, Pelosi, Feinstein, Giffords, McConnell all stood on their soap boxes and said that “this is why we need common sense gun laws”.

    Absurd. The Roof weapons were handguns, they had low capacity magazines, small calibre bullets, and were purchased legally, with background checks. Unless the goal of “gun control” is to take handguns away from everyone (which I think would be at least honest for some gun opponents, but doesn’t come up all that often in serious discourse) then no amount of “common sense” gun control would have prevented it. This is part of the reason why Republicans think Democrats are coming for their guns.

  79. 82
    Ampersand says:

    “How about ‘assault weapons’ then?” Well… No such designation exists. “You know the ones I’m talking about” Well no, and I don’t think you do, which ones are you talking about? “The scary black ones.”

    Arguing with sock puppets is so much easier than arguing with real people.

    …on something they are so vastly… vastly ignorant about.

    Funny you should bring up people discussing policy issues when they’re ignorant.

    The shooter’s name is “Dylann,” not “Dylan.” And he didn’t steal the gun, he bought it, even though legally he shouldn’t have been able to. But a combination of a data entry problem, and a loophole in gun background check laws (the loophole makes it legal to sell a gun without a background check if the background check takes over three days), meant that he was sold the gun anyway. Contrary to what you argued, there are common-sense gun control laws – regarding improving data entry procedures, and arguably regarding the three-day rule – which are legitimately brought up by the Dylann Roof shooting.

    Clearly, your ignorance on the most basic facts of this case is representative of a general ignorance of the issues they’re discussing among gun control opponents. It blows my mind that the same people who like to look down the bridge of their noses at people to whom they feel so vastly intellectually superior… blah blah blah you get the point.

    You didn’t bother doing the extra work of refreshing your memory about the details of the Dylann Roof case, so you got both his name and the basic facts of the case, wrong. I didn’t bother doing the extra work of refreshing my memory regarding how someone would actually hold a rifle, so I got something so basic as that wrong. (And I genuinely regret that, and am considering redrawing those bits of the cartoon.)

    (There are differences, of course. Your error was pertinent to the argument you were making, and frankly turns much of your argument into hash. In contrast, my error was completely irrelevant to the argument I was making, which was about voting rights, not guns.)

    But to blow up either error into some general theory of how the people on the other side are generally snobby, nose-in-the-sky ignoramuses is insulting, unfair, and a bad argument.

    Incidentally, the shooter who stole guns from his mother was Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, who used a 223-caliber Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle (a semiautomatic) with 30-round magazines for virtually all of the shooting. (He used different guns to shoot his mother and himself.) I did have to look up the specific weapon Lanza used – but I immediately knew both that you had the facts of the Dylann Roof case wrong, and that the Sandy Hook shooter had used a semi-automatic with a high-capacity magazine he stole from his mother, without having to look it up. I think that’s actually more relevant knowledge, for discussing the policy questions brought up by those two shootings, than the ability to draw the correct way of holding a rifle.

  80. 83
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    desipis says:
    May 18, 2017 at 2:50 am
    gin-and-whiskey:
    … that argument assumes that consumers act rationally, and only a first year econ student would be daft enough to assume that…

    The irony of using “daft” is pretty funny. D you have any clue how this works?

    Only a first-year econ student would assume that people are perfectly rational. Only a fool would assume that they don’t respond to incentives based on rationality, which is to say that they are “not non-rational.” If you don’t understand how to discuss the gray area, perhaps you shouldn’t try to act like you know what you’re talking about here.

  81. 84
    Humble Talent says:

    Arguing with sock puppets is so much easier than arguing with real people.

    Strawmen? “Sock Puppets” has connotations you might not be aware of. But as to that… I’m sure I could find a YouTube compilation of people who say things like this. And I’m not talking about the ‘got’cha’ Project Veritas type videos, I think it would be relatively easy, even if I limited myself to politicians. Is it really a strawman if these people exist?

