Wednesday assorted links

1. “Prisoners have long used contraband cellphones to pull off all manner of scams from the inside. But in attempting to build and sell a house from behind bars, Murray allegedly took things to a new level of sophistication.”  Link here, recommended.

2. Charlie Songhurst is one of the smartest people I know.  Podcast with him, recommended.

3. Acoustic levitation of objects inside your body.

4. How did Helen DeWitt and Andrew Gelman end up co-authoring a piece?  I’d like to read another piece on that, it could be co-authored by them too.

5. Blindsight.

6. Is the dam starting to break? (but in which direction?)  And “I am so sorry.” And another retraction.  And more.  Egads, and A+.

7. War over being nice.  Wordy at first, but an important attempt, recommended.


Can we find a billionaire to fund lawsuits against people who make unfounded accusations of racism/bigotry and then attempt to publicly shame people? Is this not a kind of defamation? If a company publicly fires someone on this basis is that not also defamation? Best thing would be to start suing individuals -- sort of like the music industry did. Otherwise, how do we end this? There is no downside to unfounded attacks. Only reward points on twitter.

As long as he could remain a secret funder.

However, thankfully in the U.S., it is completely legal to say that I think Steve T. is a racist who should be fired. Such a statement is never defamatory, being a clear matter of opinion protected by the 1st Amendment. And in at will employment states, your employer needs precisely zero reason to fire you, so the very idea of defamation in such cases is absurd. Plus, absolutely no billionaire has the slightest interest in funding a law suit that would increase an employee's rights.

Notice the vast wave of public support concerning employee speech rights in Damore's case that flowed from the authors of this very blog. Something that did not happen - AT and TC know who butters their bread, and are fully aware of what that entails.

It is you, prior, who defended a few weeks ago the forcible imprisonment backed by the police and the army of several bilions of people without trials, who now explain that in a free-speech/free market society, people have no ground to complain if they get fired for their speech. It is funny, and it will be even more when the mew Nazism is defeated and you and your peers hid themselves in the ruins like rats.

prior does bring up a good point. Is the actual issue at-will employment ? There will always be people that disagree and with the advent of social media they can do so very publicly. Unless we mute disagreement or litigate them in court which are both bad ideas, the only alternative seems to be better employment protection.

Personally, I have no problem with at will employment, because I consider it completely normal. If you think an American employer needed any reason to fire you in 1950, think again. Apart from union contracts, but it is not a coincidence that right to work and at will employment states overlap so well these days, following decades of well funded and dedicated efforts by a number of billionaires.

I do not support employment protection for speech, and do not consider it part of defending against whatever the hell cancel culture is supposed to be. What bugs me no end is the number of people who seem to falsely believe that they have a right to employment regardless of what they say, particularly when at work. Neither Nazis nor Communists have ever had a right to work for a private employer, and that has been true since before WWII.

The discussion is open, of course, and changing at will employment in general is fine (not all states have it), but personally, there is precisely nothing new nor unusual about employers terminating employees because they want to. Regardless of the whiners who think otherwise. (Of course, the non-Americans here are generally not familiar with a framework that is basically illegal in their labor laws)

If the Very Smart and Serious People™ here are going to use at-will employment as their new hobby horse to avoid the question of their cowardice against the mob, perhaps you ought to consider that the concept works both ways. That is to say, your employer will not tolerate a situation where he is unable to terminate your position while you are free to leave at any time.

The end result is both a very strict screening process and contracts that specify a minimum length of employment. I doubt either of these will go over well with the mercurial Millennials. Not to mention that a lot more people will start being fired for gross incompetence instead of simply being "let go", which no doubt will severely bruise the egos of many in this comment section.

'use at-will employment as their new hobby horse to avoid the question of their cowardice against the mob'
Yep, Shark Lasers, the guy who knows better than any employer which employee has a right to keep their job.

'That is to say, your employer will not tolerate a situation where he is unable to terminate your position while you are free to leave at any time.'
Yep, Shark Lasers, pining for the age of slavery.

Do you need a trigger warning for how the world works, Sharkie chum? Nobody owes you a job.

Wow. This guy is a very useless turd.

Just a reminder for you:

My observation of the corporate world is that stating unpopular opinions is actually more likely to get you fired than being incompetent.

But yes, at-will employment is central. Because it negates all the whining from the right about the free speech crisis in their minds. Which ranks just behind the war on Christmas (tm).

Just because the right is chronically paranoid, does not mean the global communist conspiracy isn't out to destroy their way of life.

the culty cult of the "unsafe" is mostly all aleftist ideology/strategy

Sure, "safety" is part of the language the left is using right now.

The right should be sympathetic to this. A major pillar of right wing worldview is about feeling unsafe from an endless variety of threats: criminal, racial, political, foreign, cultural, religious, government... and a major plank in right-wing platform is about destroying those threats.

We hear constantly about right wingers who feel unsafe in their workplaces, afraid to express their true views for fear of retribution. Just as with the left, this is not literal physical safety, but is about the "feelings" of those who self-identify in the right wing workplace minority. The right wants to feel safer to express their minority views, by making rules that punish the people who oppress them in this way, or by driving their oppressors out of the workplace.

Hell, that's pretty much the central plank in trump's stump speech. That the right is not safe, it is under attack from the left &cetera.

your conflating leftists "unsafe feelings" due to often liberal & centrist ideas/speech with the actual physical effects of leftist(marxist) violence- if you only read the newwoketimes.con you mighta missed all the pillaging, looting, shooting, arson, brick throwing, assaults & wreckoning going on for the last 3 months. one of the central marxist cons of the blm cult is to conflate speech with violence and violence with speech.
blm is more like the leftist version of the kkk

that's hilarious.

that's "hilarious" in this context as you use it is obfuscation not a cogent response

oh, right. My bad.

Here: something something marxism something something pillaging something something kkk

we bet you fello/as are under-rating marxism, arson, & cancel culture
as a winning campaign issue

Remember that prior is speaking from the position of someone with nothing left to lose.

I suspect prior was fired for specific actions.

+1. It’s pretty Orwellian when people want to use the courts to shut down other people expressing their opinions because they find those opinions censoring.

No we find those opinions slanderous. The claim being made is not that they think the opinions are wrong, but that they are "unsafe". That is an objective question. Safety is measured by OSHA in the workplace and by a variety of crime and public health stats outside. If something is "unsafe" in the workplace then you need to show evidence thereof or you are committing slander.

Likewise, many of these claims are not that such objects are simply "racist" and unfashionable, but that they will result in some change in service or accommodation. These again are objective claims.

But just to be clear. You believe that back when my grandfather fought for civil rights and people expressed opinions to his employer that he should be fired for so doing … you think it would have been perfectly fine for his employer to fire him? After all the most common way these mob "opinions" have been used in our society historically were to make accusations against black men to "put them in their place". You are totally fine with that?

"You believe that back when my grandfather fought for civil rights and people expressed opinions to his employer that he should be fired for so doing … you think it would have been perfectly fine for his employer to fire him? "

+1, either the position is based upon logic or it's based upon emotion. If it's logic then you need a single standard, not a double standard.

+9.5 to Senor Sure

Has Zaua ever been correct? Wondering...

Sure is wrong. There's no such things as "slanderous" opinions.

"Statements made as "facts" are frequently actionable defamation. Statements of opinion or pure opinion are not actionable."

If you think Trump/Biden are poo-poo heads that is your constitutional right. If someone tells you, you have an illegal opinion they are blowing smoke in your eyes.

There are, however, slanderous statements. Last I checked under employment law being "unsafe" is one of those things. Last I checked the law makes next distinction between an employee who says "it is unsafe when X happens" and "I feel unsafe when X happens". Both trigger legal liabilities.

The legal definition of "unsafe" is different from the colloquial definition. It is clear from the context that Emily's use is the latter. The general complimenting of Matt's work behavior and the fact that she does not want an apology nor a firing corroborates this. I think you are forcing a legal context on something that is really an intellectual/ideological disagreement that private individuals are much better positioned to solve and courts have no way to litigate. If there was genuine physical unsafety and a legal motive, I imagine the response would look completely different from what we saw.

Sure---there's a difference between "it's not fine" and "illegal/subject to civil penalties". Perhaps inelegantly stated by several above, the question becomes when do you want to permit the use of state power to protect speech/speech actions by employees against employers?

These arguments have gone for a long time, and are still in an uneasy state---witness the significant amount of HR litigation over such issues. Essentially, though, employers won, and most states are 'at-will' employers, and one of the reasons for this was the desire of employers to get rid of employees who by speech or speech actions, at work and outside work, cause problems for the employer.

Legally, what exactly do you wish to be different between the lynch mob (and I use the term advisedly) trying to run my grandfather out of a job and life today?

Frankly, I think the problem is that our libel and slander laws have not kept apace of the world today where people intentionally seek to dispossess new minorities.

Requiring that claims of "safety" be substantiated seems to be among the most obvious things. Your safety is either threatened or not. If you merely dislike an opinion then you cannot invoke the wrath of the safety regulations.

And if you can make false safety allegations where it can result in employment termination, license revocation, and tens of thousands in insurance costs ... where exactly does it stop? Should you be allowed to file false police reports because you "think" someone is threatening you? I thought that was one of those Black Lives Matter things we were supposed to say were wrong.

I am open to hearing a legal distinction that makes it okay to report false safety concerns in one context but not another. As is, history has shown me that lax concerns about falsity in such statements has been borne more often by the disadvantaged. I see no reason either to create a or morass where the specific formulation of safety concerns gives great weight to how we evaluation them or to creating a world where safety concerns are degraded by frivolous claims.

+1 again
its somewhat analogous to the central park dog walker/birdwatcher conflict or todays regon racial hoax where the fella apparently wrote a racial hate letter to himself

"people who make unfounded accusations of racism/bigotry" is free speech. But why limit it to racism? How about unfounded accusations in general? Then we need a speech police wouldn't we? Whatever cure you propose will be worse than the poison.

Libertarians: Worse than Useless™

If you want to keep your job, just do your job and don't say stupid shit. As an employer, your stupid antics costs me money. Simple as that.

Yea, that used work, and be great advice, along with “ don’t discuss politics and religion at work”.

These days, increasingly it’s headed to a situation where nothing less than active public affirmation of the party line of the moment will do. See #6 for example.

When a Coke employee could talk about how he preferred Pepsi, with Pepsi bumper stickers on the car.

