"A liberal is a man too broad-minded to take his own side in a quarrel." (Robert Frost, cited by Barak Obama)
"'In my mind, I have never crossed the line with anyone,' [New York Governor Andrew] Cuomo said. 'But I didn't realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn'" (NYT, +2021.08.11)
"Every revolution... ends in the reappearance of a new ruling class." (Sebastien Faure, cited by Barbara Tuchman)
BMcC response #1 to Facebook posting Angela Davis Nov 2020 pre-election communique, above
I think all progressives and radicals should be admonished that the probable reason Bush beat Gore in 2000 was that Ralph Nadir (misspelling intended! [right]) said there was no big difference between the two so it didnt't matter that his campaign gave Floriade to Bush. Shame to the Nadir of American politics and all who voted for him!
I going to disagree. The purpose of the vote was to establish a viable 3rd party and get funded as such. Clearly the 2 party system is a major drag on US politics. In the same last 20 years, in Europe and elsewhere we've seen the Greens and many other progressive parties take commanding roles in broad coalitions of parties holding power where the need is to collaborate and work together. Those oountries are better off in almost every measure than the United States. The over-riding reality is that Gore ran a very well documented catastrophe of an election. The New Yorker wrote a devastating piece on just how terrible it was. We've had continual problems in the Democrats allowing for basic principles to fall away even when they've controlled the Presidency, the Senate and the House, as Obama did in his first two years. With our fawning consent he was busy expanding the powers of the Executive that gloriously paved the way for Trump to do so even more and say, Hey, Obama did it. As many people have said, Trump and Covid have exposed the rot. If you think the rot is Nader, that's pretty sad. The Democrats piss away opportunity and may again today. I'm voting Biden and Harris. I think Biden's choice of Harris is the best possible. I'm hoping that they're forced to support Medicare for All by the convention. If not we need to keep holding them accountable. Democrats should not be participating in the wholesale murder of black, brown, poor and old people. Nader has never done that. And I hope you get on to a new "brilliant" topic, Brad. All the best for Sunday.
Agree that Nadir is not the rot. But I think he enabled it. IMO George W. Bush was a catastrophe, albeit a minor catastrophe compared to Trump. Bush's aneurysm ecomony which burst certainly hurt me personally. I think Al Gore ran a very ill advised campaign, although I think the reason it was ill advised is that he thought of himself as something like a Roman Republic Senator, but America was sleaze. Gore didn't stoop to ask Clinton to help him. I think that was his big mistake. I think with Al Gore we would have much better climate policy and less likely would the economy have busted as in the GWB regime. I forgot: No Bush, no prodigal son's IRAQ WAR to hand his daddy Saddam Hussein's head. The root of all evil? I think that goes back at least to Ronnie Raygun who said California's public universities needed to learn to do without some "intellectual luxuries" and get on with teaching basic job skills. Donald J. Trump-L'oeil continues to trump himself, exceeding even such New York Times OpEd indictments as traitor (Susan Rice), and sending us all to "die for the Dow" (Paul Krugman). I know a man with a high IQ who is a Trumpie who is bedridden but fantasizes fighting it out at his front door in a new Civil War to defend his rights against the Democrats. There's a popular song from 1975: "America needs you Harry Truman...." Keep well, all!
To the best of my (BMcC) knowledge, there has been no response to: [[#BMcC response to ADLB response to BMcC response #1|BMcC response to ADLB response to BMcC response #1]]. I have redacted identificatory information concerning source of the material I have adduced here, to avoid possible personal harm, and, furthermore, because what I wish to think about here is not something personal, but something political, and I think the political implications of this interchange go beyond that which is personal to the persons involved.
This material came from a "social networking" Internet place. I do not generally do social networking because I consider the social networking platforms beneath my dignity (sort of like Albert Gore considered William Jefferson Clinton?). Also, I have difficulty figuring out how to use them and I do not feel it is worth my time to make the effort that would be required to remediate this problem. However, when I have no better alternative, I try to do what I feel I need to do, by hook or by crook, including, as here, posting on these platforms.
A piece of background information which I think is relevant to contextualizing this interchange: The owner of the social networking instance involved here, who is also the author of ADLB response to BMcC response #1 is a person who has international standing in a community devoted to addressing a serious public health issue. Said person flies all over the world on commercial airplanes, etc. Said person lives in a comfortable domicilage in a major Western capital. In other words, said person is not a member of an oppressed social group but rather is a privileged member of the middle class. I could adduce more material here, including considerations of prospective inheritance, but that would be redundant .
