what people would do if they could is relevant to discussions of public values
Good god, that billboard pic. I don't know why it bothers me so much that an ordinary English name so rapidly became a shorthand for some kind of folkloric bogeyman of white middle-class entitlement, but it's irritating and disturbing how quickly the internet decided any middle-aged white woman going through her life with anything less than perfect grace and humility is now A Problem for the world to mock and loathe. Just feels like another one of those cases where memes are eating reality.
I haven't read the whole thing yet, so apologies if this is mentioned (I don't think so), but it seems important that the charges against Cooper were dropped only after she had been re-educated.
From the Post:
"[A] judge granted Manhattan prosecutors’ request to dismiss Cooper’s case after she completed five therapy sessions “designed for introspection and progress,” Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said at a brief virtual hearing."
"“Psychoeducation about racial equity is woven into each therapy session to prompt understanding and reflection,” Illuzzi-Orbon told the judge of Amy Cooper’s time with the Critical Therapy Center in Manhattan."
"Psychoeducation" at the "Critical Therapy Center" as a pre-requisite to having spurious criminal charges dismissed. Seems even more chilling in that light.
The term "cancel culture" is particularly stupid because it makes this seem like some new thing when it very much isn't. This is Mob justice. Mob justice is bad, has always been bad, and has always been a problem. This isn't some new thing but is instead the 21st century version of hangings in the old West, witch trials in Salem, and the Red Scare.
I am concerned about what cancel culture does to its targets (and highly recommend Jon Ronson’s book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed).
But I am even more concerned about what it does to good people who cry for vengeance. When I read that the shelter confiscated Amy Cooper’s dog, I suggested politely in a Facebook comment that that was excessive punishment (not least to the dog!). And friends who I know in real life to be good people lost their minds. They were so angry with me! My tentative suggestion was tantamount to a lynching and also dog-murder in their eyes. (Much hay was made of how Amy Cooper pulled on her dog’s collar.) There was apparently to be no limit to the hell that was supposed to rain down on Cooper. Any still, small voice asking for a sense of proportion was by definition coming from an evil racist. I really felt despair about it, because I knew that it was good people who were taking such pleasure in imagining Amy Cooper’s suffering. This is not good for our souls.
Re: your disclaimer at the end: Apparently this is a thing now, accusing people we don't approve of of only writing about [things, people, institutions, trends we like or at least don't think are so very bad].
There must be some sort of private Twitter club where, in the last week or so, it was decided that Matt Taibbi, who for most of the last 20 years was every progressive's hero, is now a menace because he only writes about the media, which are filled with people we really like and so shouldn't be criticized as scathingly as Matt does it. He must be cashing in, it's the only possible explanation.
You too, Freddie.
I can be pretty cynical, but I will never become as cynical as that.
One other interesting item that's come up in the cancel culture debate - at will employment. Conservatives are suddenly shocked to discover that employers can fire them for any reason or no reason at all (outside being a member of certain protected classes).
"I also think that anti-CRT laws are a terrible imposition on free speech and teacher autonomy, just as I view conservative efforts to ban books to be exactly as toxic as when it’s progressives doing the banning."
I'm really interested in this idea- have you written more about this? How much autonomy should teachers have in the classroom? Complete freedom, even if they are presenting false or misleading ideas or neglecting to teach important concepts? How do we balance the need for teachers to have freedom of speech with the fact that their students are young and impressionable and a captive audience?
What the fuck man you literally wrote a post titled "My Cancellation Was Quite Effective, As a Matter of Fact" like a week ago. How is that not positioning yourself as a victim of cancel culture? You used your experience to argue that people actually do face consequences for getting "canceled", presumably so people can draw certain conclusions about cancel culture, although it's clear you have about as solid a definition of those terms as everyone else that insists this phenomenon is a major threat.
Grossman had a good piece sometime last year arguing, IIRC, that the cancel culture debate was really a line-drawing exercise rather than an argument in principle about either free speech or hate speech - in other words, not "can comedians say whatever they want?" but rather "was what Chappelle said actual, over-the-line transphobia?". Since a conversation about whether a particular statement/action really is ___ist/phobic is messier and much harder to resolve, it plays out in much starker and more abstract terms - eg a joke that (rightly or wrongly) would have been anodyne 10 years ago is now "questioning ___'s right to exist."
That kind of ratcheting up is what I find most worrying about the current rhetorical creep, and the accompanying, evolving norm of employers, social media mobs, etc. unhesitatingly accepting that framing regardless of what the incident actually involves. What is needed is more nuance, not less. And though it's certainly fair to call out "cultural revolution" rhetoric as overblown, focusing exclusively on state power rather than the broader consequences described in this post doesn't seem to recognize how this is playing out in the same way the previous article did.
I think criticizing you for covering this topic often is beyond dumb. You are one of the clearest minded, moat effective critics of this very concerning cultural trend. It's a genuine existential threat to a liberal democratic society - both directly and indirectly by the extremist response it is guaranteed to engender the further it goes. It stands to reason you would address it often.
Hobbes is a master of cherry-picking, straw-manning, and hurling insults — only to flee when someone dares offer up a rebuttal. Shame that it’s so lucrative.
I'm also curious how common these concerns actually are among students. As we've seen, so called "twitter mobs" might actually be just a few dozen people. Do we just have one or two social justice Karens running amok*?
* Sort of like condo board, HOA, local police Karens. You always have some loudmouth busy body that the powers that be have learned to ignore. That system seems to often break down due to social median and people's mistaken belief that it's real life.
"UC-Santa Barbara students passed a trigger warning resolution that, if enacted, would have enabled any student to skip any class or material if they felt it might trigger them."
I needed this for Real Analysis.
I'd like to understand your claims about private-sector censorship. So I hope you'll either write about it at some point, or provide some references.
Specific quation: prior to the internet, the average citizen had NO outlet to publicize an opinion. Was that because of censorship, in your view?
"How the overheated rhetoric of the social justice movement hurts messaging" -- I can't find this one and would like to read it.
I find this take less than convincing. Amy Cooper didn't call the police because she was scared of black men. She called the police because she knew that in America, the police would inevitably side with the white women against the black men. She thought that the state apparatus would be complicit in siding with her against a racial minority.