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Goats save the Reagan library

News comes to us that creatures more commonly associated with destruction, a herd of goats in California, have helped to preserve the Reagan Presidential Library by the simple act of eating scrub, thereby clearing brushwood, as the BBC put it:

In May, the library hired the goats to clear flammable scrub surrounding the complex as a preventative measure.
The goats ate the brush, creating a fire break that slowed the flames and gave firefighters extra time to react.
The library near Los Angeles was threatened by the Easy Fire, the latest in a spate of fires causing evacuations and power cuts across the state.
The caprine contractors included Vincent van Goat, Selena Goatmez and Goatzart. They helped save exhibits including an Air Force One jet and a piece of the Berlin Wall.
We were told by one of the firefighters that they believe that fire break made their job easier,” Melissa Giller, a library spokeswoman, told Reuters.

Well at least the firemen in California recognise the worth of a fire break, and some act prudently to preserve property using forward planning.

Perhaps these caprine fire fighters will become the go-to contractors for those Californians who don’t wish to be incinerated? How long before Sacramento regulates goat use (more than it probably already does, I have no idea?) lest something be left of the Goaten State?

Personally, I’d put them in the State Legislature with some statute books and whatever laws they eat are repealed, surely that would be an improvement? Then they could move on the State Supreme Court.

36 comments to Goats save the Reagan library

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mr Ed, a capital solution to the problem of saving the Reagan Library, and an even capitaller solution to the problem of creating lawbreaks in order to defeat attempts to interfere with saving capital markets.

    Also, whoever dreamed up those Capricornian names was almost up to your own punny standard! 😆 *holds nose, etc.*

  • Jim

    I wonder if the use of goats was a way around some regulation forbidding people to clear firebreaks? Ie you can’t go in with a tractor and brush cutter, das ist verboten by the eco-gauleiters, but no one can stop you keeping a herd of goats, which over time will have the same effect?

  • bobby b

    In California, there are farmers who make their living by transporting their goat herds around and renting them out to clear brush, specifically in order to get around the clearing regulations.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Jim, interesting question; bobby, great answer! From the link, their goats look like a good deal for all concerned.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    How do you hire goats? Were these free-range goats hired to eat grass with promises of sweeties later, or curved roofs they could climb and jump on? Why worry about a robot future when goats will take over your job anyway?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Come to that, Nicholas, I hope they’re being given their proper allotment of old boots. Don’t you always like to lie back with a beer can and an old boot to gnaw on after a hard day’s work clearing brush?

  • newrouter

    >How do you hire goats? <

    The guy who owns these goats charges $1000/acre.

  • Y. Knott

    “goat-to contractors”? – I get it! AAAAAAAAAAA-hahahahaha!

  • Paul Marks

    Various methods of controlling brush have either been banned on made incredibly difficult by the regulations of California – goats are about the only thing they have not de facto banned yet.

    But goats will not be enough – California is doomed. Although California (and New York, New Jersey and so on) still serve a purpose – they show that “liberal” rule actually means. Endless taxes, wild government spending and REGULATIONS that control every aspect of life (yes – including the crushing of Freedom of Speech) life – from the cradle to the grave.

    The tragedy (the baffling tragedy) is that many of the rich have accepted the “Woke” (i.e. Frankfurt School or Marxism) agenda – as have so many of the large Corporations. Many “capitalists” and “capitalist business enterprises” have embraced the “Woke” (Marxist) cause – their conscious and deliberate plan is to wipe out liberty in this world.

    We must face this honestly – not describe these evil people (for that is what they are) as “the free market” – they want to exterminate freedom (absolutely exterminate freedom), and because of that – they are our enemies. They, the “Woke” rich and so many of the Corporations, make themselves our enemies – because of the evil (the absolute and total evil) they support. This evil would eventually destroy them themselves – and their own families, but they do not care.

    Should they win in 2020 they will show no mercy – none.

    Freedom of Speech will utterly crushed – making it impossible to win future elections.

  • neonsnake

    not describe these evil people (for that is what they are) as “the free market”

    *Nods*

    Except…

    …that’s exactly what they are.

    In the free marketplace of ideas, they’ve won.

    In the Free Market.

    Your “billionaire woke”, they’re just responding to the market. As they should. They’re tasked with maximising shareholder value. If this means showing a same-sex couple in an ad, then they should – MUST – do so.

    Anything else is lax, bad council, poor behaviour, and a betrayal of their duty, if that’s the way public opinion has swung. They are derelict in their duty.

