Philosopher J. emails me about free speech and Straussianism

I won’t add extra formatting, here goes (and here is my original post):

“Nice point about a Straussian reading of the free speech letter, and the general constraints of working in groups…But I have this worry about your post. I am not myself a Straussian, but I will express the point as a way of taking further the Straussianism already in your post. Maybe this is what you intend, so that a post making a Straussian point explicit should have a kind of meta-Straussian point. But, here goes: Taking your point about working in groups, I’m worried about you saying:

  • we have a new bunch of “speech regulators” (not in the legal sense, not usually at least) who are especially humorless and obnoxious and I would say neurotic

I would think the Straussian position (in the fuller sense, not just the sense of covert or hidden) would be that working in a group, in a city (or state, country, etc.), always requires constraints — some way of encoding and reproducing enough of a common morality to make living together and coordination possible. From the position of “the philosophers” (as Straussians would say, but in this case I’m thinking of you) these may always be humorless, obnoxious, and maybe neurotic too. So why not think that the old speech regulators were equally so, just enforcing different rules? Why not think we’ve moved from rules of propriety (e.g. more censorship of sexual content, for example), to rules forbidding racism, etc.? You might then think that recent changes have broadened the openness for some kinds of speech. People I know who are interested in police violence, and remedies, report experiencing such a broadening.

An optional addition to this thought would be the idea that different sets of codes, equally and unfortunately all-too humorless, can still do better and worse judged with respect to the good, as Platonist-Straussians would say. In that sense, I would think the new humorless codes an improvement.

Granted, there is a strong strand in Straussianism that would think it just most important that there is some way for “the philosophers” to be able to have some space free of such codes to do the actually important stuff (as they see it) in ways that are not humorless, etc. But even that strand in no way holds the standard is that “the philosophers” should be freely expressing their views *publicly*! I would think that this is a pretty essential part of the point of Straussianism in the first place.

thanks as always for your work and the inspiration to think less about raising and lowering statuses, less from the perspective of Platonic thumos, as the Straussians would put it…”

TC again: More anonymity!  Hmm…

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I'm puzzled as to why the new codes are an improvement on the old. The old codes, as to sex, reduced the incidence of illegitimacy. The new codes, as to race, do not improve the relative income of black people.

Also, racism has been against nearly all codes for quite a long time now. Anti racism is hardly an invention of the last ten years.

The post clearly is clueless about the issue, which is more about a fad of actively trying to grasp for the most negative possible interpretation of statements of well known people to create conflict and take an outraged stance.

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Exactly.

And "So why not think that the old speech regulators were equally so, just enforcing different rules?" ignores the content of the rules. The old was "Don't talk about religion, sex or money". The new is :You will take on the religion I have, the sex I want you to have, and your money is mine".

Substance matters. Philosopher J. misses the point.

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Speech codes did that? I think it was the absence of motor cars that did that.

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The most Straussian part of this entire post is that the author/philosopher requested anonymity.

Even he doesn’t believe the codes are functional.

Can you explain what Straussian means? I feel like I have missed some long running meme on here. tks

I'm sure others more well-versed on this blog could better explain, and personally I find the whole Straussian approach to be a bit meta and self-indulgent at times, but here goes. Essentially, the idea of taking a Straussian approach is to encode a secondary, more true meaning within whatever you said, wrote, etc. So within the above blog post by Tyler Cowen, the fact that he ends the post with the statement "More anonymity! Hmm..." can perhaps be inferred as his way of calling into question the whole email's thesis without explicitly typing "Kind of hypocritical to type this whole email to me about there not being a loss of free speech norms, given that you seemingly are afraid of having your opinion published with your actual name."

But then again, perhaps I am inferring the wrong "point" Tyler is trying to make with his "More anonymity! Hmm..." statement. And that is exactly why I find the whole Straussian bit exhausting. You can never tell what people actually believe, are arguing, and so forth. It leaves everything way too open for personal biases and interpretation to creep in.

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The Straussian Approach, by Catherine Zuckert:

"The “Straussian” approach to the history of political philosophy is articulated primarily in the writings of Leo Strauss. Strauss wrote extremely careful, detailed studies of canonical philosophical works along with essays explaining his approach. The most controversial claim Strauss made was that philosophers in the past did not always present their thoughts openly and explicitly. They used an “art of writing” to entice potential philosophers to begin a life of inquiry by following the hints the authors gave about their true thoughts and questions."

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Here's a reddit "explain like I'm five" on the subject:

https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/60823b/eli5what_does_tyler_cowen_mean_when_he_says/

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The fundamental question of 2020 has been: "Why don't black people have as much stuff as white people?"

For decades I've been pointing out that there are only two plausible answers to that question:

A. Blacks tend to be lower in average intelligence and higher in average homicidality, probably for complex reasons of nature and nurture that so far have proven intractable.

Or

B. Because white people are evil.

Answer A has been driven out of the public square, so all that is left is Answer B.

And thus the rioting, looting, and shooting we've been subjected to since May 24, 2020.

Isn't there at least one other answer? Perhaps, as a group, they are less acquisitive. (Maybe they are all Buddhists, for example.).

Not an obviously correct answer, but a third option, no?

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Neither hypothesis is correct. Skin color is largely irrelevant. Look at first and 2nd generation Nigerians and Ghanaians. They outperform whites on average in America.

If either A or B were a solid theory, these new immigrants could not outperform whites in America.

This is incorrect. Within any group there is a distribution. If you’re taking a random sample of all blacks and all whites you may get a difference in some areas. But 2nd generation Nigerians are not such a random sample. They are a highly selective sample of people wealthy and smart enough to emigrate.

We know that on average, 6’8” tall people are better at basketball than 6’2” people. But if we took all the 6’2” people who are in the NBA and played them against random 6’8” people from the general population, I’d bet on the shorter NBA players.

The fact that an elite subset of shorter players would beat random taller players does not mean height is largely irrelevant in basketball. It does mean we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover though (which is also of course true for race).

It's their culture that is elite. Not the wealth (often very little) that they come to America with. Study, work long hard hours, stay out of crime entirely.

Don't judge a book by its cover? But It can be judged pretty darn accurately by its zip code.

For a moment, I thought you were writing about any Chinese or South Korean that emigrated to America between 1965 and 2000.

But alias, your reply implies you don't understanding how to compare normal distributions of different group attributes.

But alias, your reply implies you don't understand how to compare normal distributions of different group attributes.

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The problem is (quite obviously) a cultural one.

When you spend 50 years paying black women NOT to marry in order to get welfare, you get predicable cultural decay.

+1

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The same can be said of the Rural South.

Are Deep Southerners just stupid? Or is it B?

Its B. The Deep South was left out of the socialist reconstruction after the war. The North spent government cash converting the northern war machine into sustainable industry and infrastructure while ignoring the destruction of the south. 100 years later structural and cultural problems persist.

Same with black Americans. In addition to, you know, 100s of years of slavery and Jim Crowe, they were left out of the post-depression mass socialist spending spree that built the American middle class wholesale. Federal subsidies for affordable housing projects were denied if those projects sold the houses to black families. White people got cheap houses that turned into family wealth that could be passed on to future generations. Black families were denied the option, and the wealth that came with it.

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Well, apparently the Irish were a bunch of losers and they no longer are. Also, Jews messed up on IQ tests when such tests were first issued, and they no longer mess up.

Let's all take a deep breath.

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A. can be divided into A1: Blacks are (on average) inherently less intelligent or less able to defer gratification, etc. I.e., it it genetic and unchangeable. And A2: Blacks, due to environment and upbringing (e.g., neighborhoods with lots of single mothers), present as less intelligent, more homicidal, etc. However, this can be changed. The second is the position of Thomas Sowell and was a big part of "neo-conservatism" when it was an important intellectual movement. It is now considered bad manners because, among other things, it "blames the victim".

