Open Thread and Link Farm: Moment Before The Fall Edition

  1. On Twitter, I argue that if prisoners could vote, and one or two state representatives need the prisoner vote to get elected, that would be good.
  2. Is Prison Necessary? Ruth Wilson Gilmore Might Change Your Mind – The New York Times
    This story isn’t as focused on Ms Gilmore as the title sounds; it’s about her, but also about the case for moving towards prison abolition. (Alternative link.)
  3. Amia Srinivasan · Does anyone have the right to sex? · London Review of Books
    “Here, she tells us, is the task of feminism: to treat as axiomatic our free sexual choices, while also seeing why, as MacKinnon has always said, such choices, under patriarchy, are rarely free.”
  4. 2020 Candidates Are Very Hesitant About Letting Prisoners Vote | HuffPost
    I foresee a bunch of links about the different positions of Dem candidates. This is an issue where Bernie is better than the others, all of whom are either “no” or “no comment” or “I’ll think about it.” Gabbard is the worst – she’s not only against voting in prison, but also against voting while on parole.
  5. What Was the Washington Post Afraid Of?
    An infuriating story by a Washington Post reporter who spent months researching a story about sexual harassment at 60 Minutes – only to have 60 Minutes successfully pressure her boss, Marty Baron (painted as a hero in the 2015 movie Spotlight) to leave 60 Minutes boss Jeff Fager out of the story.
  6. (134) The Man Who Set Up His Own Toll Road, Without Permission – YouTube
    This was in the UK; as the video points out, it would be illegal to do it in the U.S..
  7. The Reckoning of Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center | The New Yorker
    The founder has been fired amid allegations of sexual abuse, racism, and just generally being a grifter. Written by a former SPLC staffer who thinks the SPLC does some good work, but also cons donors, takes in way more money than it needs or spends, and profits the people at the top.
  8. The problems with one-size-fits-all laws on opioid prescriptions – The Washington Post
  9. ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES: The Equal Pay Day 2019. Where Echidne Dons Her Economist’s Hat And Fixes Mistakes in Beliefs
    The mistaken beliefs are roughly divided into “discrimination is everything” and “discrimination is nothing.” Thanks to Mandolin for the link.
  10. Vertical Panoramic Photographs of New York Churches
    These are simply amazing.
  11. One Doctor’s Answer to Drug Deaths: Opioid Vending Machines | WIRED
    Although the moral scolds who’d rather see people dead than high are less powerful in Canada than in the U.S., this is still a cutting-edge idea even in Canada. Vending machines aside, the interventions that seem to have the most potential are all focused on improving supply, in one way or another, rather than on reducing demand.
  12. I find this short video of a Chimpanzee fluently browsing videos on a smartphone just fascinating.
  13. The Boarding Houses that Built America | The American Conservative
    I lean towards agreeing with this article, but I wish the writer had been specific about which regulations preventing boarding houses and SROs from returning he would like to see repealed, and if repealing them would have any bad effects. In other words, is this a case where Chesterson’s Fence applies?
  14. The outlook for the Portland housing market | City Observatory
    Portland is building many new residences, and rent – if not exactly falling – has stopped rising. At least, according to the graphs on this page.
  15. The Sexualized Messages Dress Codes are Sending to Students
  16. Barcelona School Commission Evaluates 600 Children’s Books for Sexist Content | Smart News | Smithsonian
    They removed about two hundred of the books, which are for age 6 and under, from school library shelves.
  17. Rowan Atkinson: Welcome to Hell – YouTube
    Just a stand-up routine I enjoyed. Atkinson starred in one of my favorite TV shows ever, “Black Adder.”
  18. Putting Numbers in Context: A Winnable Battle Our Side Doesn’t Want to Fight | Dean Baker on Patreon
    A very simple and, I think, pretty irrefutable idea: News should report budget numbers as a percentage of the budget along with dollar amounts, rather than just reporting amounts.
  19. The Computer Scientist Who Wants to Put a Name to Every Face in Civil War Photographs | Innovation | Smithsonian
    It’s pretty neat – they’re using a combination of facial recognition software and crowd-sourcing. Despite the headline, it seems impossible to me that they’ll be able to put a name to every face, but they’ll certainly put names to a lot of faces.
  20. Anita Hill deserves better than Joe Biden’s excuses.
  21. Pussy – Gwen Benaway
    “Latest essay from me: on my pussy, my life as a post op trans girl, and the “real” problem with Andrea Long Chu’s recent op ed on her surgery.” Thoughtful and gorgeously written.
  22. Gender Critical | ContraPoints – YouTube
    “Denying trans people their gender identity because “abolish gender” is like denying citizenship to immigrants because “abolish borders.” You’re targeting the people who are the most vulnerable under the present system, and then leveraging that system against them, under the pretense of abolishing it.”
  23. For decades, Garfield telephones kept washing ashore in France. Now the mystery has been solved. – The Washington Post
    Actually, I think the mystery is only partly solved. I mean, where did the shipping container come from, exactly? Did no one notice a shipping container full of Garfield telephones had gone missing?
  24. College admissions scandal: a modest proposal to fix admissions – Vox
    Rather than make wealthy parents pay insane prices for illegal means to get their kids admitted, set aside “rich kids” slots to be sold to the highest bidder, and use the proceeds to pay for more poor kids attending elite schools.
  25. Latino outreach or Google Translate? 2020 Dem candidates bungle Spanish websites
  26. ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES: Christopher Ingraham on the Sex Dearth Among Young Americans
    I didn’t realize that how the now-famous graphs were calculated is not publicly available. That might not mean anything, but it’s less than ideal. Anyway, yeah, the incel interpretation of the sex dearth really makes no sense.
  27. Food and Diabetes, or, People are Weird | Kelly Thinks Too Much
    Thanks to Mandolin for the link.
  28. #MarALard*ss and the Left’s Fat Problem – Your Fat Friend – Medium
    Content warning: Anti-fat sneers from the left, both aimed at Trump and in general. “We talk about calories in, calories out like we talk about poor people saving money. We assume that we could outwit poverty, outsmart our own bodies. Suddenly, we become so deeply conservative.”
  29. Evaluating James Damore’s Google Gender Diversity Memo on the Merits
  30. The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous – The Atlantic – Pocket
    There are more effective treatments – but they have trouble gaining traction, because everyone has heard that AA’s model is the only way. (Content warning for a brief fatphobic comment.)
  31. The Skin I’m In: I’ve been interrogated by police more than 50 times—all because I’m black
    In case you thought Canada was better.
  32. The photos at the top and bottom of this post came from Dancers Among Us, by Jordan Matter.
  33. Trump’s absurd threat to close the Mexican border “if the drugs don’t stop” – Vox
    Trump is more brazenly awful on this, but his tough-on-drugs stop-the-flow position is the mainstream of American policymakers in both parties. Drug policy is an area where puritanism and faux-macho posturing rule.
  34. Why some US cities are opening safe spaces for injecting heroin – Vox
    The Trump administration is threatening (and in one case taking) legal action.
  35. 8 Reasons Why Insulin is so Outrageously Expensive – T1International
    Did you know it’s legal for a pharmaceutical company to pay a competitor to not sell a competing drug? I didn’t. That really doesn’t seem like it should be legal.
  36. (137) The Great Tragedy of the Buffy HD Remaster – YouTube
    I mean, not an important issue, obviously. But it really is impressive how badly Fox screwed this up. I’m very glad I have the DVDs from before this was made. Perhaps now that Buffy, like nearly all other franchises, is owned by Disney, there will be a better remaster done.
  37. Trump pushed to close El Paso border, told admin officials to resume family separations and agents not to admit migrants – CNNPolitics
    “After the President left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability.”
  38. Trump Administration Grants Waiver To Law To Miracle Hill Foster Agency, Which Turns Away Catholics and Jews
  39. How Not to Have a Constructive Debate | The New Republic
    “The left is often criticized for shutting down debate. But is productive debate even possible when we can’t agree on the terms?” Thanks to nobody for the link!

This entry posted in Link farms. Bookmark the permalink. 

72 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm: Moment Before The Fall Edition

  1. 1
    Ben David says:

    Without in any way minimizing the importance of this thread – I would very much like to hear Amp’s take on the NY Times’ recent cartoon problems. As a political conservative who visits here, I would like to know what a progressive cartoonist of Jewish background thinks of the “Netanyahu dachsund” cartoon and the decision to publish it.

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    Hi, Ben David. This seemed a little off-topic for Richard’s post, so I’ve moved it to an open post; hope you don’t mind.

    What I think of the cartoon:

    I think it’s an anti-semitic cartoon. I think the choice to give Natanyahu a star of David dog tag, and to put a yamuka on Trump, were both bad choices that added gratuitous Jewish iconography to the cartoon, making the cartoon (to me) feel like it’s as much about Judaism as it is about politics. (Had the cartoonist left those elements out, I don’t think I’d say this was an anti-semitic cartoon.)

    Note that I’m not saying that the cartoonist, who I don’t know anything about, is an anti-semite. But even if he had no anti-semitic intention at all, the fact is, avoiding things like this – in this case, by “this,” I mean, a cartoon that could easily be taken for anti-semitic by good-faith Jewish readers – is simply part of the job.

    (The star of David is a difficult one for cartoonists, because it’s simultaneously a religious symbol and the most recognizable element of the Israeli flag, making it sometimes okay to use, sometimes not, and that judgement is subjective. But in this case, especially in combination with the yamuka on Trump, it tips the cartoon in a bad direction. Or so it seems to me.)

    Similarly, I don’t know a thing about who makes these editorial decisions for the NYT international edition, or if they’re antisemitic at all. But I don’t have to know that stuff, to be able to say: They screwed up.

    Folks who are interested can see the cartoon here: NY Times prints Netanyahu-Trump cartoon with 'anti-Semitic tropes,' retracts it | The Times of Israel

  3. 3
    dreadfullyawry says:

    “Did no one notice a shipping container full of Garfield telephones had gone missing?”

    Probably not? A shipping container seems big in isolation, but even a medium sized transoceanic freighter will have hundreds of them, and it’s a fairly regular feature of the trade for containers to be lost, left behind, sent to the wrong destination or to just fall off during rough seas. Literally tens of thousands of them are lost every year.

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    That’s interesting, Dreadfullyawry! Thanks for the info.