And then there was the old FBI trick of dealing with Communist Party members. Of course it was never illegal to be a member of the American Communist Party, and it was never illegal for the FBI to talk to your landlord or employer about your political affiliation.

And those days were so good, you want to bring them back?

What do you mean bring them back? Do you think the FBI no longer uses that little trick to enforce the party line? Or that Coke in Atlanta is somehow prevented today from firing a Pepsi supporting employee?

The good old days are today. The bizarre thing is watching a group of people discover that nothing is different when it comes to private employment in America.

In this thread prior believes the FBI goes door to door to enforce the party line.

And that Coke fires employees based on their cola preferences

A US Coca Cola truckdriver has been sacked - after being spotted glugging down a soft drink made by the rival Pepsi company, union officials said yesterday.

Rick Bronson, who worked for the world's biggest softdrink firm for 12 years, was fired after someone reported him for supporting the enemy, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said.

Try again, prior.

The only source on this is the union spokesman, sounds like bs

The letter in item number 6 specifically says that Yglesias should not be fired, reprimanded, or made to apologize, and I would strongly bet that Vox will not fire, reprimand, or make Yglesias apologize. What else was she supposed to say? Is she not allowed to express her views about how Yglesias’s statement made her felt?

Certainly, though, her saying that she's only trying to smear his reputation and not impact his employment is not binding on his employer, and presumably this goes into his file as one of the times he was "problematic."

And yes, she could just not express every thought that goes through her head, especially such an embarrassingly extreme reaction such as this. She could just privately seek therapy.

Do you want people to feel free to express their opinions or not?

Isn't that obvious?

A claim is being made about being "unsafe" that claim needs to be substantiated or be deemed slanderous. You cannot tar people on technical grounds and then just say this is how I feel.

This is either your opinion or it is a characteristic of the workplace. If it is the former, you hold sole responsibility. If it is the latter it is a question of fact that can be established or deemed slander.

She didn't express an opinion, she lied. She doesn't really feel unsafe, otherwise she wouldn't have posted that letter on Twitter. Does anyone really think there's any possibility of anti-trans violence at the offices of a publication like Vox?

I suspect her feeling unsafe is not related to physical safety. The writer is a man pretending to be a woman. The writer might even believe it. She finds less than full support for this pretense disquieting.

As with guys who pretend to be Napoleon, a degree of sympathy and tolerance is appropriate. Celebrating their fantasy is not.

Not without criticism, of course. I don't think she should be fired for this, but let's be clear that she's a little shit and should not have done it.

Hey Tom T, did you write this on June 28, 2020 at 10:02 am*?

"Yglesias reminds me of Chomsky -- says lots of trolling things, then evades ever acknowledging what he said."

Maybe you can join her in therapy and split the bill.

Tom didn't say that Yglesias made him feel unsafe. So, those two comments aren't comparable.

It is a strange letter. Whatever happened to first talking directly to the person you have a dispute with -- the least passive aggressive and most mature option available? Then, depending on how that conversation goes, you can make a public statement putting your ideas out there about what is wrong with the other person's views or behavior.

But writing a letter to an authority figure, publishing that letter, and then insisting in the letter that you don't want the person you are writing about to face any administrative sanctions is some combination of whiny and two-faced. Whiny because HR people and managers are busy people and, despite stereotypes about the former group, are really not interested in playing the role of making sure the children on the playground get along with each other. And two-faced because, if the intention was not to whine, why would she address the letter to an authority figure while insisting in the letter there was no intention whatsoever of getting him in trouble? The only reason for a mature professional to write a letter to a person's boss is if you want that person to take some sort of action. What action was she hoping for in response to that letter?


I think the whole discussion above completely misses the point. People should more or less be able to able do and say what they want. Employers should be able to fire at will.

That doesn't mean the lady/dude (whatever--I don't remember or care) who wrote the letter isn't a mentally unstable whiny bitch/douche.

Sure, you can legally write that letter, but what kind of pathetic loser do you have to be to do so? We should all strive to not be that pathetic loser.

Yglesias reports on Twitter that he has agreed to no longer say "contentious" things on the internet and cannot discuss the matter further. It appears that Zaua's prediction was incorrect and that Yglesias has indeed been privately punished for signing a letter calling for less private punishment for speech.

Commenters will swarm to make the point that Vox had the legal right to do this. The better question, though, is whether this is the world we want to live in?

" Is she not allowed to express her views about how Yglesias’s statement made her felt?"

Which of these is appropriate to publicly express about your work place?

a) The big black janitor, George, who comes around after the office is nearly empty, makes me feel unsafe, but don't fire him.
b) I want to bone, Shirley the red head in the lab.
c) My colleague signing a petition against cancel culture make me feel unsafe.

Your choice of anecdotes reveals a lot about you

You can express all three at the same time if you want. That's the magic of Free Speech. You just aren't entitled to keep your job.

+10, precisely the correct answer.

In all 3 cases, the person expressing the sentiment should be remanded to HR for inappropriate conduct and potentially terminated.

>just do your job and don't say stupid shit.

"Silence is Violence." Everyone knows that nowadays.

6. Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit files these under Tales of Leftist Autophagy. You don’t need a billionaire, you just need some motivated researchers looking for non-woke statements made even years ago. Y prominent “progressives”. Then you bring it to the attention of the right people, get some popcorn and watch the fun.

It’s a secular religion with no hope of redemption.

The courts are indeed the wrong arena. Remember, back in the 1950s, when they were generally the out-group, the left opposed private blacklisting (most famously in the movie industry, of course). This opposition was generally not fought out as a legal matter but a moral one, a campaign to convince people that this just wasn't right. As they became the in-group, the left abandoned the moral appeal and retreated to a legal position -- look at all the left-of-center commenters here who are quick to aver that corporations have unfettered legal rights in this regard and to admonish others not to criticize the actions of those corporations on any other basis. We see from the open letter that this trend is beginning to shift, as some in the center-left begin to realize that they are in the out-group again. Conservatives would do well to pursue a similar campaign of social shaming and resistance.

Shame them how? Discrimination of any kind is considered the only real moral failing these days and outside that the average American is rather shameless (meant in a mostly good way) and socially uninhibited. Trump, to add to that, reinforces these traits. There's basically no social leverage here that I can see.

" Conservatives would do well to pursue a similar campaign of social shaming and resistance."

That's exactly what is happening here.

There's a difference between recognizing the legal situation and thinking it is a good one.

And there's a difference between being a person with a brain and a person who shits all over every thread related to free speech by reminding everyone that the 1st Amendment doesn't apply to private organizations, as if that was relevant.

These peoples' minds are apparently blown by kindergarten-level seeming contradictions. "How can we be tolerant without being intolerant of intolerant people? How can we have free speech and then criticize people for their speech?"

I agree with Kingston that the best thing would be to revisit at-will employment and provide basic protections against being fired for expressing non-work-related opinions.

The civil court system in the U.S. is, in practice, a competition over who has the bigger bank balance and once you sue someone whose balance is bigger than yours, it is going to be an unpleasant situation. That person is going to have a field day during discovery by digging as far into your past is as required in order to turn up an incident 10-20 years ago when you made an off-color joke or, god forbid, wore blackface for a costume party in order to show it was a mere opinion that could be justified by objective facts. Then, if you live in an anti-SLAPP state, you could be hit with sanctions to boot. It's a very slippery slope.

I see more of these complaints from people who are probably right-leaning about people suffering career damage from being dubiously accused of bigoted conduct or speech. It strikes me that just a few years ago the dominant talking point was about how Facebook and Twitter are enemies of free speech for shutting down right-wing trolls and that online harassment is a bogus idea invented by leftists in order to silence their opponents. Now that left-wing online mobs have grown more powerful, the argument seems to be shifting in favor of regulating online speech. The best content-neutral solution for both sides is, I think, stronger employment protections and sensible anti-harassment rules on the big social media platforms.

"I see more of these complaints from people who are probably right-leaning about people suffering career damage from being dubiously accused of bigoted conduct or speech. It strikes me that just a few years ago the dominant talking point was about how Facebook and Twitter are enemies of free speech for shutting down right-wing trolls and that online harassment is a bogus idea invented by leftists in order to silence their opponents. "

The Left has been attempting to silence speech on the Right. There's no shift. They want to silence the Right on social media, the workplace and in public forums.

And the only reason that this process is now coming into question is because it's now threatening some people on the left as well.

Why not limit the applicability of anti-discrimination law to monopolies, state enterprises, and governments? Restore freedom of contract generally and quit allowing lawyers to second-guess company's employment decisions?

My comment above was for #7.


I find the underlying cause to our new cultural phenomena of "cancel culture" is perhaps ironically our lack of hate crime laws. We need to expand the language and grounds of these laws since our judicial and legal system is a well-refined gauge to determine discriminatory/racist/bigotry behaviors. We need this expansion so people know our societal structures can provide a sense of justice, which these quick-tempered firings and social media shaming does not do.

It will also help to reconfigure at-will employment. Companies are very reactionary these days because of social media and public relations pressure. They could instill programs to teach employees proper language and action for education and deterrence (no, I do not advocate for White Fragility-style lectures).

The "final" solution is teaching every American, and person, to not discriminate against each other based on immutable characteristics. It will be a tough test considering all Americans increasingly enjoy idolizing our identity for a sense of "uniqueness" amongst our neoliberal rot but it is worth the proper cultural change.

Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment and hate speech laws would be a far more severe form of censorship than what we are seeing today. In fact, for a long time, people argued against hate speech laws precisely because social consequences would be enough to deter hate speech without involving the coercive hand of government. Social consequences are inherently less coercive—even if you get fired, it’s typically not hard to find a job somewhere else. If you go to jail because of hate speech, your only choice is to go into hiding or illegally flee the country.

Second, I agree with your “final” solution, but neoliberalism is the way to get there precisely because it rejects the importance of immutable characteristics (or I would rather say inborn characteristics as science is advancing—gender is no longer completely immutable now for instance). Under neoliberalism, a business that discriminated against people for their inborn characteristics that were irrelevant to their ability to do their job would be outcompeted by one that did not. The best thing we can do to foster that cultural shift is to remove laws that discriminate based on inborn characteristics, such as affirmative action and restrictions on immigration.

> it’s typically not hard to find a job somewhere else.

Maybe... if you (and your family) are willing to move + your spouse can also find a job at that new location in his/her field + you have enough resources to risk both wage earners being in job transition phase (in a location where you also don't have a strong support network) + you don't have other family obligations that require you to be close to the original location.

