Open Thread and Link Farm, Babe Ruth Edition

  1. This game contains absolutely no triggering material | Ben on Patreon
    This small game (written by the Ben who leaves comments on “Alas”) is fantastic. And searing.
  2. Anthony Kennedy, the Trump Court and Minority Rule
    “The House has a massive Republican tilt, requiring Democrats to win the national vote by six or seven points in order to secure a likely majority. The Senate has an even more pronounced tilt, overrepresenting residents of small states, which tend to be white and rural.”
  3. How Social-Media Trolls Turned U.C. Berkeley Into a Free-Speech Circus | The New Yorker
    I think students should have free speech, but Berkeley shouldn’t be required to spend $3 million so that Milo can come speak for fifteen minutes. Colleges should be able to set reasonable, non-partisan limits on expense without being accused of censorship.
  4. Good news at last: the world isn’t as horrific as you think | Hans Rosling
    “But while it is easy to be aware of all the bad things happening in the world, it’s harder to know about the good things. The silent miracle of human progress is too slow and too fragmented to ever qualify as news.”
  5. Most Democrats Don’t Take Sex Workers’ Rights Seriously. That’s Finally Starting To Change. | HuffPost
    A few Democratic candidates for Congress are running against SESTA/FOSTA.
  6. Today’s US-Mexico “border crisis” in 6 charts
    Or the lack thereof.
  7. Why I Am Against SESTA-FOSTA — Suraj Patel for Congress
    This campaign web page is a usefully concise summary of the case against SESTA-FOSTA.
  8. Body Positivity Is a Scam – Racked
    “There’s nothing capitalism can’t alchemize into a business opportunity, but for it to be a useful tool for marketers, body positivity needed to be decoupled from fatness and political advocacy, sanitized, and neatly repackaged into something that begins and ends with images.”
  9. Police attacked me for stealing a car. It was my own. – The Washington Post
  10. Netflix and Alphabet will need to become ISPs, fast | TechCrunch
    “One sad note though is how much the world of video is increasingly closed to startups. When companies like Netflix, which today closed with a market cap of almost $158 billion, can’t necessarily get enough negotiating power to ensure that consumers have direct access to them, no startup can ever hope to compete.”
  11. From flat-pack coffins to water cremation: how to have an eco-friendly death | World news | The Guardian
    “At a packed funeral expo in a church in Amsterdam last weekend, exhibitors included a flat-pack coffin that you construct and decorate yourself…”
  12. We Need to Talk About Reactionary Centrists – Member Feature Stories – Medium
  13. ContraPoints: Some thoughts about MtF transition, FFS, conformity, gender stereotypes, and “cis assimilation.”
  14. ‘Roseanne’ Spinoff ‘The Conners’ Ordered by ABC – Variety
    “Not part of the new series will be Roseanne Barr.” The likelihood is that this show won’t work – because MOST shows don’t work. But I’d be happy if it does work, and interested to see them try.
  15. Opinion | The Bible’s #MeToo Problem – The New York Times
  16. Jamelle Bouie: Taking the Enlightenment seriously requires talking about race.
    “Racism as we understand it now, as a socio-political order based on the permanent hierarchy of particular groups, developed as an attempt to resolve the fundamental contradiction between professing liberty and upholding slavery.”
  17. A useful appendix to the above link: Throwing Shade on the Enlightenment – Liberal Currents
    ” The italicized statements are the things Bouie did not argue!”
  18. Riots are destructive, dangerous, and scary — but can lead to serious social reforms – Vox
  19. How movies cast “ugly” characters – and how it feels to get the part | ShortList
    For the most part, they say it feels good. But the guy who played Ted the lawyer on “Scrubs” seems to have found it depressing work, which I was a bit sad to hear, since I always thought there was something joyful in how he played that sad sack part.
  20. World’s first electrified road for charging vehicles opens in Sweden | Environment | The Guardian
  21. Costume Detective – How to Date an Old Photograph
    “Elements of the coat could suggest it to be circa 1898. The sleeves with soft fullness at the head and the fitted silhouette suggest late Victorian styling. But the hat is too big for that date.”
  22. How fast can I flood the Netherlands entirely and permanently?
  23. My Rapist Friended Me on Facebook (and All I Got Was This Lousy Article)
  24. Climate Change Is Likely Killing Ancient Baobab Trees – The Atlantic
    “But when around 70 percent of your 1,500 to 2,000-year-old trees died within 12 years, it certainly is not normal. It is difficult to come up with a culprit other than climate change.”
  25. On Culture War Bubbles | Thing of Things
  26. It’s Absurd to Claim That Trans Kids Are Being ‘Rushed’ Into Transitioning
  27. How to Rinse Your Recyclables Without Wasting Water
    Okay, this is admittedly a very boring link, but it’s a question I’ve wondered about more than once.
  28. I Detransitioned. But Not Because I wasn’t Trans. – The Atlantic
  29. ‘We no longer die in childbirth’: how Indian villages saved their mothers | World news | The Guardian
    “Gupta sometimes changes the lyrics of romantic folk songs to refer to iron supplements, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and breastfeeding. ‘They find it easier to remember what I’ve told them if they sing it,’ she said.”
  30. ‘The Daddy quota’: how Quebec got men to take parental leave | World news | The Guardian
    “What they found in places like Sweden is that if you give fathers their own leave, something families will lose if they don’t take, taking the leave becomes expected.”
  31. The Southern Poverty Law Center Surrenders Unconditionally To Maajid Nawaz. We Should Be Concerned. | Popehat

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148 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, Babe Ruth Edition

  1. 101
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    nobody.really,

    AFAIK, black Americans are relatively conservative in many ways, despite overwhelmingly voting for the Democrats, presumably for black rights and economic reasons. SNL did a great skit about that. So it’s not surprising if they pull the Democrats to the right on some issues.

    It also seems quite typical and logical for minorities with a subculture to worry a bit more about more losing that subculture by mixing with others than for majorities. For example, there seems to be a lot of worry in the deaf community about the impact of implants on their subculture, causing formerly deaf people to integrate into non-deaf society much more than if they depend more on sign language and such.

  2. 102
    Mookie says:

    desipis @74

    If your goal is increase the extent of racial bias and division in the country then you tactic should be to draw as much attention to people’s race as possible in every conceivable circumstance

    You’re eliding the differences between awareness of race and racial animus, seeing color and stoking colorism, naming racism and practicing it. That’s pretty dishonest. Nothing about Seeing Color other than one’s own creates or nurtures bigotry, just as there is nothing wrong with or undesirable in multiculturalism. If you want to theorize a causal relationship there, it’s up to you to show your work, and substantively.

    There are many ways and means to draw attention to race, benign and dangerous. Racism is one such dangerous means; but merely acknowledging race is not a form of racism. It’s what you do with that acknowledgement — of a stark fact of present life, a legacy of history, a sociological phenomenon with wide-reaching consequences — that determines a positive or negative outcome.

    Why diversity must always be a sign of weakness and divisiveness for some people is a problem they need to solve on their own. As commenters above have said, at a certain point trying to win over the willfully obtuse obstructionists and centrists who feel this way is counter-productive sabotage on the march towards progress.

