Open Thread and Link Farm, Abe Lincoln Disguised As A Beggar Edition

  1. Trans Women Face Extreme Levels of Abuse in Men’s Prisons.
    “For trans women in prison, it’s often the abuse by the guards that is the most abhorrent, and that abuse doesn’t stop at misgendering or inappropriate strip searches. According to a 2012 Department of Justice survey, 16.7% of trans inmates have experienced sexual misconduct at the hands of a prison staff member.”
  2. Let’s Stop Comparing Campus Sexual Assault Proceedings to Criminal Trials — Konidaris Law
  3. #Me Too is about more than stopping rape. We demand more | Jessica Valenti | Opinion | The Guardian
  4. (89) Dinner Discussion – SNL – YouTube
    Sketch about some friends at dinner being scared to discuss Aziz Ansari. I think there’s something to this – people are too scared of messing up.
  5. Gallery removes naked nymphs painting to ‘prompt conversation’ | Art and design | The Guardian
    The article explains that this artificially created controversy is intended to be a conceptual art piece, and that the gallery intends to resume displaying the painting at some point. I’m skeptical of the value of this exercise at all; critically examining the painting is fine, but doing it this way seems designed to generate more heat than light.
  6. Give all immigrants the right to vote
    “Between 1776 and 1926, Hayduk’s research shows, up to 40 states permitted immigrants to vote in local, state and federal elections.”
  7. Turning a Unicorn into a Bat: the Post in Which We Announce the End of our Marriage | The Weed
    A Mormon couple, one of whom came out as gay five years ago, reaches a turning point.
  8. Achtung Baby by Sara Zaske, reviewed.
    “…contemporary German parents give their children a great deal of freedom—to do dangerous stuff; to go places alone; to make their own mistakes, most of which involve nudity, fire, or both.”
  9. But see also Jane Yager’s comments on that German parenting article.
  10. This four minute video by a Palestinian Israeli, of his encounter with a Jewish family, is very striking.
  11. The Weaponization of Nostalgia: How Afghan Miniskirts Became the Latest Salvo in the War on Terror – Ajam Media Collective
  12. The Dark Art of Stealing from Self-Checkouts – The Atlantic
    In my twenties, I definitely would have shoplifted something via the self-checkout, because I was poor, and just because I could. But now, it honestly didn’t occur to me… until I read this article. (Still won’t do it, though.)
  13. Kansas Scrambles To Change Rules After 6 Teens Enter Governor’s Race : The Two-Way : NPR
  14. Single Mothers Are Not the Problem – The New York Times
    “Ultimately, there simply aren’t enough single mothers to explain our high poverty. Even if they all married or never had children, poverty would not be substantially lower.”
  15. All of Groundhog Day shown as a single Groundhog day.
    “I wanted to see what it would be like if the events of the movie Groundhog Day all took place simultaneously. The film shows 37 separate days from Phil’s thousands of Groundhog Days in Punxsutawney.” The video is a half-hour long, and is oddly compelling… or at least, it is to met I’ve seen that movie a kazillion times.
  16. Nigel, the world’s loneliest bird, dies next to the concrete decoy he loved – The Washington Post
    He built it a nest.
  17. A new Vox poll reveals surprising nuance in public opinion on abortion
    “…18 percent of Americans, like King, pick “both” when you ask them to choose between pro-life and pro-choice. Another 21 percent choose neither. Taken together, about four in 10 Americans are eschewing the labels that we typically see as defining the abortion policy debate.”
  18. I’m sort of obsessed with this The Invisible Man poster by Jonathan Burton. I tried to buy one, but it sold out in two minutes. I can still get it on Ebay for four times the price….
  19. What no politician wants to admit about gun control – Vox
    The very mild measures that Democrats have proposed, would probably have only mild effects on the gun death rate.
  20. She killed 115 people before the last Korean Olympics. Now she wonders: ‘Can my sins be pardoned?’ – The Washington Post
  21. GOP lawmakers take aim at WHO agency over Roundup ingredient
  22. First modern Britons had ‘dark to black’ skin, Cheddar Man DNA analysis reveals | Science | The Guardian
  23. North Korea: what war with the US would look like – Vox
    “A full-blown war with North Korea wouldn’t be as bad as you think. It would be much, much worse.”
  24. N.Y. landlord obliterated dozens of graffiti murals. Now he owes the artists $6.75 million. – The Washington Post
  25. I Spent Two Years Trying to Fix the Gender Imbalance in My Stories – The Atlantic
  26. This Mutant Crayfish Clones Itself, and It’s Taking Over Europe – The New York Times
    “Before about 25 years ago, the species simply did not exist. A single drastic mutation in a single crayfish produced the marbled crayfish in an instant.”
  27. The Minimum Wage And The Price of Comics.
    The real cost of buying a comic book has been going up much faster than the minimum wage – or the cost of going to a movie. No wonder sales have plummeted.
  28. Speaking of which, I wrote a thread on Twitter arguing that it’s ridiculous to think that the sales problems of comics are due to more diverse characters and a few pros being rude on Twitter. This is in response to #ComicsGate, which is an attempt to take the failures of GamerGate and the Rabid/Sad Puppies and make them happen for comics, too.
  29. Why this economist thinks public education is mostly pointless – Vox
  30. Former Slaves’ Folklore of Abraham Lincoln in the South – The Atlantic
    “They said he came in disguise as a beggar or a peddler, bummed free meals off his unsuspecting white hosts, snooped around to find out what slavery was like, and told the slaves they would soon be free.”
  31. Trump slump? Remington files for bankruptcy amid declining gun sales. – The Washington Post
  32. What’s the difference between sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape?
  33. And another twitter rant from me: A thread about the misuse of trans suicide statistics by Ryan Anderson. Anderson just wrote a book about (well, against) trans issues, called “When Harry Became Sally,” so it would have been nice if he’d at least read the studies he cites.
  34. Woman Adopts Senior Dog, Who Turns Out To Be Her Childhood Pet – The Dodo
  35. Trump concocted a story about a border agent’s death. The truth won’t catch up. – The Washington Post
  36. We had a great day at the park with our autistic son, until someone called the police – The Washington Post
    His hair wasn’t brushed and someone was worried that his parents weren’t taking good care of him.
  37. You Can Call Yourself Fat – Kiva Bay – Medium
    “I worry that fat activism has begun to build a new version of the Good Fatty, that within fat activism there is a certain excessive pushback against fat people who don’t perform their fatness with as much purity as we would prefer.”
  38. Artist creates bizarre characters by getting models to bend over and drawing faces on them

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79 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, Abe Lincoln Disguised As A Beggar Edition

  1. 1
    Michael says:
    Except that Virginia and New York require colleges to note on their transcripts if a student was expelled for sexual misconduct:
    I agree that it makes sense to require colleges to note sexual misconduct on their transcripts but if you’re going to do that, you need some sort of due process to ensure that a false accusation doesn’t follow someone for the rest of their lives. (Maybe more akin to a civil trial than a criminal one.)

  2. 2
    Jeffrey Gandee says:


    That NYT article doesn’t really address the issues raised by Brookings when it comes to single motherhood and poverty. Brookings and AEI have relied on Raj Chetty’s work in the past, writing about social mobility and family structure ( ). I’ve followed Raj Chetty’s writings, his podcast interviews (this is so good: , and the reporting on his papers, and my understanding is that single-motherhood affects poverty by reducing social mobility in neighborhoods with a large percentage of single-mother households, and also by decreasing the social mobility of children born into these families. This correlation is strong, even when race is controlled for (twice as strong as racial segregation on it’s own). The NYT’s piece makes it sound like it is the poverty and lack of social mobility exists only within these households, but that isn’t the case being made by Chetty. This Slate article is handy:

    Raj is clear that “fraction of children raised by single mothers in zone,” is likely just correlated with actual causes, and not the cause of low social mobility itself, but this is a good starting point for more research.