I followed up a while ago on the case of that guy -- named Adam Smith, of all things -- who filmed himself berating a Chick-fil-A employee because of the Chick-fil-A owner's anti-gay marriage stance. Not his finest hour by any stretch.

He was fired from his CFO job after his employer was subject to online harassment and bomb threats and his professional life was apparently in tatters for years. At least his wife didn't leave him but they were apparently on food stamps for a while. He seems to have found some measure of redemption by shifting gears and becoming an executive coach and public speaker but his previous life of being a corporate executive is probably gone forever. I wouldn't be so confident that it is easy to find another job in one's field -- it depends on the degree of online harassment and controversy that follows.

So the TL;DR: "To protect people from negative reactions to the free expression of thought we need to make certain thoughts illegal." That is some Orwellian s%!t right there.

And "final solution"? Really?

I have a feeling this is satire... if so... nicely done.

+1, yes if that was satire it was well done.

Oh please, Mr. JFA. If that is your TL;DR then your mind is too empty to even try to correct you. But I will anyway since I feel a need to help the less fortunate (curse of devotion, I suppose).

What I am pointing out is the free market approach to distributional justice against discriminatory behavior is not good because it is: 1) highly uncertain 2) targets employment. And in America, a person without a job has a very hard time of surviving, compared to other countries.

Secondly, do you dispute my final hope for our society? That we stop discriminating against people's immutable or inborn characteristics? Or did your brain capacity max out at that word?

"I find the underlying cause to our new cultural phenomena of "cancel culture" is perhaps ironically our lack of hate crime laws."

I think it has gone way beyond what even the strictest hate crime laws would cover. See the periodic controversy and cancellation attempts that erupt around Joe Rogan about his consistent stance that transwomen should not be allowed to compete against cis-gendered women in female MMA (or, at least, the competition should be an exhibition match and involve full disclosure). That opinion is very far within the bounds of free speech because it involves opining on policies and matters of public concern. Another early example would be the Larry Summers controversy in the mid-2000s and how people didn't just argue against him and denounce his opinion but wanted him removed from his job as president of Harvard for expressing an opinion that was also well within the bounds of free speech, academic discourse and even professional civility.

Fantastic satire, though you seem to have forgotten to weave all men are created equal as part of our immutable characteristics into it.

The heroes of Verhoeven's Starship Troopers salute you.

Some were created more equal than others.

6. Is the dam starting to break? (
Brenda does the best, 'I'm sorry'

Now I feel safer.

I wonder how Yglesias feels knowing that the website he founded is one that brazenly caters to the low-brow left ideology off which cancel culture feeds?

Yes all of these older millennials-young gen x types started websites like Vox, eater, curbed, vice etc.

Only to watch them turn into no think left wing young millenial-gen z woke mobs. went from one of the best food-restaurant websites ever produced to some Oberlin undergrads weird journalism-food politics-wokemagedon publication.

It’s almost unreadable, unless consumed as parody.

The biggest single problem with the wokemagedon is the explosive level of verbiage and outrage relating to an ever lesser range of allowable discourses.

It’s more banal than it is enraging. The idea that the left could ever produced another Daniel Patrick Moynihan is so laughable that it’s not even worth considering.

"The idea that the left could ever produced another Daniel Patrick Moynihan is so laughable"

He'd be part of the alt-Right at this point.

"The principal challenge of the next phase of the Negro revolution is to make certain that equality of results will now follow. If we do not, there will be no social peace in the United States for generations."

"Somehow liberals have been unable to acquire from life what conservatives seem to be endowed with at birth: namely, a healthy skepticism of the powers of government agencies to do good."

He was happy with it until about 24 hours ago. Sucks to be him, I guess.

orwell -still under-rated
"A lot of debates that sell themselves as being about free speech are actually about power,” said Klein. “And there’s *a lot* of power in being able to claim, and hold, the mantle of free speech defender.”

#7 "The War on Nice" -- it's pretty similar to theologian Alastair Roberts' similarly leisurely but insightful 2012 essay on two modes of discourse:

#7: Sounds pretty accurate to me. It probably oversimplifies things but I think it captures some important and common differences in personalities and communications styles.

Ironically no one is safe in culture B. If I am responsible for the emotional state of everyone I encounter I am doomed. If a person is upset before I walk into a room, that person can focus their emotional distress on me by virtue of my walking in. People take offense at their perceptions of other people’s facial expressions. Unconsciously detectable pheromones or the clothes I’m wearing can remind them of someone they despise. They can regard me as an avatar for every perceived offense they have experienced throughout their life. Culture B forces everyone to be uncomfortable in their own skin through the tyranny of emotional manipulation.

I agree with both of these comments.

You are describing mental illness.

Read the first chapter of The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas. He describes D'Artagnan as eager and wary of any insult, ready with his sword to correct the situation.

None of this comes from weakness. It is a power ploy. If you can't be competent, you can become important by being the center of attention.

I don't think that's right, or what the author says. The danger is not that culture B exists, but that it is threatening to swamp culture A.

I'm a culture A guy myself. I enjoyed MadMen and would be comfortable in such a world. But that's not the world we have anymore. Culture B people have always existed and should exist. Accommodating culture B in the workplace can be tricky, and the Robin DiAngelo prescription is antagonistic and counterproductive, but any businessman understands that you need teams to colloborate and, outside of a hard-core sales culture, we need to figure out how to incorporate culture B better.

When will they come for Tyler?

Notice what he doesn't write about. He seems to consider the public health effects of the BLM protests to be a trip wire that he must avoid.

But they were outside! /s

Seriously, that cop MSP probably killed more African American people than anyone else in American history. I really don’t understand why a bunch of white people who usually don’t give a shit suddenly decided to get woke in the middle of a pandemic. Great timing.

Election year.

Stuck too long inside. Quarantine is a pressure cooker. People were looking for a reason to let off steam. In a year we'll be talking about how little things changed.

That is, basically never and a day.

7. Trump is culture A. This blog is culture B. Trump is like the Linux kernel. This blog is like Rust.

No, constantly whining about being a victim (a la Trump) is decidedly Culture B (in that author's schema).

6a: "I don't feel safe, building manager. I think there is a Jew living in the apartment next door".

Especially funny because Yglesias is Jewish, and one of the hallmarks of Ashkenazi culture is arguing and debating everything. Cancel culture = cancel Jewish culture.

Wouldn't a Spanish sounding name as Yglesias make him a Sephardic Jew rather than Ashkenazi?

1. Resurrect the Gulag. That’s true prison style.

6. Scanning these 7 items, when I got to 6 I first thought it was a reference to Donald Trump and his niece and the break from within the family. That conformity to certain leftish conformity can be confused with certain rightish confromity reflects just how much we are all alike. But I've always been impressed by rightish conformity, the former critics of Trump's boorish and irrational behavior quickly falling in line when it came to real power, the power to control Congress and the Courts, while leftish conformity is stuck with a war over what words. might offend the most sensitive in their ranks.

"Falling in line" over the courts is not falling in line, it's accepting the bone that Trump threw McConnell et al. for their warped version of what passes for conservatism. You can see how well that worked in the last Supreme Court session (although facilitated by the Bush-appointed yet thoroughly blackmailed Chief Justice).

It's pretty clear in our society where the real power lies, hence the reason Trump is such a threat in the first place.

6. Scanning these 7 items, when I got to 6 I first thought it was a reference to Donald Trump and his niece and the break from within the family. That certain leftish conformity can be confused with certain rightish confromity reflects just how much we are all alike. But I've always been impressed by rightish conformity, the former critics of Trump's boorish and erratic behavior quickly falling in line when it came to real power, the power to control Congress and the Courts, while leftish conformity is stuck with a war over what words. might offend the most sensitive in their ranks. [Editor]

When I first saw #6 I assumed it was going to be about the Three Gorges Dam. Hello, I thought, Mr C has switched his career from epidemiologist to civil engineer.

4. I'm reminded, again, of Cowen's TED lecture to be suspicious of simple stories. I watch the lecture from time to time to be mindful of the lure of simple stories, especially those that confirm what I already know. Here, the authors are urging caution about a complex story made simple by visual presentation. This is made more urgent given that visual presentation has replaced words, film considered today's novel. Indeed, words are becoming meaningless as visual images take center stage. I suggest Cowen update his TED lecture with one urging one to be suspicious of complex stories made simple by visual presentations.

The article holds up the “bend the curve” graph as the visual champion. The graph is data-free: no dates on the timeline, no hospitalization numbers. Is it linear or log? In the “terrible outcome” red portion, the pandemic might be over by now, as the hospitalization falls to zero about the time the flattened curve peaks. Numbers, even speculative, would have been so helpful. Would more people die in the short red zone or the protracted blue zone? Alas, it’s all fantasy, but lauded because it changed people’s behavior. We just don’t know whether that was for good or for ill.

#5. I've known about blindsight for a long time, and that it is possible doesn't seem all that surprising given what we know about the normal, undamaged system works. We all duck and dodge instantly and automatically on impulse with no time for conscious recognition and deliberation of the best strategy for avoidance. Of course these obstacles and projectiles DO normally enter our consciousness as well (albeit some belatedly), but they wouldn't need to in order for us to react and avoid them. We don't need consciousness to duck and avoid being hit in the head by a rock. We DO need consciousness to try to figure out where it came from, and who threw it, and why, and what to do about it.

Incidentally, we wouldn't have such a hard time figuring out what consciousness is for if it weren't for the cloud of confusion spread by philosophers and their p-zombies. Yes consciousness is functional. So therefore no, a non-conscious p-zombie could never be indistinguishable from a conscious human. Next question.

I'm baffled by the response to the Harpers letter. I think it's fair to summarize the letter as, "Trump is awful; also, we need to maintain the right to free speech." And the response has been, "This is anti-trans extremism that endangers people." It's utterly bizarre.

6. This person’s letter specifically says that Yglesias is entitled to his opinion and shouldn’t be reprimanded, fired, or asked to apologize. So what’s wrong with it? She’s just expressing her opinion, which she has the right to do, just as Yglesias was expressing his.

What's wrong with it? Probably the parts where she claims him signing the letter makes her unsafe, which is an absurd statement. Claiming that opposing arguments make people unsafe is a central tenet of cancel culture.

Also, everyone except those deliberately sticking their head in the ground can easily see through statements that can be summarized as: "This guy saying that people shouldn't be canceled for making arguments is making me feel unsafe by saying that even though I'm totally not calling for him to be canceled, just lining up all the arguments that are used to cancel people."