    Don’t like it? Argue better. Argue more positively. Win the argument *shrugs*

    I will bank with Lloyds because they show same-sex couples on their ads. That’s my prerogative as a human.

    I will not buy from Chick-a-Fil. Again, that’s my prerogative as a human. It’s also my prerogative to attempt to persuade as many people as possible to do the same, as a human being with my own agency.

    XD

    You may disagree.

    That’s fine. Use every method at your disposal.

    😉

    Until you send Government troops to my door, to tell me to stop.

  • neonsnake (November 3, 2019 at 8:59 pm), you are in error in your comment above.

    – Flora did not stop advertising on mumsnet because they believe for a second that their customers, or enough of them to affect their profits in the slightest, were deeply shocked that someone there expressed the thought that only women give birth.

    – Chick-fil-A’s first UK restaurant was not harassed because it could not find all the customers it needed to make it profitable here, even if you would not be among them. Nor have repeated attempts to prevent such restaurants opening in woke-controlled airports or campuses in the US reflected concern that they would not find customers. On the contrary, the concern of the woke was that they would!

    – Nor of course did Lloyds, whose shareholder meetings I have attended, show same-sex in ads because they truly thought their high-street customers were demanding it and their profits could be affected otherwise.

    The billionaire woke are not responding to the market. They are responding to intimidation that is intended to override their willingness to respond to the market. Nobody organises a boycott of what the market is driving bankrupt. I’ve seen how it works: you will do this PC thing or we will call you names – not we, your customers or shareholders but we the pressure group. People don’t want the aggravation so they knuckle under. You will be made to care.

    Obviously, if Chick-fil-A went gradually bust in the absence of organised harassment, simply because fewer and fewer people cared to patronise a firm whose CEO had expressed conventional attitudes, who on this blog could object to the effect of such individual free choices. The woke hate them because they show no signs of doing so – quite the reverse. The woke hate things being decided by the effect of individual free choices instead of by them.

  • neonsnake

    They are responding to intimidation that is intended to override their willingness to respond to the market.

    They are responding to potential bad PR.

    PR is an interesting subject, especially from the point of view of someone who has worked in retail their whole life.

    I don’t think anyone has quite worked out how to cope with the internet, with Facebook, with Twitter mobs. Hell, most retailers are only just coming to grips with the concept of customer reviews.

    But, it’s a fact of life now.

    Where I work, we’re currently in the process of attracting investors. I’m not senior enough to be directly involved, don’t get me wrong ( 😉 ) but I have a good relationship with our CEO, and what he’s telling me is that investors today are very interested in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). As you can imagine, given some of the discussions here, I found this very interesting. Investors are very interested in CSR, because it has direct correlation with transparency and good corporate governance.

    We have lots of “workstreams” on Diversity, with working groups and so on. Youth, Women In Leadership Roles, Mental Wellbeing, BAME, LGBT+ etc (the LGBT one is much longer than those four letters. I don’t remember the rest of the letters. Make of that what you will).

    I have extraordinarily mixed feelings on them.

    One of my staff, a young lady who is a phenomenal buyer and negotiator, was one of the pilot team for the women in leadership roles. As her boss, I was required to have some input, some involvement. I’m close with her, we have a great relationship. She told me she felt patronised by it.

    For clarity: the industry I currently work in is construction/DIY. It’s, as you can imagine, heavily male-dominated. When I put together my team, I ended up with an entirely female team. Very deliberately, very consciously. Not through any “PC” leanings on my behalf, but because they passed my interviews, and because women can be great negotiators. At work, I’m ruthless, and every decision is about my targets. Not that I’ve never got anything wrong! But, by and large, I’m pretty good at what I do.

    So.

    We have these groups, right? These workstreams. I was asked to be part of the LGBT stream, obviously, I’m a visible figure in my company.

    I’m out at work, I’ve not hidden what I am. I refused. Not sure I can articulate why, I just didn’t want it. I made it clear that if someone wants a chat, then I’m absolutely cool with that. I’m there for them. But I’m not putting a rainbow in my email signature.

    If a twenty year old kid wants to talk to me, sure. That’s different. I’m not a wanker, I’m 40-odd years old. If I can help, then, Jesus, I’ll help. If I can help them come to terms with their feelings, then, Christ, that’s thirty minutes well spent, right?

    Some of it, I guess you think it goes too far?

    I don’t know how to feel about that. Its kinda distressing for me, I suppose.

    On Chick Fil A, I should “probably not make am ado about it, for I can do without them”, to quote Thoreau. I don’t care, not really. Life’s too short. I just won’t eat there. Lloyds Bank having same-sex couples, well…what does it take away from you? Nothing. You think I want to destroy the traditional family?