  5. 5
    Harlequin says:

    Thanks to nobody for the link!

    I know what you mean, but this sounds hilariously hostile!

  6. 6
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    #7

    This story exemplifies why people need to tolerate contrarians in their midst. There is a strong human tendency to support grifters and extremists who talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk, especially by the large mass of casual onlookers, who are easily convinced by shallow claims that flatter their biases.

    It’s a standard story of abuse of power in a situation where there is an enemy: critics become seen as the enemy and it becomes taboo for the ingroup to make valid criticisms. Instead of seeing whistle-blowers as necessary to fix problems, we tend to condemn and hurt them.

    In theory people tend to support whistle-blowers, but this is often based on the idea that the whistle-blower will call out the other. True support for whistle-blowing requires accepting the pain of the whistle-blower calling us out. Only if we have that norm, can we expect those with power (which includes the masses!) to not try to shut down necessary (and unnecessary) critique.

    The writer of this story notes how the eyes of people light up when they hear that he worked at SPLC and that he tells them about the good things, but doesn’t tell them about the bad. While it’s understandable that he doesn’t want to cause them the pain of shattering their false beliefs of how much good their donations have actually done and how much good activists are actually doing; this prevents people from demanding that good is actually done. This behavior enables the mere signalling of doing good to replace actually doing good.

    #18

    I can’t read the post due to it being for patr(e)ons only, but I don’t see how it is irrefutable as you say. While using percentages logically increases the accuracy of people’s understanding of the share of the budget (since that’s what the media is then telling them), it will presumably decrease their accuracy if you ask about absolute numbers (since that’s what the media will then stop telling them).

    For me and presumably many others, the government budget is not a fixed budget that were merely have to divvy up. Instead, I think that we should spend the right amount on each line item, comparing that spending to what benefits it gives. If we decide that more money is needed for healthcare, that doesn’t mean that we necessarily take that money out of welfare or another government program and if we decide that less money is needed for healthcare, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we increase welfare or another government program. Instead, we should be open to raising or lowering taxes (or raising and lowering the deficit).

    #26

    A major flaw of these graphs is that they only look at whether someone has had sex in the preceding year, rather than how often they had sex. Studies show that people in a relationship have sex way more often. We also know that way more people are single. So this suggests that even for the people who have sex, the average frequency has gone down.

    I don’t find the criticism of ‘Chad theory’ that you link to very convincing because it seems based on a misunderstanding of the theory. My understanding is that the argument is not merely that women have a strong preference for ‘Chads,’ but that feminism has made men less masculine & has robbed men of status. So fewer men are Chads than before. The relatively few Chads then have more interested women than they can handle. So women then can’t all have sex with Chads, even though they want to. Instead, many either remain alone or settle for men that don’t find very sexually attractive, which causes sexless and low sex relationships, as well as a tendency to leave their partner (or cheat) if a Chad comes along who is interested in her.

    One claim I’ve seen from PUAs is that men who follow their advice and thereby turn themselves into (or at least fake being) a Chad, perform a service for women by increasing the supplies of Chads, so they are thereby giving women what they want. Another claim I’ve seen is that they have a far better chance at lasting relationships, because they satisfy women more.

    This more complex theory seems perfectly consistent with many men still having some sex, so the graphs at most disprove simplistic incel beliefs. Of course, most theories have adherents who have very simplistic beliefs, that are easily disproved.

    #29

    This article is frustrating in that it claims to be an objective and merit-based evaluation, but then proceeds using the typical misrepresentations and unfair accusations. For example, a typical misrepresentation is that claims of group-level differences in average behavior and/or traits that cause group-level differences in outcomes, are claims that all individuals exhibit that behavior and/or have these traits. This is simply bad logic. Damore explicitly wrote a paragraph explaining this, to no avail, as his critics simply ignore it.

    Another typical & unfair accusation is that a belief in differences that cause a different outcome in one context is then a belief that the person or group is inferior in general. This accusation is often leveled even though there is no claim by the accused that the behavior or trait that they claim is more common to one group, is inferior, bad, etc. There seems to be a complete lack of understanding that other people can separate success/failure in a certain context or even just a tendency to prefer one thing over another from general superiority/inferiority. There seems to be a lot of bad faith here, where it is assumed that the other person doesn’t respect and value diversity, which is then results in an overly negative reading.

    A typical claim by feminists when questioned about their explanation of negative outcome differences of men, is that this is attributed to group-level differences in average behavior or traits. For example, I’ve never heard a feminist argue that the greater incarceration of men is due to discrimination, but have always seen it be attributed to male behavior. If the detractors of Damore would be consistent in their claims and outrage, they would write similarly angry screeds to how men are called inferior by these feminists. Yet they don’t.

    This is relevant to your article #39, how to have a constructive debate. Double standards make constructive debate very difficult.

    #31

    Men are stopped by the police more than women. Young people more than older people. White people more than Hispanics. So:
    – does this conclusively show that there is discrimination against men, young people and white people?
    – can there be valid reasons for the police to more often stop certain groups, for instance because they are more likely to commit a crime? If the answer is no, does this mean that we get a less effective police force? Is that a price you are willing to pay, if so?

    Just some things to ponder.

  7. 7
    nobody.really says:

    [T]he argument is not merely that women have a strong preference for ‘Chads,’ but that feminism has made men less masculine & has robbed men of status. So fewer men are Chads than before.

    Not sure about “feminism” as an explanatory variable. But ten years ago people were reporting studies suggesting that women living in riskier environments favored “manly men,” while women in safer environments favored metrosexuals.

  8. 8
    J. Squid says:

    If a commenter really wants to put racist arguments out there for all to see… Who am I to tell them not to?

  9. 9
    nobody.really says:

    J. Squid: If a commenter really wants to put racist arguments out there for all to see… Who am I to tell them not to?

    Uh … aren’t you … J. Squid? Is this a trick question?

    (I mean … wow. First Pope Francis says, “Who am I to judge?” And now this. Will wonders never cease?)

  10. 10
    J. Squid says:

    Uh … aren’t you … J. Squid? Is this a trick question?

    I definitely need to work on my subtlety and my patience, huh?

  11. 11
    RonF says:

    With regards to the question of allowing prisoners to vote:

    I seem to recall at one point that the Marathon bomber was cited as someone who would be allowed to vote under such a proposal. I’m a native of Massachusetts. I went to school there K – 10 and undergraduate. I lived about 2 blocks from the Marathon finish line for 3 years. I can remember as a kid special editions of the Globe coming out in the morning with split times across the top as it was being run. My daughter lives out there now – and was about 1.5 miles away on the Green Line headed for the finish line at Copley when the bombs went off. A friend of hers had just finished and was walking to the medical tent when the bomb went off. She was unhurt, but had she finished a minute or two later…. Then, subsequently, they shot dead an MIT Policeman, Officer Sean Collier, who answered the call when the convenience store they robbed set off an alarm. I have an “MIT Strong” T-shirt with his badge number on it (183) that I wore just a couple of days ago.

    Those of you who are not natives of the area may not – and perhaps cannot – understand just how personally the people of Boston and the surrounding area took the bombings. I would not think anything could get Massachusetts to vote for Trump, but this might be it.

  12. 12
    RonF says:

    In fact, I thought that cartoon was so blatantly anti-Semitic (as Amp notes, the usual “opposition of Israeli policies != anti-Semitism” argument is insufficient in this case) that it calls for a public accounting of the people along the chain who were involved. How many people were involved in the chain of decisions that led to the production and printing of that cartoon? How many of them have been fired?

    And as I’ve seen asked many times, what would have happened if the symbolism had been of blacks, Hispanics, gays, women, etc.? What level of accounting would have been demanded, and where now are the people who would have raised hell then in the present case?

  13. 13
    RonF says:

    Finally, with regards to the lack of sex graph – I’d love to see a more granular analysis of the increase in lack of sex among 18 – 29 year olds. If it’s concentrated among unmarried people, especially in the lower 1/3 of that age range, I don’t see it as a bad thing. It would certainly reflect the experience of that age cohort when I was that age.

  14. 14
    Ampersand says:

    LOL, I think you misread; I wrote that news should report budget numbers as a percentage “along with” dollar amounts, not “instead of” dollar amounts.

  15. 15
    Kate says:

    Those of you who are not natives of the area may not – and perhaps cannot – understand just how personally the people of Boston and the surrounding area took the bombings. I would not think anything could get Massachusetts to vote for Trump, but this might be it.

    This is a stunningly self-centered comment. The people of Sandy Hook, CN have no idea? The people of Parkland, FL have no idea? The people of Aurora, CO have no idea? The people of San Bernadino, CA have no idea? And, unfortunately, the list could go on and on. Most people in the U.S. today probably are connected to some community that has experienced such a mass atrocity.

  16. 16
    nobody.really says:

    With decades of experience, my wife is keenly attuned to hearing slights from her mother. Indeed, my wife is so skilled at this exercise that she has never asked me to play Spot the Slight—other than the occasional “Did you hear that?” So far, the question has always been rhetorical, and the answer has always been “Yes, dear; how awful.”

    I say this to introduce three observations: 1) The contested political cartoon didn’t trigger any adverse visceral reactions for me. 2) I understand that other people will have other sensibilities. 3) Unlike the circumstance with my wife, I don’t feel the need to defer to other people’s assessment of the matter—but the fact that so many people have a different reaction than I do makes me want to learn what they see that I don’t.

    To start, I can’t tell what point the cartoonist is trying to make. Here’s what I see:

    First, I see color. Maybe I spend too much time on this blog, but I’m accustomed to political cartoons in black & white, greyscale, or at most muted tones. In contrast, this cartoon has the coloration of a Communist Chinese propaganda poster. Thus, while I read political cartoons to convey serious ideas, this coloration suggests triviality to me. In short, the cartoon does not prime me to accord weight to what I’m seeing.

    Second, I see a blind guy and a seeing-eye dog. Blindness suggests impairment, disability. But blindness doesn’t suggest ridicule. To the contrary, the image of blind person evokes feelings of compassion. And a blind person willing to navigate the world with nothing but a Seeing Eye dog appears bold, resolute, resourceful.