First off, it’s not absurd at all to feel unsafe if someone in a position of influence is making an argument. If you found out that your boss wrote an article about how whatever demographic you are in is dumb and lazy and shouldn’t be entrusted to any responsibility at work, wouldn’t you feel unsafe? Or if a prominent politician who was getting huge support in the polls made the argument that your demographic should be sent to concentration camps or deported from the country, wouldn’t you feel unsafe?

Second off, your argument seems to parallel a very annoying argument the woke people often wake—“his argument is also an argument made by racists, therefore he is really trying to keep black people down no matter how much he says he just has a libertarian opposition to anti-discrimination laws.” Of course, sometimes people do make pretextual arguments, but I’d need more evidence than the mere fact that the argument in question is sometimes made pretextually. Unless there’s evidence that this author has gotten people cancelled in the past or something like that, I’d go by the clear words she is using. We can see if Vox in fact reprimands, fires, or makes Yglesias apologize—if not then that would show that the author meant what she said.

"If you found out that your boss wrote an article about how whatever demographic you are in is dumb and lazy and shouldn’t be entrusted to any responsibility at work, wouldn’t you feel unsafe?"

Probably not if he had promoted me and given me various raises and allowed me a platform on which to speak freely.

I don't think it would make most thinking people feel unsafe. Curious as to whether they had faced discrimination? Sure. Unsafe? No.

Where's the part of the letter that does anything equivalent to calling her demographic dumb and lazy or should be sent to concentration camps?

Nobody's calling her dumb but some are attacking her as a Maoist, Stalinist, Hitler, etc and ushering the next stage of the cultural revolution, Pol Pot. This conversation is tiresome and stupid to be honest.

Of course not.

People who put their racist opinions into the written record are the least likely to act against me out of racism. Should they demote me or rescind duties they will be assumed to be doing so in furtherance of their beliefs. They will only be comfortable doing such when they have all their ducks in a row showing legitimate cause for said demotion or duty removal.

And I say this from experience. When I was moonlighting, the oldest codgers in admin were Wallace voters. Several them had at various times actually said racist things (e.g. one was opposed to interracial marriage) yet they never did anything objectionable.

When you that sort of thing in writing your career follows one of two courses:

You do everything by the book and no one ever has a substantiated claim to lay against you.

You act on your racism and get fired.

I would far rather have a boss who has put his racist opinions in print than one who has not.

Thanks to ubiquitous recording devices and cheap unlimited storage of data, you will more likely have recorded bosses than not. There's no hiding anymore.

Writing still has a greater legal weight. Things said can be poorly thought out, poorly phrased, or meant to be ironic. The written word is far less vague and harder to escape. Certainly you will need a better lawyer.

"Probably the parts where she claims him signing the letter makes her unsafe, which is an absurd statement."

That's a feeling/opinion that she is entitled to. Why do you want to send her to gulags for exercising her right to free speech. Who's the real totalitarian now?

Calliope is not suggesting sending her to the gulag. Calliope (and many others) are pointing out that sending a message to the higher ups at an organization expressing a feeling of insecurity due to the actions of another employee can lead (and one should not reasonably expect that it wouldn't) to some sort of censure on the employee being complained about.

Emily's letter expressing a feeling of being "unsafe" is more likely to have a negative impact on Matt and his work environment and job security than Matt's signature on a letter promoting free speech and discourse (rather than shouting and cancelling) will have on Emily's work environment and actual safety.

"Dear Human Resources and various directors,

Matt signed a letter that makes me feel unsafe. I don't think he should be fired, reprimanded, or asked to apologize, but even though I have never felt unsafe in his physical presence and always had pleasant interactions and have never felt threatened in any way possible by Matt, his signing of the letter makes me feel UNSAFE. Again don't FIRE HIM or REPRIMAND HIM. I'm just expressing my feeling of an utter loss of safety in the workplace by something one the employees has done. ;)"

6. For real fun and exploding heads, Trump himself should sign the open letter -- saying while doing so that of course the idea that he was a threat to democracy is absurd, but he was signing anyway to express his agreement with the ideas surrounding free speech and opposing cancel culture.

4. If Gelman and DeWitt can collab, you can do one with Kanye West. #Kanye2020

6. This should ease the minds of the many SJW and overly sensitive readers at this blog:

“ I did not know who else had signed that letter. I thought I was endorsing a well meaning, if vague, message against internet shaming. I did know Chomsky, Steinem, and Atwood were in, and I thought, good company.

The consequences are mine to bear. I am so sorry.”

Yet another transcript from Stalin’s show trials.

Also, a clear indication of someone who doesn't think for themselves.

6. Yglesias signs an open letter alongside with Rowling, who is critical of transgender people. A transgender co-worker felt that to be objectionable and threatening. So, she wrote a (signed) letter to their common employer saying so. This is apparently not allowed under the right-wing rules of conduct?. Ok, so what is the politically correct action for her to take?

Suffer in silence? File an anonymous complaint? Initiate a lawsuit. Make a grievance to HR? Call into an AM radio show and whine? Go punch Yglesias in the nose?

Guilt by association is a common tactic of the right for smearing the left. They have no problem digging into the photo or membership archives going back decades to find some unseemly fleeting connection they can harp on to demand resignations/firing/de-funding in outraged right-wing cancel culture campaigns. Hell, these are the same people who renamed french fries and made an issue of wearing the correct flag lapel pin.

So let's stop pretending this is a left-wing phenomena. The Harper's letter itself very plainly spells out that this is a right-wing tactic.

I am sure the right is enjoying the drama unfolding as the left struggles internally. But let's not lose sight of who is the master of the cancel culture and political correctness and shaming machine.

“Suffer”, lol. Grow up.

Suffer in silence. It's a saying.

Perhaps you need to broaden your education.

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

It's a saying that has a meaning... and it doesn't mean what you think it means.

How about send the letter to Yglesias, who the letter writer notes has been nothing but kind and respectful? Why exactly could a private communication not be used to allow him to explain his position or retract his position should he agree?

In any event the claim that this makes the workplace more "unsafe" was made. There are channels for this. OSHA for instance. If you are more unsafe at work you file the incident report paperwork, not a public letter of shame. If your claims of a less safe workplace cannot be substantiated, then this is properly libel.

Because then how could she signal her victimhood to the masses?

It isn’t an accident that these people insist on making their feelings public at all times.

The whole point of transgenderism is to receive external validation for what is so incredibly, repulsively at odds with reality.

It's an aggressively masculine behavior.

Transgender people are "repulsively at odds with reality" and exhibit "aggressive behavior"

Thus underscoring why a transgender person might feel threatened by someone like you. People who use that sort of language you do sometimes show up at workplaces with guns.

Would you engage in coitus with a surgically transformed "woman?" Most men outside a few bizarre fetishists wouldn't be able to do it at gunpoint. It's complete uncanny valley territory, just as most humans are viscerally repulsed at being sexually penetrated by a person of their sex. Sorry about your feelings, but it is what it is.

Transgenders are notoriously aggressive--men make better women than women! Look up some quotes from Fallon Fox. These are deeply disordered minds.

Aggressive men need external validation?

Men like to vanquish opponents in front of cheering fans.

This is probably the best commentary ever on the whole sick mess.

So, sending a formal workplace greievance to initiate disciplinary action would be preferable? You'd be okay with that?

Provided there is evidence to substantiate the grievance, absolutely. If there is no substantiating evidence, then no.

A specific, actionable claim was made. If true it is negligent to let it lie. If false it is libelous. Putting it into a public letter avoids likely legal process showing it to be unfounded while doing nothing directly to address the former.

Is this a real problem or not?

In other words, she did the right thing.

She signed her letter and made it public. Yglesias has recourse now if he chooses.

Per workplace safety laws, findings of unsafe working conditions require formal notification and adjudication. Informal letters are not legally equivalent to OSHA's required processes. Failure to go through formal channels, even with informal reporting, creates liability and in a word is "wrong".

The rightness of this matter is wholly dependent on if it there is substantiation that the workplace is now more unsafe. Making a false statement is wrong. Whether Mr. Yglesias can or wishes to endure the costs of recourse is immaterial.

The right course of action when confronted with an unsafe workplace is to follow the processes of the relevant regulatory agencies, full stop. The failure to do so in this matter is wrong if the accusations are substantiated. The publication of the accusations are wrong if not substantiated.

Fair enough.

And we can all have a ton of fun here in the comments section again when OSHA hands down fines to employers that allow emotionally threatening environments.

“Emotionally threatened” - as in didn’t get the highest possible rating in a performance review, didn’t get a promotion I am sure I deserved, wasn’t selected as employee of the month, not invited to sit at the cool kids table at lunch, etc. - and thus felt “unsafe”, i.e. it hurt my feelings

I do not support ISO 45001, but it is binding on me.

Whether or not OSHA enforces the new regs, they still exist and create liability for employers and employees. If Mr. Yglesias is creating threats to mental health, that does fall under OSHA's remit.

Could be wrong, but as no employee-employer relationships exist here, the blog comments are still liability free.

OSHA doesn't apply at all.

"Its main goal is to ensure that employers provide employees with an environment free from recognized hazards, such as exposure to toxic chemicals, excessive noise levels, mechanical dangers, heat or cold stress, or unsanitary conditions."

+1, this wouldn't fall under OSHA

It would probably fall under the US Equal Opportunity Commission.

I am not given in the changes in ISO 45001, what I can say is that threats to mental health are indeed covered by workplace safety regs having had the displeasure of working through said regulation previously.

+1, It's true that mental health has been included in ISO 45001. So yes, it's possible that Emily V. could file a complaint to OSHA.

Either we are talking about an actual safety issue, in which case we follow the regs for workplace safety or we do not use safety language.

I am quite fine with dismissing this as the apparent libel it seems to be and the authors "safety" fears as mere performance. But extending the benefit of the doubt, anyone who feels that their workplace is less safe due to some action should be working through channels.

In any event ISO 45001 as amended in 2018 actually does care about mental health dangers. Unless you are arguing that transphobia is not a source of mental harm, this would fall under the OSHA general duty clause.

Are you seriously clinging to the idea that claiming another person's statements and affiliations makes you FEEL unsafe is grounds for libel?

Filing an OSHA claim at worst could be judged as frivolous. But libelous? C'mon man.

Libel requires an untrue statement. Yglesias's statement and its co-signors are published for all to see. And the woman's feelings about safety are pretty hard to disprove as a basis for libel.

Do us all a favor and stop beating your head against the wall about libel.

