Ideas

“Social Justice” Broke My Mind

FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff talks with the Daily Caller’s Ginni Thomas

Not only is the situation on campus bad for freedom of speech, I think we’re teaching students to engage in cognitive distortion. We’re teaching them to magnify problems, we’re teaching them to personalise problems, we’re teaching them to engage in all-or-nothing thinking. All things, research indicates, that if you adopt them as mental habits are going to make you miserable. 

“Censorship is like taking Xanax for syphilis. Essentially, it just makes you feel a little better, calms you down, but it sure isn’t doing anything for your disease.”


Not So

New York Times, December 8, 1985:  

For the most part, the portable computer is a dream machine for the few… On the whole, people don’t want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper. Somehow, the microcomputer industry has assumed that everyone would love to have a keyboard grafted on as an extension of their fingers. It just is not so.

In 1985, the New York Times claimed a weekday circulation of just over one million copies. Specifically, 1,013,211 on March 31. In 2015, when most Americans have computers in their pockets (and even use them at the beach and on trains), print sales of the New York Times have fallen to around half that figure, and the paper is chiefly read via the kind of devices once dismissed as implausible. Rather than “whiling away the hours reading the sports or business section,” the majority of readers are now “flybys,” their stays lasting for an average of four minutes, generally to read something linked via email and social media. And browsing one article isn’t quite the same thing as reading a newspaper.  

Via Kevin D Williamson


Elsewhere (141)

Jim Goad is entertained by the vehement nuttiness of the Black Hebrew Israelites: 

When I say “hate group,” I don’t mean groups who are accused of being hateful; I mean ones that get right up in your face and tell you they’re full of hate… Framed as they are within this dreadfully medicated and morbidly smiley-faced modern world, I find such jagged incongruity hilarious. For two decades running — ever since a friend sent me a VHS tape of them harassing the fuck out of frightened passers-by in Times Square — my “favourite” hate group has been the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, notably the screamingly belligerent iterations that infest street corners in the Northeast and Midwest bellowing through microphones and megaphones about “crackers” and “faggots” and “so-called Negroes.” For starters, I like the way they, well… goad people. I also enjoy their pharaonic sense of couture, which is an odd mix of Arabian Nights and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

Peter Risdon on purity, extremism and the madness of Russell Brand: 

The narcissism of much of the middle class left is tautological, considering that they are people born into above average affluence who still feel they should get other people’s money because their art, or environmental campaigning, or political thought – rather than their need for subsistence – merits it.

Brian Micklethwait offers a handy tip: 

If someone starts to offer you unsolicited advice about how to improve whatever it is that you are doing, immediately ask if they are prepared to get involved and implement their suggestion themselves. If the answer is yes, listen to what they have to say. If the answer is no, stop them right there and change the subject.

And Maetenloch mulls the utopian blueprint of a certain feminist bedlamite: 

Now before everyone gets too excited I have to tell you that there’s a drawback to it: About a half of you are going to have to be killed.

We also learn that, without men, “women’s life expectancy would rise to 130 years at least.”

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.


He’s a Fan of Laurie Penny, You Know

You could argue that New York City after the Occupy movement experienced a positive change in social atmosphere, a democratisation of artistic space, and a revival of its radical mojo.

So says Paul Mason, a fifty-something former Trotskyite and Workers’ Power enthusiast, who, despite his advancing years, is still aroused by mob thuggery and driven to high drama by the state of Twitter. Mr Mason is imagining his ideal city, his own urban utopia:  

I will describe the city I would like to live in. First, it is near the sea, or another body of water warm enough to swim in. Second, it has entire neighbourhoods designed around hipster economics. Though currently maligned, hipsters are crucial signifiers of a successful city economy. Their presence shows it is possible to live on your wits even as neoliberalism stagnates. Such neighbourhoods… are home both to hipsters and ethnically diverse poor communities, who refrain from fighting each other.

I suspect a classic sentence may be lurking in there somewhere. 

The bold envisioning continues,

It has to have theatres. Not just big ones. 

And, naturally,

political unrest.

It being a “measure of aspiration,” something for our Guardianista to write about, gushingly, and practically fellate. And who wouldn’t want their neighbourhood enlivened by rioting and the odd burning car? 

Continue reading "He’s a Fan of Laurie Penny, You Know" »


The Doing of Social Science

Or, Why Don’t More Women Care About Ant-Man’s Pym Particles?  

Writing in the Washington Free Beacon, Elizabeth Harrington tells us

The National Science Foundation is spending over $200,000 to find out why Wikipedia is sexist. The government has awarded two grants for collaborative research to professors at Yale University and New York University to study what the researchers describe as “systematic gender bias” in the online encyclopaedia. […] Noam Cohen, a columnist for the New York Times… has asserted the encyclopaedia is biased because articles about friendship bracelets are shorter than entries about baseball cards. “And consider the disparity between two popular series on HBO: The entry on Sex and the City includes only a brief summary of every episode, sometimes two or three sentences; the one on The Sopranos includes lengthy, detailed articles on each episode,” he wrote.

Such are the ruminations of the modern intellectual. 

Although not indulged with $200,000 of public money, the mighty blogger Ace does share a few unorthodox ideas. Ideas, I mean, that are unorthodox among many left-leaning academics and New York Times columnists:

The very fact that a site exists which gives an exhaustive, 4000-word-plus citations treatment of Ant-Man is going to skew male… Men (well, those of a nerdly bent) tend to be interested in trivia and obscura; women tend to not be, or at least not so much. I don’t care about Ant-Man, but for some reason I find comfort in knowing that someone out there does care about Ant-Man, and has digested Ant-Man’s fifty year history for me, should my life ever depend on knowing when Ant-Man married Janet Van Dyne… So the real [feminist] complaint boils down to this: The ten percent of a website which could reflect the cultural preferences of its unpaid volunteers does in fact reflect the cultural preferences of its unpaid volunteers, and yes, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine does get a more exhaustive, nerdishly-loving treatment than Sex and the City.

The federal government needs to pay people to study this and propose “solutions”? It occurs to me that we’ve spent $202,000 for a “study” which deliberately avoids a very simple explanation: Women just aren’t as interested in this type of crap as men. You don’t have to believe that to at least agree: This should have been one of the explanations scientifically studied, if we’re going to have a scientific study at all.

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Elsewhere (127)

Franklin Einspruch on the new censors: 

For a long while I’ve been trying to interest my friends in the art world to get behind freedom of speech in a bigger way, to recognise that the very health of the marketplace of ideas depends on its openness to entry and its freedom of transaction... This usually doesn’t persuade anyone who isn’t already liberty-minded to begin with. So next I resort to self-interest. We creative types rely on that openness to function. If we don’t stand in defence of hate speech — not the content, just the right to express it — any mechanisms for cutting it off will eventually be used against us. If injured feelings take on the seriousness of injured bodies, we will become a society that pulls art off of walls, cancels performances, and strikes essays from public view. Sadly, this usually doesn’t work either, because the targets of accusations of hate speech typically lean right, and the art community leans left. 

Franklin also links to this Pew survey of social media use, which suggests that self-described progressives are statistically much more likely to ban or block people with whom they disagree. A finding that may not be entirely shocking to regular readers. 

And somewhat related, Greg Collins on the unremarked privileges of the self-appointed privilege police: 

The paramount privilege at universities is not race, class, or gender, but intellectual soft despotism… A student whose worldview clings to that of university administrators and professors has the advantage of accessing university resources, money, and time to drive his cause. These instruments are far more powerful in granting benefits to politically preferred groups in higher education than subconscious biases in favour of particular races or classes. It is a privilege when your views conform with those of more than 90 percent of your professors. It is a privilege when your worldviews are blessed by a proliferation of like-minded commencement speakers and guest lecturers. And it is a privilege when you have university resources, money, and time within fingertips’ reach to wield to advance your political cause. 

As an illustration of this leverage, Collins mentions one of many sabotaged speaking events - a talk by the conservative writer Don Feder at the University of Massachusetts in March 2009, the subject of which was, or would have been, free speech. Within 20 seconds of opening his mouth, Feder had been interrupted, shouted down and called a racist, before being screamed at repeatedly and assailed with epithets about his daughter. Despite his pleas for civility, Feder was unable to speak for more than three minutes without further, often deafening interruption by members of the International Socialist Organisation and Radical Student Union. Footage of the disruption can be seen here. Despite the students’ prolonged attempts to intimidate Feder and prevent the intended discussion taking place – a goal they accomplished - campus officials later claimed that Feder “chose to discontinue his speech.” An interesting, and revealing, choice of words.

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Elsewhere (126)

Christina Hoff Sommers on feminist scholarship: 

The problem with a lot of research on women is not so much that the authors make mistakes — we all make mistakes — the problem is that the mistakes are impervious to criticism.

For a flavour of that imperviousness and some feminist reactions to being corrected, see also this

Glenn Reynolds on unsustainable ideologies: 

I’m reminded of what Robert Heinlein said about hippies: “Hippydom is not itself a culture (as the hippies seem to think) as it has no economic foundation; it can exist only as a parasitic excrescence to the ‘square’ culture.” So too with the academic humanities, which have largely squandered the moral and intellectual capital they once possessed by adopting the roles of adversaries to, rather than preservers of, the larger culture. This, too, turns out not to be sustainable.

That adversarial role-play has been discussed here many times, along with its descent into psychodrama

And Ed Driscoll discovers there are no socialists in divorce court: 

Michael Moore, who has spent his entire career attacking capitalism, wealth, and Wall Street, is suddenly very protective concerning the capital, wealth and investments he has amassed over the years. As Christian Toto writes at Big Hollywood, “Far-left filmmaker Michael Moore is divorcing his wife, and the looming court battle looks ugly already.” Christian links to this Smoking Gun report, which notes that “the couple’s combined assets are likely worth tens of millions of dollars,” including “multiple substantial residences and multiple companies.”

But America’s most outspoken socialist, being an outspoken socialist, deserves nine properties, including an agreeable Upper West Side apartment valued at $1.27 million and, naturally, a mansion. This, remember, is a self-described multimillionaire who told the world, quite boldly, “Capitalism did nothing for me.” 

As always, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments.