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My problem with this piece isn’t that he is extending empathy to Amber heard. She is a human being deserving a chance to live the rest of her life in peace and with dignity without a mob breathing down her neck. It’s more that I am puzzled at his analogy which seems backward. Weigel isn’t analogous to Heard, Sonmez is. She has literally gotten someone fired based on accusations of sexual impropriety before and she is going after Weigel now, BUT she is also facing a lot of backlash from people saying she should be fired or punished by the Washington post, as well as the usual trollish “threats” online. If he was walking the walk, I really feel like he should be defending Sonmez’s right not to be canceled here, not just Weigel’s.

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I’m sure he would, but the piece itself doesn’t hold together for me because the analogy is so off. Weigel isn’t getting fired either. And both Heard and Depp have an uphill battle regaining their past careers. So it seems strange to make the central thesis that Weigel and Heard are somehow in similar or at least analogous positions when the analogy makes much more sense as Heard/Somnez & Depp/Weigel and that we should extend all some sort of forgiveness.

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I forgive everybody at the Wapo, starting at the top with the idiots who did not craft a meaningful social-media policy for their reporters (which would include "no retweets of non-newsworthy items").

That said, having forgiven them, I would fire all of them and start from scratch, looking for people who can adhere to some decent degree of professionalism.

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Well turns out she did get fired!

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deletedJun 8, 2022·edited Jun 8, 2022
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Oyez, oyez!

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Thanks for the dig at Michael Hobbes, who I despise more than any other pundit out there. Not hyperbole. Here he is sneering at people not for being pro-Depp, but for not caring about the trial at all. https://mobile.twitter.com/RottenInDenmark/status/1532315220550598656?cxt=HHwWgIC-zeKk8MMqAAAA

That being said, I have no hate for Amber Heard either. Let both of these actors continue their careers and let's put this ugly mess behind us.

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I really like about 50% of what Hobbes does, which makes me cringe even harder at the other 50%.

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Who the fuck is Hobbes???

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Michael Hobbes is a journalist and podcaster who is VERY down on the idea of cancel culture. I agree with him half the time.

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Michael Hobbes has to have highest combined adamant cancellation denier score + actively involved in cancellations score. Is there anyone else even close?

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There should be a name for that ratio. Also the irony of his last name 😹😹😹

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He struck me pretty quickly as someone who's up his own ass: comfortable in his certainty of his own rightness (and righteousness), evincing little reflection or humility. But hey, I've just read a few articles and heard a few episodes of the You're Wrong About podcast; that doesn't exactly make me an expert.

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Am I the only one who found the re-tweeted joke funny? I literally laughed out loud. Everyone's too busy being outraged to relax and laugh a little.

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I mean, I think that’s sort of the issue. Probably best not to have illustrious reporters at one of the most storied newspapers in the country acting like TikTok girls.

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RemovedJun 8, 2022·edited Jun 8, 2022
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To me if was offensive. Not "harmful", but definitely offensive. If I heard that from someone in person, I would call them out on it.

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I didn't find it laugh out loud funny, but I did smirk a little because it fit too many women I know.

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It hit too close to the bone, hence the blowback.

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> fit too many women I know

In what way?

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Mood swings that leave you feeling like you should call an exorcist. Men can have their pouty or whiny moments, but I've rarely met ones that can go from angel to demon and back again like someone flipped a light switch.

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This is a really common misconception and one that the joke likely rests on, so I hope you don't mind if I be that person and point out that in bipolar disorder, the mood episodes--either mania or depression--last for weeks to months, not minutes to hours. In both kinds of episodes you can see irritability and mood lability (mood swings) and, but those are just some possible symptoms of the underlying tectonic mood shift. Bipolar is defined by these long, extreme mood deviations and they aren't at all like the passing winds of a flighty temperament. Making a snappy comment and apologizing afterward is mood lability. Not sleeping for two weeks, telling off your boss, shaving your head and selling your house to move to Tahiti is bipolar disorder. Not leaving the couch for two weeks while you drink Hamms and watch Friends reruns is also bipolar disorder. It happens to affect men and women equally.

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"Bipolar" here is being used as a synonym for extremely moody. The joke is funny precisely because it's not true in any technical way.

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It's not a great choice of synonym for something that's easily conceptually confusable (mood swings and mood episodes) but is in fact completely different, because it makes it difficult to talk about bipolar disorder. I've had to have clarifying conversations with plenty of people--in real life, because I knew them professionally or socially--because they thought bipolar disorder meant, like, being really rude to people when you were mad. If I tell someone I'm bipolar I have no idea what that means to them, and being extremely moody is generally not considered a desirable quality in a friend or associate.

I also don't see how that makes the joke funny--if there were no such DSM diagnosis as "bipolar disorder" and only the slang usage existed, the joke wouldn't be funny?

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I had to think about the joke for a minute before I got it. I mean, I got the bi- sexual portion, but seeing the word "polar" all on its own made me think hmm, does it mean that women must favor both the north and south poles?

But I figured it out in the end, because I am clever.

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I found the joke to be mean and (worse) not funny, but I also didn’t think it was a big deal. What if people at the WaPo had just taken the guy aside, said “Not cool, dude,” and let him apologize? That would have been a better way to handle it for all concerned.