    And then there’s a dog. I like dogs. A lot. Moreover, the dog in question is not a menacing German Shepard or Doberman or Pit Bull. Rather, it’s a Dachshund—a wiener dog! (If anyone can rehabilitate the name Weiner, it’s a Dachshund.) Rather than fangs and snarls, or even sly cunning, the dog bears an expression of longsuffering toleration.

    Finally, it’s not just any Dachsund; it’s a seeing eye dog! So now we’re combining the lovability of a dog and the whimsy of the expression with the nobility of aiding people in need.

    In short: so far, no triggers.

    Ok, then I recognize that the blind guy is Trump. Fine. And he’s wearing a yarmulke, which is … odd … but I guess I saw images of Trump wearing a yarmulke during a visit to the Wailing Wall or something.

    And I see that the Dachshund is wearing a Star of David dog tag, which tips me off that the dog is supposed to be Netanyahu, not Putin. I don’t see Netanyahu often enough, and his appearance isn’t distinctive enough, for me to recognize him otherwise.

    Then there’s the posture. Trump is slouching forward. Netanyahu is peculiarly long, sleek, and muscular, and adopting a chest-forward posture of dominance (although that may simply be a characteristic posture of Dachshunds).

    Now, I know that the Trump Administration has recently adopted policies that favored Netanyahu in his last election—even, arguably, at the expense of certain long-term dynamics in the Mideast—so I expect to see a message about how Netanyahu has duped Trump. The fact that Trump appears to be blind lends itself to this interpretation. But the body posture and expression don’t suggest this interpretation. Netanyahu’s expression doesn’t seem nefarious, nor Trump’s dismayed or disoriented.

    In short, the message simply seems to be that Trump is blind—but not otherwise crazy, immoral, or amoral—about what he’s doing in Israel, and Netanyahu is dutifully leading him, even if it pains him to do so. The only negative connotation I see arises from the depiction of Trump as someone lacking in understanding (“vision”) regarding the Mideast. If the cartoonist intended to convey something nefarious about Netanyahu or Trump, he might want to work on drawing expressions and posture—‘cuz I’m not seeing it.

    Now, I understand that some people have a stronger negative connotation with being depicted as a dog, especially on a leash. And I sense that symbols of Judaism (Star of David, yarmulkes) may make some people defensive. Just not me. I don’t begrudge other people for having a different reaction that I do—but I don’t feel the need to adopt their reactions as my own.

  17. Nobody,

    Your reading of the cartoon is both ahistorical and decontextualized. First, “Jewish dog” is an old antisemitic slur, which people still use throughout the world, which the Nazis used and which I was called when I was a teenager in the 1970s. So, depicting Netanyahu as a dog is antisemitic on its face.

    Second, the idea that Trump is blind to the fact that he is being led by a Jewish dog plays into the age-old trope that the Jews are a crafty, super-secret cabal that secretly rule the world. Trump’s blindness is a sign of his naïveté, of his inability to see the truth; while the yarmulke on his head signifies the fact that, since he is essentially doing the Jews’ bidding by allowing himself to be led around like that, he might as well be a Jew himself. Read in the context of the history of antisemitism and of antisemitic tropes that are in use today, the cartoon is as obviously antisemitic to those who know this history and understand the context as your mother-in-law’s slights are to your wife. (Forgive me for not providing links for all of those assertions. You can find out about them pretty easily if you google “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” or “The Rothschild Conspiracy” or “antisemitism and conspiracy theories.” If you want to read how the tropes are actually put to use, go to any of the white supremacist sites and just start reading around. It’s not that hard to find.)

    I hope this (hastily typed comment) answers your question.

    I forgot to add: If you are interested in understanding contemporary antisemitism, not from a scholarly, theoretical point of view, but from a practical one, I highly recommend Antisemitism Here and Now, by Deborah E. Lipstadt. I do not think there is another book like it out there.

  18. 18
    J. Squid says:

    … the cartoon is as obviously antisemitic to those who know this history and understand the context…

    Yep, Richard is right. Only somebody who’s never been exposed to or learned about the history of anti-semitic tropes would not see the anti-semitism inherent in the cartoon.

  19. 19
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, I’m curious: What would you say to a proposal to allow all prisoners to vote except for those serving terms for murder?

    Also, I’m interested in what you think about the issue, rather than (or in addition to) what you think about the electoral viability of a particular position on it.

  20. 20
    nobody.really says:

    “Jewish dog” is an old antisemitic slur….

    [T]he idea that Trump is blind to the fact that he is being led by a Jewish dog plays into the age-old trope that the Jews are a crafty, super-secret cabal that secretly rule the world.

    Jewish dog: Hm. Ok.

    The idea that Trump might be manipulated: No, not ok.

    The CIA, MI6, and Mossad appear regularly in spy stories depicted as crafty, super-secret cabals that secretly seeks to influence world events. Is one depiction antisemitic but not the others? The US has been obsessing for years now about how Russian agents may have manipulated Americans, and perhaps Trump himself, during the last election. Do such allegations become unspeakable when applied to Israelis?

    The seeing eye dog is a perfectly good metaphor in other contexts–but if THIS context creates a problem, I guess people could find some different metaphor. But to regard certain IDEAS as unexpressable–I can’t embrace that.

  21. Nobody,

    Except that the cartoon is not about Mossad; it’s about Jews. Otherwise, why have Trump wear a yarmulke? I will, for the moment, for the sake of argument, grant that maybe a cartoon that somehow used the Israeli flag, without any other generically Jewish iconography, and without the trope of the Jewish dog, could be read as you suggest and would therefore not be problematic, but that’s not what’s happening here. The yarmulke does not transform Trump into an unwitting instrument of Mossad; it signifies that he is an unwitting instrument of the Jews.

    Also, you are (willfully, it seems to me) ignoring what I wrote about the long history of the canard of the Jewish cabal and are choosing once again to read the cartoon ahistorically. Why would you do that?

  22. 22
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    nobody.really,

    Interestingly, testosterone levels of men have been dropping quite a bit. The implicated causes are varied, ranging from increased obesity to poor diets to worsened sleep patterns to pollution.

    So men may be less biologically masculine than they were. Aside from that, men may also act less masculine due to cultural influences.

    An interesting question is the extent to which female preferences have altered relative to what men actually offer now.

    RonF,

    A complicating factor is that research has traditionally compared married to unmarried people. This is relatively easy, since marriage status is fairly stable and often recorded.

    However, people now increasingly live together as husband and wife (including having children), but without actually getting married. So this can make the problems of single people hard to see in the research, because people who are as good as married are often mixed in with single test subjects.

  23. 23
    desipis says:

    RJN:

    Except that the cartoon is not about Mossad; it’s about Jews.

    It’s not about Jews generally. It’s specifically about the relationship with Trump and Netanyahu.

    Otherwise, why have Trump wear a yarmulke?

    Because Trump wore a yarmulke on his recent trip to Isreal. It marks the cartoon as one that targets the recent events of that trip. It marks the cartoon as being specifically about his approach to the Israel and Middle East, how the way it threatens peace in the middle east makes Trump seem blind, and how the way it benefits Israel makes it looks like Trump is being lead around by Netanyahu.

    I’m not sure it makes sense to try to force a historical context onto a cartoon that is clearly targeted at contemporary events.

  24. 24
    nobody.really says:

    Once again, someone else has beat me to the punchline.

    Except that the cartoon is not about Mossad; it’s about Jews. Otherwise, why have Trump wear a yarmulke? ….

    The yarmulke does not transform Trump into an unwitting instrument of Mossad; it signifies that he is an unwitting instrument of the Jews.

    Then I guess Trump is an unwitting instrument of the Jews—because pictures of Trump (and other presidents) wearing a yarmulke are all over the internet.

    Alternatively, we could acknowledge that images of Trump wearing the yarmulke have no one, fixed meaning. We might even go so far as to acknowledge that meaning does not arise from images, but must be imputed to images by human beings, and that different humans might impute different meanings to the same image.

    Because I saw images of Trump in a yarmulke during his trip to Israel, I regarded the cartoon as depicting something about Trump’s relationship to Israel—as distinct from Trump’s relationship to climate change, tax policy, or any number of other topics which might involve Trump. Political cartoonists often use markers to indicate to the reader what topics are being addressed.

    I will, for the moment, for the sake of argument, grant that maybe a cartoon that somehow used the Israeli flag, without any other generically Jewish iconography, and without the trope of the Jewish dog, could be read as you suggest and would therefore not be problematic, but that’s not what’s happening here.

    Ok … except that the cartoon does depict a dog wearing a Star of David emblem, which is the emblem from the Israeli flag. But is that emblem also “generically Jewish iconography”?

    [T]he idea that Trump is blind to the fact that he is being led by a Jewish dog plays into the age-old trope that the Jews are a crafty, super-secret cabal that secretly rule the world.

    …Does it? I don’t mean to question the existence of the old trope; I mean to question your description of the cartoon. ‘Cuz I was primed to see precisely what you describe—and I didn’t see it. As a blind person, Trump lacks some capacity. But nothing in the cartoon depicts Netanyahu taking advantage of that, or even expressing satisfaction about that. Nor does Trump’s expression convey confusion, dismay—or pretty much anything. If the goal was to depict Jews as crafty and super-secret, there would be plenty of opportunities to do that here. Perhaps the cartoonist lacks the skills to know how to depict Netanyahu as crafty and super-secret. Or perhaps the cartoonist was conveying something else.

    [T]he yarmulke on his head signifies the fact that, since he is essentially doing the Jews’ bidding by allowing himself to be led around like that, he might as well be a Jew himself.

    Uh … ok. Would there be something wrong with Trump embracing Judaism? It might give him an excuse to cover his hair more. And it would spare him the challenge of learning about “Two Corinthians.”

    Or perhaps “be a Jew himself” is intended to convey something about tribalism, with the assumption that to “be a Jew” means to join a different tribe, exclusive of “our” tribe.

    Or maybe it means that Trump would promote the interests of Netanyahu over those of the US. I can see how that message would be a problem for a US president. And yet, I can think of no president who has done more to align himself with the government of Israel than Trump. So if that’s the nature of the message, I can’t say that it’s an entirely unfair one.

    Also, you are (willfully, it seems to me) ignoring what I wrote about the long history of the canard of the Jewish cabal and are choosing once again to read the cartoon ahistorically. Why would you do that?