It’s not considered “bad manners”; it’s considered genocide.

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There are MANY plausible answers other than those two. It's sad that you can't think of any more complex answers than "either black people are stupid or white people are evil". After, as you say, decades of thinking and arguing about it.

Sadly, I don't think there's anything in your black bag for us, Hazel.

You would think people on an economic blog of all places would understand how structures can self-organize without any conscious intention on the part of the participants. That includes social hierarchy and it includes racial caste systems.

I am familiar with the concept of things being "the result of human action but not human design". However, that's not what I'm hearing in the dominant discourse. I'm hearing, "American society was deliberately structured by anti-black whites to establish and maintain white supremacy. Though explicit and conscious racism has faded, 'structural racism' and 'white privilege' is still so powerful that black people cannot succeed at the same rate as white people or achieve at as high a level as white people. Since black people can't succeed, white people must take themselves down a peg or two or three or whatever."

Yeah, well, it WAS originally structured by anti-black whites - blacks were literally slaves. That went on through Jim Crow which again WAS deliberately structured to maintain white supremacy.

But now that those things have ended, the system continues to exist by self-reinforcing effects, not by human design. Lingering racism in police forces continues to be a problem, as do network effects and the self-selection of whites out of black school districts.
That doesn't make white people "evil".

Redlining is a perfect example. It's rational for banks to not want to lend to people who live in a poor neighborhood. But it has the effect of making it more difficult for black people to purchase homes and build equity. Rational (not "evil") behavior by the dominant group can reinforces the inferior status of the minority group without conscious intent to do so.

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I agree with what you've said. I suppose I've changed Steve Sailer's B. "white people are evil" to "it's white people's fault" or perhaps "it's white people's fault and only they can change it".

I don't think that's totally incorrect. White people aren't "evil", but I think we do have a duty to try to break the patterns that reinforce racial inequality.

I do not agree that I have a duty to break any patterns beyond treating all I meet equitably and sharing what pertinent knowledge I have where I am able.

I do not think anyone can argue that blacks as a group are unaware of the personality traits conducive to wealth accumulation and long-term personal success. It is not a secret that success depends not only on intelligence, but also on being future-oriented, respectful of norms and authority, disciplined and diligent. Nor is it a secret that showing up at school helps. Finally, how to accumulate a modicum of wealth isn't arcane knowledge.

I think plenty of resources are out there for any black to avail himself of, and there are no real impediments to achievement anymore. At least, not to the average sort of achievement that the average white attains. I am not talking strolling the corridors of power. I am talking owning a modest home, having a retirement plan, not living hand to mouth.

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Hazel, what are the plausible reasons besides:
A1 Blacks are (on average) inherently less intelligent, less able to defer gratification, etc.
A2 Compared to whites, blacks grow up in environments/cultures that make them less successful intellectually, more likely to commit crimes, etc.
B. If you look deep enough, it's white people's fault, e.g. structural racism, white privilege?

Roger,
I do think there are other explanations. They may be implausible, but they exist. As I said above, a group may be less acquisitive than another. They may accumulate capital, but do less well with managing it.

The point is, if we insist that there are only Sailer's explanations, we sound like we have an agenda.

I don't insist those are the only explanations. But if you insist there are others, you also show you have an agenda.

I suspect most people have at least a vague feeling that those three are the only possible explanations (or more precisely, groups of explanations). Thus, if "all races are equal in all ways that matter" is a matter of faith and morality, and "blaming the victim" is something "we don't do", well then the explanation HAS to be that it's white people's fault.

I think that explains some of the energy and holier than thou-ness of the recent protests and activism. It is a way of proving to yourself that you do not have anything to do with those other two yucky explanations. And anyone who does is an awful person who doesn't care about black people's lives.

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For what it's worth, I have never seen "less acquisitive" used as an explanation, though I have seen "blacks have always had to worry that white people would ruin their projects or take their property so they put more value on present consumption."

They may accumulate capital, but do less well with managing it.

That would seem to be either a genetic (A1) or cultural (A2) argument.

I have seen an argument morally similar to "less acquisitive" made for why women make less than men and are less likely to be, say, CEOs. Women, it is said, want more balanced lives. Men are more likely to narrowly seek money and success.

Yes, there are permutations of the A arguments. And yes, while I think there could be explanations that are neither A nor B, I agree that those are probably not the case here.

Some groups of people may be less acquisitive--probably smaller subsets within groups (eg, Mennonites, Amish), where culture reinforces the importance of non-material things. Some groups are more risk-averse (women and probably blacks) and so do not accumulate the kinds of wealth that come with riskier investment of capital. And there is something to the idea that women especially make decisions about family and child-rearing that lead to less capital accumulation. Although I think women often marry men they hope will do the capital accumulation while the women do the intangible work.

I think part of A2 is that blacks are less exposed to the very idea of wealth accumulation in the ways *some* whites are. Not just buying a house, but investing in the market, etc.

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See my response to Dorothy above. It is self-organizing.
A2 is part of it ... blacks grow up in environments when they are less likely to be intellectual successful, more likely to commit crime, more likely to get arrested. But those environments are created by a self-organizing interaction between the dominant white group and the minority black group. It's not that white people are "evil". The majority vote will tend to vote for policies that are in their rational self-interest, and not vote against policies that are harmful to the minority group, so policies will tend to be biased in favor of the dominant groups interests even without any conscious intent by the majority group to do that. Network effects will tend to mean that the minority group with have few er business contacts and customers, which makes it harder to advance. Etcetera ... lots of ways that a society can evolve a racial hierarchy between a majority and a minority ethnic group, without the majority being "evil" or the minority being "stupid".

Which is why no non-WASP immigrant group ever succeeded in America. Nobody could break out of that self-organized inferiority--not to mention not being able to speak the language.

Turning off the sarcasm, it is striking (so striking one must not notice) how powerful white privilege is against American blacks but how powerless it is against Chinese-Americans, Japanese Americans, Indian-Americans even Igbo-Americans.

People always bring up this point, but none of those groups were ever held in slavery or under Jim Crow laws. They were voluntary immigrants who also came to this country generally with the resources to establish themselves fruitfully. Not the same circumstances.

Of course, it's not the same circumstances. The question is how much relevance the difference has. Slavery, after all, ended 155 years ago (we just celebrated the 156th Juneteenth). The Civil Rights Act was 56 years ago (56 years before that, William Howard Taft was elected president, the first airplane flight was five years previous, and Woodrow Wilson had not yet segregated the federal government). The Voting Rights Act was a year later and within less than a decade, few politicians in the south or in major urban areas could be elected without black support. George Wallace did a 180 when it came to "segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever".

Japanese-Americans did indeed come voluntarily but most had their property confiscated and were forced into concentration camps during World War II. Chinese-Americans were subject to pervasive discrimination (the first immigration law was the Chinese Exclusion Act) and generally limited to Chinatowns. All immigrants have had tough times, and I don't think it is accurate to say that many of them came "with ... resources" unless you include in "resources" attitudes and practices. Certainly, most did not bring a lot with them in the way or money or material goods.

To me, this argument seems to be saying, "It's not right to expect blacks to have progressed through adversity to the same extent that so many other groups have." That would be an A2 attitude and that is unacceptable. Best to keep betting on what was a winner for over a hundred years, "It's white people's fault." For the longest time, it was true that "the Negro Problem is actually a white problem." But I find it harder and harder to believe that.

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The fundamental question of 2020 should have been: "Why don't Southern Europeans have as much stuff as Northern Europeans?"

For decades, no one has been pointing out that there are only two plausible answers to that question:

A. Southern Europeans tend to be lower in average intelligence and higher in average homicidality, probably for complex reasons of nature and nurture that so far have proven intractable.