    I don’t. I really don’t. I just want to see myself fucking represented in an advert sometimes, guys. That’s all. Sorry if that offends you. I don’t know what to say about that. I don’t think that’s wrong, or “Woke”, or whatever.

    You talk about “conventional attitudes”, Niall. It feels like you approve of conventional attitudes?

    🙂

    Either say it or don’t. Don’t flirt. Come on, guys. I’m tired of it.

    On another thread, Paul Marks, you’ve referred to bisexuality as “sexual perversion”, with reference to Keynes. Ok. Cool! Great!

    There seems to be this whole “bash the woke” thing going on right now, over the past couple of weeks. And I’m being caught up in this, just because of who I am and what I am. It’s pretty shitty, honestly.

  • Mr Ed

    They are responding to intimidation that is intended to override their willingness to respond to the market.

    They are responding to potential bad PR.

    It’s not bad PR, they are fearful that it is bad PR, but they are wrong. It is just ‘wrongthink‘.

    I ended up with an entirely female team. Very deliberately, very consciously.

    That would appear to be an admission of unlawful direct discrimination in employment on the ground of sex, rendering you potentially liable to pay (personally) unlimited compensation for loss of earnings on the basis of stereotypical assumptions. Youl could be bankrupted by that statement. Every unsuccessful male job candidate has a claim against you for loss of earnings, loss of career prospects and injury to feelings.

    That is how the law is.

  • bobby b

    neonsnake
    November 4, 2019 at 8:26 pm

    “There seems to be this whole “bash the woke” thing going on right now, over the past couple of weeks. And I’m being caught up in this, just because of who I am and what I am. It’s pretty shitty, honestly.”

    I can only speak for myself, but I’ve never thought that way – I’d never catch you up in what I call “Woke.” And, yeah, I’ve seen some snide comments, and I regret them, but honestly, in what group have you ever existed where such attitudes don’t come through periodically? And of the groups that might pop into your mind, could I hang out as a conservative without hearing my share of such slurs from them? 😆

    I think we’re hung up on the definition. To me, “Woke” means that you pointedly hire 29% black employees, 27% Hispanic, 4% L, 5% G, 0.4% Aleut, 0.09% with obscene neck tattoos . . .

    And, to me, that is a sure means of prolonging and exacerbating the conflicts and rage and division that is supposedly the target to quell. That’s why I make fun of “Woke.” “Woke” is the confusion between cause and effect.

    Instead, I think we hire the best people for the job, and, if we can do so without regard to our parents’ prejudices – if we can avoid them ourselves – we’ll naturally end up with 29% black employees, 27% Hispanic, 4% L, 5% G, 0.4% Aleut, (screw the 0.09% with obscene neck tattoos) . . . – because when none of those factors matter, you’re neither helped nor hurt by them.

    And I think you’d defend my method before the “Woke” method. I bash the Woke, but I don’t bash you, because you’re not Woke. You’re Sensible.

  • neonsnake

    That is how the law is.

    Nope.

    That’s not how the law is. At all. I get to employ whoever I want to. That’s the law.

    As long as I’m not illegally discriminatimg, I’m golden.

    If really is that simple. Soz. I can’t be bankrupted by that statement, at all, personally or professionally. Utter myth. Nonsense on stilts.

    Trust me on this, boys and girls, for I know of what I speak.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “That’s not how the law is. At all. I get to employ whoever I want to. That’s the law.

    As long as I’m not illegally discriminating, I’m golden.”

    “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants, so long as it is black.”


    PS. I was going to ask what skin colour “golden” was politically-correct-speak for, but perhaps I shouldn’t push it, eh? 🙂

  • Mr Ed

    neonsnake, you really are a fool if you believe your own words:

    I ended up with an entirely female team. Very deliberately, very consciously.”

    A clear admission of discrimination in recruitment on the ground of sex, there is no need for the reversal of the burden of proof (although it would be engaged, and you would have to prove that sex was not the reason why you deliberately and consciously recruited a female team). But don’t flaunt your ignorance here, I really wouldn’t want you to get sued for doing what you think is best.

    As long as I’m not illegally discriminatimg, I’m golden.

    Fools gold sir, iron pyrites. You have already admitted to deliberately and consciously ending up with an entirely female team. So, unless you are blagging or trolling, a candidate’s sex forms a deliberate and conscious part of your recruitment decisions, direct discrimination which here is always unlawful. I’m not saying it shouldn’t, but I am saying it is unlawful in the UK (and the EU).