    I apologize for having failed to adequately acknowledge what you wrote. Let me acknowledge it here.

    That said, how can we reconcile that history with the fact that Israel is a real nation that can engage in real covert operations, and we may need to talk about that—just as we do with other nations? If that seems too ahistorical for you, we can find examples. In 1987 Jonathan Pollard acknowledged having been covertly recruited by Israeli intelligence to spy on the US and pass along classified information—and received a life sentence. Is that sufficiently grounded in history to warrant acknowledgement?

    Now, I don’t know that the political cartoon was intended to convey this kind of message. Again, I can’t really tell WHAT message it was intended to convey. But I struggle with the suggestion that we should regard any nation’s covert policies as somehow beyond the bounds of appropriate conversation.

  25. I am off to a conference today and so will not have time to respond to either Desipis or Nobody in depth, but I do want to make sure to note this. Nobody wrote:

    Ok … except that the cartoon does depict a dog wearing a Star of David emblem, which is the emblem from the Israeli flag. But is that emblem also “generically Jewish iconography”?

    In the absence of the entire flag, yes, the Star of David is “generically Jewish iconography” that predates the founding of the State of Israel.

    ETA: So, since I was a more efficient packer than I thought I would be, let me add this: Nobody also wrote:

    Alternatively, we could acknowledge that images of Trump wearing the yarmulke have no one, fixed meaning. We might even go so far as to acknowledge that meaning does not arise from images, but must be imputed to images by human beings, and that different humans might impute different meanings to the same image.

    True enough, but we might then also go on to acknowledge that images and the tropes and icons they contain exist within history, that they have a history, and that it is one thing to impute a particular meaning to an image in ignorance of this history, but quite something else to insist that history, once you have been made aware of it, should have no bearing on the meaning one chooses to impute. No one disputes—at least no one that I know of—that the cartoon is a reference to Trump’s visit to Israel. What I and others are saying is that the cartoon does so using images that are, to someone who knows the history and iconography, obviously, recognizably, explicitly antisemitic.

    Then I guess Trump is an unwitting instrument of the Jews—because pictures of Trump (and other presidents) wearing a yarmulke are all over the internet.

    This completely ignores the context within the cartoon in question. No one says that an image of a non-Jew wearing a yarmulke is antisemitic. It is putting a yarmulke on Trump’s head in the context of the blindness and the image of Netanyahu that is at issue here.

    That said, how can we reconcile that history with the fact that Israel is a real nation that can engage in real covert operations, and we may need to talk about that—just as we do with other nations? If that seems too ahistorical for you, we can find examples. In 1987 Jonathan Pollard acknowledged having been covertly recruited by Israeli intelligence to spy on the US and pass along classified information—and received a life sentence. Is that sufficiently grounded in history to warrant acknowledgement?

    Of course we need to talk about Israel and its policies and practices, good and bad, covert and overt, in the same way that we other nations. The question is why people find it so hard to do so without doing one or both of two distinct but related things: equating Israel with “the Jews” or using antisemitic tropes and stereotypes. This cartoon is a perfect example of that difficulty.

  26. 26
    J. Squid says:

    Sure, if you remove all context and history, nothing is anti-semitic or racist or bigoted in any way. Alas, this is a fantasy to allow one to ignore any and all bigotry, coded or not.

    It’s long been my feeling that if somebody tells you something is bigoted towards their group, that they should be taken seriously. Telling them that your ignorance of history and context and/or that your expertise in the specific form of bigotry makes it not bigoted will neither be taken in the spirit in which it is intended nor reflect well on your capacity for learning new info or your empathy.

    It’s really sad that, after all these years, we’re still having these arguments on this blog. Nothing really changes, I guess.

  27. 27
    nobody.really says:

    Nothing really changes, I guess.

    True that. The whole Really family is proud of Nothing’s accomplishments, but success has gone to his head; he has changed.

    Look, some people will say I just learn slowly. And I would have to concede the point: Even after all these posts, I still can’t spell yarmulke, Netanyahu, or Dachshund—and I get Israel right only about 50% of the time.

    Could we please argue about Brexit next? Don’t understand it—but at least I can spell bowler, Theresa May, and corgi.

  28. 28
    desipis says:

    RJN:

    … quite something else to insist that history, once you have been made aware of it, should have no bearing on the meaning one chooses to impute.

    There’s always a question of whether some part of history is relevant to interpreting the meaning of something. The answer depends on the context. History isn’t always significant. There needs to be more than just vague similarities in order to insist that a particular history should be significant in forming an interpretation. Is there a negative element of the cartoon that is uniquely associated with the history of antisemitism?

  29. 29
    J. Squid says:

    Is there a negative element of the cartoon that is uniquely associated with the history of antisemitism?

    They ask in response to a commenter they clearly didn’t bother to read/are ignoring entirely. Your answer is twelve comments back up page.

    Seriously? You couldn’t be bothered to read the comment thread you are commenting in? Not even all the comments by the person you are responding to? It’s exasperating and insulting in the best light. It’s cruel provocation in anything but the best light. Either way, I wish you would just cut it out.

  30. 30
    Ampersand says:

    J Squid, could you please dial it back a couple of notches? Thanks.

    (Not that I disagree with you, at all, about the substance of what you said. This is purely a mod note about the tone.)

  31. 31
    J. Squid says:

    Boy, I thought my comments were dialed way, way back. I’ll try, but I don’t know if it’s possible. If I’m too far on the next one, just let me know and I’ll bow out.

  32. 32
    Charles says:

    You know, while I’d love to see nobody really making a willfully ignorant ahistorical “I can’t see anti-semitism, so it must not exist” argument at length in a period of escalating anti-semitism and anti-semitic violence, I find it really scary to see nobody.really doing so. Nobody.really, you’ve always seemed like a paragon of WASP liberalism (okay, libertarian leaning liberalism, but still), so it’s dismaying to see you either making the argument from ignorance (isn’t that RonF’s role here) or playing devil’s advocate on this. I know you are an occasional advocate for the intellectual virtues of not being a member of an oppressed group (the “maybe this just means I can be more objective!” argument), but this really is not the time for it (I mean, “Never” is the time for it, but some times even more so than others).

  33. 33
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    A complication is that discriminatory arguments/beliefs tend to be based on arguments that are in themselves not unfair. For example, the claim that there is a Jewish conspiracy for world domination and the rejection thereof is not unlike a claim that a British or American conspiracy exists or existed and the rejection thereof. There are perfectly valid reasons to object to control by one group over another.

    If one bans all such claims for being discriminatory, then actually existing forms of domination, like the British and American Empires, can not be criticized. If one selectively bans such claims for certain groups, then those groups become immune to certain criticisms. For example, quite a few supporters of Israeli policies argue that criticism of the occupation of land that the UN assigned to Palestinians is antisemitism. Regularly, these people never actually bother to defend the policy itself, but instead, go to the meta-level by accusing the other person of making their arguments in bad faith.

    A common argument is that the criticism has to be fair and proportional for it not to be discriminatory, but the problem with this is that an important part of ideological conflicts is often disagreement over what is fair and proportional. One person thinks that throwing paint on people wearing fur coats is fair and proportional, while other people strongly disagree.

    Another common argument is that the criticism has to be factually correct, but again, an important part of ideological conflicts is often disagreement over what is factually true. In many cases, people on both sides have a conflicting ‘facts’ that they each see as unquestionably true, even though in actuality they are usually both simplifications and abstractions that leave out nuance, have exaggerations, etc.

    So these accusations in themselves tend to suffer from biases that people with other beliefs tend to notice, creating a feeling of meta-discrimination in many (that accusations of strong prejudice are applied in a strongly prejudiced way). So these accusations then get dismissed as hypocrisy.

    Aside from all of this, there is also the question of the efficacy of accusations of discrimination. It seems to me that these accusations tend to have a polarizing effect on both people and the debate, for various reasons that I won’t get into. So aside from the correctness of the accusation, there are also strong reasons not to make the accusation even if one thinks it is correct, but instead debate the claim itself.

  34. 34
    nobody.really says:

    Nobody.really, you’ve always seemed like a paragon of WASP liberalism (okay, libertarian leaning liberalism, but still), so it’s dismaying to see you either making the argument from ignorance (isn’t that RonF’s role here) or playing devil’s advocate on this.

    Sorry to disappoint/dismay. But no devil’s advocacy today; I offer my sincere, if ill-informed, perspective, which I summarize in two points:

    1. Nope, the cartoon does not provoke an adverse reaction in me–neither visceral nor intellectual. I don’t ask others to share my perspective; I merely report it.

    (Does this observation surprise you? On occasion I have had the opportunity to travel to exotic locales and visit their prestigious art museums. And on such occasions, I almost never fail to bore myself silly. I am the kind of philistine that Allen Bloom warned about: To me, every painting is a Jackson Pollock–a collection of color and shape, but no meaning.

    I spent hours waiting to see the Mona Lisa, eventually coming face-to-face with that masterpiece–to learn that it looks exactly like every poster of it I’d ever seen. Now, I surmise that other people bring a depth of knowledge and perspective–or even keener eyesight–that might make that exercise worthwhile to them. What I gained was a cause to reflect on opportunity costs–all the other things I might have done with my precious few hours in Paris if I hadn’t squandered them doing what others expected me to do, rather than what I wanted to do. Oh, and I also gained this anecdote–which I’ve been able to share for the rest of my life. So perhaps it was time well spent after all.)

    2. I recognize that different people have different perspectives. And this point differs from the first in that I DO ask people to share this view–and I sense an aversion to acknowledging it.

    I have not disputed anyone’s claim to have a more informed perspective about the cartoon’s meaning than mine. I have and do dispute the idea that anyone knows the cartoon’s TRUE meaning–because I don’t know how I would apply a true/false test to ideas of meaning. We could speculate, and perhaps gather evidence, about what the illustrator intended, or about what a representative sample of readers would conclude about it, or whether the image might prompt antisocial behavior or thoughts in others. But I don’t know how we’d leap from those speculations to issues of truth or falsity regarding meaning.

    And no, I didn’t major in English; why do you ask…?

  35. 35
    Gracchus says:

    “I spent hours waiting to see the Mona Lisa, eventually coming face-to-face with that masterpiece–to learn that it looks exactly like every poster of it I’d ever seen”

  36. 36
    desipis says:

    They ask in response to a commenter they clearly didn’t bother to read/are ignoring entirely. Your answer is twelve comments back up page.