    You didn’t bother doing the extra work of refreshing your memory about the details of the Dylann Roof case, so you got both his name and the basic facts of the case, wrong. I didn’t bother doing the extra work of refreshing my memory regarding how someone would actually hold a rifle, so I got something so basic as that wrong.

    Touche… I was thinking of Adam Lanza, who did steal his weapons from his mother, Nancy, who did pass a background check. At some point, these cases blur together, and that’s a sad commentary all on it’s own, but regardless… I got the Lanza and Roof cases mixed and blurred.

    But to blow up either error into some general theory of how the people on the other side are generally snobby, nose-in-the-sky ignoramuses is insulting, unfair, and a bad argument.

    Well… What I actually said was :

    “people who like to look down the bridge of their noses at people to whom they feel so vastly intellectually superior to [while] simultaneously attempt to push legislation on something they are so vastly… vastly ignorant about.”

    That made no judgement to the scope of the group I was talking about. You have an awful habit of applying arguements to individuals or groups not based on what the writer actually writes, but on what best suits your arguement. Obviously not everyone who opposes guns has an overinflated intellectual ego while not knowing the basic operation of the subject they’re talking about, but I don’t think that charactrisation is particularly rare, especially among the politicians who push gun control. How about Diane Feinstein, who back in 2013 tried to make a push to ban AR series weapons and decided to bing one in for show-and-tell who apparently knows enough to grip the gun in the right places, even if she shouldered it improperly, but not enough not to keep her finger off the trigger.

    http://wichitaobserver.com/feinstein-holds-hearings-on-gun-and-magazine-ban.html

    Incidentally, the shooter who stole guns from his mother was Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, who used a 223-caliber Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle (a semiautomatic) with 30-round magazines for virtually all of the shooting.

    It’s not enough to debunk individualities… When I said:

    Absurd. The Roof weapons were handguns, they had low capacity magazines, small calibre bullets, and were purchased legally, with background checks. Unless the goal of “gun control” is to take handguns away from everyone (which I think would be at least honest for some gun opponents, but doesn’t come up all that often in serious discourse) then no amount of “common sense” gun control would have prevented it. […] This is part of the reason why Republicans think Democrats are coming for their guns.

    My point was that cases where gun control legislation is being proposed ostensibly because of a tragedy that just happened, but the gun control legislation has nothing to to with the facts of the case, people might think that the arguement is being made in bad faith.

    Now, mea culpa, I was talking about some strange hybridization of the Lanza and Roof cases, but after Sandy Hook, where the weapons where legally purchased and properly checked:

    Joe Manchin proposed the Manchin-Toomey agreement to a gun control bill forwarded through following Sandy Hook, the amendment was solely and explicitly concerned with background checks and Manchin cited Sandy Hook as making it necessary.

    Or how about House Bill 1010 in Pennsylvania, a bill explicitly and narrowly looking at background checks, where Francine Wheeler, one of the mothers of the victims of Sandy Hook, was called to Testify.

    Or how about Obama’s reaction in April of 2013, following his gun control bill’s failure to pass the Senate. He cited the shooting of Gabby Giffords and Sandy Hook as reasons why it was necessary, and the first thing he talked about, and talked about at length, was background checks.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQGoyQ-TXwo

    It’s not particularly hard to find these kinds of inconsistencies between stimulus and result. If you’re interested in the conversation, it’s probably best to give the benefit of the doubt to specifics, if the concept is sound. If you’re uninterested in the conversation, just say so and we’ll both waste less time.

  82. 85
    Ampersand says:

    … that argument assumes that consumers act rationally, and only a first year econ student would be daft enough to assume that…

    Desipis:

    I missed this the first time round, but noticed when G&W quoted it. By my reading, you (Desipis) meant no offense, and G&W seemingly didn’t take any, so I don’t consider this a big deal at all.

    But, as a matter of general policy, I’d be much more comfortable with an argument being called daft than a person, on “Alas.” Thanks for respecting this.

