David Thompson
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October 11, 2015

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David

As Fabian Tassano, author of the excellent Mediocracy, wrote a while ago,

A mediocracy encourages people to react personally. Instead of considering whether something is true, people ask themselves, “how does this affect me? Should I have an emotional reaction to this?” An example. When I once suggested to my younger brother - who, like me, spent part of his education in the state sector - that state schools seem to be bad for many people, and to damage them psychologically, his response was “Thanks a lot, that makes me feel really great.” The only way my brother could apparently regard the hypothesis that state schools are awful was in terms of a possible insult to himself.

I understand my brother’s reaction, and I suspect many alumni of state schools have a similar attitude. The trouble is, if no one who attended a state school is able to have an impersonal/objective approach, and be willing to admit it was damaging, those responsible for perpetuating the state school system can go on doing so unchecked, while claiming the moral high ground.

There are certain issues that have become so ideologically loaded that not only are they taboo for discussion, but it is impossible even to come within a hundred yards of them, by alluding to them. Thought immediately stops, to be replaced by an emotional reaction. As the issues in question become more and more loaded, the radius of the area which is unanalysable increases. There also seems to be a desire to have as many such issues as possible, clogging up as large an area of thought as possible, since their number appears to be going up.

And for some, this is a feature, not a bug. As noted here many times, it’s remarkable just how easily, and willingly, some supposedly worldly people are scandalised by the stating of certain facts or the raising of The Wrong Kind of Question, however tentatively. An attempt to discuss, say, IQ and heredity or gender ratios in certain professions is likely to be met with an extraordinary reactiveness and clutching of pearls. Nowhere more so than in academia, where the young and impressionable learn what not to think about.

Min

Thought immediately stops, to be replaced by an emotional reaction

See also "rape culture", "gender pay gap", "racial profiling", "Islamophobia", "privilege", "social justice". In fact half the stuff students talk about.

Joan

Taco hate crime!

http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=6873

PiperPaul

I don't think that most of what we're seeing from the cultural outrage crowd is quite what Eisenhower meant when he said something to the effect of "If you can't solve a problem, make it bigger".

Nikw211

    There are certain issues that have become so ideologically loaded that not only are they taboo for discussion, but it is impossible even to come within a hundred yards of them, by alluding to them. Thought immediately stops, to be replaced by an emotional reaction.

Fear being the emotional reaction in question of course: fear of being forced out of one's job, and of being shunned as a social pariah at the hands of a venomous squawking flock of self-satisfied malcontents.

Related:

The BBC reports that 'witchcraft' abuse cases are up, illustrated with a photo of Victoria Climbié who British people are likely to remember.

For those who don't know, Climbié was an 8 year-old Ivorian child living in London who suffered the most horrific and sustained torture at the hands of a distant relative and her partner until her eventual murder in 2000 even though social services had been aware of serious risks to the child since 1999.

The 2003 government inquiry into Climbié's murder concludes that:

    "Fear of being accused of racism can stop [the police] acting when otherwise they would."

The inquiry also includes the following about a Ms Angella Mairs, a manager with London's social services at the time of whom her own staff informed investigators that she had "a reputation for being a bit of a bully"; Mairs:

    … did not like police officers coming into the social services office

and she also said that she:

    found it difficult to work with some Haringey police officers, citing “institutional racism” as the reason. Later, however, she tried to distance herself from this statement by suggesting that all such problems had long disappeared by the time Victoria’s case was being dealt with.

From this the inquiry, concludes that there was:

    … enough evidence from other witnesses to conclude that the police in Haringey allowed themselves to be ‘led by the nose’ by Haringey Social Services. This subservient approach seriously compromised their ability to carry out robust, speedy and effective criminal investigations.

Climbié first came to the attention of social services in 1999, was murdered in 2000 and had her story widely publicized long before the report of 2003.

