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Samizdata quote of the day

Stephen Fry isn’t part of the alt-right. Nobody in their right mind believes he is. Anybody who says something this stupid is just virtue-signaling, performatively reminding the other members of their tribe that they don’t belong to the other tribe. Their eagerness to be more #woke than the next guy and/or gal drives them to say idiotic things like, “Stephen Fry is a racist.”

Jim Treacher

45 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Sam Duncan

    The best comment I can make is to take another quote from near the end of the same article: “Some pranksters decided to associate a harmless hand sign with racism to prove how gullible some people are, and some people proved them right”. The super-geniuses who purport to be our betters are being shown to be fools. And not before time.

  • Julie near Chicago

    The “OK” circle has been the OK symbol since I were a puppess (that would be a female puppy, you ignorant PC-ists!) and I first became aware of it. I think that was sometime 65-70 years ago.

    Per PJM (in the article by Jim Treacher linked above), the Chicago Cubs have now got it up their noses that this gesture of the fingers, which in fact indicates approval and is therefore uplifting to those who receive it, is Waaay-CIISSSSSSS!!!! The Cubbies’ leadership or PR department oughta be ashamed of themselves. And if the hare-brains there who decided to act as if the sign has anything to do with “race” or any of the “isms” that the pinheads call racism don’t know better than that, they should be sent back to first grade as it was in the fifties for remedial 1st-12th grades and right on through whatever time they spent in college.

    .

    To catch up on the backstory, I landed on a piece by NBC-Chicago: “Is the OK Sign Racist? Cubs Fan’s Hand Gesture Sparks Outrage, Confusion.” It appears that some brave souls are up in arms (or at least complaining ) about the hijacking of this longtime symbol of approval, and the column gives its history.

    https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/is-the-ok-sign-racist-chicago-cubs-game-509673351.html

    .

    There’s more to this than just garden-variety SJW snottiness. If those of us who still have brains that function, however creakily, don’t start making mucho fuss over this kind of stuff, the lefty career-malcontents will succeed in making all manifestations of Western custom and convention completely unacceptable.

    I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I am frightfully annoyed — and also seriously worried. As another example, the V-for-Victory sign is one that should cause those of us who appreciate not living under totalitarian rule to rejoice, regardless of whether it originated with Churchill or with Agincourt, or some otherwhen.

    .

    On a not-very-related note, I see that Ruth Bader Ginsburg of our Supreme Court decided, in a 2010 mock trial, that Henry V was guilty of war crimes. At least, so says the illustrious Guardian.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/26/agincourt-600th-anniversary-how-french-remember-it

  • Rob

    Their eagerness to be more #woke than the next guy and/or gal drives them to say idiotic things like, “Stephen Fry is a racist.”

    Until they get sued, which cools the Arms Race of Idiocy for a few moments.

  • Ferox

    When the left distinguishes between the Alt-Right (who they fanatically hate) and the Right (who they merely hate in the ordinary tribal sense) they are following the age-old strategy of “divide and conquer”.

    There is no actual definition of “Alt-Right” except “we of course don’t mean you ordinary right-wing people when we spew all this hate and vitriol at this other person”.

    If that were not true, there is absolutely no way whatsoever that Milo Yiannopoulos could be considered “Alt-Right” – but the Left certainly claim that he is.

  • Runcie Balspune

    A good example of this insanity is in the Wikipedia article on Lauren Southern.

    The article states she is described as “far right” and “alt right”, and “alt right” is also described as “far right”.

    The article also states she ran as the Libertarian Candidate in elections, who are libertarians.

    The “far right” article states that individuals have “authoritarian tendencies”.

    The “libertarian” article states that “Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power”.

    Both these things cannot be true about Lauren Southern – that she is “far right” and “libertarian”.

    This is malicious cognitive dissonance at it’s worse, and if it can believe this about Southern, it can also believe it about Fry.

  • pete

    The attack on Mr Fry is simply another episode in the sustained left wing attempt to make everyone too scared to open their mouths about anything.

    Then the self-proclaimed tolerant, progressive and liberal classes can simply issue edicts on every issue, safe in the knowledge that nobody will contradict them.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . drives them to say idiotic things like, “Stephen Fry is a racist” . . . ” . . . Until they get sued . . . “

    That would be a tough lawsuit. Whose definition of “racist” do they get to use? The current definition – the one accepted by the PC and the left and the cuck right and probably by both of your main parties – is as simple as “we don’t like what they said and it has some tangential connection to race or religion or gender or taxes or nationalism or borders or . . . .”

