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Points for creativity.

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Not if he loves it enough to try to redeem it!

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Jun 22, 2022·edited Jun 22, 2022

This doesn’t track though. The Cut / New York Mag piece explicitly stated that all the boys that got listed on the bathroom wall were Black or brown and that no white boys were included. The main character in the story, who showed the nude photos, is Filipino.

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No it wasn’t. It specifically references Diego’s mom:

Race remained a topic almost too toxic for the school to touch. “You are telling us that most of the boys that were accused were Black and brown students, and all of the kids who are canceled are brown or Black, and the white boys were able to walk back on the campus, no problem,” Diego’s mother said to the principal. “And yet you’re not telling these white kids this?

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I stand corrected. Will delete.

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I have to think that a big part of the problem with the Left is its inability to recognize when it has won and then act like gracious winners. Culturally and institutionally it is dominant. It might not be for very long but this is a fact. You fall into this trap too. When you are in a good mood, you and yours are eternal plucky underdogs, when you’re in a bad mood, “screaming losers.”

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The problem with the Right is the inverse. It wins one Utility Board election in suburban New York and its non-stop “We’re Back!”. Trump was the best example of this. He literally believed that just the act of him being elected President would instantly fix those things he perceived to be wrong with America. Which is why the Right is not fit to govern. Too lazy.

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It's weird that people say things like we've culturally won, but like I live in Florida and very much feel under siege. Like as a teacher i still have to keep so many parts of myself sort of a closely guarded secret.

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I’m not on the Left so I am trying to be respectful here... but that teachers can’t express their total experience and identity to their students in every school in America is not a good assessment of the Left’s success. Unless you measure this in a totalitarian way. Which the Left does. Which Freddie does. Which you seem like you do. Which is why you do always and will always feel like losers and oppressed even when you are ascendant and in control of most things. And this is why the Left won’t be for very much longer! ✌🏼

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Jun 22, 2022·edited Jun 22, 2022

But like we don't control most things. It's a very online phenomenon that people think we do.

Christians for instance feel perfectly fine invoking God all the time, but atheists are mostly trained to shut up about their ideas. Like if I invoked no God at work as much as people invoke God I'd be fired on some pretext pretty damned quickly. Further all the sexual identities mentioned in the school bill the bigger problem is that they have stigmas at all. Like if we'd really won a resounding cultural victory like public expression of gay affection would be as tolerated as public expression of straight affection.

A victory would be like women's suffrage or something and left cultural values were like as utterly banal as traditionalist ones. Or that niche leftist communities would be understood the way that like niche conservative communities are. It would be scandalous to fire someone for being a orthodox Jewish person but to fire someone from the job for being polyamorous is completely unremarkable. A cultural victory wouldn't be limited to a very small minority of people in the most successful zip codes of a few states it would be pretty uniform.

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I won’t continue a conversation with someone who refuses to acknowledge objective facts. Be well and have a pleasant day.

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I'm sorry the other dude was kind of a jerk

I think this very much depends on the circles you run in. When everybody was dunking on Nate Hochman the other day for talking about how young conservatives get 'radicalized' by interactions with leftists, it obscured his (correct) point that in, say, institutions of higher education, the left (specifically the social/cultural left) is often in complete and total control of permitted discourse. Someone with, say, a moral objection to stating her own pronouns in the subject line of her institutional email might be made to feel very uncomfortable.

You're right that the left hasn't won so completely as to abolish all controversy, but the social left owns elite culture. Media, Hollywood, publishing, universities, the nonprofit sector. Of course there are explicitly right wing actors in these spheres, but leftist values don't just run the left wing institutions, they run the nonpartisan ones too. That's the difference. That's the victory that people talk about.

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I agree it depends on the circles you run in, but like I live in Orlando and am a teacher so my social circle is mostly normy democrats and the Twitter left or the media left is very much the exception. Like I witnessed a male colleague commit sexual assault (ass grabbing, unwanted kisses) this year and there were no consequences for him at all, mostly at my lady coworkers request to put it behind them.

Maybe it is that I'm older and my social circle is mostly in the 30s-late 40s and small c conservative but this all feels very theoretical even in a D+20 something city.

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Maybe a difference that you'll recognize being in Florida is that conservative action now (which is certainly more vigorous than it used to be) isn't establishing any new baseline of conservative values but mainly attempting to roll back left wing victories on things like sexual politics. That couldn't be the case in a society where the left hadn't been holding the cultural upper hand for a long time.

Like, Ron DeSantis wants to stop discussion of certain sexualities in elementary schools, but the necessary predicate of that is a society where sexuality could in fact be discussed in elementary schools. Of course, sometimes reactionary politics is organized around strawmen, but it seems dishonest to try to say that the targets of contemporary reaction are wholly made up.

But then, maybe in your social circles it genuinely seems like they are. I'm in college right now, so (again, as a consequence of my social circle) they don't seem made up to me.

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I mean, odds are Roe v. Wade is getting overturned this week.

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Do you have a good source for me to go educate myself?

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founding

The right has the Supreme Court, controlled Congress and/or the Presidency for much of the last 20 years, controls most of the state governments/governorships, and has structural advantage in the Senate.