  3. 3
    Michael says:

    More on #2- courts have held that students at STATE universities are required to some due process protections:

  4. 4
    Harlequin says:

    I’m not sure how I feel about #36. On the one hand, calling the police was obviously a huge overreaction; on the other, though, I also don’t want to stop people paying attention to the children in their community and checking if things seem off, because abuse does happen, too, and too often other adults do nothing to help. It’s also true, however, that many people (I’d include myself among them) don’t really know what signs of child abuse would look like, so then you risk just accusing people of abuse for unimportant differences (as the hair and clothes in this case sound like they would be– I’m more addressing the plea at the end then the incident at the beginning). Idk. I’m willing to be convinced I’m wrong, though.

  5. 5
    Kate says:

    About #36 – Taking young children away from their parents can be very damaging. In the case of a child with autism, even taking them away for a couple of days could set their development plan back by months. Before calling the police on parents you need to be damn sure that whatever’s going on is probably worse than taking that child out of their home and putting them in the temporary custody of people who are strangers to them. Messey hair and short pants does not even come close.

  6. 6
    Kate says:

    This just showed up in my Facebook feed – How to show real concern for a parent who looks like they’re in over their head…

  7. 7
    Michael says:

    More on the taking kids away needlessly front- moms with postpartum depression and OCD often have their kids taken away from them:
    “Nurses are “not specifically trained” on postpartum OCD versus postpartum psychosis and more education would certainly be beneficial.”
    I can just picture this conversation:
    Why bother training the nurses? I’m sure that they can figure out what OCD is by watching Monk, right?

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    Kate, that story is great! And what a neat memory all those women got to take away with them.

  9. 9
    Jake Squid says:

    I always like it when people sneak their way into Olympic competitions.

  10. 10
    Kate says:

    Mark Kleiman writes about the attacks on survivors of the Parkland school shooting:
    My favorite part:

    I reacted to an early Tweet in this genre by labeling the attackers “MAGA maggots, feeding on the corpses of the dead.” I wouldn’t call that label polite, but I would defend its accuracy. Decent people don’t mock, and tell lies about, survivors of a massacre, just because those survivors hold uncomfortable political opinions. And I think it’s fair to say that the problem is not symmetric: at least, I haven’t seen supporters of DACA, or of generous immigration policies in general, attacking the victims in the criminal cases the nativists have tried to use to stir up fear of immigrants.

  11. 11
    RonF says:

    @24 – Let me get this straight. A landlord owns a property. Someone paints graffiti on it. Said landlord paints over the graffiti and later tears it down – and a Federal law makes the landlord liable to pay millions of dollars to the people who painted the graffiti?

    Does anyone here think this this is right?

  12. 12
    TedK says:

    Let me get this straight. A landlord owns a property. Someone paints graffiti on it. Said landlord paints over the graffiti and later tears it down – and a Federal law makes the landlord liable to pay millions of dollars to the people who painted the graffiti?

    That’s really not an accurate summary.

    Better one: A building owner gives his tenants permission paint murals on a building that is dilapidated and worth very little. Those tenants do so, and also improve the overall condition of the building. It becomes a landmark. When the building’s value drastically increases, in part because of the improvements to the neighborhood associated with his tenants and people like them, he decides to sell it for a massive profit, as is his right. As part of that he plans to demolish it.

    The artists challenge the demolition. While the case is still pending in court, and months before he has the permits to demolish it, he whitewashes the building without warning, likely in an effort to moot the case and/or punish the artists. Given that the building was being demolished anyway, if he had provided proper warning, some pieces could have been removed and saved; in addition, efforts could have been made to better record the art before demolition.

    In particular, the court finds not that the building owner had an obligation to permanently preserve the work, but that he had an obligation to provide 90 days’ notice before destroying it to allow the artists to salvage removable works, under statute. The court finds that if he had done so, he would’ve either won the case or faced only minimal damages. The case also depends on the fact that he provided permission for the graffiti murals to be created on the building.

  13. 13
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I have no idea if the judge ruled correctly, but I do know that if he did, the law itself is terrible.

    90 days notice is a long time. Sellers and buyers put a premium on speedy contracts. Court battles are expensive. Most property owners will hear about this ruling and decide never again allow artists to work on their property.

  14. 14
    Ben Lehman says:

    So, let’s take another case.

    Let’s say that there’s an owner of a set of storage units. He has rented the storage units, at various prices, to various people. Because the property values have gone up, he wants to empty the storage units and sell the property as quickly as possible.

    It’s reasonable to expect that the law requires that the owners of the storage lockers be given some amount of notice to come get their stuff. 90 days seems reasonable to me, but I can easily see arguing for anywhere in the 30 to 180 day range. The point is, there needs to be some advance notice and due process.

    Should the owner, if he gets testy with the slowness of the process, be able to open all the storage lockers, pile up their contents, and burn them? Should that be legal? It would certainly help him sell the property faster.

    If I rented a storage unit, and the owner did that, I would be both livid and _suing the hell_ out of him.


  15. 15
    nobody.really says:

    I’ve previously discussed a possible model for reconciling personal autonomy with a desire to avoid discrimination, which I called the Market Power Affirmative Defense. The policy is designed to ensure that people could obtain goods and services comparable to what they obtain under current law—but where there are multiple providers willing to provide those goods and services under comparable terms/circumstances, to permit other providers to opt out. As one example, I included the following:

    Ex. 2: Gov’t clerk says, “Oh, this is a license for a same-sex marriage? Oh. Um … Bruce, could you help these people? Please excuse me.”

    Well, people proposed to try this option in North Carolina. Kinda.

    In 2014 a 68-yr-old magistrate was two months shy of retirement when the court issued a memo directing magistrates to perform same-sex marriages or face potential criminal charges. The magistrate, expressing religious objections, asked if her fellow magistrates would be willing to fill in for her on these occasions, and they agreed. But the presiding judge concluded that the law could not make exceptions for religious accommodation, and so rejected this arrangement. So the magistrate resigned—at great personal cost.

    She then filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission alleging religious discrimination under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which then applies go state employees under the Government Employees Rights Act of 1991) for failure to make reasonable accommodation.

    And the EEOC found that she had proved her complaint: The North Carolina magistrates’ office should have provided her with reasonable accommodation for her religious objections.

    (But the EEOC found insufficient support for the idea that the magistrate deserved compensation for pain, suffering, and/or emotional distress.)

  16. 16
    Ampersand says:

    I actually find the idea of magistrates having that option to be more reasonable. Because, first of all, the magastrate’s participation in a wedding ceremony – being the officiant – is a much more significant participation than handing someone a piece of paper. And, secondly, magistrates are typically scheduled in advance, unlike clerks, who are supposed to be available for immediate walk-up service. (Which mitigates the “Bruce is on vacation, can you come back in a week?” problem).

    Looking at the case, it seems like the government based its entire argument on claiming that the magistrate didn’t have standing to sue, and didn’t even put on an argument that the accommodation would be an undue burden. So once the court found the magistrate had standing, that was it.

  17. 17
    Michael says:

    In “I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup”, Scott Alexander described how the same people that decried celebrating Bin Laden’s death went on to celebrate Margaret Thatcher. We see a similar phenomenon now with Billy Graham.
    Take this obituary of him on Lawyers, Guns and Money:
    Look at how negative it is. Now look at a similar description of Paul Robeson by the same author:
    Look at how positive it is, despite Robeson’s support of Stalin. OK, you say, Robeson never actually killed anyone. But now look at this description of Fidel Castro by the same author:
    I realize that Not All Progressives reacted this way, but the phenomenon is worth noting.