All of which begs the question – where the actual fuck were Rotherham councilors, social services and police and what were they doing while the rest of the nation found itself horrified by Climbié's story and shocked by the conclusion that fears of being labeled racist had contributed significantly to the absuse and murder of a child?

Over a decade on, and Rotherham's own Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham (1997 – 2013) which investigates the "approximately 1400 children [who] were sexually exploited" notes that:

    By far the majority of perpetrators were described as 'Asian' by victims, yet throughout the entire period, councillors did not engage directly with the Pakistani-heritage community to discuss how best they could jointly address the issue … Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist.

"… fear of being thought racist".

Hm.

Even though I can't quite agree with James Delingpole here, this rather well-known video of him attempting to speak over the squawking of a venomous flock of self-satisfied malcontents in the (apparently unironically) named BBC 'Free Speech' programme illustrates the depth of that particular problem with a certain degree of force.

R. Sherman

As noted here many times, it’s remarkable just how easily, and willingly, some supposedly worldly people are scandalised by the stating of certain facts or the raising of The Wrong Kind of Question, however tentatively.

Some years ago, my spouse attended an academic conference in Berlin where one of the speakers was a Jewish resident of that city. In response to a question, the Jewish lady indicated she'd never been accosted by "Neo-Nazi Skinheads" on the subway, but had been many times by Muslim immigrants. This answer--again, to a direct question, and not out of the blue--was deemed "offensive" to many of the participants. My spouse asked one of those offended whether she thought the speaker was lying. "Oh, no," said the participant. "But saying those things give people the 'wrong' idea."

Ponder that in all its glory.

DensityDuck

I kind of feel like that's the defining feature of modern Western culture; everything is Someone Else's Fault. These specific awful things I'm doing, it's not my choice, I'm just doing what other people have forced me to do. Maybe I can't point to actual other people, maybe those people only exist in theory, but I have to do things how they want. It's not ME pepper-spraying students, really, it's the people who will complain to the management if I don't. So it's their fault, really, right? Hey, kid, stay down or you'll have another, I got plenty.

Darleen

"Fear of being accused of racism can stop [the police] acting when otherwise they would."

See: Nidal Hasan

David

One of my earliest memorable moments as a blog host happened during the thread following this post on the saga of former Harvard president Larry Summers. Summers had tentatively suggested that the alleged “under-representation” of women in science, maths and engineering may, in part, be explained by innate differences between men and women. Differences of statistical aptitude, psychology and preference. A heresy for which he was fired following the outrage of hyperventilating colleagues. During my long exchange with a commenter and blogger named Dr Dawg, he conceded that our debate – which was forthright but civil and very much concerned with the testing of assumptions – would be regarded as improper or close to scandalous on many campuses.

He was, of course, right. If only in that detail.

Anna

This.

David Gillies

Ginni Thomas is right about the fostering of emotional instability. I was talking yesterday with some friends about how the ability to respond rationally to provocation has almost vanished, and how toxic it is. I even quoted the line from Epictetus about one's own opinion being that which provokes. We all agreed that attempting a little bit of resilience in the face of annoyances was healthy. Many behaviour-modification therapies are founded on the idea that it is only one's response to external events that is really under our control. I include Twelve Step programmes, CBT, REBT, mindfulness, whathaveyou: they're all essentially variants of Stoicism. Be that as it may, forbearance when confronted with something one dislikes has not merely fallen out of fashion; it has been actively driven out of the emotional armamentarium we used to assume was possessed by those strange beings we called adults. If people were emotionally incontinent before, now they act like Crohn's disease sufferers after a three-day Taco Bell bender.

David

forbearance when confronted with something one dislikes has not merely fallen out of fashion; it has been actively driven out of the emotional armamentarium we used to assume was possessed by those strange beings we called adults.

That does seem to be the trend, certainly among students, for whom theatrical outrage - recreational outrage - can be a source of in-group status and social leverage. While emotional self-possession tends not to be. There’s also the fact that when faced with someone who explodes with indignation when challenged or corrected, most of us won’t press the point and instead will bugger off and do something more rewarding. Which has obvious advantages for the person who explodes, or pretends to explode.

