Open Thread and Link Farm, Leap Of Little Faith Edition

  1. Crossing the Line – The Nib – Medium
    A well-done short comic about Americans being racially profiled by the Border Patrol while returning to the USA.
  2. The Pros and Cons of Kink-Shaming | Noah Berlatsky on Patreon
    The problem with going after a white supremacist for having bigfoot porn on his Instagram.
  3. “BUT BLACKS COMMIT MORE CRIMES”: Scholars discuss conservative logic – Sociology Toolbox
    An interesting discussion between some professors.
  4. Florida Couple Gets to Keep Home’s ‘Starry’ Paint Job; Mayor Must Publicly Apologize for $10,000 Fine – Hit & Run : Reason.com
    Damn straight. I hope that mayor loses his next election, too.
  5. Video: Iranian women are protesting against the arrest of Maedeh Hojabri by dancing on the streets
    And on the internet.
  6. Blow Hard 2: Blowing Really Hard Now – Dead Philosophers in Heaven
    Aristotle explained what he really meant about the flute.
  7. The Tired Trope of Blaming Trump on ‘Liberal Smugness’ | FAIR
  8. Income inequality: The difference between the US and Europe, in one chart – Vox
    Basically, it’s remained steady in Europe at the same time it’s become much more extreme in the US.
  9. How The Media Paints A False Picture of VA Health Care
    By always comparing the VA’s results to an imaginary perfect alternative, rather than comparing the results to the private sector. “… by failing to compare it to other health care systems, journalists can present a distorted impression that plays into ongoing efforts to privatize an agency that outperforms the rest of the U.S. health care system on most metrics.”
  10. The Simple Algorithm That Ants Use to Build Bridges | Quanta Magazine
  11. MRI costs: why this surgeon is challenging NC’s certificate of need law – Vox
    He wants to buy and MRI machine and offer relatively cheap MRIs, but a North Carolina law effectively gives hospitals a monopoly on owning MRIs. Sometimes libertarians are right about over regulation.
  12. Modern art was CIA ‘weapon’ | The Independent
    In the 1950s, the CIA secretly funded abstract impressionism in order to contrast the US’s freedom and sophistication with the rigid art from the Soviet Union. No, really, this happened.
  13. Now the Trump administration wants to limit citizenship for legal immigrants
    Wait, haven’t I been told again and again that conservatives have nothing against legal immigrants?
  14. Aurora parents fighting to stop legally adopted 4-year-old daughter from being deported | FOX31 Denver
    Well, obviously this four-year-old is some sort of criminal.
  15. The lawsuit between Canadian millionaire Harold Peerenboom and Marvel Comics billionaire Ike Perlmutter is super bizarre. Both of them have homes in a gated community in Palm Beach, and there was a dispute over the contract with the tennis pro which blew up, and up, and up.
  16. The Shadow Rulers of the VA — ProPublica
    The same Ike Perlmutter is also a close friend of Donald Trump’s, and has been shadow running the VA, despite having no official position and no accountability.
  17. Various right-wing sites are gloating over the horrific murder of two lefty American tourists who were biking in Tajikistan. (Sample headlines: “Death By Entitlement” and “Universal Love Theory Tested And Disproved.”) Tajikistan is considered a safe area for tourists; this attack was apparently an anomaly. I’m reminded of the disgusting comments from some leftists about Otto Warmbier.
  18. Agnes Scott vs. Princeton College Bowl: the biggest upset in quiz show history.
    I find it interesting that the kind of very tough quiz show still popular in Britain, was once popular in the U.S.. Why did difficult quiz shows stop being popular in the U.S.? Was it due to the quiz show scandals of the 50s?
  19. A linguist discusses gender-marked words and “guys”
    “I would argue that women are appropriating ‘guys’ and its ilk, not to be seen as masculine, but to be included in the category of ‘the general’.” (Thanks to Mandolin for this link.)
  20. We Are All Scutoids: A Brand-New Shape, Explained | The New Yorker
    “What matters is that mathematicians had never before conceived of the scutoid, much less given it a name. What matters even more is that scutoids turn out to be everywhere, especially in living things.” This video may be helpful for trying to picture a scutoid.
  21. California Court Says Starbucks Must Pay for Off-the-Clock Work. The Fallout Could Affect ‘A Lot of Jobs.’ – Rewire.News
    It’s about the couple of minutes of work performed after clocking out (locking up, turning the alarm on, etc.) It’s a small amount of work, but over years it adds up, and I don’t see why people shouldn’t be paid for it.
  22. Comic: Lab Rats Discuss Their Options
    I really enjoyed this short comic about a couple of lab rats chatting. It’s nine pages long, but not much dialog per page so it’s a very quick read.

This entry posted in Link farms. Bookmark the permalink. 

94 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, Leap Of Little Faith Edition

  1. 1
    Michael says:

    Rashawn sounds like he’s massaging the data:
    “So in other words, because of the perception that Blacks commit more crimes this somehow justifies the fact that Black people are actually policed more. The problem is that this shouldn’t be the case. First, an overwhelming percentage of Blacks are not criminals and those that have been convicted of crimes, studies show that roughly 75% of Blacks in prison are in prison for nonviolent drug offenses.”
    This article has a different claim:
    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/5/30/15591700/mass-incarceration-john-pfaff-locked-in
    “Pfaff is correct: The latest data by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that in state prisons, where about 87 percent of US inmates are held, nearly 53 percent are in for violent offenses (such as murder, manslaughter, robbery, assault, and rape), while only about 16 percent, as Pfaff said, are in for drug offenses.”
    I seriously question if it’s statistically possible for 16 percent of state prisoners to be there for drug offenses but for drug offenses to make up 75 percent of the prison population among blacks, especially since Rashawn doesn’t cite any studies.

  2. 2
    Charles S says:

    In response to the #11, go back and read The Cost Conundrum by Atul Gawande. Heroic doctors who want to set up their own imaging centers to make more money providing more tests are part of the reason that medical care in the US is so expensive with little to no benefits to patients. Dr. Singh claims he’d charge half as much, but he has to pay off the same costs, so the only way to charge half as much is to do lots more testing, much of which will end up being unnecessary, leading to false positives and unnecessary treatment. More medical testing does not lead to better medical outcomes, it just leads to more expensive medical care. Maybe Singh is an amazingly ethical doctor, but the door he wants to open wouldn’t just be open to amazingly ethical doctors, and most of the doctors who would make the most use of it would be more profit oriented.

    Also, this passage:

    Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan health law professor, told me certificate-of-need laws might have made sense back when health care was treated more like a public utility. But they make less and less sense under our current market-based health care ecosystem.

    is kind of a red flag of the fucked-up mentality that that article is advocating for. Our “market-based health care ecosystem” is a fucking disaster of over-priced over-treatment combined with inadequate care and under-treatment. Holding it up as an example of why we need to strip out the remaining public utility aspects of the system is absurd.

  3. 3
    Erin says:

    Under “BUT BLACKS COMMIT MORE CRIMES”, Don Tomaskovic-Devey, Department of Sociology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, argues as follows:

    Don: If you start at the level of interaction, when a policeman shoots a citizen three things have to happen. 1.The officer and the citizen have to have contact. 2. Within that interaction there has to be something that generate the feeling of threat or aggression in the officer. 3. The officer has to actually resort to a violent response.

    ————————————————————–

    I think it’s cute that he’s trying to sound like he’s using logic, but an officer and a citizen do not necessarily have to have contact with one another. A sniper could shoot a hostage-taker from a long ways away. An officer could happen onto a scene in which a person is about to be killed and have to take action. There are lots of different ways that people can be shot by police without any prior contact.

    By the way, more white people are shot to death by police that black people every year. I REALIZE it’s because there are more white people than black people, and you should look at the percentages in the population and not absolute numbers … but I never seem to hear that correction when there is talk about more white people than black people being on welfare etc.

  4. 4
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    I’d like to also see this:

    “BUT MEN COMMIT MORE CRIMES”: Scholars discuss progressive logic – Sociology Toolbox

  5. 5
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I think its really difficult to find anything resembling a convincing narrative in race/crime/police-shooting data by comparing counties. It’s obvious that Roland Fryer’s method of zooming in on a single city makes more sense.

    One thing that struck me about the WAPO police shooting database is how wildly the shootings vary from one city to another or between rural and urban areas. In 2017, Miami had 22 shootings to New York City’s 12, despite NYC having a population 18 times bigger. Now it’s true that NYC has a much lower crime rate than Miami, but it’s not 30 times lower. Culture’s within police departments and within policed communities are going to play a role and generate all kinds of noise if we try and zoom out and examine this data at the national level.

    Another thing I’ve thought about is a possible Simpson’s paradox that actually hides the extent of racial police bias when it comes to deadly force. I’d be curious to see data on rural vs urban use of deadly force. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the per-capita rates are actually higher in rural areas than urban ones, and if this is true, it would make it look like police are less racially biased then they are because black people are more concentrated in urban areas. It’s entirely possible that a zoomed out view would show white people more likely to be shot (controlling for violent crime rates) while a zoomed in view on either rural or urban areas shows a disproportionate number of black people being shot. I’ve never heard anyone make this point before, possibly because my initial guess (and it’s just a guess) that rural areas have more violent cops is wrong. I could be 100% wrong, and rural cops are actually less violent. If that’s the case, we still have a good reason to examine this data zoomed in.

  6. 6
    RonF says:

    Re: #3:

    So if we are focusing in on unarmed deaths, the first question is why should ANY of them happen? Why should there be ANY unarmed deaths of African Americans, White, Hispanic…anyone?

    Well, let’s take a very famous case, the case of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Mr. Brown was shot dead by Officer Darren Wilson. There was great outrage in the community that this happened. But when the situation was investigated it turns out that:

    Wilson answered a call about a robbery and upon arriving in the area encountered Brown and a friend walking down the middle of a two-way street.
    Wilson pulled up to them and told them to get off to the side of the road, and then continued down the road.
    Wilson stopped and backed up to them.
    Brown reached through Wilson’s open window and attempted to seize Wilson’s firearm.
    During the struggle two shots were fired, one of which hit Brown’s hand.
    Brown and his friend fled and separated. Wilson pursued on foot.
    Brown turned and confronted Wilson.
    Brown was 6′ 4″ and weighted 292 pounds, 82 pounds more than Wilson (although of equal height).
    At this point Wilson fired 6 shots, killing Brown.
    90 seconds elapsed between the time that Wilson encountered Brown and the time he shot Brown to death.