My grandfather worked in the South in the '60s. As part of the retaliation for his support of civil rights, it was reported that the (white) women did not feel safe working around him.

Is that just a freely expressed opinion? Are you okay with white women "feeling unsafe" around black men and let the chips fall as they may?

Conversely if an employee says "I feel unsafe doing X" are you willing to grant the employer liability release if they then say "well it is only their feelings"? Should employers only be responsible for safety concerns that are expressed in declarative statements? Should employees be barred from bringing suit if they expressed their concerns via how they "felt"?

We all know the game that is being played here. Make a damning charge about something that is critically important, one where people can lose their livelihoods and there is a thicket of legal duty. Then when confronted, pull the old motte and bailey, that it was not meant that way.

I am sorry, but this is too serious for that game. If a coworker is making you unsafe you should be able to clear the very low bar for demonstrating that. If you cannot then you should find another way to express your displeasure.

Indeed. If HR deems it an actionable claim, they should follow up and ask if she wishes to file a complaint. And if she does so they'll have to deal with it. And if she does not, she ought to define what she meant by unsafe and what the threshold is for actionable in her definition.

That is the private workplace consequence of her signed public statement: having to stand behind her words, and face any workplace ramifications.

But in any case it ain't libel.

Were these statements false? A priori it seems so based on the chosen venue and approach. Are these statements injurious of reputation? If believed absolutely.

If we allow people to have private pocket definitions we make a mockery of all libel so at this point the accusation should be investigated regardless. If true, the consequences should fall on Mr. Yglesias. If false they should fall on everyone making overblown claims.

I mean suppose someone said they did not feel safe with me and my nurse out of sexual concerns? As part of my job I have to do bimanual pelvic examinations regularly. If I am a sexual danger to my patients I create liability for the hospital. Further, my malpractice insurer has no wish to foot the bill for those claims and will require, at minimum, that I convince them the charge is baseless. If some racist says that I am not safe doing such examinations how do I make myself whole? Should I have to eat tens of thousands of dollars in charges in insurance premiums, lost wages, and the rest of the process without any choice at pursuing recompense?

False safety accusations are certainly libelous. As somebody who treats the prisoners, I have seen all manner of such accusations and unless the DA is straight up lying, false safety accusations apparently meet the legal definition of libel.


Not "feeling" safe allows room for interpretation and for one's definition regarding feeling of safety and the circumstances. It is up to HR processes to decide if remediation is required.

Claustrophobic people do not feel safe in small areas. Some people are afraid of all spiders. Combat vets get triggered by loud noises. Abused women are intimated by overbearing men.

All of these people can feel unsafe and say so with utter conviction. This does not mean all must lead to a finding of unsafe work spaces.

Mrs. VDW may well feel unsafe in the presence of people who associate with anti-trans activists. Whether this raises to the level of actionable findings is up to the process.

Your dichotomy (most be EITHER actionable or libel) is false.

Oh please.

Putting claustrophobic people to work in confined spaces is unsafe and objectively adjudicated to be such. A colleague of mine literally had a patient who was coworkers reported him for being unsafe while working in tunnels and crawl spaces. Zookeepers who have been mauled can be, and have been, removed from positions should they develop intense fear of their charges. If your fear prevents you from doing your job safely it is an unsafe environment. And lest we forget not every job is safe for every person, pregnant women, for instance are not safe working in certain compounding pharmacies. It is much rarer but the correct response can indeed be to remove the person who is afraid from their position.

If you tell your boss that you "feel" you workplace is unsafe that is not treated as a statement of fanciful opinion by the courts. The courts treat any safety claim, however phrased, as claim of fact. Failure to respond to it as such can be grounds for gross negligence.

So again, we come back to is this actually a safety claim or is it a motte-and-bailey where the author seeks all the moral censure of a safety claim without any of the responsibility that comes with it.

And frankly if the claim is his mere association with these folks is what is toxic, why in hell did it take this long? He has associated with these people for years, dating back to his time at Slate. And seriously what are we going to do, throw away all claims of safety because 30% of the country are die-hard Trump supporters?

There is a very simple explanation for all this. The safety claim is made because it creates a legal liability and scares the editors. It was not done in private (to Mr. Yglesias, the editors, or HR) because that would have allowed for a simple determination of wrong doing rather than feeding the mob. And the number of folks who "associated" with anti-trans activists is miles long.

Again I ask a specific question, will you do me the pleasure of explaining your position? Suppose a white woman says she "feels unsafe" around a black coworker. What is the appropriate response? Suppose she tells people intentionally to get him fired. How exactly she he seek recompense? How exactly should he protect his job? How many black lives would you let her ruin before letting libel claims descend? Is it okay for the first three black men but not the fourth? What is your legal limitation to people reverting to 1960s behavior and using this sort of malicious charge to get black men fired?

"In other words, she did the right thing."

No, she did something wrong and is being pilloried for it.

"She signed her letter and made it public. Yglesias has recourse now if he chooses."

+1, this however is correct.

Matt Yglesias is popular on the Left. It wouldn't surprise me if, at the end of the day, Emily VanderWerff is the one who gets fired.

She sent it to the editors at Vox, then tweeted it out to the public.

So she lodged an informal complaint, skipping over the HR due process stage, and then went to Twitter to put it in the court of public opinion, AKA the screeching mob.

Again... Yglesias voluntarily engaged in a contentious public debate, in a manner that was clearly meant to underscore his public participation. And the point of which was to explicitly scold/shame other people, such as, perhaps, his coworker. And further, he is arguably a public figure.

So why should another person's response to that be required to be private? Is there something "protected" about Yglesias's employment status that protects him from public responses to his public statements?

Free speech is now a “contentious public debate”.

And he “shamed” his coworker.

Keep tossing out false accusations.

Are you suggesting that the Harper's letter does not address a contentious issue?

Are you suggestng that the intent of the letter is not to scold other people?

Of course the letter was not intended to scold other people. It names no names. It is addressed to the general public rather than to specific targets or authority figures who might enforce scolding on its targets. And as a matter of formal definitions, "scolding" requires acts or expressions of anger which were not extant in the calmly reasoned piece.

You could make an argument that it tries to scold Mr. Trump, but even that is a stretch.

Pedantic nonsense

Thanks for admitting it George.

Admitting your faults is half the battle.

Youch. I know you are but what am I! Touche sir

You're seriously saying freedom of speech is contentious?

Open discourse is a contentious debate? Unfortunately, increasingly so.

How about she explain why she feels less safe? How about she identify and explain the so called dog whistles in the letter?

Victimhood has been turned into a weapon. We need to hold claims rather than just accept all at face value.

Yes, it is fair to challenge her to make her case in greater detail.

Yglesias made a public statement. Why must she make a private reaction?

His statement made no particular claims about any particular individuals. As such it was primarily a policy concerns. The reaction made specific claims about a specific individual in a specific work environment.

When you have a problem with an idea, tell the world. When you have a problem with a person, tell the person.

And lest we forget, Mr. Yglesias, said not an iota about any specific demographics, people, or anything else. He merely signed something that objectionable people also signed and that there are alleged "dog whistles" present.

Frankly this is obviously performative. The letter is addressed to the editors but then tweeted round the world. As such this is now a question of workplace safety which should either be substantiated or regarded as libel.

Again, why is Yglesias's public performative letter allowed, but her public performative response not allowed?

The initial letter made no specific claims about specific individuals.

The reaction made specific claims about a specific person.

When you make specific claims, such as making the workplace less safe, they need to be factual. It should be done through channels if warranted and if not warranted should not do an end run around do process by publicly libeling your opponent.

At the end of the day if you want to critique an idea, no one is targeted. If you want to claim unsafe working conditions then either you are being harmed xor you are harming someone else.

You mentioned libel and slander laws. From what I see, those tend to not have any teeth. A while back, Elon Musk called somebody a pedophile(!) on Twitter. He has millions of followers so that got broadcasted all over the world. The guy at the receiving end couldn't even get a win on something so obvious and blatant. Trump is another one who makes wild accusations and that is against other government officials so I'm not sure any kind of defamation law in the US is an effective avenue for redress.

Whether or not a billionaire can get it off has never been my measure for the limit of what the law requires.

In general I do support strengthening libel laws, particularly for professional journalists. I have been treating far too many people who worry about the mob or have attempted suicide over it to believe that the current dynamics are the appropriate set points for public discourse.

The letter Yglesias signed (here: was a rather bland open letter and had nothing to do with any particular person or even with transgender issues.

If Emily VanDerWerff doesn't like the letter or the fact that Yglesias signed it, the two reasonable courses of action are take it up with him in person and/or make a public statement expressing a contrary point of view but not addressed to an authority figure. You are right she is not obligated to talk it over privately with him first but professional courtesy dictates she do so. According to her own words, Yglesias is a "nuanced thinker" and a good colleague. So not even trying to hash things out with him first is passive-aggressive and bad workplace behavior.

As far as the public statement is concerned, she is definitely within her rights to critique the letter and express why she is unhappy with Yglesias having signed it. But why the need to address her public statement to Yglesias's boss? Why not just say, "Why the Harper's letter and Matt's signature are wrong and harmful to trans rights." It should be a debate between two people over ideas and maybe even the consequences of those ideas and their expression. Why bring the boss into the picture if you have No Intention Whatsoever of getting the person in trouble?

is it not feasible for her to be simultaneously personally disappointed in Yglesias; troubled by the signatories and content of the open letter; and troubled by the culture of her workplace and public conduct of her coworkers?

Is it not allowed for an employee to point out the public conduct of her co-worker to their common employer through an informal channel? Must all these conversations be held formally via HR?

Again, she signed the letter. That's far more transparent than many of the garbage anonymous letters supposedly penned by alleged aggrieved employees that are circulated on these boards.

"troubled by the culture of her workplace and public conduct of her coworkers?"

That's a sleight of hand. One person expressing an opinion is not "workplace culture." HR people will happily spend 8 hours doing a workshop on what "workplace culture" means but it does not mean one person signing on to an open letter. It it is much more about the overall vibe and set of norms at a workplace and describes how people interact with and communicate with each other.

If she spoke to HR and that department is staffed with half-competent people, the first question they would ask would be, "Did you say anything to Matt about this?" And, if no, the follow-up would be, "Why not?" Some especially younger people seem to think that HR exists to be playground monitors but the reality is that their primary objective is to help the employer comply with labor law and avoid lawsuits. A secondary objective is to ensure some uniformity and rationality in how managers evaluate and compensate their employees. Calling HR because you don't like someone's (centrist) point of view is like calling the cops because you don't like the color your neighbor painted his house: the proper response is, "What are you hoping to accomplish by calling us?"