    By their definition, I’m a racist, and Fry probably is too. You’re allowed to argue current word usage in a defamation case.

  • Fry, a professional comedian (and, IIRC a bit of a manic depressive, as such people sometimes are) probably well understands the mechanism and point of the original (4chan, was it?) joke. It was a brilliant – and brilliantly successful – way of making the PC demonstrate that they can be told absolutely anything is racist and will instantly make themselves believe it and shout angrily about it. Their ideology forbids critical thinking and it works most strongly on themselves.

  • Stephen Fry is a white male married to another white male, therefore clearly deeply wah-wah-wah-wacist, misogynist and every other bloody -ism, since he has refused to share his home and his life with a disabled 400 pound lesbian gender queer squirrel-kin trans person.

    Being gay is no longer a get out of jail free card for the stale, male and pale. Welcome to 2019.

    /sarc

  • Paul Marks

    The BBC (and the rest of the elite) now take it as self evident that the “OK” sign (which goes right back to President Van Buren – at least I believe so) is Nazi. It is demented – but there we are.

    I am meeting some people from BBC “Newsnight” tomorrow – perhaps they are preparing to “ambush” me with “evidence” of my Fascism (you are bald, Mussolini was bald – THEREFORE…..). Quotes out of context – or whatever. Still one can not hide away from people out of fear that they will behave badly – one just has to treat people as fellow human beings (treat people as people), and if they choose to behave badly that is up to them.

    We are moral agents, we have free will, we can choose NOT to behave badly – if we make the effort.

  • Ferox (May 16, 2019 at 8:08 am), I would not agree that alt-right has no meaning or that it was a left-wing invention. I would agree that, as Runcie Balspune noted re Lauren Southern above, the left use it as an insult meaning simultaneously “You are Hitler” and “You dared to disagree with me!?!” – which makes it a synonym for all the other insults they use that way. But I think it originated, among some who called themselves alt-right, partly as an opposite to ctl-left but mainly to distance themselves from nominal/establishment right-wingers whom they thought – with reason – imprisoned by ideas of politeness and political debate that the PC had weaponised and redefined.

    There are degrees of alt-rightness. There is someone calling himself alt-right somewhere who would fit the PC definition passably well. There are many who would not but whom many on this blog would argue with. A good many of us are probably alt-right by some definition of the concept. And all of us are alt-right by the PC definition of it.

    Even if you exclude the PC misdefinitions, alt-right has an inconveniently over-broad range of possible meanings. But that is somewhat true of ‘conservative’ as well – and of ‘libertarian’.

  • Ferox

    I would not agree that alt-right has no meaning or that it was a left-wing invention.

    I don’t know all the history of the term, so I will concede this ground to you.

    However, as it is currently used by the left, it is merely a tool to isolate a target from the larger group, by claiming that they are in some way especially beyond the pale.

    Therefore, it would be lovely if right-wingers and libertarians could stop falling all over themselves in their haste to surrender to the left’s rhetorical tactics – “oh yes, well of course I agree that person is just terrible, but is it really necessary to deplatform them?” – said while wringing hat in hands and looking shamefacedly at feet.

  • I am meeting some people from BBC “Newsnight” tomorrow (Paul Marks, May 16, 2019 at 10:24 am)

    Good luck, Paul.

    It is wildly unlikely that they will ambush you with Scotland and ‘preserve the union by preserving the union’ – but if they do, your best line is to point out that the majority of Scots hate the idea of a neverendum, which affected their vote against leaving in 2016 and their vote for Tories in 2017 but in the very ‘safe to say what you mean’ election next week may affect the votes of some who want to ‘say it loud and clear’ to Sturgeon.

    (Apologies for off-topic remark. I can sympathise with Paul’s expectation of ambush. LauraK can be passably professional on the ten-o’clock news, but the people you meet on Newsnight don’t impress me.)

  • Ferox

    As usual, H.L. Mencken says it much much better than I could manage:

    The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

    When the left says, “ban this guy, he is alt-right” we should respond not with “yes ban terrible people, but he isn’t so bad”, but rather with “stuff it, fascist. Everybody gets to speak.”

  • neonsnake

    As another example, the V-for-Victory sign is one that should cause those of us who appreciate not living under totalitarian rule to rejoice, regardless of whether it originated with Churchill or with Agincourt, or some otherwhen.

    You may already know this, but the V-sign that is associated with Agincourt is different to the V-for-Victory sign we typically associate with Churchill (scroll down to see him using both). I lament the fall-from-fashion of the “up yours” usage in the last twenty years, as a peculiarly British protest against authority.