We have Disney+, the Ivies, NYT and WaPo, and the `swamp'? I'm willing to offer a trade if you think you've lost...reasonable terms.

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yeah, I was having similar thoughts about this.

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Few people have degraded the quality of discourse on the left in the last ten to fifteen years more than Valenti has.

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founding

I hate to say it because I used to be a fan, but I agree with you. I spent 2006-2014ish immersed in feminist blogs such as Feministing and adopting the same attitude and talking points.

It was exhilarating to go on foul-mouthed tirades all the time, to have enemies who "deserved it" because they were harming vulnerable people with their terrible opinions. (Anyone who suggested we should be less nasty was tone policing, and there was a whole database on why it's wrong to tone police.)

Now I look back and see how toxic it was. Like so much of social justice discourse today, we were just identifying unsympathetic targets so we could be as mean as we wanted.

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The pendulum is swinging too far the other way, though.

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Not really.

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Jun 22, 2022·edited Jun 23, 2022

She's not the worst, but she was definitely a pioneer of an approach that has curdled into something very toxic, and I'm a little disappointed she has chosen to fully embrace the shtick rather than perhaps attempt some reflective critique of the politics she had a hand in popularizing. (At one point I thought she had a little more sense and/or principle, but I guess not.)

Even though the Movement With No Name (wokeness/intersectionalism/social justice) that now dominates liberal politics is largely concerned with race and trans stuff, often seemingly at the expense of vanilla feminism, it is actually the (largely white) feminist blogosphere of the aughties that provided the movement's epistemological template, ideological foundation and rhetorical style. I still think there's a great book on the subject just waiting to be written.

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Yes, regarding your second point, I have often said the same. In an example of what goes around comes around, Drinking Male Tears begat Drinking White Women's Tears. And the New York article has some prime examples of race wokery deployed to counter gender wokery. If no one has yet called Valenti a white supremacist I'd be surprised.

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I get that sense that these people sort of vulgar idealists (if that's the right term). Someone who murders the convenience store clerk hurts someone in the material world. But, like, whatever, that's just the material world, who cares? That's the one where they have no power. Meanwhile, another guy has the wrong opinion or uses the wrong word. That's an offense in the world of ideas, which is the one they really care about.

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i think the issue here is the prevalence of feelings over analysis. so you get incoherent responses like

1) putting ppl in prison is bad

2) ppl should be punished for bad things

i mean, some of the social justice ppl want to rehabilitate those who commit capital murder (and yes, this should be on the table imo), but also seem to totally want sexual harassment to be a black mark on someone forever.

one thing that comes to mind is that someone like jessica valenti is unlikely to ever be murdered due to her demographics, so murder is kind of an abstract crime. but she has almost certainly been subject to sexual harassment.

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Jun 22, 2022·edited Jun 22, 2022

They also see everything in terms of power dynamics. A regular street crime might be seen as punching sideways or even punching up, whereas the sexual assault is viewed as an oppressor group harming an oppressed one.

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i'm not liberal so i have no idea. is a black man assaulting a white women punching up or down?

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It’s a complex equation far beyond even your considerable intellect. I wouldn’t dare try to solve it myself.

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I don't think there's enough computational power in world to calculate the intersectionality score

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Drop genome sequencing and make this a priority.

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Nah, I think black usually trumps female. So, as long as the woman wasn't trans, she would probably just be assumed a Karen and the man to be expressing understandable racial rage.

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It's the fault of all the brown people who watched and didn't call the police.

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There's a need to have an instantly defensible position, so that if someone overheard a single phrase from the conversation they would still know that the Liberal was the good guy. Coherence comes a distant second to that

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Yes! Thank you. I love your characterization of the American left's response to failure in the last paragraph. So much ideology, so little thought.

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"But nowadays, it’s liberals"

No, it isn't. Not by any standard definition of the word, or at least not one that isn't so broad as to include Freddie himself.

But Freddie will continue to do his part in the great war against liberalism, one waged by the unholy alliance of woke totalitarians, christianist fascists, and socialists/communists, all of whom want to impose their precious crabbed little visions of paradise on the rest of us, though of course those visions are as mutually incompatible as they are individually incoherent.

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"Not by any standard definition of the word except that it's how the people being described habitually refer to themselves"

Fixed it for you

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This is flatly untrue. Please show me a quote from Jessica Valenti (the subject of this piece) where she calls herself a liberal.

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I am no reader of Valenti's and will not become so for the purpose of quote-picking. In fairness to you I imagine she primarily self-describes as a feminist.

But, really, as our president would say, c'mon man! I understand that 'liberal' is a word with a real, historically important meaning that is not at all well embodied by the woke. But anyone who has listened to American political discourse for more than 5 minutes also knows that it is a general term of description for left wing politics. Hence right-liberals and libertarians having to say things like "classical liberal." I am somewhat sympathetic to this principled stand you're trying to make against Freddie going along with the common (mis)use, but denying generally understood public meanings of words feels myopic and not worth it

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I would be OK with this if Freddie would acknowledge that he himself is a liberal, which he clearly is by this definition. But his wording always implies that he is not. As best I can tell, Freddie uses "liberal" as synonymous with "woke". To which I strenuously object. If that's myopic, so be it.