Yglesias is hardly just "someone"

And by publishing her letter publicly, rather than submitting it as an HR grievance, she has made perfectly clear what she hopes to accomplish - a public conversation.

Yglesias made a public statement and now he is getting public responses. Isn't that what he called for - public dialog?

Yet this seems to bother you. And you guys end up parsing all sorts of nonsense about OSHA, and reading her mind about what she really intends, and inventing workplace protections for public conduct.

She made a signed public statement. Period. Deal with it. HR can do what it wants. OSHA can do what it wants. Yglesias can do what he wants. That's free speech.

You just don't like the content of her speech, so you are trying to cancel her.

If the goal is a conversation, why is the letter not addressed to Mr. Yglesias?

Dialogue would mean talking to him, not his bosses.

And not OSHA and HR cannot "do what they want". Both have established goals and processes that have been instituted to protect workers. Libeling someone is not free speech.

If this is a safety concern, there are procedures in place, use them. If this is not a safety concern, then do not commit libel.

This is not that hard.

Boy, you are going to ride this libel nonsense and pedantic OSHA tangent all the way to the end aren't you.

Sorry, but if it my employee I would have a duty to take any claims of diminished safety in the workplace seriously. I would likewise have a duty to ensure that procedure was followed.

Are you saying that we should not regard mental health safety the same as we do physical safety? Do you believe that employers have less of a duty to mental health concerns?

So, she chose not to have a conversation with Yglesias about his public statement, and instead issued her own public statement.

I don't remember anything in the US Constitution about having one-on-one conversations with your representative before petitioning the government.

You have asked what could be done differently. Numerous options have been proffered. Now you swap to, but it is okay to have chosen otherwise.

And it would be.

If no false claims were made.

And maybe none has.

Maybe Mr. Yglesias has demonstrably made the workplace less safe. That is fine. Bring forth the evidence. Let us examine the claims with all due scrutiny.

But if not, let us not give a pass to a false accusation. Libel, is wrong, full stop.

My legal department tells me that "unsafe" working conditions are the "duty" of all employees to report through proper channels. Certainly as a matter of law "informal" notification is not sufficient to remove liability.

If you truly believe that things are "unsafe" there is a process for that. A process, I might add that historically has protected minorities from capricious actions.

At the end of the day, we must confront the question of is this accusation true. If it is true that the workplace is unsafe, why should we not follow all the law regarding unsafe workplaces?

If it is not, why should we do anything other than regard the letter as libel?

You can say you disagree with Mr. Yglesias. You can say Mr. Yglesias is wrong. You can say I am displeased working for someone who employs Mr. Yglesias.

You cannot say Mr. Yglesias makes the workplace "unsafe" without substantiation.

Pedantic nonsense. Are you an attorney?

+1 for creativity though. Trying to construct a libel action for a public statement that a person feels unsafe.

Either this is about things being "safe" or not.

If things are unsafe, treat them as such.

If things are not unsafe, don't make libelous statements that they are.

And no I am a physician who also dabbles in administration and an expert witness at times.

Mostly I have gotten tired of the suicide attempts from this sort of mob action. What's your story?

Are you tired of the suicide attempts by transgendered people well?

Yes. Damned if I know what to do about it.

But then I am a heretic for trying to follow evidence based medicine.

The data, like where longitudinal follow up after sex reassignment surgery in Sweden showed a striking increase in both suicidality and completed attempts. So I cannot recommend that my patients.

Likewise, I follow suicide data out of CA, MA, and England. In spite of a sea change in social standing the suicide numbers have not budged. When looking at the raw data, the transgender suicide rate is actually higher in more liberal areas of the country. I cannot recommend greater social acceptance for the sole purpose of reducing suicidality.

Hormone replacement, new IDs, and all the rest have never shown me proof that they prevent transgender suicides. And given the baseline suicide rate, these should be easy natural experiments to achieve sufficient power to should positive results.

I try to provide best care and when looking at policy all I can say is that the past 10 years have not dramatically lowered the suicide rate. Doing more of the same and expecting fewer suicides seems to be well past the point of madness.

But as I said, I believe in evidence based medicine. What data do you have to show me that will help my patients? Certainly you have reams to show me that supporting cyberbullying dramatically decreases the suicide rate, right? Or that letting people commit libel is good for public health. Otherwise I have to say that trying to inflame the mob is contrary to public health, just like it was 50 years ago when it was done against my grandfather.

Fair enough. It's a sad and vexing tragedy. All suicides are, of course. However, this is a thread about free speech and "cancel culture."

Interestingly to that context, one path transgendered people are taking to reduce suicide among their group is to increase awareness, fight for acceptance and rights, and reduce discrimination and bullying. Which appears to be the path of advocacy that the author in question is pursuing.

With all due respect, that approach has shown no success in spite of all the legal and social progress in the last 10 years (or whatever timeframe you like). And when I talk to my friends in endocrinology who are the local experts in gender dysphoria care they have been able to show me no data that this approach will also work.

What has shown lots of evidenced based success for suicide prevention is the prevention on mobs attacks. People are drastically more likely to commit suicide when they feel attack by the many and it does look like simple things, like taking away cellphones can diminish suicidality in the midst of crises.

Cancel culture, whatever its theoretical definition, functions as a mob. Exactly the sort of masses of social interactions that are most risky for the suicidal patient. Job loss, the principle goal of many cancellations, is one of the largest predictors of suicidality known to man.

Cancel culture does all the things we have found to be harmful in other contexts. Making false statements that cost people their jobs? Stopping those should be a trivial thing we can all agree would be good for preventing suicides.

+1 somewhat sophist
"she wrote a (signed) letter to their common employer saying so. This is apparently not allowed under the right-wing rules of conduct"

we are not saying it is "not allowed" we are pointing out what it "means"

What is "means." As in what the real stuff is inside her mind that you can mind-read, versus the actual factual thing she actually did: post a signed public statement.

You are deliberately misrepresenting the situation because you only care that you are on the same "side" as her. The reality is that writing a letter to someone's employer over something like this, even if you say "please don't punish them for it" (why the hell else would you send the letter if not to see them punished in some way??) makes you a real shit-ass. Anyone who does this should be criticized severely. It is exactly the attitude of this person which is the foundation of cancel culture. If you don't like someone's opinion, complain to their boss. I oppose this at every turn. Notice that no one is writing letters to this person's boss about her conduct (as far as I am aware)

+1 georgian sophistry
"the real stuff is inside her mind that you can mind-read, versus the actual factual thing she actually did: post a signed public statement.

its not mind reading
its reading her statement

"Suffer in silence? File an anonymous complaint? Initiate a lawsuit. Make a grievance to HR?"

One, this letter in no way makes her suffer; it is only by some Olympic level mental gymnastics that a colleague (who has never made her feel unsafe or disrespected) signing a letter that promotes discourse rather than cancelling can be seen as making her unsafe or otherwise injured.

Second, a letter to supervisory staff that claims the action of one employee makes another feel unsafe will certainly be forwarded to HR.

She is free to express her opinions, and I haven't seen anyone say that she isn't. Most of the comments are just pointing out that there can be serious consequences when you complain about a fellow employee to the higher ups in an organization. So what could she have done? How about be an adult and have a conversation with Matt before blasting him in a letter to the bosses and then posting it on Twitter.

Why didn't Matt have a conversation with his trans co-workers before publicly putting his name to the letter? That would have been the grownup thing to do.

Because the letter said nothing about trans people. Duh.

Context is important, here is the rather bland open letter signed by a who's who of mostly left-liberal and centrist writers and academics:

Signatories include Noam Chomsky, (noted transgender economist) Deirdre McCloskey, Fareed Zakaria, Nadine Strossen, Gloria Steinem and many others. There is no criticism of transgender rights in the letter.

Because the letter had nothing to do with VanDerWerff? If the letter had said something along the lines of "Emily VanDerWerff doesn't support free speech and engages in activity that tries to get others fired"... yeah, that would have been an inappropriate letter to sign and make public (even though it seems kind of true), but that's not what it said. I don't try to hash out the letters I send to my local school board, the comments I make on a blog post, or what I'm going to have for dinner with my co-workers. Here's what I discuss with my co-workers: work and things that actually (in reality) affect work (like co-workers or myself being late for a deadline, timelines for particular projects, etc.). If I have an issue with someone, I talk to them first, like an adult. Twitter seems to diminish its users' brains to that of a 5-year-old (on left and right), and this is no exception.

> Guilt by association is a common tactic of the right for smearing the left.

George, your entire post was very hurtful to me. Please publicly withdraw it. Otherwise, I will have to suffer in silence. And that cannot be. I expect you to publicly condemn the hateful language in your post by noon west coast time today.

We have no concerns about you doing anything in silence.

But it would be nice.

George, seriously. The post was very, very offensive. I give it a level 3 in terms of offensiveness, but I am certain others give it a level 10--the most offensive thing in the world. Please, I beg you, revoke the words. You have crossed a line.

It's such an easy game to play.

The only people trying to censor anyone on this topic are the right wingers trying to censor her.

> The only people trying to censor anyone on this topic are the right wingers trying to censor her.

And Emily Vanderwolf. Let's recap:

1) Group of people come up stating diverse opinions are good
2) Emily says yes, diverse opinions are good, but not THESE diverse opinions. These are bad.
3) People that previously said diverse opinions are good suddenly lose their spines and retreat.
4) People with spines laugh and point out idiocy of it all.

JK, why did you block replies to your letter on Twitter? That prevents free and open discourse which is the opposite of what your signed letter was about.

Well, we've burned up a lot of internet, and all I have seen is a ton of unintentional irony.

Yglesias made a public signed statement about his opinion on a mater of public controversy. About free speech no less. So VDW made a public signed reply about her personal response to that statement.

That's free speech. That's public debate. He said; she said. All signed.

The commenters here, exercising their right to their own opinions, have invented all sort of obligations and legal nonsense to justify the fact that they don't like the content of her speech, and to justify their impulse to censor it, including calls, also ironically, to "cancel" her instead.