    Was Brown unarmed? Yes. Did an angry Brown, who had already attempted to seize Wilson’s firearm once, represent a deadly threat to Wilson? Yes. And that conclusion is not just mine but is also that of the Department of Justice, headed by a black Attorney General appointed by a black President. In my opinion, had Wilson not shot Brown and attempted to defend himself in some other fashion he stood an excellent chance of getting shot with his own firearm.

    THAT is how an unarmed man can be shot dead by a police officer; by presenting a deadly threat to that officer. One need not be armed to present a deadly threat, a concept that seems to have escaped a great many people.

  7. 7
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    RonF,

    When it comes to sorting through police shooting data, “unarmed” is a less helpful category than one might think, and I agree with you that it’s strange these two scholars don’t acknowledge that. A glance through the data-base for any given year reveals that many of the deaths categorized as “unarmed” involved driving a car at officer standing in front of or behind it. It’s not just a few, either- anyone who doubts this should load up the database and randomly pick names out of the “unarmed” category and then google search the story (wapo used to have a short description of these shootings, but removed this for some reason. the whole site is less searchable than it used to be. I even think “involved a car” was a filter at one point, but not anymore). Before long you’ll find a story involving a car driven at an officer. Most of these unarmed shootings are legally if not morally justified and a whole bunch of them involve driving at an officer. There are definitely some that aren’t though, and I’d really like to hear from conservatives about how we should hold officers more accountable when they fail at their duties and execute innocent people.

  8. 8
    Petar says:

    I usually do not comment on this topic, because I know I am biased.

    I have killed twice in the line of duty, about 35 years ago. In both cases, the men were armed and had fired in the last couple of seconds, and in both cases, I was commended. I also feel that, with a bit of extra thought, I could have neutralized them alive without any extra risk to anyone. I most certainly wish I had, especially in the second case, when I was unarmed, and the man fractured his temple while reacting to small joints manipulation.

    But second guessing is just that, second guessing.

    I would like you to watch a video. No one gets shot or killed, an unarmed man is tasered by a policeman.

    I am really curious about your views on what happens. I watched the video, for the first time, on Saturday, and the opinions among my friends were really divided. Even my wife and I do not agree on all the specifics.

    Four questions:
    1) Do you think the officer should have been prosecuted if he had shot the driver at 3:13?
    2) Do you think that the officer was justified in what he did at 3:22?
    3) Do you think that the officer should be punished for it, and how?
    4) Do you think that the officer should have been following a different SOP between 3:01 and 3:13? Possibly a procedure that would have resulted in a much worse outcome for everyone concerned.

    If anyone cares about my answers, I’d gladly give them, but I would much rather hear yours without influencing you, one way or another.

  9. 9
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    1) No, though I’m glad he didn’t. Even with your description of the video informing me that he was unarmed, my lizard brain said “OMG he’s firing on a cop” at 3:13. I swear my brain actually put a gun in his hands. That said, I’d like to be served by a police force whose officers are willing to take risks, including not being too quick to pull the trigger, and then pay them appropriately and give them the deserved respect for putting their lives on the line. I realize not all officers will live up to that ideal, though.
    2) Yes. That man has poor judgement (at the very least) and if he gets any closer to the officer, he’s way too close to a loaded gun. A situation like that could quickly escalate to a place where deadly force is required, and it’s in everyone’s best interest if the officer’s gun doesn’t discharge, bystanders included.
    3) No. If he’d fired a bullet, perhaps.
    4) Maybe? But I don’t know what it would be. An obvious answer would be “he may be mentally ill, perhaps it’s best to send more cops and begin communicating with him from a distance trying to deescalate.” But one would have to weigh the benefits of that plan with the time it would take to organize that kind of response. In the meantime, this guy is still out in traffic and possibly endangering himself and others. I also don’t know how dangerous a Taser is to a man his age.

    Nice post. There is way too much post hoc arm-chair-quarter-backing on these kinds of edge cases. This stuff is hard, especially with only seconds to make a decision.

  10. 10
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    An issue is that there is a reluctance to share data about shootings by the police and when the data is shared, different data is collected by different police departments. So then it cannot be compared well. The result is that there are a decent number of studies for specific jurisdictions, but these are often not comparable to see whether one police department does better than the other. There are also very few good nationwide studies.

    So while the data strongly suggests that NY cops are not disproportionately shooting black people, that may be different for cops elsewhere.

    By having comparable data, which the FBI may finally be getting serious about, we can debate the issue based on facts rather than viral videos (where bias probably plays a big role in which videos go viral), poorly performing police departments can be told to shape up and we can learn from those that do well.

    Another issue is that the police has a tendency to minimize training, because good training is costly, especially in police capacity. Police departments generally prefer their cops on the street, rather than on the range. The average cop shoots his gun extremely rarely, so it is understandable that the training is not as extensive as SWAT training, but the training often seems very inadequate and not based on realistic scenarios. For example, shooting at a static paper target with good lighting under no pressure. There are various training methods that are much better.

    Furthermore, much more focus on de-escalation tactics may help. A failure mode with aggressive tactics is that if the citizen doesn’t comply (as desired), the police officer will keep escalating, resulting in the cop pointing a gun/taser/etc at someone who is merely non-cooperative. Furthermore, it seems common for the cop to then confuse non-compliance for a threat. Then once in this situation & mindset, a relatively minor, ambiguous event can result in a shooting.

    De-escalation tactics seems especially useful for communities with low trust in the police, where aggressive police tactics probably more often results in a fight or flight response, rather than compliance.

  11. 11
    David Speyer says:

    @Michael I suspect that Rashawn misspoke and meant something like “75% of Blacks who have been in prison were imprisoned for nonviolent drug offenses.” This is a plausible number: drug crimes account for about 30% of the general population of those who have been imprisoned, and I recall the proportion is much higher for blacks than the general population.

    Because jail terms for drug crimes are shorter than for violent crimes, drug users make up a much smaller percentage of the prison population at any given moment in time. This is what Pfaff is referring to.

    The proportion of those who have been convicted is more relevant than the proportion of those who are in prison right now for the point Rashawn wants to make, that blacks should not be viewed as unusually dangerous.

    More useful discussion of this point here.

  12. 12
    RonF says:

    I’ll watch that video at a later date, no time now. But I want to be clear that I acknowledge that there certainly are instances when police officers have unjustifiably shot and/or killed people both armed and unarmed. The case of Laquan McDonald is a good place to start. I’m certainly not going to speak for any class of people, but from my own perspective what’s happening in this instance – where the officer is being prosecuted for first-degree murder – seems appropriate to me. So does prosecution of his 3 fellow Chicago police officers who falsified their reports of the incident in order to cover for the shooter.

    The last piece of fallout from this has yet to be dealt with, but the voters will get a say. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, once Chief of Staff for then-President Obama, was in a tight mayoral race and delayed release of the video of the incident until after his re-election. I think that action was politically motivated. We’ll see if it makes a difference to the Chicago electorate in the upcoming Mayoral election on the last Tuesday of February in 2019.

  13. 13
    RonF says:

    So, open thread; here’s an article I find interesting. Seems like #MeToo and Title IX investigations are being selectively applied. First, #MeToo isn’t being applied to Rep. Ellison the way others have had it applied to them. Then there’s the group of feminist academics defending NYU Professor Avital Ronell who has been suspended for a year based on a Title IX investigation. Here’s one reaction I find very interesting:

    “Diane Davis, chair of the department of rhetoric at the University of Texas-Austin, who also signed the letter to the university supporting Professor Ronell, said she and her colleagues were particularly disturbed that, as they saw it, Mr. Reitman was using Title IX, a feminist tool, to take down a feminist.”

    So – according to a UT departmental chair, Title IX is not supposed to be used in a sex-neutral fashion, it’s for feminists only? I apologize for not giving a primary source for the above – the NYT article cited in the USA Today article is behind NYT’s paywall.

    I don’t think this is the “death of feminism” as the article claims, but it’s all certainly hypocritical.

  14. 14
    Sebastian H says:

    The real worry is that academic feminists don’t think of it as hypocritical–that they really think Title IX is just for women.

    It is also interesting that the well substantiated accusations are about “taking down a feminist” as opposed to “stopping an abuser” or some other more victim-friendly frame.

  15. 15
    Jake Squid says:

    The real worry is that academic feminists don’t think of it as hypocritical–that they really think Title IX is just for women.

    In the academic corners of the internet I pay attention to, folks defending her are being roundly ridiculed.

  16. 16
    Elusis says:

    No academic feminists I read are defending her. All are appalled at Butler (and Zizek, who is not a feminist) and others.

  17. 17
    desipis says:

    To answer Petar’s questions:
    1) No. I agree with what Jeffery on this one.
    2) No. I don’t think mere proximity to the officer is sufficient cause to use a taser. By the time the taser was fired the man was not moving.
    3) Not criminally. I wouldn’t agree with prosecuting a member of the public for that action in those circumstances. Given it was decision made in the moment, and not some sort of thought out misconduct, some sort of minor administrative punishment would seem proportional. If part of a pattern of poor decisions by that officer more serious punishment might be justified.
    4) I think that depends on a lot of context that isn’t clear just from the video. There’s nothing I can see that’s clearly wrong with the general approach. Police officers should be comfortable coming into physical contact with members of the public, and have the training to be competent when doing so.

  18. 18
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    No. I don’t think mere proximity to the officer is sufficient cause to use a taser. By the time the taser was fired the man was not moving.

    You have to put it in context though. The man just tried to commit suicide by cop (or maybe not, but it’s a reasonable interpretation) so it’s reasonable to assume he might try it again. If I were a cop I’m not letting him anywhere near me after that until he’s on the ground, because I really don’t want to give him an opportunity to force me to shoot him.

  19. 19
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    WRT recent #MeToo cases implicating feminists, I’m starting to get bored with arguments of the form:

    “Someone somewhere on social media is a hypocrite/idiot/wrong/biased/etc therefore this movement they are affiliated with is implicated”

    This is a bipartisan tactic, and I’m sure I’m guilty of it too.

    Seems to me the vast majority of self-identifying feminists consistently support the victims in all these controversial cases, including Asia Argento’s.

  20. 20
    RonF says:

    Ms. Argento’s actions in and of themselves do not discredit #MeToo. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, after all. To discredit #MeToo on that basis makes about as much sense as discrediting the ideals under which the United States was founded because some of those involved were slave owners. #MeToo is only discredited via Ms. Argento if she is not treated as others have been. It’s too early to make the call either way.

    In the academic corners of the internet I pay attention to, folks defending her are being roundly ridiculed.

    No academic feminists I read are defending her.