  83. 86
    Ampersand says:

    Humble Talent:

    Nonesense. All the language leading up to the part you just quoted indicated that you were talking about a general class of people, not just certain examples. (E.G., “Amp’s relative ignorance on gun handling is representative of a general ignorance of people regarding the handling and operation of firearms… And it’s not just this…. People saying “Ban all automatic guns” were beat to the punch by about 20 years… Those same people then say, “Well then, ban all semi-automatic guns” not realising…”)

    You didn’t say some people calling for bans of automatic and semi-automatic, you said “people saying.” You then connected that to your wider thoughts on policy with “And it’s not just this.” You certainly seemed to be talking about of people who “attempt to push legislation” as a general class. Many reasonable English readers would have taken your comment as talking about gun control proponents in general; if that’s not what you intended, then the fault is how you wrote it, not how I read it.

    I certainly agree that there are some inaccurate comments made by gun control advocates… but I never claimed there weren’t. Of course there are. I did say the particular example you raised was false, and I was correct.

    There are also ignorant comments made by gun control opponents, of course. For example, you just claimed that the Manchin-Toomey amendment “was solely and explicitly concerned with background checks” – which is simply not true. It also (if passed) would have made using gun records to create a federal gun registry a felony (with up to 15 years in prison), reduced waiting periods to 24 hours, and established a commission to study causes of mass violence. Maybe you can claim that the first two are “solely and explicitly concerned with background checks,” although that’s a stretch, but the last part certainly has broader concerns.

    You claimed that Obama “cited the shooting of Gabby Giffords and Sandy Hook as reasons why it was necessary, and the first thing he talked about, and talked about at length, was background checks.” That’s technically true, sort of, but you left out major parts of Obama’s argument that directly contradict what you’re claiming. Obama explicitly stated that the legislation would not solve all problems. And he was introduced by someone who explicitly said that the legislation wouldn’t have prevented the Sandy Hook massacre.

    From Mark Barden’s introduction, immediately before Obama spoke (and which Obama’s staff almost certainly approved of in advance):

    Two weeks ago, 12 of us from Newtown came to meet with U.S. senators and have a conversation about how to bring common-sense solutions to the issues of gun violence. We came with a sense of hope, optimistic that real conversation could begin that would ultimately save the lives of so many Americans. … Expanded background checks wouldn’t have saved our loved ones, but still we came to support the bipartisan proposal from two senators, both with “A” ratings from the NRA — a common-sense proposal supported by 90 percent of Americans. It‘s a proposal that will save lives without interfering with the rights of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

    Obama’s speech included this:

    A few months ago, in response to too many tragedies — including the shootings of a United States Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, who’s here today, and the murder of 20 innocent schoolchildren and their teachers –- this country took up the cause of protecting more of our people from gun violence. […]

    One common argument I heard was that this legislation wouldn’t prevent all future massacres. And that’s true. As I said from the start, no single piece of legislation can stop every act of violence and evil. We learned that tragically just two days ago. But if action by Congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand — if it could have prevented those people from losing their lives to gun violence in the future while preserving our Second Amendment rights, we had an obligation to try.

    (Transcript of both Barden and Obama’s comments.)

    So Obama’s argument was never that this legislation would have prevented Newton. It was that events like Newton and the Giffords shooting galvanized many Americans to look again at how legislation could reduce gun violence. And that’s true.

    Now, about the Manchin bill:

    Manchin’s press release about the bill didn’t cite Sandy Hook at all. It did, however, cite the Virginia Tech shooting, which was on point. Maybe he also cited Sandy Hook at some other point, but the official argument his office made in support of the bill was very different from what you described. (Manchin, by the way, is an avid hunter who opposes most gun control laws and for years had an “A” rating from the NRA.)

    You might respond that, facts aside, your broader arguments still may have merit and deserve consideration. And I think that’s a reasonable thing to say, to a certain extent. But it’s just as reasonable to say about Obama’s speech and the other examples you cited, surely.