David

Meanwhile, and not entirely unrelated, the fashionable mode of leftism seems to entail endless displays of how much you fret about and disapprove of something or other, regardless of how trivial the thing in question is at any given moment, and regardless of how contrived and unrealistic the reaction is. Hence the ponderous umbrage about cupcakes, barbecues and coffee cups. For the fashionable leftist, nothing is too small to whine about in public while affecting a mix of personal hurt and intellectual superiority.

The pretence must be exhausting and seems awfully close to a neurotic compulsion, as life becomes an exercise in affectation and bad faith.

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Will

Oops. I was trying to clean my keyboard without realizing that the cursor was in an active window.

Sorry about that.

David

I trust it’s been thoroughly buffed.

Darleen

the fashionable mode of leftism seems to entail endless displays of how much you fret about and disapprove of something or other, regardless of how trivial the thing in question

It is virtue signaling. The peacock with the brightest tail feathers, the sage grouse with the better strut ... it is less about what one actually does and more about publicly being the first to find new areas of "oppression" to tut-tut about.

And nothing will interfere with virtue-signally like asking inconvenient questions.

David

the sage grouse with the better strut

I’m assuming those aren’t testicles.

Spiny Norman

The "burp" sounds occur when males inhale or exhale air from their vocal sac.

They attract females by belching? Male beer drinkers around the world say, "See? We are not pigs, we're grouse."

james

Summers had tentatively suggested that the alleged “under-representation” of women in science, maths and engineering may, in part, be explained by innate differences between men and women.

via Samizdata:

I believe current dogma is that men and women are absolutely and completely identical except men are bastards

Can I have my Humanities Degree now, or do I have to write the above again, and again, for 3 years?

David Gillies

"For the fashionable leftist, nothing is too small to whine about[…]The pretence must be exhausting"

I've said that before, here and elsewhere. It's really just a grubby and pettifogging kind of totalitarianism, by which I mean the wish for the State's reach to be all-encompassing. Not a sparrow falleth, except that it give rise to a column about it in Comment is Free. In Robert Evans's Reich trilogy, especially in the first volume, one of the dominant themes is how thoroughly the Nazis wished to subsume normal social interaction into their overriding vision. They called it Gleichschaltung but it is mirrored in the cavalier way that George Monbiot, for example, wishes to re-order people's lives according to his principles and not their own. Is Mongbat a Nazi? No, but his will to impose derives from the same homogenising credo that they had. And you see it again and again in the other branch of Leftism, with all the Marxist-Leninist mumbo-jumbo about the New Soviet Man.

[+]

"Violence".

https://twitter.com/thelindywest/status/644663954761842688

David

Somewhat related:

“If you correct my distortions, calmly and with evidence, I will scream at you.”

Chester Draws

"For the fashionable leftist, nothing is too small to whine about[…]The pretence must be exhausting"

Sure, but such whining is also a staple of the conservative (small c) right too. Just on different territory.

In the UK Jeremy Corbyn is lambasted for not wearing a tie at a WWI Memorial. It's not like he normally dresses well and deliberately didn't that time, and a lot of the people complaining would never wear a tie, but showing an entirely made-up "disrespect" is a cheap ploy they are prepared to wheel out for political advantage.

NZ veterans aren't above it too: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11527933 falsely equating thinking about changing the flag with showing "disrespect" for the war dead.

Our Returned Services Association is so often like that I've stopped buying their poppies on Anzac Day. They're as whiny as any SJW.

rjmadden

“If you correct my distortions, calmly and with evidence, I will scream at you.”

I watched the video again and had to remind myself that mad screaming woman is a professor of philosophy.

David

Meanwhile,

A cocktail called “The Colonial Comeback” was served at a debate over colonial reparations. [The subsequent protest] resulted in the Oxford Union declaring themselves “institutionally racist” and mandating racial awareness workshops for committee members.