    That’s good! At least they have integrity. It does make one wonder, though. This is a departmental Dean at a major public university taking a public position that Title IX is intended for use as a “feminist tool” (whatever that means). It makes sense to me to presume that someone at that administrative level is fairly well connected. Do you think she came up with this on her own? I figure she probably has good reason to think that there’s others who agree with her. At the very least it puts a certain amount of pressure for those in her department to at least not publicly oppose her. I wonder just how widespread this concept is in academia? There is at least the group who signed the letter. If I were in the Texas legislature I might want to start asking members of the faculty of UT what they thought, and have a close look at how Title IX investigations are run there.

  21. 21
    RonF says:

    After thinking about this on my ride home I think I need to make something clear. I have no wish to discredit #MeToo itself. I personally have friends in the arts who have told me stories of people they know who were taken advantage in a sexual fashion by people in power. I have no problem with those who are actually reporting things done to them and are seeking justice.

    My disdain is for those who have been partisan on the issue – condemning Pres. Trump while having been silent for years about ex-Pres. Clinton, or even honoring him. Those who claim they knew nothing when it seems impossible. Those who held positions of honor in Hollywood yet openly honored Roman Polanski – and then claim that they and their industry have agency to lecture Americans on morals. I have no patience, time or honor for them.

    I give all credit to those who have stepped forward and hope that the support will be there for them from all Americans, regardless of their political opinions or the political positions of those who have wronged them.

  22. 22
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Jeffrey Gandee,

    The issue is that Social Justice advocates tend to quite explicitly argue that people have a responsibility to police sexism, racism, abuse of (social) power, etc in their movement or even among those with the same trait, so if they then turn around and refuse to do this themselves (or in the same way as they police others), it seems quite hypocritical.

    Rose McGowan tweeted “believe survivors” and “believe women” when the victims were women and the accused is not her friend, but now that Argento is accused she tweeted: “None of us know the truth of the situation and I’m sure more will be revealed. Be gentle.”

    Then when people point out the hypocrisy, sexism and bias towards friends, instead of admitting that these issues are (also) problems within the Social Justice movement, we see a lot of defensive statements that try to discourage people from making criticisms, like the one that you made:

    Seems to me the vast majority of self-identifying feminists consistently support the victims in all these controversial cases, including Asia Argento’s.

    If that support is much stronger for female victims and/or when the perpetrator is a man, then there is no equal support for victims. Support is not a binary, it is a spectrum.

    Furthermore, problematic behavior by individuals with a lot of power is an issue regardless of whether others behave OK. Rose McGowan is a prominent activist with a lot of social power. Diane Davis is responsible for managing or handling student complaints for her department, including for sexual assault. Can a student expect justice from her if he or she accuses a woman and/or feminist? Can an anti-feminist victim expect justice from her or will the victim be discriminated against for his or her beliefs? Butler has the social and institutional power that comes with being a very prominent professor. Will other victims dare to accuse one of her friends when it seems likely that her clique will refuse those victims jobs or other opportunities?

    A very large percentage of sexual assault researchers seem to be feminists and a lot of research seems quite sexist, only studying female victims and/or male perpetrators; or using definitions that exclude male victims. This bias generally seems to be defended by theories that are based on this biased research, resulting in a feedback loop. However, relatively recently more and more evidence is coming out that the traditionalist beliefs about male victimhood and female perpetration are false.

    I think that feminism needs to come to grips with the issue that quite a few feminists are advocates for women and not for gender equality, resulting in the adoption of traditionalist beliefs that fit a narrative of oppression of women by men. Presenting this as an inconsequential strain of feminism that can be ignored is not credible.

  23. 23
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    The problem is that we live in a huge interconnected world and at any time, somewhere, you can find a person with good standing in a movement saying something stupid. This is amplified by the fact that the most careful speakers and thinkers often operate with epistemological humility, while the most certain people, those destined to charge ahead advancing their just cause are often the least careful, and these people often hold high status positions in movements.

    What I see are a bunch of partisans on both sides trying to force their opponents to spend time and resources on policing their own fringes, rather than advance their agenda.

  24. 24
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Jeffrey Gandee,

    The issue with not speaking out against your own fringes (and their bad behavior) is that it logically makes the other side believe that the fringes speak and/or act for you, which greatly increases both the out-group homogeneity effect and the tendency to overestimate the prevalence and/or impact of outliers. This perception can even be right, when a lack of ingroup vigilance allows people with bad beliefs to achieve positions of power and execute their agenda, harming the outgroup unjustly. If you have a choice between getting a fairly harmful person from your ingroup in a position of power quickly or more slowly getting a better kind of activist in power, is it actually a good choice to choose the former person?

    Note that the people outside your ingroup have eyes and ears, so they do tend to notice what happens. If they see these harmful statements and behaviors from your ingroup, they will generally become more convinced they need to #resist. The result is that you increase your opposition. It may then feel like you are achieving things or at least working directly towards your goal, while your choices actually result in more and more people standing in your way, actively or passively resisting.

    This mistake also happens in the military when hawks start focusing on body counts and more effective ways to kill many people, rather than winning hearts and minds & making sure to only hit legitimate targets. The result is then that the bodies may pile up sky high, but that more people join the resistance to take revenge against injustices that were committed by US soldiers. A lack of commitment to police the ingroup resulted in William Calley getting away with a few years of house arrest, because he supposedly was fighting for the cause. Those kind of injustices are the logical result of holding your ingroup to much lower standards because they fight for the good cause.

    Finally, dividing society simplistically in allies and opponents & tolerating injustices against your outgroup by your allies only makes sense from a perspective where you prioritize the well being of your ingroup. I understand why traditionalists and such would be fine with that, but Social Justice is supposed to be about justice and equality for all. If you sacrifice your ideals to win, then even if you achieve power, have you actually won?

  25. 25
    Jake Squid says:

    The issue with not speaking out against your own fringes (and their bad behavior)…

    Yet, when feminists speak out against their fringes, as I commented about reading, anti-feminists pretend it never happened.

  26. 26
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    I also want to point out that there actually is a lot of policing in Social Justice circles, but mainly focused on making the ingroups feel accepted. Quite often, this is an intercine struggle, where there is strong disapproval and policing of people who are actually quite similar, for being perceived as not being nice enough to a subculture ingroup, while people with far more problematic beliefs are ignored, due to them being outside the bubble or inside the bubble but not daring to speak up.

    The result is something very cult-like.

    If there is a transition to less narcissism of small differences and instead, more focus on upholding larger principles equally, for friend and foe alike; the total amount of policing may even go down and activism may become more effective.

    However, this probably does require that the ideology is brought more inline with scientific findings.

  27. 27
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Jake Squid,

    Those people may not be pretending, as they are not you and thus may not be paying attention to the academic corners of the internet you pay attention to (I assume that you are referring to your statement in comment 14). Or they may not consider those academic corners to be relevant (do your academic corners have the institutional power to shape Title IX programs?).

    They may also have a higher standard for standing up against the fringes, demanding more than just words, but also that these words are put into action.

    Some of my complaints about Title IX advocacy are that:
    – Advocates for Title IX often use gendered language that stereotype victims and perpetrators and/or express ressentiment against white men
    – I rarely see (unprompted) push-back against the above by advocates
    – There seems to be a lack of desire to examine the programs critically, to see if they don’t discriminate. AFAIK, Emily Yoffe is the only person with some clout who tried to do so. She ran into the issue that at most universities not even the most basic data is collected and/or made available, which is worrying, as it suggests that intent is placed over actual outcome. Even more worrying, the limited data she had suggested very disparate outcomes in the disfavor of non-white and/or non-American men. She didn’t even address the apparent gap between the male victimization and female perpetrator rates that are found in inclusive studies like those by the CDC and the seemingly very low percentage of male victims and female perpetrators in Title IX proceedings.
    – It is plausible that the different enculturation of men means that male victims need a somewhat different approach to feel safe in Title IX proceedings. This should be examined.
    – Protections for the accused and even the accuser often seem to get extremely little attention, resulting in Kafkaesque proceedings.
    – It is likely that the way in which society views men and encultures them, requires specific messaging to counter this and make them recognize their victimization for what it is and to recognize that women can be perpetrators (and that these events don’t necessarily match a simply villain vs victim stereotype).

    From my perspective, these complaints are the application of social justice principles in an inclusive way. When similar complaints are made to argue for women, they seem to find broad acceptance in Social Justice. For example, criticism that institutions are set up in a way that works well for people with male enculturation, but not people with female enculturation seems quite accepted.

    However, my experience is that when I or others do make these more inclusive criticisms, the result is othering: accusations and assumptions that one is anti-feminist, anti-Social Justice, anti-woman, etc, for making these criticisms. This othering stacks the deck from the outset, where one has to deal with assumptions of bad faith and very high levels of scrutiny, that are not applied to the less inclusive point of view.

  28. 28
    Jake Squid says:

    Or they may not consider those academic corners to be relevant (do your academic corners have the institutional power to shape Title IX programs?).

    That’s a nice job of moving the goalposts, for sure.

  29. 29
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    You are doing exactly what I complained about earlier: being extremely uncharitable to critics.

    Sebastian H made the argument that “the real worry is that academic feminists don’t think of it as hypocritical–that they really think Title IX is just for women.”

    This is an imprecise sentence. The claim can be that the worry is that all academic feminists come to believe this or that some do. I assume that you will agree with me that it can be a major issue when only fraction of people believe something. For example, if 10% of a group believe that domestic violence is a good thing, one can legitimately be very upset about that and not consider the observation that 90% don’t believe that, to be something that deserves applause or even explicit recognition.

    Sebastian H didn’t explain what he considers the negative consequences to be with academic feminists having these beliefs, but a reasonable assumption is that he may be worried about people abusing their power. It can even be a major issue when only a single person in power has certain beliefs, like the President.

    Imagine that Jane complains about Trump separating children from their parents and Bob remarks that all his Republican friends object to it. If Jane were to remark that this is rather irrelevant, because Trump has the actual power to separate children from their parents, while Bob’s Republican friends don’t have the power to stop this, would you also consider this moving the goal posts or would you agree with that dismissal?

  30. 30
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    For example, if 10% of a group believe that domestic violence is a good thing, one can legitimately be very upset about that and not consider the observation that 90% don’t believe that, to be something that deserves applause or even explicit recognition.

    I do think this is a good point, especially when that 10% finds themselves in position of power. It’s well understood that a certain kind of person is attracted to the idea of working for ICE or being a police officer, and I think this applies to Title IX investigators too. I missed that the person who thinks T9 is for feminists only is a department chair, and I shouldn’t have been so critical of pointing out her hypocrisy (I confess I’m just tired of people crying hypocrite, I like talking about ideas more than people).

  31. 31
    Kate says:

    For example, if 10% of a group believe that domestic violence is a good thing, one can legitimately be very upset about that and not consider the observation that 90% don’t believe that, to be something that deserves applause or even explicit recognition.

    Sure. But if the one “getting upset” belongs to a group in which 90% believe that domestic violence is a good thing, and only raises their concerns when the violence is committed by a member of the other group, I’m not going to think that the person raising those concerns is genuinely worried about domestic violence generally. Something else is going on.
    This article, at the Atlantic, makes a lot of sense to me.

    Once you grasp that for Trump and many of his supporters, corruption means less the violation of law than the violation of established hierarchies, their behavior makes more sense.

    So, people who generally don’t care about sexual harassment, are all of a sudden up in arms when the usual gender roles are reversed. They may claim to be upset about sexual harassment. But, I suspect they are more upset about subversion of traditional gender norms, or trying to score points against the other side.
    Supporters of the party of Donald Trump have no right to criticize supporters of the party that made Al Franken step down when issues of sexual harassment and domestic violence arise.

  32. 32
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    Another example:

    A Social Justice advocate complains very fervently about the police disproportionately shooting black people. A conservative now accuses the SJ advocate of not caring about the safety of cops. Furthermore, the conservative accuses the SJ advocate of not truly caring about innocent people shot by cops, because the person usually doesn’t speak out against white people shot by cops. Finally, the conservative notices that some of the other SJ advocates call for a ‘white genocide’ or make other anti-white statements. So the conservative suspects that the SJ advocate wants cops to be unsafe, discrimination against white people or is trying to score points against the other side & doesn’t actually care about innocent people being shot by cops.

    Do you think that this conservative is being fair or do you think that the SJ advocate’s behavior can be explained by for example:
    – a disagreement with the conservative that having the cops be eager to use violence against citizens is a good way to make cops safe and/or has a reasonable cost/benefit ratio compared to alternatives
    – a strong rejection of racism, so the SJ advocate is not willing to accept a racist policy (or a policy that is implemented in a racist way) no matter what
    – a belief that society cares more about the lives of white people, so all their effort should be put into making society care more about black people, to equalize the concern
    – Etc.

    So, now let’s again look at the situation where a critic of feminism complains very fervently about the policing of sexual misbehavior disproportionately harming men, where some other critics make misogynist statements, etc. Is it fair to accuse this critic of not caring about female victims, because the critic usually doesn’t speak out against women being victimized by men?

    Or do you think that the critic’s behavior can be explained by for example:
    – a disagreement that Title IX courts or other such measures are a good way to reduce sexual misbehavior and/or has a reasonable cost/benefit ratio compared to alternatives
    – a strong rejection of sexism, so the critic is not willing to accept a sexist policy (or a policy that is implemented in a sexist way) no matter what
    – a belief that society cares more about sexual misbehavior against women, so all their effort should be put into making society care more about men, to equalize the concern
    – Etc.

    The above doesn’t mean that biases don’t play a role. Humans are very good at being biased. However, I would argue that any claim that the other side is hugely biased, but that your own side is mostly unbiased, is often due to the biases of those on your side matching your own biases, making your allies seem less biased.

    PS. And yes, I am human and also make mistakes like this, although I try to be better.

  33. 33
    RonF says:

    1) Do you think the officer should have been prosecuted if he had shot the driver at 3:13?
    2) Do you think that the officer was justified in what he did at 3:22?
    3) Do you think that the officer should be punished for it, and how?
    4) Do you think that the officer should have been following a different SOP between 3:01 and 3:13? Possibly a procedure that would have resulted in a much worse outcome for everyone concerned.

    1) Tough call. I sure thought that the guy was pointing something in his hand at the officer – but if the officer didn’t already have his pistol in his hand, by the time he would have gotten it out it was clear that there WAS nothing in the driver’s hand. Now, I can see where the officer might have gotten his firearm out and pointed it at him and not fired – and if he had, I would have said he was justified.
    2) Yes. The man was obviously hostile and continued to close on the officer with hostile intent after being told to back it up.
    3) No. Not at all. In fact, I think he should be commended for using his Taser instead of his firearm.
    4) No, it looks fine to me. The guy is lucky he didn’t get shot.

  34. 34
    RonF says:

    Kate:

    Supporters of the party of Donald Trump have no right to criticize supporters of the party that made Al Franken step down when issues of sexual harassment and domestic violence arise.

    Gee, that story about Rep. Ellison died pretty quick, didn’t it? Somehow I can’t find very many follow-up stories. If any. He holds a high Federal office, he’s in a VERY high position in a major political party and he’s running for high State level office where he’ll be in charge of making sure the State adequately prosecutes the very crimes that he’s accused of. Yet no follow-up stories about him. No commentary on the media about how his candidacy affects the electoral prospects of his party from a national viewpoint. No pressure from spokespeople for #MeToo or various feminist groups recently, or ongoing.

    I wonder why?

  35. 35
    RonF says:

    Re: #17 – yes, I read some of those right-wing commentaries on those two people killed in Tajikistan and thought they were in poor taste too. One should not revel in someone’s innocent death to make any kind of political point. But they were fools. Safe for tourists? Yeah, so’s Chicago – but I wouldn’t walk across Chicago with the attitude or lack of preparation those two showed. Did they deserve it? No. Were they incredibly naive and unrealistic, and was that a contributing factor to their deaths? Yes.

  36. 36
    Kate says:

    In this new cycle, you wonder why people lost focus on a candidate for Attorney General in Minnesota? Gee Ron, I wonder what might have been in the news these past couple of weeks that overshadowed the abuse allegations against a candidate for attorney general in Minnesota?

    By the way, the National Organization for Woman (NOW) and Ultraviolet both called for Ellison to leave the race.
    I suspect we will see the allegations come to prominence again closer to the election. I don’t think this story is over by any stretch. It remains to be seen what Democratic voters will do in the general election.

    But, yes, the Democratic party in Minnesota is still, wrongly, standing behind him. Unfortunately, we only have two political parties to choose from in this country. One party supports legislation against harassment and abuse, but has a spotty record on policing harassment and abuse among its own, especially in cases where the accused brazens it out with denials and accounts are difficult to substantiate. The other opposes legislation against harassment and abuse and will circle wagons, attack accusers and lie even in the face of overwhelming evidence. I don’t like voting for the lesser of two evils, but it beasts voting for the GREATER of two evils.

  37. 37
    nobody.really says:

    Gee, that story about Rep. Ellison died pretty quick, didn’t it? Somehow I can’t find very many follow-up stories. If any. [H]e’s running for high State level office where he’ll be in charge of making sure the State adequately prosecutes the very crimes that he’s accused of.

    Uh … maybe. He’s running for Minnesota Attorney General. Yet the current Minnesota Attorney General denies that the office has any power to prosecute criminal offenses, so I’m not sure why that would change if Ellison were to be elected.

  38. 38
    RonF says:

    Gee Ron, I wonder what might have been in the news these past couple of weeks that overshadowed the abuse allegations against a candidate for attorney general in Minnesota?

    If the candidate was otherwise unknown I’d agree. But since the candidate is in fact quite prominent in national politics both by virtue of high elective office and his position in one of our two national parties I’d say no, I don’t see a reason why it should be overshadowed. Ultraviolet I’d never heard of until I did a search. NOW I’ve heard of. But I haven’t seen any coverage of what they’ve had to say.

    Yet the current Minnesota Attorney General denies that the office has any power to prosecute criminal offenses,

    Hm. Well, that’s different than the State I live in (and I just double checked to make sure). So mea culpa.

  39. 39
    Ampersand says:

    Republicans: We’ve got nothing against Latinos or immigrants. We just want people to do things legally.

    Also Republicans: U.S. is denying passports to Americans along the border, throwing their citizenship into question

  40. 40
    Jake Squid says:

    Well, Amp, I think you’re asking for an excessive amount of trust in Birth Certificates issued by the state of Texas. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask for supporting documentation such as your parents rental agreements from when you were an infant. Surely everyone has easy access to those!

  41. 41
    Harlequin says:

    I miss the days when birth certificates didn’t play a part in national politics. (Sadly, this issue has been on the table according to Republicans for 2/3 of my adult life so far.)

  42. 42
    Mookie says:

    Yeah, who would’ve thought the Party of Ideas would come for all the inconvenient birth certificates after they came for that one guy’s birth certificate. What an odd and unexpected turn of events, that undesirable political opponents and undesirable Americans of legal voting age alike are targeted with the same disingenuous set of cross-hairs. Truly, the rummest of all goes. No one could have foreseen, &c.

  43. Jeffrey,

    I have read through your comment regarding truth, etc. twice now and I am still a little confused by what you’re trying to say, because it seems to me that you are dealing there with two different definitions of truth, rather than two interpretations of what it means to say that truth is constructed. I don’t have time to dig into that now to see if I am right or wrong, so what I’d like to say is this: While it may seem trivial and elementary now to say that truth is a construct, it was not so when the kind of literary criticism that Sebastian H was referring first came into prominence in the academy. The view of language an literature that was privileged at that time actually mitigated against this notion, seeing a poem, for example, in much the same way as you describe the AI playing chess against itself: as a closed system on which the outside (real) world did not at all, and should not be allowed to, impinge. (One important critique of this approach, and I will continue to use your chess analogy for convenience, is that language, because it is never fully within our control, no matter how carefully we may try to use it, is by definition not a self-contained system in the way that the rules of chess are.)

    The idea that “truth is constructed”–and I need to interrupt myself to point out that the passive voice is important here because it implies the presence of the subject that is doing the construction, as opposed to “truth is a construct,” which is an assertion of fact. So, the idea that “truth is constructed,” in literary criticism, was about the study of how it is constructed through language, of teasing out in language the cultural, political, socioeconomic processes, biases, assumptions that are deployed–and I realize I am slipping into lit crit jargon here– by institutions and people with very clear self interests (almost always over and against the self-interests of others) to construct a version of truth that served those interests.

    The point of my response to Sebastian was not that this idea did not sometimes devolve into silliness, into obvious and trivial observations–sometimes at the hands of academics, but, more often, at the hands of sloppy popularizers (whether they were supporters or detractors). My point was simply that his formulation, “truth is subjective,” is in fact the result of precisely that kind of sloppy popularization.

    The argument you seem to want to have, which is a very interesting one, goes off in another direction.

  44. 44
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    The argument you seem to want to have, which is a very interesting one, goes off in another direction.

