Open Thread and Link Farm, A Record 102 Edition

  1. 2020 election: this child tax credit expansion could slash poverty – Vox
    A $3000-per-child child allowance is being proposed by some Democrats.
  2. Trump’s reign of corruption will now face real opposition. Here are three things to watch. – The Washington Post
  3. US enters new phase as women change the face of Congress | US news | The Guardian
  4. I’m fine with women in power, just not this one specific woman currently in power – The Washington Post
  5. Cops Force Doctors to Anally Probe Drug Suspect, Bill Him $4500
    Sickening. The word “rape” is never used in the story, but I don’t see why not. Thanks to Grace for the link.
  6. Deported to Honduras, an asylum seeker who feared MS-13 was murdered. His children are fighting to stay in the United States. – Washington Post
  7. Scott Wiener’s SB-50 could fix California’s housing crisis – Vox
    The bill is designed to encourage development in rich areas, and to avoid gentrification (by not allowing new construction to replace current rental properties). Interesting.
  8. The 10 most wonderfully weird SNL sketches from 2018, ranked – The Washington Post
    It’s hard to beat the lobster sketch, but I also really liked the Barbie interns and the fallen down teacher.
  9. Alice Walker’s Conspiracy Theories Aren’t Just Anti-Semitic – They’re Anti-Black – The Forward
  10. And if you need context for the above link: Alice Walker’s controversial endorsement of David Icke, explained – Vox
  11. Dan Savage has a good rant here about Tumblr’s adult content ban.
    Thanks to Mandolin for this link.
  12. Meet the Woman Who Invented Cosplay – Racked
  13. Seth Rudetsky takes 23 minutes to go over all the things he thinks are cool in Hamilton’s ‘The Schuyler Sisters’ song.
    The song itself is three minutes and seven seconds long.
  14. The best argument against kidney sales fails | Journal of Medical Ethics
    The author argues that kidney markets can be set up in a way that will avoid creditors and others pressuring poor people to sell their kidneys.
  15. Sanatan Dinda – An Indian Visual Artist
    This artist does the best body painting I can recall seeing.
  16. A Veteran Supreme Court Justice Cited a Debunked Planned Parenthood Smear in an Opinion
    Specifically, Judge Thomas apparently believes the debunked accusation that Planned Parenthood “engaged in ‘the illegal sale of fetal organs’” enough to cite it in his official Supreme Court dissent (although, to be clear, he did say “alleged”). Or, alternatively, Thomas knows that it’s complete bullshit, but is cynical and partisan enough to cite the “alleged” organ sales anyway. In either case, it indicates the major problem with the Republicans today – that completely batshit and evil conspiracy theories are bought into, sincerely or cynically, at the very highest levels. (See, also: climate change. See, also: Millions of illegal immigrants voting.)
  17. Doomrocket’s choices for the 30 best comic book covers of 2018.
    I don’t agree with every choice, but I still love looking through these sorts of features (and many of the covers are stunners). Bill Sienkiewicz has three (!) covers on the list.
  18. The $400 Rape – Jessica Valenti – Medium
    An alleged rapist pleads to a lesser charge and is let off with a $400 fine. Content warning for sexual assault, obviously.
  19. One Woman Who Knew Her Rights Forced Border Patrol Off a Greyhound Bus | American Civil Liberties Union
  20. On Weight Loss Surgery And The Unbearable Thinness Of Being – The Establishment
    Content warning for, well, discussion of anti-fat bigotry.
  21. Germany: The first basic income experiment in Germany will start in 2019 | Basic Income News
    It’s an experiment, not a country-wide policy, comparing their usual system (which has sanctions if people fail to do things such as look for work) to a basic income scheme.
  22. Florida Sheriff Worked With ICE to Illegally Jail and Nearly Deport US Citizen | American Civil Liberties Union
  23. Why is Everyone Blaming Vice Admiral Holdo? – Purple Serpents In Her Hair
    Holdo was right not to tell Poe the plan!
  24. Thundercats reboot, Steven Universe & CalArts style insult explained – Polygon
    This article was written before the new “She-Ra,” which is approximately 1463x better than the original, premiered, but I’ve seen the same meaningless “CalArts style” criticism of that show, too.
  25. CBS Paid the Actress Eliza Dushku $9.5 Million to Settle Harassment Claims – The New York Times
    The network introduced tapes of Dushku (Faith on “Buffy”) swearing on-set to suggest she was fired for being unprofessional, rather than because she asked the lead actor to stop making sexually suggestive jokes about her. The network didn’t recognize that the tapes also contained the lead actor acting exactly as Dushku described – a ten million dollar mistake. Good for Dushku.
  26. J’Accuse…! Why Jeanne Calment’s 122-year old longevity record may be fake
    Essentially, if this theory is right (and although we’ll never know for sure, I find the arguments persuasive), the real Jeanne Calment died at around age 60. In order to avoid paying inheritance taxes, the wealthy family claimed that Jeanne’s daughter had died, and the daughter took on Jeanne’s identity. The rich really are different!
    ETA:I’ve looked into this more, and although I stupidly didn’t save the links, I’ve also seen arguments for Calment NOT being a hoax, which I also found persuasive. Controversies I honestly don’t care about either way can be so much fun to read. I’m going to continue to think it’s a hoax, but only because I think that’s a better story.
  27. Steve Stewart-Williams on Twitter: My Top 12 Favourite Perceptual Illusions
  28. Mankato professor taking heat for tweet that God is guilty of #MeToo violation – StarTribune.com
    The tweet said “The virgin birth story is about an all-knowing, all-powerful deity impregnating a human teen. There is no definition of consent that would include that scenario. Happy Holidays.”
  29. Are Scandals About Illegal Abuse of “Rescued” Sex Workers In India, Distracting From Legal, Systematic Abuses? | openDemocracy
    “Those who are held against their will in ‘protection homes’ – lawfully under the ITPA –resort to escaping, rioting, and self-harm in an attempt to regain or at least assert their own agency.”
  30. DeVos’ Proposed Changes to Title IX, Explained | National Women’s Law Center
    Some of the changes – such as the requirement that accused students have access to the evidence against them – strike me as fair and positive changes. But many of the changes are terrible and will leave stuydent rape victims with less recourse.
  31. How one man repopulated a rare butterfly species in his backyard – Vox
  32. I should be in bed right now but instead I’m reading this twitter thread of funny things from Tumblr, and it’s super cracking me up, and I have to quit reading these and go to bed but I can’t.
  33. What is TikTok? The app that used to be Musical.ly, explained. – Vox
    I’ve never heard of TikTok before, but it’s apparently bigger than Twitter or Instagram, and hoooo boooy is it goofy. Fuck the youtubers making fun of people for having fun.
  34. Massachusetts federal court rules you have the right to secretly record cops.

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128 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, A Record 102 Edition

  1. 1
    Ampersand says:

    Regarding that 102 number, quoting a tweet I just saw:

    Total women in the U.S. House: 1989:
    16 Democrats
    13 Republicans

    2019:
    89 Democrats
    13 Republicans

  2. 2
    Ben Lehman says:

    I read the kidney sales article, and I couldn’t find a single part of it which in any way backed the premise that creditors won’t leverage debt to enforce sales of kidneys in a meaningful way that would stand up to legislative capture by the ultra-rich.

    I’m skeptical as hell.

  3. If you run, or know someone who runs, a literary series, you might be interested in this piece I wrote for AWP’s Two-Year College Caucus, “The Politics of Running a Literary Reading Series.”

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    House Democrats first order of business: a bill to limit voter suppression.

    It’s a bit symbolic, since there is no way the GOP-controlled Senate would allow an anti-voter-suppression bill. But it’s still an important sign of the Democrats taking this issue more seriously, and increase the odds that Democrats will take this up the next time they control the Senate.

  5. 5
    Tatterdemalion1983 says:

    From link #34:

    This pattern of persecution is deeply disturbing. Although the Supreme Court has never specifically discussed the right to record, the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 11th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals have all held that the First Amendment plainly protects the filming of officers and public.

    Is this just an extraordinary coincidence, or is there something causally different about the odd and even circuit courts of appeals?

  6. 6
    Petar says:

    About Cosplay being invented in the 1930s…

    How is it materially different from French aristocrats dressing up as characters from the Prose Lancelot in their Arthurian Fetes in the 17th and 18th century?

    And I am sure that there are other, earlier examples, but mine is one of people dressing up as literary characters in an assembly dedicated to a particular genre, which is as close as I can come to a definition of Cosplay.

    If we are to extend the definition to masquerades, there is photographical evidence of people dressing up as Mr. Skygack from Mars, from the eponymous comic strip, at the time when “The Woman Who Invented Cosplay” was busy being born.

  7. 7
    Ampersand says:

    I’d say that the cosplay in fan culture in the 1930s has a continuity with current-day cosplay in fan culture, which those other examples (while interesting) do not.

  8. 8
    Petar says:

    The same way the Rodnovery fools invented Slavic Paganism, the Heathenry assholes invented Norse Paganism, and the Christians invented Virgin Birth?

    Because there sure as Hell is even less continuity between the historical worship of Perun, Odin, and Zoroaster, and those later day worshipers.

    I mean, I would give the example of the barrow, which the Ancient Greeks may have used, the Romans definitely used, and the Chinese never stopped using for millennia, but which by your standards was clearly invented in Medieval Europe… Only, there was no continuity just for a few brief centuries, nothing like the long, long 20 years and 200 miles between the (succession of) people dressing like Mr. Skygack and “The Woman Who Invented Cosplay”.

    By the way, why are we assuming no continuity? There are at least 20 records of people getting arrested for “maskerading in public” in the US, and at least three of these records are for a Mr. Skygack costume.

    And the Jules Verne Balls are still being thrown in Amiens, even though I bet they were discontinued for the German occupation, and the term cosplay (coo-spleh if you ask a Frenchman) started being used only recently. But if we are going to go for the terms used, then it’s a Japanese reporter who coined ‘cosplay’.

    I’d write more, but I think that I will go in my back yard and invent the trebuchet. I do not think it’s been used any time recently, for a short enough value of recently. I mean, I used one a couple of months ago in the high school down the street, and left a smaller model there, but it’s the middle of the night, and raining. It’s unlikely anyone is using one in the States right now, and who cares about anywhere else, right?

    ===========

    Note for those who have not heard of Jules Verne’s Balls. In 1876, three hundred people attended dressed as characters from his novels. It was not a fan convention, because it was organized by the family of the author, but it sure was cosplay by any definition I have found. And if it was a fan convention, it sure as Hell dwarfs the two competing for the title of “first fan convention”, both having taken place in 1936, and having had about one tenth of the attendees.

  9. 9
    Tatterdemalion1983 says:

    #16 is wrong, I’m afraid. What the link actually quotes Thomas as saying is

    “What explains the court’s refusal to do its job here? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood”.

    “It is true that these particular cases arose after several States alleged that Planned Parenthood affiliates had, among other things, engaged in ‘the illegal sale of fetal organs’ and ‘fraudulent billing practices,’ and thus removed Planned Parenthood as a state Medicaid provider,”.

    So no, he’s not claiming that the allegations were true, he’s claiming that several states acted as though they were, and that that in turn is relevant to the case.

    I think that the article you link is probably deliberately deceptive and certainly utterly misleading, and that your comment on it is untrue; can I prevail upon you to edit it?

  10. 10
    RonF says:

    Re: #1

    But if we can afford Medicare-for-all — and likely candidates from Bernie Sanders to Kamala Harris to Elizabeth Warren to Cory Booker think we can — then we can certainly afford to cut child poverty in half.

    First off, I am entirely open to the concept of this bill. However, the costs do need to be accounted for. And my guess is that the above sentence would be far more accurate if the word “feel” was substituted for the word “think”. I would be curious to see anything written by any of them that actually runs the math.

  11. 11
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, it’s not usual for legislation-writers to “run the numbers” in detail; the CBO does that after legislation is proposed. Then, in response to the CBO’s estimates, the legislation is modified, the CBO does a new estimate, etc etc etc..

    But Bernie Sanders’ office has released this paper about options for paying for Medicare for All. This outline from the Center for American Progress also includes a section on financing.

    That said, many Democrats are now saying that we should separate financing medicare for all, from medicare for all. Since Republicans aren’t constrained by having to finance their policies when they pass those policies (gigantic tax cuts for the rich, invasion of Iraq, etc), the argument goes, Democrats shouldn’t be constrained either. Financing would be the job of Congress when it writes the overall budget, rather than on a bill-by-bill basis.

  12. 12
    Ampersand says:

    Honest question: Has the Trump administration released a detailed plan for how their wall (and other border security measures – they’re asking for more than what Congress budgeted) will be paid for?

  13. 13
    Celeste says:

    Funding is a hard problem, but I think the benefits of “cut the military by 10% and a 70% marginal tax rate at the high end” would so far outweigh the costs that we would be shocked we hadn’t done it earlier.

    Oh wait, I guess funding wasn’t a hard problem after all.

    :)

  14. 14
    Zag says:

    I know criticism of Ampersand is probably a bannable offense, but I am speaking my truth to bannable power, so to speak (plus, I don’t really care):

    I finally figured out what bothered me about Ampersand’s posting and the style of many of the people here. There is no attempt to understand what people really mean, where they are coming from, there is simply a constant attack on any part of the post that is vulnerable in the case of right-leaning (or even objective) people. As real hyperbole, it’s like finding a spelling errors in Albert Einstein’s paper on the electrodynamics of moving bodies.

    You people really can be clueless, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. The subtle flaming and mockery (not direct, God forbid) will likely start, instead of any real introspection, so carry on troops.

  15. 15
    Ampersand says:

    So no, he’s not claiming that the allegations were true, he’s claiming that several states acted as though they were, and that that in turn is relevant to the case.

    I think that the article you link is probably deliberately deceptive and certainly utterly misleading, and that your comment on it is untrue; can I prevail upon you to edit it?

    I’ve edited my post to make the “alleged” clear (and the “alleged” part is also clear in the linked article).

    But I still think it’s bad to drag in a totally debunked smear in a way that doesn’t make it clear it’s a smear, outside of a context where it’s clear that it’s a smear.

    For instance, if I wrote an article referring to the “alleged gang rape case Rolling Stone reported,” and nothing in the context made it clear that Jackie’s accusations have been totally debunked, that would be wrong.

  16. 16
    KellyK says:

    Since I started commenting again, I think for the first time since 2016, it seemed like a good idea to say “hi” in an open thread.

    So, hi. How’s everybody doing? Anything new and exciting in your lives?

    I’m working on a partial career change, where I’m going part-time at my tech writing job so I can also work as a suicide/crisis counselor supporting LGBTQ youth. (I’ve been doing similar work with the same org as a volunteer.)

    The pay is a lot less (though reasonable for the work), the benefits are almost non-existent (although paid sick time and time and a half for holidays is actually really good for an entry-level part-time job), and the hours are a bit painful. (6 AM shifts, and I’m really not a morning person). On the plus side, the commute is to my couch, the work is deeply fulfilling and sometimes actually functions as stress relief, despite also being emotionally difficult, and the people are awesome. I finish training this week and should start shifts in a couple weeks. If you couldn’t tell, I’m really excited about it.

  17. 17
    Ampersand says:

    Hi, Kelly! Welcome back! Your new job sounds completely awesome – please let us know how it works out.

  18. 18
    Erin says:

    There is no attempt to understand what people really mean, where they are coming from, there is simply a constant attack on any part of the post that is vulnerable in the case of right-leaning (or even objective) people.

    If you just want to appear to win every debate, it’s actually a pretty good tactic. Scan the relevant post for anything that can be attacked (you can always find something if the post covers a lot of material) and then denounce it with links etc. showing you are right. Add a whiff of smoke and a couple of mirrors, and people will not realize it was not the main point. Most third parties don’t really pay attention anyway, they just see the thunder of the “You’re Wrong”. Another great trick is to feign outrage at how something was expressed, indicating that the poster is morally a bad person and thus not worthy of any attention or respect.

  19. 19
    Kate says:

    Falsely accusing liberals of doing horrible things that conservatives actually are doing is a very effective tactic that liberals still haven’t figured out how to fight.

  20. 20
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    People on the left use that same tactic. Your shtick is to claim that the right does all kinds of horrible things, while the left is virtuous and nice. However, I would argue that your perception is because you are blind to devious behavior in service of things you agree with.

    PS. A somewhat effective response is to become resentful over such accusations and then vote someone into office who royally pisses the other tribe off.

  21. 21
    Kate says:

    Your shtick is to claim that the right does all kinds of horrible things, while the left is virtuous and nice.

    Total straw man. This is actually my view.
    At this point in history, in the U.S. in particular, the far right is much more dangerous than the far left. The far right commits more violent acts, has more grassroots development and influences mainstream politics more than the far left. There are many reasons for this. Such imbalances rarely happen for just one reason. But it has nothing to do with any side being more or less “virtuous” or “nice” – although part of it is the fact that the left tends to be less obedient and more chaotic.
    On both sides, most people are simply pushing for their own self interest. However, the results are quite different. The Democratic party base has developed into a coalition of marginalized people and their allies who, by moral accident, are working for greater justice and equality in society by pushing for their own interests. They are more fragmented than the right because, although they all want to change the current hierarchy, they all want to change it in different ways which compete (eg. feminism has a racism problem). They are held in check by the Democratic party machine and funding, which has interests more in line with the Republican coalition (which would not allow them to get away with lies that benefit them about economic policy comparable to the ones about marginal vs. effective rates Amp criticized in another post recently).
    The Republican party, base, machine and funding are currently a coalition of people with various forms of privilege (sometimes quite scanty, in the case of the base) who are pushing for greater inequality by pushing for their own interests. They are unified in their support of the current hierarchy. Their competition is merely competing for places within that hierarchy. They see their main threat as those below them, trying to take their power.

  22. Apropos of Kate’s comment @21, I would recommend Democracy in Chains: The Deep History Of The Radical Right’s Stealth Plan For America, by Nancy MacClean. It is, absolutely, a left-wing book, but it is also meticulously researched, and the story it tells—separate and apart from the ideological position one might take towards that story—should give pause to people on both sides of the aisle, because it is the story of a small group of very, very, very rich people (the Koch brothers and those that came before them) who sincerely want to undo American democracy in order to protect their wealth.

  23. 23
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    ‘Shtick’ doesn’t have to imply disingeniousness. It can simply refer to a habit or eccentricity that someone constantly exhibits. In your case, it’s your extreme bias, where you adopt claims that are extremely subjective to say the least, yet with not even an inkling of how subjective your beliefs are.

    Take your claim that the far right influences mainstream politics more than the far left. The problem with this claim is that a far-left person will be more eager to see center-right or even center-left views/demands as far-right than a moderate or right-wing person. The opposite is true for a far-right person.

    So you may see the far-right as influencing politics strongly for trying to get more border protection built and such, but don’t see gay marriage as a major victory for your side where the influence of the left was huge. Yet a (far-)right person may believe that left has far more influence on politics because of gay marriage and such.

    A further complication is that ‘left’ and ‘right’ are extremely imperfect categorizations, with quite a few beliefs existing on both sides, especially at the fringes. For example, I bet that most left-wing people would categorize transphobia as right-wing, yet TERFS exist. I believe that people have a tendency to ‘other’ beliefs they disagree with, being rather eager to ascribe them to the tribe that they see as the enemy.

    For example, antisemitism seems to typically be ascribed to white male rightists by those on the left, yet the NYT recently wrote a piece on how half of the hate crimes in NY are against Jews and that the perpetrators aren’t just white people. I bet that many of them voted Democrat as well.

    Ultimately, I think that many of your claims say far more about your world view & biases, than about reality, which cannot be caught in such simplistic schema’s.

    Talking about simplistic schema’s…

  24. 24
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    RJN,

    That book is not “meticulously researched” at all. It lacks evidence for many of its claims & uses misquotations and cherry picking to create a conspiracy theory. It also ignores that the political strategies that she calls undemocratic were and are used by the left as well.

    Vox published a good critique. Let me quote a few parts:

    Despite MacLean’s apparent shock, for example, the political tactics that Buchanan advocated are nothing unusual in politics.
    […]
    The architects of the welfare state used such stratagems to hide their true intentions and entrench the welfare state so deeply that future politicians would be unable to roll it back.
    […]
    Where MacLean accuses Buchanan and those he influenced of undemocratic schemes for political entrenchment, they saw themselves as engaging in a strategy of counter-entrenchment. At least in this if in nothing else, it really is the case that “everyone does it.”

    If Democracy in Chains were just another overheated partisan book, it wouldn’t be worth discussing. Yet the book was written by a highly respected professor in a first-rate department, and was published by a major trade press — and has been acclaimed by well-known figures on the left (and now shortlisted for a major prize). There is every reason to believe it will shape how those on our side of the political spectrum understand the history and strategies of their adversaries.

    Why have so many left-wing readers embraced such a transparently flawed book? The most persuasive explanation is that MacLean confirms and extends their deep preexisting suspicions. The book tells them how a single man with a single plan united neoliberal economists, the Kochs, and Republican operatives in a secretive plot against democracy, before he was undone in an internecine clash with Charles Koch, which MacLean depicts as a titanic clash between two ambitious leaders. Leftists and liberals are left with the belief that their opponents are all working in coordination, implementing a single master plan with fiendish efficiency, while they themselves are in hapless disarray.
    […]
    Conservatives have their own versions of a mythology portraying opponents as secretive plotters, focusing on such supposed puppet masters as George Soros, Saul Alinsky, and Frances Fox Piven. Each side assumes the existence of a flawless, ruthlessly executed plan on the other side, while bemoaning the chaos and excessive scruples that beset their own allies. It is always tempting to think that the other side is more organized, more motivated, and more seamlessly united than they are, since all one can see are their successes, and not the compromises, mistakes, and frustrations that lie behind those successes.

  25. LoL:

    First, out of idle curiosity, have you read the book? Or are you simply assuming that the critique you link to, because it relies in significant measure on one of your own favorite responses—”stop acting like the other side is the only one that does it”—is correct? (About this, more below.)

    Democracy in Chains is admittedly, openly, partisan and so it is not intended as a balanced account of anything. That it is not the scholarly book Farrell and Teles think would be a good contribution to the scholarly conversation, therefore (the book they say, in a rhetorical move that sets them up as the arbiters of this debate, that they would like someone to write), is hardly surprising.

    I actually agree with them that some of MacClean’s rhetoric gets overblown at times and, of course no book, partisan or otherwise, is perfect. I would not dispute, in other words, that she has massaged her evidence in ways that support not only the intellectual, but also the ideological positions she is staking out, and that her approach is therefore susceptible to the kinds critique Farrell and Teles offer. (Though their critique is clearly not without its own political bias, as they clearly prefer the work of “left-leaning” or “center left” scholars to MacClean’s.) This doesn’t mean, however, that her partisan position is wrong; it means it is a partisan position. To dismiss the book because you think it should have been a different kind of book is, in fact, to avoid rather than engage the position the book actually takes.

    As to this quote, which you pulled from the article:

    The architects of the welfare state used such stratagems to hide their true intentions and entrench the welfare state so deeply that future politicians would be unable to roll it back.

    I would think this is such an obvious point that it hardly bears making. Any given method or strategy will be ideologically neutral, available to anyone along the political spectrum—something that MacLean acknowledges when she points out that someone in Buchanan’s circle (I don’t have the book in front of me, so I can’t pull out the precise quote) recognized that they had something to learn, in terms of strategy and tactics, from Lenin.

    What makes this “both sides do it” argument so tiresome is that, in my experience anyway (and, I have to confess, your use of it on this blog seems to bear me out), it is almost always deployed to distract from, if not to hide outright, the real, material, ideological issues that are at stake and to turn whatever question/issue is being debated into a debate about the character and nature of tactics and strategy.

    There is a real, material difference between how the socioeconomic policies of the left and of the right will effect the lives of actual human beings—and I do not mean by left and right the Democrats and the Republicans—and between (to reference as another example the abortion thread I linked to above) the impact on actual human beings of the policies advocated by those who are antiabortion and would like to see the procedure made illegal throughout the nation and the policies advocated by those who are prochoice. Choosing sides—and even taking a so-called centrist position means choosing sides, because it is impossible not to choose a side—means that, if your side gets its way, some people are going to win and some people are going to lose.

    Ostensibly objective and disinterested arguments about tactics and strategy not only do not change that; they are, in fact, a tacit endorsement of the status quo. To me, that’s what a lot of Farrell and Teles’ critique of MacClean’s book (which, I will say again, I do not think is without its faults) amounts to.

    ETA: This is not about MacClean’s book per se, but regarding whether or not there is a broad right-wing plan along the lines of what she argues in her book (and she may eventually get to this stuff, I don’t know), here are some links that are worth following:

    Behind Janus: Documents Reveal Decade-Long Plot to Kill Public-Sector Unions

    SourceWatch, in particular ALEC Exposed, the SourceWatch info on the State Policy Network and Koch Exposed

    Bradley Files Exposed

    There are other links as well, but these are a good start. Just to be clear: By posting these links, I am not suggesting that you won’t find a similar kind of planning and organization on the left.

  26. 26
    Ampersand says:

    ‘Shtick’ doesn’t have to imply disingeniousness.

    When Kate said your “shtick” thing was a strawman, I didn’t interpret that as her thinking you’d accused her of being disingenious.

    Rather, she was saying (if I interpreted her correctly) that “that the right does all kinds of horrible things, while the left is virtuous and nice” isn’t what Kate actually says, and is thus a strawman.

    And I think she’s right about that. Of course Kate criticizes the right, but that doesn’t mean that she’s saying that “the left” is virtuous and nice. You have a “simplistic schema” in your mind about what Kate says, and so you project your simplistic schema on to her, while ignoring that she’s not actually the political simpleton you’re insultingly implying she is and she’s never claimed that the left is universally virtuous and nice.

    If I’m wrong, then it should be easy for you to come up with examples of her saying that the left is “virtuous and nice” – since this is, you claimed, her shtick, which would mean that she does it over and over.