    Apologies for off-topicness.

    We’re now in a place where influencing people’s minds via discourse is done. It’s over. I thought, for a while in the 90s, that we were getting to a better world, and some of the more unpleasant, offensive and dehumanising terms were falling out of popular usage as people were becoming persuaded of their offensiveness, and showing some common decency and manners.

    And now we’re in a world where

    a) actual racists can steal a gesture like the ok gesture (regardless the 4chan troll origination, it’s gone beyond that now and into actual usage), and people will actually let these insignificant little scumbags have the gesture, instead of laughing in their faces,

    and in fact

    b) will steamroller someone like Stephen Fry for using the ok gesture, in reference to a company called AOK Kitchen, and in relation to Mental Health Awareness Week.

    Gods. I’m genuinely depressed.

  • Nullius in Verba

    They’re probably just still sore about his taking part in ‘V for Vendetta’, which glorifies terrorism, free speech, freedom to live ‘alternative’ lifestyles disapproved of by society, and small government. (I assume ‘blown to smithereens’ counts as ‘small’.)

    Actually, this is pretty good news. The usual tactic is to start with the freedoms of people nobody likes and who the public can be persuaded are bad people. (Remember Niemoller’s poem.) So to have a go at Stephen Fry, a much-loved public institution who’s views on racism are clearly on record, is a tactical error. It’s easy now to portray complaints like this as politically correct nonsense.

    “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

  • neonsnake

    It’s easy now to portray complaints like this as politically correct nonsense.

    My growing fear, which this has solidified, is that things which genuinely should be complained about will be all to easy to dismiss as politically correct nonsense.

  • Nullius in Verba

    We either have free speech or we don’t. ‘Free speech’ only for speech we approve of isn’t free speech.

    But the hardest argument to make is to stand up for speech we don’t approve of. Nobody is going to choose to die on that hill, defending those little scumbags. The result, of course, is that they take freedom one hill at a time, until by the time they get to a hill we do care about, there’s no defensive position left. But it’s hard to persuade people of that, and where the speech police are going. A sneak peak at the future like this is useful. You think they’re only going after the sort of scumbags that it’s right to hate, they’ll never come after our free speech. But doing it to Fry is proof positive that they will. And yes, this might make people realise that they have to stand up for the free speech even of racists and haters (or SJWs, Islamists, and LGBTers, on the other side) if they’re going to have any chance of defending their own.

    Whether that’s depressing depends on whether you believe in free speech, or like most people only in free speech for yourselves. It’s not an unusual dilemma to face – everyone eventually has to make that decision.

  • neonsnake

    Nobody is going to choose to die on that hill, defending those little scumbags.

    Let’s just make the assumption that racism is wrong.

    I’m not going to die on the hill of defending those scumbags. I will, however, die on the hill of defending their right to express their opinions – but not the opinions themselves – nor the people holding them.

    I want them to have every opportunity to express themselves. And I expect, in return, to be able to challenge their opinions, without being shut down. Think of the “one opinion in one hundred” that shouldn’t be silenced; it’s precisely so that it can be examined in public debate and discourse, because you can’t be sure of a truth until you’ve examined the argument against it.

    In this instance, let’s assume that the Ok symbol isn’t racist – but if we shut down the ability or the desire to use it, then the argument won’t happen, it just gets silenced. Silencing it, telling Mr. Fry he shouldn’t use it, is (IMHO) an example of PC gone way too far. It IS politically correct nonsense.

    My fear and depression comes from worrying that if someone complains about say, a possibly anti-semitic cartoon (I’ll use the cartoon from the NYT as an example), what’s to stop bad-faith anti-semites from shutting down the conversation around it by screaming “Politically correct nonsense! Just like that time they tried to call Stephen Fry racist!!”

  • Ferox

    In this instance, let’s assume that the Ok symbol isn’t racist – but if we shut down the ability or the desire to use it, then the argument won’t happen, it just gets silenced. Silencing it, telling Mr. Fry he shouldn’t use it, is (IMHO) an example of PC gone way too far. It IS politically correct nonsense.

    IMO, you have it exactly backward. Let’s assume that the OK symbol is racist – then all the rest of your statement still applies, and for the same reasons.

  • neonsnake

    Let’s assume that the OK symbol is racist

    I think I understand what you’re saying, but for my clarity; because the Professionally Outraged assume it is racist, and have shut down (or attempted to) usage of it, then the argument of “No, it isn’t racist, because…[common sense here]” doesn’t even happen?

    Is that what you mean?