    I get to employ whoever I want to. That’s the law.

    No, it isn’t, end of, unless you wish to risk being sued.

    If you appoint on merit, and the successful candidates happen to be female, you are golden, but that’s not what you said. And what you say you did counts.

  • bobby b

    Mr. Ed, the fools are the ones who don’t think enough to document their decisions properly.

    So long as I can defend and justify each individual hiring decision on its own merits, and I don’t put something in the record like “oh, good, he’s not black!”, or “great, she a lesbian like the others!” – so long as neonsnake can point to his six hires and defend that they were the best negotiators who applied – it’s safe.

    Sure, there’s also the whole “disparate impact” test, that can be used for overall organizations that just happen to end up with all employees being of some conformative status – but that danger doesn’t rear its head for small subsets, where the individual justifications continue to confer a prima facie showing of propriety.

    I think you’re arguing that he has discriminated illegally, and I’d agree, but what he’s saying is that he’s done it safely, and needn’t fear legal consequences.

    (This is one of my problems with Equal Employment laws – they’re all far too easy to circumvent with just a little thought, and so they cause more trouble than they solve.)

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Where I work, we’re currently in the process of attracting investors. I’m not senior enough to be directly involved, don’t get me wrong ( 😉 ) but I have a good relationship with our CEO, and what he’s telling me is that investors today are very interested in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).”

    The question to ask him would be what’s the CSR line on free speech, freedom of belief, democracy, and economic/political/religious/philosophical freedom generally? Given that ‘beliefs’ are a protected category under UK equality law, and this can include political/philosophical beliefs like the belief or non-belief in climate change, or democratic socialism, is there perhaps a sensible “silent majority” of customers who would be quietly in favour of a responsible and proportionate pro-freedom corporate stance? How, for example, does being dishonestly polite about China’s government (as opposed to its workers/people) just to protect your own supply chain costs jibe with a claim to having high moral standards and corporate social responsibility? Isn’t that like bribery? The exact same excuse being made for it? And if we establish the principle of political freedom in the case of places like China, don’t we have to apply the same principle everywhere? Including here?

    “Either say it or don’t. Don’t flirt. Come on, guys. I’m tired of it.”

    The freedom to be open about being LGBT is the same freedom as the freedom to be open about being against it. It’s just another political opinion. And I’m sure those who are against LGBT are just as tired of getting bashed for expressing their opinions. Both sides need to realise it’s the same problem, and they actually have a common cause buried underneath the conflict.

  • Mr Ed

    bobby b

    the fools are the ones who don’t think enough to document their decisions properly.

    So long as I can defend and justify each individual hiring decision on its own merits, and I don’t put something in the record like “oh, good, he’s not black!”, or “great, she a lesbian like the others!” – so long as neonsnake can point to his six hires and defend that they were the best negotiators who applied – it’s safe.

    Yes, but neonsnake has said that deliberately hired women, so putting on the record a decision that is primarily motivated by the sex of the candidate, bringing into play the provisions of our wondrous 90,000+ word Equality Act 2010 and the reversal of the burden of proof. I’m not saying that he did moral wrong, but legally, he is on a sticky wicket, as an unsuccessful male candidate could argue that he was deliberately excluded on the ground of sex, and argue ‘conscious discrimination’ without the need to invoke the concept of unconscious discrimination, i.e. that he didn’t even realise that he was discriminating because of pre-conceived ideas he holds, which he doesn’t admit to himself, which is another can of worms.

    Over here, as the burden of proof can be reversed in circumstances broadly such as these, he would have to prove that he did not discriminate. Showing that the candidates appointed happened to be better and were in fact appointed on merit is still a good defence, but if you say that you deliberately and consciously appointed women (assuming men applied) then you are on a hiding to nothing. But it is not only that:

    Recently, the Advocate-General of the European Court of Justice held (in a non-binding preliminary ruling) that a lawyer saying he wouldn’t appoint gay people in an interview on the radio (without their being a vacancy, just talking in the abstract) has been held to be actionable discrimination, which gives an activist group the potential right to claim damages even though no one lost anything at all. That’s why I am so perturbed by what neonsnake wrote.

  • bobby b

    “Over here, as the burden of proof can be reversed in circumstances broadly such as these, he would have to prove that he did not discriminate.”

    Yeah, I do get careless at times and argue US law as if it were universal. Y’all have a much more encompassing “disparate impact” environment. Good point.