    For example, antisemitism seems to typically be ascribed to white male rightists by those on the left

    I know that’s what your simplistic schema says :-p , but reality is different. This is, I think, the only cartoon I’ve done about anti-semitism in years – and I was far from the only person on the left to criticize the Women’s March organizers. There’s a lot of criticism (and disagreements) on the left about anti-semitism on the left. Frankly, anti-semitism on the U.S. right was comparatively hardly discussed at all on the left until the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, and now we’re returning to status quo.

  27. 27
    Kate says:

    LoL, I don’t know whose positions you are arguing against @23, but they aren’t mine.
    No one who has actually read my positions would be under the misapprehension that I would be unaware of TERFS or antisemitism on the left; or assume that I would deny those facts or try to make excuses. I just noted @21 that Feminism has a racism problem. But, right now, the left in the U.S. does a pretty good job at policing itself, largely because it is fragmented and the far left fringes are marginalized.
    When the extreme left unifies and goes authoritarian, it is every bit as dangerous as the extreme right. Still, saying that communism wasn’t a problem in Nazi Germany is not support for Stalin (different place), or for the communist regime in East Germany (different time). Context matters.
    Now, in the U.S., far right activists are unified behind Trump, who displays troubling authoritarian tendencies. On the left, the rhetoric of Florida congressman Alan Grayson troubles me (similar to that of Anthony Weiner before he was disgraced). But that is not close to parallel to the rhetoric of Trump, nor is a single (or even two or three) batshit members of congress parallel to a batshit POTUS. Maxine Waters calling for investigations and impeachment hearings in congress (lawful processes) is not parallel to Trump calling for Clinton to be locked up despite repeated investigations which found no criminal wrongdoing.

    So you may see the far-right as influencing politics strongly for trying to get more border protection built and such, but don’t see gay marriage as a major victory for your side where the influence of the left was huge.

    1.) Most of the left is very much in favor of “border protection”. We are very concerned about the number of people dying in the desert and would strongly support more electronic surveillance and patrols. We just don’t think a wall is the most effective way to make our border region safer.
    2.) Gay marriage is a center-left position. Most of the far left – anarchists and communists – consider marriage to be a bourgeois institution that should be abolished.
    Similarly, being pro-choice is a centrist position. Being pro-life is a right-wing position, particularly when coupled with an anti-contraception position (as they often are). Historically/globally, the far left position is China’s one child policy. No one with any power in the U.S. wants that – and I fervently hope that it stays that way.
    But, the best way to create far left ideologues is to normalize the far right ones who are starting to reach for power now. We need to watch the Democratic primary very closely. Anyone with any appearances of connections to Russia (I’m looking at you cozying up to their ally, Assad, Tulsi Gabbard), or authoritarian tendencies, needs to be rejected out of hand.

  28. 28
    Ampersand says:

    Gay marriage is a center-left position. Most of the far left – anarchists and communists – consider marriage to be a bourgeois institution that should be abolished.

    In the 80s, gay marriage seemed like a right-side-of-far-left position; me and my friends mostly supported it, but no respectable Democrat did. So that it has now become a center-left position can, I think, reasonably be seen as a victory for the left.

  29. 29
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    RJN,

    Actually, the part I quoted is not intended to demonstrate that ‘your side does it too,’ but to point out that you fell for a trap. That trap consists of a narrative that appeals to the tribal feelings that most humans have & frustration about failures by ‘yours’ and successes by ‘them.’

    However, unlike many others who try (but often fail) to avoid these traps, you seem to walk into this trap with both eyes open, given your claim that I shouldn’t dismiss the book for massaging the evidence! I can’t read your comment as anything but a defense of post-truth, where it doesn’t matter that the evidence doesn’t support the claims, as long as they feel correct.

    This doesn’t mean, however, that her partisan position is wrong

    A (literal) snake-oil salesman also isn’t necessarily wrong. Perhaps by chance he actually did put something in the bottle that has medicinal value. There is a chance, however small.

    Yet I go to a doctor when I am ill, not to a snake-oil salesman. I want evidence-based medicine, not emotion-based medicine.

    PS. It’s actually possible to have a centrist position on abortion. Surveys show that both full opposition and full support for abortion in all circumstances are minority opinions, while most Americans support limited abortion rights.

    Ampersand,

    I meant in comparison. I obviously don’t believe that Kate thinks that people on the left are Gods. Just far, far superior, in a way that is not warranted by the facts. Please afford me a little more good faith when reading what I say.

    As for my claim about antisemitism, the very NYT article I linked to itself makes the claim that the issue is not addressed sufficiently because reality doesn’t fit a simplistic narrative with the far right as sole perpetrator. This seems plausible to me.

    My point was much more subtle than you seem to realize, anyway. My initial comment was about what conclusions people jump to by default. For example, when they hear about threats to Jewish organizations or see a swastika drawn somewhere. There have been quite a few examples in recent years where hate crimes happened, people jumped to the conclusion that it must have been an alt-/extreme right perpetrator, but it then turned out to be either a hoax or someone not on the (white) alt-/extreme right*.

    It can both be true that a person strongly opposes someone like Farrakhan when he says something antisemitic, but is also very prejudiced to think that antisemitism must be from alt-/extreme right white men.

    * I do think that Farrakhan is extreme right, but one who ended up in the left-wing coalition due to tribalism and because of the clientelist nature of politics regularly winning over ideology.

  30. 30
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    I just noted @21 that Feminism has a racism problem. But, right now, the left in the U.S. does a pretty good job at policing itself, largely because it is fragmented and the far left fringes are marginalized.

    It’s been over a year since The Atlantic pointed out that the limited evidence that we have suggests that black and foreign students are disproportionately targeted by Title IX. Where is the self-policing?

    I don’t even see a demand to the universities to publish demographic statistics about Title IX accusers and those accused.

    When the extreme left unifies and goes authoritarian, it is every bit as dangerous as the extreme right.

    Like when protections of the accused are weakened when they mostly belong to the outgroup (men, and as noted above, actually probably very disproportionally black men)?

    Or when vigilante justice is promoted?

    These things seem to be favored by relatively moderate leftists and also don’t seem to be kept in check very well.

    My point about your bias is that you do notice the (serious) injustices promoted by the moderate right, but not those by the moderate left. Just like you are not merely worried about a new Hitler, I am not merely worried about a new Stalin.

    Injustices or wrongs that don’t involve millions of deaths can still be very serious.

  31. LoL:

    So I will assume from your answer that you have not read Democracy in Chains. So I don’t really see the point in continuing that discussion.

    You wrote:

    It’s actually possible to have a centrist position on abortion. Surveys show that both full opposition and full support for abortion in all circumstances are minority opinions, while most Americans support limited abortion rights.

    Sure, but that centrism is also an endorsement of the status quo, in which women do not have full reproductive autonomy–and that was my point.

  32. 32
    Sebastian H says:

    No, the status quo on abortion is radically further pro-choice on mid to late abortions than about 65-75% of the population agrees with.

    “Full reproductive autonomy” is a libertarian argument that you would laugh at in literally any other context. No one has full autonomy over anything that effects other people. Hell most of us don’t have full autonomy over things that effect just us. Rights come into conflict, and we all understand that no one right wins over all others at all times. The question is “when does reproductive autonomy give way to other rights” and the answer to that is highly contested (and in almost all other developed countries the answer is MUCH earlier than the NARAL answer).

    Also, “Democracy In Chains” is a book I have read, and it has serious academic flaws which are seen even by prominent writers on the left. She grossly mischaracterizes her sources and research. She doesn’t seem to understand what she is reading. If You lose Farrell on the left, someone who is intensely interested in agreeing with her thesis, you’re writing pretty poorly. http://crookedtimber.org/2018/09/18/my-last-word-on-nancy-maclean/

  33. 33
    Kate says:

    It’s been over a year since The Atlantic pointed out that the limited evidence that we have suggests that black and foreign students are disproportionately targeted by Title IX. Where is the self-policing?

    Ummm, the Atlantic article and most of the people it cites ARE examples of the left self-policing. It seems odd to accuse me of not recognizing this problem when I’m the one who introduced the fact that feminism has problems with racism to this conversation. It is a common topic of discussion on all the feminist blogs I frequent. Empowering women of colour to lead on these issues by electing them to office, as we did in record numbers last November, is an important step towards addressing both racism and sexism.
    The second article you link to is by David Brooks (center right), but the original pod cast was on NPR (pretty lefty). It was very good. You should listen to the whole thing. It isn’t nearly as black and white as Brooks or you make it out to be. Most of the lefty blogs I read linked to it. What to do about people who are credibly accused of sexual harassment and assault, in cases where there is no legal prosecution is a really difficult question. In fact, I think we have discussed it here on several occasions here.

  34. 34
    Kate says:

    In the 80s, gay marriage seemed like a right-side-of-far-left position; me and my friends mostly supported it, but no respectable Democrat did. So that it has now become a center-left position can, I think, reasonably be seen as a victory for the left.

    Absolutely it is a victory for the left, but what we might call the liberal left. It is not an example of leftist radicalism becoming mainstream. Radical leftist movements are often homophobic, and/or often reject marriage altogether.
    I’d compare it to calling the 70% marginal tax rate far left. It’s as far as mainstream discourse in the U.S. goes to the left. But, historically/globally, it is not even close to being a radical leftist idea.

  35. 35
    Michael says:

    @#23- not telling Poe the plan was arguably justifiable but continuing to keep it secret after it became obvious that a mutiny would erupt unless she revealed the plan was just idiotic.

  36. 36
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    RJN,

    You brought up the book while advocating for a conspiracy theory. I don’t think that it is reasonable to expect others to leave this unrebutted if they are unwilling to read a shitty 368 page book, when others have very effectively done that rebutting and can be referred to.

    Note that the criticisms of misquoting and other misrepresentations on the part of MacLean are not minor and are not few in number. It’s a very serious issue that doesn’t just fall short of academic standards (of actually scientific fields), but even the far less strict journalistic standards.

    Instead of demonstrating even one error in the article, you told me that you don’t mind that she massaged the evidence.

    I remember not too long ago when we discussed part of a book by bell hooks where, if I remember correctly, you had no problem with her attributing beliefs to people she observed, without any proper evidence to support her mind reading.

    So it seems to me that you don’t feel that narratives should be bound by truth, but instead, by thruthiness.

    As for ‘full reproductive autonomy,’ Sebastian put it extremely well and I share his opinion on the matter.

    If that term is taken at face value, it would allow for abortion of a fetus that is about to be born and IMO, pretty much indistinguishable from a baby. Surveys suggest that the vast majority of Americans oppose this.

  37. 37
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    I never argued that no self-policing happens. My argument is and was that quite a few rather extremist beliefs are not self-policed, but that these are often defended fiercely, for example by arguing that the person who points out facts that are considered in opposition to certain ideals, is opposed to those ideals.

    Also, electing black people to office does not magically result in Title IX tribunals being analyzed for disparate impact, nor necessarily in a careful analysis of why this happens.

    I’ve seen time and again that SJ-inspired people jumped to conclusions based on their ideology and/or ignore facts that conflict with the ideology. IMO, the entire movement is chronically infected by anti-scientific beliefs, as just now again demonstrated by RJN.

    This enables very extremist policies to be enacted, because they seem quite fair and reasonable in the context of SJ ideology and ‘facts’ that people are told are true, even as proper science doesn’t show this or even worse and quite frequently, actually shows something quite different.

  38. 38
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    LoL

    I remember not too long ago when we discussed part of a book by bell hooks where, if I remember correctly, you had no problem with her attributing beliefs to people she observed, without any proper evidence to support her mind reading.

    I don’t think RJN did that. My summation of the exchange would be that I challenged the rigor of a well-cited Bell Hooks book of essays, and suggested that if such a book should not be considered good scholarship. The book was selected because it showed up as the #1 most cited piece of scholarship in women’s/gender studies papers over the past 10 years through a search Ampersand linked to. I criticized the book as I was reading it for the first time. I don’t remember anyone actually defending anything Hooks wrote there (I really wish someone would have taken a stab at it, though), but instead, it was suggested that my criticism wasn’t valuable because I haven’t read enough critical theory and and/or postmodern philosophy to appreciate the book or deliver intelligent criticisms.

    I think you’d agree that such an argument is a similar style of criticism as RJN asking you “have you read this particular book?” while debating a subject covered by this book.

    Indefensible ideas can be defended by dismissing any criticism that doesn’t come from those who have invested vast amounts of time researching these indefensible ideas, or reading big books. This places unrealistic demands on those of us who value our time. I read often and love doing it, I have a stack of books and essays I want to get through, and don’t ever want to read a Bell hooks book again.

    I’m not sure what to do about this. There are good ideas and useful theories that are hard to understand without doing a great deal of research. There are also terrible ideas and theories with vast writings supporting them. We all have to sort these out somehow- most of us will never really be a subject matter expert on anything at all, or perhaps only in one or two narrow domains. We still have to act in the world. We have to decide what is right and wrong and how to use our resources and who to be friends with. We have to vote. We need to embrace a whole bunch of models-of-the-world in order to make choices and avoid being paralyzed, but there isn’t time to become an expert in every field of inquiry. What I do is ask myself “does this idea/theory allow people to make better predictions than those who don’t hold it?” For example, what kinds of predictions did Angela Davis make back when her ideas led her to support Soviet Russia? What kinds of predictions did Prominent Neoconservatives make with regards to the US invasion of Iraq? Did this well read and well-traveled CNN foreign policy analyst do any better at predicting global events than the pipefitter I ate lunch with the other day? Are “expert” sports analysts any better at picking winners than I am? I’ll even take on a book that introducing ideas that could perhaps yield accurate predictions in the future so long as the author is honest about their uncertainty.