    No no, I don’t want to have it, I guess I just see your second paragraph as trivially true.

    To me it’s just really obvious that there is no “view from nowhere,” and that objectivity is only an ideal we can attempt to pursue (and we should).

    Peterson has had several moments where his fame rose immediately following a debate/interview, and his first came after an interview with a trans-studies professor on Canadian public television (this is when I first encountered him). Right after being introduced, his opponent said “Basically it is not correct that there is such thing as biological sex.” And stood by this claim when challenged. This is the kind of thing Peterson is criticizing, and the absurd sort of application of post-structuralism that makes “truth is a construct” a deepity. Watch here, the absurdity I quoted takes place around 11:05:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kasiov0ytEc

    Are they an outlier? Maybe, but I heard similarly absurd statements in a women’s studies course I took at OSU. And it was there that I developed a Peterson-like skepticism of the humanities. There’s this pattern, where ideas that are inconvenient to certain progressive causes are dismissed- not by challenging their predictive validity relative to other ideas, but instead by challenging the language or perspective (or standpoint if you will) of the person voicing it.

  45. Jeffrey:

    First, a disclaimer. I have till now paid almost no attention to Peterson. Clearly, I need to start paying some attention.

    And stood by this claim when challenged. This is the kind of thing Peterson is criticizing, and the absurd sort of application of post-structuralism that makes “truth is a construct” a deepity. Watch here, the absurdity I quoted takes place around 11:05:

    I did not watch the whole video, but I did watch the section where the claim you call “absurd” was made. It’s interesting. I heard that person’s statement about there being no such thing as biological sex–even though they led with it–in the context of everything they said later (I am paraphrasing, so they might not have said it in precisely this way) about the gender binary and how our notion that there are only two sexes, male and female, is determined in part by our cultural investment in that binary.

    The fact is that scientists have shown that there are more biological sexes that just xy and xx and disregarding that fact reminds me of something learned when I was studying linguistics. I think it was Chomsky who pointed out that linguists of the previous generation tended, when there were small bits of data that did not fit their theory, simply to set those small bits aside as anomalies, rather than rethinking their theory so that it accounted for all the data they had. It turned out, by the way, that Chomsky was right, in the sense that accounting for that data moved the field of linguistics forward in very important ways.

    So, how is suggesting that we ought to account for all the available data in our understanding of, in this case biological sex, an example of an absurd instance of “truth is a construct?”

  46. 46
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    It’s too late to edit, but I also wanted to point out how the concept of “multiple truths” is deployed in conversations, when it would be more accurate to say “mulitple perspectives,” or more accurately, “multiple models/maps of the truth.” Obviously Oprah does this all the time, and would be an example of a lay-person abusing post-structuralism, but I see it frequently among more serious black feminist who use the phrase “Speaking my/your truth.” I see it as a justification for many self-referential academics papers of the kind mocked at RealPeerReview.

    The use of “Multiple truths,” implies an equivalence between two different models of the truth, an equivalence that shouldn’t be assumed.

    Seeing as this whole discussion started with Peterson being labelled an extemist, I think Peterson can build a better case for extremism within the average humanities department than you or I could build against Peterson himself.

  47. 47
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    So, how is suggesting that we ought to account for all the available data in our understanding of, in this case biological sex, an example of an absurd instance of “truth is a construct?”

    Imagine trying to do this with all categories of things, you basically end up dissolving almost all categories. But categories are useful, even if they hinder our understanding at times.

    Why do biologists talk about “biological sex?” You need to consider this, and then ask yourself if the category is a useful one for forming a sensible model of how the world works. More on this here:

    https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/4FcxgdvdQP45D6Skg/disguised-queries

  48. 48
    Jake Squid says:

    It is truly mind-boggling how academic feminists think Title IX is just for women.

  49. 49
    Sebastian H says:

    Richard, You seem to be downplaying how Criticism tries to operate. It doesn’t want to apply its conclusions just to finding the truth about poems, it wants to apply it it to all human made statements. There are entire branches which attacked science from the perspective of it being western imperialism—and not just ‘racial science’ or some such, but biology and physics.

    Jeffery makes a good point about ‘multiple truths’. Academics didn’t have to chose ‘truths’ there. But they did.

  50. 50
    Harlequin says:

    Why do biologists talk about “biological sex?”

    In at least certain circumstances (I don’t know all biologists in the world), they don’t. Instead, they talk about much more specific things, like chromosomal sex, anatomical sex, etc. This isn’t necessarily a refutation of your larger point (I tend to get bored or annoyed by philosophy, so I’ll sit that debate out!). But the world is very complicated, and the experts who have to deal with the complicated bits are likely to have more categories and criteria than the layperson, not fewer.

  51. Jeffrey:

    It’s too late to edit, but I also wanted to point out how the concept of “multiple truths” is deployed in conversations, when it would be more accurate to say “mulitple perspectives,” or more accurately, “multiple models/maps of the truth.”

    You have, at least as I have read what you’ve written, consistently conflated different definitions of truth in this discussion, which makes it hard to know overall how to respond to what you’re saying in the comment this sentence introduces.

    Seeing as this whole discussion started with Peterson being labelled an ext[r]emist, I think Peterson can build a better case for extremism within the average humanities department than you or I could build against Peterson himself.

    This does depend on where you stand, doesn’t it? And, as someone said elsewhere in this conversation–I think it may have been Harlequin–whether you call them radical or extremist depends on whether you agree or disagree with the particular politics being labeled. As someone who has taught for nearly 30 years in a department within the humanities, and who has interacted with people across the humanities in a variety of disciplines and at a range of other institutions, I would never deny that I have had colleagues who fall at that end of the spectrum, from feminists, to Marxists, to Afrocentrists. Were they the majority? No. Were they influential? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes they were dismissed for their radicalism/extremism within the department. It varied from person to person and from discipline to discipline.

    To say, though, that Peterson does not stand, in his way, at least as I have understood him from what I have recently learned, on the far opposite end of that spectrum is, I think, to say nothing more profound or insightful than that you generally agree with his perspective, or that you find his ability to make deeply conservative and even hateful questions sound “reasonable” quite comforting, and that you value this comfort above and beyond worrying about where his questions might actually lead, culturally, politically or otherwise.

    Imagine trying to do this with all categories of things, you basically end up dissolving almost all categories. But categories are useful, even if they hinder our understanding at times.

    I asked you why suggesting that we ought to account for data that falls outside familiar, established categories is an absurd example of “truth is a construct.” You responded by asserting a fundamentally conservative position on the practical value of categories and categorization, as if the choices we make about where categorical boundaries lie, about which data it is useful for us to exclude and for what purpose, are not deeply political and politically motivated choices that serve one set of interests over and against another. Your answer is a perfect example of precisely the process that “truth is constructed” was intended to make visible.

    I’m not interested in arguing with you here about the politics underlying an insistence on a binary definition of biological sex–that conversation is taking place, in unfortunately (and perhaps willfully) thoughtless and hurtful ways, on the Brave Truth-Teller thread. So I am simply going to ask you again why you think the suggestion that, in this case biological science, to account for data that does not fit neatly into a binary model of biological sex is an absurd instance of “truth is constructed.” Please note, I am not arguing that it is not a model of that notion. It very plainly is. I am asking you to explain why you think it’s absurd.

    Sebastian:

    You seem to be downplaying how Criticism tries to operate. It doesn’t want to apply its conclusions just to finding the truth about poems, it wants to apply it it to all human made statements. There are entire branches which attacked science from the perspective of it being western imperialism—and not just ‘racial science’ or some such, but biology and physics.

    No, I am not downplaying it. I am well aware that literary critics applied the principles it applied to literature to other forms of discourse as well. Part of the point of this type of criticism, after all, is that discourse is discourse, whether it is literary, scientific, political or otherwise. And isn’t that true? Why wouldn’t the same modes of reading be applicable to all modes of discourse. More to the point, though, I think you are conflating attacks on how, say, the practice of biological science is constructed–and I hope we can agree that, as a practice, science is constructed–with attacks on the existence of the study of human biology as a field of endeavor.

    I’m not sure that statement is clear. So let me try this: We know, for example, that biology, historically, was not simply a male dominated field in the sense that most biologists were men. We also know that the field itself–what was studied, what conclusions were reached, etc.–was shaped by a male dominant perspective. This perspective shaped, for example, our lack of understanding of the true shape and nature of the clitoris, our lack of understanding of the role female choice plays in animal reproduction and, therefore, of evolution; this perspective (and I am switching here to medicine) shaped the way we understood certain kinds of illnesses and medical conditions in women because the male body and male behaviors were taken as the norm. And, more contemporarily, the way cisgender norms shape the way medicine understands the medical needs of trans people. So why wouldn’t it be possible for western imperialism–which I hope we can all agree is a real thing–to shape biology or physics, in terms of choices about what to study, what kinds of studies get funded, what are understood to be the norms against which other things are measured, what kinds of data get included/excluded, the kinds of rhetoric in which conclusions are articulated. (I edited this paragraph for clarity.)

    You might choose to argue with the analysis that emerges from those questions, because that analysis could, obviously, be inaccurate or just plain wrong, but that is not the same thing as arguing that literary criticism takes the position you stated it takes, i.e., that “truth is subjective.”

    That is where this discussion started, with my pointing out that this formulation is a result of the same kind of sloppy popularization that Jeffrey talked about in one of his comments on the other thread. That both you and he consistently move away from that point into finding ways in which literary criticism or (in Jeffrey’s case) the humanities ostensibly slip into absurdities of analysis or whatever suggests to me that you’re both using terms like post-structuralism or deconstruction or whatever without really understanding them, and that you are using them to stand in for a generally progressive politics that make you both uncomfortable.

  52. 52
    Erin says:

    Richard Jeffrey Newman says:

    “As someone who has taught for nearly 30 years in a department within the humanities …”

    ______________________________________

    Sorry, this may be rude, but you just never let up, do you. It’s seriously not that impressive. I’m doing you a favor, if you want to think about what I’m saying. It’s like telling Donald Trump: “You’ve got accomplishments, Donny, but your bragging about every little thing makes you look silly”.

    Do you know what my background is? Do you?

    LOL

    No, you don’t. Because my arguments shouldn’t stand or fall on an “appeal to authority”, said authority being myself.