  • Ferox

    No. That is my whole point … you can make two counterarguments to shutting down supposedly offensive speech.

    1) Don’t shut it down because it isn’t really offensive; or
    2) We don’t shut down speech – everybody gets to speak. F*ck off.

    When you make the first argument you tacitly surrender the second. It doesn’t matter if it’s racist or not.

    That’s the point.

  • neonsnake

    1) Don’t shut it down because it isn’t really offensive; or
    2) We don’t shut down speech – everybody gets to speak. F*ck off.

    I don’t think I was making the first argument; my thoughts are evidently coming out a bit muddled.

    Let’s assume it is racist. I want Stephen Fry to have the freedom to use the symbol. I, further, want the freedom to argue with him that he’s being racist, to persuade him that racism is wrong, and for him to realise this, and stop being racist. I only get the opportunity to make that case, if he is allowed to express his racism by using the symbol. If he’s not allowed to express his racism, then he will continue to be a closet racist, because the opportunity to make the case never comes up.

    Let’s assume that it isn’t racist, but that some other people assume that it is. I want Stephen Fry to have the freedom to use the symbol. I, further, do not want the Professionally Outraged to twitter-mob him, attempting to shut him down, to such an extent that neither he, nor others, feel able to use the symbol in the future. If they do so, I lose the opportunity to make the case that it isn’t racist, and it disappears down the rubbish chute of “things we don’t do in polite society”.

    I think both of those are argument 2?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “what’s to stop bad-faith anti-semites from shutting down the conversation around it by screaming “Politically correct nonsense! Just like that time they tried to call Stephen Fry racist!!””

    That depends on whether anyone is trying to ‘shut down’ politically correct nonsense – whether calling something ‘politically correct nonsense’ does anything to shut it down. If all we’re doing is declaring political correctness to be politically incorrect (according to a different politics) and banning it, then nothing has changed. We’re just replacing one enforced speech norm with another. If we’re actually arguing for free speech, then calling complaints ‘politically correct’ will do nothing to shut them down. People should be free to call Stephen Fry politically incorrect if they like – that’s free speech. It’s only an issue if Stephen is consequently prevented from speaking, or otherwise comes to harm as a result.

    It should be a non-story. ‘Idiots say something idiotic’. To which we should all just say ‘So what?’ There’s only a ‘so what’ here because of the tendency for comments and gestures taken as politically incorrect to trigger more than verbal responses. That’s not happened here, yet. All that has happened is that some particularly stupid people have classified something innocent as ‘politically incorrect’, which puts the lie to the claim that only bad people who deserve it will get shut down by enforced political correctness speech codes.

    People can publish anti-semitic cartoons. People can complain they’re anti-semitic. The publishers can call the complaints politically correct nonsense. The complainants can ignore them. And nobody gets shut down. That’s what we should all be aiming for.

  • Ferox

    I think both of those are argument 2?

    Could be. I guess I am exercised about the way the Libertarian-Right hastens to argue that the latest “must-be-banned” thing isn’t really that offensive … when that should be entirely beside the point.

    Is drawing cartoons of Mohammad offensive? Maybe, maybe not … but when religious nuts start threatening to cut off the heads of cartoonists, that is not the time to have the argument about the offensiveness of cartoons.

  • Fraser Orr

    To me though this is the downfall of the crazy left. When they start eating their own. (To be clear, I think Stephen Fry is a pretty good guy, but he is certainly someone the woke crowd would generally like.) You see it in the American democrat party today.

    But one thing I disagree with in the article:

    “See, the trick is to be smarter than the racists. By badgering well-meaning people, you’re doing exactly what the trolls want you to do. The best way to counter them is to think for yourself.”

    Although this sentiment is generally good, from my perspective the real problem is twitter. It is cesspool of stupidity. When twitter hates something, as we so often hear, it is just a million idiots spouting off stupidity, why exactly does anybody care? Twitter is the ultimate Eternal September. It is the ultimate squeaky wheel getting oiled.

    As for me, I can see no reason to give a second thought to anything “twitter” says. It is just a writhing pool of sniping idiots. It is like taking your political views from a bunch of kindergarteners. Have you ever seen these videos getting kids opinions on stuff? “I think they should have unicorns at schools”. “I think girls are smelly”. “Judy wears ugly shoes, and the cheese on my sandwich is yucky.” “I think we should do class up in trees, because trees are cool and class is boring”. “My mommy says Teressa May is a bitch… giggle, giggle (Susie, that is NOT a word we use in class)”

    Actually, that comparison is not fair, it does a disservice to kindergarteners.