    This is the best way I know to sift through bullshit.

    I stand by my criticisms of that Bell Hooks book because she so often avoided making anything like useful predictions at all, and instead, examined past events through her bizarre theoretical lens and created a useless unfalsifiable narrative. She made claims with great certainty within fields where she is no expert at all, claims that would be at odds with claims made by actual experts with less certainty. People do this all the time, we all love telling ourselves stories, especially stories about how awesome our ideas are compared to everyone else’s. Just once, I’d like to see a thinker like her be asked, “what could happen in the next 1, 5, or 10 years that would lead you to believe your theory is a bad one?” or “Before I reveal these unfamiliar statistics to you, what do you expect the data to show given your beliefs?” I want to see Bell Hooks enter a prediction market where her theories can be tested against those of actual social sciences.

    I don’t think all scholarship must involve useful predictions, but those scholars who make descriptive claims and generate models of the world should.

  39. 39
    lurker23 says:

    i like the idea of selling kidneys. i guess there will be some people who end up selling a kidney because they think it is better than some other bad option (like being really poor) and i think that there will be some people who make a bad choice (like they want to buy an expensive car) but i do not think that is a good enough reason NOT to sell kidneys because it will help alot of people and because we let people make other worse choices already.

    it looks like alot of people think it is okay to put someone in jail or get them in alot of legal trouble if they owe money and will not pay the money, especially for things like child support, right? and it looks like alot of people think that it is okay (maybe stupid but still okay) for poor people to spend their money like they want, even if they do it in a way that you might think is a really bad idea, because it is their choice, right? and alot of people think it is okay to have someone working in a dangerous job like coal mining or tree cutting and stuff if they want money, right?

    so why not sell a kidney?

    me, i think that it might be alot worse to put someone in jail than to have them decide to sell a kidney or file bankrupt, it might be alot worse to spend a life as a coal miner so that (if you live) you can maybe save enough for “your kids not to be a coal miner” than to sell a kidney too.

    and if people do NOT think it is worse then they do not have to sell any kidney at all.

    many people seem to be okay with alot of really hard and bad choices that people make. i know people who are hurt or sad or hate their jobs who need money, and they might think that selling a kidney might be better than some of those choices. why don’t we let them?

    to me this is sort of like selling SEX which is another thing that alot of people think should never happen but i think should be okay. someone i know was very poor and wanted to be rich, so she sold sex in college to pay for a very good college, and now she is pretty rich, much more than me. i do not think she should “have” to do that but i do not think it is my business to tell her that she “cant” do that. and if she wanted to sell a kidney and be richer instead of selling sex to be rich, i do not think that is my business either.

    i do not think there is a consistent way of thinking where you can ignore alot of really bad harms and put the “body stuff” in a special category even though it is less harm than the stuff you are ignoring. i do not understand why so many people do it.

  40. So I’ve now read two or three of the pieces critiquing MacClean’s book—I have not yet read the ones supporting it—and I stand by something I said in one of my earlier posts. The people who are critiquing the book are doing so largely on the basis that they think MacClean should have written an entirely different book. She says, admittedly in her own defense, but I think it’s worth taking seriously:

    MacLean accuses her critics of misconstruing and failing to read her book closely. Democracy in Chains is not a history of public-choice economics but rather the history of an idea — “the idea of enchaining modern democratic government, as developed by James Buchanan,” she tells The Chronicle Review. She pushes back against the notion that her book overstates his importance. It makes “abundantly clear,” she says, that Buchanan belonged to a much larger movement. “But it also shows how his ideas provided that long-marginal movement with something it had never had before: an analysis with which to create an operational strategy to take down the liberal state.”

    That is how I’ve been reading the book. I largely agree with the critiques that there are other, deeper, more nuanced stories to tell about Charles Buchanan and the history of public-choice economics, but those stories would not be the story MacClean is telling; nor does the fact that she has not chosen to tell those stories mean that her story—partisan and polemical as it is—is not worth telling.

    There is a right-wing conspiracy—not in the InfoWars sense of that word—but in the sense of an overarching plan that has involved not a little secrecy if not “to take down the liberal state” (though I do think it goes that far), then certainly to decimate left-wing, progressive politics in this country. This is not my imagination. I put some links in one of my previous posts. I have many others that I could post.

    I have neither the desire nor the energy to continue to discussing MacClean’s book, not least because I have not yet finished it. When I do, I may post something more complete than the simple recommendation I made on this thread.

    As to this, from LoL:

    If [the term full reproductive autonomy] is taken at face value, it would allow for abortion of a fetus that is about to be born and IMO, pretty much indistinguishable from a baby. Surveys suggest that the vast majority of Americans oppose this.

    But they are distinguishable. Jewish religious law makes this distinction, for example. To make laws regarding women’s reproductive choice based on the belief that they are not—and it is a belief, not a fact—is to argue that there comes a point in a woman’s pregnancy, before the fetus she is carrying begins to be born, when her control over her own body becomes forfeit because of the existence of the fetus, which is not yet an individuated human being. From there, it is, frankly, not difficult to move the line earlier and earlier in a pregnancy beyond which that control becomes forfeit. I am not arguing about what the majority of people do or not believe. I simply said that a centrist position in the case of abortion is an endorsement of the status quo, which is that there comes a point in a woman’s pregnancy when she loses the right to control over her own body, in the interests of something that is not yet a fully individuated human being.

  41. 41
    lurker23 says:

    think of a poor person with almost no money and no savings who wants to get richer and make a better life, but they cannot because they cannot go to school (no money) start a business (no savings) and stuff. so they stay poor which is not good for them, and they work at a dangerous job which is also not good, and they die poor.

    they are poor and sad and stuck but at least they die with two kidneys, right?

    if they sell a kidney for $150,000 then all of a sudden they can go to school or start a business or do something much better than their life. also they end up saving someone else too, who needs a kidney. that is a good thing!!

    i think what we should do is to
    1) let people sell kidneys, through some official program, for alot of money, maybe $150,000 or $200,000, plus maybe some other benefits (i think that anyone who sells a kidney should be first in line if they ever need a kidney for example). this is paid for by insurance of the people who need kidneys.

    2) make it VERY VERY illegal and scary to sell kidneys anywhere else, like we do now.

    3) have some sort of supervision for the people who want to sell, maybe help them not get scammed and things.

    i think we would have alot of people who wanted to sell kidneys, way MORE than the number of people who really needed kidneys. there are only 3000 people per month who go on the need-a-kidney list, about 35,000 per year. And there are 350 million people in the us.

    the trick is that the price would stay high because the law makes a minimum price, so there would usually be alot more people who want to sell than who need a kidney. so then the program could help screen people who wanted to sell and pick the ones that make the most sense and have been checked, it is telling them what to do (sort of) because you might not approve of someone’s reasons, but not completely (because you still give them a chance to sell and make money.)

    if you ask “would YOU sell YOUR kidney for $200,000 and a guarantee of a new kidney if you needed one?” yes i would. and if you asked “would YOU let YOUR kid sell his kidney if he wanted to?” yes i would if it looked like he was being smart about it.

    if you say no i think you should think about a poor immigrant family. they are in good health. the parents are working as laborers and they make $11/hour. The kid is 19 and living at home and also working as a laborer.

    they will maybe work their entire life and end up with not alot of savings, maybe no savings at all. or they could each sell a kidney and they will have a total of $600,000 which is MORE MONEY THAN THEY COULD EVER MAKE IN THEIR WHOLE LIFE. it is enough to buy a house or move or do almost anything.

    who are we to say they cant do that?

  42. 42
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    From the linked Chronicle Piece:

    In this case, many of MacLean’s fellow historians have quickly circled the wagons — something she has encouraged. On social media, supporters have been circulating a message from MacLean that reframes criticism against her as a coordinated hit job orchestrated by the Koch machine.

    This is sad. My republican step-dad talks the same way about critics of his own political thinkers, only in his case it’s Soros doing the orchestrating.

    I’m pretty familiar with the George Mason econ department, and especially Tyler Cowen. Tyler Cowen’s podcast is among my favorites, I’ve even seen it live on the GMU campus. Marginal Revolution is a terrific blog (with a crappy comments section). If anyone here does decide to read Democracy in Chains, I highly encourage you to take a moment to listen to Tyler describe his motivations in his own words- he’s no Koch puppet. He’s an astonishingly well read polymath who wants to make the world a better place. He may be mistaken on how best to do that, but there is no way that anyone familiar with his writings and talks could accuse him of being a stooge. My favorite snapshot of Tyler’s philosophical and ethical worldview was captured here in a discussion with Rob Wiblin:

    https://medium.com/conversations-with-tyler/tyler-cowen-robert-wiblin-stubborn-attachments-80000-hours-podcast-359aa62aa8ab

    It’s 2.5 hours, which I realize is a big time investment, but the beauty of podcasts is that they can be enjoyed while driving or doing chores.

  43. 43
    Ampersand says:

    In this case, many of MacLean’s fellow historians have quickly circled the wagons — something she has encouraged. On social media, supporters have been circulating a message from MacLean that reframes criticism against her as a coordinated hit job orchestrated by the Koch machine.

    This paragraph leaves it VERY ambiguous if the two groups mentioned – MacLean’s fellow historians, whom she has encouraged, and supporters on social media talking about a coordinated Koch hit job – are the same group or substantively different groups of people. And whether or not they are is not an unimportant point.

    Having read the whole article, I believe they are different groups of people. But I also think that’s a badly written paragraph.

  44. Jeffrey,

    I agree with Amp’s reading of the paragraph, which could have been better written.

    I’m on my phone, so I don’t have links handy, but, regarding whether or not there is a “Koch machine,” I’d encourage you to follow the links I provided in my comment above and pay particular attention to the State Policy Network. I’m not commenting here one way or the other on the specifics of what MacClean’s supporters are saying, since I haven’t read them. But there is a well-documented, largely (but not only) Koch-funded, very well-organized propaganda “machine” at work (in tandem with the American Policy Council, which focuses on legislation) on the right.

  45. 45
    Sebastian H says:

    Whether or not there is a Koch “machine” is a completely different question from whether MacClean’s critics are part of it. Suggesting that Henery Farrell et al are part of the Koch machine is a charge that requires at least some evidence more than mere assertion. Interestingly it EXACTLY the kind of unsupported contention that we suggest is wrong with her research. It asserts that people who MacClean has deemed to be on the same side (despite rather noticeable disagreements amongst themselves) are conspiring together in nefarious ways. She’s using exactly the same conspiracy mindset that she uses to attribute influence to Buchanan on people he never met and whom she has no evidence ever read or attributed anything to him. Farrell, who is definitely on the left, and who says he read the book because he initially believed the thesis, isnt a good candidate for being a part of the Koch conspiracy. See here for his explanation and links to his very serious criticisms.

  46. 46
    Harlequin says:

    Rights come into conflict, and we all understand that no one right wins over all others at all times. The question is “when does reproductive autonomy give way to other rights” and the answer to that is highly contested (and in almost all other developed countries the answer is MUCH earlier than the NARAL answer).

    But despite the earlier cutoff, in almost all other developed countries, women have greater reproductive autonomy than they do here. Get the anti-choicers to stop terrorist violence against abortion providers; to stop harassing providers, their staff, their landlords, their families, their staff members’ families, their business neighbors, and their personal neighbors; to stop harassing medical schools that offer abortion training; to stop harassing patients. Allow insurance to cover abortions (which is illegal in some states), including government insurance (which is illegal everywhere). Get rid of TRAP laws. Regulate the shit out of “crisis pregnancy centers.” Wait a few years for the infrastructure to build up that can adequately provide for early-term abortions for every woman who wants one, since we are currently very short on facilities (in some areas) and trained providers. And then maybe it would make sense to discuss a reduction in the cutoff date for elective abortions, because we’ll have more confidence that women who want to exercise their autonomy have been able to do so in early pregnancy. (This giant list of roadblocks is a good example of the partisan asymmetry that RJN was talking about, in fact.)

  47. 47
    Harlequin says:

    I’m assuming this has been on the radar of most of the commenters here, but in case not, here’s the new APA guidelines for therapy for men and boys (PDF). I haven’t had time to read all the way through, but the beginning, at least, is pretty interesting!

  48. 48
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    RJN,

    Democracy in Chains is not a history of public-choice economics but rather the history of an idea — “the idea of enchaining modern democratic government, as developed by James Buchanan

    In my opinion this is just throwing up a smokescreen to defend misquotations as not necessarily reflecting what people express, but to argue that there is an idea that they don’t express, but still believe & spread. So typical conspiracy theory methods (‘people don’t mean what they say, they actually want this very bad thing that I attribute to them, which I totally not attribute to them due to my own bias’).

    I don’t think you would be quite so permissive of such methods if it didn’t fit your politics/biases.

    To make laws regarding women’s reproductive choice based on the belief that they are not—and it is a belief, not a fact—is to argue that there comes a point in a woman’s pregnancy, before the fetus she is carrying begins to be born, when her control over her own body becomes forfeit because of the existence of the fetus, which is not yet an individuated human being.

    I think that you are so wrapped up in fear of losing this fight that you lose sight of both morality and how your stance is counterproductive in the sense that it makes you appear immoral to the vast majority of people and thus strengthens the opposition for no good reason (late abortions for non-medical reasons are very rare).

    I think that a fetus that is 9 months old and pretty much fully developed, already is sufficiently individuated for us to not treat it as mere bits of tissue. I don’t think that you can convince a majority of society that such a fetus should be freely aborted if the mother desires so, when there is no medical need.

    Note that even the Scandinavian countries don’t allow abortion that late. It seems that at least theoretically, such abortions are only legal in China, North Korea and Vietnam. China and Vietnam had family planning programs in the past that didn’t respect women’s control over their bodies in pretty much the opposite way as conservative Christians want: they were forced into abortions if they got pregnant when having too many children already. We also have reports of forced abortions in North Korea.

    So this suggests that abortions up to any date correlates with human rights abuses (and thus are not indicative of high morality).

    From there, it is, frankly, not difficult to move the line earlier and earlier in a pregnancy beyond which that control becomes forfeit.

    Which countries that initially allowed limited abortion rights then gradually moved the line to actually ban it? Can you name any?

    I simply said that a centrist position in the case of abortion is an endorsement of the status quo, which is that there comes a point in a woman’s pregnancy when she loses the right to control over her own body,

    The status quo in the US is that women have a constitutionally guaranteed right to abortion until fetal viability, which is an actual line that can be defended.

  49. LoL:

    I think that you are so wrapped up in fear of losing this fight that you lose sight of both morality and how your stance is counterproductive in the sense that it makes you appear immoral to the vast majority of people and thus strengthens the opposition for no good reason (late abortions for non-medical reasons are very rare).

    I think you should stop deciding that you know how I feel about things, or that you “have my number” in terms of how and why I take the stances and make the arguments that I do, and then using that as a way of bracketing your arguments against me. First, it’s condescending and patronizing, not mention dismissive and trivializing, and you have done it in almost every interaction we’ve had in these comment threads. You’re not really uncivil in the way you do this, so you’re not in violation of the commenting policy, but I simply will not respond to any future comment in which you do that, and if you continue to do it, I will ask you not to participate in the comment threads of my posts.

    Second, it leads you to read into my comments ideas that are not there. For example:

    I think that a fetus that is 9 months old and pretty much fully developed, already is sufficiently individuated for us to not treat it as mere bits of tissue.

    I never said that a fetus, at any stage of development, or even an embryo, should be treated as “mere bits of tissue.” It seems to me that you think this is what I mean because you have decided you already understand, perhaps better than I do, why I take the (to you—and, it is true, many others—extreme) position that I do. You do not.

    Which countries that initially allowed limited abortion rights then gradually moved the line to actually ban it? Can you name any?

    The status quo in the US is that women have a constitutionally guaranteed right to abortion until fetal viability, which is an actual line that can be defended.

    First, let’s not pretend that this status quo guarantees women access to the exercise of this constitutionally guaranteed right (and also, let’s not pretend that everyone agrees that this right can actually be found in the 14th Amendment). So, while it may be true that Roe v Wade has not yet been reversed; in practice, there are places where—because of the machinations of the antiabortion movement—there is an effective ban on abortion because there is no easily accessible place for women to get one. Second, there are, in fact, States which have passed laws banning and otherwise restricting abortions. Louisiana is one, for example. It may be true that these laws will not go into effect unless Roe v Wade is reversed; but let’s not pretend that there isn’t a very strong and powerful push in this country to do just that or that, given the current Supreme Court, this push might very well succeed.

    Despite Roe v Wade, in other words, women’s overall right to control their own reproductive lives is still deeply contested territory in the United States, even though there may be a majority of people who believe that right should exist up to a certain point.

    So this suggests that abortions up to any date correlates with human rights abuses (and thus are not indicative of high morality).

    Sure, because you are talking about government imposed abortions, which are—I hope you would agree—no less an abuse of human rights than government imposed births. So I’m not sure how this point is even relevant. Unless, of course, you assume that, given the right to terminate a pregnancy up to the moment of labor, women as a class would, willy nilly, choose to exercise that right, on their own, without consulting anyone else, perhaps especially (all else being equal) the person with whom they conceived, and without any concern for all of the serious and profound questions that abortion raises about human life, its meaning and significance, what it means to conceive a child with someone else, etc. and so on.

  50. 50
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Harlequin,

    But despite the earlier cutoff, in almost all other developed countries, women have greater reproductive autonomy than they do here.

    I would argue that this is in part because the US has a very undemocratic culture (ironically, most likely due to the immense status of the constitution), where it is fairly common for law to be made by the courts, by interpreting the constitution in very creative ways.

    It seems to me that this tradition originated in large part because many stopped believing in a federation where states can differ substantially on policy and instead wanted the US to be more of a single state with provinces.

    Yet instead of achieving this by adopting a new constitution where this new situation is made explicit and Americans were made to commit to this new situation for better or for worse (in other words, whether specific laws created under the new constitution appeal to them or not), it was done by reinterpreting the constitution in ways that seem very much at odds with what the founding fathers intended.

    In more democratic countries, laws tend to be made by a fairly large group of representatives who have to compromise to get laws made, not by a few lifetime appointees. This tends to provide a relatively high amount of stability, as well as legitimacy. Once it is clear that a substantial majority support abortion laws, but that many do want limits, the issue can be resolved with a compromise, where extremists on both sides know that they can only push things a little to one side or the other, with arguments and proposals that convince moderates.

    Furthermore, because the process is mostly fair and consistent, people know that they win or lose based on consistent rules. So they know that they have to take the bad with the good.

    In contrast, when policy and law is made by having a few people achieve positions of power and exercise that power for their tribe, with very little democratic legitimacy, people logically often come to believe that they can have the good without the bad, if only they achieve sufficient positions of power where you can violate the trias politica to your benefit, as is the custom.

    When the culture is that it’s less important to follow the letter or spirit of the law, then to come up with creative interpretations to legitimize what you want to do, the constitution or even law in general becomes something to be worked around, rather than adhered to.

    You get angry at states who find loopholes by throwing up barriers to abortion, yet progressives similarly tried to find loopholes to prevent enforcement of migration laws through sanctuary cities.

    You get angry at vigilante style actions by those who oppose abortion, yet those of the other tribe get angry at vigilante style actions by progressives as well.

    What I don’t see is that both sides agree on a set of rules that applies even in situations where doing so in not in your own best interests. Similarly, I see both tribes lament the great power in the office of the president that developed over time, but only when their president is not in power. When he is, suddenly this is no longer an issue.

    I don’t think that either side can be blamed exclusively for creating a Machiavellian society. It’s very much a joint effort.

  51. 51
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    RJN,

    I think you should stop deciding that you know how I feel about things

    You keep doing this. You make arguments which in my opinion imply certain things. I then try to make these explicit, to give you a chance to either clarify your arguments and/or beliefs so my understanding of your position is improved; or so you can tell me that I am correct. In the latter case, you can then address my objections to the beliefs of yours that we have made explicit and thus made far more easy to debate. Instead, you get offended and refuse to clarify.

    In general, I think that you have a strong habit to avoid providing clarity on your views and then when people try to fill in the blanks (that you fail to address) to the best of their ability and/or to try to force you to actually say what you mean, to attack them for trying to draw out what you actually believe.

    For example, this response of yours is utterly unhelpful:

    I never said that a fetus, at any stage of development, or even an embryo, should be treated as “mere bits of tissue.” It seems to me that you think this is what I mean because you have decided you already understand, perhaps better than I do, why I take the (to you—and, it is true, many others—extreme) position that I do. You do not.

    You end by saying that my interpretation of your position is incorrect, but nowhere in this paragraph do you offer any clarification what you do believe! How then can I know what you mean when you refuse to clarify?

    I simply want to know what legal and non-legal obligations you want to exist for pregnant women. I want to know whether you believe that pregnant women should be legally able to get an abortion at 9 months for non-medical reasons and/or whether you think that such a decision is morally correct.

    Why don’t you stop posturing and simply tell me what you want the law and/or morals of society to be, rather than introduce vague terms such as “full reproductive autonomy” and then never clarifying what you mean by this?

    Note that I don’t even mind that you (IMO unjustly) get angry at me. I find it much more offensive that you persist in this smokescreen to avoid addressing difficult questions that need to be addressed to make actual policy.

    Second, there are, in fact, States which have passed laws banning and otherwise restricting abortions.

    That’s not what I asked. The US has a specific situation where states that never supported abortion in the first place were forced to accept it and then tried to get out from under it.

    What I want to address is whether it is true that once abortion has been culturally accepted and made into law by a democratic majority, there is actually a non-negligable risk of gradual ratcheting back abortion rights. If not, then I think that your suggestion that we need “full reproductive autonomy” or run a substantial risk of losing even moderate reproductive autonomy is not a good argument in favor of “full reproductive autonomy”.

    Again, this is why I asked about other countries that once legalized abortion and then ratcheted it back.

    Sure, because you are talking about government imposed abortions, which are—I hope you would agree—no less an abuse of human rights than government imposed births. So I’m not sure how this point is even relevant.

    My suggestion is that the actual end state of a liberal and free society may not actually be the legalization of very late abortions but instead that very late abortions are quite immoral and support for it is indicative of very dangerous rationalizations that also enable (other) human rights violations.

    After all, high-IQ people rationalizing themselves into support for horrible human rights violations due to a false belief that doing so is necessary to prevent other much horrible human rights violations is not unprecendented on the left. The communist ideology provided such horrible rationalizations that resulted in multiple independent genocides.

    So my statement was intended as a friendly reminder of how well-intended and smart people can nevertheless talk themselves into advocating horrible things.

  52. 52
    Ampersand says:

    What I think about day-before abortion:

    1) Out of all the millions of abortions that have taken place in the U.S., is there even ONE documented example of an abortion that took place the day before natural childbirth? I’m not against thought experiments (obviously), but too often, discussing day-before-birth abortion seems to cede a lot to pro-lifers who want to ban ALL abortions by discussing abortions that never take place in real life while ignoring the vast majority of real-world abortions. And although I’m sure LOL realizes that this is a thought experiment, I’ve encountered pro-lifers who seem to think that day-before-birth abortions are a significant real-life thing.

    2) If the only issue with abortion was whether or not to permit abortion the day before natural childbirth, except in cases of danger to the person carrying the baby, then I’d agree to ban abortion. After all, it would all but never come up in practice. But that’s not the only issue, to put it mildly. It’s not even .001% of the issue.

    3) I trust people who are pregnant to make the right choice far more than I trust pro-lifers in power (judges, hospital administrators, etc) to be good faith actors, and to have the right balance in mind between protecting their own health and protecting the health of their fetus. If pregnant people need to be granted a government exemption to have a late-term abortion due to danger, that will be abused by some pro-lifers, who have only to create a delay in having a case heard or appealed in order to effectively take away choice. (Here’s a post I wrote about this.)

    4) Regarding the argument that there’s ZERO morally relevant difference between a fetus in the womb and a baby after birth: I call this the “There’s a pregnant person? What pregnant person?” argument, because it only makes sense if we have accidentally overlooked the fact that pregnant people exist. The most obvious difference between a late-term abortion and infanticide is that a fetus is inside someone’s body, and an infant isn’t. You can believe that pregnant people are morally relevant creatures whose rights to control their own bodies matters; or you can believe that abortion and infanticide are completely identical, with no relevant differences at all. But you can’t believe both, because the two positions are completely contradictory.

    (It’s possible, at least in theory, to understand that pregnant people exist and their rights matter, and to nonetheless conclude that on balance a pregnant person’s rights are outweighed by the rights of a late-term fetus. I might hold that view myself, if we were talking about the case of a woman choosing an unnecessary abortion shortly before she would have given birth anyway — a case that I suspect happens exclusively in the pro-life imagination. However, the “we must balance the rights” viewpoint is not identical to the claim that there is no distinction at all.)

  53. 53
    Mandolin says:

    Isn’t the thing about day-before abortion is that the abortion would be conducted by *inducing labor?*

    Abortion is about ending a pregnancy; that’s what it is. If the simplest way to end the pregnancy is inducing labor, then I’m pretty sure they do that.

  54. 54
    Ampersand says:

    LOL:

    I think that you are so wrapped up in fear of losing this fight that you lose sight of both morality and how your stance is counterproductive in the sense that it makes you appear immoral to the vast majority of people and thus strengthens the opposition for no good reason (late abortions for non-medical reasons are very rare).

    And the, after Richard objected to LOL’s pretending to know what Richard felt:

    You keep doing this. You make arguments which in my opinion imply certain things. I then try to make these explicit, to give you a chance to either clarify your arguments and/or beliefs so my understanding of your position is improved; or so you can tell me that I am correct. In the latter case, you can then address my objections to the beliefs of yours that we have made explicit and thus made far more easy to debate. Instead, you get offended and refuse to clarify.