  • Mr Ed (November 4, 2019 at 11:03 pm) although I see that neonsnake’s phrasing very much permits your reading (and therefore could make for legal trouble in the workplace), I did read his comment as meaning (if poor-phrasedly) that he had hired for competence in negotiating and found he had an all-female team – a fact which did not surprise him because he had attitudes (conventional ones, I note 🙂 ) concerning female superiority in that field. (I share these attitudes to some degree, having noticed a similar effect in the software world about the roles which the minority of women there both disproportionately win and seem attracted to.)

    I quite see it could instead be read as saying that he had these (conventional) attitudes about females and their better interpersonal/negotiating skills and therefore had intentionally hired females – neonsnake can presumably clarify.

    Independent of that, my understanding of disproportionate-impact theory is that even hiring for competence is discrimination if the result is not proportionate in whatever categories the challenger cares about. However while some activist judges do push it, I’m unsure if that is unquestionably the law or not in given cases.

  • Mr Ed

    Niall,

    When it comes to separating the sheep from the goats (which is where this post started), poor neonsnake might benefit from considering how the law is a sword not a shield these days in the UK, and he could face action (very much in theory, I hope) for simply going for what is best from his viewpoint (and objectively best, I suppose), but the Italian lawyer in the case I put in above who spoke openly on a radio interview is likely to be held liable in law for damages for what is thought crime (to be honest, in the UK, that lawyer would probably be at risk of being struck off for professional misconduct simply by his words).

  • Julie near Chicago

    “Disparate impact,” my Aunt Fanny! Like this child-delivery business:

    “Who ya gonna call? GodBusters!”

    (Signed) The Stork

  • bobby b

    “The freedom to be open about being LGBT is the same freedom as the freedom to be open about being against it.”

    Dissent.

    I think there’s a qualitative difference between

    “you’re not Scottish, so you’re crap!”

    and

    “you said “you’re not Scottish, so you’re crap!”, so you’re crap.” (This line made sense as I was thinking it, but I’m not sure it translates well.)

    I can choose to say or not say things. I can’t choose not to be Scottish. (Scotch? Scot?)

    One is an attack or critique on my choices, one is an attack or critique on my very existence. I don’t think they’re comparable at all.

    (I wouldn’t legislate against either, but I’d certainly consider one to be worse than the other.)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Bernard: There’s a rumor that there are £ 1,000* of diamonds in a vault under # 10.

    Hacker: *gasp* Is that true?

    Bernard: I don’t know. Is it?

    Hacker: You just said it is!

    Bernard: No, I said it’s true that there’s a rumor.

    Heh heh heh.

    *Fraser will correct me if I’ve gotten the price wrong again. :>(

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Dissent. I think there’s a qualitative difference between “you’re not Scottish, so you’re crap!” and “you said “you’re not Scottish, so you’re crap!”, so you’re crap.””

    Hence why I compared being *open* about being LGBT with being *open* about being homophobic. It’s a rare person who can consciously choose what their own beliefs and opinions and feelings are. But you can hide them.

  • neonsnake

    A clear admission of discrimination in recruitment on the ground of sex

    Still nope.

    I ended up with. Not set out to recruit.

    Each hire was deliberately and consciously recruited on their own merits – as in with standardised interviews designed to remove unconscious bias – with all the appropriate notes to back it up.

    Had I, having realised three-quarters of the way through the process what I was likely to end up with, hired the men instead for the remaining positions, in order to achieve more “balance”, that would have been discrimination against the superior (according to the interviews) candidates.

  • Mr Ed

    NS,

    If you are ever sued, settle early before you make an expensive error. Any further advice would be a waste of my time.

  • This line made sense as I was thinking it, but I’m not sure it translates well. (bobby b, November 5, 2019 at 12:59 am)

    I have to plus-one that – so minus-oning the sentence in question. 🙂 However if you decide to let it go till some similar philosophical issue arises in a later thread, I’ll happily plus-one that.

    I can’t choose not to be Scottish. (Scotch? Scot?)

    Scots – I, Niall Kilmartin, can indeed not choose not to be Scots, in the sense of not being born of wholly-Scottish ancestors. However I can of course choose to change my nationality or to ‘identify’ as British sometimes or always or – well, a lot of things.

    And that is with a historical fact established before I was born. As regards almost any mental aspect, there will always be huge philosophical scope to debate what is choice and what is necessity. Stalin’s gigantic experiment suggests that more than 1% but less than 2% of Russians would never confess, would never betray those they loved, the things they believed. Precisely one of these many people was discovered to have an abnormal response to pain, while it is distressingly clear in many accounts that the rest of them had all too normal an ability to experience it. Meanwhile whom of us would betray if threatened, if given an hour of NKVD torture, if given a week? And would we say we had no choice?