  • neonsnake

    I guess I am exercised about the way the Libertarian-Right hastens to argue that the latest “must-be-banned” thing isn’t really that offensive …

    Aah, now I understand, and I understand better your response to my opening position of “let’s assume it isn’t racist”.

    I’ll defer to other commentators opinions on whether I sit in the Libertarian-Right 😉

  • Ferox

    Whether you are on that end of the spectrum or not, plenty of people on the supposedly “free speech” end of the political spectrum seem perfectly willing to concede to the progs the point that if a person is enough of a baddie, they should not be allowed to talk, or be allowed to talk but not to be heard, or that the very expression of their idea is so harmful as to be a literal assault.

    Once that fortress is surrendered, winning the odd melee here or there doesn’t amount to much.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Ferox, nobody has a right to be heard. What you do with your voice is your business, what I do with my ears is my business. But to me, I think I ESPECIALLY want to have the psychos and nutjobs have the right to speak, both because it protects my right to speak, but also because it means they are saying what they are going to do, and that means we can intervene when necessary.

    The idea that speech is an assault, (which is one of the primary reasons people seem justified in banning such speech) is ludicrous on its face. It is like my previous comment on twitter. Just because someone says something doesn’t mean that it is any more than garbled nonsense. The articulation of ideas does not offer one scrap of evidence as to the validity to the ideas expressed. And that is especially true in an environment where articulation costs are zero.

    We all need to learn to ignore people, which is to say, not listen to people who say crazy shit. It is the lack of “not listening” not the lack of “not speaking” that is the root of the problem.

  • Ferox

    It is the lack of “not listening” not the lack of “not speaking” that is the root of the problem.

    Of course. In an ideal world everyone is fully in control of their mouse or their remote, and if something offends them they switch off.

    But in this world, we have campus riots and fire alarms being pulled and deplatforming … and a plethora of so-called speech defenders arguing against, not riots and deplatforming, but riots and deplatforming in this instance – cause this particular guy ain’t so bad.

    That’s a losing strategy. As Boss Tweed said (approximately), “I don’t care how bad they decide speech has to be before it’s banned … as long as I get to decide how bad any particular speech is.”

  • neonsnake

    People can complain they’re anti-semitic. The publishers can call the complaints politically correct nonsense. The complainants can ignore them. And nobody gets shut down. That’s what we should all be aiming for.

    NIV/Ferox, when I used the word “complain” upthread, I wasn’t implying that things I think are “worth complaining about” = “things I want to get shut down”. I mean that there are things that I think are worth arguing about, and being free to present an opposing opinion, and hopefully change some minds.

    I can’t tell if you’re arguing that

    a) people should be free to say whatever they like, even when we disagree, and we should not vocalise that disagreement

    b) or whether my use of “complain” has been interpreted as “I want to shut down this opinion, but not that opinion”.

  • Ferox

    a) people should be free to say whatever they like, even when we disagree, and we should not vocalise that disagreement

    If your disagreement doesn’t include trying to get their speech removed from whatever medium in which it appears, then you are not whom I am prattling against.

    If your agreement that they be allowed to speak is contingent on their not being so bad after all, however, then you are indeed whom I am prattling against.

  • neonsnake

    If your disagreement doesn’t include trying to get their speech removed from whatever medium in which it appears, then you are not whom I am prattling against.

    It does not. If their speech is removed from whatever medium, how will other people be able to form an argument against it?

    If your agreement that they be allowed to speak is contingent on their not being so bad after all, however, then you are indeed whom I am prattling against.

    It is not. If “bad” people are not allowed to speak, then how will “good” people be offorded the opportunity to argue against them?

  • Fraser Orr

    @Ferox
    But in this world, we have campus riots and fire alarms being pulled and deplatforming … and a plethora of so-called speech defenders arguing against, not riots and deplatforming, but riots and deplatforming in this instance – cause this particular guy ain’t so bad.

    Colleges are a different thing. Colleges shouldn’t ban these things because the purpose of college is to expose people to new and different ideas. It isn’t, in my mind, a free speech issue at all (after all a college has every right to control their buildings and what goes on in them.) No rather it is a quality of education issue. It bleeds a bit into government because of the ridiculous and destructive way colleges are funded. But the solution to that is to fix the funding problem.

    As to riots and fire alarms — that is a failure of the college and the associated police forces to enforce the law. It has nothing to do with free speech at all. Whether the rioting is to beat up Celtic supporters because you are a Rangers supporter, or whether the fire alarm is pulled as a prank or to ditch class, is really irrelevant. They are criminal acts and should be treated as such.