  18. 18
    Mandolin says:

    In “I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup”, Scott Alexander described how the same people that decried celebrating Bin Laden’s death went on to celebrate Margaret Thatcher.

    Some of the same people.

    (FWIW, I was on the “fuck off, you holier-than-thou purists who dare to dictate others’ responses to death and terrorism” side with Bin Laden–so it’s not like I want to protect that position.)

  19. 19
    Ampersand says:

    I realize that Not All Progressives reacted this way, but the phenomenon is worth noting.

    Without having gone to check the specific posts you’re calling out, I think it’s certain that some people (including some progressives) are hypocritical in their standards regarding obituaries.

    But I’d have to think really hard to find an issue I’m less concerned about. :-p

  20. 20
    Mandolin says:

    Wait, I think I misunderstood.

    Is the allegation that someone at LGM is saying “here is my positive obituary of X because *no one* should write negative obituaries?” In that case, it’s hypocritical of them to later write a negative obituary.

    Or is the complaint that they decided to write different kinds of obituaries for different kinds of people in a way that doesn’t scale to their sins? I mean, eh? I have written super critical things about, e.g., books that are not as bad as other books that I didn’t comment much on at all–because I had something to say about it which I, for some reason, wanted to say.

    That’s not hypocrisy; it’s different topics of conversation.

  21. 21
    Jake Squid says:

    That’s not hypocrisy; it’s different topics of conversation.

    It’s amazing how many times I’ve seen this. Do people really fall for this mistaken or fallacious line of reasoning? It seems blatantly and obviously wrong to me every time I see it.

  22. 22
    Michael says:

    My point is this- that a lot of progressives will make excuses for left-wingers with greater sins and harshly criticize right-wingers with lesser sins. And then they consider themselves “tolerant”. Because, as Scott Alexander put it, there’s nothing to forgive.

  23. 23
    Michael says:

    Nice to know that Google is consistent:
    Can anyone explain to me why Google couldn’t just say “Yeah, we fired Damore but we also fired left-wing jerks too”? That would have taken a lot of sting out of the controversy. We saw the same thing with Garrison Keilor, where he claimed that he had been fired for accidentally touching a woman’s back and his company waited months before releasing all the accusations against him.

  24. 24
    Michael says:

    Actually, I’ve been reading more about the situation at Google. This article criticizes Google for firing Chevalier:
    But it seems like what happened was that Google allowed its employees to post political messages on their message boards but didn’t really moderate them heavily. Instead, they said that anyone that writes anything that’s racist, sexist, etc. or promotes violence will be punished. As the average 12-year old could have predicted, this is a recipe for disaster, since what’s racist to Alice might not seem racist to Bob. So you had left-wingers and right-wingers each posting more outrageous posts, using posts by the other side that went unpunished as an excuse, and eventually both left-wingers and right-wingers felt under siege. (Although Damore and Chevalier BOTH come across as jerks.) So it seems like in the future, companies should ban political discussion boards at work. Or at least, monitor them closely and take steps when the discussion starts to get out of hand.

  25. 25
    nobody.really says:

    24 hours out.

    In the kitchen I stumble over Waldo’s water dish. I automatically refill it—only to realize the futility. So I empty it and put it back where I found it. I realize the futility of that, too.

    I pick it back up and put it … where? I don’t have a storage place for this. I have a place to store each dish when it’s not in use. This dish has been in constant use since forever. Well, until 24 hours ago.

    I put it in the sink.

    As I open the door to the garage, I accidentally hit the leash. I cringe as it jingles, knowing that it will summons a bounding beast expecting a walk. But it doesn’t.

    Even the word WALK is different. It used to be one of those four-letter words you dared not mutter lest you provoke an angry god or a waggy dog. No longer; the word has been defanged. I could wander the house for an hour saying WALK! WALK! WALK! for all it matters. Because now it doesn’t. Yesterday’s word I was forbidden to say has today becomes a word I have no cause to say.

    That dish is still in the sink.

    I have been in a continuous relationship with a rotating collection of pets for the past 30 years. Now, abruptly, I find that when I’m alone … I’m alone.

    Yet not alone. The floppy black bag on the floor beckons me to scratch its ears. The closed basement door aches to be opened to let the dog up. The shadow behind the couch demands a treat. My muscle memory knows this as sure as it knows my shoes need to be tied.

    Waldo was never very good at coming. He’s proving to be even worse at leaving.

    When will he be gone? When I pack up his dishes and leash and brush in a cardboard box? When I put the box down in the basement? Or when I stumble upon the box years from now and feel … nothing?

    I’ve made it through an entire day. The first day. I’ll think about that other stuff tomorrow. After all, I’m going to have some spare time now….

    But why is that dish in the sink?

  26. 26
    Ampersand says:

    Beautifully written, Nobody. I know the feeling, and I’m really sorry for your loss.

  27. 27
    RonF says:

    Re: 12 – 14, Ted, Jeff and Ben:

    I’d be interested in seeing a demonstration of the assertion that the painting of those murals on the building led to an increase in the property value of them, even indirectly, especially since to take advantage of the purported increase in value the building had to be destroyed. As far as the analogy to storage units goes, the owner of the storage unit owns the storage unit but not the contents. Do the artists retain legal title to artwork they put on someone else’s building by default (i.e., without a specific agreement to that end) under this law?

    BTW, have you ever seen Storage Wars? Various recurring characters bid in auctions of abandoned storage lockers with an eye to reselling the contents. Sometimes they get skunked, sometimes they hit big.

  28. 28
    RonF says:

    nobody, my wife and I have gone through that a few times, most recently just a few months ago. We had Tiger for 18 years until we had to say goodbye. VERY tough. My sympathies.

    Perhaps I am out of line for saying this, but I would suggest that after a decent interval you go visit a shelter and bring someone home. It’ll be the best thing for both of you. That’s what we did and I and especially my wife (who has gone through some tough medical situations) have found it a great comfort.

  29. 29
    Ben Lehman says:

    I mean, yes, of course the artists own their work, barring a specific contract that states that it’s work for hire. This is completely unambiguous.

  30. 30
    RonF says:

    I’m talking about a work of art that someone puts on someone else’s property (to the point that the work is part of the property, as in a painting on the side of a building). It’s not so clear to me that the artist then owns a property interest in that building, although this particular law may establish such.

  31. 32
    desipis says:


    Do the artists retain legal title to artwork they put on someone else’s building by default (i.e., without a specific agreement to that end) under this law?

    No, this isn’t about legal title. This is about “moral” rights that remain with the author(s) independently of ownership of the physical work or copyright. They are “moral” rights in the sense they aren’t about the economic value of the work itself, but rather the unavoidable connection between the work and the reputation and integrity of the artists themselves. These “moral” rights exist in parallel to the ownership of the physical work in much the same way that the rights that a copyright owner possess exist in parallel to the rights of the person who owns the physical book/CD/hard-drive/etc.

    The rights in question are set out in statute here. specifically that:

    § 106A(a)(3)(b) …the author of a work of visual art… shall have the right… to prevent any destruction of a work of recognized stature

    Now, there are some specific exceptions to these rights elsewhere in the statue, and in this case the relevant one is this:

    § 113(d)(2)
    If the owner of a building wishes to remove a work of visual art which is a part of such building and which can be removed from the building without the destruction, distortion, mutilation, or other modification of the work… the author’s rights… shall apply unless—

    (A) the owner has made a diligent, good faith attempt without success to notify the author of the owner’s intended action affecting the work of visual art, or

    (B) the owner did provide such notice in writing and the person so notified failed, within 90 days after receiving such notice, either to remove the work or to pay for its removal.