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Exactly. Sonmez said she and Weigel were friends! For days, she has been ranting that she *had* to address it publicly because management has been unresponsive in the past. But that's bullshit because she didn't even try to talk to her "friend," let alone management, before calling him out.

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Plus Sonmez previously canceled a coworker over questionable at best #metoo allegations and leveraged it to victim status and her current job.

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Canceled in the severest sense. He became for years toxic in his profession. From what I read, the only reason he didn’t kill himself is because he had a girlfriend who stuck by him through the whole thing.

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Exactly. It was a horrible situation and totally unjustified.

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Sonmez isn't friends with anybody except herself. She's a shark. Weigel even signed a letter supporting her dodgy "harassment" claims against her employer. Doesn't matter! Sharks smell blood in the water and then they strike. Best avoided, never sought out.

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Friends, shmends! They are (supposed to be!) professionals writing for one of the most highly visible news organizations in the world.

The unprofessionalism all around (including at the top, which apparently set no meaningful social-media policy) is disconcerting and depressing.

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Why does everyone have to apologize all the time? Humor is in the eye of the beholder. If someone thought it was mean, then ignore and move on.

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Agree. Is the emotion of offense something we should be a bit ashamed of, like jealousy? I get that we feel it now and then, but shouldn't we be actively trying to overcome it? To me it has a narcissistic element too it.

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I disliked it. Lame, third-string "women be like" joke. It would have been entirely forgettable if the Washington Post hadn't given it the Streisand Effect boost.

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I didn't find it cancel-worthy, by any means, but I don't get what the point of it was.

Bitches be crazy? I don't see the humor in that.

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It wasn’t funny but it wasn’t worth getting even mildly upset about. It was just dumb.

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I honestly thought it was just a silly absurdist thing when I first read it, maybe because I don't parse "bipolar" as an insult, and I thought the idea of reams of secret bipolars and bisexuals as humorous. But the conventional interpretation is obviously the intended one and that version of the joke sucks.

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In this case the real joke is the controversy.

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This powerfully argued piece reminds me of Jon Ronson’s insight in his excellent book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed: the targets of online shaming almost always in fact have done something wrong. But not only is their punishment wildly disproportionate to the offense, but the people doing the shaming feel a censorious glee as they mete out the punishment. This isn’t good for anyone.

I haven’t been following the trial, so it should be surprising that I have an opinion and have taken a side (Depp’s). Why do I feel like this is any of my business? Because of all the media coverage? Or because righteous indignation feels so good? Either way, getting angry at Heard online isn’t making anything better.

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I've had more or less the same response. Didn't follow the trial, but now that I'm seeing Woke Twitter lose its shit, I'm glad Depp won. That's how much I hate our Moral Majority Media right now.

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founding

I also think that, unlike the media types weeping over this verdict, the Tik Tok-ers crowing over Johnny Depp's victory were fans of Johnny. They weren't making fun over Amber for the cruelty alone, they were doing so because they supported Johnny. I think it's tough for the media to wrap their heads around this, because so often the media filters personal disputes through how it affects meta-narratives. The Depp fanboys are (parasocial) friends with Johnny Depp, so they're standing up for him. That's confusing to the media, who can only see people as representatives of narratives

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Jun 8, 2022·edited Jun 8, 2022

It always amazes me that those on social media who want to deplatform/ban/fire their opponents are usually the same people who argue for a more forgiving, reform-orientated criminal justice system. Forgiveness for more serious, violent crimes but no mercy for disagreeing with them or tweeting something controversial. Do they not feel even the tiniest bit hypocritical?

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We are living in the topsy-turvy world. The more crime becomes normalized, the more minor political/social transgressions become treated with a heavy hand destroying people's lives. The state has been replaced with the social community and with it, due process.

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I'd really like to understand what you mean here. I don't see crime being normalized, or the state being replaced. The US has over a million people in prison, and none of them are there for being canceled on Twitter.

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The point is state action and punishment is limited by the constitution and laws, whereas mob justice/wokeness has no such limitations because it operates outside the purview of the state. It is social action, not state action.

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I don't find that argument especially convincing.

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Jun 8, 2022·edited Jun 8, 2022

The forgiveness is for those who agree with them, or at the very least are deemed 'oppressed'. The righteous defenestration is for everyone else.

They don't see it as hypocritical because it's all about whose side you're on. And not...you know...universal ideas of right and wrong.

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But aren’t the stakes wildly different? It doesn’t seem inconsistent to say (for example) that someone who has committed a violent crime shouldn’t go to prison for life, but someone who makes a racist comment should be removed from their high-profile job. The punishments that people are subjected to in our criminal justice system are totally different and have way different implications for personal liberty than being deplatformed/banned/fired.

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People's lives are being destroyed. They lose their income, cannot find work because no one wants to hire the "racist", friends and family have abandoned them and they've become social pariahs. Terms like racist are virtually meaningless nowadays. Sure you have your liberty and that is very important, but you've been economically and socially destroyed. There is no end or limit to your punishment. The same people who state that criminals have paid their debt to society will demand no forgiveness for those whose crime is transgressing social/political mores.