  • neonsnake (November 5, 2019 at 10:55 am), that is indeed what I thought you meant, but I have to agree with Mr Ed that in today’s freedom-diminished UK you may be wise to regard his advise, at least to the point of getting legal advice.

    (That said, if instead you ever make yourself a heroic martyr to sanity, be assured I’ll be cheering you. The world can need ‘unwise’ heroes – and while it can be wise to chose, not blunder into, such unwisdom, history contains examples of people like the King of the Belgians in WWI who, told that no-one expected heroism from the Belgians, replied, “Yes, we were cornered into it.”)

  • neonsnake

    if instead you ever make yourself a heroic martyr to sanity

    Which I am actually quite prepared to do, on this one. I am protective of my right to recruit my own team, and very protective of the people I recruited, and won’t have any of them accused of being recruited on anything other than merit.

    I was clear, I thought, in my initial statement that I “ended up with”, not “set out to recruit a team of women regardless”, and that therefore, the conscious and deliberate applied to the individual interviews and hires. Evidently not…;)

    I’ve been recruiting for two decades, I learned how to interview under the spectre (I think it turned out largely to be a myth, but am not 100% certain) of “discriminated-against types bringing tribunals against you if you don’t employ them”, so I know full well what documentation is needed, and how to protect myself from spurious claims.

    I also know that you employ the best person for the job, if you want to avoid difficulties later (employing someone just to get bums on seats to solve short-term staff shortages being the easy example of what not to do) – and that “best person for the job” can sometimes be the surprising candidate.

    Happily, UK (and EU, I believe) law in this area is (sorta) on our side – positive discrimination is illegal (I’ll leave to one side the freedom of association/negative discrimination discussion for the moment), as opposed to the US, where I believe (rightly? wrongly?) that positive discrimination in the form of quotas is legal – happy to be corrected.

    The only time it’s legal is if all other measures are equal, then you are able to recruit the discriminated-against applicant. I would argue that at that point, it’s not really positive discrimination at all, it’s just a preference, but that’s by the by.

    I’m not very keen on negative discrimination laws, but for different reasons, I suspect, to the ones that most libertarians would state.

    I think anyone who discriminates on (what is commonly referred to as) negative grounds is an idiot, if they’re passing up on a superior candidate, but that’s not my primary reason – simply put, my primary reason is that it’s created a horrible backlash.

    I suspect (or merely hope) that such laws can be safely repealed now, and that discrimination would not increase. If nothing else, a company that routinely discriminates against gays or Indians or Jews or whatever will soon find themselves all over Twitter with the associated bad PR. The market will self-regulate, I think.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to be the politician to suggest such a thing right now…

  • neonsnake

    One is an attack or critique on my choices, one is an attack or critique on my very existence. I don’t think they’re comparable at all.

    Thank you, and for your words above that post as well. They’re appreciated.

    And I’m sure those who are against LGBT are just as tired of getting bashed for expressing their opinions.

    Undoubtedly, and I try to remember that many people with anti-LGBT opinions are not necessarily anti-LGBT people, they might just oppose, say, marriage. Or being forced to make cakes. Or they might be very religious. And so on. And some of them rounded us up with all the other dissidents and weirdos and put us in concentration camps or killed us, so it’s swings and roundabouts.

    But that’s not really my point, or at least only peripherally.

    The bit that’s causing me to smack my head repeatedly against the keyboard, is that when someone like Chick Fil A donates money to anti-LGBT organisations, it’s considered to be someone expressing an opinion, all within the bounds of freedom of expression and speech, perfectly acceptable. Which it is. I don’t like it, but it’s their money and their choice.

    But also, there’s an implied mild disapproval of even criticising such an opinion – “just as tired of getting bashed”. One should just leave them to it, and if enough people, making individual choices, uninfluenced by social media and boycotts, are unimpressed with the chain’s corporate social values, then so be it.

    But the flip side seems to be that if Lloyds or HSBC, or other corporation shows a same-sex or mixed-race couple in an ad, or anything else that is deemed overly “Woke”, then it’s the End Of Days, the Four Horseman cometh, let loose the Hounds Of War, and so on and so forth.

    They’re trying to end Western Civilization as we know it, and any and all means of expressing our displeasure are both appropriate and, indeed, necessary to prevent imminent collapse of society and shipping to the Gulags of the non-Woke proletariat.