    Now, about the broader issues:

    First, gun control legislation. As Obama said, no gun control legislation is a cure-all. But it seems plausible that much of the legislation would reduce deaths on the margin, and that seems worthwhile. However, I have serious doubts that federal gun control legislation is politically viable anytime in the near future.

    ETA: (Warning: This paragraph is full of off-the-cuff speculation.) Interestingly, the mass shootings – which get the most publicity – are actually the “high hanging fruit.” Although some improvements could be had on the margins, the much larger problem is gun deaths – most of which are not mass shootings. Arguably, the big problem with mass shootings isn’t the second amendment, but the first amendment; so much round-the-clock coverage of mass shootings arguably makes further mass shootings more likely. But if, over the long term, gun control regulations made guns harder to get, that might reduce the number of (for example) successful suicides, which by the numbers is a much larger problem than mass shootings.

    Second, the citing of examples. I actually think “well, this big-news event made the issue prominent, and so we’re looking for legislation that can get bipartisan support to address the larger ongoing issue, even if it isn’t applicable to the specific event that galvanized us” is generally a reasonable approach for politicians to take – and that’s pretty much what Obama said he was doing (see my quotes above).

    I agree that politicians should be more careful with their statements, to make them technically as well as broadly correct. But your discussion of Obama’s speech shows that that, too, will only make a difference on the margin. Because even if Obama invites someone who explicitly points out that the legislation wouldn’t have stopped Sandy Hook, and then Obama explicitly points out the legislation is not a cure-all, that won’t prevent his ideological opponents from claiming that he framed the legislation in a deceptive way.

    Third, do accurate facts matter? I think they do.

    Let me rephrase that. Third, is it bad for discussion, and a distraction from central issues, to correct false factual claims? That can be, but not always. I think that part of the reason you’re making so many examples that don’t hold up when examined, is that your general case is mistaken or exaggerated. That’s relevant, surely.

    If you’re interested in the conversation, it’s probably best to give the benefit of the doubt to specifics, if the concept is sound. If you’re uninterested in the conversation, just say so and we’ll both waste less time.

    First of all, please don’t speculate about my interest or disinterest, or my motivations; it’s rude, and intellectually unsound. I am interested in the broader issues; but I’m also interested in refuting false claims, such as several of the claims you’ve made on this thread.

    If you don’t enjoy this discussion, then stop participating in it. But don’t try to police what I choose to say. If you don’t like it when I point out that your factual claims are frequently wrong, that’s your problem, not mine.

  84. 87
    desipis says:

    gin-and-whiskey:

    Only a fool would assume that they don’t respond to incentives based on rationality, which is to say that they are “not non-rational.”

    I’m not going to assume anything. I take the position the truth is unknown / unclear until the evidence is established. There’s enough evidence on the ways people can respond to things in irrational ways (or at least unpredicted ways) that I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume we can predict behaviour outcomes using a simple “homo economicus” model.

    To be a little more specific, consider the evidence in the book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. I would presume that people would likely use system 1 thinking when making choices that lead to unhealthy lifestyles. If people are already failing to take long term costs when engaging in unhealthy lifestyles (as evidenced by the long term trend in obesity), then adding more long term costs isn’t going to change the way people think about their lifestyle choices and it’s not going to change their behaviour.

    Now, that could be wrong, which is why I think it’d be better to look for evidence specifically studying the effect of (potential) increased health insurance costs on lifestyle choices before advocating any significant changes in policy.

  85. 88
    Harlequin says:

    Just noting quickly, in re some comments on this other thread, that my proper pronoun is “she.” (Though, in regards to charges of white knighting, while I am not male, I am also not poor, black, or a single mother.) And I was, definitely, including myself in the blame for the drift of the conversation. I did learn some interesting stuff as a result of that conversation, so thanks to those who engaged in it with me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *