"An obvious conclusion one must draw from social justice politics is that most people are inherently bigoted, perhaps irredeemably so."

I actually have to agree with this -- most people do make baseless snap judgments. The thing is, if it's inherent in humans to make snap judgments and prefer their own kind, then why are we blaming? Why not just put mitigating mechanisms in place and leave it at that?

If you look at a picture of any orchestra from the 1940s, you will see literally not a single woman there (even on the harp), and no Black people. Go to any American orchestra nowdays, and you'll see zillions of women and minorities. I remember seeing the LA Chamber Orchestra when I lived near their Burbank theater and realizing that out of the whole violin section, there was ONE man.

This all came about due to screened auditions, which American orchestras use (and European ones do not). Instead of bitching out the juries about prejudice and forcing them to undergo struggle sessions, they just said, "Okay, fine. We're putting up a screen during the first two rounds of the auditions."

This was originally done to keep jurists from being biased in favor of their own students, but the literal next audition season after the screens went up for either Boston of Cleveland, ALL four open violin positions went to women. ALL OF THEM.

To the credit of American orchestras, the juries swallowed hard, took their medicine, and the screens stayed up. And they are still up -- precisely because people will always manage to judge based on something stupid and irrelevant.

And that's it. No blame, no name-calling, no accusations, no struggle sessions -- just a piece of fabric. Identify the problem, identify an impersonal solution, implement, and then take metrics that allow you to judge how successful you are. Had we tried to fix the problem by fixing individual hearts and minds, it would never have worked. When people audition without a screen, women and minorities are STILL judged more harshly to this day. It's better than it was, but it's still there; genres of music that do not screen are still horribly overbalanced in favor of white men.

But there are ways to fix problems without fixing individual hearts and minds. If I'm auditioning for an orchestra (or trying to get a job, or whatever), I just want a fair g/d shot. I don't care if the jurists grovel before me and confess to their repulsive sexism although to be honest, I might not mind since I'm also human and imperfect, but really as long as the screen is there, I don't care if the assistant principal oboe is an asshole or not.

Yes, I know that this exact mechanism won't work for a lot of injustices, but it's an example of how changing hearts and minds is not only unnecessary to justice and fairness, but that focusing on that can blind us to simpler solutions that will basically make the problem go away while allowing people to retain their right to remain assholes in perpetuity. Because people will remain assholes, whether we like it or not.

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Great post. I would go even further and say it’s not enough for SJP folks to ignore the material plight of marginalized groups. In the rare event that an initiative to address those concerns gains momentum, they will co-opt it and make it about the plight of privileged academics and journalists.

After the murder of George Floyd, I was appalled to see elites try to make the movement about their own professional grievances. An officer of the state KILLED a black man over twenty dollars. And I saw tenured academics using the hashtag to complain about (for example) all-white panels at sociology conferences.

They saw an opportunity (lots of outrage and emotion) and instead of asking “how can I address police violence” they immediately turned to their own professional and social circles with a list of demands about things like the size of their book advances and who wins awards.

All of a sudden, it was the summer of “give me what I want or you’re a racist” in every elite or artsy or academic organization. Meanwhile, ordinary people were in the streets trying to address what actually happened. Imagine what these elites could have done if they had supported this movement instead of making it about themselves.

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I’m surprised that more people don’t view these beliefs as alarming. To believe oneself to be in possession of the whole truth and total moral goodness is historically the shortest way towards committing massacres. The other side is no longer human. Nevermind that their post modern theories were actually on their way out in academia because they’ve more holes than Swiss cheese. The race card saved these people and now they got to turn it into an endless Maoist struggle with no discernible goals.

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I've nothing substantive to add but there's a depressive effect of these articles. It's like someone is taking my thoughts, clarifying them in ways I haven't, and expressing them in ways I couldn't.

That said, this deserved some more space dedicated to the appalling levels of hypocrisy of the social justice politics. These people think everyone else is dumb, but we’re definitely not. It’s blindingly obvious to everyone else that these people - coincidentally - never actually have to sacrifice. It’s in part why usually completely unfunny conservatives keep scoring zingers. The August National member who thinks we need to boycott Georgia. The Yale grads who want to rename everything related to slavery. There’s people in here screeching about Tara Reade not being “credible” when anyone who even broached the topic of credibility during the previous five years was a monster for doing so. People aren’t stupid. They pick up on this.

Meanwhile, for those of us to the left of the social justice movement, it’s hard to take seriously people who consider words to be literal violence but also repeatedly try to get me to vote for war criminals. Words aren’t violence. An American bomb tearing apart the chest of an Iraqi boy so he bleeds to death is violence. There’s garden variety hypocrisy and then there’s “this is a completely intellectually vapid movement” level of hypocrisy. People can forgive the former, the latter not so much.

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From an epidemiology standpoint, topics of debate spread on social media based on how easily debatable they are, independent of their importance. Since replies and reshares are so easy, trivia spreads as easily as important news.

Trivia may even have the advantage due to accessibility. In programming circles this is called “bikeshedding.” Debate over the color of a bike shed is something everyone can voice an opinion on, because it’s something everyone understands and doesn’t really matter. A complicated project that requires technical expertise will get approved without debate because nobody feels qualified to have an opinion and people assume the experts know what they’re doing.

Is there really much of a barrier to entry for a debate over a Sonic character? Finding out more about it is likely a search away, not that I’ve bothered. The jargon isn’t that obscure; people can pick it up without study, and if they use it wrong, that just fuels more debate. And much like sports, people can have passionate opinions safely because we all know it doesn’t really matter. So the conditions seem pretty favorable to social media debate?

And so, trivia competes with more important subjects and wins.

An example of an important subject that was too technical to make it in social media is the FDA’s inexcusable delay in approving cheap COVID tests for mass screening. It’s likely that the death toll could have been reduced by hundreds of thousands if cheap, rapid tests were approved by last summer, so that everyone who needs to work or go to school could get tested twice a week.

Even going by racial justice considerations alone, the death toll of black people from COVID was far higher than wrongful deaths from the police last year, but most people never even heard of the rapid testing and still don’t know about the lost opportunity squandered by bureaucratic delay.

Imagine a world where everyone had been protesting for COVID testing last summer?

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Going off your 'Politics in everything' point - I think there's a certain social prestige to doing 'important work' as a writer and I get the sense that the Kotaku, Deadspin, Teen Vogue, etc writers really just don't want to be doing the job that they've been hired to do. They see themselves as temporarily displaced activists and political thinkers. It's embarrassing to tell people at Brooklyn parties that you - a prestigious college graduate - just churn out video game content for the internet for starvation wages. And for obvious reasons that you've touched on in previous articles, I don't see the future of working in the increasingly-bleak content mines as ever gaining more social prestige, which means this problem won't be disappearing.

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I do wonder how the market pressures will impact things. I have been a consistent consumer of left of center journalism for some time but the SJ takeover of some of these institutions in a way that allows me to predict the content of an article before I read it has me reconsidering my budget allocations. I can't quite imagine not getting my paper NYT, but I am repeatedly struck by how many NYT stories are accompanied by comments that run 2 or 3 to 1 against the thesis of the story because it is too knee jerk SJ oriented. At some point some of those commenters, who are subscribers, are going to decide that they can just read their substacks and give up the NYT and I just don't think there are enough SJ millenials to make up for their dollars, but maybe I underestimate their buying power?

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Leaving a separate comment to discuss separate issues: I think it's far too simple, and unfair, to suggest that SJ folks uniformly rejected Tara Reade's accusations out of hand. Of course some did, but many were openly troubled by them early on, when they were at their point of maximum credibility (peaking at the C-SPAN story), and only expressed doubts as contradictions became impossible to ignore (Lindsay Beyerstein and Michelle Goldberg both wrote fair pieces that didn't attack Reade but pointed out relevant changes in her and her witnesses' statements over time and other inconsistencies). Then more reporting was done and the wheels fell off, credibility-wise; I don't think anyone can be blamed for not believing the accusation given all that's come out and how little support it has. (And yet, some SJ people *still* continued to believe the accusation, like your nemesis Noah Berlatsky!) Now, one can say that this is a totally different standard than the one the same people applied to Bret Kavanaugh, and there's something to that…but that seems like ordinary partisanship, not something specific to the SJ left.

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“person suffering from homelessness”.

Oh, honey, no. "Person experiencing homelessness". Who are we, the housed, to assume that they're suffering? Maybe being unhoused is their choice. Let's fight about it for hours and thereby do absolutely nothing to actually provide housing to people living under bridges. It's *so* much easier.

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Largely spot-on but... woke people are the same as Joe Biden supporters? Really?

I think the two groups don't actually overlap much. Woke people are young, white and college-educated: the three worst demographic groups for Biden in the primary.

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It's weird for me to post the 76th comment on a blog, but here goes:

1. I have high anxiety--I take drugs for it and everything--and I will tell you, making everything political has been quite hellish for me. I went from walking on eggshells when discussing politics and religion to walking on eggshells discussing everything. You would think this would be an important point to people who use terms like "neurotypical" and "neurodiverse", but I think they think I'm acting in bad faith by, um, not agreeing with them about everything. (In fact, a philosophy prof told me that he thinks that everyone--literally everyone, he was clear about that--actually agrees with him about social justice politics, it's just that they pretend not to because they are bad people who want to maintain their privilege.)

2. Quick, bad theory from me: people want meaning in their lives; one way people get meaning is by fighting; however, fighting an abstract adversary where you might lose and where it's hard to tell if you've won doesn't satisfy the itch for meaning; so, it's much more satisfying to fight discrete individuals where you can see yourself winning and move on to the next thing. In other words, social justice politics, despite all the obstacles you've laid out, is popular and growing in popularity. It's not clear to me that it could even have a peak, because the people who fight against it also get meaning from fighting against it. That said, I think if, like, some country blew up NYC with a nuclear bomb, then people's priorities *might* change.

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Wait, what's wrong with being anti-China? Their government is committing genocide at the moment, do you think we shouldn't be trying to stop that?

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Great piece! One small gripe-like point: "The personal is political" as a slogan may have taken on the connotation you're talking about, e.g. video games are "political," but the term is a feminist one and is much more narrow. The phrase itself is actually meant to critique the distinction between public/private life, political/domestic as artificial. "The personal is political" is really just a way to say that the *domestic* realm is a part of the public/political realm. The current usage of the term seems to be an extension of its original meaning, but it's ultimately a lot less helpful (imo) when stretched to this degree.

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"You’re left with a group of people who will excoriate someone who uses the word “crazy” as a hater of the disabled but who went to war on behalf of a man who was a key part of perpetuating the myth of the welfare queen. It’s bizarre."

The calculus is to align with power. Biden has power. The Gawker comment section poster who got yelled at in 2012 for writing "crazy" probably has no power. The desire to align with power seems pretty straightforward and not-weird. It is certainly weird, though, for a movement which is planning to align with power and to make compromises with power to *also* use interactions with the non-powerful as an opportunities to develop a brand of being "uncompromising." Why develop that brand in the first place if the only possible outcome is hypocrisy?

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Great post, this seems like the kind of subject that would make a great full-length book. I've played most of the Sonic games but never even heard of that stupid "controversy" until now.

The only thing I would quibble with is your point 9. I knew plenty of SJW-types who voted for Joe Biden and they didn't try to minimize or deny his crime bill, his treatment of Anita Hill, etc. They acknowledged that he did these things but pointed out that he credibly apologized for them and is a different politician than he was 30 years ago. I think the first few months of his administration has proven them correct.

Also I know you don't subscribe to the "lesser of two evils" method of voting for president, but come on, Trump was 10,000x worse.

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Well done, sir. Perfectly laid out. And the Knuckles stuff had me crying laughing. Indeed it seems like fandom is neatly divided into Wokesters and Gamergaters now. It's sad.

Also, this school of politics is also why I've given up on paying attention to the Oscars even though I love movies and have a very eclectic taste. Every year since 2016 there's been a new moral panic about how harmful Movie X is.

Oh and the ratings keep going down the more elitist and woke the ceremony gets. This year will be a disaster of Hindenburg proportions for them.

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