  3. 103
    nobody.really says:

    I’m sure we’re all aware, but too tactful to mention, the many indignities and slights endured by our humble host. I know we all wince each time the Nobel, Pulitzer, and Hugo people have overlooked his august literary contributions without even a hint of shame. But in all this time, it had never occurred to me to take umbrage that he had not been offered a Man Booker Prize, because it had not occurred to me that they had ever stumbled into the graphic novel aisle of the bookstore.

    Until now. So now we have an entirely new cause for grievance. In case your old ones were growing stale….

  4. 104
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    You’re eliding the differences between awareness of race and racial animus, seeing color and stoking colorism, naming racism and practicing it. That’s pretty dishonest.

    Two points. First, politics is partially about winning. It’s entirely possible that naming racism is necessary to combat racism, while at the same time, doing so frequently hurts the chances of the most anti-racist party to win power, due to human psychology. I think it’s appropriate to talk about politics on the level of “what is just?” as well as strategically. It’s not dishonest.

    Secondly, some people have a really hard time telling the difference between “being racist” and “calling out racism.” Over the weekend, my white cousin fought racism in the most counterproductive way ever while vacationing out West. She was in a bar late at night, and when a large group of patrons left their seats and started line dancing to some 90’s hip hop, she took the opportunity to video record them, and send it out over social media with the caption “White People Ruin Everything Part 2” (I forget the first way we ruined everything, but I’m sure we’ll do it again) There are people who view everything through the lens of racism, even when it doesn’t apply. Imagine feeling the need to start filming a group of people having fun and dancing together for the sole purpose of making fun of them on social media? She’s not the only person I know who does this- among her and many others I know, “white girl,” is used as an insult. It really pisses off my wife, which is totally predictable, and pretty good evidence that this cousin’s aim isn’t really to fight racism, but rather, tell her friends how woke she is.

    I see this all the time, words and arguments said in the spirit of combating racism that could only ever make it worse. To be fair, I think my seeing it all the time has a lot to do with the way social media works, but it’s weird the way in which ugly racial commentary has become normalized.

  5. 105
    Elusis says:

    You’re eliding the differences between awareness of race and racial animus, seeing color and stoking colorism, naming racism and practicing it. That’s pretty dishonest. Nothing about Seeing Color other than one’s own creates or nurtures bigotry, just as there is nothing wrong with or undesirable in multiculturalism. If you want to theorize a causal relationship there, it’s up to you to show your work, and substantively.

    And indeed, the research on child development and racial attitudes suggests exactly the opposite: If you want to race a racist kid, don’t talk to them about race or “notice” race at all. If you don’t want to raise a racist kid, you have to see color and talk about it. https://longestshortesttime.com/episode-116-how-to-not-accidentally-raise-a-racist/

  6. 106
    RonF says:

    Mookie @102:

    just as there is nothing wrong with or undesirable in multiculturalism.

    What about cultures requiring women to cover themselves completely when in public, refusing to permit them to drive or to go anywhere without being accompanied by male relatives, punishing homosexual relationships by death, etc., etc.? It seems to me that there’s quite a bit wrong and undesirable with multiculturalism in such cases.

  7. Ron @106: I think you’re in the wrong thread. Mookie’s comment was here.

    Every culture has undesirable aspects, even ours. That’s not an invalidation of multiculturalism–which, I will hasten to add, is not the same thing as the cultural relativism you are implicitly critiquing here. It’s conservatives who have portrayed multiculturalism as pure and uncritical relativism.

  8. 108
    Mookie says:

    The outcome in a multicultural nation will be the same in nations that promote assimilation of the minority (in power, in number) to the will and values of the powerful and/or the numerical majority, RonF, reflecting the values of those permitted civic engagement and free expression of opinions and votes that will be weighted accordingly. Patriarchy is undesirable to me wherever and however it manifests, ditto state-sanctioned genocide and the oppression of homosexuality. Nowhere do I suggest that multiculturalism is an answer to those ailments (it answers a different problem altogether), so I don’t understand the question, unless you’re suggesting that patriarchy or enforced-heterosexuality is a spontaneous creation of a pluralistic society of intermingling cultures, languages, and ethnicities. You appear to be describing outside fundamentalists entering and unilaterally imposing upon a pre-existing culture unpalatable, incompatible, and “alien” right-wing values where none existed, which is the opposite of the multicultural experience but certainly describes the colonial one well enough. It’s certainly a pro-war / pro-coup trope: outsiders need to save a culture from its worst tendencies by taking over and instilling Shiny New Values. I don’t see how that’s relevant here.

    I guess the logical rejoinder is that extreme forms of misogyny will foster where misogyny is already acceptable and deeply-rooted, disruptive sea changes like war or epidemics notwithstanding, and that misogyny is not within the purview of a single and sole ethnicity or nation-state. In fact, it’s something most but not all cultures have traditionally agreed upon and is historically a source of harmony when interacting: women are different, inferior, and not welcome as equal partners to men in civil society. I don’t know what you mean when you say that this is a bad feature of multiculturalism when it is a feature of all human organization and, as such, there’s nothing to suggest that assimilation rids us of patriarchy in the short- or long-term. In many cases, it nurtures and reinforces patriarchy.

    If the concern is that a community might socially or politically regress over time, that’s a problem that is not remotely unique to multicultural nations unless we’re distinguishing partisan clusters as “culture,” in which case all ‘assimilated’ nation-states are now to be regarded as multicultural because they host, willingly or otherwise, disparate and in many cases extreme and anti-social political perspectives, irrespective if members of opposing parties share the same skin pigment.

    If you’re suggesting that an endorsement of multiculturalism as a guiding principle in the democratic organization of a community means we have to regard all values as equally valid, just, and desirable, that’s a strawman, and the same objection can be applied to highly integrated cultures; namely, again, that patriarchy is always a bad thing whether it reflects the will of all or the will of some. But it’s also a non-sequitur here.

  9. 109
    desipis says:

    Every culture has undesirable aspects, even ours.

    What is seen as “undesirable” is often subjective and culturally dependant. The totalitarian nature of the social justice left and the way it strives for equality across all dimensions means it doesn’t tolerate any substantive differences between itself and other cultures. Holding different values on family, gender, work, education, discipline, etc will all result in different life outcomes at the statistical level, something the left fights strongly against.

    This of course leaves the more superficial differences in culture: food, fashion, holidays, etc. Which in turn makes for a rather shallow form of multiculturalism. Perhaps this is why there is so much emphasis on “cultural appropriation” when it comes to such things. Without these shallow differences, the bland mono-culture of values the social justice left is striving for would be far more readily apparent.

  10. Desipis:

    The totalitarian nature of the social justice left and the way it strives for equality across all dimensions means it doesn’t tolerate any substantive differences between itself and other cultures.

    You want to pick a fight? Go pick it somewhere else. You want to have a serious conversation about multiculturalism, try not starting out by setting up a (belligerent and insulting) straw-man argument.

  11. 111
    Sebastian H says:

    Multiculturalism is an interesting topic because almost everyone means for it to be tolerant of the differences we want to tolerate, but disallow the differences we don’t want to tolerate. But I’ve never heard how we figure out which are which so a bunch of other political fights just get projected on to the questions of immigration/assimilation/multiculturalism.

  12. 112
    Mookie says:

    One clue for figuring out how humans might behave socially is to look at current social behavior. Since multicultural nations exist in the present-day, they can readily function as working examples of how heterogeneity shakes out when you get beyond limp, listless, and amorphous labels like “tolerance” that imply passive submission or stalemate, useful stuff for when we want to throw up our hands at a problem we’d like to pretend is insurmountable but also (not inconveniently, but quite carefully) divorced from reality.

  13. 113
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    You want to have a serious conversation about multiculturalism, try not starting out by setting up a (belligerent and insulting) straw-man argument.

    I’m also no fan of strawmen, and desipis definitely created one. I’m curious. RJN, as a mod, are you willing to police any post here that opens up conversation with a strawman argument, or just those strawmen that misrepresent the best arguments that support the positions you hold? I realize you can do whatever you want here, but I see way too many straw-conservatives here to believe that “no strawmanning” is an important rule on alasablog. A while ago, I criticized one of amp’s cartoons for being strawmannish, and his response was along the lines of “dude, I can do whatever the hell I want with my political art,” a point I couldn’t really argue with. You guys can do whatever you want- even enforce norms differently depending on whether or not it’s advantageous to defend your position, but let’s not pretend that “no strawmen” is a universal here, because it isn’t one. I’m not even sure how such a rule is possible on a site that features political cartoons.

  14. 114
    Ampersand says:

    Jeffrey:

    For me (and obviously I can’t speak for Richard), the problem was less the strawman, than the being belligerent and insulting.

    A while ago, I criticized one of amp’s cartoons for being strawmannish, and his response was along the lines of “dude, I can do whatever the hell I want with my political art,” a point I couldn’t really argue with.

    Which cartoon was this, please?

  15. Jeffrey,

    I agree with Amp. What bothered me about desipis’ comment was how belligerent and insulting it was.

    In my response, though, I was not thinking as a moderator. In fact, I suppose I understood there to be a pretty clearly implied “with me” in what I wrote–as in “pick a fight (with me).” Desipis responded directly to something I wrote in a way that, to me, clearly was intended to do just that, pick a fight–which he has done with me in the past, and with which, honestly, I have lost patience. So I responded in the way that I did.

    I don’t think there has ever been even an implied “universal ban” or attempt to ban universally strawman arguments here on Alas, nor do I think there should be. People here do a pretty good job of calling them out when people make them.

  16. 116
    Sebastian H says:

    Mookie, I agree, but the US is one of the more multicultural nations around so how we deal with it is one of the major data points. European countries are bumping up against problems we have to deal with, but they are getting ugly at much lower levels of multiculturalism than the US. The Swiss seem to pull it off with extreme federalism. The Canadians almost failed at it, but seem to do it with federalism for the French speakers (and by making sure that they largely get rich and very rich immigrants). The Chinese do it through extreme repression. Japan and South Korea just don’t let ‘outsiders’ get a foothold. France does it through extreme assimilation concepts. The UK seemed to be a pretty good example 20 years ago, that seems to have gone sideways. The small Nordic countries appear to be swinging away from multi-culturalism and going toward a more French concept.

    There is a balance between assimilation, and letting people embrace their own cultures as a subset of the national culture. The US is big enough that there can be medium sized pockets of local culture that are fairly different, while causing a minimum of other problems. The balance we strike isn’t perfect, but once you start looking at other countries, it looks better than you’d expect if you just focused here.

  17. I am sure it will be of interest to some regular readers and commenters here that Michael Kimmel has been accused of sexual misconduct. The link is to a PDF of an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education. A sociologist named Eric Anthony Grollman has written a pretty long blog post about this that raises some important points. As well, someone has started a Twitter account called ExposeProfMichaelKimmel, and at least one academic has tweeted that Kimmel had a reputation for “soliciting grad students for sex since the 1980s at least.”

    Kimmel, of course, is one of, if not the leading male academic in women’s and gender studies, and he has been a strong activist and advocate for gender equality and justice. So far, as far as I can tell, except for the anonymous allegations talked about in the Chronicle article, no formal allegations have been made public–though I did read in one place (can’t remember which) that there are several ongoing Title IX investigations regarding Kimmel’s behavior.

    Who knows how this will play out, but if he turns out to be guilty, it will be a very big deal, as it will also be a big deal if he turns out to be not guilty; and if he manages to escape consequences despite his guilt, it will be an very unfortunate (and perhaps in some ways even bigger) deal indeed.

  18. 118
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Richard Jeffrey Newman,

    Hugo Schwyzer redux?

    Anyway, your sentence accidentally describes what is professionally wrong with Kimmel very well: “Kimmel, of course, is one of, if not the leading male academic in women’s and gender studies, and he has been a strong activist and advocate for gender equality and justice.”

    The issue is that one cannot be a strong activist and a good scientist at the same time. The strong advocate promotes a narrative, while the good scientist has to question narratives.

    Kimmel’s work in general consists of choosing explanations that fit his narrative, ignoring competing explanations; or the possibility that there is no single, simple narrative. Here is a good critique of one of his works.

  19. LimitsofLanguage:

    I will read the critique you linked to when I get a chance. I disagree completely with this, though:

    The issue is that one cannot be a strong activist and a good scientist at the same time. The strong advocate promotes a narrative, while the good scientist has to question narratives.

    There are many instances–when it comes to women (in particular women’s health) and race (I will mention one I studied, William Labov, whose work on what was called Black English when I studied it made a huge difference in how Black children were treated in school)–where scientists used their work to become strong advocates for, and to fuel others’ advocacy for, social change and for a changed social narrative.

    Whether or not the Kimmel situation becomes Schwyzer redux is something we’ll have to wait and see.

  20. 120
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Newman,

    I have no problem with popularizing scientific research, as learning from science as a society is why we do it in the first place. However, science offers clear answers far less than we would like. The risk is then that those who are desperate to see a cure implemented for a societal ill, exaggerate, cherry pick or otherwise present the evidence as being far stronger than it is. When policitians do so, they ruin the reputation of their community, which is an issue, although politics by its nature is strongly concerned with preferences and power, so it cannot be objective. Science however can mostly be and when scientists act poorly, they can destroy faith in their field or even science as a whole. For example, many have become very skeptical of food science, due to the many poor claims about the dangers or benefits from certain foods, where people were advised to change their diets long before findings had been properly vetted.

    Furthermore, there is a definite risk that the desire to achieve societal results compromises the quality of the science. The replication crisis is severe and medical research in the service of a stakeholder seems to significantly more often find that interventions work than impartial research, suggesting that scientists have a tendency to produce desired outcomes.

    A scientist who strongly advocates for a cause will generally also have preferred outcomes for his or her research, which fit the advocacy. Thus there is a definite risk of science being done poorly, because the person becomes conflicted between the desire to find the truth and the desire to find outcomes that are or seem to be beneficial to society. This cognitive dissonance can then be resolved by doing science poorly, so it aligns with the political goal, which is very serious, because if science itself is politicized, there is no objective source of truth left.