    According to the statute, the judge had to decide the facts about whether the works were of recognised stature, whether the work could be physically removed from the building with destroying it, and whether the 90 day notice had been given. Given all these where facts were found in the case, the artists “moral” rights under the statute were violated.

    The 90 day notice period itself and the obligation on the artist to pay for the removal of the work come from statute (i.e. from congress), not from the judge in this specific case.

  32. 33
    Ben Lehman says:

    Moral rights do not actually require the use of scare quotes.

  33. 34
    desipis says:

    Moral rights are often considered as a separate concept from legal rights (hopefully with significant overlap). However, in this case I was talking about legal rights that are labelled “moral rights” by theorists and legislation, and used quotes to clearly indicate this distinction.

  34. 35
    Ledasmom says:

    Nobody: I am so sorry for your loss. I wish there were some way to make it better. We hurt in proportion as we love.

  35. 36
    RonF says:

    Ledasmom, I can’t quantitate this, but my guess is that there are a lot of people who don’t love because they’re afraid of the risk of pain. I’d rather have acute pain once in a while than a dull empty ache my whole life.

    Spell check insists I’ve spelled quantitate wrong. Apparently it’s not in it’s database as a valid word.

    desipis, thanks for the info.

  36. 37
    nobody.really says:

    Quantify, not quantitate.

    And thanks to all for your kind thoughts. But no, I’m not jumping back into the pet world. I’m finally free to spend my time as my own. To work late. To eat at a restaurant. Heck, to ride my bike without facing accusatory eyes.

    My wife and I discussed this from time to time as the puppy was declining. Not too often; we didn’t want to seem ghoulish. But spontaneous travel, or the opportunity to grab drinks after work without having to rush home, sound nice. After all, we love each other, right? So we should be able to enjoy each other’s company without needing constant comic relief in the form of a furry friend. A little grown-up time would be really appealing.

    Kind of appealing, anyway.

    And so it’s been decided by silence. I haven’t cracked. Nor has she. We each find ourselves checking the back door before we retire to bed, in case we’d left anyone outside. But neither of us mentions it to the other. With all the not talking on top of the not panting and not whining and not barking, the silence is deafening. But we’re bearing up.

    Still, my wife was remarking that the Humane Society probably could use our remaining dog food. And the dental chews haven’t even been opened. So we should drop them by sometime.

    So no, no pets for us–not for a long time. Say, next week. At the earliest. (I checked; the Humane Society is open on Sunday, which counts as next week.)

    I bet we hold out ’til then. Heck, it’ll save me the effort of finding a spot for that dish.

  37. 38
    Ledasmom says:

    Nobody: What you wrote about your loss reminded me very much of one of the poems adapted by Mahler for his Kindertotenlieder. This is it in English (I do not read German):
    When your mama
    steps in through the door
    and I turn my head
    to see at her,
    on her face
    my gaze does not first fall,
    but at the place
    nearer the doorstep,
    there, where your
    dear little face would be,
    when you with bright joy
    step inside,
    as you used to, my little daughter.
    When your mama
    steps in through the door
    with the glowing candle,
    it seems to me, as if you always
    came in with her too,
    hurrying behind her,
    as you used to come into the room.
    Oh you, of a father’s cell,
    ah, too soon
    extinguished joyful light!

  38. 39
    Kate says:

    Excellent take-down of conservatives whining about the supposed stifling of free-speech on college campuses.

  39. 40
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    From Kate’s article:

    “Arguments that a speaker is not worthy of a particular forum are exercises of free speech, not denials of free speech. People are allowed to have views about who represents the values of the community and who doesn’t. If Liberty University doesn’t want to invite pro-choice speakers to campus it’s not violating anybody’s free speech rights. Nobody is entitled to any particular forum. Students have a stake in the campus community and are free to express their views about which speakers have views that can make a constructive contribution and which don’t. (And virtually nobody really believes that free speech requires anybody to have access to any platform — google “Ward Churchill Hamilton College.”)”

    I don’t like the idea of a “community” deciding who gets a forum. Or to put it another way, I’m not really sure I want that sort of thing democratized all the time. When a large group of protesters (perhaps even a majority of students on a campus) demand that a speaker is deplatformed, or never given a platform in the first place, this isn’t just a conflict between that speaker and those students. The real conflict is between those students who want to hear the speaker, and those students who don’t want anybody at all to hear the speaker.

    I’ve said it before. The best class I ever took in my life was a high school political radicalism class that featured some truly horrible people as speakers- including a KKK grand dragon. I doubt that class exists now in the same way it did then, and that’s a shame because those kids who could have enjoyed it and learned from it as I did will be denied the chance. It’s the people who want to listen that I feel for, not the KKK grand dragon.

  40. 41
    desipis says:

    From Kate’s link:

    Actually preventing people from speaking is a potential free speech issue… Some students did try to stop her from speaking, a tactic I disagree with…

    So there is a free speech issue. Some students are actively and violently trying to suppress the free speech of conservatives

    …although whether it’s worth 800 words in the nation’s most prominent opinion real estate is another question

    So it’s not a disagreement about attempted suppression of free speech; it’s that some people on the left find it politically inconvenient when their attempts to suppress other people’s speech are called out in a national forum. They just want to be able to suppress speech with impunity.

  41. 42
    Ampersand says:

    That seems like an obviously unfair reading, Desipis.

    Look, I don’t like that (for example) right-wingers at Whittier College last year heckled so loudly and unceasingly that Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, wasn’t able to complete his speech. (Funny that that event got so little coverage, huh?)

    But I also don’t think an event that story is so important that it should be written about on the NYTimes op-ed page.

    Your argument only makes sense if we assume that “this is too trivial to merit the amount of coverage it got” is such an inherently ridiculous position that it cannot be held in good faith. But that’s not at all self-evident. I think that some events don’t merit national coverage, and I’ve said so about both right-wing and left-wing rudeness. I know, from personal experience, that it is possible to hold that position in good faith.

  42. 43
    Ampersand says:

    Jeffrey, Scott’s post didn’t argue that the community should decide who gets a forum. It argues that everyone in the community has a right to express their opinion, including saying “I don’t think you should invite Ampersand to speak.” Unless you’re simply opposed to free speech (and I’m sure you’re not), that seems self-evidently true.

  43. 44
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Yeah, kids have the legal right to shout in a crowded auditorium where people have gathered to listen to a speaker. It isn’t criminal to do that. Kids have the right to say “No Charles Murray on our campus!” too. I’m not calling for anyone to be arrested.

    I just think kids who do these things are wrong, and creating (or advocating for the creation of)a crappy environment to learn. I wouldn’t want them on my campus ruining the experience for others- in much the same way I wouldn’t want conservatives on my campus who insist on using their free speech rights to yell bigoted anti-gay slogans in safe spaces. The whole point of both spaces is being defeated. Having the right to do a thing doesn’t make it OK to do it.

    I think Scott’s piece fails to address issues that fail outside first amendment rights, issues that fall under what some call “the culture of free speech. Most people agree on the meaning of the first amendment. The conflict lies elsewhere.

  44. 45
    Jake Squid says:

    I think Scott’s piece fails to address issues that fail outside first amendment rights

    But Scott’s piece was addressing a NYT op-ed that was ostensibly about the author’s first amendment rights. It’s unreasonable to expect him to address issues outside of the issue he was addressing.

  45. 46
    Ampersand says:

    Jeffrey, I think you’re conflating some very different things.

    Yelling at a speaker, if it’s so extreme that the speech has to be cancelled, is making it physically impossible for the speech to happen. In the end, I see very little difference between using loud noisemakers to prevent a speech from going on, versus nailing all the doors shut so the speech can’t go on.