    I suspect that few people here were annoyed at the boycotts and widespread viral disapproval on social media that Gillette received, after their toxic masculinity advert, or were interesting in defending Gillette on freedom of speech grounds? Sure, it was horrendously mistimed and arguably quite hectoring in tone, but they’re surely within their rights to make it and show it.

    It appears, to me at least, quite inconsistent, and that inconsistency is applied in favour of defending the free speech of those we agree with, rather than those delivering messages that we don’t agree with as well.

    It can be mildly frustrating…

  • Nullius in Verba

    “It appears, to me at least, quite inconsistent, and that inconsistency is applied in favour of defending the free speech of those we agree with, rather than those delivering messages that we don’t agree with as well.”

    Well, yes. Everyone has a tendency to do that. I’ve complained about it myself. Numerous times. But you have to remember most people aren’t purist libertarians. A lot are conservatives who find themselves leaning libertarian curently because their culture is under heavy fire.

    “I suspect that few people here were annoyed at the boycotts and widespread viral disapproval on social media that Gillette received, after their toxic masculinity advert, or were interesting in defending Gillette on freedom of speech grounds?”

    I would always be interested in defending them on free speech grounds. But their right to say it wasn’t what was being disputed. Nobody is saying it’s too disgusting to be allowed or arguing that they should ban such things from TV – although society would have done so once. (Can you imagine what Mary Whitehouse and the Viewers and Listeners Association would have said?) Nobody complains about Stonewall, for example, putting out pro-LGBT material in the media. That’s their job. The issue is with the widespread shift in corporate culture making certain political opinions mandatory, and others unacceptable, even where they have got nothing to do with the business or one’s fitness to be employed in it.

    Now I would certainly agree that 50 years ago the corporate culture enforced the other side’s political opinions on LGBT in the same sort of way. But then the 1960s came along and we were persuaded that was bad, and stopped doing it. But now it’s back again, but swinging the other way.

    An example from somewhere I once worked: We had this corporate forum people can comment on, but it had a tendency to censor certain words it didn’t like, or block them without explaining why. Comments got mangled. People got annoyed, and asked for it to stop. People complained. People objected to being treated like naughty children. It had been going on for about a year and a half, with absolutely no impact. Nothing happened. Nobody responded. Nobody even made excuses for it. They did nothing.

    Then the LGBT group had a thing to promote the new LGBT support group, and put some articles up about it. Someone happened to note in passing that the automatic censorship system had blacked out the word ‘lesbian’, and thought it was kinda ironic that in an article celebrating how LGBT was totally acceptable now in our company that they’d censored the L-word as a naughty word you wasn’t allowed to say. I didn’t think anything much of it – I just thought it was funny, in a black-humoured ‘Dilbert’ sort of way.

    Well, the lesbians hit the roof! There were about a dozen fuming comments denouncing it, and within about three hours of the article being posted, the policy was gone. The censorship filter had been turned off completely. Hooray! Free-ish speech, at last!

    But the thing is, people complaining that they couldn’t talk about the Hampshire Astronomical Group (the word ‘hag’ was on the list) got totally ignored, but the moment the lesbians pipe up about something, red alert sirens sounded at HQ legal and it’s ‘Action This Day’! Astronomers can’t sue the company for discrimination. LGBT groups can. And I consider that a problem because it means certain political views and groups are being privileged over others, and I know where that road leads.

    So – you have an LGBT workstream. Do you have a free speech workstream? If someone set up a homophobe’s workstream (Muslims and Catholics welcome), what would be the corporate reaction? As I said above, what’s the CSR position on free speech, freedom of belief, and the rights of people to harmlessly dissent from the mainstream of whatever society they live in?

    I don’t know. Maybe Chick-Fil-A does. Or maybe they’re just as prescriptive the other way. If it’s the former, would they get any points for it from you?

    We have had conversations about the Voltaire dictum: ‘I may despise what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’ – and the importance of speaking up about what we despise. This is part of that. People can defend Gillette’s right to run their campaign, while at the same time calling out its despicable anti-male sexism, and the corporate culture that seeks to outlaw and silence any dissent from that feminist line.

    You are absolutely right that everyone notices the boot mainly when it stamps on their own face. Niemoller even wrote a poem about it. But this is what I mean about both sides still needing to realise it’s the same problem. LGBTers ought to be receptive to the libertarian principle that mainstream culture needs to be tolerant even of those it rightly despises, having once been the despised themselves. And right-wingers who are now finding themselves despised ought to be newly sympathetic to where the LGBT have been coming from all these years. Both have to put the principle ahead of which side they’re on. And it’s true that neither side is, and it’s a struggle to make either side see how much we humans all have in common here.