    Anyway, I don’t know enough about William Labov to debate his advocacy or science intelligently.

  21. LimitsOfLanguage,

    First, I’d prefer it if you addressed me here either as RJN, which a lot of people use, or Richard. I’ve never much liked being called by my last name. Thanks.

    I don’t have any argument with any of what you wrote. I’m reading now a book called The War on Science which deals with all of what you’re talking about. I imagine, though, that we would disagree about whether Kimmel’s scholarship falls into the traps you describe. I looked briefly at the link you gave me, and I don’t find it persuasive. Why is something I will try to come back to talk about in more detail when I have more time.

  22. 122
    nobody.really says:

    I’d prefer it if you addressed me here either as RJN, which a lot of people use, or Richard. I’ve never much liked being called by my last name.

    It’s a Seinfeld thing, isn’t it?

  23. Yeah, I suppose, but I haven’t liked being called Newman since I was a kid.

  24. 124
    Petar says:

    Well, RJN, the [Polish] Council for the People’s Unity, has a prior meaning for a lot of people from Eastern Europe, at least of a certain age. I would feel kind of weird using it. And Richard sounds much too familiar.

    So I have been sticking to Richard Jeffrey Newman in the third person, and I have mostly avoided using anything in the second person. Professor Newman would have been my refuge if pressed.

    I guess I’ll stick to professor, if pressed. Completely non-ironic. I’m old enough to believe in addressing people by rank.

  25. 125
    Jake Squid says:

    First they came for the undocumented immigrants and you said nothing except for your statements supporting those actions. They were “illegal”, after all…

    Then they came for the documented immigrants. Are you going to say anything now?

  26. Professor sounds way too formal for this forum, for me, but Richard Jeffrey Newman, for some reason, does not. If you’re comfortable with the latter, Peter, that’s fine with me.

    And thanks for that bit of trivia about my initials.

  27. 127
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Amp, I’m not sure which cartoon it was (maybe it was about libertarians?) and I also didn’t mean to imply that you were in the wrong. “That’s a strawman” is actually a pretty stupid critique of a cartoon. Who would laugh at a cartoonist who employed steelmen? I get the idea that at least part of your project is venting about the absurdities you encounter on a frequent basis as someone who is “out there” as an activist, so it makes sense that the cartoons here will highlight that. I shouldn’t have veiwed your cartoon as an argument in a rational debate, because sometimes the point of a cartoon is to simply make something relatable to your audience, and build solidarity. My bad.

    With that said, I do think opinions to the right of progressive are often strawmann-ed (or perhaps weak-manned) in these comment sections, and I’ve certainly had commenters try to pick a fight with me. There’s this weird dynamic though- a progressive who uses fighting words is more likely to be seen as a righteously angered victim of oppression or a passionate advocate for these victims, especially when the conversation revolves around identity. This means that anything resembling a call for civility is seen as tone policing. At the same time, fighting words from the right arent veiwed so charitably, and are often veiwed as attempts to bully or threaten.
    It’s a built-in asymmetry where one side gets to pick fights, and I’m not sure what to do about it. It seems like any attempt to fix this (by either policing tone, or allowing more conservative voices to use any tone they like) would make this an uncomfortable place for people you want here. I’m not sure if you’ve ever visited the SSC Reddit page, but their tolerance for any opinion under the sun, combined with strict tone policing, has created an environment where leftists feel unwelcome and often leave after a few weeks of commenting. Id be embarrassed to write there myself, and would never recommend it to a friend or family member. It’s no longer a place to find good discussion.

  28. 128
    RonF says:

    This is the kind of thing that erodes the public will to support publicly-operated schools.

    Here we have a teacher who thinks that his notion of “social justice” should outweigh that of what his students’ parents think and that he should be free to indoctrinate his students.

    The guidelines asked teachers to remain objective while teaching about historical and current events; and to treat all students, regardless of political opinion, with respect. Teachers were told: “For current controversial issues (health care, immigration, environmental policies, gun laws), teach students that there are different perspectives and present the reasoning of those who hold those different perspectives.”

    Ibokette was having none of it. He typed this reply: “I am concerned that the call for ‘objectivity’ may just inadvertently become the most effective destructive weapon against social justice,” and sent it to the members of Newton North’s history department.

    Ibokette was responding to an email from another Newton North history teacher, David Bedar. Bedar was same teacher who hosted the anti-Semites at Newton North, and has played a significant role in the years-long controversy over anti-Jewish bias in the public schools of the heavily Jewish suburb.

    Earlier that February day, Bedar sent an email to fellow Newton North history faculty, accusing President Trump and his supporters of “nativism, xenophobia, homophobia, etc.,” and objecting to the following “don’ts” that the Newton North principal had asked teachers to avoid:

    “Assume that all students agree with us. . . .”
    “Assume that all students feel comfortable disagreeing with us. . . .”
    “Present facts or logic that support only one side of a current controversial issue. . . .”
    “Present our own personal opinion on a current controversial issue as more right than another viewpoint. . . .”
    These guidelines seem like Pedagogy 101, and are foundational to correctly applying logic and reason. Yet Bedar, who holds a master’s in teaching from the prestigious Duke University, admitted to his colleagues:

    Personally, I’m finding it really difficult in the current climate to teach kids to appreciate other perspectives. . . [T]he ‘other viewpoint’ might not really be an argument ‘about which reasonable people can disagree’ and might not lead to any kind of intellectual, policy debate; it might just be blatantly racist. . . . [I]t feels wrong to not call out ideas that I know will offend many of my students and create a hostile and potentially unsafe environment. . . . I’m worried that as a school we’re so focused on making all kids feel safe and being PC that we’re not showing enough concern for [immigrant] students whose very rights to attend this school and receive an education are being seriously threatened. . . . I don’t feel good about protecting [a nativist] student’s right to a so‐called ‘political’ view. . . Do I really have to avoid saying ‘I think nativism is bad?[‘] The eugenics movement was based in large part on immigrants destroying our country.

    If teachers and administrators in the public schools want to get support from the public to give them the funding they want, they need to do the job they are hired to do. That job is not to indoctrinate their students in what their concepts of “social justice” and morality are.

  29. 129
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, there are over three million public school teachers in the U.S. Even if that article’s depiction of this teacher were honest – and it is not – do you really think that this one example proves anything?

    The article you linked begins by objecting to Palestinian speakers being invited to a school. But that’s a current controversy. If “current controversial issues (health care, immigration, environmental policies, gun laws), teach students that there are different perspectives and present the reasoning of those who hold those different perspectives” is what they favor, then what is the basis for not wanting to allow the Palestinian view of a current controversial issue to be presented to students?

    Secondly, just a glance at the original letter shows that the article you linked takes things badly out of context. For example, the Federalist (ha!) article said:

    Bedar sent an email to fellow Newton North history faculty… objecting to the following “don’ts” that the Newton North principal had asked teachers to avoid:

    “Assume that all students agree with us. . . .”
    “Assume that all students feel comfortable disagreeing with us. . . .”
    “Present facts or logic that support only one side of a current controversial issue. . . .”
    “Present our own personal opinion on a current controversial issue as more right than another viewpoint. . . .”