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I think it’s hard for me to continue this conversation without more specific examples of people to whom this is happening. For what it’s worth, I tend to think people are way too cavalier about “getting people fired”—like you say, that is their income. I also think there’s a hunger to “cancel” people for minor offenses that I find alarming. I’m willing to believe there are people whose lives have been ruined by being canceled, but it’s hard for me to think of examples that are comparable to the effect of a prison sentence (which is also devastating to your personal life and finances).

(As I say below, I agree that physical violence is worse than verbally “transgressing social/political mores.” My point is just that the punishments doled out by the criminal justice system are, from what I know, much more severe than the effects of cancellation.)

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Jun 15, 2022·edited Jun 15, 2022

> I think it’s hard for me to continue this conversation without more specific examples of people to whom this is happening.

Look at this guy https://reason.com/2019/08/23/im-radioactive/

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The stakes do vary, I agree, but the problem with adjudicating by call-out, however, is that the punishment often does not fit the crime. Just because Weigel was not in jeopardy of life and limb doesn't mean that *anything* else is acceptable. Proportionality is key.

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Oh I agree re proportionality! I’m just saying that it’s not necessarily hypocritical to urge criminal justice reform and also e.g. want someone to be deplatformed for making certain statements. What matters is not just the perceived badness of the offense but also the perceived badness of the response.

Even assuming Weigel shouldn’t have been suspended, I tend to find his suspension way less morally horrifying than many drug possession sentences.

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Nice pivot away from violent crime to mere drug possession. I'm sure nobody will notice. :)

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Lol the initial comment I responded to was discussing the “criminal justice system” generally. My point is the severity of the punishments imposed by the criminal justice system. I find the criminal punishments for drug possession more disproportionate than the consequences of cancellation in the cases that I’m aware of. I know less about criminal punishments for violent crime which is why I did not use that example here. However, I would not find it inherently hypocritical if someone found the criminal punishments for violent crime to be more disproportionate than the consequences of cancellation, even if I disagreed with them.

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Jun 8, 2022·edited Jun 8, 2022

Why should someone lose their livelihood over a mere comment?

Why should someone be given mercy after committing violence against another person?

I agree that the stakes are entirely different, but I think you have them completely backwards. Words can hurt, but violence can KILL.

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I agree that physical violence is worse than making an offensive comment. But prison is also much more severe than social censure or (in most cases) even losing your job. I’m pointing this out to explain why someone might have more “mercy” for someone who committed physical violence than someone who made an offensive comment—not because they think the comment is worse than the violence, but because they think the punishment is more disproportionate in the first case than the second.

(I wouldn’t even necessarily agree with such a person in that scenario—I think it’s hard to specifically say whether a given punishment is appropriate or not without more specifics.)

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What do you mean by social censure? Losing your livelihood is more than social censure.

Who determines what is offensive? Do all offensive comments demand the person who made them lose their jobs? No one would have a job then.

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Then the blood is on your hands, not theirs. Sometimes I think this is the actual goal, as well as taking enjoyment in the punishment of others. It goes beyond schadenfreude and more like bloodlust.

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I agree that losing your livelihood is a terrible consequence. As I say elsewhere, I think our culture is much too cavalier about “getting people fired” for the things they do. I think jobs should be more secure than that, and I’m always frustrated by employers who fire first and ask questions later. I certainly don’t think that everyone who makes offensive comments should lose their job.

In my opinion, losing your job is still usually (I’m sure there are exceptions!) a less severe consequence than going to prison. Which is not to say that it is always a more proportionate response—obviously that depends on the offense.

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What field do you work in where you can be shitcanned for "being a Nazi" and ever find gainful employment again for the entire rest of your life? When you're cancelled, your name in a google search will follow you for the rest of your life like a face tattoo.

I'd take a prison sentence over having to dig in dumpsters for my meals, any day of the week.

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You're so edgy. I bet you have tattoos and eyeliner and all the stuff the cool kids have! <3 <3 <3

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Jun 8, 2022·edited Jun 8, 2022

People who are in prison usually did something actually worthy of punishment.

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I guess we just disagree on the effects of prison and/or cancellation! In my experience, a prison sentence also makes it extremely difficult to find work in one’s chosen field afterward. I certainly could not have gotten my current job with a criminal record.

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Jun 8, 2022·edited Jun 8, 2022

"...prison is also much more severe than social censure..."

I can certainly be so, but I would say not always...at least not right now.

For one thing, people who've served prison time are generally seen as "done the time" which arguably also serves as a form of acceptable public penance. Sure that 'felony' tag will follow you forever, but unless the conviction was something like murder or rape people tend to be more forgiving of felons over time. At least they do if they are not repeat offenders. These days it seems like a bad comment or joke not only follows you forever (like a felony conviction) but there also seems to be very little eventual forgiveness. Once an asshole always an asshole kind of thing.

Edit: I don't have much experience with felons, so disregard that part if you find it baffling and bizarre. Feel free to school me on this one, I'm open to the criticism!

Secondly, being socially outcast can (nowadays) have an effect very similar to physical harm. If someone assaults a doctor and mangles his or her hands, that doctor can't practice medicine anymore. Similarly, if someone gets a doctor fired for a terrible comment, that doctor can also not really practice medicine anymore. Those two scenarios should not have the same consequences, but more and more they seem to.