Or

B. Because Northern Europeans are evil.

According to a 2010 surname analysis of the Forbes 400, Italian-surnamed billionaires made up 17 members of the Forbes 400. 17 out of the 260 white gentiles on the Forbes 400 is pretty close to the Italian-American share of the population. Greek-surnamed members of the Forbes 400. And there was one Basque.

There were 8 non-Jewish Middle Easterners (e.g., Lebanese), which is pretty good.

https://www.unz.com/isteve/forbes-400-by-ethnicity/

So Southern Europeans do pretty well in 21st Century America. Part of this is, being more recent immigrants, they tend to live in prosperous big metro areas rather than rural backwaters.

Of course, Gentile-Americans are vastly underrepresented on the Forbes 400 compared to Non-Gentile-Americans, who make up over 30% of the Forbes 400 despite being only 2% of the population. That's probably due to statistical realities such as Gentile-Americans having lower average IQs, more alcoholism, more divorce, and more proneness to get in trouble with the law.

Typo: 7 Greeks on the Forbes 400.

So 17 Italians, 7 Greeks, 1 Basque, and 8 Middle Easterners (mostly from the Mediterranean) = 33 Southern Europeans and/or Middle Easterners out of about 260 white gentiles.

The white groups that are really missing from the Forbes 400 are gentile Eastern Europeans and French Canadians.

Sure, but now do those calculations for Southern and Northern Europeans in 1920.

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Looking at Forbes by ethnicity always invites racism, mostly because 36% Jewish jumps in your face immediately. And then you have a very weird choice of either fighting racism AND being antisemitic in the process, or just don't think that wealth equals the human worth. And that regardless of our income, we are all just people. Weird idea, I know. But I am still all for human rights and all against any color / race rights. Because that invites racism in the long term.

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"...to rules forbidding racism". Good luck with that.

Yeah, we're moving from codes of behavior to patterns of thought. Happy Saturday.

You may recall that the Bible is kind of down on bad thought.

It's been a long time since religious groups have shut down speech

Hello another anonymous.

That's not where I was going, in response to Brian, at all. I was thinking that when Jesus told us to love each other, he did not add a skin tone caveat.

You're exactly right.

It took me longer than I wished to understand that everybody worships. Puts the old religions in a new light. Especially compared to the new ones.

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Jesus may have thought love was for everyone, but not racists.

'Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix. - Judge Bazile, 1964

Bazile's belief that God allowed the state to regulate marriage between races was overturned in Loving v Virginia, just another example of how awry the Supreme Court went in forcing people to go against their religious beliefs in tolerating unnatural marriage.

That was a pretty interesting rationalization, but evil is frequently accompanied by rationalization.

That rationalization goes back centuries - it is surprising you are unfamiliar with one of the major 'Christian' underpinnings for enslaving Africans and for apartheid.

And wait until you hear about the curse/mark of Cain. "The split between the Northern and Southern Baptist organizations arose over doctrinal issues pertaining to slavery and the education of slaves. At the time of the split, the Southern Baptist group used the curse of Cain as a justification for slavery. Some 19th- and 20th-century Baptist ministers in the Southern United States taught the belief that there were two separate heavens; one for blacks, and one for whites. Southern Baptists have either taught or practiced various forms of racial segregation well into the mid-to-late-20th century, though members of all races were accepted at worship services. In 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention officially denounced racism and apologized for its past defense of slavery."

Not sure what your game is, but I can give you what I think is the most encompassing answer:

All human institutions are capable of great good, and great evil. That various religions over the millennia have supported or opposed slavery is a case in point.

Are you trying to argue toward some kind of nihilism? That because institutions can be bad, there's no point in asking them to be good?

Obviously I reject that.

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“ It's been a long time since religious groups have shut down speech”

Recent things: trying to require schools to teach “intelligent design”, Or ban “witchcraft” books like Harry Potter, ... For conservatives in general, they legally compel speech from healthcare providers (eg specific verbiage from abortion providers) or ban speech from others (like pediatrician asking if there are guns in the home )

Would you agree that those conservative positions are considered unacceptable, almost universally, by our mainstream institution (academic, media corporate)?

Conversely, are you familiar with the more recent, and mainstream, censoring* of Harry Potter’s author for, as far as I can tell, asserting that the concept of biological sexes is worth keeping?

“Censoring” is not quite the right word. Whatever word means “how we treat unapologetic, dangerous bigots” is what I’m going for. Shunned, reviled, etc.

Yep, I bet no publisher in the entire world will publish any Rowling book ever again.

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do you seriously think J.K. Rowling is a dangerous bigot?
she is getting death threats from leftist extremist mobs as are many
fairly reasonable people. how about Robert Unanue?
we bet most Americans are gonna reject violent mobs, antifa & their
"allies." When Americans are forced to stand up to violent mobs they
actually better at it than pretty much anybody else around

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There is a theme on Twitter that, rather than humorlessness, we are moving to an age when even more is accomplished by gag, snipe, and put down.

How many dollars, in the old old days of Fairness Doctrine television, with balanced time and paid ads, would six million views of Sarah Cooper be worth?

How many serious blog posts is six million views of Sarah Cooper worth?

And it's not like she had to regulate herself, or be Straussian. She just had to be funny, and to the eyes of many, insightful.

(6.4 million were the views I saw for one video, at a glance.)

I should add a Tyler style footnote:

"even more is accomplished by gag, snipe, and put down" not that this is all good!

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Who is Sarah Cooper?

Watch out, that question might be on the Walter Reed test.

https://twitter.com/sarahcpr/status/1281631729409822722?s=19

LOL!

I wonder if the Walter Reed test included matching the peg swith the appropriate shaped hole.

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Three things: humourless, obnoxious, and neurotic.

And stupid. Four things: humourless, obnoxious, neurotic, and stupid.

And ignorant. Five things: ...

This isn't 1968 anymore with 130+ IQ young Jewish guys whipping up grand theories to wow the hippie chicks. 2020 is 105 IQ young black women with soft major degrees writing New York Times opeds about how society is racist because it doesn't appreciate their hair enough.

This isn't 1968 anymore with George Wallace whipping up grand theories to wow voters.

its 2020 the george wallace dopplegangers are on the left as are their
enablers nancy "people will do what people will do" pelosi

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I think this person has an interesting point: in some ways previously taboo topics are now allowed (arguably explicitly encouraged) to be discussed in public, while other topics are now removed from the sphere of acceptable ideas. But this does not mean the two sets of ideas are of equal merit.

One set was shared by those who built the largely tolerant world we currently live in, the other set has only been tried (in reduced form) in societies that ultimately destroyed themselves from within.

MLK Jr believed in the acceptability of racist jokes???

What’s a racist joke? Who is the arbiter? That’s where the humorless, neurotic, ignorant and stupid part comes in....

Just joking. Especially if a white American says that to a black American.

Yet for some reason, claiming that is just a joke does not work in these humorless, neurotic, ignorant and stupid times.

It was not a joke in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, it was the law.

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see Dr. King tell a pretty good joke here:

https://wtlcfm.com/1790672/mlk-jokes-with-harry-belafonte-on-the-tonight-show/

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"Why not think we’ve moved from rules of propriety (e.g. more censorship of sexual content, for example), to rules forbidding racism, etc.?"

This is a good example of the antiquarianism and ignorance about the recent past that is so dominant today. Few and fewer young people seem able to remember much that has happened since the death of Emmett Till in 1955. In the new Conventional Wisdom, America was a land of omnipresent racism and repression until, roughly, last week.

In reality, censorship of sexual content more or less disappeared from everywhere except broadcast TV between the publication of "Lolita" in 1958 and 1969's "Midnight Cowboy" winning the Best Picture Oscar.

But who can remember anymore famous events of the last 60 years?