    But here’s what the teacher actually wrote (in a private email to other history teachers):

    We have an obligation to avoid all of the following: “Present our own personal opinion on a current controversial issue as more right than another viewpoint,” “Present facts or logic that support only one side of a current controversial issue,” “Assume that all students agree with us,” and “Assume that all students feel comfortable disagreeing with us.” But I also think I have an obligation to teach civic duty and teach kids right and wrong…

    Suppose an office manager wrote “I have an obligation to make our workplace an efficient business environment. But I also want it to be fun and attractive.” It would be completely dishonest to describe that as the office manager “objecting” to making the workplace an efficient business environment. That description would, in fact, be the exactly the opposite of what the office manager actually wrote.

    But that’s exactly what the Federalist article you linked to did. And they did it to be inflammatory.

    And by the way, these issues aren’t simple, and trying to make them simple is a disservice to dialog. Schools aren’t the right place for “both sides” of every “current controversy.” Teachers should have a higher duty to teaching the truth, than to teaching that all views are equally valid.

    Should biology class be forced to teach “creation science” alongside evolution? Should they be required to teach students that climate change may be a myth alongside climate science? Should they be required to teach that Black people are genetically inclined to be stupider to white people (and fuck the best interests of any Black kids who might be hurt by that lesson), alongside lessons about MLK? If Clinton comes up, and a student brings up the Vince Foster conspiracy theory, is the teacher obligated to not debunk that for the other students? What if a student says Obama was born in Kenya? Or that vaccinations cause autism?

    These are all current controversies!

    The article you linked was deceptive as hell, Ron.

    But all the Federalist’s readers will eat it up, without even a bit of skepticism. It sort of makes me despair.

  30. I wonder, Jeffrey, and I mean this as an honest question, if there are times when you think calls for civility are tone policing, if there is a point at which you would say civility is precisely not what is called for?

  31. 131
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Yeah, tone policing is a thing. I see two forms of it. One goes like this:

    “Hey, you sure sound angry, is that because you don’t actually have an argument? Your anger is evidence you’re wrong.”

    This is classic tone policing. It’s wrong for a host of reason everyone here probably understands. But sometimes tone policing is more like this:

    “Hey, this is getting heated, and now neither one of us is doing a good job of communicating. I’m only human, and the adversarial nature of this conversation is making it hard for me to be at my best, and I’d rather not participate in unproductive conversation.”

    I’m more sympathetic to this framing. No one is compelled to have a conversation with a person using abusive rhetoric.

    There are also times when the person I’m talking to isn’t really talking to me at all, but instead, is appealing to the emotions of people witnessing the conversation. I have no problem calling this out when I see it.

  32. 132
    Michael says:

    @Ampersand#129- Agreed, the Federalist’s article is disingenuous. But I think that there’s a difference between teaching some kinds of controversies and others. I think that part of the problem is basically this- the controversies you all mentioned are solely factual, so teachers can just fall back on the majority view of experts. It’s different with subjective views of right and wrong. So if you’re ok with a liberal teacher teaching that homophobia is wrong, would you be comfortable with a conservative teacher teaching how evil “SJWs” are? The other issue is that many religions teach that homosexuality is wrong. So if it’s Ok for a liberal teacher to teach that those religions are wrong, is it OK for a teacher who’s a PETA member to teach that kosher and halal are cruel to animals? Obviously the schools need to make it clear that harassment of other students is unacceptable and will be severely punished but besides that, where do you draw the line?

  33. 133
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    RJN,

    I never properly answered your question.

    Whenever I hear people defending incivility, they will hearken back to important civil rights protests and claim that less-than-civil protests were instrumental to winning civil rights battles. This is an argument I’ve heard multiple times from Angus Johnson, the historian student’s civil rights advocate, and I guy I encounter often on social media.

    I’m skeptical of this narrative for two reasons. First, it’s blatant Post Hoc reasoning. It’s a fine place to begin hashing out a theory, but on it’s own, it’s a weak argument for incivility. Secondly, it ignores all the political battles that were won without mass incivility (neoliberalism!), while also ignoring incivility that has utterly failed to bring about change- or even worse, galvanized the opposition.

    I also think there is a tendency to overstate the role incivility plays in bringing about change. Maybe Stonewall was necessary to strengthen the resolve of gay-right’s advocates, but I would argue that it was the superior rhetoric of gay right’s advocates that eventually won the minds of the people and led to political victories. Those arguing for gay rights just had better arguments, and these arguments eventually found themselves residing in the heads of people who used to oppose gay rights. I actually saw it happen among my blue collar coworkers, and eventually my own parents. My Rush-Limbaugh-listening mom and stepfather support gay rights now, and I’m still amazed.

    I do think incivility has a place, and I’ve actually typed this here before in a previous thread. I believe that incivility works well when a voting majority is protesting against a minority that happens to hold power. The protests to prevent the separation of immigrant families is a fine example of this. I think incivility fails miserably when a very loud minority is protesting the desires of a larger silent majority. This is BLM, and I’d argue that BLM has largely failed and that we won’t see significant criminal justice reforms until the calmer and more rational voices take center stage, and “Fuck the Police,” chants become more infrequent. That movement will someday succeed because we have cell phone cameras and social media, not because people are blocking the freeway during rush hour.

    Finally, I want to point out that much of the talk of “uncivility” and tone policing involves conversations removed from large scale protest movements. I’m most likely to encounter incivility in social media discussions with peers, and sometimes face-to-face discussions over beers. I’m not alone in that I’m left-of-center (never voted for a republican, only voted third party once, my social bubble has largely filtered out conservatives who aren’t family, etc) but most of the incivility I encounter is from my left. It’s become an acceptable conversation norm to be a dick, so long as your punching toward the right. It’s not changing my mind, nor the minds of my more centrist friends. I also find that those who lack civility in their argumentation are more likely to make obviously bad arguments, arguments so bad that I’m more likely to update away from their position (“if this is the best argument my otherwise smart friend can come up with in support of x, I have to assume that position x is on shaky ground”)

    Before submitting, I should be clear about something. I don’t have a high degree of certainty in any of this, and I don’t think anyone should because theories about protest movements and incivility are entirely untestable, and mostly narrative driven. No one is going to make money by making predictions based on these theories because I don’t think they tell us very much about the world. Tyler Cowen has a great TED talk (back when TED was good sometimes) about the importance of refusing the temptation to see the world through narratives, because more often than not, realty is really messy. This is one of those times when it’s worth considering the possibility of messy, almost impossible to understand reality when it comes to mass protest movements, but I think we can be a more certain when it comes to changing the minds of individuals, and most of the evidence I’ve seen points to the importance of kindness, hedging language, and consensus building, not shaming, appeals to emotion, or ad-hominems.

  34. 134
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Jeffrey Gandee,

    I think that gay rights mainly won out because people got to know gay people (in person or through the media) and noticed that most of them didn’t abuse kids or such, but were actually very nice people. So once people realized that the nasty stereotypes were incorrect, they usually changed their mind to accept gays.