    Yelling anti-gay slurs is a form of intimidation. It might even be an attempt to start a fight.

    Saying “no Charles Murray on our campus,” if it’s in the context of arguing that Murray shouldn’t be invited, or that an existing invitation should be rescinded, is a form of persuasion. (I could imagine contexts where saying that could be combined with physical intimidation, but since people excoriate students if they even sign a written petition asking for a speaker to be disinvited, clearly what’s being objected to is not physical intimidation, but the mere fact of making the statement.)

    Attempting to persuade others is exactly how people are supposed to act in “a culture of free speech.” What you’re saying is “people on college should debate ideas – except for the idea of inviting Charles Murray (or whoever). That idea must never be discussed or debated; that idea is sacrosanct, and anyone attempting to debate it is no different from someone yelling slurs.”

    No, thanks. Some things are rightly outside of the sphere of reasonable debate – if someone yells “kikes get out!” at a Jewish speaker, for example. But who should be invited to speak is not outside of the sphere of reasonable debate, and it’s weird that people who want that question made undiscussable are claiming to defend “the culture of free speech.”

  46. 47
    Michael says:

    Regarding the “why care about free speech on campus” when there are bigger issues, Scott Aaronson had 4 responses to it:
    (See comment 42)
    1) People naturally care about issues that are closer to them.
    2) Academics and progressives have a responsibility to police their own.
    3) There’s no obligation that everyone focus on the biggest problem in the world.
    4) The tide of history is in the Left’s favor.
    I think there’s something else though- a lot of times when someone says “Why doesn’t he criticize right-wing repression of speech?”, the person has ALREADY criticized right-wingers a lot. Chait, for example, has criticized Trump for everything under the sun.

  47. 48
    Michael says:

    Now on to your last comment. What we’ve been seeing is this- Group A invites a speaker on campus, Group B objects to this and tries to pressure the campus into disinviting a speaker. It’s not talking in the abstract “Should this speaker be allowed on the campus” that people are complaining about but one group trying to interfere with the other group’s discussion.

  48. 49
    Charles says:

    Sady Doyle has a really interesting article about Alexa’s creepy laugh and the movie Ex Machina.

  49. 50
    Ampersand says:

    [Edited to remove a snarky and unneeded first paragraph. Apologies, Michael.]


    I think Group A’s decision is something that should be open to criticism and (if Group A is willing to discuss it) discussion. You think that Group A’s decision should be immune from criticism or questioning. But why? And how can you claim “anyone who wants to criticize group A’s decision should shut up” is a position in favor of “a culture of free speech”? You’re the one who is opposed to discussion; you’re the one demanding that people who you disagree with be silent.

    As for Scott’s comment, I and others are not talking about academics policing their own.

    The objection is to journalists and pundits, not academics. (A few of them may also be academics, but they’re being criticized in their role as pundits, not in their role as academics.) And I think that makes the question more complicated. Journalists aren’t “policing their own” when they demonize left-wing students; they’re demonizing a class of people with considerably less power and access to being heard than they themselves have. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong to do so – it’s sort of inevitable when pundits criticize ordinary people – but it does undermine the “policing their own” rationalization.

    (As an aside, the “policing their own” logic seems to excuse ignoring injustice against left-wingers, doesn’t it? Scott, in the thread you linked to, talked about being pleased that threats and abuse drove a left-wing professor out of the university. To be sure, he disapproved of the threats; he was just pleased with their results.)

    Which brings a not-very-simple question of what’s fair. I think it’s obviously unfair that right-wing censorship is simply less reported on and less condemned in the press than left-wing censorship. But I don’t think that any individual pundit has a duty to keep their writing “balanced”; pundits are allowed to go with what interests them. But what is the appropriate response when nearly the entire pundit class shares a bias against left-wing students, and either barely objects to, or simply never mentions, right-wing censorship?

    I think the appropriate response is to point out that, whatever their motivations, their coverage as a whole is presenting readers with a false picture of the world. When conservative politicians pressured UNC’s Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity into shutting down, that is a greater threat to free speech than a couple of Oberlin students complaining about the good. And yet, the Oberlin students got considerably more coverage.

    This is so extreme that it’s getting some coverage: Arizona State University sued over enforcement of state anti-BDS law – U.S. News – Basically, a student group tried to bring in a speaker, but the University required speakers to sign a contract saying they do not support BDS. The University put that in their contracts in response to a law passed by the Arizona state legislature. (Now that they’re being sued, the University says they sent the speaker the wrong contract.)

    The University of Houston has a similar policy (and Texas a similar law). And there are multiple examples of professors being fired or denied tenure because they are pro-Palestinian.

    To me, that seems much more important than people on twitter criticizing Bari Weiss, or than Oberlin students not liking the food. But our pundit class doesn’t appear to see it that way. (Chait did, as he pointed out, retweet a couple of tweets objecting to what happened at ASU. But he clearly reacts much more strongly than just a couple of retweets when it comes to criticizing academic censorship from the left.)

    So, yeah, I’m going to continue to criticize Chait and Conor and Weiss and all the rest. Because that seems to be the only possible route to getting some fairness in coverage, and preventing rihgt-wingers from thinking that they can censor (literal censorship, government-imposed censorship) without being rebuked by anyone with a significant public megaphone.

  50. 51
    Jake Squid says:

    I love the fix to Alexa’s unsolicited laugh, Charles. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think Alexa saying, “Yes, I can do that,” and then laughing creepily is any better.

  51. 52
    Charles says:

    Yeah, hearing that in the dark at 2 am doesn’t really sound any more comforting than just hearing the weird little laugh.

  52. 53
    Michael says:

    @Ampersand- I’m not saying that Group A’s decision should be immune from criticism. I’m saying that there’s a difference between criticism and trying to pressure the university to cancel the event. If a conservative group invites a right-wing speaker, and a liberal group criticizes them, that’s free speech. If a conservative group invites a right wing speaker, and a liberal group tries to pressure the university to cancel the event, that’s using social pressure to exert censorship.
    One could just as logically cite the Elevatorgate incident to show how hostile feminists are to free speech- all a guy did was politely ask a woman out and they complained. Plus, one could add a Dear Muslima letter, like Dawkins did. But of course, the response wouldn’t be that they were opposed to free speech, it was that the time and place the woman was asked out caused fear in her, even if the guy didn’t intend it. Similarly, the complaint is that liberal groups are trying to use the power of the university to silence conservative groups.
    (And by the way, Ciccariello-Maher leaving the university doesn’t strike me as an “injustice” in the larger sense. As this article shows, he called for the murder of a police officer named Fields who committed police brutality:
    And he tried to get an elementary school teacher named Fitzgibbons who made a racist post on Facebook fired, and posted the phone number of the school district PR guy:
    She was fired. Your argument seems to be based on moral luck- since neither Fields nor the PR guy were threatened as a result of his tweets, Cicciarello-Maher shouldn’t be considered a “bad man”. He definitely didn’t deserve threats, and I agree that neither the teacher nor Cicciarello-Maher deserved to lose their jobs as a result but what happens to Cicciarello-Maher FEELS fair- he helped get a teacher fired for a racist post then lost his job when people complained about a racist tweet. Same as Sam Biddle getting Justine Sacco fired for an offensive tweet and then experiencing Laser Guided Karma after his “bullying nerds” tweet. The difference is Biddle was self-aware enough to realize that his earlier behavior was wrong.)