I have no argument with the person's epidemiological work. I think it is entirely commendable and I support said person in it. I even posted something about said person to a different social networking place for which I received commendation from a person associated with said person. (As with Donald J. Trump, one gets praise from these people by lauding them.) I think this person should stick do doing good for public health, just like Ralph Nadir should have stuck to outing automobiles that are unsafe at any speed.
My issue with "these people" is simple: "Do you know which side your bread is buttered on?" Are these persons being hypocrites? "Is your [non-gastrointestinal] 'movement' going to enable you to keep all your privileges? Maybe it is even the way you bankroll your privileges?"
Why should this "bug" me? (Let the dead bury the dead is, I think, good advice, as also to not look back on the cities of sin which God is destroying.) I believe these persons would deprive myself of my "privileges" in the course of their callous revolutionizing (I would just be an egg that had to be broken for them to make their omelet), while they would keep and even aggrandize their own privileges (scarf down their omelet).
I would not have a problem with these persons if they were roughing it in the Bolivean jungle, like Ernesto Guevara, M.D. But these persons are not in the Bolivean jungle; they are paying middle-class monthly rents/mortgages. Neither would I have a problem with them if they were only doing social good as reformers like billionaire Bill Gates (he has even more money than they do!). I have not heard Bill Gates cynically urging revolution to take away everybody's privileges except the privileges of himself and his cronies.
Angela Davis appears to have had a bunch of (pardon the expression:) f---ing professorships, sinecures I do not think Joe Hill ever had. The best it seems to me that can be said of revolutionaries with tenure is what Donald J. Trump and Martin Heidegger say: "It is what it is" (aka: Es gibt), and which U.S. President Donald J. Trump's sometime White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney exegetically elaborated to provide guidance: "Get over it."
Granting that U.S. President Donald J. Trump's tax returns are of public interest, so too, should be Angela Davis's tax returns. Aren't the ADLB's like the pigs that ruled George Orwell's Animal Farm? All animals are equal but activists are more equal than others. I do not know about yourself my reader, but cynical hypocrisy of both the left and the right, both the Angela Davis loving Bourgeoisie and U.S. President Donald J. Trump and his toadies, threatens me and, in part for that very reason, disgusts me. What do you think here, my reader? firstname.lastname@example.org
There is truth behind: "Black lives matter" and: "Black studies" and such. It's something their ideologues probably would not like: The Sociology of Everyday Life. It is entirely appropriate to analyze the ideology and social customs of old white European males and to call out where their ideation and actions contravene universal human dignity, decency, peer discourse, etc. It is equally appropriate to focus the same sociological electron microscope on every other human phenomenon throughout all history: including "Black lives matter", "Black studies", etc. (Aside: I am half Polish ancestry; If "Black studies and lives matter", why not: "Polack studies" and "Polack lives matter"? Poles have suffered. And, how about white jews? Do jewish lives matter? How about Holocaust studies? "Get real, folks!")
The promise and hope of Modernity in Western civilization, beyond slave traders, expropriators of surplus value from wage slaves ("employers"), teaches grading pupils, soul murdering childrearing, patriotism, etc., is the overcoming of all parochialisms, and the establishment of an ever-again self-overcoming universal community of open self-reflective, self-critical, self-accountable peer discourse inclusive of every man, woman, child and other, for all who deploy interpersonal communication media, such as language For those who are without this functionality (infants, Covid patients in induced comas on ventilators, et al.), the appropriate relation from those who do have the functionality is: fiduciary, i.e., to act as proxies for their best interests, as a trust. Just because this is difficult when there are 7.94 * 10 ** 9 squirming warm human bodies concurrently metabolizing on this small planet earth, as at present, does not vitiate the goal; it just makes attaining the goal much more more difficult. Beheaders, like the people responsible for the decapitation of school teacher Samuel Paty, in The City of Light (Paris, France), need to be disarmed and neutralized, by lethal police force if necessary, to avert them causing further trouble.