2 Live Crew were arrested and charged with obscenity in Florida in 1990 for their lyrics.

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And I forgot an even better example, which was the bipartisan Communications Decency Act. Had the federal judiciary not intervened, the federal government would have had the power to regulate sexual content on the internet. The 90s were a pretty heady time for debates over laws and social norms regarding sexual content. There was a gradual process that started in the 1950s and ended around the year 2000 with our modern, relatively permissive standards.

Even then, broadcast TV is still an area of contention. Even though the FCC does not regulate content after 10 pm unless it matches the legal threshold for obscenity, a lot of people are not aware of this because self-regulation is so extensive. Stephen Colbert drew heat for making an off-color joke about Trump blowing Vladimir Putin and conservatives were up in arms demanding that the FCC sanction him. Others tried to trend the hashtag #firecolbert. Free speech for me, not for thee!

"drawing heat" was the goal of the colbert

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But who can remember anymore famous events of the last 60 years like Walmart not selling music with a Parental Advisory sticker? Or how Blockbuster used to rent only cleaned up movies in the same era?

Apparently not you.

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Mr. J has a very poor grasp of esoteric writing. And he does not seem to grasp that Tyler's use of "Straussian" in this context is ironic.

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I think the author here is presenting something of a false dichotomy, or assuming a loosening of restrictions in one respect is intrinsically related to a tightening in another. It's obvious that I disagree with this philosopher's definition of racism and think what's being banned includes much more than racism, and in fact increasingly includes many accurate beliefs and productive policy positions. But I suppose a defender of the new standards might still try to persuade me that even if the new standards punish some innocent people while amplifying some terrible people, they're still better standards than we had in the 50s, taken altogether, right?

But that kind bundling of everything together strikes me as a cheap intellectual trick. It's like adding a bunch of terrible earmarks to a good bill, then pretending that, by arguing that the bill is still a good bill compared to the alternative, you're presenting a cogent defense of the earmarks. It's nice that sexual norms have become less punitive in the last 60 years. That doesn't mean that narrowing standards in other respects is not bad at the margin. This sounds very similar to 'tough on crime' proponents trying to defend the war on drugs, on prostitution, on 'quality of life' crimes by defending the wholistic 'war on crime,' which seems far more defensible overall, sidestepping the issue that we can reduce incidence of murder, rape, robbery, etc. without punishing people for things that shouldn't be crimes. We don't have to break those eggs to make the omelette, so why do people keep insisting that we do, that it's 'worth the cost,' when the cost is really just waste?

For those of us who favor a more open society in general, loosening in one respect then narrowing in another just sounds like one step forward, two steps back. I also think it's hard to argue that these new norms have anything to do with enabling coordination or making it easier to live together. They seem to be doing the exact opposite in fact. I don't really buy that the narrowing of norms serves much of a social purpose. I think it happens because the easiest way to for an ideology to win the debate is not to persuade its opponents but to convince everyone else (the in-group, the agnostics, the apolitical, and the children of its opponents) that the opponents are so evil they shouldn't even be allowed in the room. Ideologies that do this well are more likely to succeed and replicate than those that don't. That's the essential coordination problem here: the optimal strategy for each ideological group at the margin is not globally optimal for everyone in the society. If anything then, societies generally tend toward a level of strictness that excessive for this reason, and promoting greater openness as a cultural norm itself generally tends to move us toward the optimum.

I think this is well put. I liken it to other Puritanesque moral panics since it seems to follow the exact same pattern, but this time with setting the mob’s transaction costs to zero with the advent of social media. Purity spirals and moral panics always get completely out of control and leave a wake of destruction of the innocent.

Racism is obviously bad and should be discouraged. But we’ve clearly moved beyond punishing racists, e.g. firing someone for tweeting research that nonviolent protests are more effective than violent protests. Moral panic.

In the 80s it was satanists and preschools, which resulted in dozens of years in prison for completely innocent people. Moral panic.

Tl;dr this is clearly an all-American moral panic, this time fueled by the University which has largely replaced the church as “the giver of moral laws.”

These never end well. But they eventually do end

"I liken it to other Puritanesque moral panics since it seems to follow the exact same pattern, but this time with setting the mob’s transaction costs to zero with the advent of social media."

Excellent. 'Puritans unleashed by Tech' may be the chapter heading in the future history of this era, which will hopefully be a short one.

Every intellectual movement consists of a mix of people playing the intellectual game (what Scott Alexander would call "mistake theorists") and people playing the power game ("conflict theorists"). The conflict theorists who wound up in positions of power in academia and journalism recognize that they can win a lot of battles (mostly internal battles with other liberals and progressives) by narrowing the range of allowed opinions and facts that may be mentioned.

The people who want to play the intellectual game don't like this, but the power-game players are better overall at gaining power, so they're probably going to win. And then, the institutions they control will mostly stop playing the intellectual game (which has the side-effect of actually learning new things about the world) in favor of playing the power game (which has the side-effect of making sure that everyone is on-message). Over time, those institutions will lose prestige as it becomes understood that they're not good sources of knowledge, but that prestige loss will take time.

It's like a car company that once had a reputation for quality, and then got taken over by new management that minimized cost to the point where now the cars usually die well before 100,000 miles. They can keep charging a premium for many years before their company's reputation is destroyed--a time during which they are invisibly extracting wealth from their company's reputation and putting it into their on-paper yearly profits.

If new institutions arise to continue playing the intellectual game, then this is kinda sad but not disastrous. If the old corrupt institutions can prevent those new institutions arising or gaining prestige, then maybe we just lose any large institutions playing the intellectual game and learning new stuff about the world and thinking clearly about issues, and we devolve to all identity politics, all the time. In that world, we as a country will make much worse decisions consistently, but diagnosing why or looking for better sources of information won't be workable.

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I understand why old "rules" should be viewed as complex, dynamic, contested, and therefore not "bundled" in any meaningful way.

But the "new" ones are neatly bundled because .. ???

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It's certainly a pessimistic view of human nature, but maybe an accurate one. I suppose "true beliefs win" is an optimistic view of human nature, and maybe this is a clash between optimism and pessimism, but with one exception from equivalence: we know from history that beliefs can get worse fast, and be wrong enough for long enough for millions of people to needlessly die.

Though upon re-reading, if openness doesn't even lead to truth because other strategies dominate in openness, what's the point except as a symbol?

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True....it’s one thing to be angry or snarky on your twitter and maybe go riot or protest for a week. Maybe you’ll even occupy a park or a few streets to really cause a scene.

But revolutions take skin in the game. You’ve got to commit day after day after day to making genocide or civil war or revolutions a reality. I am very very skeptical about any current aggrieved group to actually commit to that kind of work.

have you ever looked at a list of civil wars & genocides? its a pretty long list and there are more than a few going on currently.

hhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocides_in_history

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I dislike the term Straussian. People throw this term around way too much.

Anyways, it’s not the codes that matter. What’s different is the concept of dog whistling. The old codes were to a large extent only concerned with observed or observable behavior. The new enforcers are willing to take a tweet and read anything they want into it. If that weren’t enough, silence is also taken as an indicator of disordered belief.

Indeed, actions to these people matter less than belief. You can do the most outrageous things, according to their standards, but as long as you spout the right nonsense you get a pass. This is particularly true with climate change stuff. But I think it will turn out true with other issues.

Morgan than in Politics among Nations says anyone screaming their head off about justice, should be seen for what they are, revisionary powers. They are not interested in righting the injustices except as a means of potentially increasing their own power.

Democracy killed Socrates. It can be just as dangerous as any other tyranny. Anyone that forgets or refuses to accept that fact isn’t long for this “new” world of ours.

Thank God we have Peter Thiel to remind us how wrong democracy is, as well as the fun side of suppressing other people's speech.

Under Thiels regime you are free to speak and slander. You just have to pay by the pound for the BS. That’s how it should be in a society that maximizes freedom. It’s better than government with guns saying “no speech for you.”

Because its so much better to have the people with money determining who and what speech is available.