Lastly, related to the second point, what's also not being talked about too much is both the unusually high level of emotional sensitivity (which never seems to be questioned) paired with a sort of moral absolutism from some on the Left who view these 'public transgressions' with a kind of religious zealotry that defies rational discourse. Words, of course, matter. But to say offensive language rises to the level of physical violence is quite a leap of logic. I would say it isn't logical at all, but rather steeped in emotional immaturity.

For the life of me, I can't understand how some people are so personally and unrepentantly offended by someone else being an asshole. They don't even have to know the person, just the mere fact that someone said something bad somewhere, anywhere, is enough to set them off. Maybe I'm too thick-skinned or something, I don't know. It just bothers me that so many people are so easily upset by what I would consider 'the real world'. This is why conservatives can sit back, throw out the snowflake label, and easily win over a chunk of people by basically doing nothing.

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"For one thing, people who've served prison time are generally seen as "done the time" which arguably also serves as a form of acceptable public penance. Sure that 'felony' tag will follow you forever, but unless the conviction was something like murder or rape people tend to be more forgiving of felons over time."

I'm sorry, what?

There are literally hundreds of thousands of laws in this country that discriminate against people based on criminal records. Having a criminal record with a felony is a massive factor in being unable to find a job with a decent wage. People who got out of prison and are on parole are regularly subject to abusive and demeaning searches and rule gotchas. Having a criminal record impacts everything from someone's ability to have custody of their children to whether they can own a firearm. And people's arrest records come up online too, you know?

The idea that people with felony convictions are forgiven by society and are better situated than people canceled for saying objectionable things online is some bizarroland alternate reality take that isn't supported by the real world.

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You're right, I apologize. I'll amend the comment.

I've only known a few felons, but they both seemed to be able to have normal lives and regular jobs. One with a family. Granted they weren't on the severe side of felonies. I never asked about it much, but I would guess their own friends and family had a lot to do with their ability to have seemingly normal lives. I didn't even know they were former convicts until someone told me.

Granted that's probably an outlier on my part, and my lack of experience with that demographic is certainly not a good excuse. Perhaps the reason I'm not exposed to it is because, like you infer, the law is doing its job and keeping most of them out of the popular discourse.

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I know you're getting a lot of pushback here, but I, for one, find what you're saying--and the distinction you're noting between "cancellation" and incarceration--well-considered.

(Also, I recognize you're not saying cancellation is good. Your basic argument is that it's less comparable to incarceration than some people here seem to suggest.)

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Jun 8, 2022·edited Jun 8, 2022

I just want to say that the people who were advocating for criminal justice reforms *before it was cool* are not the same censorious and punitive chuckleheads making dunks on Twitter. That movement did not sprout up yesterday, and is informed (nay, demanded) by ethical principles--it's the comers-on who are hypocritical, because they have not actually thought about the issue at all, and when it stops being trendy you'll stop hearing about it from them. I agree that situation right now is a very bad look if you do care about reducing the caging of people, eg.

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Oh I know, I'm in favour of more forgiving system too. But on social media too.

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Next time you see someone online advocating "for a more forgiving, reform-orientated criminal justice system", ask them if they think that the January 6th rioters should be released.

The fact is, "the woke" want mercy, forgiveness and get-out-of-jail-free cards for themselves and their political friends, and no-mercy LOCK-THEM-UP "justice" for literally everyone else. They have no principles. Only identities.

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Oh yeah. That's the stuff. Feed it directly in my veins!!

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I am one of those advocates and am absolutely sympathetic to Jan. 6th rioters held at the DC jail. The conditions in that facility are inhumane. Everyone deserves the presumption of innocence and the right to a speedy and fair trial. Our right to the latter is disappearing and people hardly realize. (Which is one reason I'm passionate about reform.)

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Thank you for this. I am glad that principled people exist.

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founding

I presume that you also support improvement of conditions for prisoners, in general? Angola, Maricopa County Jail should be reformed? The epidemic of prisoner rape should be ended?

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Absolutely. I definitely have abolitionist sympathies, if I'm not quite an abolitionist per se. We're living with a system borne out of slavery, one that affects Black men and poor people disproportionately but affects families across geographies and socioeconomic classes. My partner is a formerly incarcerated Black man. Supporting him through his incarceration both opened my eyes to the racial disparities in our legal system and widened the empathy I feel for any human being dealing with incarceration. Pain is pain.

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It makes more sense if you conceptualize both as stemming from an impulse to make things more “equitable / fair” for groups of people who things are currently perceived to be more / less equitable or fair for currently. So a nonwhite person who steals a car, burgles a house, etc, while having done wrong, should be treated leniently due to a the presumption that because of being nonwhite they have been unfairly treated to this point and the criminal justice system can play a role in remedying that somewhat. On the other hand, a white man retweeting a crass joke that is offensive to women does not deserve leniency as it is presumed that his life to this point has been defined by leniency and the women who he has offended are more deserving of recompense.

I think there was a time when ideas about forgiveness / restorative justice and so forth were held universally, but practically speaking they have just been slotted into the general obsession with identity that the left now has.

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Example ... Jack Del Rio of the Washington Commanders

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Would Weigel have been disciplined if he’d made the joke while out with his co-workers for a drink? I’d say no. He’s being disciplined because he decided to publish it.

I’m not sure why people think some thing you publish to the world should have the same standards as what you joke about in passing.