  53. 54
    Michael says:

    Another problem- you’re complaining about pundits demonizing “powerless” left-wing students. But those students aren’t powerless- they’ve got “SJWs” sympathetic to them everywhere. And those students have no problem demonizing other people.
    In general, you seem to have think that’s it’s unfair for left-wingers to be demonized. But left-wingers have no problem portraying other people as monsters. Feminists DO generally stereotype nerdy guys as Nazi rapists, which is worse then most of the stereotypes about nerds on the right. Some of the feminist sites ban “virgin”, ” basement dweller” and “neckbeard” as insults but you still see them pop up often. (To be fair, you’ve been trying to push back against that.) And “Nice Guy TM” is mainstream in feminist discourse and that’s just a dog whistle for nerd. (And before you say “But there are some guys who really fit it”- you can say that about any stereotype.) Feminists routinely portray “Nice Guy TMs” as monsters, so it’s fair that guys that think the stereotype might be applied to them portray feminists as monsters.
    A lot of the language used by SJWs equates disagreement with violence. Take the term gaslighting- it’s become a way to equate disagreement with abuse. Similarly, SJWs routinely equate hate speech with violence. And most cruelly, any guy that claims that he’s afraid of being accused of sexual harassment is accused of being a wannabe sexual predator.
    So how can it possibly be wrong to treat SJWs like they treat others? You yourself did a cartoon about Republicans who claim they’re not racist:
    So how can it be wrong to portray SJWs generally as anti-nerd, for example?

  54. 55
    Jake Squid says:

    But those students aren’t powerless- they’ve got “SJWs” sympathetic to them everywhere.

    Aaaaaand, you’ve lost my attention.

  55. 56
    Kate says:

    One could just as logically cite the Elevatorgate incident to show how hostile feminists are to free speech- all a guy did was politely ask a woman out and they complained.

    “Politely”???!!! Bullshit!!!!! That guy cornered Rebecca Watson in an elevator at 4:00 in the morning. Anyone with a modicum of empathy would know that that is threatening, not “polite”. But, this guy did not need to guess what her reaction would be. Rebecca had litterally been talking all day and into the night about how she didn’t want men hitting on her at conferences. Hitting on someone who you know is not interested is not “polite”. Asking a random woman who doesn’t even know you to your hotel room is not “polite”. Rebecca did not name this guy. She just described what happened and said “Guys, don’t do that.” Rebecca Watson has a right to free speech, too. And her mild statement in which, again, she maintained the guys anonymity, was met with a years long campaign of harassment. Rebecca Watson and her supporters are not the ones assailing free speech in the Elevatorgate case.

    “Nice Guy TM” is mainstream in feminist discourse and that’s just a dog whistle for nerd.

    No, it isn’t. “Nice Guys TM” come in all shapes, styles and have a wide range of interests. On the flip side, many feminists who object to them are themselves nerds.
    A “Nice Guy TM” is a guy who pretends to be friends with a women who he is physically attracted to, but doesn’t really like as a person. He proceeds to pretend that he likes doing things with her, which he really doesn’t like. He expects her to understand that he couldn’t possibley actually like her as a human being, so he obviously must be doing all of these things because he wants sex. After time, he starts to get bitter and angry because he’s being a “nice guy” and doing all this stuff he doesn’t want to do (but, saying that he wants to do it all along) and she is not offering the sex in return (sex that he has never indiacted that he wants). A non-trivial percentage of these assholes eventually get violent. That is what a “Nice Guy TM” is.

  56. 57
    Michael says:

    @Kate- regarding Watson, my point was that Ampersand’s claim that asking the UNIVERSITY to ban speakers invited by student groups is just speech is like claiming that the guy’s advance was just speech.
    Regarding Nice Guys Tm- a couple of points. First, there can be people that fit a stereotype and it can still be a Dog Whistle. Are there some blacks that fit the stereotype of a thug? Yes. Is it still a Dog Whistle? Yes. Secondly, feminists say this whenever a guy says “I’m a nice guy. How is it fair that I don’t have dates?”
    Thirdly, let’s look at the original site that started this:
    “What’s wrong with Nice Guys? The biggest problem is that most Nice Guys ™ are hideously insecure. They are so anxious to be liked and loved that they do things for other people to gain acceptance and attention, rather than for the simply pleasure of giving. You never know if a Nice Guy really likes you for who you are, or if he has glommed onto you out of desperation because you actually paid some kind of attention to him.
    Nice Guys exude insecurity — a big red target for the predators of the world. There are women out there who are “users” — just looking for a sucker to take advantage of. Users home-in on “Nice Guys”, stroke their egos, take them for a ride, add a notch to their belts, and move on. It’s no wonder so many Nice Guys complain about women being horrible, when the so often the kind of woman that gets attracted to them is the lowest form of life…”
    This site is complaining about INSECURITY and blaming nice guys for being taken advantage of by manipulative women.

  57. 58
    irisclara says:

    How is it fair that I don’t have dates?

    Nobody owes anyone dates. This person sounds like an entitled pig. If this person claims to be a nice guy, this person needs to know themselves better.

  58. 59
    Michael says:

    @#58- Thanks for proving my point, irisclara. Feminists claim they don’t want to be demonized but have no problem demonizing others.

  59. 60
    Jake Squid says:

    You really believe people are entitled to dates, Michael? If not, how is irisclara demonizing anybody?

  60. 61
    Michael says:

    I think that people that have been without love or sex for a long period of time have a right to complain and they deserve compassion. They DON’T deserve any sympathy if they actually hurt someone but if you hear that someone’s at virgin at 29, is unhappy about it and your reaction is “how dare they imply people are entitled to dates” instead of compassion, then you’re the one with the problem, not them. Feminists, and “SJWs” in general, want not to be demonized, which is understandable, but they don’t want to look at the ugly aspects of their rhetoric.
    And I’d like to apologize if I’ve been too willing to demonize people myself in this thread.

  61. 62
    irisclara says:

    I don’t personally care if people want to demonize me. I don’t, however, think that calling someone an entitled pig is demonizing them.

    Why should I be compassionate about someone else’s sex life. I’m not putting my sex life out there for your sympathy. If I complain about rape or sexual assault or harassment I’m not complaining about sex, I’m complaining about crime. What you do with your genitals is your business and your problem, unless you point them at me.

    Men should consider themselves lucky that women don’t treat their clumsy passes the way they treat the unwanted passes of gay men. Gay Panic ring any bells? At least that woman didn’t shoot the guy in the elevator as a potential rapist. If feminists were as extreme as you make them out to be they would be shooting men all the time. It’s not like infuriating sexist stuff is rare.

  62. 63
    Kate says:

    Regarding Nice Guys TM- a couple of points. First, there can be people that fit a stereotype and it can still be a Dog Whistle. Are there some blacks that fit the stereotype of a thug? Yes. Is it still a Dog Whistle? Yes.

    Of course. But “Nice Guy TM” does not refer primarily, much less exclusively, to nerds or socially anxious guys. In fact, I’ve seen some pretty secure guys who have no trouble asking people out perform the “Nice Guy TM” dance when they wanted to worm their way in with a woman who they knew was dating someone else. It is a really ugly dynamic that men (and some women) perform when they think they’ll get a rejection if they ask outright, for whatever reason.

    Secondly, feminists say this whenever a guy says “I’m a nice guy. How is it fair that I don’t have dates?

    Yes, because a genuinely nice guy won’t frame their disappointments with dating this way. Genuinely nice guys know that being “nice” to the person you want to go out with ought to be the bare minimum, along with basics like “showering regularly” and “brushing your teeth”. Think about how ridiculous that sounds “I shower regularly. How is it fair that I don’t have dates?” Dude, you’re SUPPOSED to shower regularly. It’s not a selling point.

  63. 64
    Jake Squid says:

    I think that people that have been without love or sex for a long period of time have a right to complain and they deserve compassion.