In fact, it's not, and the rules of slander. defamation, and free speech came out of it, because the government controlling speech is often the rich controlling speech.

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I too dislike "Straussian," unless of course the user actually means the intellectual worldview of Leo Strauss, which Tyler does not. By and large what Tyler means is esotericism, the defining of which is itself complicated and somewhat contested. The primary work on the meaning and history of esotericism is Arthur Melzer's book. I highly recommend it. Melzer goes a long way in disentangling esotericism from Straussianism, but, in my opinion, not far enough, and he is more Straussian than I.

In the context of mr, straussian is mostly a rorshacesque inkblot pattern to examine other peeps interpretations

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Don't the other side also feature a lot of neurotics? Who's not neurotic and worried about this?

Different definition of neurotic

Right. Here's the problem with Strausstuff: it allows you to grow frail shoots in your very own garden, with no-one else's light shining in.

Okay.

My only point is that when they use the term neuroticism they’re using the actual personality definition, not the general use slang:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroticism

What on earth definition do you think I meant? I am saying a tendency to fear and stress is associated with thinking you are at risk of speech persecution.

I had assumed you were using the bastardized version since you said “neurotics.” But we’re not talking about “neurotics” we’re talking about people who score high on neuroticism as one of the big five personality traits. These are not the same thing, although if you meant the latter then I apologize.

From wiki: “as anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustration, envy, jealousy, guilt, depressed mood, and loneliness.[1] People who are neurotic respond worse to stressors and are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. They are often self-conscious and shy, and they may have trouble controlling urges and delaying gratification”

People who score high on neuroticism are much more likely to self identify as liberals, and much more likely to self identify with the social justice movement.

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What nonsense.

In the old days if you wanted to talk about sex, you did. You could find like minded individuals in private and not only discuss but engage in all manner of bacchanalia. Yes, you could not do so openly and there would be consequences if your were found out. But we had gay bars back in the 20s and it was generally possible to keep your head down.

And if you were caught, there were many paths back into good social standing: Repent, find religion, and denounce your past statements. Move cross country and start over in a new town with a new life. Move into communities where being a vocal socialist/gay/polygamist Mormon was acceptable.

Good luck with that today. We have people going after dumb things people said at age 14. There is no dirty theater, gay bar, or private home meeting where you can say forbidden speech among confidants with plausible deniability. Everything might be recorded, and worse any context of what is actually said will be shorn away, and the mob will descend. Every employer, every neighbor, and every romantic partner will find your past the moment they deign to search for it. Nor can you atone for these heresies with any sort of generally accepted script.

And lest we forget, there were exceedingly few rapid evolutions of acceptable discourse in the past. In the 1940s you did not want to be too open of a communist ... just like in 1920. Blasphemy was much the same in 1950 as in 1850 with such variance as happened was in the less censorious direction. Today? Good like trying to say "Negro" in polite company (unless, of course naming the United Negro College Fund) and on it goes. Is "fag" acceptable? Walk on the Wild side was once an anthem of rebellion and queer acceptance, but now is considered by some as "dead naming".

Today's mob is global in scope, eternal in duration, and capricious throughout. It is becoming a panopticon beyond anything ever seen before in human society.

Most of the recent causes celebres of the right are about people who have published their views over the Internet in view of thousands if not millions of people. Fortunately, if you just want the thrill of publishing naughty slurs instead of pursuing a martyr complex, there are anonymous comments sections like this one.

Availability bias, party of many.

We read about the twitter ones because journalists and intellectuals live on twitter.

The ones that don't make the news are often far more ominous. Those lack the firepower to defend themselves and the reserves that come from being a tenured academic or wealthy.

For instance a professional friend reported to me about one patient of his. She was university student, on scholarship and from a rural area of the state. She was having the normal freshmen fun of staying up late, gossiping, and talking about classes and boys. One night she was wearing a clay mask. A friend snapped a "duckface" photo and shared it with classmates. Another took the photo and used a meme generator to say something false, heinous, and allegedly sarcastic about "blackface". This was leaked out of a private student group to the university community as a whole.

She was denounced. The university sanctioned her. Her boyfriend broke up with her. The death threats started. Her mother's work was called and harassed. Her elderly grandparents were contacted and harassed. She attempted to commit suicide.

But hey, you had a pithy one-liner. What's a little teenage suicide compared to that?

That's pretty awful but doesn't support your claim that people are afraid to talk in private anymore. How many non-public figures wind up with recordings or denunciations of things they said years ago as their top google hits?

And things like the above have little to do with wokeness. Monica Lewinski has been open about the struggles she faced living a normal life. People have always been shitty to each other, the woke types have just changed who gets targeted and why.

Yeah, and there were only around 5,000 lynchings in the South.

Campaigns of social dominance pretty much never measure their impact by the number of people actually defenestrated. The strategy from the Jacobins to the Cheka to the KKK has always been to make strategic or sensational examples so the vast majority police themselves rather than question the new social order. I mean the Romans weren't big into crucifixion because it was an efficient execution, but because it instilled fear.

And perhaps the impulses driving the current mobs are little different than those in my grandfather or great grandfather's day. But back then you could flee north. You could join the army. And even if you lost your job for being "uppity" and espousing wrong opinions, you could work someplace else for someone else. Maybe the KKK would have done the same things with today's technology … but regardless the cost of organizing a mob has dropped, the records are vastly more extensive, and there is no way to escape once the process starts.

So do let me know the limiting principles in play. Certainly the number of teen suicides and attempts I get to see has been rising (something like 50% this decade) and I would love to have some happy news to tell the kids when their "friends" are exhibiting all the social dynamics that we know are risk factors for suicide.

So do tell me, what should I say to my patients when their anxiety, now surpassing rates seen by WWII combat vets, leads them to seek hospitalization? Because right now I have jack all that works.

You are conflating political correctness with the much broader problem of cyberbullying and online harassment. Interestingly, just a few years ago, most conservative commentators were telling me the latter were bogus problems made up by censorious leftists. But there are a number of documented cases of suicides being caused by online harassment and these mostly involve people -- often females or gay males -- being sexually humiliated by jealous rivals or former partners. One gay student committed suicide after his roommate used a hidden camera to record him kissing another male and uploading the video to the internet. A number of recent prominent suicides in Korea were also traced to women being filmed nude or having sex without their permission.

If you are claiming that political correctness features in a prominent number of online harassment cases that lead to suicide or mental illness, please provide a citation.

No offense intended, but do you think we never dealt with bullies before? The standard CBT/DBT approach is to help the patient realize that their fears are legitimate, but that there are options. We encourage things like:
Telling authority figures
Tolerate temporary distress (time limitation)
Avoidance strategies
Owning mistakes (controlling the narrative)
etc.

None of these work with the current stuff. I mean sure they work with random twitter account #3. But when the admissions committee at your dream college has a history of rescinding admissions based on dumb things you did privately with friends years ago I cannot tell you to take up the "harassment" with the authority figures. I cannot work with helping you understand that high school is temporary and there will be a whole new world in college where none of this will matter (e.g. your bully will not follow you to CA/NY/FL or wherever). I cannot work with them on strategies to avoid their tormentors when it is an anonymous crowd of vandals actively seeking out their employer or school administrator.

My problem, in a nutshell, is that powers-that-be are joining with the bullies for "righteous causes" or more cynically selling out to the mob to save their own skin. My problem is the all the best attested coping strategies in the suicide prevention literature do not work when your sins follow you cross country, cannot ever be atoned for, and await merely somebody finding the right way to make you the two minutes of hate target of the day.

And lest we forget the example function is still dispositive here. Telling a kid that when his classmate threatens to reveal an incriminating screen capture - this not world ending, I am now fighting dozens, if not hundreds of highly public examples of "this is how the world works."

And worse, of course, if they Google around the internet they will find a whole bunch of people saying either they deserve it or this is not a real problem. Give me the cyber bullies any day, they are an order of magnitude less difficult to treat than the mob that cows corporations, universities, and all of civil society.