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I have no doubt that if he had made that joke at drinks and a co-worker were there, they'd report him to HR. Corporate surveillance state everywhere.

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I highly doubt that. Most folks wouldn’t even remember it. That’s kind of the point. He didn’t write it down and send it to tens of thousands of people.

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Problems of the internet age - what standard should the things you write on social media be held to? Certainly neither Twitter itself nor the prevailing culture of Twitter users would lead a typical person to believe that tweeting is Serious Business and you shouldn't ever make dumb jokes there. People make dumb jokes on Twitter (and other social media) all the time! And it's incredibly rare for anyone to get in real-world trouble for it.

Seems to me he's mainly in trouble because a coworker with a mean streak has decided to go on a crusade against him - something that is maybe also unwise to publish to the entire internet, but we'll probably all forget this whole affair long before she suffers any consequences for it.

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The psycho who witchhunted him for hours on Twitter would have gone after him regardless. Taking pretend offense of "harassment" is her personal brand.

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No she wouldn’t have as she wouldn’t have his offensive tweet. It’s all far less impactful without the written and published offensive statement.

I think you’re all wildly underweighting how much the fact that he chose to write it down and publish it fundamentally changes the dynamics.

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Freddie this post is very Christian of you.

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If I was a pastor I'd be "borrowing" a lot of Freddie's material for my sermons.

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Maybe he's been hanging around Elizabeth Bruenig too much!

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I wonder where's the same article for Harvey Weinstein ...

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May I suggest a middle ground between canceling people we disapprove of, and having sympathy for them? Perhaps we might just consider *ignoring the dickens* out of things that don't deeply concern us.

(I am willing to admit forgiveness and even active rebuilding/rehabilitation engagement as far superior to *just ignoring stuff* but whatever active rehabilitation is, this canceling ain't it.)

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I won't be buying tickets to any of her future movies but that should be easy because I've never bought tickets to any of her past ones either.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for someone who publicly smeared a romantic partner in a national newspaper during a time when those types of public revelations were purposefully intended to "bring justice" or whatever.

I honestly don't particularly care about this, though. I DO care about the guy with the dumb retweet getting eviscerated. But if people in Hollywood want to work with either of them, both of whom seem unstable and terrible as people, that's their prerogative. I hope their money comforts them.

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If you’re gonna judge people and not go to their movies, Well prepare your self to never see aqua man 2. Think bout it.

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I’m drawing the line. I won’t do it. Not even for Jason Momoa.

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The entire trial left me sad. The only thing I wanted for Depp and Heard was that they would never have to see each other again and maybe find their own paths forward to make better choices. Not only did they have to be together to redress in gory detail everything that happened, but they had to do so with a giant audience. As if that made things better.

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I don't agree with canceling her but there are too many people weighing in on this, judging the general public who have been ignored and forgotten by the high-minded media, without ever having watched the trial. Or looked at all of the evidence. When you do that you understand exactly what she has done. It isn't about just the op-ed. There is a timeline. What she has done is not just exploit the Me Too movement - fine - I don't particularly care. What I care about is the systematic abuse by her towards Depp that is being ignored. The wrath against Heard is about THAT. This is why people who do not understand the case are disturbed by that reaction. The majority of his supporters are domestic abuse survivors who rightly see her as the abuser. I agree that she should be able to work -- but know this: the media elite are siding with her, not him. He is the one whose career is ruined and if not for public support would never get it back. Even now people call him and think of him as a wife-beater. In recording after recording Heard taunts him, mocks him, screams at him, calls him a "baby" and a "pussy" because he runs from physical fights. He grew up abused by his mother - she grew up (supposedly) abused by her father. You can imagine what kind of match they made.

Her main complaint in counseling and on tapes was that he didn't stay and fight with her, even when, as she says, it got physical. He ran from her. She continually did everything she could to force a physical confrontation.

Timeline:

Johnny Depp's mother dies. He's already trying to exit the relationship. They have a fight as he's gathering the last of his things. She calls someone - he throws the phone at her.

The next day, people who saw Heard -- at least two -- said they saw no bruise on her face. The next day, at least one person sees her, no bruise on her face.

Her lawyers tell her she has to threaten him with abuse claims to get what she wants, which is: 50,000 a month in alimony, the Eastern Columbia building, their Range Rover. He doesn't give them to her (she did not sign a prenup and when he brought up a postnuptial she got so mad she threw a bottle at him which sliced off his finger, so that wasn't signed either).

Her own parents text Depp and tell him her lawyers are making her do it.

She goes public because he didn't meet her demands and they eventually settle. He gives her 7 million. She says she will donate that to charity.

It isn't until he sues the Sun that her outlandish tales of extreme physical abuse are claimed - raping her with a bottle, throwing her across the room, choking her, beating her with the back of his hand. For a woman who documented almost everything from him passed out on the couch to her own cuts and bruises -- she took no pictures of herself after this alleged assault? Witnesses who saw her immediately after saw no bruises. No cuts. Nothing.

Johnny loses his defamation case in the UK. Now Amber Heard is emboldened to become a spokesperson or domestic violence and sexual violence. She gives speeches. She writes the op-ed.

Depp, with no other options right now because the public will never believe him, must hold a very public trial. It becomes a cultural phenom. People finally have a chance to look at the case and hear the evidence. I was on her side until I did that.