    As to Facebook, there is a need for an alternative that provides a more open platform. Also arguably there is a need for these organizations to choose to be either neutral deliverers of content (in which case they do not have liability) or editors of content (in which case they do.) That change would be sufficient to correct most of the nonsense on there. But regardless it is unhealthy, and frankly un-internet-y to have something like Facebook and Google and the horrendous twitter be what they are. There is a desperate need for a free market alternative.

    The very nature of the Internet is redundancy. It is Gilmore’s law: “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” It is what the Internet is, and why Facebook and Google are a dark turn in that glorious revolution.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    It seems like there is an analogy between free speech and free trade — two policies which most of us would agree are good aspirations.

    On free trade, some (especially in the US) argue that free trade is so obviously the right policy that we should practice unilateral free trade. Problem is — the Chinese government agrees with them. China is all for the US practicing free trade when it comes to Chinese imports to the US while China pursues a very different policy for US imports to China.

    There is a sense that the usual suspects have an analogous view on free speech — they want unilateral free speech. Their speech is not to be constrained, while speech from those with differing viewpoints is to be silenced mercilessly.

    The clear answer on trade is the logical position of being willing to practice bilateral free trade, but having no truck with unilateral free trade where we play the role of patsy. However, it is difficult to see how bilateral free speech could be made to work — there is nothing like the enforcement mechanisms of tariffs to ensure that behavior is bilateral.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “NIV/Ferox, when I used the word “complain” upthread, I wasn’t implying that things I think are “worth complaining about” = “things I want to get shut down”.”

    Sure. I’m happy to believe you. It was just the jump from shutting down debate because it’s politically incorrect to shutting down debate because it’s been accused of being politically incorrect that confused me.

    “My fear and depression comes from worrying that if someone complains about say, a possibly anti-semitic cartoon (I’ll use the cartoon from the NYT as an example), what’s to stop bad-faith anti-semites from shutting down the conversation around it by screaming “Politically correct nonsense! Just like that time they tried to call Stephen Fry racist!!””

    That would only make sense if someone was proposing that an accusation of being politically incorrect nonsense should/would shut down debate. Who? Us?

    I can see you didn’t mean it that way. But can you understand and forgive me for my confusion?

    “It has nothing to do with free speech at all.”

    I think the thing about “be allowed to talk but not to be heard” was not about anyone’s right to control their own ears, but their right to control everyone else’s. If I let you talk, but stop *everyone else* hearing you, even people who *want* to hear you, is that an abridgement of your free speech? After all, there would be no point in having a right to free speech if someone could make sure nothing you said could be heard by anyone else.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The clear answer on trade is the logical position of being willing to practice bilateral free trade, but having no truck with unilateral free trade where we play the role of patsy. However, it is difficult to see how bilateral free speech could be made to work — there is nothing like the enforcement mechanisms of tariffs to ensure that behavior is bilateral.”

    The corresponding idea would be to impose speech codes on them until they lift their speech codes on us. The question is whether a world where only some people are free to speak is better or worse than a world where nobody at all is free to speak.

  • neonsnake

    Sure. I’m happy to believe you. It was just the jump from shutting down debate because it’s politically incorrect to shutting down debate because it’s been accused of being politically incorrect that confused me.

    I hold views which some people deem as being politically correct – I’m rabidly anti-Islamophobia, anti-transphobia, anti-homophobia, anti-misogyny and so on. These are views I share with the stereotypically leftwing. The fact that I’m also a rabid capitalist, often more hardcore than most, who believes in economic liberty appears not to matter to people who wish to label me as PC because I believe in social liberty.

    I normally am able to ignore “political correctness” – it has no bearing on my views. If something is PC and I share their opinion, then fine. If it’s not, then also fine. I don’t have views because they’re PC, and I don’t discount views because they’re PC either.

    This incident has genuinely depressed me because it’s so egregiously stupid, and because it undermines the position I normally take. I can’t defend the position of the “PC” who are accusing Stephen Fry of being alt-right in this instance. To do so would be stupid and dishonest.

    In certain circles, announcing that “Clearly, the world is not run by an Illuminati-like cabal of Jews. Behave.” is considered PC. I worry that people will take the example of Stephen Fry (and the guy who was banned from the Cubs stadium) and use it to undermine any apparently “PC-Like” arguments I might make in the future.

    But can you understand and forgive me for my confusion?

    Of course. My mood has muddied my explanations, which may not be great at the best of times.