    Protests were probably necessary to stop the police from harassing gay people who came out of the closet, thereby creating environments where gay people could stop pretending to be straight, which set off a gradual process of acceptance through exposure. Whether the use of violence was helpful is debatable. I think that violence helps to get attention, but that it also tends to be very off-putting to the bourgeoisie. I think that it generally works better to get attention in a non-violent way.

    Black Americans are in a somewhat different situation because they can’t be closeted like gay people. White Americans are being exposed to black Americans quite a bit, especially since the end of Jim Crow and such. Racism surveys suggest that acceptance has increased substantially during the last couple of decades.

    Another difference is that the stereotype of gay people was extremely different from reality, but that this is far less the case for the perception of black people as being prone to crime. It seems fairly clear to me that police abuse and hostility tends to scale with the perceived criminality of the group that the person is seen to be a part off. This goes beyond race. Dress like a homeless person and you’ll get treated like Rodney Dangerfield, wear a suit or smart dress and you’ll generally get treated much better. The evidence does show that black Americans are substantially more prone to crime than white Americans. I am skeptical of the chance that we can stop the police from judging people based on the perceived criminality of their group, when that perception seems relatively accurate. This is especially the case if we only chastise the police for stereotyping black Americans, but not the poorly dressed, young people, men, etc.

    Another issue is that the American police seems quite prone to using unnecessary violence in general. IMO, this is too often presented as something that only black Americans deal with, rather than all Americans. For example, I think that the police acted quite outrageously by killing this unarmed white man after a ‘swatting.’

    So I personally consider the BLM narrative to be fairly unconvincing and also a missed opportunity in building a broad coalition to take the police to task for doing their jobs poorly. By carefully using inclusive language, I could imagine that one may be able to even build a bipartisan movement, as quite a few on the right seem upset over the police abuses as well (although they usually express it a little differently than the left).

    Anyway, I think that neither civility or incivility can make people believe an unconvincing argument or accept a bad approach to reform. A risk of advocating incivility is that if one doesn’t manage to convince enough people, one can conclude that more incivility is needed, leading to gradual radicalization. Before you know it, people are shooting at Republican congressmen on a baseball field or driving into a crowd of protesters.

    Furthermore, one of the ways by which incivility can let you ‘win’ is by oppressing or silencing people, rather than convincing them. This is a poor way to achieve your results, especially if the goal is freedom, tolerance, acceptance and such.

  35. 135
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    It’s probably important to draw a distinction between violence and incivility. If someone says “there are times when violence is called for,” I’m likely to demand a much higher standard of rigor than “sometimes incivility is good.” I’m more worried about violence than people calling me Hitler in a debate.

    I also think calls for civility invite people to define certain actions/words/arguments they don’t like as “uncivil.” There are many similarities between the arguments used by those who call for civility, and the arguments used by those who call for political correctness, both of these proposed norms have similar failure modes.

    For example, I can imagine a conservative watching a gay pride parade and deciding that men wearing harnesses in public is incivility, where I definitely wouldn’t see it that way. I think civility needs to be defined according to some sort of goal, like advancing a productive dialogue or something like that. People don’t have to agree to furthering this goal. If they don’t want productive dialogue, that’s fine, but they shouldn’t expect anyone to listen.

    For fun, I’ve looked through a few polls on American attitudes towards gays and lesbians. I’m not finding anything that interesting, accept this hillarious result:

    Just your best guess, what percent of Americans today would you say are gay or lesbian?

    The mean response is 23.2%, with more people chooseing “over 25%” than any other answer.

    https://news.gallup.com/poll/1651/gay-lesbian-rights.aspx

  36. I’m dropping in quickly and will come back again. (I’m looking for something I want to reference in a longer comment, but I haven’t been able to find it.)

    Re Stonewall and other similar actions, I’d like to offer two comments:

    1. When someone has their foot on your neck–as US society certainly had both its feet on the necks of gay men and lesbians back then, and had done for a long time–asking politely to have the feet removed serves no one’s interests but the feet’s owners. (I’m not saying I advocate for violence in all such cases; I’m saying it’s important to factor the lived experience of the people involved into one’s analysis.)

    2. It is also possible to look at things like Stonewall as that which helped to open up the possibility of, made room for, the more civil discourse–not to mention the legal, medical, and cultural changes that followed–that led to greater acceptance of gays and lesbians that we are seeing now. In looking at it this way, it’s also important to recognize that no course of action, not even a centrist, civil one–assuming, for the moment, we all agree on what that means–is going to to be unambiguously productive. Centrism often serves the interests of the status quo far more powerfully than it does anyone who’s been disenfranchised.)

    Anyway, more when I can find what I am looking for.

  37. 137
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    1. When someone has their foot on your neck–as US society certainly had both its feet on the necks of gay men and lesbians back then, and had done for a long time–asking politely to have the feet removed serves no one’s interests but the feet’s owners.

    Often, what’s in dispute is whether or not there is indeed a foot on a neck. For gays in the 60s, I’ll grant that it was true, but you can’t assume that every time a person cries “There’s a foot on my neck!” that there actual is one, and it’s often at this point in the discussion when the incivility creeps in, often by a rhetorical move that resembles a Kafka Trap: “Oh, you doubt there’s a foot on my neck, why that’s evidence that there is indeed a foot on my neck, and it’s your foot!”

    Incivility may be necessary to express the pain of having a foot on one’s neck, but it’s a poor tool for convincing the world that the foot actually exists.

  38. 138
    Chris says:

    As a teacher, I find it is sometimes challenging, but certainly not impossible, to decide which issues are worthy of debate in my classroom.

    After the travel ban was passed, I gave my students this question:

    “Should Americans support Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States?”

    Now, I have my own opinion on this subject, and on the validity of the ban itself. I even attended a protest at my local airport the weekend the ban was passed. But I chose not to express my opinion until the very end of the school year so as not to influence the research and arguments of my students. I do know other teachers who are more expressive with their opinions in class who still manage to treat differing opinions fairly and encourage students to share their differing opinions, but I’m just not as comfortable with attempting to strike that delicate of a balance. I also had to recognize that in grading the students whose positions I disagreed with, I had to evaluate their arguments on an eighth grade level, which is a much more generous standard than I would grant to any adult.

    No one who took the pro side got an A, but that was due to the quality of their arguments, not because I disagreed with them. Many of them got Bs. A lot of them noticed halfway through that the pro side was harder to support, even though I made an effort to give them the best and most accessible resources for the pro side I could find. I told them they were right. Some of them, after writing a pro-side essay and reading their peers’ essays opposing the ban, changed their minds.

    Now, would I allow them to write an argumentative essay on whether vaccines cause autism? No, because that is settled science. “Should blacks have the same rights as whites?” is also a settled issue at its core; it’s the more marginal issues that have more subtly racist premises that are unfortunately a part of our debate today. Even “Do blacks have lower IQs than whites?” is a pretty fringe question, which is why Andrew Sullivan and Charles Murray avoid saying “Yes” to that question as much as they can. Those marginal issues–“Should we have to use ID to vote?” “Was President Trump right to say ‘there were fine people on both sides?’ about Charlottesville” are still worth debating if only because we don’t really have a choice not to debate them.