    This is in no way the same as having compassion for somebody who says it’s not fair that they don’t get dates/sex. This is in no way the same as somebody who says that they deserve to date you/object of their desire/etc.

    Nobody here demonized anybody who hasn’t been without love or sex for a long period of time.

    If you can’t see that, this becomes an even more pointless attempt at conversation than it has been.

  64. 65
    Ampersand says:


    1. If you’re only saying that people shouldn’t petition college administrations to have speaker invitations withdrawn, then you’re making a narrower case than many. The people condemning lefty students don’t seem to make the distinction you’re making between “Group B asking Group A to withdraw their invitation” and “Group B asking the administration to withdraw group A’s invitation.” Just to clarify, are you saying that the former is okay with you, and it’s only the latter you object to? Or do you object to both?

    2. There is a distinction – legally as well as morally, as it happens, but in this case I’m obviously only talking about morally – between restricting the time and place of speech, versus restricting its content.

    Saying “you shouldn’t hit on someone at 3am in an elevator” – a specific iteration of the general instruction “don’t hit on people in times and places where they may feel trapped or endangered” – is a time and place restriction. The point of “elevatorgate” was never “it is wrong to hit on people.”

    In contrast, saying “no one should ever petition college administrations to disinvite speakers” isn’t about time and place. It’s content-based. That makes it a very different thing. You’re not saying that people shouldn’t corner college presidents in elevators at 3am to demand a disinvitation; you’re saying that, because you don’t like the content of their speech, no one should ever ask college presidents for a disinvitation.

    I’m not saying content-based speech restrictions are always wrong. I’m saying that, because content-based restrictions are a different animal than time and place based restrictions, your equivalence doesn’t hold water.

    (There’s another layer to elevatorgate – which is that Watson had just said, in a speech the guy heard, that she didn’t want to be hit on at conferences such as the one she’s speaking at – that I’m not touching on here.)

    3. College administrations are effective the highest governing body within a campus. The norm of petitioning one’s government about public policy – arguably the single most important kind of free speech – is not something that should be thrown away lightly.

    Whether or not it’s okay to invite (say) Charles Murray to speak is a policy decision. Policy decisions, especially, should be something people are free to talk to their local governments about.

    Do I think that the government – in this case, the college administration – should be overruling Group A and disinviting speakers? In general, no, I don’t. I think colleges should usually allow student groups to invite speakers, even if those speakers are gross. (I’d make exceptions for some speakers, for example, a speaker with a history of attacking individual students in a speech.)

    In other words, you’re conflating two things – “college administrations shouldn’t prevent Group A from bringing in speakers” and “no one should petition college administrations asking them to disinvite group A’s speaker.” I agree with the former, but not with the latter. Petitioning the government is a form of using persuasion to bring about policy change – it’s just that the group they’re attempting to persuade is the administration, instead of group A. It’s still attempting to make change via persuasion, and I don’t think that’s an approach to change we should oppose, even when we oppose the specific change being argued for.

    4. Either I miswrote, or you misunderstood, my point about pundits vs college activists. My point was not that college students lack all power or all privilege.

    My point was that when it comes to access to the public debate, the two groups are not peers. This is not a case of “self-policing.” This is a case of people who have enormous megaphones, and ability to reach the public, using that access to police the speech of a group of people who have no megaphone.

    If Lucy writes an op-ed in the New York Times criticizing Linus, and the only forum Linus can respond in is the student newspaper, then what Lucy is doing isn’t “self-policing.”

    (That doesn’t mean Lucy is necessarily wrong to criticize Linus.)

  65. 66
    Mandolin says:

    I’m married to a nerd. I’ve only dated nerds. None of them are NiceGuysTM.

    The NiceGuysTM I’ve met are generally nerds – but everyone I hang out with is generally nerds.

  66. 67
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    What you’re saying is “people on college should debate ideas – except for the idea of inviting Charles Murray (or whoever). That idea must never be discussed or debated; that idea is sacrosanct, and anyone attempting to debate it is no different from someone yelling slurs.”

    That’s not at all what I said. I just said I think that kids calling for limits on speakers are wrong for reasons you state eloquently in later comments. I’m all for student’s rights to say wrong things. I’m sure I say things that are wrong all the time. My whole objection is this: some people want to limit the rights of others to hear speeches or conversations. Desiring to limit who speaks is like desiring to burn books. It’s not as bad as actually burning books, but it’s a crappy thing to want. (To clarify my position, I think it’s ok to demand that Murray or anyone else not be invited as a commencement speaker, but demanding that the college Republicans not host him is bad)

  67. 68
    desipis says:

    On the issue of suppressing free speech, it looks like the UK is charging ahead: Right-wing journalist Lauren Southern denied entry to UK, purportedly over criticism of Islam.

    Canadian right-wing journalist and activist Lauren Southern was barred from entering the United Kingdom on Monday, purportedly over a poster she distributed about Islam in February — making her the latest international right-wing figure to be denied entry to the U.K. after criticizing the religion.

  68. 69
    desipis says:


    But I also don’t think an event that story is so important that it should be written about on the NYTimes op-ed page.

    As an isolated incident I would agree. However, as the NYTimes piece points out, this is just another example of an on going pattern. And that pattern is worthy national attention.

  69. 70
    desipis says:


    Anyone with a modicum of empathy would know that that is threatening, not “polite”.

    Anyone who sees a man asking such a question in an elevator as inherently threatening is misandrist.

  70. 71
    Harlequin says:

    All right, I’ll bite…

    Anyone who sees a man asking such a question in an elevator as inherently threatening is misandrist.

    First of all, I wouldn’t be comfortable with a woman hitting on me out of the blue in such a situation, either. But also–this is just flat-out wrong. You’re in a small, enclosed, isolated space with no escape route. There are all kinds of social norms that are different in that situation (e.g., I don’t typically face the same direction as everyone else if I’m in a small room, but we all face forwards in elevators), and there are all kinds of behaviors I would find discomfiting or threatening in an elevator that I wouldn’t elsewhere. Most people are aware of those kinds of things. I’m not saying getting hit on in an elevator–or other contexts where it is outside the social norm–is AS threatening as, like, someone playing with a knife, but it’s unreasonable to ask for infinite benefit of the doubt, too.

  71. 72
    Ampersand says:

    Desipis: It’s not an isolated incident, but it’s also not something that’s at all close to the norm. Jeffrey Sachs went through FIRE’s database:

    Out of a country with 4,700 universities, there were 29 attempts in 2017 to disinvite or block an invited speaker from speaking on campus. Twenty-nine… and most of those attempts failed.

    There was a lot of fuss about Christina Hoff Sommers being heckeled at Lewis and Clark in Portland last week. No one talks about the much larger event that she spoke at a few hours later, at PSU. Because “CHS spoke before 200 people on a liberal campus, and nothing happened” isn’t a story that will drive clicks. (I was there, and I can tell you, it was a snooze.) But that lack of excitement is, by a huge degree, the norm for speakers on campus, including right-wing speakers. But I don’t think most people following the story in the media would know that.

    And – returning to my original point – it’s simply not true that disagreement with you on this issue means bad faith. One can, in good faith, believe that this story has been misreported, and that these events are being enormously overblown in the press, both in terms of their frequency and in terms of their significance.

  72. 73
    desipis says:

    Harlequin, there’s a big difference between feeling uncomfortable and feeling threatened. Feeling uncomfortable about being hit on is normal, feeling threatened is not. Hitting on someone is not inherently threatening (although there certainly are ways of hitting on people that can be); and if someone feels threatened simply as a result of being hit on, then I would see that person as having irrational fears.

  73. 74
    Ampersand says:

    I don’t think it’s at all clear that no normal person would feel threatened by being hit on in an elevator, especially in context (i.e., 3am, no one else in the elevator, might feel more threatening for many than noon in an elevator with five other people in it).