  53. 53
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    RJN,

    Imagine a biology professor explaining to students how sexual selection leads to some counter-intuitive adaptions, like a peacock’s tail. Imagine teaching this without a male/female binary. It’s possible, but unwise-The male/female distribution is among the most heavily bi-modal you’ll encounter in biology, and the “bi-modal-ness” itself is a natural phenomenon worth talking about. It’s a huge part of who we are and how we got here. You could teach sexual selection using a more inclusive model (a model that may actually be more accurate- especially considering the fact that some species have really weird sexual distributions, including third genders), but that would be sort of like teaching introductory ballistics using General Relativity rather then Newtonian physics. This is a bad idea if you want people to come away with a model that can make good predictions.

    Maybe you think it’s wrong to prioritize the measurement of certain characteristics that will allow the emergence of this bi-modal-ness, or clusters like “male” and “female.” Instead, we could look prioritize those characteristics that make us look more similar or where the distributions aren’t so bi-modal. I enjoy this line of reasoning, but this way of thinking ignores the very special role sexual selection plays in evolutionary biology.

    RJN, have you ever read anything written by a mainstream evolutionary biologist on sexual selection? It’s fascinating stuff, and might change your mind.

    As to my definition of Truth, I have one. Truth is the state of the universe itself in the past present and future. We can’t actually know it, but we can make maps/models that approximate it, and some of us mistake these maps or models for truth itself- but the models will eventually be found incomplete or altogether wrong. They will be replaced by more accurate models. Truth seeking is the practice of improving these models. Truth is an ideal we will never reach, but we should strive to reach it all the same.

  54. 54
    Ampersand says:

    Erin, that was rude, and you even said you knew it was rude.

    So don’t do that here. It’s not that hard.

  55. 55
    Ampersand says:

    And also, when talking about how people in the humanities act, that someone has almost 30 years in the humanities is obviously relevant, although not decisive. “Argument from authority” fallacy does not mean that no one is ever allowed to bring up relevant personal experience in a discussion.

    ETA: Especially in a case like this, where we all know that RJN didn’t just make up having worked as an educator for a long time. This is hardly like the “well, I was in a taxi the other day, and the taxi driver who was Black just happened to say this thing which perfectly accords with what I’m arguing here…” sort of anecdotes.

  56. 56
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I forgot to add:

    I don’t gauge whether or not someone is an extremist according to my own beliefs (which you’ve made some unfair assumptions about), though I suppose I could. I look at what most believe, and what beliefs are/aren’t considered acceptable to discuss in public in most places. Obviously, this is all just a guess, and my way of defining extremist isn’t right or wrong, but when I say Peterson isn’t an extremist, I mean that his views are pretty moderate overall- nothing he says would be out of place in a magazine like National Review, a magazine I’d place on the center-right. Take a center-left publication like Vox, and ask yourself the frequency with which you’re exposed to ideas outside of VOX’s overton window while talking with your peers at work.

    I should also add that I may live in a pretty different world than you, a world which may have shaped my views on what is and isn’t “extreme” differently. I’m an upper middle class white guy in DC who is also a pipefitter and welder by trade. I have almost exclusively upper middle class white friends who are left of center, but all my coworkers have been blue collar men of all races in Ohio, and pretty much all black here in DC. I’ve spent more time talking politics with these guys in Ohio and DC than I have my friends, and I love it. It’s a world I was completely unexposed to growing up, and definitely changed my views of what is and isn’t extreme, even if the politics of my blue-collar are way to the right of my own. These guys often love engaging in friendly debate to make some of the more tedious hours go by faster. (if I could write worth a damn, I’d write a book about the “union-democrats” I’ve worked with who almost certainly voted Trump)

  57. Jeffrey,

    I will have more to say in response to your comments after I’ve had a chance to mull over what I’m thinking a bit more, but right now I want to ask if you realize that the model of truth and truth-seeking that you put forward–of which I hope “the ultimately unachievable search for an accurate model of the universe” is a more or less accurate paraphrase–directly contradicts the thoroughly unnecessary lesson in pedagogy 101 that you felt it necessary to give me. If the current state of knowledge–in any field, right, not just science–has grown beyond what used to be settled/accepted fact, then the introductory pedagogy of that field needs to be adjusted. This doesn’t mean–in the case of evolutionary biology and sexual selection–that you throw out the male (sperm and its accompanying strategies, etc.)/female (ovum and its accompanying strategies, etc.) binary that so obviously is the defining characteristic of sexual reproduction, but it should mean that you ought to reconsider how you frame that binary, even in an introductory course on evolution.

    More to the point, though, your response here still does not answer the question I asked you, and so I will ask it one more time: Why do you think it is absurd to suggest that any field of inquiry ought to be interested in finding ways to incorporate into its analysis data that does not fit whatever the accepted model is at the time. It would seem to me, based on your definition of truth, that this endeavor ought to be at the center of what fields of inquiry do.

    As I said, I will say more later, which may end up being tomorrow.

  58. Also, Amp, thanks for responding to Erin.

  59. 59
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    RJN,

    My point wasn’t to tell you how to teach, I used that example because I know that you are a teacher, and I was just trying to get you to imagine teaching a particular theory in evolutionary biology that is most easily explained using “male” and “female” as a binary category. Much like General Relativity won’t really add to one’s understanding of Ballastics here on earth, a more expansive non-binary understanding of biological sex won’t add to one’s understanding of the evolution of a male Peacock’s tail, an adaption that makes the bird barely capable of flight. The point is that patterns arise in nature, and we build categories around the patterns in order to better understand them and think about them (there are countless examples of this in biology outside of sex, a student hell-bent on deconstructing category boundaries could make life hell for a professor teaching botany). These patterns and resulting categories may be incomplete, but you’d agree that Newtonian physics is useful even if it’s less complete than General Relativity, right? I’m arguing that the bi-modal male/female distribution is a pattern worth talking about and naming. The category is a tool, and it seems to me that you’d like to deprive biologists the use of this tool. The tool may not work perfectly in some applications, but it’s very valuable in others. There are also non-academic situations where a male/female dichotomy is of use (sports, for example. some women would rather not compete with men).

    I also think it’s important to consider appropriate levels of analysis. Just as a football coach shouldn’t design plays using quantum theory, a biologist might prefer not to use… I just realized I don’t know the name of the theory you’d use in place of the biological sex binary, but whatever it may be, it may be of little use to an evolutionary biologist studying bower birds.

  60. Jeffrey,

    My point wasn’t to tell you how to teach, I used that example because I know that you are a teacher, and I was just trying to get you to imagine teaching a particular theory in evolutionary biology that is most easily explained using “male” and “female” as a binary category. (Emphasis added)

    So you were, in fact, trying to tell me how to teach, right?

    I’m arguing that the bi-modal male/female distribution is a pattern worth talking about and naming. The category is a tool, and it seems to me that you’d like to deprive biologists the use of this tool.

    Where did I ever even hint at this? I did, after all, write this:

    This doesn’t mean–in the case of evolutionary biology and sexual selection–that you throw out the male (sperm and its accompanying strategies, etc.)/female (ovum and its accompanying strategies, etc.) binary that so obviously is the defining characteristic of sexual reproduction, but it should mean that you ought to reconsider how you frame that binary, even in an introductory course on evolution. (Emphasis added)

    Also, it is disingenuous of you to keep moving this conversation away from my original question, which you still have not answered.

    I still intend to write the further response that I mentioned in my previous comment, either later or tomorrow. Till then.

  61. 61
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    So you were, in fact, trying to tell me how to teach, right?

    This is silly. I’m a pipefitter. If you were trying to explain how important plastics are to our economy, and knowing my occupation, you argued, “imagine trying to weld without a poly-carbonate shaded lens over your eye.” That’s not you telling me how to weld or fit pipe, you’re just using a relate-able example to make your point about plastic, and how people would struggle being productive without it. Even if you’re wrong, and the lens I use are actually made of obsidian (they are not), you’re still not telling me how to weld, you’d just be wrong about a fact. If you’re still offended for some reason, replace “teaching a class about sexual selection,” with “create equations describing sexual selection.” It makes no difference to me.

    I’m starting to wonder if we actually almost agree about most of this stuff. In 8th grade chemistry class, it sure would be nice if our teachers explained that the ways in which atoms and bonds are modeled using “valence electrons” is a very rough approximation, and that later classes will abandon this model and add complexity and exceptions to the rules you learn here. Maybe you’d simply request that Biology professors say something like this on day one:

    “Biological sex is a dichotomy we use to explain evolutionary phenomenon in this class and future classes because it is an emergent pattern in nature that drives selection in important ways. The dichotomy isn’t suitable for describing a small number of people and animals, but it is suitable for building the theories I’m about to teach you.”

    I would have no problem with this or something like it, if that’s all you’re saying. That said, I think it’s wrong to declare “there’s no such thing as biological sex.” There is such a thing, because we coined it in order to describe a real phenomenon in nature. If the fact that we coined it is the justification for saying it doesn’t exist… well, have fun trying to communicate in world without categories.

  62. You’re right, Jeffrey, it is silly, and so I am not going to get into why your example about lenses and the example you gave me about teaching are, in the context of our discussion, not at all congruent in the way you seem to think they are. Rather, I am going, simply, to respond to this:

    I think it’s wrong to declare “there’s no such thing as biological sex.” There is such a thing, because we coined it in order to describe a real phenomenon in nature. If the fact that we coined it is the justification for saying it doesn’t exist… well, have fun trying to communicate in world without categories.

    First, this misstates my position, and what it in fact means to say that “truth is constructed,” in precisely the sloppily popularized way I’ve been saying you have been misstating it all along.

    Second, what you’ve written here takes, as I said earlier, a fundamentally conservative position–not in the sense of Republican versus Democrat, but in the sense that it is resistant to the possibility of progressive change that is inherent in what it means to broaden the scope of the data you use in order to think about the categories you define. (And that inclusiveness is what I mean by progressive, not, again, what people usually mean when they think red versus blue or some other similar statement of that ostensible political dichotomy.)

    And I don’t suppose there’s much value in continuing this particular conversation beyond this point.

  63. 63
    Harlequin says:

    I wanted to quickly plug Naomi Novik’s book Spinning Silver, in case it hasn’t been on the radar for some of you. It’s a fantasy very loosely inspired by Rumpelstiltskin and some Slavic and Baltic folk tales, set in a fictionalized, agrarian-era Baltic country, and as typical with Novik’s books has a good tight plot. But more important to the readership here, I think, it’s got a ton of well-written female characters, with different kinds of personalities, drawn from a wide range of classes and occupations within that agrarian society, and some of the main characters are Jewish. I had a great time reading it, and really recommend it.

  64. 64
    Petar says:

    Harlequin, I started reading Spinning Silver, but it felt absolutely familiar. Are you sure that it is not a reworking of something that has been out for a couple of years?