  39. 139
    Ampersand says:

    Another difference is that the stereotype of gay people was extremely different from reality, but that this is far less the case for the perception of black people as being prone to crime.

    That seems like a really ugly way of phrasing it. Statistically, black people in the U.S. commit more violent crimes per capita. (This seems to be the case even when trying to account for racism in the crime enforcement system.) But “prone to crime” sounds to my ear that this is something inherent or biological about being Black. That’s not a fact; it’s just a racist view.

    It’s also probably not what you intended when you said “prone to crime.” Maybe just say “commit more violent crimes per capita” in the future, or “commit more crimes” for short in the right context. (If I were writing, I’d probably say “commit more violent crimes per capita” the first time, and then shorten it to “commit more crimes” later in the same post or comment.)

    this is too often presented as something that only black Americans deal with, rather than all Americans.

    I think it’s usually presented as something that Black Americans deal with more, not something that no white American has ever experienced. (Also, it’s not only “unnecessary violence”; it also includes things like “driving while Black” incidents, most of which don’t turn violent, but which are still a problem).

    So I personally consider the BLM narrative to be fairly unconvincing and also a missed opportunity in building a broad coalition to take the police to task for doing their jobs poorly. By carefully using inclusive language, I could imagine that one may be able to even build a bipartisan movement, as quite a few on the right seem upset over the police abuses as well (although they usually express it a little differently than the left).

    So what’s the race-neutral alternative movement to BLM that you think has made more progress or done more to put the issue into the national conversation?

    There isn’t one. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines talking theory, and I do that too sometimes. (Often). But in practice, BLM has accomplished more to highlight this issue than any other movement in my lifetime, and the recent progress that has been made, while not enough, is basically due to the pressure BLM has created. Having pragmatically made more progress than anyone else counts for a lot, with me.

    There are already more multi-racial (aka majority white) groups fighting this fight, and they do good work – the ACLU comes to mind. But I’m convinced the ACLU + BLM has a better chance of creating good changes than the ACLU alone would.

  40. 140
    Ampersand says:

    Michael wrote:

    Agreed, the Federalist’s article is disingenuous. But I think that there’s a difference between teaching some kinds of controversies and others. I think that part of the problem is basically this- the controversies you all mentioned are solely factual, so teachers can just fall back on the majority view of experts. It’s different with subjective views of right and wrong. So if you’re ok with a liberal teacher teaching that homophobia is wrong, would you be comfortable with a conservative teacher teaching how evil “SJWs” are? The other issue is that many religions teach that homosexuality is wrong. So if it’s Ok for a liberal teacher to teach that those religions are wrong, is it OK for a teacher who’s a PETA member to teach that kosher and halal are cruel to animals? Obviously the schools need to make it clear that harassment of other students is unacceptable and will be severely punished but besides that, where do you draw the line?

    And that’s a reasonable discussion to have. There are some cases where teachers should present both sides, and foster debate, and others where they should not. But even admitting that much, is being much more nuanced than that Federalist article.

    I don’t want conservative teachers saying SJWs are evil; I don’t want liberal teachers saying conservatives are evil. Teachers are going to have to find a middle ground between avoiding that, and treating all opinions (for instance, on evolution) as equally valid. I think Chris had a good take (thank you for posting that, Chris).

    I have a friend who is a college professor, teaching political science. His personal politics are about as left as mine (or maybe a bit more left). But most of his students have no idea what his personal political views are (he’s been asked many times, and refuses to answer), and he takes pride in that. That’s very valid. I’ve also had college professors who were open with their political views, but still graded fairly, and that’s also valid. There is no one correct approach. I do think the goal should be to foster discussion and to make all students feel safe to speak, insofar as that’s possible, while recognizing that some views (“the Jews control the banks and the media”) can’t reasonably be treated as “just another viewpoint.”

    I probably wouldn’t agree with the teacher quoted in the Federalist on everything. But I do think that sort of forum – a private email list where (in this case) history teachers can chat among themselves about (in this example) a proposal for new standards – is a beneficial thing to have. I think the way The Federalist publicized the email, and framed the discussion, is incendiary and harmful.

  41. 141
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    This is why I’m automatically skeptical of appeals to “settled science”:

    Even “Do blacks have lower IQs than whites?” is a pretty fringe question, which is why Andrew Sullivan and Charles Murray avoid saying “Yes” to that question as much as they can.

    This isn’t fringe, Murray will answer an unequivocal “yes” to this, as will most if not all psychometricians I’ve read (I’ve read a couple, and recommend Stuart J Ritchie’s latest). What is fringe is to declare that the disparity is all or mostly hereditary. Then there is some debate about IQ as a valid and unbiased measurement, though I wouldn’t describe the acceptance of IQ’s validity as “fringe.”

    It’s a pretty critical distinction, and it’s not the first time I’ve seen this position labeled as fringe, revealing part of the problem with the ways in which certain claims and debates are dismissed. Considering the benefits of a higher IQ, closing rather than denying this gap should be one of our highest priorities.

    With all of that said, there is no way in hell I’d encourage anyone to debate or discuss this in any classroom outside of a psych dept, because it requires extreme precision of language and epistemological humility.

  42. 142
    Ampersand says:

    I don’t think anyone’s posted this link yet? When profeminist men are alleged to have perpetrated abuse or harassment | http://www.xyonline.net. It’s written by “the other big-name male feminist Michael,” Michael Flood.

  43. I read that just a couple of hours ago, Amp. I generally like Flood’s take on things. Thanks for posting the link.

  44. 144
    Chris says:

    The correction is appreciated, Jeffrey.

  45. 145
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    RJN,

    When someone has their foot on your neck–as US society certainly had both its feet on the necks of gay men and lesbians back then, and had done for a long time–asking politely to have the feet removed serves no one’s interests but the feet’s owners.

    A (small) minority can usually not win an adversarial power struggle where each side wants to win as much.

    Of course, a minority can terrorize the majority or attack their enforcers to try to get their way, by exploiting a disparity in the will to win. However, this tends to reinforce societal rifts, resulting in intolerance, segregation, etc. For example, N-Vietnam managed to expel the Americans due to a far greater willingness to accept casualties. Once the Americans left, the N-Vietnamese were the stronger side and could win conventionally. This strategy has created a rift in Vietnamese society that still hasn’t been healed (and arguably also in American society).

    Some gay people were fine with segregation, but many were not. That latter group didn’t want to just be free from police brutality, but wanted acceptance and support by/from their family and non-gay community. So a proper win for all gay people couldn’t ultimately be achieved by adversarial means (alone).

    When we are talking about fighting against the police, there is also the issue that the police does serve an important role. ‘Unpolicing’ your community by kicking out the cops allows bad actors to move in and unleashes already present bad actors. So you better be really good at self-policing if you go that way.