  • Ferox

    I normally am able to ignore “political correctness” – it has no bearing on my views. If something is PC and I share their opinion, then fine. If it’s not, then also fine. I don’t have views because they’re PC, and I don’t discount views because they’re PC either.

    Ok. Me too.

    This incident has genuinely depressed me because it’s so egregiously stupid, and because it undermines the position I normally take. I can’t defend the position of the “PC” who are accusing Stephen Fry of being alt-right in this instance. To do so would be stupid and dishonest.

    If your first statement is accurate, why would stupid accusations against Stephen Fry undermine the position you normally take? Why would you want to defend the position of the “PC”?

    I worry that people will take the example of Stephen Fry (and the guy who was banned from the Cubs stadium) and use it to undermine any apparently “PC-Like” arguments I might make in the future.

    Again, if your first statement is accurate, how would they do that? Your arguments stand on their own feet … some happen to be aligned with the “PC” and some do not. They would therefore be bad or not on their own merits.

    I don’t worry about liking tea just because Hitler also liked it.

    One question though: if you are anti-Islamophobic, doesn’t that make you, according to contemporary rules, an Islamophobophobe?

  • neonsnake

    Again, if your first statement is accurate, how would they do that? Your arguments stand on their own feet … some happen to be aligned with the “PC” and some do not. They would therefore be bad or not on their own merits.

    Because not everyone argues in good faith, Ferox. I think you do, from my memory of your prior posts. But I’m used to accusations of my arguments being PC rather than good faith.

    if you are anti-Islamophobic, doesn’t that make you, according to contemporary rules, an Islamophobophobe?

    Probably. And an Homophobaphobe and a transaphobaphobe. And so on.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I hold views which some people deem as being politically correct – I’m rabidly anti-Islamophobia, anti-transphobia, anti-homophobia, anti-misogyny and so on.”

    Me too. We’re not quite the same in our views about those, but close. And I’d say it just means you’re more libertarian than right-wing.

    “This incident has genuinely depressed me because it’s so egregiously stupid, and because it undermines the position I normally take. I can’t defend the position of the “PC” who are accusing Stephen Fry of being alt-right in this instance. To do so would be stupid and dishonest.”

    I think the problem there is that you’re still thinking in terms of left-versus-right, rather than authoritarian-versus-libertarian. Speech codes forbidding un-PC speech are left-authoritarian. You’re against that because they’re authoritarian, not because they’re left-wing. Homophobic/transphobic/misogynistic behaviour is right-authoritarian. You can disapprove of that for being authoritarian, even on the right. Homophobic/transphobic/misogynistic opinions are a different matter. Right-libertarians are fine with that, so long as they’re not enforced. Centre-libertarians and left-libertarians disapprove of the opinions too. (If the behaviour does no unconsented harm to others, it’s none of society’s business.) You obviously have personal reasons for holding that view, too.

    If you stick to being a libertarian and forget about the left-right, there’s no reason to see it as undermining your views at all. The person accusing Fry of being alt-right (if it wasn’t just a sarcastic joke) is simply wrong. But even if they were correct, it makes no difference. We support the right of people both to hold/express and to complain about homophobic/transphobic/misogynistic/racist views, we oppose the shutting down of debate because of it. Left/right argue about whether it’s true, authoritarian/libertarian argue about whether you’re allowed to say it or complain about it. The issues are completely separate.

  • bobby b

    I remember, years ago, some black acquaintances talking about the differences they encountered between living in the Northern states of the USA, and the Southern states.

    They said that the true incidence of racism that they encountered seemed fairly equal between the two areas.

    The one big difference they noted had to do with the spoken expression of racism. In the South, people who were racist were openly racist. The racists talked the talk. In the Northern states, there was a more PC-like code regulating such speech. Racists would be muted in their racist speech. Things that people said in the South were simply never said in the North.

    Consequently, the blacks all said that they felt more comfortable living in the Southern states, because they always knew where they stood with the people around them. Northern racism was a veiled thing, and so they could never be sure of the people with whom they dealt.

    If I was a part of some reviled group (I have some Finnish blood, and so can sympathize), I would want my revilers to speak openly about their feelings. At least then I would always know when I should be armed and ready.

    Suppress “bad speech”, and you allow the “bad speakers” to hide amongst us. You allow their hidden agendas to affect society more than they would if we could point them out more readily. And, when you quash their speech, you bestow upon those louts a sort of cachet – they get to act like the suppressed victims of an intolerant society.

    Let the Nazis and the Antifa and the -phobes march and banner and post and speechify. They’re their own worst enemy.

  • Fraser Orr

    Nullius in Verba
    I think the thing about “be allowed to talk but not to be heard” was not about anyone’s right to control their own ears, but their right to control everyone else’s.

    The only organization that controls everyone’s ears are the government, which is why the first amendment applies only to them. Neither you nor I has the right to demand access to someone else’s microphone. If facebook refuses to let me use their microphone then there are plenty of others I can use. It is the Internet for heavens sake. You can start a web site for zero dollars. What on earth makes you think that you have a right to access their audience — an audience that has cost them literally billions of dollars to create?

    There are other issues with regards to liability and safe havens. And I think legal avenues that should be pursued. But nobody has a right to the twitter cesspool except the people who own it and those they tolerate.

    If I let you talk, but stop *everyone else* hearing you, even people who *want* to hear you,

    How do you plan on stopping “everyone else” hearing me? Aside from ginning up the goons with the guns I don’t think you can do so.

    BTW, what bobby b said. The idea that we should suppress offensive speech to me is completely stupid. It is the opposite of what we should be doing. We should broadcast their nonsense, and counter it with the mockery it deserves. Much better an open enemy than a hidden one.

  • neonsnake

    If you stick to being a libertarian and forget about the left-right, there’s no reason to see it as undermining your views at all. The person accusing Fry of being alt-right (if it wasn’t just a sarcastic joke) is simply wrong.

    I hope so. I’ve been getting a bit troubled recently by “cancel culture”; hopefully I’m overreacting and it’s less of an issue.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The only organization that controls everyone’s ears are the government, which is why the first amendment applies only to them.”

    The government are only one of many players – more powerful than most, but no different in principle.

    “Neither you nor I has the right to demand access to someone else’s microphone.”

    I didn’t say we did. But what if I want to speak, and you want to listen, and the owner of the microphone wants to enable the process, but a group of noisy protesters wants to prevent you hearing what I say? Do they have the right to do so? And if they’ll let me speak to an empty room, but attack anyone who tries to listen, or to facilitate listening, to the point where nobody will, is there any point to such ‘free speech’?

    “If facebook refuses to let me use their microphone then there are plenty of others I can use. It is the Internet for heavens sake. You can start a web site for zero dollars.”

    Facebook don’t care. All they’re interested in is the dollars, and if people whose opinions they don’t like want to give them dollars by talking on their platform, they’re happy. The problem is all the other users who shout and scream at them if they do, losing them money. They cut one set of users off to please another set of users. However, I’m not arguing about whether Facebook have the right to do so, and I’m not proposing we should have a ‘right’ to use Facebook.

    It’s true that you can start a website for zero dollars, but any such website will be implemented on or across somebody else’s hardware, often using somebody else’s software. You need to register your domain with the domain name servers. What if the people who own those servers refuse to take your registration?

    So you start your website and tell people about it, and next day you get hacked. Your site is shut down, your speech deleted. You fix that and get some better security. The day after you’re hit with a ‘denial of service’ attack. Your website is hit with millions of bogus requests, blocking access to any genuine users. The routers are hacked to block any packets coming from your website. (How else do you think the UK government is planning to block access from the UK to porn sites elsewhere in the world? Governments are not the only people who know how to do that.) The browsers and internet software on other people’s computers can be programmed to reject access to your website. (Which is how most ‘Parental Control’ software works.) There are lots of ways. Humanity is endlessly ingenious.

    It’s technically possible to get round all this, but it’s far from easy, and few people have the skills. For most people, you can indeed be shut down. They can’t stop you typing it on your keyboard, but they can stop your words going any further. Does the right to type it mean you have ‘free speech?’

    “How do you plan on stopping “everyone else” hearing me? Aside from ginning up the goons with the guns I don’t think you can do so.”

    As Ferox said, we can pull the fire alarm in the building where you’re about to give your speech. Or call in a fake bomb threat. We can join the audience and shout, scream, use air horns, play the tuba, to drown you out. We can threaten to riot and smash the building up, so your hosts become unwilling to give you a platform. We can threaten you or your family (or your friends, or your employers, or anyone who gives you the time of day) with violence, so you have to pay for extra security.

    The government are not the only people with guns.

    How brave do you and all the people who want to support you have to be to be able to speak to a room full of people who want to listen? Nobody cares about dissidents making speeches to empty rooms. There’s no point in free speech if someone can prevent you from being heard by anyone, even people who want to hear, with microphones people want to lend you.

    The ‘speaking’ part is only half of what ‘free speech’ is all about – of why free people in a free society need it.

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