    Novik is one of my guilty pleasures. I love the characters and the relationships, but I have to put the reader down every time she tries to write military action, covert ops, etc. and cool down until I start missing the intrigue. She has gotten a lot better with personal combat since the early Temeraire, so that’s something…

  65. 65
    Harlequin says:

    She wrote it as a short story, I believe, and then kind of…forked it to make a novel. So it diverges at some point and the novel has much more story and a completely different ending. (That is, she didn’t expand it, she cut it off partway through and let it grow completely differently.) But I haven’t read the short story so I can’t confirm that, I guess.

    I don’t know much about either combat or the military, so I mostly enjoy the Temeraire books for, like, Temeraire and Laurence just hanging out! Temeraire And Laurence Explore China is a particular favorite of mine.

    I think I also liked Spinning Silver because a lot of my dad’s ancestry is Lithuanian Jewish, but I’m one generation too far removed to know much of what their lives were like (and I’m only half Jewish, and grew up geographically separated from my dad’s family– academic job markets). Spinning Silver is more Baltic than Slavic, but if you read it I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the worldbuilding– same with Uprooted, if you’ve read it. (Or thoughts on military issues in Temeraire, if you’d care to expand! I don’t get to talk about those books that often.)

  66. 66
    Petar says:

    World building, eh?

    I’m not going to talk about how negatively absolutely all Slavs are depicted in the first few chapters, because I do not like where these conversations go on Alas. I will also not comment on the weird dissonance of the titles in use, or on the discrepancies in scale when it comes to the significance and importance of the referenced settlements. I will also not comment on how one can mix the kind of economy found in a liberal, decentralized, dare I say democratic, environment like the GDL with the brutal feudalism of the Russian Empire.

    Hell, I think that I will be too sleepy too soon to bother with anything but comments on the monetary system.

    Let us see.

    Historically, the kopek was part of the FIRST decriminalized currency in the world. It was never used in a non-decimal system. It was created to be 1/100 of the existing grivek/ruble of the Russian Empire, and named after St.George’s spear. It was also set to the smallest silver coin that could be reasonably minted. (Remember, no inflation before the influx of bullion from the New World.) The Ruble was also silver, but its multiples were golden.

    Well, it seems that the author borrowed this currency system, but renamed the coins for some reason. In the book, the Kopek is worth 100 pennies, i.e. became the Ruble, and ‘penny’ is used for the kopeks, which are silver themselves. They are also probably magical, because 500 of them fit in a normal purse, and 100 of them stack to only the length of Wanda’s ring finger. If we assume, generously, that an undernourished Latvian serf’s daughter has a 10cm long ring finger, those pennies are .1mm thick. That’s about 1/300 of an inch. As I said, magic.

    Basically, I would bet dollars to donuts that Novic went with the basic fantasy monetary system of gold, silver and copper, based on the British pre-decimal units, and halfway through it decided to decimalize it, use Slavic units, and lost track of what she was doing.

    So she (Novik, not Myriem) ended up lending a destitute serf four years of wages, and he somehow managed to drink in one night the analogue of two pre-decimal pounds sterling in a town which does not have a name. This is like going to a blue collar bar in Detroit and drinking $40,000 in beer.

    In case you have not guessed yet, I think the world building is really bad. Pakel/Pavis is a town that does not rate a name… but is also a market town, holds fairs, supports specialized artisans, is visited by a Duke’s tax collector, and inhabitants use pounds sterling to gamble, drink and pay each other.

    So, basically, take The Grand Duchy of Lithuania and The Russian Empire, the two countries in the 17th century that are as different from each other as existed (Constitutional Democracy vs Absolute Monarchy, embodiments of decentralization and centralization respectively, powerful Third estate vs serfs who are slaves by any other name) and mash them together.

    Also take two monetary systems, and mash them together. Describe a moneylender who operates as no moneylender ever did. Use names who are immensely evocative to an European (Vishna? Minsk by any other name? Pavis? Staryk?) without caring that some are spoilers, and others red herrings.

    I enjoyed the book (yes, I read very, very quickly) because of the characters. I loved the Wanderer’s growth, although she did not do as much wandering she her name suggest (nor was Vishna sour, Pavis sheltering OR decadent, etc.) But as usual, there is no attention to detail, and Slavs… well, fuck Slavs, after all, everyone has and does.

    Vishna: sour cherry (any Slavic language) mouth curdling sour
    Pakel: Hell (Old Church Slavonic) not something you’d name your town
    Pavis: Defender (mighty shield) from a city in Italy
    Staryk: Old Man (Winter) i.e. immediately links to the Wild Hunt

    By the way, this whole book is so reminiscent of Sapkowski, I expected Gerald to drop by.

  67. 67
    Grace Annam says:

    Jeffrey Gandee:

    That said, I think it’s wrong to declare “there’s no such thing as biological sex.”

    Jeffrey and anyone inclined to address this point, please take any further discussion on “biological sex” to the Mint Garden. (If I have time, I will reply there myself.) Thank you.

    Grace

  68. 68
    Ampersand says:

    I wanted to quickly plug Naomi Novik’s book Spinning Silver,…

    Oh, that looks interesting – especially the idea of Jewish characters explicitly included in the Rumpelstiltskin story. I’ve placed a hold at the library. Thanks.

  69. 69
    Ampersand says:

    On the “Brave Truth-Teller” thread, Erin wrote:

    One thing that I really want to find out about the left is why Trump drives them so wild. There was lots of hatred on the left for Reagan and Bush Senior and a ton of hate for Bush Junior, but nothing like what is going on with Trump.

    This is an interesting question I’ve been thinking about lately.

    I haven’t worked out exactly how it would go, but I’ve been thinking about a cartoon showing a liberal stumbling into an alternate dimension – one in which a more conventional politician – Kasich, say, or Jeb Bush, or Rick Perry – won the GOP primary and defeated Clinton in the general election. And that liberal is startled to discover that most of the policy problems that anger her the most about the Trump era – the refusal to allow a hearing, followed by the claim that any GOP nominee deserves a quick vote; the advocacy of racist voting security laws to fight a mythical flood of noncitizens voting, the attacks on the Affordable Care Act, the denial of Global Warming, giving a pass to Russian interference in the 2016 election, the enormous tax cuts for the rich combined with the claim that anything that helps ordinary people is just unaffordable, etc – are basically identical in this new, nonTrump dimension.

    There are a couple of significant exceptions – I doubt any other GOP president would have been as eager to scuttle the Iran agreement, or to start trade wars – but for the most part, the problem here is the GOP as a whole, not Trump.

    I think that, in this context, any Republican president would have been utterly loathed by me and by most of my friends. But Trump does add a special thing to the mix – he’s simply more belligerent, more openly racist, and more willing to blatantly lie all the time than a standard Republican would have been. I don’t think we would have seen even Kobach using the presidency to declare the press “the enemy of the people.” Certainly, no other GOP president would have the twitter habits Trump does.

  70. 70
    Kate says:

    For me, some of the most alarming things about Trump, that would not have been true for other Republicans are:
    Lack of respect for the justice department
    Increase in ICE abuses
    Going after naturalized citizens with no criminal records, over mistakes in their naturalization paperwork
    Denying the validity of official birth certificates of Latinos delivered by midwives near the border with Mexico
    Conflicts of interest with his businesses, particularly receiving money from foreign countries
    Lack of respect for traditional allies, like EU and Canada
    Demanding prosecution of political enemies
    Stripping & threatening to strip officials and former officials of the security clearances
    Ending, or attempting to end legal status for DACA reciepients

    This is an incomplete list. However, I think there is more than enough to make the coming you’re thinking about highly problematic…

  71. 71
    Harlequin says:

    In addition to the “horrible horrible Republican policies and ALSO horrible as a human being” effect, I think there’s a disappointed hopes aspect. A good fraction–though certainly not all–of the Democratic base was ready to have a female president, to continue to break walls of discrimination as Obama did. And lots of people were certain that Clinton would win before the results started coming in, ensuring Democratic control of the executive branch even if they didn’t like Clinton. So it’s not just that Trump is obviously and blatantly unsuited for the job, and is implementing the worst possible version of already terrible Republican policies; it’s that we got Trump, as a result of a bunch of arguably unfair events, after a year of daydreaming of the coming Democratic golden age. (Those dreams were probably overblown the way the dreams for Obama were, but lots of people had them.) So, Trump being president feels unfair and hope-crushing, in addition to embarrassing and intolerably cruel.

  72. 72
    Harlequin says:

    Petar, that was really interesting–thanks! I didn’t know that about the currencies; very cool. And I didn’t know there was something to be known about the place names, or that the Staryk were not an invention just for the book, so even your asides were new information to me. :)

    I should mention that I read the book about a month ago, and didn’t think to post about it until I was re-shelving the book yesterday evening. I didn’t remember about how negatively the Slavs were portrayed in the first few chapters, or I would have warned you (and the other people here); I apologize for that oversight.

  73. 73
    Ampersand says:

    All good points, Kate and Harlequin; although Kate, I do think ICE abuses would have gotten worse under any Republican administration (the culture of that agency is just horrible), although very possibly not as bad as under Trump.

    And Harlequin, that seems like a really good answer to Erin’s question.

  74. 74
    desipis says:

    Reading through the list of issues in Kate’s comment made me think about Bush II’s presidency. As bad as Trump has been, has anything he’s done been as damaging as the Iraq war?

  75. 75
    Ampersand says:

    Reading through the list of issues in Kate’s comment made me think about Bush II’s presidency. As bad as Trump has been, has anything he’s done been as damaging as the Iraq war?

    I don’t think so. I’m hoping that we can get through the end of Trump without Trump starting any major wars.

    ETA: “Hasn’t yet done anything as damaging as the Iraq war” is, to put it mildly, a low hurdle to clear.

  76. 76
    RonF says:

    Kate, comments on a few of your points @70:

    Lack of respect for the justice department

    Given the politicization evident with regards to the various investigations of Clinton, Trump, the Tea Party, et. al. it deserves that.

    Denying the validity of official birth certificates of Latinos delivered by midwives near the border with Mexico

    Given that they are targeting only people who have birth certificates issued by midwives who have admitted to having falsified birth certificates, from a legal viewpoint this is not unreasonable. Given the amount of time that has passed and how hard it is to prove a negative, the moral issue is a lot shakier.

    Conflicts of interest with his businesses, particularly receiving money from foreign countries

    Even George Washington did business while he was in office. I don’t see where there’s any actual effects on our foreign policy that are demonstrable.

    Lack of respect for traditional allies, like EU and Canada

    He wants NATO to pay it’s fair share and he wants better business deals. That’s bound to cause some controversy. I’m afraid my opinion in this matter is “Too bad – pay up”.