That’s from this article in the Oxford Student newspaper. If you think it’s slightly odd, you should read what comes before it.

Via Chris Snowdon.

witwoud

Chester Draws: "In the UK Jeremy Corbyn is lambasted for not wearing a tie at a WWI Memorial"

Whoops. I think you've boobed there, Chester.

Hal

Chester Draws: "In the UK Jeremy Corbyn is lambasted for not wearing a tie at a WWI Memorial"

Whoops. I think you've boobed there, Chester.

Hmmm. With a bit of digging about, the issue would be more about Corbyn not singing, rather than admittedly more properly not wearing a tie . . .

R. Sherman

When facts and narrative collide.

Connor

A cocktail called “The Colonial Comeback” was served at a debate over colonial reparations. [The subsequent protest] resulted in the Oxford Union declaring themselves “institutionally racist” and mandating racial awareness workshops for committee members.

Do these idiots know any 20th century history?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Struggle_session

Tom

"When facts and narrative collide."

Interesting. If she truly believes she had 'non-consensual sex' and caused 'irreparable harm' I assume that she'll be turning herself into the police as she's admitting to rape, or is there another word for 'non-consensual sex' (sorry, but I think it deserves the scare quotes) of which I'm not aware.

According to her statement that doesn't sound likely though. After all, who'd want to go to jail when they could:

I commit to educating myself properly about consent by reading zines and other materials which have kindly been made available to me

...read some zines.

JuliaM

It seems Edward Snowdon has finally alienated his SJW crowd:

https://twitter.com/andybechtel/status/653730393091391488

The cognitive dissonance! It BUUUURRRRNNNS!

Chester Draws

With a bit of digging about, the issue would be more about Corbyn not singing, rather than admittedly more properly not wearing a tie . .

Sorry, it was wearing a tie badly, combined with a mismatched suit.

So we got: Do your shirt up properly and sing the National Anthem at a memorial service for The War Dead - #Corbyn DISGRACEFUL

He dresses badly all the time. It was no particular disgrace to do so at the Memorial service.

Patrick Brown

Corbyn's appearance at the war memorial is an echo, possibly deliberate on his part, certainly deliberate on the part of the press, of former Labour leader Michael Foot's scandalous appearance at the Cenotaph in 1981 wearing what was described as a "donkey jacket" - in reality, a thigh-length coat rather than a calf-length one. Foot was a hard-lefty who people generally thought was decent if a bit otherworldly, and lost badly to Thatcher in 1983 on a a manifesto that promised unilateral nuclear disarmament, leaving the EU and nationalising the banks.

I'm coming to the conclusion that Corbyn is an even worse proposition than Foot. He comes across personally as honest and civil, but when your closest ally is a political thug like John McDonnell, your support is largely composed of people who think spitting on journalists covering rival parties' conferences is reasonable, and you have a history of actively supporting the IRA, I can't see you reaching out to the wider electorate very effectively. Corbyn is Labour's Ian Duncan Smith, and the hard left, like the swivel-eyed wing of the Tory party, doesn't understand that it doesn't represent the electorate as a whole.

jones

David,

I know this may seem like a strange question but isn't this a different vid to the one when you first put the post up?

I really enjoyed the other one but only caught 5 minutes of it before work today.

Andy

David

I know this may seem like a strange question but isn’t this a different vid to the one when you first put the post up?

Um, not that I know of. I haven’t changed the embed code. Has the video been re-edited?

jones

Hmm..no, I'm sure the vid before had a former intelligence analyst who was talking about "wrong-thought" and propaganda/political correctness.? It was definitely a "Daily Caller" production too...

I might just be losing my mind again. Might be thinking of another website.

Ah well..

Cheers.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

Julia:

I get a "Sorry, that page doesn't exist" error. I presume the post was taken down.

JuliaM

Thank god I took a screenshot! It's at my blog - don't know if I can post it in comments.

DensityDuck

Julia and Ted, try this: https://archive.is/LAGv5

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