    LOL:

    I think you know very well “I think you are so wrapped up in fear” is not merely an attempt to elicit what the person you’re talking to believes. I think you know it’s not tantamount to a simple request for information, as you’re pretending it is.

    But maybe you don’t know that. If so, then the problem is that you don’t understand that it’s insulting and an unfair argument tactic to say “I think you are wrapped up in fear” in this context. Which is even worse, because if you don’t see what you’re doing, then you can’t choose to correct it.

    You do this a lot – make some completely bullshit argument that’s unfairly attacking whoever you’re arguing with (such as your claim that Kate consistently claims “that the right does all kinds of horrible things, while the left is virtuous and nice”), and then if you’re called on it refuse to take any responsibility at all. It’s always someone else’s fault with you. It’s unfair of us to think that the words you say mean what those words mean. It’s unfair to call you out on your snide insults, because you were Just Asking Questions. Etc, etc..

    I don’t want you to leave, because I think you’re adding something valuable here, in the parts of your posts that aren’t unfair attacks on other posters. I’m certainly not banning you at this point.

    But I do want you to do better. And that can’t happen if you refuse to acknowledge that LOL is ever at fault, or to understand why people object to you lying about what we’ve said, or projecting emotional states onto us as if you’re a mind-reader.

  55. LoL:

    I simply want to know what legal and non-legal obligations you want to exist for pregnant women. I want to know whether you believe that pregnant women should be legally able to get an abortion at 9 months for non-medical reasons and/or whether you think that such a decision is morally correct.

    Had you asked the question as clearly as you asked it here, I would have answered you in kind. Yes, for all the reasons Amp listed, I do think it should be legal, and I also think it is the morally correct position always, always, to give precedence and priority to the rights of a pregnant person who is already in the world over a fetus that is not yet in the world. I don’t have time right now to give a more detailed explanation as to why I think this—it is a version of Amp’s “There’s a pregnant person? What pregnant person” argument—but if I can find the post I wrote about it some years ago, I will come back and provide a link. If not, I’ll write a brief explanation.

    What I want to address is whether it is true that once abortion has been culturally accepted and made into law by a democratic majority, there is actually a non-negligable risk of gradual ratcheting back abortion rights. If not, then I think that your suggestion that we need “full reproductive autonomy” or run a substantial risk of losing even moderate reproductive autonomy is not a good argument in favor of “full reproductive autonomy”.

    The first part of this paragraph is confusing to me. Are you asking if there is a place where abortion rights exist and there is also a non-negligible risk of those rights being taken away? Or am I reading you inaccurately?

    My suggestion is that the actual end state of a liberal and free society may not actually be the legalization of very late abortions but instead that very late abortions are quite immoral and support for it is indicative of very dangerous rationalizations that also enable (other) human rights violations.

    I will respond to this either when I find the link or write the explanation talked about above.

  56. 56
    Michael says:

    @Harlequin#47- I think the guidelines were a mistake.
    First, one of the positive aspects:
    https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/11/18178346/masculinity-therapist-guidelines-american-psychological-association-apa-mental-health
    “Skillings emphasizes that the guidelines, which include input from hundreds of researchers, are meant to be suggestions of best practices, not strict professional standards. Nobody will be punished for not following them. ”
    That’s good but I still think there’s several issues with the guidelines.
    First, the concept of privilege can be toxic to mentally ill men. As John Barry puts it “If men are hearing that they’re the ones with all the power and privilege, when men are having these problems emotionally in relationships and contemplating suicide, it’s kind of implied that it’s all their fault.” More importantly, publicly adhering to the idea of toxic masculinity will make many men less likely to seek treatment. The important thing about psychiatry is that it needs to be COMPLETELY neutral in every respect- women as well as men, blacks as well as whites, conservatives as well as liberals need to feel like they can feel safe there, because it’s extremely difficult to get the mentally ill to come in for treatment. Guideline 3, for example, talks how to help men “become effective allies” and talks approvingly of “participation in social justice activities”. Would any of the leftish posters here undertake psychotherapy if the guidelines talked about how to become effective members of conservative groups? Most people don’t understand how much trust is required for therapy. And therapy needs to be available to everyone, because mental illnesses are often horrific.

  57. 57
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Regarding the argument that there’s ZERO morally relevant difference between a fetus in the womb and a baby after birth: I call this the “There’s a pregnant person? What pregnant person?” argument, because it only makes sense if we have accidentally overlooked the fact that pregnant people exist.

    This is totally fair, but I’ve heard pro life arguments that could uncharitably be described as “There’s a fetus? What fetus?” The loudest people on both sides of this issue use a rigid human rights framework, where once it’s been established that rights have been violated (be they the rights of a fetus or the rights of a pregnant person) there’s nothing left to discuss. I’m not a fan of this and would rather weigh trade-offs with both the pregnant person and fetus/person/possible-future-person in consideration. The less nuanced debate sucks for people like me who don’t feel well informed about the ethics involved, let alone the biology of a developing fetus that would inform those ethics. I fear that anything I read might be contaminated by politics and confirmation bias. As a result, I default to a mostly pro choice stance out of ignorance and my tendency to default toward maximizing freedom whenever I’m in doubt. My moral intuition is that an embryo is not a person but I’m very uncomfortable with abortion after 6 months. I feel pretty clueless about everything in between.

  58. I have responded to LoL’s comment @51 here.

  59. 59
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Those APA guidelines are well cited, but set off my gish-gallop alarm. It feels overly politicized, and I hope it isn’t since it’s guiding health professionals. I’m not sure how anyone outside of the field could possibly form an opinion without taking a deep month-long dive into all those citations, and then survey the relevant literature for each cite. There are critics, and unsurprisingly, Pinker is one:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/opinion/apa-guidelines-men-boys.html

    From the link:

    The other dogma, Pinker argued,

    “is that repressing emotions is bad and expressing them is good — a folk theory with roots in romanticism, Freudian psychoanalysis, and Hollywood, but which is contradicted by a large literature showing that people with greater self-control, particularly those who repress anger rather than “venting,” lead healthier lives: they get better grades, have fewer eating disorders, drink less, have fewer psychosomatic aches and pains, are less depressed, anxious, phobic, and paranoid, have higher self-esteem, are more conscientious, have better relationships with their families, have more stable friendships, are less likely to have sex they regretted, are less likely to imagine themselves cheating in a monogamous relationship.”

    For years, I’ve been critical of the idea that “venting” is healthy. I’m going to have to search for a couple of good books on the topic.

  60. 60
    Ampersand says:

    I’m not sure how anyone outside of the field could possibly form an opinion without taking a deep month-long dive into all those citations, and then survey the relevant literature for each cite.

    This is why I’ve been resisting getting into the issue – I have a feeling that it would be a HUGE research hole, and I don’t want to get sucked into such a time-consuming thing, even though I’d almost certainly enjoy it.

    As for emotional expression, I’ve heard similar things said about the harms of freely expressing anger – and that fits in well with my anecdotal observations (or maybe just my anti-anger bias). But of course, anger isn’t the only emotion that people withhold from expressing, and what applies to anger might not apply to (say) love, or sadness, or worry. (Etc etc.)

  61. 61
    Ampersand says:

    In Richard’s thread, Jeffrey Gandee wrote:

    I’d love to learn that it’s entirely ethical to abort an 8 month old fetus, or even a just-born baby. I want to discover that whatever it is that makes us human and worthy of moral consideration is lacking in a fetus.

    Here’s my argument (or one of them) for why it’s entirely ethical to abort a 7th month fetus. Since virtually all abortions take place before that point – even “late term” abortions almost all happen well before the 28th week – I don’t think discussing abortions after that point is very important.

    And, in case it’s of interest, here’s the argument that changed me from pro-life to pro-choice.

  62. 62
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Thanks amp, that’s exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for. If all the facts are right, I’d say the 28 weeks is a good schelling point. Now comes the almost impossible task of convincing people that there is no ghost living inside the fetus.

    I agree that very late abortions are an issue on the fringes of morality in the law because they are so rare, but that’s often where the interesting and hard to answer questions can be found.

    Now tell me you have a similar post about how cows and chickens aren’t suffering very much on American farms.

  63. 63
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    Out of all the millions of abortions that have taken place in the U.S., is there even ONE documented example of an abortion that took place the day before natural childbirth?

    That can never be documented, because the actual moment of childbirth cannot be predicted a day before. As you seem to realize, I wanted to know if RJN really believes that there should be no limits on how late non-medical abortions may still be performed. I’m not interested in getting mired in defending a specific law at this point, but want to focus on defending a moderate position that excludes both extremes.

    So that means neither a full ban on abortion, nor full legalization, although the former position will presumably need little defense here.

    I trust people who are pregnant to make the right choice far more than I trust pro-lifers in power (judges, hospital administrators, etc) to be good faith actors, and to have the right balance in mind between protecting their own health and protecting the health of their fetus.

    You seem to be insinuating that all pregnant women who choose to have an abortion do so because of medical reasons, but the evidence actually shows that the most frequently cited reasons are the impact on their life and financial reasons (which in the study is summarized as ‘cannot afford’ which I think is a highly inaccurate and biased choice of terminology). In the survey study I linked to, health issues are only given as the most important reason for the abortion by 7% of women.

    You justly object to those who argue for a full ban on abortion based on very rare cases, but similarly, I think that you should also defend abortion based on the common case that doesn’t involve medical reasons, unless you merely want to defend abortion for medical reasons.

    Regarding the argument that there’s ZERO morally relevant difference between a fetus in the womb and a baby after birth: I call this the “There’s a pregnant person? What pregnant person?” argument

    I think that you are being a bit unfair to me by ignoring the context in which I argued this. It was RJN who argued that control over her own body by the pregnant woman is more important than the life of a fetus, as the latter is not individuated until birth (according to RJN in comment 40).

    My objection to this is that I think that a fetus who is fully or nearly fully developed, is already so individuated that the fetus is mostly a baby already. Killing a baby is considered infanticide and is not legal for the typical reasons that women who abort have for their abortion. A woman is not allowed to kill her newborn because the baby negatively impacts her education/career or because she thinks that her finances are insufficient.

    I think that it is rather absurd to have a hard cut-off between one day and the next, where the mere act of birth, which in itself doesn’t make the fetus/baby more human IMO, makes the killing either infanticide or a choice that can be made for reasons that we don’t at all consider a reasonable defense for infanticide.

    So my argument was in the implicit context of a pregnant woman who wants to have an abortion and a mother who want to kill her newborn. The thought experiment was intended to allow debate of whether the mere act of birth is a good reason to consider one a legal right and the other a severe crime.

  64. 64
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    RJN,

    I’ll respond to your reason(s) for placing the threshold at birth in the other thread.

    Are you asking if there is a place where abortion rights exist and there is also a non-negligible risk of those rights being taken away?

    Perhaps the inferential distance between us is too great on this point.

    I think that laws, institutions, etc are not independent of culture. For example, introducing a parliament in a very ethnically divided society tends to result in an ethnically divided parliament, rather than parties that rally much more around ideology, like we have in the West. The law and institutions can create incentives, but they cannot usually create attitudes in themselves.

    Similarly, when Roe vs Wade resulted in the legalization of abortion in the US, this was received differently in New York than in rural Texas. In one place it aligned with the values of the majority, in the other it misaligned with them. The existing attitudes created different responses in NYC and in rural Texas.

    I believe in democracy and the right for people to decide their own morality, which means that I believe that support for certain laws, institutions, etc has to be created by convincing people, not by implementing laws against the will of the people and then forcing people to comply using authoritarian means.

    Now, as I explained before, my opinion is that Roe vs Wade was not actually a democratic process, which then logically resulted in a lack of democratic legitimacy. In other words, many who disagreed didn’t feel bound to respect the law as being the ‘will of the people.’

    However, there are many other countries where abortion was not introduced as in the US, but by acts of parliament. My question is whether any of those countries later on gradually legislated abortion of of existence? Those countries presumably don’t have the same legitimacy problems of their abortion law, that exist in the US.

    What I was implying by this is that instead of looking at this issue merely through the prism of getting your desired outcome, you might also want to consider that certain ways to achieve outcomes are destructive to society in the sense that it makes people who lose feel oppressed, rather than accepting that they got their way roughly to the extent that other people agree with them, no more, no less.

  65. 65
    Grace Annam says:

    Jeffrey Gandee:

    For years, I’ve been critical of the idea that “venting” is healthy. I’m going to have to search for a couple of good books on the topic.

    I’m skeptical that it is per se healthy or unhealthy. I think it can be either, or somewhere in between. I’m pretty sure it depends upon the circumstances, including whether the venter is alone, who is there if they’re not, what’s going on at the time, the venter’s overall emotional and psychological functioning, and so on.

    Grace

  66. 66
    Grace Annam says:

    Jeffrey:

    Now tell me you have a similar post about how cows and chickens aren’t suffering very much on American farms.