    To build on what we have in common, we have to accept and tolerate our differences. Homophobes have to accept that LGBT-supporters despise homophobia, and will say so, but that’s less important than that we support their free speech right to be homophobes. And vice versa – you can’t let yourself be bothered by the fact they’re homophobes and express it, because free speech – and their support for yours – is more important. Argue. Disagree. Tell them they’re out-of-date idiots for believing such nonsense. But don’t ever ask them to stop saying it.

    Libertarianism is hard. We’re not there yet. But we can keep trying.

  • neonsnake (November 5, 2019 at 4:52 pm), notice that we were disagreeing (my Niall Kilmartin at November 3, 2019 at 11:05 pm in response to yours immediately above it) on a strictly empirical point – whether companies signalling wokeness do so from rational (as far as they can assess them) market considerations, as you suggested, or rather from being intimidated by the woke, as I suggested. As we’re mostly not there when these decisions are made, there are limits to the degree either of us can insist we know, but it is in principle an empirical question in each case and a statistical one overall and one can make an assessment – and need to, to assess where contemporary dangers to freedom cluster.

    It is basic political theory that

    ten men acting together can make a hundred thousand tremble apart

    In one particular instance I watched at a Lloyds shareholder meeting, it was rather ten women (no prizes for guessing the kind of issue). I do not think the career managers I witnessed there chose to have an affirmation of gay marriage in a high-street customer ad because they had done impartial market research and discovered that being explicit on one side of the issue was a commercial winner compared to being bland on it.

    I also do not think they were the stuff of a Mark Zuckerberg on one side of the question or a Dan Cathy (Chick-Fil-A boss) on the other, assertng a side from a moral belief transcending vulgar profit. (I note in passing that the comparison with Lloyds is not precise for Dan Cathy who does not, IIUC, insert the issue into Chik-Fil-A ads but merely refuses to say what he’s told or be silent in the pubic square. As I do not offhand recall a relevant facebook ad as such, I note that, very technically, it might be imprecise for Zuckerberg in that respect also.)

    – I would not be vastly surprised if Mark one day found that a praetorian ‘deep state’ in his company were ready to swallow him in the way Ayn Rand’s newspaperman in The Fountainhead discovers that leaving HR in the hands of the novel’s collectivist villain has rendered him impotent to make his platform defend his individualist friend. But for now, I feel sure he is leading the wave, not fleeing before it.

    – Conversely I do not know whether Daniel Cathy, Chick-Fil-A boss, gets more profit from free speech supporters and/or fellow believers patronising his establishment than he loses from others avoiding it and woke protestors harassing it, but I don’t suppose he refused to take his opinions from the thought police because a market research survey told him refusing would be good for business.

    So, while you are free to imagine the examples I gave were in fact market-research-led, I think you are quite wrong about that and statistically wrong in general. And while woke views are enforced by cancel culture – by ‘ten acting together’ – then I think your suggested interpretation will stay statistically wrong. Regardless, it is an empirical question – though the answer is relevant to Burke’s question: how safely can a simple citizen decently express their views “though against a predominant and fashionable opinion”?

    Nullius, some interesting comments – and while one regrets what it shows us, or rather confirms to us, I was amused by your ‘Astronomers v Lesbians’ anecdote (an example of ‘ten acting together’ supplemented by ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease’). I see a similarity between your last paragraph in Nullius in Verba (November 4, 2019 at 10:44 pm) and my last sentence in this old comment.

  • neonsnake

    All fair points, and I suspect we won’t reach total agreement.

    Swiftly: NiV, no we don’t have a free speech workstream, which you’ve obviously guessed. In fact, in the early days of it all, I started a sentence with “This might be an unpopular thing to say” and got an attempted shut down by HR with “Dont say it then” (I carried on anyway, it was along the lines of “how about we just don’t be dicks to minorities and call it a day?”)

    But don’t ever ask them to stop saying it.

    Difficult. Sorry, but there it is. I can try, but can’t commit.

    Niall, broadly, there’s a couple of ways of managing PR. One is market research, where you spend a lot of money, and then go with what the research says. It offers incremental improvements.

    The other is trying to read the zeitgeist, and getting ahead of the curve. This is where you offer ads showing same sex or mixed race couples, and attempt to gauge the response. This is where I, because of my job, include in the market the “woke”, the “zeitgeist”, whatever. Basically, Gillette misread it, Lloyds read it correctly, and Greggs did very well out of it.

    To me (professionally), it’s all part of the market, and I have to pay it attention. It’s bloody hard work!

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