Anyone who does not believe and work to implement: all lives matter, ipso facto puts all those whose lives do not matter on notice to take defensive action. Those who are intolerant cannot be tolerated because they are not tolerating. Dogmatists who egg others on to decapitate school teachers who teach secular demystification of parochial beliefs know very well, either by thematization or by a kind of semiotic sense of "smell", that you can't keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree, i.e., that dogmatism only works effectively if people do not know any other ideas exist or are even possible. Ignorance is obedience without the obeyers even being aware they are obeying anything or anybody,. Such willful benighting needs, like a pus filled sore on flesh, to be lanced and exposed to light. The alternative is a kind of barbarism that never previously existed in reality because intentionally and immutably imposed from above, not the transient product of incomplete development, from below.
Black lives matter, but not only black lives. Black people's social customs need to be studied by university professors, but as [to quote Wilfred Bion, yet again:'] shared hallucinoses aka social psychoses: natural archeo-tribal idols to be demystified, not idols for fabricated neo-tribes to worship.
I recently said to a liberal person that I had found an old-style pen (the kind you dip in an ink well), and some ink from Paris, so that I could write like Thomas Jefferson. I was instructed that TJ had slaves. I pointed out that the Roman philosopher Epictetus was a slave -- albeit a slave who had a good master who let him develop his mind. I was told that E was a one in a million. I agreed, but also asked if one would rather be a slave like Epictetus or a wage-slave like zillions of McDonald's fast food restaurant workers (who may have no energy or time or money to pursue cultivation of their minds)? I was told: "Don't go there."
"The meaning is the use" (Ludwig Wittgenstein; paraphrased)
Facebook posting, which people seemed to like. I replied (including typos, but sans the link: "Damn the typos, fullahead!" Yes?):
What are we going to rename Legionairres Disease? Swine flu? Avian influenza? Llasa fever? Lyme disease? Of course many people who use the phrase "China virus" may be racists but maybe they would still be racists if it was called "Noname Syndrome", wouldn't they? Does it have to be the case that words become IED's (Improvised explosive devices) and Semiotic hand grenades? If people don't watch out, all that will be left of the language is International Aviation English, in which oratory, poetry etc. is rather difficult to speak or savor. Isn't Ciovid like oriental martial arts: fighting by stealth not kilotonnage, -i.e., a :"Kung flu" (asymptomatic transmission)? Why deny good p[ersons the opportunity to have some ecologically, epidemiologically and otherwise safe fun playing woth words? As for the racists, they are bad even if their vocabularies are no bigger than Donald Trump's of Nancy Reagan's ("Just say no.")..
Reply to myself on Facebook:
Too clever sometimes, Brad. Sorry. This isn't about controlling the language or about being smart. How would you like to have a life threatening disease named after you? And to have people attack you because of it? https://www.voanews.com/.../asian-frontline-medics-us...
Respectfully, [name withheld], for me this has nothing to do with cleverness or intellignce but with the integrity of human language and civilkization.
If I was a direct descendent of King Vlad the Impaler (who may have been the most evil person in all human history; see picture attached), I would be "cool" with it because I do not myself turn people into living shish-kabobs and I'd like to have royal blood and there is nothing I can do to have prevented him from committing his crimes 500 years ago. If I had discovered Alzheimer's disease, I would be honored to have it named after me (I would be trying to cure it). I think I am a "Polack".
I think political correctness is destroying the English language and academic freedom, too. See the Harper's magazine: "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate" from Summer 2020, concermng which I seem to have read that one signer: recanted. (remember poor Galileo Galilei who also recanted?)
It seems to me that America is headed toward a new version of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy witch-hunting, only this time targeting persons farther to the
left[Corrected to: mainstream] in the political spectrum than "tailgunner Joe" did.
The doctor in the posting may not have really thought the culture wars problematic through in depth, and I can appreciate anybody being angry about whatever parts of this whole bad pandemic mess. And "China virus" is a blunt instrument, as opposed to, say "Wuhan virus" or "Kung flu". But it is a China virus (OK, maybe it's from Thailand?) just like I suppose Lyme disease came from Lyme Connecticut or Legionaires disease came from "in Philadelphia in 1976, largely among people attending a state convention of the American Legion, led to the name "Legionnaires' disease."
Any educated person in our current place and time who thinks that "political correctness" and "Wokeness" and such is good should study and absorb Julien Brenda's 1927 essay "The treason of the clerks". The New York Times newspaper and CNN are now lynching New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo in the kangaroo court of fashionable ideology.
Please, you are welcome to delete my posting if there is any way you can do it (Many "social media" at root are not intellectually respectable anyway wit their "FOLLOW" dreck [as opposed to possibly: "Subscribe"], which suggests persons are sheep). I recently joined the honorable ranks of those who have been censored by speaking out against ideology by being banned from a Reddit forum about which I will gladly provide details, where obscenities were rampant but speaking out against cancel culture and its pet jargon was verboten.
Again, please feel free to delete what I posted. I just now did a Google search and found that: "Lassa fever was first discovered in Nigeria, when two missionary nurses became ill with the virus in 1969. Its name is derived from the village of Lassa, where it was first documented. Lassa fever is a viral infection carried by the multimammate rat Mastomys natalensis (M. natalensis)." So what should we call that disease to not offend anybory?
To end on a humoroius note: "Sticks and stones can break my [fragile] bones, but the effect of names on me [apart from "pink slips"] depends on my ideological orientation.
[ Possibly identifying but conceptually irrelevant political reference removed. ]
Hope you [name withheld] keep well in the continuing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 or SARS-CoV-2 or whatever the name of the mutating virus is today!
Response to said private aside:
[Possibly identifying text withheld], a well known and highly respected infectious disease specialist who also happens to be Asian. He's not a polemicist, nor does he use politically correct jargon. To be honest I don't know if he is Chinese or not. But I think you missed a very clear point that Ben was making. He was claiming his knowledge - "I know a thing or two about viruses" - and he pointed out that China virus isn't a virus, it's a slur. The correct name is COVID-19. Simple. End of.
And you're missing another very basic point. Asians are being attacked because of COVID-19. And there's an increase in attacks on Asians since COVid-19. And he was posting shortly after a group of Asian women were killed in Atlanta. A similar thing didn't happen about Legionnaires disease. I can't speak about Lyme. But a clear point is that people are using COVID-19 to play into existing stigma and discrimination against Asians. Lyme doesn't have a history of stigma and discrimination.
You can make your points all you want but I thought your point with a focus on your issues about political correctness, given the demonstrated issues around violence against Asians, including health providers, was insensitive.
I am well aware of issue of political correctness and often comment against it. Again, in the context of someone drawing attention to clear issues of violence, I would have stifled my urge to get all lecturey about it.
All the best to you, Brad. I'm going back to work.
2021.03.17. I had not previously noticed the positive even if not constructive side of Political Correctness. I had only addressed its directly destructive side: Destroying everything the Political Correctnessers do not like. But they also have a positive agenda: To promote: "Wokeness", which apparently means being sensitive to the sometimes prickly sensitivities of a certain self-defined ethnical set of hominids. They want everybody to get Woke, i.e., sensitive to the sometimes prickly sensitivities of said certain self-defined ethno-tribal se[c]t of hominids.
This, of course, is something very different from ethnographical study of that ethnic formation, which would situate it in the universal process of human life on earth, as just one tribalism among all the rest, to be critically investigated to see what was in it that might be felicitously included into universal human civilization, and what else in it should just be consigned to cardboard boxes in archives for scholarly research and other reference purposes. It's a hagiography, not historiography. It's neo-"Cheer rallies" to hype up testosterone to "Beat Gilman!", like I was subjected to in prep school. Go team! Get out our hazmat suits to study the people who instantiate this tribalism, just like any other tribalism, for instance: hasids in Israel and Brooklyn, New York, or Hindu fanatics in India or investment bankers on Wall Street, or whomever. All ethnicities/tribalisms are bad because none of them is self-reflectively reconstructed in universalizing disinterestedness free from uncritical belief in whatever intrinsic value the ethnics attribute to some mere objects of consciousness; just some ethnicities/tribalisms by chance are less destructive of individuated persons, for the moment, than some others. All ethnicities/tribalisms are paranoid.