He is vindicated fully in the trial. But the media can't let it go. They can't give up the idea that all women are victims and all men are abusers.

Sorry but as a victim of an extremely abusive relationship and a childhood of physical abuse I am horrified at her lies. And even more horrified by those who are now trying to tell people not to be upset about it.

So what is the punishment for Heard? Well, public shame is not a bad place to start. But I agree that she should be able to still work. I would be forgiving if she was honest and admitted she lied. I recorded a podcast and wrote a story about the trial with many of their recordings -- that link is here:

https://sashastone.substack.com/p/the-depp-verdict-shows-how-out-of?s=w#details

Johnny Depp was the one thrown away. And no one cares except his fans, most of whom are women.

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author

But you have sympathy for Johnny Depp, who admitted to headbutting his wife in the face

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As I recall, Depp admitted to the fact that this happened but did not admit that it was intentional. It was an accident -- unlike the physical fights Heard initiated and then belittled Depp for fleeing. She wanted a real man who would fight back, though I don't understand why. Those of us who have suffered physical abuse at the hands of women and have been reminded again and again that no one would believe us were we to talk about it have taken this trial very seriously.

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the guy never said anything near that lol ... wtf Fred

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btw I'm looking forward to ANOTHER downplay of Amber Heards actions regarding her post decision decisions.

This is the first time I vehemently disagree with you. Welp ... cant agree on everything. Have a good day.

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Full admission: my firsthand current witnessing of a man being abused by his female romantic partner makes me highly unsympathetic to any rehabilitation of her reputation.

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My mom to my dad too for his entire life.

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Jun 8, 2022·edited Jun 8, 2022

This is so important. There is a huge glaring hole in the discourse. People only want to talk about people’s interest in this trial in terms of MeToo: these people are for Johnny because they are tired of false accusations, and these other people are for Amber because they want to stand up for victims. Ignored are what I think is possibly the majority or at least a huge chunk of other people who found some relief in this outcome: people who see their own abuser in Amber Heard because they’ve been through similar abuse from a female they were in a relationship with: a wife, a girlfriend, or a mother. Our society needs to learn how to acknowledge this kind of abuse without turning it into a caricature (of the -polar or -sexual joke variety).

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I think I would be more willing to forgive her if she acknowledged her abusive behaviour and tried to change her ways. Freddie is right that kindness and forgiveness are superior to destroying her life, but I personally find it difficult to forgive someone who is so unrepentant of their wrong-doings that they double-down in their "i'm the victim, not the abuser" stance.

I would be interested on Freddie's views on forgiving unrepentant serial wrong-doers.

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Jun 9, 2022·edited Jun 9, 2022

I would go further and say that you _cannot_ forgive somebody who isn't contrite. You cannot extend forgiveness to somebody who is unrepentant. What you will be doing, instead, is excusing them. And this, of course, is exactly what a lot of people want ... they will admit everything about their behaviour except that it was wrong for them to do it. They don't want to be forgiven, they want to be understood, and what they want understood is that there is no need for repentance and forgiveness, because people who are sufficiently understanding will see that there was no wrongdoing here in the first place. (And, when the whole problem turns out to hinge on a misunderstanding, they may be correct in that there was no real wrongdoing. But then there are all those other times ...)

Sometimes excusing people who are in the wrong is the superior thing to do, and it often, but not always, shows advanced kindness and compassion, but it's not the same thing as forgiveness, and should not be mistaken for it.

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This makes me wonder if, in your Marxist reading, you’ve spent much time with the Christian socialist tradition. I’m neither Christian nor socialist, but it seems to me that Christian ethics of forgiveness and absolute spiritual brotherhood are one helpful framework for tempering the authoritarian excesses of leftism. (Atheists, no need to point out the historical authoritarian excesses of Christianity; I get it. I just think it’s possible that these two quasi-utopian projects have something to offer each other.)

Of course, Christians would say you have to forgive Harvey Weinstein, too — though perhaps not put him in a position of authority again.

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founding

Christianity has done nothing to temper the authoritarian excesses of rightism so why would it do anything of the kind for leftism? Marx has a pithy statement on the usefulness of religion that most of the socialist left follows.

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Bill Cosby (obligatory reference to his monstrousness) used to have a joke where he’s talking to someone about cocaine and the person says, “The thing I like about cocaine is that it INTENSIFIES your personality.” And Cosby responds, “Yes, but what if you’re an asshole?”

I think both Christianity and socialism are like cocaine in that way: they have a tendency to amplify both good and bad traits — which is why the history of both Is littered with evil done in the name of righteousness. You will note that I said I was neither a Christian nor a socialist.

But I will put it this way — I would rather be a peasant in a European Christian kingdom, in which even the king is constrained, to some extent, by both the social pressure to exhibit Christian virtues and perhaps by some fear of the divine wroth, than a peasant in any of the communist states that have seriously adopted Marxism, where party leaders nominally identify themselves with “the people” but in fact seem to feel no moral constraints at all.

And on a personal scale, I suppose I’d rather have a conflict with a Christian neighbor, who will likely feel some amount of duty to be forgiving and see others as brothers and sisters, than a secular neighbor with Marx on his shelves, who (in many cases) will consult only his own grievances and may well feel that he owes a capitalist pig like me no allegiance at all.

