Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEFF!!

245

Comments

  • LefunesteLefuneste Posts: 5,746
    A Letter on Justice and Open Debate
    Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second. The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

    The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty. We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought. More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes. Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal. We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement.

    This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time. The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation. The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other. As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences. If we won’t defend the very thing on which our work depends, we shouldn’t expect the public or the state to defend it for us.
    The letter was signed by a number of English and American intellectuals, some I respect, others not.
  • LefunesteLefuneste Posts: 5,746
    edited July 8
    After reading Matt's post about being dog-pilled by anti-semites, it struck me that the signatories of the letter above are missing something that, I think, is quite important: I believe that much of this illiberal climate they complain about is the result of how the internet, social media in particular, operates.

    I mean, these people use twitter, facebook, instagram, etc., they write online, their views are widely and rapidly disseminated and they are viewed by millions. And then, these people get an almost instantaneous response to their views. Look at this letter: it was posted yesterday, and it is already all over the place, including crappity.

    But we all know how hard it is to have a nuanced debate about anything over the internet: it always goes too fast, it gets personal quickly and the debate is almost always dominated by those with too much time and energy on their hands, which usually means trolls, extremists, conspiracy theorists and assorted keyboard warriors posting in bad faith. So basically speech over the internets tends to be dominated by an assortment of various kinds of idiots. They are not numerous, but they are motivated and they can sound convincing if one is credulous or ignorant. For instance, this letter is already being used by internet wingnuts as proof that the "radical left" is so radical that even the libturds can't abide them. Eh!

    What gets more clicks? What gets more views? Controversial content, of course.

    Plus, also, too, everyone can, thanks to the internets, easily figure out who you are and how to send you a reply. Of course, if you get a reply from a troll or an extremist, your opinions will get twisted, misinterpreted, spinned and commented in bad faith, no matter how intelligent and nuanced they are. This is even easier if one has said something stupid or unclear, as it will inevitably happen if one is, say, writing a short twitter message in the heat of the moment. So, thanks to the magic of the internets, if one is a public figure writing online, one can't really escape the mountains of bullshit that follows any opinion publicly expressed. What reply is going to have the greater effect on you: the sensible comment or the shitpost written by a troll or a crackpot?

    I mean, just write "I like tapioca" on twitter and see how long it takes until it causes a flame war. And I can guarantee that if you are involved in a flame war over tapioca, suddenly liking or not liking tapioca becomes very important, just like when Ev feels very jewish whenever he is confronted with anti-semitism! The bullshit on the internets is one of things (but not the only reason) that I think is promoting polarization, tribalism, "illiberal attitudes".

    So, tl;dr... Basically, I think this letter is a futile gesture. It won't do anything, it will just be used as more ammo to keep the flame wars going.
  • moetownmoetown Posts: 2,302
    I’m starting to worry about returning to school next month. Tarrant County is one of Texas’ hotspots for C-19. I don’t want to end up getting that virus and giving it to my mom. I get the feeling that no lives matter all that much in the eyes of the government.
  • Jurf_WurburJurf_Wurbur Posts: 4,032
    That entire Harper's letter is a vague, namby pamby piece of horseshit ginned up by TERFs to whine about people saying they are being plainly transphobic when they are being plainly transphobic.
  • LefunesteLefuneste Posts: 5,746
    edited July 8
    Of course it's namby-pamby and vague, I mean, how else are you gonna get such disparate people as David Brooks and Noam Chomsky to agree to sign it? They had to write something generic and vague, something that aimed for the lowest common denominator.

    And Jeff, if you're referring to the J.K. Rowling tweeter controversy, that's a good example of what I fucking despise about the net. I'm amazed at the amount of bullshit generated by a few clumsily written, borderline trollish tweets that should never have been posted in the first place. But I don't think those tweets are enough, in my view, to turn Rowling into some kind of bigoted monster.

    The lesson should be never, ever tweet... And not that J.K. Rowling is a bigot and you should burn all your Harry Potter books.
  • LefunesteLefuneste Posts: 5,746
    edited July 8
    Thing is, people confuse sex and gender all the time. Sex is a biological characteristic, and is essentially binary in most mammals (in humans intersex individuals are very rare). But human gender comes with a lot more baggage and ambiguity and, depending on one's cultural values, it doesn't necessarily follow biology.

    Personally, I have no problems calling a transgender person madam, sir, they or whatever is required to be inclusive and polite. But I wouldn't employ female (or male) if I was teaching biology and I needed to accurately describe a person that I know is transgendered, know what I mean?

    J.K. Rowling wasn't clear about that, people got the two mixed up, and voilà, stupid internet shit-storm.
  • Jurf_WurburJurf_Wurbur Posts: 4,032
    She's a legit TERF, a trans exclusionary radical feminist, and she will not shut up about it. There are multiple TERFs on that list and it's an open secret they organized the thing.

    The trans people I've seen take it hard enough that someone who wrote books they loved thinks they don't deserve to exist. The fact that she will not shut up about it is even worse.