    Demanding prosecution of political enemies

    I missed this, somehow. Links?

    Stripping & threatening to strip officials and former officials of the security clearances

    Good. He should do more of it. Security clearances are issued by the Executive branch to those working for the United States who need them and qualify for them in order to execute the Executive branch’s policies. If the people involved are not doing that; if they are out of a position that requires it or if they are out of office entirely they should lose them. If they are needed as consultants then the officials they are consulting with can grant them access to certain information on a case-by-case basis. If they are acting as commentators in the media then they shouldn’t have access at all, even as a consultant. A security clearance is a privilege, not a right.

    Ending, or attempting to end legal status for DACA recipients

    As far as I’m concerned Pres. Obama had no right to do this in the first place and the program should never have been put in place. Congress could have sent a DACA bill to Pres. Trump a year ago. It seems that the Democrats won’t accept strengthening border controls as a price. Apparently increasing security at the border is not a priority for the Democratic party.

  77. 77
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    This may sound Flippant, but I’m serious when I say that I’m extremely nervous that a man with such horrible twitter judgement also has access to nuclear codes.

    With that said, the Trump presidency has changed my mind about government in general. I value the stability of our public institutions right now, and underestimated their importance. I know things are bad for some people, but I actually thought the country as a whole would be in worse shape by now than it is.

  78. 78
    Kate says:

    Thank-you Ron, but I’m well aware of what position Trump and FOX News take on these points.

  79. 79
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    I liked Spinning Silver quite a bit, but the idea that the money lender can collect debts by threatening to call in the government (a remote, anti-Semitic government) is highly implausible at best.

  80. 80
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    It doesn’t make sense that someone could go to a bar and drink up four years worth of wages, but I think it’s plausible to get drunk and have it all stolen.

  81. 81
    Fibi says:

    Thought I would post a link to this article in Discover about a study that indicates that social media mobs may be counterproductive. I definitely find myself to react much less favorably to comments when there is an element of mobbing and was interested to see that I’m not alone.

  82. 82
    Petar says:

    I liked Spinning Silver quite a bit, but the idea that the money lender can collect debts by threatening to call in the government (a remote, anti-Semitic government) is highly implausible at best.

    I absolutely agree with this, but it is actually worse. The Jewish family was on the verge of losing members to the elements, without interference from their neighbors. Given how greedy, immoral and brutally ruthless practically all Slavs are, Myriem threats would have resulted in the whole moneylender family ‘dying from pneumonia’. No one would have bothered to investigate.

    Which actually reminds me of how casually the destitute serfs treat valuable resources like fuel and oil. That someone who subsides on dug up acorns will own a lantern, use it to walk to the village, leave it burning in front of a glass (!) window for the whole night… as I was reading this, I was thinking “The author has little idea of how a 20th century peasant in Latvia lived, even at the time of the workers’ paradise.” She also has no idea how survivable most Christmases are in a shed on the 60th North parallel, or the value of most things in a medieval society.

    It doesn’t make sense that someone could go to a bar and drink up four years worth of wages, but I think it’s plausible to get drunk and have it all stolen.

    To be fair to the author, he did not drink up the whole four year wages. He drunk up one third, gambled another third away, and paid the last third to a doctor. I’m not saying that any of the above are quite plausible in a town that does not rate a name, but the first one is the most glaring, so I only commented on that.

    As for all of it being stolen, it would not quite work for the plot, and to be honest, it would not happen in the inn of a small closed community. Everyone knows everyone, and thieves are not tolerated. Of course, the real problem is the enormity of the sums for people who realistically would seldom see any coin, let alone be good for a fraction of the loan.

  83. 83
    Ampersand says:

    Thought I would post a link to this article in Discover about a study that indicates that social media mobs may be counterproductive. I definitely find myself to react much less favorably to comments when there is an element of mobbing and was interested to see that I’m not alone.

    Well, it depends on how you define “productive.” If the purpose for each mob member to be viewed well, for example, then it’s counterproductive. But if the purpose is to pressure a university into firing a professor for something they tweeted – and if the professor is fired – then from the perspective of the “mob” it may have been productive despite the small effects found in that study.

    There was a curious case of a “positive mob” this past week, which it’s likely you saw; an actor who played a supporting character on “The Cosby Show” was spotted bagging groceries at Trader Joe’s, an unflattering photo was taken, and Fox News reported on it in a very “oh how the once famous have fallen” tone. The actor said that at first he was devastated, but the thousands and thousands of people posting on social media to support the actor, criticize Fox, point out there’s no shame in honest work, etc., quickly made him feel much better.

  84. 84
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    An issue is that unreasonable people are often catered to try to appease them, while reasonable people are often ignored. So this creates a bit of a paradox where anti-mobbers may have to engage in (mild) mobbing to create counter pressure against hostile mobbers. However, this ultimately seems like a losing game, because unreasonable people will always be more eager to be unreasonable and better at it.

    So it seems to me that a better solution is to have a tolerant, (classically) liberal norm, where those in power refuse to yield to mobbing tactics and instead listen to reason.

  85. 85
    Mookie says:

    Amp @69

    On the “Brave Truth-Teller” thread, Erin wrote:

    One thing that I really want to find out about the left is why Trump drives them so wild. There was lots of hatred on the left for Reagan and Bush Senior and a ton of hate for Bush Junior, but nothing like what is going on with Trump.

    This is an interesting question I’ve been thinking about lately.

    I don’t know how useful it is as a question, but it certainly begs one or two in return. The first, I guess, is what are we to make of the implication that Rabid Lefties are an anomalous phenomenon sprung forth from the foam-flecked pelvis of our man Trump? The short “answer,” or the second question begged, is where the hell was Erin from 2008 to 2016?

  86. 87
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Mookie,

    Peet was born with a female body and now seems to present as male. For example, in the debate with Peterson, Peet was wearing a shirt and tie, which is very masculine clothing.

    Peterson didn’t address Peet with ‘she,’ but with ‘he,’ showing that he accepts it when someone presents differently from their birth sex. What he didn’t seem to accept is presenting as a man, but not wanting to be addressed that way.

    This is very different from transphobes who disregard how people present and who oppose having people transition. They call people by their birth sex.

    Given that he doesn’t believe trans women are women, though, it’s pretty gutless and inconsistent of him to grudgingly respect a preference for “she” by people he doesn’t recognize as female. It’s proof that this isn’t about bravely resisting compelled speech, but about protecting the binary itself.

    I don’t know why you concluded that he doesn’t believe that trans women are women, as his debate with Peet showed that he was willing to use a pronoun that is different from the birth sex or why it matters what he believes. Behavior matters and fortunately people are free to have their own thoughts.

    Secondly, he is hardly the only one who feels strongly about protecting the binary. TERFS do too. Yet Peterson gets way more flak than them, while behaving much more nicely.

    Is it because he is a man? Is it because he rejects Social Justice as a movement? It is because he questions dogma? Why?

  87. 88
    Ampersand says:

    Yet Peterson gets way more flak than them, while behaving much more nicely.

    Not to defend TERFs at all, but they get an incredible amount of flak, constantly. (And they deserve nearly all they get.) I see far more about TERFs than about Peterson in my social media feeds, and the usual tone I see can be described as “disgust and contempt.” (Of course, maybe I’m seeing a wildly unrepresentative sample – but then again, maybe you are.)

    Maybe you mean TERFs don’t get as much flak in mainstream news coverage? That’s true, but the most obvious explanation for that is that Peterson is famous, and the amount of criticism he gets in mainstream news outlets is related to how high his profile is.

  88. 89
    Ampersand says:

    Speaking for myself, the two things I really know about Peterson is that he got famous by giving the impression that he (Peterson) was in danger of being thrown in jail for refusing to use trans students’ preferred gender, if a law protecting trans people were to be passed. It was a false claim, and one he profited by, at the expense of trans folks. (The law has been passed, and as far as I can tell no one’s been thrown in jail – or even fined – for using the wrong pronoun.)

    The other thing I know is that on at least two occasions, he’s linked from his enormously powerful twitter account to the social media of students who’ve criticized him (I linked to an example earlier this thread). The result of this – an enormous torrent of abuse, the students having to shut down their social media – is 100% predictable. I think that’s scummy behavior.

    The third thing I know, I guess, is that his fans really hate it when he’s criticized, and tend to make attacks on the motives of anyone who criticizes Peterson. You know, like “Is it because he is a man? Is it because he rejects Social Justice as a movement? It is because he questions dogma?”

  89. 90
    Ampersand says:

    Grace, would you like me to move the Peterson discussion (including, obviously, my last two comments) to the open thread?

  90. 91
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    That’s true, but the most obvious explanation for that is that Peterson is famous, and the amount of criticism he gets in mainstream news outlets is related to how high his profile is.

    Joe Rogan is very famous too in the same way as Peterson before he became this boogeyman and has made many criticisms of Social Justice, spoke out against transwomen competing as women, etc. Yet he isn’t treated as Satan.

    Why? Does Peterson have some sort of trait (or set of traits) that equates to a ‘punchable face’ to Social Justice people?

    The third thing I know, I guess, is that his fans really hate it when he’s criticized, and tend to make attacks on the motives of anyone who criticizes Peterson. You know, like “Is it because he is a man? Is it because he rejects Social Justice as a movement? It is because he questions dogma?”

    It’s not very nice to call me as a fan boy merely for not agreeing with the slander against him.

  91. 92
    Mookie says:

    Joe Rogan is very famous too in the same way as Peterson

    He is famous for being a television personality and color commenter for a niche sport that is more than comfortable with its own homegrown transphobia, not as an intellectual and academic, which is how Peterson conceives of himself and is what gives him such clout in (mostly middle-brow) circles. Peterson has signaled he is willing to be co-opted and lifted up to greater notoriety by both the elite and the extremist right-wing establishments; Rogan, for all his flaws, has not. He’s also not fashioned himself as an authority on this subject, has not written books about it, and is not particularly concerned with how self-styled Serious People feel about him. Peterson is palpably yearning for respectability, which tends to attract attention. He’s not owed positive attention.

  92. 93
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Joe Rogan has over 30 million downloads for his shows, across channels. Peterson just does YouTube and has 5 uploads over 1 million.

    But I guess that you are right that the media, academia, activists and such are largely very elitist and don’t care very much about what the masses care about.

    That’s actually one of my major complaints about them :P

  93. 94
    Mookie says:

    The masses have never heard of Joe Rogan, but, yes, you’ve answered your own question.

Leave a Reply

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