Or, to put it a third way, while both ideologies are suspicious of heretics and pagans (they are called “counterrevolutionaries” in socialist thought), there is a tempering commandment of love in Christianity. There is is no “love your enemy” commandment in Marxist thought that I am aware of. So that’s one place where I think Christianity could teach Marxism something. (Indeed, the need is so great that Freddie had spontaneously reinvented the command of love in this post!)

Still, your objection carries some force. And if civilization collapses and the scatterlings of man that remain forget the Bible and return to a quiet paganism, and a tribal life too small for either capitalist markets or organized socialism… well, perhaps it’s all for the best.

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founding

The root of our disagreement seems to be that you, and many other people in these comments, have an especially rosy view of Christianity and Christians, which does not match my experience with, and knowledge of, Christians.

The aspects of Christianity alluded to above focuses on forgiveness and loving your neighbor. In my experience, though, Christians are just as likely to be spiteful, hypocritical, full of grievances, and unwilling to extend their `charity' or `forgiveness' to non-Christians.

The fact that Christianity can be used to justify, and has been used to justify, blatant acts of cruelty throughout history, and to the present day, or can be used to argue for progress strikes me as a profound weakness that diminishes any claim to its truth, utility, or rightness.

> I would rather be a peasant in a European Christian kingdom, in which even the king is constrained...

I'm very sure that the serfs of Russia and the American slaves appreciated the moderating influence Christianity had over their masters...more likely they would have preferred to be a peasant in modern Cuba.

> I suppose I’d rather have a conflict with a Christian neighbor...

Or the Christian might feel like they had god on their side and that their grudge against you is justified, even blessed by god. Why do you presume Marxists are sociopaths who don't care about other people or believe in basic social order and manners?

> the need is so great that Freddie had spontaneously reinvented the command of love in this post!

Freddie didn't need to reinvent this; Christianity did not invent love and forgiveness of others, either. Those actions are something born of empathy, which many would argue is the primary motivating force of socialism.

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“In my experience, though, Christians are just as likely to be spiteful, hypocritical, full of grievances, and unwilling to extend their `charity' or `forgiveness' to non-Christians.”

Absolutely! And they admit it! They would be the first to tell you they are full of sin.

The point, though, is that Christianity has principles and language for talking about charity and forgiveness, and love even of our enemies. Socialism lacks language for talking about such things, and certainly lacks a higher power or other source of external motivation.

Your own examples tend to make the point. If American slaves didn’t appreciate the moderating influence of Christianity on their condition, we certainly can. Christian principles were a thorn in the side of slavery from the start, such that it required tortured chains of logic to ignore the basic Christian command. Abolitionists, on the other hand, lived their principles simply, because there was no contradiction to be overcome. The Quakers, John Brown, Frederick Douglass, and Abraham Lincoln all appealed to Christian principles to rally people against slavery. (And in the meantime. Christianity gave the slaves hope, and also a narrative that told them God was on their side when they tried to escape to freedom.)

My point is not that Christians are good people or that socialists are, as you say, “sociopaths.” Everyone is a mix of good and bad — mostly bad, if we’re honest. And so, naturally, much wrong is done in the name of pretty much every ideal.

But there are natural readings and strained readings of every philosophy. To me, the natural reading of Jesus’ philosophy is a frank acknowledgment that humans are full of sin, but also the insistence that we are called, by the creator of our existence, to chastise our worst impulses and try to be another way: to be mild and meek, to forgive our enemies and offer them the other cheek, and to seek our reward in heaven, and help the poor while we are here. (As Fred Clark, a prominent Christian liberal, has noted, there are two or three arguable references to sex in the New Testament, but HUNDREDS of references to the poor.)

This was, by the way, a very radical proposition at the time it was announced. Read Aristotle or any of the other ancient writers — loving one’s enemies was not a centerpiece of virtue. Christ was actually undermining a lot of the existing worldview. Of course love and empathy existed before Christianity. But I think it’s fair to say that that kind of radical love, even of those outside your family or tribe or nation… if Jesus didn’t invent it, he was certainly the big popularizer of it. (The Elvis Presley of radical forgiveness, if you will.)

And so when I encounter a Christian, I know that I can speak to the principle of radical love. I know that that idea has some claim on him. Now, he may not take me up on it. He may use sophistic reasoning to convince himself that for whatever reason, it’s actually okay to hate his enemy in this particular circumstance. But he’s rowing against the tide. It’s an unnatural reading of the faith he claims to adhere to. He has to sweat for it.

But when I encounter a socialist, what claim do I have on him? I am not saying that a socialist will not engage in love and forgiveness — of course he might! But there is no universal command of love that anyone can appeal to, no duty to love that he feels pressing on his heart. And if I am of the bourgeoisie, he may even feel a countervailing duty arising out of his Marxist principles — a duty to hate me and fight against me.

You note that a socialist’s love and forgiveness come from empathy — the same feeling that motivates him to be a socialist in the first place. Yes — and this is good, so far as it goes. But what happens when natural empathy runs dry? Christianity imposes a DUTY to love, even when your natural feelings no longer command it.