    I read the comment. I just found it failed to address the issue.

    Being called or depicted as dogs is not something unique to Jews or antisemitism (example). Neither is having a national leader allegedly being the servant of another (example). The fact that common things are used or have been used as part of antisemitism does not makes those things inherently antisemitic.

  37. Nobody,

    (ETA: I have edited this comment because I think I may have misread what Nobody meant about not having majored in English, but I have done this editing on my phone. Please forgive, therefore, any sloppiness.)

    As someone who did major in English, can I just say that retreating, as you do here, into the idea that we can never know the true meaning of anything is an intellectual cop out, plain and simple.

    No one here has said anything about the cartoon’s objectively true meaning, in the sense that you mean it here. What I have said is that, if you read the cartoon from a perspective informed by the history of antisemitism (and, I will add now, particularly from the perspective of how similar images have functioned in the rhetoric of avowed antisemites), then the antisemitism of the image is obvious. I said nothing about the intent of the cartoonist, because even that would not give us access to the “true” meaning of the cartoon. Nor would sampling reader reactions; and speculating about the connection between the text and antisocial behavior? Well, that only tells us about how those who perform that behavior have (mis)read the text; it still doesn’t get us any closer to its “true” meaning.

    Except that we are talking here about an ideology of hate that has real, non-textual, material consequences in the lives of real people—and the two recent synagogue shootings are only the most obvious, because most immediately newsworthy, examples—the way you end this comment makes you sound like my students when they don’t want to have to do the intellectual work of, first, admitting that they have, out of ignorance, completely misread a text (note the absence of parentheses), and then of incorporating a corrective to that ignorance into their reading.

    You seemed, in your previous (I think) comment, to have acknowledged your own ignorance in this situation. Why not just stop there? It doesn’t obligate you, even after you have understood the “more informed perspective about the cartoon’s meaning,” to have the visceral or intellectual reaction to the cartoon that, say, I do. It only obligates you to acknowledging the validity of that more informed reading of the cartoon and not to pretend that less-well informed readings somehow have equal value—which is a lesson worth learning whether one has majored in English or not.

  38. 38
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    RJN,

    if you read the cartoon from a perspective informed by the history of antisemitism (and, I will add now, particularly from the perspective of how similar images have functioned in the rhetoric of avowed antisemites), then the antisemitism of the image is obvious.

    Many extremely biased people are extremely well informed, in the sense that they have consumed a lot of information about the thing they are biased about. That doesn’t mean that they interpret that information in an unbiased way, that their information isn’t skewed, etc.

    Your assertion that you are correct because you are well informed merely tells us that you consider yourself to be an unbiased interpreter, not that you are.

    Furthermore, you and Nobody seem to not even agree on a fundamental question: what is “antisemitism of the image”? You claim that this is decontextual: independent of the intent of the author and the perception of current society. Yet you claim that you can determine the antisemitism by a comparison with historic antisemitic artifacts and how they functioned in their context. By doing this, you are privileging the antisemitic interpretations and contexts over other interpretations and contexts.

  39. 39
    J. Squid says:

    LOL is correct here, of course. If you decouple the cartoon from history and context and ignore resources documenting that history and context there is simply nothing anti-semitic there. How could there be?

    Furthermore, LOL would like to turn the conversation to their unsubstantiated claim that their interlocutor is hypocritical about his knowledge of the subject as a way of derailing an argument.

    We can see your position and we know that it is counter factual and, therefore, wrong. We can see your tactics for what they are. Though the words are civil, the intent is anything but.

  40. 40
    nobody.really says:

    You seemed, in your previous (I think) comment, to have acknowledged your own ignorance in this situation. Why not just stop there? It doesn’t obligate you, even after you have understood the “more informed perspective about the cartoon’s meaning,” to have the visceral or intellectual reaction to the cartoon that, say, I do. It only obligates you to acknowledging the validity of that more informed reading of the cartoon and not to pretend that less-well informed readings somehow have equal value—which is a lesson worth learning whether one has majored in English or not.

    RJN has persuaded me. I tossed off the “not majoring in English” line as a bit of whimsy. Clearly it conveyed more meaning than I appreciated. (Yes, that was another bit of whimsy. Did I also mention that I learn slowly?)

    Generally I’d suggest that we’ve reached the agree-to-disagree stage. But I don’t sense I’d get agreement.

    [R]etreating, as you do here, into the idea that we can never know the true meaning of anything is an intellectual cop out, plain and simple.

    Respectfully, we differ.

    I have not contested anyone’s knowledge of antisemitism. And I sense many people feel passionately about that topic.

    I care about epistemology and semantics—as evidenced by my occasional references to General Semantics, E Prime, and the “How Not to Have a Constructive Debate” link. And I would genuinely like to hear people’s thoughts about how the care I use in making (and avoiding) truth claims reflects “an intellectual cop-out.” But I rarely find people who share my enthusiasm. (Amp doesn’t. : – ( )

    [W]e are talking here about an ideology of hate that has real, non-textual, material consequences in the lives of real people—and the two recent synagogue shootings are only the most obvious, because most immediately newsworthy, examples….

    Indeed. Again, I sense people care deeply about this. Just as people care about racism and cultural subordination. And I sense these deeply held, earnest concerns prompt people to make claims about the wisdom of impeaching Virginia’s governor, or the harms of white people wearing dreadlocks, or anti-Semitic images in cartoons. I often share people’s concerns about a problem—but not about the relationship of symbols to the problem. I often feel skepticism about whether attacking a symbol helps to alleviate a problem allegedly associated with the symbol. All part of the epistemology/semantics thang.

    …derailing an argument….

    Can anyone think of a way to evaluate whether a remark “derails” that does not depend upon simply privileging one perspective over another? (a/k/a moderation?)

    As far as I can tell, RJN (@17) and J. Squid (@18) joined the conversation originally to respond to what I posted on the topic (@16). Do MY opinions about the purpose of the argument matter? Again we return to the challenge of defining a thing’s “meaning”….

    You seemed, in your previous (I think) comment, to have acknowledged your own ignorance in this situation.… It … obligates you to acknowledging the validity of that more informed reading of the cartoon and not to pretend that less-well informed readings somehow have equal value….

    By what authority would an ignoramus such as myself make such an evaluation? Again, I have to wonder if people crave such a statement from me as a kind of symbolic victory over anti-Semitism. If I offered such a statement, does anyone think it would have any effect on anti-Semitism?

    Moreover, who would care about an evaluation offered by an ignoramus?

    I have taken pains to emphasize that I bring nothing to the table other than my words, and the occasional link. I make no appeals to my scholarship or accomplishments or wealth or connections. I present myself, quite literally and self-consciously, as nobody really. And in comments, I strive to cite people’s words, not their names, because generally the arguments I raise would apply equally regardless of who wrote the words.

    If people have come to take interest in the words of nobody.really, I can only conclude that the interest arose from my willingness to offer thoughts people find worth reading. What benefit would come from my substituting someone else’s thought for my own? Especially if that someone else already ably presents his own ideas here? This would only impoverish the conversation.

    So if anyone feels tempted to say, “By golly, nobody.really has persuaded me—so now I’ll stop thinking for myself and just say ‘ditto”!”—please don’t. That enriches no one. Especially the “ditto” part.

    Because I suspect that anyone who would agree with me has made some cognitive error. And I think that because I think everyone makes cognitive errors. Through expressing them, we get the chance to spot them and correct them.

    I have submitted my views, and others have submitted theirs, to a candid world. We have persuaded each other, or not. If people have further argument, I will consider it. Otherwise, how ’bout that agree-to-disagree thing?

    Finally, let me apologize to all who I’ve offended with my remarks. Yes, I know that “By golly” reflects an oath sworn to God, in violation of Biblical prohibitions. And I know that a thing’s meaning remains constant and inviolate across all time and contexts. I don’t know what could have come over me.

    (Yes, more whimsy! Apparently, I need practice….)

  41. I am back from the conference.

    Nobody,

    Before I respond to you, I’d like to understand what precisely you think we should agree to disagree about.

    LOL wrote:

    Your assertion that you are correct because you are well informed merely tells us that you consider yourself to be an unbiased interpreter, not that you are.

    Yet again, you have tried to tie me up in the neat little package of what you think I am saying or claiming without paying careful enough attention to what I actually say or claim. I never claimed to be an unbiased interpreter of the cartoon. I think I wore my biases pretty obviously on my sleeve. I think the cartoon should be read as antisemitic. Moreover, I think not to do so is ethically (if not morally) irresponsible.

    In other words, you’re damned right I am “privileging the antisemitic interpretations and contexts over other interpretations and contexts.” Maybe, maybe, if antisemitism were truly an artifact of the past, if it existed (metaphorically speaking) only in museums, if it were not (as it most certainly is) an artifact of the present, if images like the one in question were not being used right now by white supremacists and their ilk (and I am not going to link to the sites where you might find them), there would be value in discussing what those other contexts and interpretations might be—assuming that there are any that do not in some way draw on antisemitic tropes—but that is not the case.

    As the recent synagogue shootings show—and they are only the most recent and most obvious examples here in the States—Jews are now literal targets of the kind of hatred embedded in that image. That hatred may not be explicitly promulgated here by the government, though our president certainly gives it a wink and a nod, but, if you look at what’s going on in Hungary and Poland, you can see examples of that hatred being legitimized and institutionalized by government. To presume to lecture me as you did in this comment, to try to play an intellectual game of Gotcha!, as you have done here—to indulge, frankly, a kind of post-modern relativism that I thought you objected to—when people have been murdered because of the hatred this cartoon embodies, is more than insulting. It is—and I will take here a card from your playbook and presume to warn you about the larger consequences of the argument you are making—at least potentially, enabling of that same hatred.

  42. 42
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    RJN,

    It’s quite common for people to push for taboos that reflect their worries about certain risks. So they (push for a) ban against saying X about group A, but not against saying X about group B, because they believe that group A is (much more) damaged by X, but not group B.

    However, the perception of the level of risk to groups and the perception of causal mechanisms between certain taboos and bad outcomes tends to differ greatly between people. Furthermore, there is a more fundamental disagreement whether free speech or taboos are best to reduce the reach of bad ideas (classic liberalism vs a more authoritarian point of view).

    It’s plausible that certain kinds of criticism increase dislike of Jews on the whole and that restricting these more than criticisms of other groups reduces antisemitism. However, it is also plausible that banning similar criticisms that are made about others, result in anger at this special status, which in turn can fuel conspiracy theories or simply dislike for the privileged. Tabooing may also result in societal segregation, where people with certain beliefs may move to places where what they see as legitimate criticisms are allowed to be made.

    Such a process can become self-sustaining, when people with certain criticisms leave one community for another, resulting in less tolerance of criticism in their old community, which in turn drives out people with more moderate criticisms, etc. This process can result in radicalization of the old community and often radicalizes those who leave for a new community. Terrorists usually seem to come from radicalized & marginalized communities, where common societal norms are weak or nonexistent. So are strong mainstream taboos against expressing fairly common beliefs in general society then a good response or do they empower the tiny fraction of people who are willing to go way beyond mere speech, by giving them a strong community of people who were driven away from mainstream society?

    In fact, strong support for a strong taboo may increase tolerance for taboos in general, where the other side also adopts strong taboos. So a strong taboo against what reeks of antisemitism over here, may create a strong taboo against what reeks of philosemitism over there.

    Another plausible result of strong taboos is that taboos replace arguments, where people stop explaining why certain ideas are bad/wrong and instead use shaming and such, and thereby stop being persuasive, but are coercive. In the absence of effective control over the spread of ideas, this then may result in only one side actually making persuasive arguments, while the other merely coerces. For example, see this.

    In general, taboos are often a means of oppression. Radicals/dictators typically have a narrative and taboo/ban criticism that doesn’t match the narrative.

    In the liberal tradition, the idea is that bad arguments are best countered with arguments, not tabooing and/or coercion. Furthermore, the claim tends to be that due to the oppressive potential of taboos/bans, one should err on the permissive side.

    Your accusation of moral relativism on my part seems predicated on the assumption that a strong taboo against antisemitism or what reeks of it, is effective at reducing antisemitism and/or doesn’t have worse side effects than it solves. Yet classical liberals don’t believe in this assumption.

    Furthermore, someone who doesn’t share your self-admitted bias may have a different bias, not inherently more or less valid. They may argue that Israel is a Jewish supremacist nation and that philosemitism enabled the killing of many thousands of Palestinians and the oppression of many more, all with the assistance by the US (the government and civilians). So then, the argument could go, the strong taboo should be against philosemitism, where erring on the side of allowing some antisemitism is justified, given that the number of Jewish civilians that have been killed in the US and Israel is a fraction of the Palestinians that have been killed.

    What makes your taboo more legitimate than such a taboo? Doesn’t your criticism of the cartoon open you up to the accusation that you are “ethically (if not morally) irresponsible” with regards to the treatment of Palestinians by Israel? Or the accusation that you are potentially enabling the hatred of Palestinians?

    PS. Note the irony of the cartoon accusing Trump of philosemitism and you accusing him of antisemitism. He truly is Quantum Trump: in two states at once.

  43. LOL:

    Wow. Just…wow.

    First of all, who said anything about taboos or restrictions on free speech? And where did I suggest anything resembling what you say here:

    It’s plausible that certain kinds of criticism increase dislike of Jews on the whole and that restricting these more than criticisms of other groups reduces antisemitism. However, it is also plausible that banning similar criticisms that are made about others, result in anger at this special status, which in turn can fuel conspiracy theories or simply dislike for the privileged. (Emphasis added)

    Indeed, I think that paragraph reveals more than you think about the subtext of your comment.

    That aside, though, and with this, I think I am done with this conversation:

    Furthermore, someone who doesn’t share your self-admitted bias may have a different bias, not inherently more or less valid. They may argue that Israel is a Jewish supremacist nation and that philosemitism enabled the killing of many thousands of Palestinians and the oppression of many more, all with the assistance by the US (the government and civilians). So then, the argument could go, the strong taboo should be against philosemitism, where erring on the side of allowing some antisemitism is justified, given that the number of Jewish civilians that have been killed in the US and Israel is a fraction of the Palestinians that have been killed.

    What makes your taboo more legitimate than such a taboo? Doesn’t your criticism of the cartoon open you up to the accusation that you are “ethically (if not morally) irresponsible” with regards to the treatment of Palestinians by Israel? Or the accusation that you are potentially enabling the hatred of Palestinians?

    PS. Note the irony of the cartoon accusing Trump of philosemitism and you accusing him of antisemitism. He truly is Quantum Trump: in two states at once.

    This part of your comment suggests to me just how ignorant—a term I am using as a descriptor, not a pejorative—you are about what antisemitism is and how it operates in the world. I have neither the time, the energy, nor the inclination to engage in a discussion at that level.

  44. 44
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    You claim that context matters and that your interpretation of this context is correct and make this cartoon into antisemitism. In fact, you went a lot further and accused me of (potentially) enabling synagogue shootings. If it’s fair for you to claim that, then it is fair for me to claim that your opinion, in the current context, pushes for a taboo or restrictions on free speech.

    Note that I didn’t get angry at you for your fairly accusatory claim. I actually addressed your concern, by writing about how the link is not obvious, as well as other concerns that you raised.

    Yet in return, you ignore my concerns. Yes, you didn’t explicitly talk about taboos or restrictions on free speech. Yet taboos and restrictions around antisemitism/Israel exist. Accusations that speech has ill effects play a role in upholding and enforcing them. Even if you don’t believe this, you must know that others believe this, even just by reading comments here. So why not actually address these concerns?

    One of your typical ways of replying is that you react with anger when I make the things that you seem to imply explicit, yet without actually disagreeing with my interpretation. It feels to me like you are the one playing gotcha games, where you pounce when I interpret you in a way that is not the only reading of your comment, yet without telling me that the proper reading is according to you.

    You said that you believe that cartoons like these are immoral. Why don’t you just tell me whether you believe that they should be taboo to publish or not?

  45. 45
    J. Squid says:

    Oh, so now LOL want’s to talk about restrictions on free speech rather than the anti-semitism (that they deny exists) of the cartoon.

    Will wonders never cease?

  46. 46
    Ampersand says:

    Why don’t you just tell me whether you believe that they should be taboo to publish or not?

    I’m not sure what, specifically, you mean by “taboo.” If something is strongly criticized by a lot of people, is that a “taboo,” in your view? If something is called immoral by many people, is that a “taboo”? Or does actual government censorship have to happen before something is “taboo,” as you’re using the word?

    Put another way, are “taboo” and “censorship” different things, in your view?

  47. LOL:

    As J. Squid rightly points out, you have moved not just the goal posts, but the entire field of play, and I am, quite frankly, loathe to indulge that.

  48. 48
    Mandolin says:

    Reminding people that the commenter literally named themselves a troll. Goal post moving is feature, not bug.

  49. 49
    nobody.really says:

    Before I respond to you, I’d like to understand what precisely you think we should agree to disagree about.

    I use “agree to disagree” as a euphemism to conclude a discussion when I anticipate that the cost (to the relationship) may exceed the benefit. I like you. I often disagree with people here, but I don’t sense that I make enemies in doing so. But on this topic, I sense you have a greater emotional investment than I do. Given this groundwork, pursuing the discussion seems destined to produce more heat than light.

    Also, I dig Amp’s writing/cartooning, so I hate to distract him with Playground Monitor duties.

    That said, I have to share this essay by economist Scott Sumner addressing some of the claims about truth/meaning we’re hinted at here, and arriving at a counter-intuitive conclusion: “’Truth is what your contemporaries let you get away with saying.’ Which I gather means that claims are regarded as true when they are broadly accepted by the public. But which public? Everyone? College professors…?”

  50. 50
    J. Squid says:

    In other news, we’re really doomed!

    I think the chances of doing anything about this before it’s too late are extremely slim. And this may very well be a near term disaster. Like in the next couple of decades. Once the insects and the ocean are gone, it’s all cannibalism all the time.

    It may be time to party like it’s 30’s Berlin.

  51. 51
    Michael says:

    There’s a new study out in the APA regarding privilege:
    https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fxge0000605
    It showed that even though liberals are more sympathetic to the poor than conservatives, when liberals are shown information regarding white privilege, they feel less sympathy for the white poor. Which is exactly why many people have a problem with the concept of privilege .

  52. 52
    Petar says:

    Completely unrelated to everything… I’m asking for advice, because there are so many writers on this blog, and I do not want to ask on blogs where I can be recognized.

    So one of my relatives had the bright idea to ask me for an opinion on her fantasy novel. Why ‘bright idea’? Because I’m hopelessly negative.

    I started reading, and it’s clear that she has no idea about the realities of medieval warfare. In the first few chapters:
    – a first time rider escapes a horde of pursuers with a 10 second start because ‘she has the best horse’. She is in armor, they aren’t, they have bows, but her armor deflects all the arrows, yada, yada, yada… but in reality, the best rider on the best horse in the world would not have ANY chance to outrun three men on decent horses.
    – a first time rider from a culture that fights on foot in super heavy armor rides for days on a nomad horse with a blanket for a saddle… and is lauded for her quick learning and resilience, which is explained as “her armor’s padding helped”. She stays on the same horse, which is in no way discomforted.
    – as a consequence of the above insight, she invent the hard saddle and stirrups, in one night. There is absolutely no indication that she has any idea about leather working, woodworking, etc, and she had not seen a horse a week earlier. She produces a prototype with the help of exactly two other guys, while on the march, in secret, in the space of a week. The source of the materials is unclear.
    – a woman from the foot juggernauts culture, too weak to wear the armor, invents the composite bow, produces one in a week time, while in a moist jungle, and uses said bow to punch through the above mentioned super heavy plate armor. As a minor detail, she demonstrates her bow’s power on a breastplate hanging on hooks. The composite bow is described as a recurve, but exhibits the qualities of a compound bow.
    – a character grinds down, on a rotating stone wheel, swords edges to make them safer to train… while wearing full plate. Then he resharpens the swords with a razor edge, for the next day battle. The rotating stone wheel is for some reason part of the inventory of a raiding party.
    – the articulate plate is worn without any padding except the one attached on the inside of each individual piece. Oh, the sexy!
    – the horse people use straight swords, with an serviceable point, and with a ricasso. There is absolutely no reason given for the design, but it is a chance for the main character to enlighten them that “the point is mightier than the edge”.

    These are not anywhere close to all the problems. Those are just the ones that are major plot points which cannot be corrected without messing up the narrative.

    I do not know what to do. My instinct is to tell her to write something that she knows about, and to offer to introduce her and pay her yearly dues in the HEMA club I used to instruct. Which is condescending as fuck, and she’s my wife’s relative, so that’s a No x No.

    I mean, her characters are interesting, I’m curious as to “what happens next”, but the details are laughably wrong. If I tell her nothing’s amiss, I’m shirking my obligations. But the story is unsalvageable from a suspension of disbelief point of view.

    I tell myself that some of the greatest classics are also laughable *cough* Lest Darkness Falls *cough* and that most of the young adult fiction bestsellers are completely divorced from reality *cough* Hunger Games *cough*

    Do you think that taking that approach – frankly telling her what’s wrong, praising the writing itself, and assuring her that the mistakes do not matter is something that will be useful and acceptable for an aspiring writer?

  53. 53
    Ampersand says:

    Michael wrote:

    It showed that even though liberals are more sympathetic to the poor than conservatives, when liberals are shown information regarding white privilege, they feel less sympathy for the white poor.

    To be clear, they showed less sympathy for the white poor than the comparison group – which was made of liberals who had not been primed with information about white privilege. They still showed more sympathy for the white poor than conservatives did.

    The numbers are not in the abstract, and I can’t find the paper itself, so I can’t say how large a difference it made. It’s hard to know what to think about this without knowing if the difference has real-world significance or only statistical significance.

    But my first thought is to wonder, does this actually make a difference on people’s policy preferences? Are whites who have been exposed to information about white privilege less likely to support (for example) funding for food stamps, or raising the EITC – both policies that will help more poor white people than poor non-white people?

    They also didn’t look at the comparison for sympathy for non-white poor people, and how that changed (or didn’t change). Michael, do you think that the “many people” you mentioned believe that something that increases sympathy for poor non-white people, while decreasing sympathy for poor white people, is always a bad thing?

    For example: If white privilege is a real thing, and teaching about it slightly but inevitably lowers sympathy for poor whites while causing a large gain in sympathy for poor non-whites, then on balance I’d say we should continue teaching people about white privilege.

  54. 54
    Ampersand says:

    I’d hold back on “telling her what’s wrong” unless she asks. I’d say something like: “this seems really good in terms of the writing, stories and characters, and I want to know what happens next. I especially liked [a sentence about something you enjoyed here].

    “I would say, though, that a lot of the details about swords and saddle-making and weapons and so on are extremely unrealistic, including some details that are important to the plot. That might not be a concern – some wonderful books have been very unrealistic in those ways, like Lest Darkness Fall. So if that’s not something you’re worried about, then no worries. If you’d like to hear my criticisms about the technical details, let me know.”

  55. 55
    Saurs says:

    Which is exactly why many people have a problem with the concept of privilege .

    Many people, or many white people? I just want to get straight what fallacy we’re supposed to be grappling with in lieu of a persuasive argument.

  56. 56
    nobody.really says:

    Which is exactly why many people have a problem with the concept of privilege .

    Many people, or many white people? I just want to get straight….

    And here we go again; more sexual orientation privilege.

    : – )

  57. 57
    Ben Lehman says:

    Petar:
    Ask her what kind of feedback she’s looking for. Then give her that sort of feedback and can the rest.

    If she just gives a general or vague response, which she might, then say “I found the characters and situation really gripping, but there’s some stuff about historical plausibility that really threw me.” Fantasy stories are allowed a great deal of leeway with this stuff, so she may not revise it to your satisfaction, but it’s a framing that would work for you to say what you’ve got to say without being unduly negative, alienating, or condescending.

    Good luck! Feedback is hard.

  58. 58
    Mandolin says:

    Just for reference, the template for a workshop is:

    *i thought you were trying to do X (theme/goal/subject or similar) with the story.

    *i liked this stuff.

    *i suggest this stuff.

    *cheerful sigh off! (That’s not actually part of the template, I just do it.)

    A good generic cheerleader response (cheerleader being a common role people need someone to fill):

    Yay! X is awesome. I have notes if you want them. Keep going! (With whatever part of the process is currently going on.)

  59. 59
    Mandolin says:

    Ability to weather feedback so that you only get the productive stuff and not the inhibitive stuff is a skill. When I was in workshops all the time, I was reaaalllly good at it. Now I’m not, I’m out of practice. Bear in mind where your friend is, in terms of experience.

  60. 60
    Grace Annam says:

    Petar:

    So one of my relatives had the bright idea to ask me for an opinion on her fantasy novel. Why ‘bright idea’? Because I’m hopelessly negative.

    I do not know what to do.

    I mean, her characters are interesting, I’m curious as to “what happens next”, but the details are laughably wrong.

    It depends a bit on her emotional maturity. It also depends on her goals. If she wants to get published and be popular, then you can point out that many popular works contain technical inaccuracies. If she wants to create something impressive or entertaining to someone who actually knows something about the topics, then she needs to make the topic something she knows.

    I agree with Amp, that praising specific bits for specific reasons (that they made you laugh, or that you appreciated them because X) is a good way to encourage.

    That said, it’s also perfectly acceptable to say, “I just couldn’t stay immersed in the scenes you created because I know a lot about the topic and what happens seems impossible based on my experience.” One good way to follow that up is by analogy with something she knows. For instance, if she plays the flute, ask how she would feel about reading a story where someone with no prior ability wins a recital against experts after a few days of practice, or plays the instrument with her toes. That may help her to see the magnitude of the mistakes.

    I have some experience with gymkhana, and packing supplies on mules across rugged terrain, and I have studied a particular school of sword for years. I agree with most of your critiques.

    – a first time rider escapes a horde of pursuers with a 10 second start because ‘she has the best horse’. She is in armor, they aren’t, they have bows, but her armor deflects all the arrows, yada, yada, yada… but in reality, the best rider on the best horse in the world would not have ANY chance to outrun three men on decent horses.

    A neophyte in heavy armor probably wouldn’t be able to get onto the horse in the first place, and if she did, without a proper saddle she would soon be off of it, especially at any speed faster than a walk, and most especially trotting without stirrups; there’s a reason that saddles for armored riders have a high pommel, a high cantle, and a deep seat.

    – a first time rider from a culture that fights on foot in super heavy armor rides for days on a nomad horse with a blanket for a saddle… and is lauded for her quick learning and resilience, which is explained as “her armor’s padding helped”. She stays on the same horse, which is in no way discomforted.

    Sure, but never mind the horse. She wears heavy armor for days? There’s a reason people didn’t stroll around in any kind of armor which could be considered “heavy”, D&D fighters routinely wandering around in “plate armor” not withstanding. Heck, even a ballistic vest or tactical armor wears on you after awhile.

    – as a consequence of the above insight, she invent the hard saddle and stirrups, in one night. There is absolutely no indication that she has any idea about leather working, woodworking, etc, and she had not seen a horse a week earlier. She produces a prototype with the help of exactly two other guys, while on the march, in secret, in the space of a week. The source of the materials is unclear.

    There’s so much wrong with this that it might as well be magic.

    – a character grinds down, on a rotating stone wheel, swords edges to make them safer to train… while wearing full plate. Then he resharpens the swords with a razor edge, for the next day battle. The rotating stone wheel is for some reason part of the inventory of a raiding party.

    Never mind how; it strains my credulity that a warrior would damage the blade of a sword on purpose for any reason except utter desperation.

    This one has a fix; they find fallen wood, or cut branches, of about the right length, and whittle them a bit, and use those to train. Wooden swords are standard training tools. If you want a tool which will take a beating and remain useful, then you need one of a few specific woods and specific treatment of the wood. But if you don’t mind discarding the wooden sword once you’ve trained with it, in a forest with hardwoods you’d probably have little difficulty.

    – the articulate plate is worn without any padding except the one attached on the inside of each individual piece. Oh, the sexy!

    Ow.

    – the horse people use straight swords, with an serviceable point, and with a ricasso. There is absolutely no reason given for the design, but it is a chance for the main character to enlighten them that “the point is mightier than the edge”.

    The point IS mightier than the edge. For instance, if you’re mounted and in motion and stab someone deeply, the point will likely take your sword away from you, and may also injure your wrist. …which I’m sure you know. Now I’m just being cute.

    “Modern person ends up in a historical setting and makes out” is practically a genre (of which “Lest Darkness Fall” is probably Exhibit A). If she really wants her character to do most of this stuff, she’s only a short step away from being able to do it that way.

    Grace

  61. 61
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    J. Squid #45,

    I didn’t write that the cartoon is or is not antisemitic. From my perspective it’s at most a borderline case, where it matters a lot on how you interpret it, which makes for a relatively boring object-level discussion about whether the cartoon itself is antisemitic, because it inevitably results in a debate about interpretations. Or in this case, it didn’t, because RJN didn’t want to debate that (and when I abandoned that debate in favor of meta-level discussions, in response to his evasion, I get accused of moving the goal posts, etc, etc).

    So I just switched to other tacks, like arguing that it is difficult to criticize what one believes to be a Jewish supremacist nation, especially in a one-panel cartoon, without this being seen as antisemitic. One sees something similar in that some Social Justice people believe that Western culture is white supremacist, but their attempts to criticize this, is seen as racist against white people by quite a few.

    So for me an example of a much more interesting and useful debate is to consider how one can best criticize (perceived) ethnicity-based/related behaviors, movements, cultures, etc, especially since any arguments one makes then apply equally to criticism by oneself and the ingroup, as to the outgroup.

    Ampersand #46,

    I see it as a spectrum, where on the one end you have behaviors that are considered extremely virtuous, on the other end those that are considered very sinful and in between those that are morally neutral. Sinful behaviors are then taboos.

    Censorship can be a response to taboos, but there are many other possible responses. Similarly, the response to doing or even not doing virtuous acts differs. Some responses are considered much more punishing (or rewarding in the case of doing virtuous acts) than others. For example, threatening with violence is more punishing than being laughed at, which is more punishing than being quizzed.