    If he does, he’s wrong. Though I do eat meat, this is why I’ve cut pork almost entirely, beef mostly, and pay a premium for ethical chicken and eggs. I’ll happily eat the flesh of humanely-raised and humanely-killed animals, and there are local farms which do that, but of course it costs more. Beans are cheaper. I’m not where I want to be, yet, but I’m moving. My local deli now has a black bean burger which I like, so that’s helping.

    Grace

  67. 67
    Grace Annam says:

    Limits of Language:

    …mostly a baby already.

    Whereas, if they’re all the way a baby, there’s only one thing you can do: go through their pockets for loose change.

    Grace

  68. 68
    Ampersand says:

    Whereas, if they’re all the way a baby, there’s only one thing you can do: go through their pockets for loose change.

    You keep using that word, “baby.” I do not think it means what you think it means.

  69. 69
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Grace, I agree. Ezra Klein and Sam Harris have talked me out of eating factory farmed meat (actually almost all meat) and I really miss burgers. I would love to learn that cows are actually zombies without consciousness.

  70. 70
    Ampersand says:

    Ozy argues that if someone IS going to eat meat, it makes sense to eat more cow and less chicken, from a reducing animal suffering perspective: Why Reduce Chicken, Not Beef? | Thing of Things

  71. 71
    J. Squid says:

    Hey! I’m gonna put in my 2 cents on the eating animals discussion.

    Please note that I’ve been a vegetarian for 26 years now and I have not knowingly killed any animal (including bugs) for at least 21 years. And the only time in the last 26 years I’ve knowingly killed an animal was during the horrid flea infestations of 95 & 97/98.

    We all have our own lines that determine when we think killing animals is moral and when it is not. My own line is…. self-defense.

    In my experience, “humanely raising, humanely killing,” isn’t actually a real thing. Ask any small farmer how the animals behave on slaughtering day. They know and they are terrified. It’s the quietest day of the year.

    I’m not even sure that it’s possible to humanely raise animals on the massive scale we do for eggs & cheese. Certainly the dairy industry’s practice of ripping calves away from their mothers and its practice of dumping old dairy cows into the slaughter house isn’t humane. I don’t think chickens raised for eggs are routinely treated humanely.

    I no more believe we can humanely raise and humanely kill livestock than I believe we can humanely raise and humanely kill people.

    I believed that long before I stopped eating animals, yet I still ate animals. Why? Because I couldn’t figure out how not to. It wasn’t as easy to go vegan or vegetarian 3 or more decades ago as it has become. But it’s still on me that I didn’t change my behavior when I first formed my morals around animal welfare.

    All of which is just me saying that:
    1) I don’t believe we can humanely kill animals at all.
    2) I have grave doubts that we can humanely raise and care for animals on an industrial scale
    3) I, as a vegetarian, do judge people based on my morals and ethics about animal welfare. But everybody judges everybody else based on their personal codes of ethics and morals. Why is this such a big deal? Pro and anti-choice folks (to use a current example on this blog) judge each other over that all the time. But I never hear people people complain about being judged over that. I suspect it’s because we don’t feel guilt over our positions on abortion but many of us do feel guilt about what eating meat means for the treatment of animals. But this is only a guess. I certainly feel some amount of guilt for not being able to ensure that the animals from which I get my eggs and dairy are humanely treated. But I’m not complaining when vegans tell me that I’m doing something immoral.
    4) Even though I’m judging you on whether or not you eat meat, I’m not judging you as a person solely based on that. Most of my friends are good, compassionate people who happen to be doing this thing that I believe is immoral. And I accept them as good, compassionate people because we are steeped in a culture that accepts our torture and murder of the animals we use to produce our food. I can’t expect everybody to change that behavior just because I point it out. I can hope that they one day change that and become even better people. None of us, after all, is perfect. Though many people tell me I’m as close as one can be to perfect. Many, many people.

  72. 72
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Amp,

    Yeah, I swore off chickens a long time ago because of that ozy post. I miss them, especially wings, but I miss burgers more.

    What I really struggle with is fish. Should I care about the suffering of fish? If I go to far with this I’ll have to watch here I step to avoid crushing ants.

  73. 73
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    J Squid,

    What about the Sam Harris argument that without farming, cows and chickens wouldn’t live at all. I think (I could totally be wrong here) that he argues that a free range animals short life is better than no life at all. I’m not entirely sold on that argument, btw. I’ve decided not to buy any meat except fish and shrimp, and only eat it when it’s served to me at another house, mostly because I really don’t want to be that guyat the dinner party.

  74. 74
    J. Squid says:

    Jeffrey,

    I’d rather not ever have existed than to suffer a few years of torture followed by execution as my whole life. YMMV.

    Also, decent people don’t mind when you don’t eat meat at their parties. If I’m invited to dinner at the house of somebody I don’t know well, I let them know my dietary restrictions. It has never once been a problem.

    If I’m going out with people, I can find something to eat at almost any restaurant outside of Korean. And if it’s a place that will have nothing I can eat, I eat before I go. And then I sit with those people and drink iced tea or water and everybody enjoys hanging out at dinner.

    Are you that guy at the party if you don’t eat the mixed nuts because of your potentially fatal allergy? Of course not. The same goes for any dietary restriction. Assuming, of course, that you’re not unsolicitedly lecturing them about how terrible they are. And decent people don’t do that.

  75. 75
    Mandolin says:

    I forgot you were vegetarian.

    Um, do you have a party invite from me for a soon party? If not, I needs must email you post haste.

  76. 76
    J. Squid says:

    I do not have an invite. Email me post haste. Pre haste, even.

  77. 77
    Ampersand says:

    I don’t remember anyone actually defending anything Hooks wrote there (I really wish someone would have taken a stab at it, though)

    Well, although he’s not discussing bell hooks in particular, this thread on Twitter (written by a historian) does seem on point.

    “The humanities isn’t math. Stop expecting hard irrefutable proof for thoughts. If instead that’s the new standard, then I’ll be happy to join hands with you to throw out most of the philosophical canon I was made to read in high school.”

    I was disappointed, in that discussion, that no one brought up the second most cited book, Promises I Can Keep, because that was a book I actually read and liked. And I’m not sure what the anti-PC crowd would make of it. Is it good (because it involved five years of deep research) or bad (because the research was qualitative rather than quantitative)?

  78. 78
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Amp, Hooks makes factual claims about how the world works and prescribes solutions. If she wants to do those things and be considered a voice worth listening to, she should do a better job at doing those things rigorously. Students and other scholars she demand it.

    She’s not even operating like a theoretical physicist who is aware of and communicates her uncertainty, and what evidence would and would not help confirm her theory. She claims she’s speaking truth, and I think that’s a problem, because she clearly is not speaking truth. Why is that acceptable? Why shouldn’t she face harsh criticism from actual economists and psychologists when she’s making claims in their domain, but without any of the rigor?

  79. 79
    desipis says:

    I think that twitter thread by Keita shows the problems with the attitude of many people advocating for “social justice”.

    “I think, therefore I am” by Rene Descartes was evidence free. He wrote a whole book on it.

    We all know that phrase and revere it.

    People revere the quote because they find the idea intellectually stimulating in a profound way. People cite the quote because it’s the most convenient way to reference the very abstract idea behind it, not because they see Descartes as some sort of authority.

    When the concept of white privilege is presented it is demanded that convincing evidence must be presented that meets the standard of the person criticizing it, otherwise it’s invalid.

    Firstly, the concept of white privilege is making a factual claim about the world in a way that is different from the abstract metaphysical or normative claims of Descartes, Kant, etc. Expecting factual claims to be supported by evidence is not unreasonable.

    Secondly, the fact the idea of white privilege is not as readily accepted by the audience shows a weakness in the idea, not in the audience. Demanding an audience accept your views marks you as a zealot not an intellectual. Acting like the former and expecting to be treated like the latter marks you as a whiny zealot.

    Thirdly, there are plenty of people who reject the validity of the works of well renowned philosophers such as those above precisely because they fail to meet the standards set by the person criticising them. It’s not some unique attack on social justice theory.

    The humanities isn’t math. Stop expecting hard irrefutable proof for thoughts. If instead that’s the new standard, then I’ll be happy to join hands with you to throw out most of the philosophical canon I was made to read in high school.

    It’s perfectly understandable that the humanities cannot provide hard or convincing proof. However, those that work within the humanities should be quite content with not being respected in the same way as those working in the fields that can provide such proof.

  80. 80
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Also, with regard to that Twitter thread, I see Aristotle and Descartes not so much as good scholars by today’s standards, but important thinkers of their time who we should read to help us better understand history. Science isn’t just a thing people do in lab coats, it has a set of thinking tools built in, a set that is constantly expanding. These tools give us a better way to think about the world in a descriptive way. We want to avoid creating scholarship the way Aristotle did, and we mostly do. Plenty of philosophers use science to inform their worldview.

  81. One of the best essays I’ve read about the need to call Israel out on its oppression of the Palestinians and the need to be vigilant against allowing such calls to descend into antisemitism and against antisemitism itself. I’m not sure I agree whole-heartedly with everything Michelle Alexander says and there are some things I wish she’d said a little differently—for example, the way she acknowledges but doesn’t really address the fact that Zionism is not the monolith some people insist it is—but, overall, I think hers is a perspective that deserves a much, much wider audience.

  82. 82
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    I was disappointed, in that discussion, that no one brought up the second most cited book, Promises I Can Keep, because that was a book I actually read and liked. And I’m not sure what the anti-PC crowd would make of it. Is it good (because it involved five years of deep research) or bad (because the research was qualitative rather than quantitative)?

    Science is not good or bad due to the amount of effort put into it. What matters is the extent to which the evidence supports the claims. The greater the gap between what the presented evidence actually shows and what is claimed that it shows, the less scientific the study/paper/book is.

    There are about a gazillion ways in which evidence that at first glance seems to support a claim of X, can actually turn out to be consistent with X not being true (or not as much as claimed). This is why proper science is very hard: it requires making a strong case for a negative (that alternative explanations are not true). You can’t prove a negative and even merely making a very strong case for it is really, really hard.

    The objection to bell hooks’ book was not the amount of effort, but that she made claims far beyond the evidence.

    As for ‘Promises I Can Keep,’ being a qualitative study doesn’t make it ‘bad’ per se. It just greatly limits the conclusions that one can legitimately draw from it. Basically, you can at most conclude things about the specific people being studied, if the study is truly purely qualitative. Most people want to draw conclusions about more than just the specific people from a study. To do that, you need quantitative studies.

    Qualitative studies generally don’t actually spend enough effort on making a truly solid case for their claims, which do make them poor science. However, they can be valuable for (rather than as) science as a way to generate hypothesis, think up confounders, etc. Studies that give us very little certainty can be valuable to do good science, as long as one knows their place.

    So my question with regard to whether lots of citations for ‘Promises I Can Keep’ is also evidence for gender studies being rather unscientific is how the book is cited. Are the claims from the book generally taken as the basis for further research that is more scientific, then this is appropriate. However, if the claims from the book are taken as strong evidence for lower class women having a certain culture, certain circumstances, certain reasons, etc, then this is not appropriate. Then the step is missing where one carefully defines what group one is talking about, the extent to which this group has certain traits, whether the studied subjects are representative, examinations whether there are alternative explanations for the answers, etc, etc.

    As an aside, the book’s findings seems to fit very well into a more conservative belief system. The idea that poor/lower class/less intelligent people make decisions that seem optimal to them in the short term, but that often or usually actually make them worse off in the long term is a very common argument by conservatives for why people should be pushed into certain behaviors, like marriage before having children.

    A common criticism by conservatives is that the better situated who fought against conservative norms, actually tend to adhere to these norms the most. For example, the better situated marry more often than the poor.

    However, perhaps in your view these people will have better outcomes with better education, higher incomes, etc. Then to find out what solutions seem to work in a scientific way, you need a different kind of study yet again, that tests interventions. Note that it is even possible that both pushing people into certain behaviors and giving them more options is optimal.

    Well, although he’s not discussing bell hooks in particular, this thread on Twitter (written by a historian) does seem on point.

    Wittgenstein noted that it is impossible for philosophy to reason correctly or even describe reality accurately in more than trivial ways, because language itself doesn’t have an adequate logical form. When we talk or write, the way we use words give them meaning. We choose our words for their usefulness in context, but the context also determines how the words are to be interpreted.

    So if even if we say: A is strong evidence for B and B is strong evidence for C, then the B in the first statement will rarely have the exact same meaning as the B in the second statement. The way in which A relates to B defines what aspects of B we consider relevant in the first comparison, while the way in which C relates to B defines what aspects of B we consider relevant in the second comparison. These will often be (a little or a lot) different.

    This is why empiricism and quantitative science is important, because it allows us to link some ideas to generalized, objective experiences (aka facts) and to verify that while inferring from the facts, we didn’t deviate from reality too far.

    The value of inference to science is similar to the value of qualitative studies: it is valuable for (rather than as) science as a way to generate hypothesis, think up confounders, etc.

  83. 83
    Michael says:

    There’s a good article here about the APA “toxic masculinity” guidelines:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/01/18/psychologists-want-change-how-they-treat-men-thats-problem/

    It makes the point that therapy and activism do not mix.