And this goes back to my original point: importing a principle — a DUTY — of radical love into socialism can be helpful. Don’t call it Christian if you don’t like that label. But I have found that Christian Socialism is one of socialism’s more appealing forms for me, precisely because it attempts to center love and transcendence in what is, otherwise, often a very cold and unforgiving philosophical matrix. If you have encountered Christian Socialism and disagree, that’s fine. I’m not here to win you to it. But it seems valuable to me.

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founding

> They would be the first to tell you they are full of sin.

I have found these pronouncements to be superficial in that :1) they don't stop Christians from passing judgement on me and demanding that I act a certain way/abstain from certain practices, and 2) it needn't, and often doesn't, seem to modify their behaviour. It offers me no comfort if a Christian constantly proclaims their own sin while simultaneously acting hostile to me or my interests.

> Socialism lacks language for talking about such things...

Yes, that's because socialism is primarily a way of arranging/managing an economy. Why one does or does not embrace it may have something to do with morals or ethics but it is not a system for or of moral or ethical claims.

> If American slaves didn’t appreciate the moderating influence of Christianity on their condition, we certainly can.

Certainly not. Slavery was explicitly justified in Christian terms. A few million people didn't think that the logic was at all tortured and quite a few were even willing to die for it. You're completely ignoring the historical and social reality of the pre-Civil War South in order to support your preferred view of Christianity. Slave owners and their defenders saw themselves as good Christians and used Biblical arguments to support the system of slavery. It doesn't matter that abolitionists also used Biblical arguments.

> To me, the natural reading of Jesus’ philosophy is ... to be mild and meek, to forgive our enemies and offer them the other cheek, and to seek our reward in heaven, and help the poor while we are here.

Please go persuade all of the other Christians of your interpretation and get them to act on it.

> But what happens when natural empathy runs dry? Christianity imposes a DUTY to love

This duty is constantly and consistently ignored or rationalized away. The `love the sinner but hate the sin' approach still yields abuses, and the abridgment of the rights, of others.

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“It doesn't matter that abolitionists also used Biblical arguments.”

Eh. I think it does. Any other argument would have carried considerably less force in a Christian nation — and you seem to be overlooking that their view ultimately prevailed. There is certainly nothing natural about being anti-slavery if you are not a slave — the history of humanity over the past several thousand years, in Christian societies and non-, proves that the natural state of humans is to be wiling to enslave others. It took an idea, an ideology, to change that. And that ideology was explicitly Christian. That YOU, living almost two centuries later, now feel comfortable abandoning that ideology only shows how thoroughly it did its work.

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founding
Jun 9, 2022·edited Jun 9, 2022

I did want to mention, RE: the duty of Christians to love (radical love as you put it), that you seem to believe that all Christians are Unitarians and that their love is always positive or at least benign.

What you don't account for is that Christian `love' is often more than a bit restrictive to the object of the so-called love. For example, a majority of Evangelical Christians would seek to deny gay people the opportunity of marriage. They won't even allow physical intimacy between adults and all because they love the sinner but want to save them from damnation. Slaveholders also purported to love their slaves and were only acting as shepherds to a barely human population (and in fact justified enslavement as an opportunity to force Christianity on the poor souls).

I think we can do without Christian love.

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And you seem to believe that all Christians are some combination of John Lithgow in Footloose and Jefferson Davis. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anyway, good luck. I wish you all the best in your post-Christian world. It will definitely all be gentle and kind and humane. I’m sure once people are freed from the shackles of Christian love they will definitely not have weird sex stuff and will not want to brutalize their fellow men.

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Forgive me for commenting after barely even glancing at this piece. I’ll have time later for it. But to me this is just the latest installment of an ongoing series of pieces involving you saying hugely important things that we all need to be talking about.

There is a cognitive dissonance in our culture between “the most important thing that we all need to do is to care about other people and be sensitive to what they go through” and “fuck you, you’re banished forever”

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Fine. Let's forgive Amber Heard. But first she must stop her counterproductive regurgitation of accusations that have been found by a jury to be untrue. The case was, narrowly, about the WaPo essay (ghost-written by the ACLU in exchange for her promise -- unfulfilled -- of $3.5 million dollars) but more generally about a series of, frankly, insane statements Heard made about Depp's behavior. Can anyone truly believe that he raped her with a broken bottle? For those who did not follow the trial, let me state that Heard does not have a single doctor's report, ER report, or other medical evidence -- other than clearly faked and doctored photos -- to support any of her allegations of physical or sexual abuse.

What made Heard so unsympathetic (and continues to) is not just her mendacity but her refusal to admit to it even when she is caught red-handed. During the trial she kept repeating that she just wanted to be left alone. So why, now that it is over, does she keep Instagramming and tweeting in defense of her indefensible behavior? Freddie can say all he wants that she's speaking her "truth," but as he has eloquently argued many times before, it's only truth if it's true. Anyone who watched Heard's testimony has to admit that she is a pathological liar who continues to make thins worse for herself by not letting go. This is not the first intimate relationship she's had in which she has been proven to be the abuser.

If she wants to rehabilitate her image, I suggest she just be quiet for a few hours and let the truth of the jury's verdict stand.

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founding

Great and necessary post.

Below is a relevant excerpt from Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address (any excuse to quote this majestic speech!)

"Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered ~ that of neither has been answered fully."

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