    Also, there are levels of being threatened. “This person hit on me, so I felt my life was in immediate danger and pulled my gun out” is a very high threat level, and not an ordinary way to act. “This person hit on me, so I felt a bit threatened; I was alert, my heartbeat elevated a bit, my fight-or-flight reflex was ready to be engaged, but outwardly I just stared at a wall” is a perfectly ordinary reaction.

    Many women have had the experience of men they don’t know hitting on them in public, and having the man get really angry if they don’t give him the response he wants. Women have told me about being followed down the street by some man yelling “stop, bitch! Get back here!” and such after they either didn’t respond, or just said “sorry, no” and walked on, to him hitting on her.

    If you’ve experienced that even once – let alone several times – then it makes perfect sense to feel threatened if some guy hits on you when you’re trapped on an elevator with him.

  74. 75
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I clicked through to that linked twitter thread, and Jeffrey Sachs is eventually corrected and acknowledges the validity of the correction. There were actually 35 attempted speech cancellations on Campuses, 19 were successful, and opposite of what he claimed, the majority (16) were leftwing attempts to disinvite right-wing speakers.

    The whole reason he posts that is to combat what he calls Myth #3, that:

    Students may tell pollsters that they support free speech, but their actions show otherwise.

    The Knight Foundation just released a report covering this very issue among others. It’s making the news. Here’s a link to the summary, and a PDF can be found there if you want to take a deeper dive:

    Here’s a quote from the summary:

    When asked whether free expression or diversity and inclusion is more important, they tilt toward saying diversity and inclusion are. Students are as likely to favor campus speech codes as to oppose them, and they overwhelmingly favor free speech zones on campus. Students do not believe the U.S. Constitution should protect hate speech, and they continue to support campus policies that restrict both hate speech and wearing stereotypical costumes.

    Students have become more likely to think the climate on their campus prevents people from speaking their mind because others might take offense. More students now (61%) than in 2016 (54%) agree that the climate on their campus prevents some students from expressing their views. Although a majority of college students, 69%, believe political conservatives on campus are able to freely and openly express their views, many more believe political liberals (92%) and other campus groups are able to share their opinions freely.

    This whole report is a cherry-pickers dream. I can imagine conservatives lapping this up, and for good reason. College kids will say they believe in free speech. College kids will also so they don’t want to protect hate speech, and want speech codes. And there it is, Myth #3 is busted.

    But there’s tons in there for the left to love too. Just check out this article by vox. They find all kinds of data in the Knight Foundation survey that suggest students are actually more pro free speech than ever, and more pro-free speech than everyone else is. And they make good arguments. It just rankles me a bit that Vox choose to link to twitter takes and blogs that discuss this study, while not even linking to the study itself, especially when the article calls for more rigorous debate. That’s bad journalism, and the fact that the study’s summary reads so differently than Vox’s discussion of it makes me question their motives.

    Everyone interested in this issue should click through to that report. There is some fascinating data in there that will take a while to break down, including all kinds of contradictory responses by every demographic. My take-away is that there is no consensus definition for what it means to be pro-free speech. I think people seem reluctant to define who isn’t allowed to speak, but also reluctant to say that all speech should be protected.

  75. 76
    Kate says:

    Many women have had the experience of men they don’t know hitting on them in public, and having the man get really angry if they don’t give him the response he wants.

    This. I could not begin to count the number of times I have been called a b**ch, c**t and so on, just for saying “no thank-you” in response to a come on. It was just the background noise of walking around when I was in my 20’s living in New York City. Just as an example, over the years, I have had my breasts grabbed on busy streets three times that I can think of – once with my boyfriend and two of his friends in Greenwich village in the late 1980’s – I was wearing a tight black dress and they were PISSED -at me for shaming them; once on Madison Avenue, early to mid 1990’s on my way to a job interview – I was wearing a knee length red pleated skirt with a white blouse and black blazer – totally f**ked up that job interview; ; and once in Manly in Sydney @2009-10, a skateboarder went between me and my husband, grabbed me and then tried to pick a fight with my husband – our son was there too, about 8 or 9 years old. This is not a complete list of times I’ve been harassed by any stretch of the imagination. My experiences aren’t at all unusual. These are the sorts of things some men will do, out on the street, in broad daylight, when there are witnesses around. An elevator at 3 am…could I prevent someone 100 lbs. heavier than me from pushing or pulling me off at his floor – especially if I was really tired and/or had had a few drinks? I don’t ever want to have to find out.

  76. 77
    RonF says:

    In a positive development for free speech on campuses – at least in Florida – Gov. Rick Scott signed SB 4, which includes some free speech provisions:

    A person who wishes to engage in an expressive activity in outdoor areas of campus may do so freely, spontaneously, and contemporaneously as long as the person’s conduct is lawful and does not materially and substantially disrupt the functioning of the public institution of higher education or infringe upon the rights of other individuals or organizations to engage in expressive activities.

    Outdoor areas of campus are considered traditional public forums for individuals, organizations, and guest speakers. A public institution of higher education may create and enforce restrictions that are reasonable and content-neutral on time, place, and manner of expression and that are narrowly tailored to a significant institutional interest. Restrictions must be clear and published and must and provide for ample alternative means of expression.

    A public institution of higher education may not designate any area of campus as a free-speech zone or otherwise create policies restricting expressive activities to a particular outdoor area of campus, except as provided [above].

    Students, faculty, or staff of a public institution of higher education may not materially disrupt previously scheduled or reserved activities on campus occurring at the same time.

    (4) CAUSE OF ACTION.—A person whose expressive rights are violated by an action prohibited under this section may bring an action against a public institution of higher education in a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain declaratory and injunctive relief, reasonable court costs, and attorney fees.

    So now it appears that in Florida:

    1) University administrators cannot tell you that you can only put up a table or hand out copies of the Constitution in certain specified areas of the campus (as long as you’re not blocking access to something or interrupting someone else’s activity), and
    2) If you have arranged for a presentation and students, faculty, et. al. that oppose the material being presented disrupt the presentation, you can sue the university for not stopping the disruption.

    It’ll get a bit interesting to interpret what constitutes a violation of one’s expressive rights. But there are numerous examples of clear violations of such rights that have occurred across the country, such as charging the stage during a presentation and taking the microphone from the presenter, setting off fire alarms, standing outside or inside the presentation and screaming so that the presenter cannot be heard, etc., etc. – all while the administrators do nothing to stop it. Now, in Florida, the universities have been put on notice that they actually have to actively defend free speech. Good.

  77. 78
    RonF says:

    I didn’t read upthread before I posted the above. I do wonder how these provisions would apply if a group applied to have Charles Murray make a presentation on their campus and get refused – or if they did invite him, it got approved, and then based on pressure from left-wing groups attempted to rescind the invitation. However, I think that the response from the administration should be something along these lines – and if it takes State legislation to force such a response from the administrators of a State-established public university, I welcome it.

    Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn, without fear of censorship. Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others. You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.

    Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.

    Fostering the free exchange of ideas reinforces a related University priority—building a campus that welcomes people of all backgrounds. Diversity of opinion and background is a fundamental strength of our community. The members of our community must have the freedom to espouse and explore a wide range of ideas.

  78. 79
    TedK says:

    On the issue of suppressing free speech, it looks like the UK is charging ahead: Right-wing journalist Lauren Southern denied entry to UK, purportedly over criticism of Islam.

    Lauren Southern shouldn’t, in my opinion, be denied entry to a country for her speech. However, it would be perfectly reasonable to deny her entry for being part of an illegal attempt to obstruct and endanger a Doctors Without Borders boat.

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