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Old 07-08-2020, 04:46 PM
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Question I Stand with Noam!

You might have heard that an open letter published by Harpers magazine has caused quite a stir on Twitter. To me it reads like a boilerplate defense of free speech/open debate, but to many very vocal liberals it is an abomination.

I disagree with some of the criticisms but there's no way in hell I would express that disagreement on Twitter, because I don't think I would like waking up to all my social media being flooded with hateful diatribes, being blocked by many people I otherwise respect, and potentially losing my job (a bit of hyperbole in my case, but not for some others).

I don't understand how the left has become the party of any disagreement with any core liberal belief will get you branded and ostracized, but here we are.

Fight me.
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  #2  
Old 07-08-2020, 05:30 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

I haven't even read it, so I believe I am the perfect person to fight you.

My impression, having not read it, is that these people want free speech without consequences. They want to be able to say hateful things and not be told they're hateful pieces of shite, or have their business/works be boycotted.

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Old 07-08-2020, 05:45 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

Quote:
Originally Posted by slimshady2357
My impression, having not read it, is that these people want free speech without consequences. They want to be able to say hateful things and not be told they're hateful pieces of shite, or have their business/works be boycotted.
That does seem to be the consensus among a lot of folks, and it's certainly believable about some of the signatories (JK Rowling, Bari Weiss, etc.) but Noam Chomsky? Malcom Gladwell? Nell Irwin Painter? I'm not aware of any of them having a reputation for saying horrible things, and lord knows at 92 Chomsky probably isn't worried about losing his job.

BTW here's an article about the letter in NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/a...rs-letter.html

And the letter itself (which is really quite brief): https://harpers.org/a-letter-on-just...d-open-debate/
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Old 07-08-2020, 05:49 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

Quote:
Originally Posted by viscousmemories View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by slimshady2357
My impression, having not read it, is that these people want free speech without consequences. They want to be able to say hateful things and not be told they're hateful pieces of shite, or have their business/works be boycotted.
That does seem to be the consensus among a lot of folks, and it's certainly believable about some of the signatories (JK Rowling, Bari Weiss, etc.) but Noam Chomsky? Malcom Gladwell? Nell Irwin Painter? I'm not aware of any of them having a reputation for saying horrible things, and lord knows at 92 Chomsky probably isn't worried about losing his job.
Interesting you mention Rowling and Bari Weiss as they are the people I was thinking about. The only backlash I've seen against it has been directed specifically at those type of people.

I don't know who wrote it. I suppose I should actually read it.
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Old 07-08-2020, 05:59 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

Ok, I still haven't read it.

But I did read this Washington Post piece that might help others who don't know what is going on. It also has a link to the actual Harper's Letter.

Harper’s Magazine letter warning of stifled free speech signed by J.K. Rowling, Noam Chomsky draws mixed reviews - The Washington Post
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Old 07-08-2020, 06:02 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

Per the Times article it was apparently a collaborative effort spearheaded by this dude:

Quote:
But the letter, which was spearheaded by the writer Thomas Chatterton Williams, began taking shape about a month ago, as part of a long-running conversation about these issues with a small group of writers including the historian David Greenberg, the writer Mark Lilla and the journalists Robert Worth and George Packer.

Mr. Williams, a columnist for Harper’s and contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, said that initially, there was concern over timing.
Oh another things that gets my goat is that they don't use the phrase 'cancel culture' once in the orginal piece, but Twitter is blowing up with people describing it as an open letter condemning 'cancel culture' and then a chorus of outraged people saying "those idiots, cancel culture isn't even a real thing!!" as if any of them had said it was.
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Old 07-08-2020, 06:03 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

Quote:
Originally Posted by slimshady2357 View Post
Ok, I still haven't read it.

But I did read this Washington Post piece
OMG YOU COULD HAVE READ IT FIVE TIMES BY NOW.
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Old 07-08-2020, 06:23 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

Quote:
Originally Posted by viscousmemories View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by slimshady2357 View Post
Ok, I still haven't read it.

But I did read this Washington Post piece
OMG YOU COULD HAVE READ IT FIVE TIMES BY NOW.
I read it, I read it :lol:

I have mixed feelings.

Quote:
Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal. We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement.
There should be boundaries on what can be said without fear of reprisals though. I don't know how or where to draw lines and I understand the writers/signers of this letter think the lines are moving in too far/fast.

But if the Times chief editor is running op-eds by white supremacists saying whites are indeed superior, I think he maybe he should be fired.

So where are the lines? I don't know.
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Old 07-08-2020, 07:03 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

A couple of the signatories explained their reasoning:

Garry Kasparov: https://twitter.com/Kasparov63/statu...059421185?s=20
Yascha Mounk: https://twitter.com/Yascha_Mounk/sta...801528832?s=20

One distanced herself because of the backlash:

Jennifer Finney Boylan: https://twitter.com/JennyBoylan/stat...136697863?s=20

Another woman who I'd never heard of, a historian, asked for a retraction so they removed her name. Someone else claimed that said woman's name had been added by a colleague without her consent, but I'm skeptical.

A (writer?) at Vox sent a letter to her editors expressing her disappointment that someone else at Vox had signed the list, creating the appearance (despite her denial) that she was literally trying to get someone cancelled for signing a letter opposing cancelling.
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Old 07-08-2020, 07:14 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

I haven’t read it either, but I get massive eye rolls whenever large publications or rich people exercising free speech to bitch and moan about how they don’t have true freedom of speech.

I’m already bristling at the thought of them whining about ‘cancel culture’ because they are being targetted unfairly with, with, words and opinions!! There are plenty of real attacks on freedom of speech and none of them start with “Someone was mean to me on twitter.”

But then my idea of freedom of speech was formed by authors like Voltaire who they literally tried to set on fire and who had to escape under the veil of darkness to survive. So ‘I was flamed on twitter’ needs to be an actual fire.

...Maybe I should read it.

(IMO ‘cancel culture’ is both stupid and built by these magazines, by the media people consume telling them that their first emotional reaction is the correct one, and now the media is crying because the culture they built is turning on them.)
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Old 07-08-2020, 07:22 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

I guess I want to know what the writers want to happen? What change would they like to see specifically?

Are they saying I shouldn't respond to Neo-Nazi's with "you're a racist gobshite, fuck off"? Surely not, as they'd be limiting my free speech. Are they saying I shouldn't tell, say, the Times that I'm boycotting their paper for publishing an op-ed saying the army should be allowed to shoot BLM protesters?

Or are they saying the Times shouldn't fire an editor when thousands of people respond in such a way?

What do they want to see happen? Give specific examples of how this trend has caused the unwanted consequences and tell me how it should have went down instead.
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Old 07-08-2020, 07:53 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

"What is the point of it?" is a good question. I guess just trying to get people to be aware that groupthink happens and often doesn't end well?

A number of people have mentioned that it is "full of dog-whistles" and seem convinced that if you just "read between the lines" (rather than the words on the page, I guess?) it is clearly an attempt on behalf of TERFs to protest criticism of their views.

Someone I follow on Twitter posted a seemingly earnest "I don't get what the big deal is" and I was about to respond to him when I thought better of it. To me that is the "chilling effect" we hear so much about in discussions about free speech.

If I say something clearly racist and get raked over the coals for it, I earned it. I get that. But the fact that I don't feel comfortable even expressing an opinion that runs contrary to the "good people" on Twitter is disappointing.
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Old 07-08-2020, 08:23 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

Quote:
Originally Posted by slimshady2357 View Post
I haven't even read it, so I believe I am the perfect person to fight you.

...

:cheer:
Quote:
Originally Posted by slimshady2357 View Post
I suppose I should actually read it.
:cheer:
Quote:
Originally Posted by slimshady2357 View Post
Ok, I still haven't read it.
:cheer:
Quote:
Originally Posted by slimshady2357 View Post
I read it, I read it :lol:
:sadcheer: QUITTER!

I still haven't read it.

:plzhold:

And now I have. And I don't know what the letter is proposing. Surely not that every instance of "cancelling" over the past few months was wrong and no such things should ever happen again. Words like "chilling" are too vague: the same complaints could be made by people accused of unambiguous hate speech. They just seem to be bleating a general complaint, and we would need to consider specifics to argue the merits or faults.
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Old 07-08-2020, 08:27 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

Quote:
Originally Posted by viscousmemories View Post
Fight me.
:whup:

Pretty sure Noam is a good guy. And many others of the signatories. Doesn't mean that when they put their names to something that reads like artsy bollocks that it must have some profound numinous truth; I'm sure they're all capable of artsy bollocks.
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Old 07-08-2020, 08:33 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

Ok I read it, and I can’t roll my eyes hard enough. What a bunch of white privilege tears, done in the most white privilege way possible, an open letter published in a magazine about how their voices are being stifled.

Frankly I’m left thinking that either the signers aren’t as good at writing as they think, only skimmed the letter, or all the subtext was implied and they are barely holding it together emotionally. If this was a class, that letter would get a D-.

Quote:
The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.
As we know these are writers, we can make some assumptions, like that they know the emphasis is placed after ‘but’ so we can read this as “Donald Trump is bad but we say that only for pathos before making our real point that liberals are as bad or worse”. Which is, classic both sides, list the bad things your side does and then just say the other side is equally as bad making the reader assume they also do those horrible things as well, without any evidence.

So they have now painted liberals as the problem we should focus on. Which GOP member wrote this again?

Quote:
More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes.
“More troubling still” so ignore Trump and his attack on the press, this is the real problem and it’s... just a list of unsupported grievances, what the hell guys?

What leaders? What editors? What pieces? What books? what “alleged” inauthenticity? Why suddenly add alleged? is there something personal there? Which journalists and which topics? What professors, how did the investigation end? What peer reviewed paper? What clumsy mistake? Any details would be lovely here.

Again if this was a writing class, fucking giant red checkmark all over the place. It kinda feels like the details would get in the way of their emotional outburst so fuck em.

Quote:
We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters
I call bullshit.

I would quote more, but it’s nothing to quote, it’s just a bunch of vague accusations and crying meant to play the victim to those on their side, and to hide the details from those that might not be.

As something to blow off steam, to let their emotions take control for a bit, this article makes perfect sense, and I could see it posted to a writers forum or blog, but to think this needs some sort of multiple publication for mass distribution is just the height of up their own ass hubris.
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Old 07-08-2020, 08:41 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

I started to write:

Salman Rushdie being condemned to death for The Satanic Verses is properly chilling.
But having a book withdrawn isn't the same -

and then I don't know how to assess it because there are no concrete examples listed. Are there any obvious ones that I'm missing? Have any of the signatories given examples elsewhere?
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Old 07-08-2020, 08:45 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

I read it. :irwinnar:

I can imagine David Brooks (among others) enthusiastically signing off on this thing, but Chomsky? It's just not sharp enough. But he'll definitely explain further if he actually cares.
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Old 07-08-2020, 08:47 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

I mean, ok, I guess. I can't really tell to whom the complaint is directed here. It seems to be complaining about people getting fired, so I guess it is a letter to their bosses. It wouldn't really make sense otherwise. No author is entitled to have me buy their book or subscribe to their newspaper, or donate to their university, or spend my money in any particular way, or pay attention to them at all, or - worse, I am sure all signatories would agree - to regulate the content of counter-speech.

I sure hope it's not just generalized whining about having access to huge audiences and then hearing from those huge audiences about stuff you say, like, for example, on Twitter. Because them's the breaks if Twitter is your livelihood. If you're afraid that stuff you say on Twitter may hurt your livelihood, maybe think about staying off Twitter for a little while.
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Old 07-08-2020, 09:18 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeP View Post
I started to write:

Salman Rushdie being condemned to death for The Satanic Verses is properly chilling.
But having a book withdrawn isn't the same -

and then I don't know how to assess it because there are no concrete examples listed. Are there any obvious ones that I'm missing? Have any of the signatories given examples elsewhere?
In Y.A., Where Is the Line Between Criticism and Cancel Culture? | The New Yorker

Young adult author cancels own novel after race controversy | Books | The Guardian

https://www.texasobserver.org/17-gre...american-dirt/
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Old 07-08-2020, 09:20 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

Quote:
professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class;
I was curious about some of these and took to the google, but I can’t be 100% sure this is the case they are talking about.

White professor investigated and cleared for saying the word “N*gger” in class.

[deadpan]Wow, what horrible censorship.[/deadpan]
Wait, is this going to all be white people complaining about being called racist? Is that why it’s all so vague?

ETA: Oh god it is isn’t, it’s going to all be about white people being hurt because they can’t be racist like they used to.

Last edited by Ari; 07-08-2020 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 07-08-2020, 09:25 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

The professor who was investigated for quoting James Baldwin: Censorship: Professor investigated for quoting James Baldwin on 'N-word'
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Old 07-08-2020, 09:33 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

I think Digg has published a good discussion of the letter, which also gives links to some of descriptions of the precipitating events (referred to only obliquely in the letter itself): Here's What You Need To Know About That Harper's Letter Criticizing Cancel Culture - Digg
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Old 07-08-2020, 09:40 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

Quote:
@jessesingal
Jul 7, 2020
You tweeted PUBLICLY that I should be fired from New York Magazine!
Man with giant platform who wasn’t fired, cries over the twitter opinions of others.
It’s clearly not really about free speech.
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Old 07-08-2020, 09:42 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

it is too bad Bret Stephens couldn't sign on but loooool Bari Weiss did
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Old 07-08-2020, 09:42 PM
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Default Re: I Stand with Noam!

The NY Times article mentioned these inspirations (i didn't preserve the links because lazy):

Quote:
He said there wasn’t one particular incident that provoked the letter. But he did cite several recent ones, including the resignation of more than half the board of the National Book Critics Circle over its statement supporting Black Lives Matter, a similar blowup at the Poetry Foundation, and the case of David Shor, a data analyst at a consulting firm who was fired after he tweeted about academic research linking looting and vandalism by protesters to Richard Nixon’s 1968 electoral victory.
I read about the NBCC drama and didn't see any censorship there, just someone making a bunch of ignorant racist comments via email then a bunch of the board resigning. Not because of the comments, but because a black woman on the board posted the emails on Twitter.
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