I recall a song we sang in 3rd grade in Richmond Virginia in the all-white elementary school I attended (we did have jewish kids): "O wish I was in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten. Look away, look away, look away, Dixiland. I wish I was in Dixie, Hurray! Hurray! In Dixieland I'lll make my stand, to live and die in Diixe! Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixieland...." How unwoke! Or: "Round the meadow am a weepin' The darkies' mournful sound. Round the meadow an a weepin'. Massa's in the cold, cold ground...." I do not believe in slavery, but neither do I believe in wage-slavery, either. And. just like any Gestapo jackboot operation, when somebody tries to shove something down my throat I don't like it and, if I had the power, I would rub their faces in their own semiotic feces. You don't boss persons around: you engage in respectful civil discourse with them, or else you are the enemy, against which defense by any means available is entirely warranted. Respect me or I have no reason to respect you! Even if you are Woke, which does not in my estimation, mean you are awake. Wake up, Wokies!
"Black lives matter" no more than amerindian, caucasian, asian, jewish, atheist, circumcised or any other kind of lives matter, no less and no more. What matters is each individuated self-accountable person's life. Let's all bow down and pray to some ethnics to forgive us our sins we never committed? What matters is each conscript sent to 'Nam who would otherwise have lived to become a person, and, yes, every burger flipper of whatever secondary characteristics who is wasting their life at MacDonaldos, too. But not because of any secondary characteristc the have or lack, but because any mind is a terrible thing to waste. All social formations are just objects in consciousness, and the field of consciousness is in each case what matters, not the stuff and noise that may clutter it up, and, as in the case of Political Correctness, constitute metaphorical intestinal blockages. We need semiotic Ex-lax! (right). Take this repulsive stuff away, please!
At some unspecified time on some exoplanet, Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip died. I watched a lot of the memorial stuff on The BBC and was especially impressed/touched when a [black] ecclesiastic who apparently knew him personally said Price Philip illustrated the honorable notion that: with privilege should come service. Sounded good to me.
I emailed a
Wokie fop in GB whose hereditary wealth subsidized day gig is in an ethereal courtly / effete art just a step or two below Limoges China, and sent my condolences. Said email recipient responded: "Not." I inquired elsewhere if this was maybe a mistake or maybe I misunderstood, and I was enlightened that I did not understand that a lot of the British people do not like the Monarchy because it is a big waste of public money.
I thought of.... Now: I loathe the "Harry and Meghan" PR leeches, and Lady Di should have worn her seatbelt and had better taste in boyfriends and Prince Charles is not the best.... But I think the recently deceased Prince Philip looked like somebody I would like to be. I guess these Wokies are not into looking in the mirror, or "nuances", or separating sheep from goats? ☠
If Wokies want to be woke, I do not care what they do with or to themselves. If they want to eat their own bodies, be my guest, just don't expect anybody else to pay for resutant medical and funeral bills.
My problem is people who do not understand how little they know and consequently tell me what to think and feel (right). Their self-righteous arrogance. All my life I have been beset with such small, obstructive people, starting with my parents and prep school "masters" (but I was not a slave), none of which treated me with respect but they all just jerked me around (right). As a consequence of their unrelenting, unending assults (right), I cannot stand anybody telling me what to do (but no human being or higher animal should have to put up with anybody telling them what to do and jerking them around, right).
It's like the opthalmologist who told me I can't see as well as I think I can see to try to push elective cataract surgery (I (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) fear medical procedures): How does he know that I an't see as well as I think I can see? He just ideates he knows better than me what is good for me. I specifically asked him if I had glaucoma, ocular cancer or some other serious problem. He said no. Didn't my questions indicate I knew what I did not know and wisely asked for expert advice as needed? So why didn't he offer his opinion as a tentative suggestion to a peer, since it should have been obvious to him that I was not incompetent to run my life as opposed to my medical treatments? Ditto the Wokies. Tell me what to do and I will want to do the opposite to thwart your attempt to throttle me (right). You want to shove it down my throat: I want to do unto you what you have done unto me (right). What fun it would be to throw a live hand grenade back to the dude who threw it at me! Bang!
The net of my problem with Wokies is that they do not keep their wokeness to themselves and respect my right to be myself even if they don't want themselves to be persons, or whatever. I have elsewhere offered them to enjoy eating my body as soon as I am dead.
Alas I do not have a verbatim transcript and I have it kind of muddled, but it enraged me. Another case of everything being potting soil for growing the "progressives'" non-gastrointestinal movement.