So yeah, again, what would you have me say to teenager with GAD who is being threatened with the mob? Or who has had the school mob emulate the national one to shun them?

I am dead serious about this to. Kids are increasingly worried about it and I have jack to offer as long as Harvard, Google, and the rest are willingly if not gleefully joining the mob and tearing down lives. If you have a good response, or even a half-assed one, let me know, because everything I have now kinda sucks. Feel like saving a life? Let me know.

Otherwise, those people would be subject to all of the horrible things you point to in terms of mobs and authorities, such as having your your sins follow you cross country, which cannot ever be atoned for, and await merely somebody finding the right way to make you the two minutes of hate target of the day.

And people on the sex offender lists never have to worry about anyone googling around the internet to find a whole bunch of people saying either they deserve it or this is not a real problem.

Maybe the problem is something grander than any particular single focus, such as college admissions? But most commenters here - and definitely the hosts - are fully opposed to the EU framework of the right to be forgotten. Though to be cynical, most Europeans are much more aware of how important privacy is because of their horrible history.

In this thread, prior_approval compares David Shor, fired for tweeting research by a black sociology professor whose conclusions are that nonviolent protests are more effective than violent protests..........

to sex offenders.

Then says it's about the EU

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We are talking past each other.

Hana Kimura did not commit suicide because someone brought up something she said from 10 years ago. She committed suicide, allegedly, because she could not handle the ass-clownish behavior of detractors on social media (she was 22, so very young to be in the public eye).

Tyler Clementi did not commit suicide because an old politically incorrect essay of his was dug up and shared with his university. He committed suicide because someone illicitly videotaped him kissing a male student and shared the footage with dorm mates in order to humiliate him.

Damilya Jossipalenya likewise committed suicide for reasons having nothing to do with your hobby horse but rather, apparently, because her ex-boyfriend threatened to release footage of her having sex and using cocaine.

Megan Meier committed suicide after being subject to extensive real-life bullying and cyberbullying. In the latter case, a grown woman impersonated a boy Megan's age and manipulated her into committing suicide. Again, no PC angle.

Your comment is implying that none of these people had real problems ("Give me the cyber bullies any day, they are an order of magnitude less difficult to treat than the mob that cows corporations, universities, and all of civil society."). I suspect their friends, family members and people they went to for help would be willing to dispute you on that point.

There’s probably a difference between:

Cyber bullying in general

Cyber bullying when society, employers, institutions etc turn the bullying into real life consequences

Neither one is morally acceptable, but one is a societal problem and the other arguably is not.

That is a distinction worth exploring but is not what I was responding to. "Sure" expressed concern over teenage mental health and suicide and so I responded with evidence the problem is very broad and PC issues at best make up a small slice of the anxiety and mental health problems teenagers and young adults seem to be facing. I'd be happy to see someone show real evidence to the contrary, though, as this isn't my area.

As for cases when people face real life consequences, again, the problem is broader. I posted a comment a few days ago about the Chick-fil-A guy, who was illegally bullied and harassed (meaning, he was doxxed and random people called in bomb threats to his place of work) for not-ideal but completely legal liberal protest gesture that he posted online. The consequences for him were about three years of unemployment or underemployment until he switched careers entirely.

If people want to create a content-neutral solution to this problem -- involving a stronger right to privacy, better policing of harassing conduct on social media platforms and labor laws to protect private employees' rights to free speech -- I'm all ears. But if people want to create a special right for conservatives and people with bigoted opinions to avoid being criticized, it's much less interesting.

But if people want to create a special right for conservatives and people with bigoted opinions to avoid being criticized, it's much less interesting.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/06/stop-firing-innocent/613615/

Somewhat amusing that you believe innocence (however defined) will be a defense against the mob. That's never been the case for mobs in the history of mobs. That's why they're called mobs.

Content neutral solution? Sure, the social cost of Tweets is higher than the private cost. This shit ain't new, this is just a massive negative externality problem. Do what we should do with carbon.

Tax it. In the interim, build up a set of social norms in which privacy is a closely held value.

It's amazing that you could feel this way about Twitter and *not* be a Boomer.

Actually, speaking of things you hear *on* Twitter (and random paths though history) someone recently observed that:

1) Google cancels Google Reader

2) Journalists (and many others) move to Twitter as a poor substitute

3) More people move to Twitter because that's where everyone is.

4) Thus everyone is subjected to a much wilder environment with much poorer signal to noise ratio.

.. so it's all Google's fault.

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I've never met a non-journalist fellow millennial with a Twitter account.

It's firmly in Boomer territory, why do you think it's the POTUS preferred medium?

if you weren't a secret boomer you'd know how to google

44% of U.S. 18- to 24-year-olds use Twitter

That's Zoomers. And Doomers I guess

You didn't follow the link, Twitter use actually falls off most after age 50. And there are more millennials than boomers by far.

Facebook has far, far, more reach with everyone but especially boomers.

No, I followed the link. I'll admit to a 'I've never met a Nixon voter' mistake on the 26% of millennials having ever used Twitter.

That said it looks to be primarily a Zoomer and Doomer thing

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"Somewhat amusing that you believe innocence (however defined) will be a defense against the mob."

Where did I say that?

If I incorrectly inferred that, then I apologize

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Ricardo is conflating methods with motives.
the leftist political mob has slightly different motives (political power) but use the same methods to achieve the same/similar result.
it is also pretty stupid to assume they don't enjoy both the means and the ends of their "homework"
watch some of the creepy antifa mob or evergreen college videos if you dont believe us

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Treating attempted suicides falls on a continuum. Some are, relatively speaking, easy. For instance the guy who tries out a new drug for the first time, has a bad trip, and tries to off himself. He may have no psychiatric comorbidities and abstinence (often of only that particular drug) is sufficient to avert further suicidal behavior or ideation.

Other times the risk factors are things which are harder to work on. Having been raped by your father at the age of six, passed into your grandfathers custody at age nine, where he raped you, and developing AUD by age eleven we are talking about a much different treatment approach.

Both are deadly serious, but one is easier than another to treat.

Cyberbullying when all that is at stake are emotional responses is a serious problem. I have never said otherwise. It is amenable to treatment and prophylaxis. With some degree of success a good psychiatrist can treat cyberbullying. And there are a number of prophylactic measures that parents and society can take.

One of them is to train folks under such circumstances to appeal to authority figures for help. Another is to teach them that cyberbullying is wrong. Yet another is to teach kids to resilient or at least crisis tolerant.

All of those approaches are directly undercut by the current twitter mobs and their destruction.

When authority figures side with the mob, it becomes less effective to have students turn to teachers, counselors, or parents because the whole point is that authority figures used to reinforce the message that the online bullies were powerless. Now, even in cases where the school admin, the college acceptance committee, or the boss at McDonalds would not side with the mob, kids see the public cases and believe that going to authority figures will only make it worse.

Teaching kids that cyberbullying is wrong is also harder. When you have high profile people calling for firing, explaining away death threats, and justifying vindictive behavior it is not happening unobserved. Telling kids not to emulate journalists at the NYT or executives at Google is classic "do as I say, not as I do". And while there are differences, teens are notorious for being clueless about nuance. Every instance of somebody getting fired in response to a mob of online bullies is basically a giant greenlight to kids. When people see those calling for scalps getting promoted and honored for their "bravery" they will learn antisocial messages from it.

And lastly when we say that grown adults with accomplished careers endure "violence" and have "threats" to their "safety" from mere words we also putting forth a message. Suicidal teens typically feel powerless. They believe that others opinions will shape them for all time. Telling a gay kid that merely being in the room with someone who associates with anti-gay people is "unsafe" is only going to reinforce the notion that the taunts of homophobic peers actually matter.