  84. 84
    lurker23 says:

    RJN,
    i do not want to move the abortion thread here and i do not want to argue in it anyway, but maybe could you think about reopening it for a day or two, just to see if anyone answers any of the question? (do what you want of course but it took a while to write them and i was hoping someone would try to answer them a bit).

    if not, okay.

  85. 85
    Sebastian H says:

    I kept almost writing on the abortion thread, but I didn’t before it closed. There is a factoid that keeps coming up, which has very little to no evidence behind it. It seems to be important, because it comes up in every discussion of abortion that I can remember seeing, but it is as the very least speculation, and all the evidence that we do get contradicts it. It is the idea that late term abortions only happen if there is a serious medical emergency that either threatens the life of the mother, or that there is a serious fetal abnormality which makes living a good life (I’m not even saying a ‘normal’ life) highly unlikely.

    First it should be noted that in the US there has been a serious push to keep from keeping statistics on this issue. California doesn’t report at all, and any time a reporting law comes along, NARAL fights it. I’ve always been very suspicious of this, as it is very common when we allow a self interested party to hide statistics, we find out later that they are hiding bad behaviour. But that used to be just supposition.

    However now we have some data points anyway. The Guttmacher Institute (which is VERY pro-choice) has repeatedly found that later term abortions have only a slightly higher medical necessity component than early term abortions. The couch that finding as demonstrating that contraceptives and earlier abortions need to be more available.

    I am totally behind that conclusion. However their data still shows that the common talking point is probably not true.

    We have further evidence than that. The infanticide investigation into doctor Gosnell discovered that he performed at least 3 cases of murder in delivering fully viable children during a late term abortion and killing them after delivery. The investigation found evidence that he aborted more than 100 fully viable fetuses in the two years previous.

    In a single city in the United States, a single doctor aborted more than 100 fully viable fetuses which by definition means that all of those were late term abortions. None of those were medically necessary from the point of view of fetal viability. There is zero evidence that any of them were necessary from the point of view of protecting the mother’s life–especially as after viability there are very few times when removing the fetus BY KILLING IT is necessary to protect the mother’s health. So we have relatively strong evidence that in a small subsection of the United States, over the period of only a few years, more than 100 women sought medically unnecessary abortions.

    The CDC estimates that there are about 5,000 later term abortions which it defines at 21 weeks or later. So thumb-nailing that out over two years, that is about 10,000 abortions. A single doctor in Pennsylvania performed abortions on fully viable fetuses in at least 1% of those cases. It would be almost impossible if he found every single woman in the United States who sought a late term abortion that was medically unnecessary.

    Also it is important to note that the only reason he was caught was because his medical hygiene was terrible. He was not caught because of any functional check on late term abortions to ensure that they must have medical necessity. If he had been more competent, he would still be providing medically unnecessary abortions today.

    So it is worth questioning how important the idea that women don’t seek medically unnecessary late term abortions is to the argument.

  86. 86
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    lurker23,

    Given what RJN wrote, I think that your comment may be discussed here as long as some of the discussions in that thread are not continued here. Rather than through a dialectic, I’ll argue my position in a monologue for you:

    I think that a just fertilized egg has zero moral worth as a person and is not a being that can feel pain, think, etc. A just fertilized egg is approximately the same as a separate egg and sperm cell. I have no problem with sperm or egg cells ‘dying.’ So that’s why I support abortion very early in the pregnancy, for any reason.

    I think that a fully grown fetus, one second before birth, is approximately the same as a baby one second after birth and it should normally not be legal to abort it. Killing a baby is typically considered a fairly serious crime (which I agree with), aside from euthanasia of severely handicapped babies which is legal in some places (which I support, if done very responsibly). Euthanasia of severely handicapped babies is then very similar to abortion of severely handicapped fetuses, which I also support. So then my position is that very late abortions should be legal if the fetus is severely handicapped.

    I’m not aware of any legitimate reason for a parent to kill a just-born baby on her own. Financial reasons, impact on the education of the parent or any other of the common reasons for abortion are not valid reasons for the parent to kill a baby. So similarly, I don’t think that these are valid reasons for a very late abortion. Just like euthanasia of a severely handicapped baby should only be legal if this is determined by an expert (a doctor) who applies societally accepted norms for what counts as sufficiently handicapped, very late abortions of severely handicapped fetuses should similarly only be legal if done by a doctor who applies societally accepted norms.

    Of course, the difference between a fetus and a baby is that the fetus is in a woman and still has to come out. I think that if letting nature run it course will kill the woman, it’s valid to abort the fetus. That said, this doesn’t necessarily legitimize aborting very late in the pregnancy, when the fetus is viable. With modern medicine, a caesarian can presumably often save the life of the pregnant woman. The extracted fetus/baby can then often be saved if sufficiently developed. So I think that very late abortions are probably rarely needed to save the woman (but they should be legal if they are necessary). It is a good reason for moderately late abortions when the fetus is not viable or marginally so.

    Now, obviously somewhere between the just fertilized egg and a fully grown fetus there needs to be at least one change in policy, given what I said so far, for situations when there is not a medical emergency but the mother wants an abortion. This is where things get truly complicated, because there are many possible standards by which one can reason to a certain cut-off. The choice for a certain standard can’t be derived from other commonly accepted laws. So rather than to argue for one or more specific subjective cut-offs, I prefer to argue for a compromise on this front.

    For me, this is the logical solution in a liberal democracy. In a situation where individual choice is not considered appropriate by a a majority and/or can result in very disparate sentencing for very similar situations (like for aborting a healthy fetus 1 second before natural birth or for killing a baby 1 second after) & there is no objectively clear answer, we fall back on the will of the people, rather than the will of the individual. Note that maximum free choice for the individual isn’t actually (classical) liberalism, but anarchy, a situation with no justice for the weak.

    Anyway, your option 4 is a decent summary of my position, aside from the part where you link the amount of choice to a trimester. Trimesters only very roughly correlate to developmental stages of the fetus and the changes are gradual & differ a bit for each fetus, not sudden at a very predictable point in time. I think that it is perfectly legitimate for people have one or more cut-offs that don’t match the trimesters.

  87. 87
    RonF says:

    When the big announcement came out that Kamela Harris was running for President I was surprised. I’ve never really read much of what she’s said, but based on all the pictures I’ve seen of here I always thought she was Caucasian. Apparently not. The bobblehead doll being sold of her certainly looks a lot blacker than she does, at least to me.

  88. 88
    RonF says:

    Question: should a young woman offering via Twitter to perform fellatio on any man who would punch one of the Covington boys in the face be considered an example of “toxic femininity”?

    Amp, re: your response to #11:

    Since Republicans aren’t constrained by having to finance their policies when they pass those policies (gigantic tax cuts for the rich, invasion of Iraq, etc), the argument goes, Democrats shouldn’t be constrained either. Financing would be the job of Congress when it writes the overall budget, rather than on a bill-by-bill basis.

    Hm. I actually do quite agree with you about how we shouldn’t be (for example) fighting wars without committing to financing them. But this argument smacks of “whataboutism”. The Democrats are no more justified in this than supporters of Trump are to say “Well Obama did ‘x’ so Trump can do it too”. When I’ve cited such things I’ve done it to point out the hypocrisy of the media in their reaction to both actions, not to justify the action itself.

    Your example of financing wars made me think of holding my parents’ scrapbook of WW II with ration stamps and scrap drive records in it. Mom told me how she had to go around the neighborhood and beg sugar stamps from them so she’d have enough to make a wedding cake. I’m minded of a Gulf War quote where a Marine said to a reporter “America’s at war? We’re at war. America’s at the mall.”

  89. 89
    desipis says:

    Question: should a young woman offering via Twitter to perform fellatio on any man who would punch one of the Covington boys in the face be considered an example of “toxic femininity”?

    I think the malicious lies, mountains of hate and death threats directed at the Covington boys and their school are an example of how popular toxic progressiveness has become. The progressive movement has become so hyped on it’s own self-righteousness that even celebrities are freely able to endorse violence against innocent children:

    People are entitled to disagree, but what is completely unacceptable is the level of violent imagery directed at kids by adults. The respected journalist Reza Aslan tweeted “Honest question. Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s?” A writer for Saturday Night Live offered oral sex for anyone who managed to punch one of the kids in the face. Trevor Noah let these school kids know that not only did “everyone” want to punch these boys out, but he did too. The list goes on and on.

    The violent rhetoric escalated, as violent rhetoric tends to do. The entertainment news website Vulture had to fire a writer after he wrote “I just want these people to die. Simple as that. Every single one of them.” The school had to be temporarily closed as a result of death threats.

  90. 90
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, let’s say I’m playing Monopoly with Bette Midler. Bette and I agree that we’re going to play without the “borrowing from the bank” house rule some folks play with.

    Then, every time it’s my turn, I borrow from the bank. Naturally, this gives me an enormous advantage in reaching my goals, since I’m allowing myself unlimited funds to buy the things I want, while Bette is limited to just the funds she has.

    Let’s also say that leaving the game is not an option.

    Are you saying that, in this circumstance, Bette is obligated to keep not borrowing from the bank, even though I’m not honoring that rule and presumably will never honor it, and even though this is putting her at an enormous disadvantage in the game?

  91. 91
    Mandolin says:

    It’s an example of toxic bad judgment at any rate.

    It might be better to talk about behaviors as toxically masculine or feminine, rather than people. I don’t know if that’s the current convention.

    What’s the category of behavior you want to mark? Offering sexual availability in exchange for access to violence? That feels slightly off, but I’m not sure how. There’s probably something about proxies worth figuring out. Invoking damsel in distress stereotypes in order to manipulate people into unnecessary violence? That sounds closer to me because it highlights the manipulative use of a feminine role, rather than assuming that granting sexual access itself is inherently feminine.

  92. 92
    Sebastian H says:

    A good example of a common form of toxic masculinity is performatively expressing that something is wrong with someone so “I wouldn’t fuck them”. I think this derives part of its power from the idea that men would fuck almost anyone, so it is a particularly degrading insult to say that someone isn’t worth that.

    A related and common form of toxic femininity is performatively suggesting that something is wrong with someone if they don’t want to fuck you.

  93. 93
    Ampersand says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but as I understand it, the offer of oral sex came from a SNL writer (or something like that) who performatively has a “slutty” persona. In other words, it was a joke.

    I think it’s reasonable to criticize the joke – I think it was an awful thing for her to say, given the context. But pretending it was a sincere offer is silly.

  94. 94
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I think the malicious lies, mountains of hate and death threats directed at the Covington boys and their school are an example of how popular toxic progressiveness has become. The progressive movement has become so hyped on it’s own self-righteousness that even celebrities are freely able to endorse violence against innocent children:

    I doubt that only progressive ideology is vulnerable to to run-away false narratives. Any ideology that encourages it’s followers to seek out and identify events that confirm a grand narrative will fail in this same way, and this includes religious ideologies, hard-core libertarianism, nationalism, all kinds of racism, I could go on.

    It may be the case the progressives are especially vulnerable to confirmation bias, but I doubt it, and judging the entire ideology on this one moment is unfair. This particular episode was just too perfect- as if it was designed to confirm every bias while simultaneously reminding so many people of the teenage bully we all knew growing up. It felt like a scene in a cliche-ridden 80’s movie, only this movie was directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

  95. 95
    hf says:

    A good example of toxic performative masculinity is the movie “Green Lantern”. The movie’s villain is nominally fear itself. In reality, it’s a guy who doesn’t seem traditionally masculine. The hero has no clear virtues, but we know he’s the hero because, eg, he drinks beer while the villain sips a girly drink. Note that fear is the only reason to drink beer* instead of something that tastes good.

    I’m guessing some of y’all have criticized feminists for not looking at the ways the status quo hurts men, only to turn around and hate on feminists for doing exactly that so often they have special terminology.

    *assuming it’s true that you shouldn’t have beer after exercise.

  96. 96
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Huh. As a guy who loves beer, I always see the beer/cocktail trope in movies as more of a class thing. I don’t often attend classy events, but when I do, I often feel weird drinking a bottle or can of beer, when a whiskey on the rocks looks so much classier.

    I’m totally okay when toxic behaviors coded masculine are criticized, but some feminists want to criticize my masculine stoicism and… meh whatever, I’ll just be over here enjoying a beer.

  97. 97
    J. Squid says:

    Toxic masculinity? Off the top of my head…

    Misogyny
    Bullying/glorification of aggression
    Internalizing expressions of emotion that make one appear weak. Although this one is really a consequence of misogyny.

    Most of the specific actions I can think of are rooted in either misogyny or bullying/glorification of aggression.

  98. 98
    hf says:

    @Jeffrey: Well then, here’s a less feminist perspective on why our culture’s portrayal of “stoicism” is mostly degenerate and harmful.

    The author is actually a (male) feminist, but interestingly he writes as if he doesn’t know that men could admire Buffy Anne Summers. (Taylor Anne Hebert is an even better fit but had not yet been written.)

  99. 99
    Ampersand says:

    (Taylor Anne Hebert is an even better fit but had not yet been written.)

    I love Worm! And talk about a stoic hero…

  100. 100
    Gracchus says:

    “ear is the only reason to drink beer* instead of something that tastes good.”

    Beer tastes good.

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