    Honestly, trans men and women have it bad enough. Shut the fuck up, lady. Stop punching down.
  • LefunesteLefuneste Posts: 5,746
    edited July 9
    Maybe she's a sincere TERF but, honestly, I really don't care what she is, Jeff. I'm rather indifferent to what she thinks. As you know, I often invoke the "separate the art from the artist" line to keep enjoying art made by "problematic" people, but in this case I don't even have to, as I've never read a single Harry Potter book. I'm too old.

    If you think about it, there's no reason why anyone should care what an author of low fantasy books for children thinks about transgendered people.

    Should Rowling shut up? It's funny really: if you write for a living, you often need to be a bit conceited, you need to believe that people will want to read what you write. I think that's why so many writers can't stay the fuck away from social media. If she wants to keep at it, I think she should, but yeah, she should expect a backlash. Freedom of speech isn't a one way street.
  • LefunesteLefuneste Posts: 5,746
    edited July 9
    And now for something completely different...

    A funny tweet by one K.W. Miller, who seems to be a republican candidate from Florida:
    I’m receiving many reports that the KPOP agents are already interfering in Trump’s New Hampshire rally coming on this weekend.

    I am the President’s fighter so just be aware that you are ON NOTICE!

    This is foreign interference and should be investigated.

    Do you hear me?


    KPOP agents?! President's fighter?! Guffaw!
  • moetownmoetown Posts: 2,302
    I wonder if she gears up and hangs with the white guys with assault rifles at BLM protests.
  • moetownmoetown Posts: 2,302
    Agent KPOP here and reporting for duty, sir!
  • moetownmoetown Posts: 2,302
    I tried to read a Harry Potter book a long time ago. A few pages in and I figured out I was much too old to enjoy it. I did enjoy the Philip Pullman His Dark Materials trilogy.
  • moetownmoetown Posts: 2,302
    I don’t have any negative feelings for trans people. A good friend’s sister’s son (now daughter) is trans. She’s also somewhere on the autism spectrum and likes women. Seems like there are much more pressing issues to freak out about than someone else’s gender.
  • LefunesteLefuneste Posts: 5,746
    I just got word that I'm going to teach next September. Yay! There won't be any field work and I'll have to do it online. Boo!
  • LefunesteLefuneste Posts: 5,746
    More dumb shit that made me laugh:
    thumbnail_jesus-of-day-masks.jpg
    500 x 500 - 45K
  • Jurf_WurburJurf_Wurbur Posts: 4,032
    Imagine signing your name to a public letter alongside a bunch of millionaires in a widely read and discussed international magazine to say that you think you're being silenced.
  • Jurf_WurburJurf_Wurbur Posts: 4,032
    How is everybody?
  • LefunesteLefuneste Posts: 5,746
    edited July 9
    Imagine signing your name to a public letter alongside a bunch of millionaires in a widely read and discussed international magazine to say that you think you're being silenced.
    I think they believe they are doing it for the people lower down in the hierarchy. Whether that's justified or even honest, I dunno. As I said before, I don't think anyone is going to stop bitching on the internets because of this letter, so...

    What's that newfangled term kids use these days? Virtue signaling?
  • moetownmoetown Posts: 2,302
    I’m ok. I think I might’ve mentioned that my sister is out of town this week and that I’m having to spend more time at my mom’s house. She’s driving me absolutely bonkers. She has an annoying habit of reaching into her pill case during the evening and double dosing her ‘feel good’ pills. Last night, she kicked the pill case off her bed and her pills were scattered all over the floor when I got here today.
  • Jurf_WurburJurf_Wurbur Posts: 4,032
    Virtue signaling is a bullshit phrase too. It is used to express butthurt when you realize that people talking about doing the right thing are talking about something you're either not willing to do or you consistently do the opposite.
  • Jurf_WurburJurf_Wurbur Posts: 4,032
    Here's to feel-good pills.
  • Jurf_WurburJurf_Wurbur Posts: 4,032
    I should know by ten am central tomorrow about layoffs.
  • moetownmoetown Posts: 2,302
    Fridays should be mandatory good news days.
  • LefunesteLefuneste Posts: 5,746
    edited July 9
    How is everybody?
    I'm feeling less worried about my financial prospects next September, so yeah, doing fine.
  • LefunesteLefuneste Posts: 5,746
    edited July 9
    32°C and tropical humidity outside. That's 90°F for you Centigrade handicapped people. It's the third or fourth time this summer that we got temperatures above 30°C for several days.
  • Jurf_WurburJurf_Wurbur Posts: 4,032
    What's the good word, Dan?
  • LefunesteLefuneste Posts: 5,746
    edited July 9
    What's the good word, Dan?
    Rhododendron!
  • moetownmoetown Posts: 2,302
    It’s a nice flower.
  • LefunesteLefuneste Posts: 5,746
    Awesome word too.
  • moetownmoetown Posts: 2,302
    edited July 9
    Kids are going to be scary things when school starts again. They could be little asymptomatic virus carriers and end up giving it to everyone in their families. Old grandparents and parents and siblings with underlying health conditions could end up in some horrible situations all because of Covid kids.
Sign In or Register to comment.