I hate the twitter mob precisely because it makes everything about treating run of the mill suicidal patients harder. For the poor kids who do get the full cancel feature at their highschool, well they are pretty far down the continuum on how hard they are to treat.

So I ask again, what would you have me say to patients? They see twitter creating decades long impacts, they see no room for apologies, and they see lives ruined. How should I tell them that will not be them?

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To apply that to the current discussion, wouldn't you want to sort out how much of the angst results from incorrect political statements and how much from, say, wearing the wrong clothes or liking the wrong celebrity?

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It seems much of the disagreement here comes from the two sides working with a very different state of affairs.

Your facts: most of the cancelled people, or at least, most of the cancelled people that the right are talking about, “published naughty slurs”, in their own name, for millions to see. I can see why that state of affairs would lead you to think this whole thing is overblown.

Please consider that there are people who have been fired or otherwise had their lives significantly harmed, probably forever, over truly innocent things either said or done anonymously or offline.

The damage is not just to the cancelled. It stifles honest conversations in the real world. It’s not really about journalists getting blowback.

For example: if your employer gives support to an en vogue advocacy group, would it be possible for an employee to ask what actual policies the group is advocating for without risk to his career? The sensible answer right now is probably “not worth it. Just do your job and keep your mouth shut.” Obviously it depends on the specifics, but generally speaking I think that is not a good thing,

What strikes me the most about living through this current moral panic is the casual nature of throwing lives away. Every day people in the US say and do things I disagree with or find morally wrong. These people number in the tens or hundreds of thousands, every day. Those that go looking for 'witches to burn' are incomprehensible to me.

Classical liberalism dictates that at the worst I simply leave these people alone.

Oh for a world in which the absolute worst people did to each other was 'nothing.'

File under "quotes by my stalker."

.......seriously?

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+1 insights from Dr Sure

The first victim of the woke mob, back in 2002.

what is your point?
do you have one?

Just pointing that Ricardo's points are better than whatever insights Sure feels important when talking about (cyber)bullying, using one of the first famous cases, years before anyone started using the stupid term 'woke.'

Luckily, he did not quite go through with committing suicide.

ricardo points are mostly partisan
Dr. Sures points transcend the partisan

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Thanks for the craven word salad. Always an education. Of sorts.

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People I know who are interested in police violence, and remedies, report experiencing such a broadening.

They're lying to you and you're transmitting it. There is no 'broadening'. It's just that institutional apparatchicks and assorted brownshirts have freer rein to harass the opponents of the people to whom you're referring.

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https://youtu.be/d4AmYBhGBfM
--------------
Just go Waltzing says the other Strauss.

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Do you read the post?

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While El President Drumpf keeps slandering Brazil, our closest ally, and criticizing its approach to COVID-19, it has been revelead America's Marines are the victims of an epidemics of said disease. That is what Drumpf's leadership yields us. He is a disgrace and should be impeached ASAP.

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Philosopher J. should go back and re-read Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind. Straussians like Bloom may have been critical of liberal societies as a theoretical matter, but as a practical matter, "the preservation of liberal society is of central concern to me." Both the Old New Left and the New New Left are far more illiberal because of the intellectuals behind those movements who now promote Stalinistic thought control: "The permanent human tendency is to doubt that the theoretical stance is authentic and suspect that it is only a covert attachment to a party. And this tendency is much strengthened in our time when philosophy is itself understood to be engage, the most extreme partisanship." Hence you must accept the narrative of "systemic racism," and if you are not "anti-racist," then you are de facto a racist and need to be marginalized/re-educated.

Besides the threats even to private speech, the conditions for a decent political order and philosophy get worse. Bloom decried the tendency of academics to debunk the Founders as racists, etc., which has only accelerated since his time with the 1619 Project and the like. Bloom argued that the effect would be to cause students to despise the American regime, making us more vulnerable to a regime change to something illiberal and antidemocratic. The same intellectuals who decry MAGA populism today fail to make the connection. Debunking and deconstructing the American regime likewise leaves the field of philosophy itself barren: "Prejudices, strong prejudices, are visions about the way things are. They are divinations of the order of the whole of things, and hence the road to a knowledge of that whole is by way of erroneous opinions about it." Instead of prejudices, we get a "gray network of critical concepts" such as Critical Theory, Intersectionality, etc. Bloom cheekily suggested to one of his professors fond of debunking "a division of labor in which I would help grow the flowers in the field and he could mow them down."

The Nazis are getting more and more desperate as the Confederate statues go down. It is like 1945 again. And of course Straussians were for liberal societies except where fascist coups were more convenient for their political masters.

do you really wanna your cardiothoracic, neurosurgeon or airline pilot recitinig this as her anti racist daily affirmation?
individualism, perfectionism, intellectualization and “objectivity are all vestiges of this internalized racism and must be abandoned in favor of social-justice principles."

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At best, this page shows a lot of shared, visceral, conservatism, confident that the new is not as good as the old, because by definition.

But I think many of you are picking cherries, rather than presenting any kind of cohesive definition of "the new order" you fear.

And of course if you answer (or quietly think) that "the new order" is "left," that just reveals the true nature of your discontent.

(I can see a lot of changes. There are political, social, and technological trends, which will take decades to settle. By then it will be another world. Just as this can't be the same as the one shaped by a mass culture of network news, the future will have to be something else again. Hell, in a couple decades the "watches TV for news" cohort will be dead. Maybe Zuckerberg hopes to wait it out and rule the world.)

No, the page shows a mixture of beliefs ranging from 'Peter Thiel is the devil' to Steve Sailer.

There's a left wing commenter who believes every Asian child in the US is literally Hitler, you trolling with irrelevant Twitter links, mostly bad faith 'Boo Outgroup!' comments from every side, and a handful of thoughtful comments. Same as ever.

And then an insane comment where Zuckerberg wants to rule the world.

I think you might be demonstrating some humorlessness as regards that last line.

But I guess you are agreeing that no one has offered a coherent definition of this "new order?"

A new order?

No, I see a moral panic akin to the dozens of moral panics in our recent history. There's a spectrum of high trust to trust-less societies. As we move along down the spectrum our moral panics will be less and less attached to reality. As I recall the Democratic Republic of Congo regularly succumbs to moral panics regarding witches that end in the deaths of dozens and dozens of innocents.

Ours won't be quite that stupid, but they will end in disaster for the innocent nonetheless.

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Is it possible that “the new order” contributes to this confusion over what exactly it seeks?

I mean, we just went through weeks of maybe the most widespread rioting (replace with “unrest” if that term is problematic) in modern US history, followed by calls to “Defund the Police; jk, optimize municipal police budgets and practices! Scratch that, Abolish the Police!”, followed by a significant increase in violent crime (with the caveat that the reporting on this is not good, so I am not sure how significant), and throughout all of this, we hear politicians in not minor roles roles frequently using language like “dismantling”, “destruction“, “fundamental change,” to “the system” and yes that includes capitalism and free speech. And yet, no one seems willing to define what exactly is on the table.

I appreciate that there is no one leader and a lot is happening at once, lots of different groups, movements, etc. Still, I would sleep better if someone would come out and say, “don’t worry, the goal is not a regime change or anything close to it.”

Unfortunately, the only form of “reassurance” I see is in the form of mockery of those who would even consider describing this movement as “Marxist”, “leftist”, or whatever. That’s great, but can anyone in a leadership position put that out there publicly? It would surely be followed by a collective sigh of relief and sorely needed de-escalation.

One change I’ve notes is the replacement of “equality” with the word “equity”.

This is a huge change in what is being demanded.

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There are some permanent effects coming out of this. For example, gun sales are smashing records. Colt has started up AR-15 production again, because demand is so high. Many of these purchases are coming from city-living liberals like those two brandishing their guns a couple of weeks ago.