It was on CNN and part over before I started to hear it. But this person was saying that "defund the police" is not a good thing for his people to be saying because it is easily misinterpretable by the kind of people who watch Fox News as implying that when they call 911 nobody will come to their aid. He said that what his people really mean is that more money needs to be spent on community services, mental health workers, etc. to address the underlying problems but that cannot be reduced to a 30 second sound bite so they need to say things that can be even though they consequently are not denotatively true. Let us lie to you for your own good because you are too dense to understand The Good we activists really want for you!
I am not a Fox News zombie, but "Defund the police!" is a turn-off for me, because I take people who hysterically, venomous shriek self-righteous indignation as meaning what they say: "Defund the police!" It's like the lady has a short circuiting cattle prod up her anus, which I find at best uncouth, but more like, secretly, the bumper sticker I once saw: "I hate you as much as you hate me" – just mendaciously omitting the second part of that sentence because I'm supposed to kowtow to her because I am a white male not a person of color of alphabet gender. It's a mea culpa world we live in these days, isn't it? Declarative sentences have value only as tools in their toolkit for achiveing, by any means necessary, their "progressives'" objectives. I don't want soundbite con-artists messing with my head to trick me "for my own good". Do you, my reader? email@example.com
I had, for over 45 years, a friendship with a person very different from myself, a former manager whom I considered the most ethical person I had ever known in my life, who was also, even when a corporation Assistant Vice-President, at root blue collar, and with little formal education. I did not see that as a problem, since I honor integrity and thoughtfulness above "credentials", which often attach to smiling faces that tell lies.
However, this man has become a U.S. President Trump true-believer, and he told me to either stop whining about U.S. President Trump or he would deploy in his email program an option to delete my emails automatically on receipt. OK, I thought: Disconnect.
Consequently, this person is now a used-to-be-a-friend for me. The "dead duck-rabbit in a coal mine" thing is my attempt to play, which I never told the person about because he would not have understood the esoteric academic allusion. Dead canary in a coal mine is a common idiom; it means the air is toxic and all miners had better get out quickly or themselves follow the canary into death. The toxicity here, for me, is U.S. President Donald J. Trump and his demagoguery. Duck-rabbit is a Gestalt psychology double-reading image, which can look like either a duck or a rabbit, depending on how one looks at it. My connection with duck-rabbits is a course I took at Yale from philosopher of science Norwood Russell Hanson, who wrote a book we read that used duck-rabbits as an example of how things can appear differently to different persons with different perspectives. So duck-rabbits (for canaries...) was my benign "in joke", although, now, in retrospective reflection, I see insight in it, because the human world as a whole today is a double-reading thing: Trump-view or not-Trump-view. I could see both images, but the Trumpie could only see his own. It is pathetically amusing that a man who is close to bedridden, and dependent on "heavy" medical interventions but fantasizing about civil war and shooting it out with anti-Ts at his front door, could not tolerate me complaining about a person whom I perceive as a threat to social services. But that's the way it was.
As said, page (and friendship) deleted. In Islam, I believe believers are instructed to simply not try to talk with non-believers who prove themselves unamenable to discussion of the Faith, and walk away from them. Believers are not instructed to slam a door in non-believer's face. Of course, we know that some persons interpret Islam to instruct them to kill everybody who offends their beliefs. My ex-friend has a gun collection. The only time I ever shot a gun was one evening after work, when he and a coworker invited me to go shooting with them. I fired a 22 rifle and a 3030 pistol with no problem, but I pretty much lost control of the weapon when I shot a 45 revolver, so I shot that gun only once.
I did send one last email to former friend (+2020.08.11), to try to clear my conscience that I had left no stone unturned:
For at least 35 years, I believed [recipient] was the most honorable person I ever met in my life. Perhaps he was a martyr. More certainly, he was a hero. I never envied him because I am a wimp and do not want to be either a hero or a martyr.. I honored [recipient]. I told anyone who would listen the story of the [recipient] I thought I knew, although he may not know I did this. I think I did tell him how much I respected him; I think I told him this more than once. I also apologize for not having lent [recipient] US$10,000 at a certain time in the last century..
In the email, I asked for a reply indicating that the person received my email (like a receipt for Certified Mail). I listed three things which were big things in the person's life, but that are not obvious public knowledge, which they should include in their response to confirm that the response was not counterfeit. I got a response, confirming receipt, but it was puzzling: I'm not sure of some of the references, but the 'N' has got to be [name withheld by BMcC]". The other two items to be supplied were (1) the name of one of the most consequential persons in their life, and (2) the name of their most beloved pet (deceased). The invasion of the soul snatcher: U.S. President Trump's trumpery trumps everything!