Anyway, Freddie's continued and deliberate misuse of the word is one of the thousand cuts that have convinced me that true liberalism is dead, and that the real contest now is between woke totalitarians and christianist fascists (the socialists/communists being a minor sideshow). In that duopoly, I'm rooting for the christianist fascists (and voting accordingly).

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I have no strong opinions on this, but I am perpetually amazed that I am old enough to have seen the term liberal go from being being attacked from the right for being too far left to now being attacked from the left for being too far right.

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It’s weird — and this is no slight against FdB — that we live in such times that you can build a franchise as a maverick simply by pointing out that compassion is good.

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(Of course i’m not saying that that’s the only note on his violin — it’s just a sad commentary on the age that that’s enough to be a “product differentiator”)

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You could say something similar about Joe Rogan. Apparently, being open minded and willing to listen to various views in good faith is in such short supply that it’s worth $100 million.

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Actually, it's the fact that he's a writer doing it publicly that is so weird. But the reason he's building a franchise around it is because he's saying stuff that everybody believes but aren't allowed to say.

The second reason is that he's flat-out brilliant as a writer and speaks well enough that he can be a socialist while drawing people in from basically every other faction.

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founding

I read that article today and felt a sense of chaos engulfing the kid who made a mistake.

Proust put it well about adolescence, except in this case, what the kid learned from his lapse in judgment may be to no avail:

“[In adolescence] one lives among monsters and gods, a stranger to peace of mind. There is scarcely a single one of our acts from that time which we would not prefer to abolish later on. But all we should lament is the loss of the spontaneity that urged them upon us. In later life, we see things with a more practical eye, one we share with the rest of society; but adolescence was the only time when we ever learned anything.”

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I recently read 'Legal Systems Very Different from Ours,' and I can't recommend it enough, but the parallels between the modern 'cancel culture' system and some other informal ones are pretty striking – especially those like the Amish and certain Roma communities that use ostracism as a primary form of punishment.

Especially interesting is that the systems need ostracism of those that fail to ostracise to survive, otherwise defecting is too easy and the punishments don't happen. You see a lot of that dynamic in left spaces – people who are 'tainted' can spread it to others, so it's best to avoid them so as to avoid it yourself, like the kids in the New York article. Of course, most of these societies had a formalised way back through either contrition or just passage of time, which is precisely the forgiveness the current culture lacks.

The section on informal systems within prisons is also definitely relevant, making the reasons why picking fights constantly may be necessary in an environment where the formal rules are barely enforced. Great book.

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I loved this book. Scott Alexander did a great review and parody. And, coughs modestly, there is this . . . https://pod.link/1436447503/episode/efc7c8310fdfb91f5afa900b631ad061

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Thanks for the recommendation. Looking forward to reading this.

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Another great piece.

"is really much less about a particular ethic of caring and much more about simply nominating a communally-approved target for progressive anger."

"there is no path to dismantling the prison industrial complex that does not let out a lot of people guilty of “identity crimes” like sexual assault, hate crimes, or domestic violence."

I think these points are ubiquitous with respect to the agenda of lefties. First, rage based on some basis of resentment seems to be their primary energy source. They are educated malcontents with a victim mentality… and are rhetorically armed to the teeth. I don’t think they care much for their claimed care subjects. Their motivation is clearly intended to be nihilistic. It is like the boyfriend agrees that yes those jeans make her butt look fat, and so she burns down the house they live in and then sues him for her emotional trauma.

And related to this, please name any current prominent political pursuit by the left that is not fraught with copious negative consequences.

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So long as liberalism continues its relatively new schtick as a movement fighting *against* rather than fighting *for*, the Left's future political prospects are murky at best.

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I disagree completely. Opposition can animate just as well as advocation. The Right's recent success in education has seen them go *against* CRT and *for* school choice, and while they're enjoying successes in both, it's the former that really captured the imagination.

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True, but politics is supposed to be about persuasion, not persecution. Though that's not to say the Right isn't guilty of the same.

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Jun 22, 2022·edited Jun 22, 2022

The answer that these same liberals -- or if the commenters here prefer, "pseudo-liberals," or wokelords, or woke leftists, etc -- so often provide when faced with the inconsistency that Freddie highlights is that as long as justice is not being meted out in a court, due process is not a prerequisite. I mention this not because I agree with it. As Freddie so cogently notes, it is totally inconsistent with the *spirit* of an ideology that, in theory, celebrates murderers getting second chances. It is just a particular kind of sophistry that we need to be prepared for when confronting these interlocutors.

Another thing: Liberals and leftists who poo-poo pieces like the one in New York magazine exhibit such a frustrating lack of self-awareness. "We are absolutely not close-minded pieces of shit, but this article is a crime against journalism and the person who wrote it is the very picture of white privilege" ["fuck"/"shit"/other profanity added for good measure].

Maybe these pieces would be less in demand and novel if the reactions weren't so predictably hysterical?

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