So one of the effects of the left-wing protests has been to make it harder for the left to control guns. Unintended consequences are what happen when you try to solve complex, 'wicked' problems with simple slogans and force.

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Wannabe speech/language regulators aren't new, baby. What's new, if anything, is how much jabbering there is about them.
More moral clarity is needed.

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White people need to stop appropriating black culture, like hip hop and wearing their hats and pants backwards. Meanwhile black people need to stop appropriating white culture like medicine, education, guns, and welfare. And stop expecting white folks to solve their problems for them. Take it to the streets, baby. Change don't come from talk, you ain't gonna git it with no guitars, power comes from the barrel of a gun. The fire next time! Moral clarity. And white folks need to make up their own cool slang and cool fashion styles, and stop exploiting Lebron James. Find some white guys to play basketball.

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> You might then think that recent changes have broadened the openness for some kinds of speech.

This would be more convincing if it had examples.

What exactly are the things you can say now thanks to wokism that you would have been fired for saying if you did it in the '90s? (Merely being ignored and laughed at doesn't cut it).

I can actually think of such things, but they are all calls to violence. Which is really the exception that proves the rule.

Because you are looking at it backwards.

There is more restriction on saying certain things because there is more openness saying the opposite. People are feeling freer to speak up against behavior and speech that previously slid by.

How you feel about this depends on your priors.

There is more restriction on saying certain things because there is more openness saying the opposite.
+1 I can use this to justify our dekulakisation and collectivization policies in the Ukraine and Central Asia.

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So this is what America has come to. You can say “fuck” in public but philosophers are left discussing the most important issues in anonymity, an even that anonymity is stripped away whenever anyone gets too angry at their speech and decides to attack them personally instead of debating their ideas.

Sounds bad. But anonymous or not, the discussion is the discussion. Criteria for the discussion are carried in the subject matter and not the names and authorities of the speakers. And on the back end, liberalism has a tendency to mechanically separate words from consequences, and that's unnatural. Socrates was killed, to Plato's great regret, not because Athens failed to mechanically separate words from consequences, but because Athens failed to understand Socrates.

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wonder if we are allowed to say this?
are the sociologists & the newwoketimes.con still standing behind this
turd of a paper/narrative?
"we conclude that predictions of broad negative public health consequences of black lives matter protests were far too narrowly
conceived:
https://cheps.sdsu.edu/docs/CHEPS-Working-Paper-BLM-COVID19-June-12-2020.pdf

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I'm glad to see the term "Straussian" held up for scrutiny. I've been wondering about Tyler's usage for some time now, and I'm not the only one. If you do a little googling you'll see that others wonder: WTF does Tyler mean?

I should say that, while I know the term refers to Leo Strauss, I've not read Strauss, though I read Bloom's Closing some years ago, and not with great favor. Which is beside the point. Perhaps the most interesting thing I've come up with is an article 2015 article which I've not yet had time to read: The Straussian Reception of Plato and Nationalism in China, The Comparist, Vol. 39, Oct. 2015, pp. pp. 313-334. For that matter, Žižek's Quasi Duo Fantasias: A Straussian Reading of 'Black Panther' is interesting as well.

Here's my problem. I have some training as a literary critic and in that context phrases like "X reading" lead you to expect concepts, words and phrases characteristic of X in the reading. Freudian criticism has its concerns; Marxist criticism as a different set of concerns; feminist criticism too, though it may overlap with Freudian and Marxist criticism. And so on and so forth through the whole litany of critical methods. What are that the concepts and terms typical of Straussianism? What does a Straussian look for in a text other than something that isn't there on the "surface"? That's what's not clear to me and, after having read a bit here and there a looked at a lot of examples of Tyler's usage, it seems to me that sometimes what I'm looking for simply isn't there. Often enough Tyler seems to be using the term simply to authorize the act of interpretation, as a way of saying, "there's more going on here than meets the eye." Which is fine, but one doesn't need to read Leo Strauss to see that. Lit Crit 101 or Semiotics 101 will give you that. Hell, a bit of shrewd commonsense will do. And then sometimes Tyler's usage seems to be tongue in cheek.

Well, I've been interviewing Hollis Robbins over the past week. And since Straussian reading came up in Tyler's interview with her, I asked here what she thought. In particular I suggested that, in his post about the Harper's letter he is "simply asserting that the letter has implications that are at odds with its overt message, which makes 'Straussian' in this usage akin to deconstruction." And she agreed.

Here we've got to be careful though. In the last 30 years or so "deconstruction" has come to be used in a degraded way where it is more or less synonymous with "take down" or mere "criticism." That's not what Derrida meant. Derrida's usage ranged between noting that meaning is evasive and texts are unstable and noting that some texts, sometimes the deepest ones, tend to subvert themselves at the point of deepest insight. Obscure, I know. But that's what the best deconstructive critics have tried to do.

I would add to criticisms upthread that the institutions embodying the regulators seems important. If Jerry Falwell is Jerry Falwell and wants to engage in shaming and boycots and find friends with Tipper Gore and so on, yeah that sucks. If the NYT becomes Falwellian, that seems ... bad? That is, you can't hang onto the idea that you aren't simply a religious institution if you adopts the practices and culture of religious institutions. If the argument is we used to have Falwell now we have these people, ok fine but I hated Falwell too, and these new regulators don't get to claim some kind of superior moral standing to the finger waggers of previous eras. They are the same.

It seems much simpler than that. "Falwell was my friend, the NYT is not."

And it's not like newspapers have some pure history, suddenly changed now because you spot a powerful enemy. That newspapers have an editorial slant is as old as the press.

falwell was always church preacher
nytimes used to be a newspaper
the grey lady has evolved into a church(lady)

When the world supported your priors, the reporting was comfortable. Now, the world attacks your priors and the reporting is challenging.

Maybe its not the reporting that has changed.

+1 psychobabble
the newyorktimes has explicitly stated they have changed their reporting

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Falwell is no friend of mine. My comment is as much about how NYT views itself and what it thinks it will be credibility wise. It is no defense to say prior scolds also existed if you held yourself to be above the scolds. Now you are just a scold and you can't hide from it. If previous newspaper behavior wasn't great, there was at least a set of values that has now been formally, publicly cast aside.

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They are always the same. Dworkin was so woke she worked with Falwell to try to have the government censor what they both agreed should not be available.

www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1992/11/feminists-against-the-first-amendment/305051/ -
This was in the early days of the feminist anti-porn movement, when legislative strategies against pornography were mere gleams in the eye of the feminist writer Andrea Dworkin, when it seemed possible to raise consciousness about pornography without arousing demands for censorship. That period of innocence did not last long. By 1981 the New Right had mounted a nationwide censorship campaign to purge schools and public libraries of sex education and other secular-humanist forms of "pornography." Sex education was "filth and perversion," Jerry Falwell announced in a fund-raising letter that included, under the label "Adults Only. Sexually Explicit Material," excerpts from a college health text. By the mid-1980s right-wing advocates of traditional family values had co-opted feminist anti-porn protests—or, at least, they'd co-opted feminist rhetoric. The feminist attorney and law professor Catharine MacKinnon characterized pornography as the active subordination of women, and Phyllis Schlafly wrote, "Pornography really should be defined as the degradation of women. Nearly all porn involves the use of women involves subordinate, degrading poses for the sexual, exploitative, and even sadistic and violent pleasures of men." Just like a feminist, Schlafly worried about how pornography might "affect a man who is already prone to violence against women." President Ronald Reagan deplored the link between pornography and violence against women.

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The way I think of it is:
"Straussian" = "subtextual"
"deconstruct" = "unpack"

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Cowen is a terrible Straussian. If he were a good one, he would just ignore this whole sorry affair ...

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It's important once again, to note that the word "Straussian" refers to an idea which is so ridiculous that uttering it would bring shame and mockery upon the speaker, so it needs to be hidden in code words, understandable only to others who share the idiocy.

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What?

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