    Furthermore, human communication is not always straightforward. A response that seems innocous when taken literally be an implicit threat that makes it far more punishing than a literal reading might suggest. Furthermore, some responses (can) work as intentional or unintentional coordination mechanisms, where a response by one person may result in a far greater response by others.

    An example that links this with the discussion under your new cartoon is that some Social Justice advocates call speech that they consider harmful, ‘violence.’ In our culture, a common response to violence is violent self-defense or an authority temporarily and/or permanently jailing the perpetrator. In the case where the alleged victim seems far weaker than the alleged perpetrator, instead of self-defense, you often see a strong person intervening, sometimes with violence. It is also common for the seemingly weaker person to be believed by default, due to a prejudiced belief that weaker people don’t seek conflict.

    So this can create counterintuitive situations where, for example, a moderately strong man who wants to hurt a weak woman in a crowd can at most briefly use violence before others will intervene, but the woman can falsely claim to be (much more) hurt and then a much stronger man, for whom the moderately strong man is no match, may apply a fairly lengthy beating to the man with support from the crowd. So then the moderately strong man is actually more at risk from nefarious behavior from the weak woman in that context than vice versa.

    Such a situation is heavily dependent on prejudices and assumptions by the crowd, which can be taken advantage of to get a greater response than is reasonable, by making a claim that people interpret as if something far worse happened than what actually did.

    In my opinion, Social Justice advocates relatively often do this, by making claims/accusations that many people will interpret as if far worse things were done by a person than what they actually did, thereby inviting responses by third parties that are more appropriate to far more serious transgressions.

    As an aside, can you please ask Mandolin to cut it out with her false allegations that I’ve addressed, but that she refuses to read. If anyone is trolling, it is her, by making repeated accusations based on ignorant assumptions, even after I corrected her.

    RJN #47,

    I’m not obliged to discuss what you want to discuss, especially when you don’t want to discuss what I want to discuss.

  62. 62
    nobody.really says:

    [I]f [the author] plays the flute, ask how she would feel about reading a story where someone with no prior ability wins a recital against experts after a few days of practice, or plays the instrument with her toes. That may help her to see the magnitude of the mistakes.

    For what it’s worth, in Dune the protagonist Paul Atreides finds himself stranded on an unfamiliar desert planet and taken in by the native Fremen—yet exhibits a curious familiarity with their ways, as if to fulfill a messianic prophesy. And, yeah, it turns out that he was bred to be a messiah.

    Likewise in Avatar, a neophyte was able to survive much of the night in the wildly hostile environment of Pandora’s forest—and, lo and behold, was later revealed to be the messiah.

    So if the plot has that kind of supernatural quality, readers might forgive some amount of implausibility as a manifestation of Destiny. If the plot does not have that quality … well, perhaps it could acquire that quality?

  63. 63
    Michael says:

    OK, I found an article describing the study I mentioned:
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/neazxq/the-disturbing-thing-i-learned-studying-white-privilege-and-liberals
    The article makes it clear that the study found that exposure to information about privilege made liberals have less sympathy for poor whites than liberals who hadn’t been exposed but it didn’t make them feel more sympathetic for poor blacks.

  64. 64
    Mandolin says:

    Honestly, there are a lot of resources for writing accurate fight scenes! It is very normal for it to be difficult, and for early drafts to reflect errors.

    Surreality can excuse a lot of inaccuracies, but it is a radical change to the substance of a narrative. Needing to rewrite with better fight scene dynamics is normal, and substantially easier.

  65. 65
    Petar says:

    Thank you everyone! This is really helpful. The part about which I was unsure about was how much to dwell on the specific problems. I’m starting to form an idea about how to handle it.

    And Grace, let me guess… You may have a tiny problem with suspension of disbelief, and you dread when a work you enjoy is about to portray a a fight scene, the use of various ordnance, and especially, an investigation?

  66. 66
    Harlequin says:

    The numbers are not in the abstract, and I can’t find the paper itself, so I can’t say how large a difference it made. It’s hard to know what to think about this without knowing if the difference has real-world significance or only statistical significance.

    I have institutional access to the white privilege paper, so I looked for some of these details.

    The experiment involved the following (which wasn’t clear to me from the abstract, although I only skimmed it). Some people recruited from Mechanical Turk were split into two groups randomly. One group read a short introductory text (a few sentences) and then 4 privileges from Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. The other group read a short introductory text and 4 examples from an essay on the benefits of having a routine. Then they were told they were taking a separate study; they read a short passage of text that was supposedly for a magazine column, about a poor person named Kevin, and then were asked how much they sympathized with the person portrayed. The passage specified that Kevin was either white or black.

    On a 100-point scale, when they read about routines, conservatives had a sympathy score of ~52 for white Kevin and ~60 for black Kevin (I’m reading off plots here), while liberals had a score of ~70 for both black and white Kevin. When they read about white privilege, conservatives had a score of ~60 for both black and white Kevin, while liberals had a score of ~60 for white Kevin and ~76 for black Kevin. Note that the 95% confidence intervals for these scores are about +/- 8 on the 100-point scale so that 52 vs 60 for conservatives in the control case isn’t a statistically significant result but the 16-point difference for liberals in the white privilege case is.

    The fake “magazine text” was the following:

    Kevin, a White [Black] American living in New York City, would say his life has been defined by poverty. As a child, Kevin was raised by a single mom who struggled to balance several part-time jobs simply to pay the bills. Most winters, they had no heat; and, it was a daily question whether they would have enough to eat. In late 2016, Kevin began to receive welfare assistance. Since then, he has not applied for any jobs and instead has cycled between jail cells, shelters, emergency rooms and the streets. Although Kevin would like to be financially independent, he doesn’t feel he has the skills or ability to obtain a well-paying job.

    I do wonder how some of those details–in particular, time in jail cells–dovetail into racial stereotypes.

  67. 67
    Ampersand says:

    Thanks, Harlequin.

    I’m really curious about how well, or poorly, the “sympathy” measure here correlates to policy preferences. After reading about white privilege, both conservatives and liberals had a sympathy score of about 60 for white Kevin. But that conservatives and liberals can have the identical sympathy score suggests that sympathy scores and policy preferences may be disconnected. Which is not what I’d intuitively expect.

  68. 68
    Michael says:

    The Harvard layer who represents Harvey Weinstein has been outed as dean of Winthrop House:
    https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/11/us/harvard-law-professor-ronald-sullivan-loses-deanship-harvey-weinstein/index.html
    The rationale was the “climate” at the house.

  69. 69
    nobody.really says:

    Does the data show a relationship between immigration rates and crime rates?
    No.

    But … does the data show a relationship between undocumented immigration rates and crime rates?
    Nnnnnnnnnno.

  70. 70
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Studies suggest that first generation crime rates are low, but that the second generation has much higher crime rates. For migrants to the US, these crime rates are typically the same as the native population.

    In the EU, some second generation groups do much worse. This seems strongly related to the origin culture, with Maghreb and (lesser so) Turkish second generation migrants doing particularly poorly.

    One reason why first generation (and undocumented) migrant crime rates may be/seem low is that these people may not report crime to the police as often. This effect seems to be quite large. Crime typically seems to involve perpetrators and victims of the same ethnicity, so criminal first generation migrants who target their peers may see their crimes reported less than the second generation and non-migrants, producing deceptively low crime rates.

    It was also the experience of a close relative who engaged in local activism, that first generation migrants were typically not willing to sign a petition. So there seems to be a general wariness to be ‘disruptive’.

    This may reflect these people putting into practice the title of the other thread: “Learn the Rules Before You Break Them.” New migrants may feel much more unsure of local norms, resulting in great reluctance to interact more than very passively with politics, police, etc.

    However, there is a UK study that found that after correcting for under-reporting, the crime rates of first generation migrants in London were still considerably lower.

    I’m not aware into research into under-reporting of undocumented migrants, but I expect this to be extremely high, given their risk of getting deported. So to me, this seems to make the article in the NYT to be rather useless, because under-reporting may confound their findings greatly.

    PS. A complication is that many studies into criminality of migrants control for age and/or income, which are known to be major factors in criminality for natives. However, this can create a disparity between the experience of the natives and scientific findings, when migrants who are relatively poor and young (and still have high birth rates) move to a society where the average age and income is much higher. Then when they have crime rates similar to native young poor people, natives will notice an increase in crime that is similar to one that you might have with a baby boom of natives (note that the post-war baby boom caused a large crime increase in the West).

  71. 71
    lurker23 says:

    that is what i thought as well.

    if victims are afraid that they will get in trouble for reports, they do not report. also if victims think the punishment is too big, like maybe they want not to be stolen from but do not want to get someone deported, then they do not report.

    i think that is part of it.

    also if you think punishing has any bad-incentive effect (it is supposed to!) then this also makes sense because deporting is very bad-incentive and so if you have more of that then crime will be not as bad. citizens only have jail, other people have jail and deportation.

  72. 72
    nobody.really says:

    Does the data show a relationship between immigration rates and crime rates?
    No.

    But … does the data show a relationship between undocumented immigration rates and crime rates?
    Nnnnnnnnnno.

    Studies suggest that first generation crime rates are low, but that the second generation has much higher crime rates. For migrants to the US, these crime rates are typically the same as the native population.

    This strikes me as an odd rejoinder. People raise the argument that immigration leads to an increased crime rate to suggest that immigrants differ from the native population (“fail to assimilate”) and burden the native population.

    So here we have evidence that, indeed, immigrants DO differ from the native population: they generate less evidence of committing violent or property crimes. But within one generation they begin generating similar crime statistics as the native population—in other words, they assimilate.

    One reason why first generation (and undocumented) migrant crime rates may be/seem low is that these people may not report crime to the police as often.

    Interesting thought. Query: Who cares?

    Specifically, I could understand why a native US citizen would care if the data showed that immigrants increased the burdens born by native US citizens in the form of crime. But the conjecture that immigrants silently commit and endure crime, even if accurate, suggests that immigrants might cause/endure more crime than documented—and that this burden is born by the immigrants themselves. Thus, even if accurate, this idea would provide little basis for native US citizens to object.

    Well, perhaps some native US citizens would object out of compassion for the immigrants. Fine. But that concern would provide no basis to object to immigration—unless we could conclude that a Guatemalan on the US side of the border experiences greater rates of crime than a Guatemalan on the other side of the border. At present, I have no basis to believe that.

Leave a Reply

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