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate, July 7, 2020
The below letter will be appearing in the Letters section of the magazine's October issue. We welcome responses at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
URL to the Stanford University "Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative" dictionary, which I have copied in case it disappears form the Internet for whatever reason or lack of same (it links to further sources of language [fill in the blank]): here. I also saved "Offensive/Profane Word List", which is referenced in that pdf, bacause it is really "juicy" — it's got the worst of the worst: here.
There are some words I (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) do not use, not because I feel they should be censored, but because to use them is beneath my self-perceived cultural level. Item: I would never use the word: "woke" to refer to myself; I try to be "awake", or am not, but never: "woke" (well maybe if I was bent over in crippling abdominal pain from severe indigestion?). Here's a word on their list I never heard or thought of: "Jewed", substitute: "haggled down".
But: "whitespace" (use instead: "empty space", which is not the same thing), "master" (use instead: "become adept in", which is not the same thing), "blackbox" (use instead: "hidden, mystery box, opaque box, flight recorder"), "user" (use instead: "client"), "tarbaby" (use instead: "difficult problem" which is not the same thing), "he" and "she" (instead use: "person's name or 'they'").... Note: "China virus" is not on their list for whatever reason or lack of same — perhaps they never heard of it.
The following is a celebration of the cancellation of the Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative, an attempt by a committee of I.T. leaders at Stanford University to ban 161 common words and phrases. Of those 161 phrases, I have taken pains to use 45 of them here. Read at your own risk....
The chilling effects of censorship and shaming that have trapped students between the competing diktats of "silence is violence" and "speech is violence" — the Scylla and Charybdis of campus speech — may finally be showing some cracks
Matters looked especially grim in December, when the internet discovered the 13-page dystopically titled "Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative." A kind of white paper on contemporary illiberalism....
Last month, in a welcome display of clear leadership, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Stanford's president, said the policy, brainchild of a select committee of I.T. leaders, had never been intended as a universitywide policy and reiterated the school's commitment to free speech. "From the beginning of our time as Stanford leaders, Persis and I have vigorously affirmed the importance and centrality of academic freedom and the rights of voices from across the ideological and political spectrum to express their views at Stanford," he wrote, referring to the school's provost, Persis Drell. "I want to reaffirm those commitments today in the strongest terms."....
It's hard to know how much these shifting prohibitions distress students, whether freshman or senior, given how scared many are to speak up in the first place.
But we do know two things: First, college students are suffering from anxiety and other mental health issues more than ever before, and second, fewer feel comfortable expressing disagreement lest their peers go on the warpath. It would be a ballsy move to risk being denounced, expelled from their tribe, become black sheep. No one can blame any teenager who has been under a social media pile-on for feeling like a basket case. Why take the chance?
Yet when in life is it more appropriate for people to take risks than in college — to test out ideas and encounter other points of view?....
"You can't say that" should not be the common refrain.
Nearly two-thirds [of college students] think the climate at school prevents people from expressing views that others might find offensive.... But here, too, let's convey some good news: The number of students who say controversial speakers should be disinvited has fallen since 2019....
It is reasonable to wonder whether any conceivable harm to a few on hearing the occasional upsetting term outweighs the harm to everyone in suppressing speech. Or whether overcoming the relatively minor discomforts of an unintentional, insensitive or inept comment might help students develop the resilience necessary to surmount life's considerably greater challenges — challenges that will are not likely to be mediated by college administrators after they graduate.
Rather than muzzle students, we should allow them to hear and be heard. Opportunities to engage and respond. It's worth remembering how children once responded to schoolyard epithets: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me." [Ed. note: emphasis added] Narrow restrictions on putatively harmful speech leave young people distracted from and ill-prepared for the actual violence they'll encounter in the real world.
My (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) considered opinion anent [←elitist words there, dudes!] this tempest in a teapot which should never have happened but whch has threatened to destroy the life of the mind? FTA (Fuck The Assholes, i.e.:, let a thousand orgasms flourish!) Pffft! [That's onomatopoeia for a big impolite fart in all the ADLBs' self-righteous faces] I won't say "Get over it!" because every person should have a right to stew in their own juices so long as they keep it to themselves. Good nite and good [l|f]uck!