    When it comes to supporting policing of behavior, one can identify these human behaviors:
    1. People support suppressing things they consider morally wrong
    2. People disagree with suppressing things they consider morally positive or neutral
    3. People want suppression to be proportional to how morally wrong they perceive the transgression to be and how strong, in possession of agency, etc they consider the transgressor to be

    Non-violent and/or civil protests exploit these. For example, authorities go after a bunch of behaviors, where some of those behaviors are usually not considered morally wrong by most people. Then one can gain support by provoking the authorities to suppress behavior that most people don’t consider immoral. For example, see Gandhi’s Salt March.

    Enduring violence (or such) without fighting back tends to result in the violence by the authorities to be seen as disproportional. One can amplify this by having the transgressor be seen as weak, by their behavior or by their traits (placing them in a vulnerable position or having them be physically weak, an old person, a child, a woman, a white person, etc).

    However, this is often unpleasant for protesters, as placing yourself in a very vulnerable position can feel bad. So many activists may prefer less effective methods that feel better over more effective methods that feel worse.

    Note that these tactics are not ‘asking politely.’ They are an emotional assault, rather than a physical one.

    These tactics do require one to be convincing to a majority, which I see as a good feature. If the societal norm is that a person’s (perception) of their lived experience is valid and they can be (very) uncivil to gain attention or to get their desires catered to, then this norm won’t just change the behavior by people you agree with. A white supremacists will feel emboldened by that norm as well, to use uncivil tactics.

    PS. I disagree with classifying civil behavior as centrist. One can be radical in a very civil way and uncivil in very centrist ways.

  46. 146
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    I indeed did not mean to imply that black people are biologically more prone to violence. It’s hard to write in a way that is perceived as balanced as different groups on the political spectrum are very sensitive to statements that can be read as implying certain things.

    I think it’s usually presented as something that Black Americans deal with more, not something that no white American has ever experienced. (Also, it’s not only “unnecessary violence”; it also includes things like “driving while Black” incidents, most of which don’t turn violent, but which are still a problem).

    It matters to what extent Black Americans deal with it more and whether people’s perceptions match the facts. A false perception by society often leads to groups feeling discriminated against for having their problems ignored, for people to draw incorrect conclusions, to bad interventions based on these false conclusions, to insufficient help/resources for the group who are victimized more commonly than believed by most people in society, etc.

    This can actually explain a paradox that seems to exist, where surveys now show that many white Americans feel discriminated against. It can both be true that black Americans face more discrimination by the police, but also that other powerful institutions, like the media and advocacy movements, discriminate by being less eager to complain about and demand less abuse of white Americans, relative to their actual rate of victimization. These kinds of discrimination can coexist. The risk is then that each ‘side’ gets very upset over their victimization getting (in their eyes) insufficient support by the other side, which is rather tragic, since they do actually have a shared goal.

    RJN addressed this for another kind of victimization when he said: “men and boys are also targets of sexual aggression, and we do not deserve to be left out of these conversations just because our numbers are smaller.”

    I believe that it is unhelpful if these situations are framed as a conflict between races, genders, etc; rather than a shared desire for justice.

    One must also be careful to not too easily attribute racial disparities to discrimination or a specific kind of discrimination. For example, it was noticed that black drivers were stopped for speeding much more than white drivers, in New Jersey. The Justice Department forced New Jersey officials to adopt new policies to discourage racial profiling by state troopers, however, they also made the state study the driving habits of black and white motorists.

    The study found that black drivers actually sped much more than white drivers, showing that the apparent level of discrimination by state troopers was far less than assumed. This means that policies to discourage racial profiling cannot solve the (entire) issue and other interventions are needed. For example, one can speculate that black drivers may speed more because they more often work two jobs, that they more often work jobs with strict requirements on showing up on time, that employers require black workers to be more punctual, that there is a cultural difference, etc. Further research could then try to figure out the actual causes and look at what interventions help to fix those.

    So what’s the race-neutral alternative movement to BLM that you think has made more progress or done more to put the issue into the national conversation?

    You already pointed out the ACLU, who fight against excessive force, asset forfeiture abuse, police militarization and such. Aside from that, I don’t think that the relatively lack of bipartisan organizations mean that one is powerless. You own a blog and make political cartoons, so you yourself have platforms to change hearts and minds. You can choose to address the issue(s) in a certain way and thereby convincing some others to look at the situation a little differently.

    For examples of bipartisan progress, we had a New Hampshire Bill against militarization of the police, introduced by a Republican who is pro-life and anti-gun control. His bill was co-sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats. Unfortunately the bill was amended into a study committee, for now. A similar bill was passed in Montana. Another such bill was introduced by a black Democrat in New Jersey, was passed and was signed into law by Chris Christie.

    Another example is that Justice Thomas, the most conservative Supreme Court Justice, has spoken out against forfeiture abuse.

  47. 147
    Mookie says:

    Jeffrey Gandee @ 141

    I wouldn’t describe the acceptance of IQ’s validity as “fringe.”

    Are you speaking about a general lay perspective, about potential consumers of IQ-adjacent gimmicks and for-profit chicanery (administering tests, issuing ‘certified scores,’ offering membership in pointless sham organizations), or about people who formally study it, interrogate it, and/or use it as a tool professionally?

    I’d say there’s an enormous credibility (and worthiness) gap between the first two and the third, and that might explain, in part, its popular endurance despite it also not being “settled science” at all.

    Considering the benefits of a higher IQ, closing rather than denying this gap should be one of our highest priorities.

    This requires quite a lot of citation.

  48. 148
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Are you speaking about a general lay perspective, about potential consumers of IQ-adjacent gimmicks and for-profit chicanery (administering tests, issuing ‘certified scores,’ offering membership in pointless sham organizations), or about people who formally study it, interrogate it, and/or use it as a tool professionally?

    Did you read that very short and concise post I made at 141? I wrote it with care. I used the word “psychometricians” and name-dropped Stuart Ritchie. It’s obvious I’m not talking about Mensa membership or whatever it is you’re hinting at.

    This requires quite a lot of citation.

    Sure. It’ll take an investment of your time, though. If you have some time to kill on the train or in a car, Stuart Ritchie appeared on Julia Galef’s excellent podcast “rationally speaking,” here, and he lays out the ways in which IQ science has predictive validity:

    http://rationallyspeakingpodcast.org/show/rs-210-stuart-ritchie-on-conceptual-objections-to-iq-testing.html

    Or better yet, read his book (don’t worry, he’s no Murray)

    https://www.amazon.com/Intelligence-That-Matters-Stuart-Ritchie/dp/1444791877

    Many people are familiar with the Vox vs Murray/Harris series of articles published after Murray appeared on the “Waking Up” podcast. Two of these articles were written by a trio of psychologists who study intelligence. Here is a relevant quote from a response to critics of the first Vox piece (I choose this quote because it makes every claim I made, but in two sentences):

    We start by noting that we accepted as facts many claims that are controversial in the academy, if not in psychology — that IQ exists; that it predicts many life outcomes; that there is a gap between black IQ scores and white IQ scores; that IQ is at least partly heritable (as is almost every human trait). We rejected the conclusion that Murray and Harris say is virtually inescapable: that it follows that the black-white difference in IQ must be partly genetic.

    https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/6/15/15797120/race-black-white-iq-response-critics

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