She can say and write what she wants; so can he. Both can come in for criticism for what they say and write. Where it crosses the line is when you try to get someone reprimanded in some way (yes... that is what that letter is trying to do) when the actions of that someone does not cause any danger and does not affect the work environment. Emily could have just blasted Matt on Twitter and that's just fine, but she didn't... she sent a letter to the higher ups at Vox (which could have negative repercussions on Matt... which I honestly don't care... he seems a bit of a douche...) and then posted it on Twitter, essentially daring Vox to not do anything. She has the right to do that; she shouldn't be "canceled" or censured for that. But it's okay that she comes in for criticism for inappropriate actions and overall childish and petty behavior.

The fixation on who she sent the letter to first is a red herring. Trying to "get someone fired" is a made-up school yard accusation.

Making stuff up, sending anonymous tips, outing a closeted gay person. That's over the line. Writing a pubic response to a public letter is debate.

"Daring" them? That's mind reading. You suppose that the HR folks don't follow Yglesias's Twitter feed?

But sure, she wrote it, she signed it, and she published it. So yes, her opinion and associations here are fair game for rebuttal, denunciation, and ridicule. Just as Yglesias's.

That's free speech in action.

And yes, Yglesias is a public figure in a public facing industry that relies on credibility, so his public statements reflect on him his employer, and his job performance at least as much as kneeling does for a NFL player.

Sounds like the problem people have here is that she was transparent and signed the thing. If she had done this anonymously, we'd all be arguing about the content rather than her alleged intent.

You seem super, super confused

"The fixation on who she sent the letter to first is a red herring."

No... it's not. Why would you send a complaint about a person to their boss? There is only one possible reason. To get them in trouble. If you want to pretend that no one could have any idea why she did this and also that it doesn't matter, that's childish and inane and will persuade no one.

"Trying to "get someone fired" is a made-up school yard accusation."

Huh? When you complain to someone's boss, there is a very strong case to be made that you are trying to get them fired. When you explicitly ask them to be fired, and subsequently they are fires, as is so often the case, then there can be no question. It is truly bizarre to suggest that it is "made up"

"yes, her opinion and associations here are fair game for rebuttal, denunciation, and ridicule"

So... case closed, you agree 100% with all the commentators who you were berating the entire thread up until now?

"Sounds like the problem people have here is that she was transparent and signed the thing. If she had done this anonymously, we'd all be arguing about the content rather than her alleged intent."

100% wrong and frankly I'm confused about how you could have come to this conclusion. As you yourself state, the problem is crying to someone's boss about a disagreement over a mainstream policy question.

"The commenters here, exercising their right to their own opinions, have invented all sort of obligations and legal nonsense to justify the fact that they don't like the content of her speech, and to justify their impulse to censor it, including calls, also ironically, to "cancel" her instead."

Does this not contradict what you just said? No one here is trying to cancel her. They are criticizing her character and poor decision.

#7 - The idea that someone else is personally responsible for your own thoughts or feelings is utterly insane. I'm not a fan of "Culture A" or "Culture B," but society must absolutely relinquish the idea that somebody else "made you feel." NO. You felt. Perhaps the thoughts behind your feelings were accurate or perhaps they weren't. You won't know unless you discuss it with the person you're having a conflict with. But nobody makes you feel anything. That's preposterous.

6. The best reaction:

I personally found the letter to be fine and like Gilbert found no line to disagree with. But angry responses may not so surprising. Many hear it "in the midst of battle." They aren't reading the letter as a stand alone statement of common philosophy, but rather they hear it as a volley of canon fire.

Some will view it as a volley "from their side" as well, without actually subscribing to the letter's stated beliefs.

Put it bluntly, people who love this letter here, may not welcome constructive criticism of the Trump Administration.

If a group of people interpret a banal letter about freedom of expression as “a volley of cannon fire” then that group is either divorced from reality or committed to tearing down freedom of expression.

Criticism is fine when it’s on topic, spamming dozens and dozens of “Boo Outgroup!” tweets on threads about Indian economists or new economics papers is just a sign of mental illness.

It sounds again like you just understood 1/3 of what I actually said.

Angry responses to an anodyne letter about freedom of expression are irrational.

They even deliberately signaled their in-group status multiple times in the letter, to apparently no avail.

#5 Blindsight: It was discovered in macaque monkeys by Nicholas Humphrey and made his career. He (first?) reported the discovery in an article entitled: What the frog's eye tells the monkey's brain (1970). The title is modeled on that of a classic paper in neuroscience by J. Y. Lettvin, H. R. Maturana, W. S. McCulloch, W. H. Pitts: What the frog's eye tells the frog's brain (1959) (PDF).

So what's going on? Remember, we are creatures of evolution, which just keeps on modifying existing structures and occasionally adding on new ones (and, every once in awhile, subtracting now useless ones). The visual system exists across several (evolutionary) levels. The most sophisticated processing is done in the cerebral cortex, which is the newest structure. But you can destroy that and the lower level structures remain. That's what Humphrey did. He destroyed mammal-level structures, but the amphibian-level (frog) structures remained. But even the frog's system is not simple. A fair amount of proecessing is done in the retina (the eye) which then reports results to the brain (the optic tectum) via the optic nerve.

To combine #6 and #7 a bit, we might like to view philosophy as an unemotional endeavour, while recognizing that life is more complicated.

But what of politics? I would say that no side has ever eschewed emotion. In fact if we look back to 2016, making certain people "cry" was a theme.

I'd say what you want instead are generally positive emotions underpinned by a more robust philosophy, but as always ymmv.

“Making” them cry was never the point. Mocking their self indulgent public displays of emotional frailty was just a reaction to the flow of tears.

Nope. It was an election reveling in negative emotions. That should have been evident to anyone from the escalator speech forward.

And now we have this, because it's what you bought:

A basket case of negative emotion and no common sense.

What did I “buy”? I didn’t vote in 2016.

BTW, the teacher/admin/principal friends I know agree that the guidelines for reopening schools are impractical.

You bought the narrative. Your comment (July 8, 2020 at 10:15 am) is 100% about rejecting moral philosophy and positive emotion. You wrote:

"Mocking their self indulgent public displays of emotional frailty was just a reaction to the flow of tears."

Apparently cruelty is the point for you, too.

Seems like the criers also rejected positive emotion.

Maybe you can point me to someone who actually cried more than Donald Trump.

You read so much that isn’t there it’s simply astounding.

Chill out. Schaedenfreude and a mild humour is a pretty typical emotion to feel when a group of people who've spent their political lives declaring themselves your enemy don't get what they want, overdramatize the consequences, and weep about it.

And on the school thing, perhaps you are not fully informed. Are you aware that Betsy DeVos wants schools just ordered open?

I can't imagine any real not fake teacher friends really loving that.

I’m informed. What she wants is immaterial, its a local/state decision and it is those requirements that my friends have to follow.

“ And how that happens is best left to education and community leaders."

Keep trying.

What is this a double reverse while declaring victory?

You start by defending Trump's tweet and end by saying of course you are against it?

So you win?

Seek help. Nowhere did I defend it, I just pointed out that the folks I know are finding the local guidelines to reopen schools to be impractical.

You whined (negative emotion, BTW) about DeVos while being completely dishonest (also negative) on the power she holds over schools reopening.

lol of course you did. You joined Trump's criticism of the CDC

Saying that people I know find the guidelines impractical is an awfully low bar for criticism.

Your reading comprehension is worse than your integrity. Try some positive emotions.

Did you explicitly disagree with Trump at 10:31 am, or did you obliquely support criticism of the CDC?


anon is incapable of having a conversation. Everything is read through a lens of pure partisan hysteria and paranoia.

Oh no, I feel cancelled.

lol, not really. Bonus link:

Anyone who can only see that as "partisan" has a bit of a problem, and is def trying to silence serious consideration.

This link of course has nothing to do with the conversation, nor the blog post.

The genesis of the Gelman/DeWitt collaboration might be when she reached out to Gelman while doing research on one of the stories included in her short story collection "Some Trick: Thirteen Stories". She includes a footnote there going into detail about the email correspondence they had.

True story a friend told me: His friend was in a restaurant talking with a buddy, and a guy at another table came over and said he'd heard the discussion and that it was racist.

The friend that had been accused stood up and said loudly "I will not be lectured to by a child molester. Stay the fuck away from my kids"

The would-be moralist that had accused said friend of being racist was so knocked on his heels he left without saying another word, with the entire restaurant giving him the stink-eye on the way out.

And if you think about it, accusing someone of being a racist OR a pedophile is basically the same move: Either accusation requires that you have deep, intimate knowledge of the someone's motives, which, absent evidence, is impossible to know. And both accusations are designed to short-circuit any further discussion and move the accuser to the moral high ground from which the accused cannot extricate themselves.

"And if you think about it, accusing someone of being a racist OR a pedophile is basically the same move: Either accusation requires that you have deep, intimate knowledge of the someone's motives, which, absent evidence, is impossible to know."

And that is why the far-right has never, ever accused anyone from being communist, pro-radical Islam, anti-American, anti-men, anti-semite, anti-businesses, etc, right? After all, how one would tell?

Nazis are getting more and more desperate. It is 1945 again.

> After all, how one would tell?

What is being complained about today is miles beyond accusing someone of being a marxist or anti-semite.

Companies are beginning meetings asking everyone to state their pronouns. A parallel to that would be asking everyone to state their favorite bible verse. Don't have a favorite bible verse? No problem. Just say "John 3:16" it's safe. But if you say you don't believe in god, well, that's when things get a little "problematic" as they like to say. In both cases, the message is clear: Toe the line or suffer the consequences.

In the link below, read about a girl who posted a pro-Trump video, and was then contacted by the dean of admissions at the college was going to attend in the fall. She was told her previously granted admissions wasn't a certain thing, and the dean wanted to know how she'd feel if a "dreamer" told her they didn't feel safe with her views.

We've never seen anything like this before, except maybe the red scare 70 years ago. To pretend it's routine is foolish.

Again, the far-right routinely indulges in claiming whoever opposes its racist, anti-women, xenophobic, plutocratic policies must be some anti-men, pro-radical Islam, communist radical. Obama was a Kenyan socialist, remember?

"We've never seen anything like this before, except maybe the red scare 70 years ago."

We have seen it many, many times. Ask any Black who has lived under Segragation. Ask the Dixie Chicks. Ask anyone who saw his/her country invade another country on forged information while our government kept supporting terrorism-sponsoring Saudi regime terrorists. Ask anyone who has asked him/herself why we have been honoring racist separitists. Ask anyone who has been a victim of slandering by FOX News. You are annoyed because it has become harder for you to prey on people you don't like. Well, too bad... for you.

J is definitely a True believer. It's not about justice, it's about vengeance against his enemies.

"it's about vengeance against his enemies"

After "just following orders", that was the most popular defense kn Nuremberg, wasn't it?

"It's not about justice"

You mean justice of harassment against people who oppose racism, of supporting Sunni terrorists in name of anti-terrorism or of claiming moderate liberals are Kenyan socialists bent on destroying America? You Nazis are losing as if it were 1945 all again.

Nazis like ten year old non white children , right?

Remember, your position is that ten year old immigrant children are literally Hitler

> Ask any Black who has lived under Segragation. Ask the Dixie Chicks.

Segregation was viewed as universally bad. It was state and local govs mandating views onto private citizens. That is bad.

Dixie Chicks? You think that is even close? Did we start meetings at companies asking everyone if they were for or against, and then punish them based on their response? Did the cities allow people to make murals in the road taking a position the city liked, and then punish those that tried to erase the mural? Or punish anyone that tried to erase "dixie chicks rule" graffitti?

You seriously think this JUST LIKE the Dixie Chicks? There's no difference that you can see? None?

Even after making America the laughingstock of the world, the #1 cou try in COVID-19 deaths, Trump keeps criticizing our allies. I think he should impeached ASAP.

> Even after making America the laughingstock of the world

How did Trump do that? Our per-capita testing is awesome. WE have a few big blue states that absolutely screwed things up--namely NYC, NJ, Connecticut, Mass, RI...they have the honor of completely botching this worse than any country large or small in Europe. That's not Trump's doing--that's 100% their decision making processs.

But we have a ton of big states that have absolutely kicked Europe's ass in terms of death rate.

Texas is sitting at 97 deaths per million, handily beating even the EU's shining star of Germany. And 2/3 of our states are well below the EUs bellwether's like France, Netehrlands, Sweden, Italy, Spain, etc.

If this was Trump's issue, then all of our states would suck. But most of our states did really, really well. We just had a short list of states run by inept blue govs that did really, really poorly.

Montana doesn't have At-will employment and it hasn't descended into a post-apocalyptic hellscape.

Since mentally ill men who believe they are women are now a protected class, why not just bite the bullet and prohibit any terminations except for cause.

Tyler, for someone who often indulges in Straussian readings of events/documents, you have a rather straight-ahead read of this letter.

The retractors/apologizers are simply engaging in a Straussian read of the letter: that while its manifest function is as an anodyne endorsement of open debate norms, there is a latent/Straussian function to increase the status of specific (conservative) political projects (e.g. less-expansive trans rights)

I'm not saying whether this reading is right or wrong (and it appears not even the letter-signers are in agreement) but Singal is certainly engaging in a misreading by claiming the reaction is simply/only an "anti open debate norms" response.

I'm not sure myself where Straussian ends and post-modern begins but, if anything, the apologies are Straussian rather than the letter. Hardcore leftists consider free speech to be a bourgeois or even reactionary value that helps reinforce existing power structures. The content of the letter and the list of signatories is unremarkable in that most of the people who signed are very much members of the centrist elite establishment and not known opponents of trans rights.

On the other hand, the signatories were duly criticized by leftists and so, as persecuted writers and thinkers, did the Straussian thing by distancing themselves from the letter. But perhaps an informed elite can grasp the true nature of their apology and even note that it is self-refuting. Of course some of these people, after complaining about the power of online mobs to intimidate thinkers and writers, will be duly attacked by the very online mobs they previously complained about and will back down as Strauss himself probably would have predicted. Plato, Machiavelli, and now Jennifer Finney Boylan!

we bet the letter was somewhat prompted after the attempted
wreckoning of pinker

7 is an interesting and perceptive piece. It is a simplified model of human relations, like all models, but I think it is a useful one to use when looking at the world around us and deciding how to act within different groups.

What’s the over under for how long Yglesias will still be affiliated with Vox? What will be do next in his career? How will he respond when Ezra Klein stabs him in the back, that is to say, fires him and publicly denounces him?

looks like Ezra Klein has started knitting/reckoning

"A lot of debates that sell themselves as being about free speech are actually about power,” said Klein. “And there’s *a lot* of power in being able to claim, and hold, the mantle of free speech defender.”


I am not an English speaker, can somebody explain, what does "unsafe" exactly mean? Is it smth like "gun was pointed at me and I felt unsafe"? Or is it more like a "I didnt like what he said, I do not agree with him"?

If it is more like "gun was pointed at me", I am baffled. How can you feel unsafe because of the letter? I am a journalist myself (not in America) and thick skin is pretty much in the job description.You cannot be a journalist and expect that people always agree with you.

Due to lawsuits and government regulations, a claim such as "I feel unsafe at my workplace", generally has to be taken seriously if presented to the Human Resource department.

Since the author Emily V. sent the letter to the management at Vox, they would be legally obligated to treat this as a serious matter and forward it on to HR. At this point in time, at a minimum, Vox will have to open a formal investigation into the matter. Normally, the outcome of such an investigation would be a reprimand for the person deemed at fault.

Since you can't prove that Emily V. didn't actually feel threatened. logically the other employee Matt Y, would be reprimanded. His actions made her feel unsafe. However, there is a chance he could be pushed to resign. There's also a possibility this could backfire and she may be asked to resign.

Traditionally, a word used to refer to a strategic or policy position at increased risk; "the position of the United States would be unsafe", "That move would render the position of you king unsafe", etc.

Recently, used in place of "endangered" but to cover a wide array of purely emotional and psychological harms as well.

#7. Very interesting. I don't think it's a 100% accurate analogy for our society, though. It only works if you assume that everyone in the group is a socioeconomic equal, but our society has all sorts of hierarchy embedded in it.

For example, let's say you have person Y and person Z.
What if Y is Z's boss ? Should Y adopt culture A and just say mean things to Z and expect Z to handle their own emotions?
What if Y is the dominant ethnicity/culture , and Z is an oppressed minority?
What if Y is a police officer and Z is a suspect?
What if Y is a parent and Z is child?

Personally, I think race is really at the heart of this (sex/gender less so). You have an environment where, basically, white people want to pretend that racial inequities have already been addressed, so they have no further responsibility for black people's socioeconomic status or their feelings. If they're already addressed, then black people are responsible for themselves and we can all stop trying to respect their feelings. But have they actually been addressed? I would venture that most black people would say "no".
So you basically have this argument about culture A and B, which is really an *extension* of an argument about race, which is whether Y (whites) owes Z (blacks) anything, with people who say "NO" adopting culture A's standards, and people who say "YES" adopting culture B.

They seems totally orthogonal actually. You can certainly have culture A or culture B with an all white workforce or at least non-black as in Silicon Valley

Well yeah. My question pertains to, when you have a mixture of social groups Y and Z, where there is a power imbalance between Y and Z, is culture A really appropriate?

What I'm saying is that culture A works better only if you have a relatively egalitarian and non-violent society, so nobody has to be afraid that getting yelled at by a more powerful person is going to lead to physical or economic harm.

In some ways it's a chicken and egg problem. You can't really adopt culture A until AFTER you've instituted culture B so deeply that you've eliminated all of the power imbalances that make people feel unsafe. Only when race doesn't matter any more, does it become ok to call people by racial slurs, because nobody gives a damn anymore. And you don't get to race not mattering until you've had a few generations in which every hint of racism is ruthlessly suppressed.

Does this Emily vanderWerff idiot not realize that Deirdre McCloskey, a signer of this, is trans?

we bet it had more to do with Ms. Rowling

Burying this apparently at comment 250 or so... Pablo Larios, an editor at Frieze, invited me to write a piece on dataviz, preferably w relevance to Covid-19, and I thought it was too important for a plucky amateur. So he had the good sense, it seems, to approach Andrew, who is KNOWLEDGEABLE, and Andrew sent me his piece for comment, and I felt he was underselling himself and the piece, because I don't think the principles of dataviz should be familiar only to the select few, EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW. So I wrote back citing the flattening-the-curve plot and arguing for its importance (frequently IN ALL CAPS, though the editor turns out to be more of a lowercase kind of guy), and Andrew, with extraordinary generosity, not only incorporated my comments but gave me a credit as co-author. As a statistician Andrew is probably blasé about dataviz, but I think bringing it to the readers of Frieze, many of whom probably don't have Tufte and Tukey and Cleveland on their shelves, and quite possibly haven't heard of them, is HUGE.

+1, thanks for the comment

I recommend the following book..."Liberty's First Crisis: Adams, Jefferson, & the Misfits Who Saved Free Speech" by Charles Slack.

"The legislative fireworks started on July 5, when the Senate bill made its way downstairs to the House. Edward Livingston, a prominent Republican from New York, moved to reject it out of hand. John Allen, the Federalist who a year earlier had taunted Matthew Lyon and Albert Gallatin about American blood and American accents, rose in defense of the proposed law. “If ever there was a nation which required a law of this kind, it is this,” Allen told his colleagues. Something had to be done to stop the “unwarrantable and dangerous combination” of Republican newspaper editors and members of Congress. Allen, a thirty-five-year-old lawyer from Connecticut, cited a recent article in Bache’s Aurora accusing President Adams of seeking war with France for political purposes. Since pursuing a war for such reasons would amount to treason, Allen observed, the president should be hanged (if the charges were true) or Bache should be forcibly silenced (if they were false). For what kind of country, he wondered, allowed its citizens to destroy one another with vicious lies and call it freedom? Allen also discounted the argument by Bache and others that citizens should resist a sedition act, if passed, as unconstitutional. Americans could not just pick and choose which laws to follow and which to ignore, based on their own homegrown philosophies of constitutionality, he said. Rather, responsible citizens should be more concerned about stopping “this infamous printer” from spreading his “tocsin of insurrection.” Bache’s brand of liberty “is calculated to destroy all confidence between man and man.” Having spent himself in a flurry of adjectives and rising indignation, Allen yielded the floor to Republican William Claiborne of Tennessee, who noted drily that Allen was a paid subscriber to the Aurora, thus voluntarily exposing himself to Bache’s deadly “tocsins” on a daily basis. Yet somehow, the Connecticut representative’s own ligaments to family, neighbor, society, and government remained remarkably intact. Might not other Americans have the fortitude to read or ignore the Aurora at will, recognize it as an opinionated publication, and make their own decisions without succumbing? How was it that John Allen alone possessed such rare strength? Allen responded indignantly: “I take [the Aurora] for the purpose of seeing what abominable things can issue from a genuine Jacobinic press."

I only read books with paragraph breaks in them.

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