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Definitive Texts: 1984 as PC’s self-stupifying how-to manual

I get the question, in another form, from teachers, who suggest I should write about ‘real’ things like racism and unemployment. Sometimes the teachers claim that fantasy is too difficult, or ‘beyond the average child’, but a lot of them complain that it doesn’t give them opportunities enough for class discussions of important modern issues.     (‘Why don’t you write real books?’, Diana Wynne Jones)

In Orwell’s 1984, one of the many acts of the IngSoc (English Socialist) party is to write garbled versions (called ‘Definitive Texts’) of books whose message undermines the totalitarian ethos but whose titles are too well known just to repress. A review (h/t instapundit) shows that the recent film version of Madeleine L’Engle’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ has given it this treatment. Meg and her mother are now black, and the child actor chosen to play Charles Wallace adds so considerably to the rainbow effect that the film makes him adopted, lest even the most woke viewer notice the impossibility of his being the offspring of Meg’s mixed-race parents. The twins are missing entirely

which may be a blessing, considering that political correctness probably would have dictated they be played by a Native American dwarf and a disabled transsexual

etc. And all this merely serves as a distraction from the ruthless gutting of the Christian resonances that are as much a part of L’Engle’s books as of the Narnia stories. (The numerous other incoherent plot changes may reflect the scriptwriter’s wokeness or their poor memory or both.)

The review presents all this well enough. I’m not writing here to repeat it, but to reflect on how it hurts the PC themselves, not just us. To explain, I have to provide a worked example (so this post is longer than mine usually are).

Sadly, I missed the chance Natalie once had to meet the late Diana Wynne Jones, so I never asked her the questions I had. One of the more trivial was about her third reason why her early books all had male leading characters. (Her first reason is by far the more worth discussing – but that is another story.) Her third reason was she wanted to write a book that her children (all boys) would read and “in those days, boys would not read books with a girl as lead character.”

Obviously, Diana knew that was not literally true. Swallows and Amazons (written long before “those days”) stars twice as many girls as boys, and a later book in the series has thrice as many girls as boys. However she could have replied that none of those girls ever think a thought that would bring a blush to the cheeks of a young boy. When Nancy and Peggy are obliged by their great-aunt to dress in party frocks rather than the sailing gear they prefer, their reaction is almost as horrified as a boy’s might be. Susan’s femininity is strictly practical – boys know that when children camp or sail, someone has to manage the cooking. Perhaps Dorothea, with her dreams of Dutchmen bringing her tulips across the north sea and her yearning to be a writer, gets closest to thinking girlish thoughts: one can just about imagine her writing “The Tale of the Twin Princesses” if there were the slightest chance any of her friends would read it – but since she knows they wouldn’t, she writes “The Outlaw of the Broads”, which is clearly a swashbuckler.

So what I would have asked Diana was, “Did you ever try ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ on your sons?” (It was published in 1963 – their ages suit). I read it at age seven or eight and could not put it down, so I think she could have got her sons to read it – despite the fact that Meg, for all her mathematical genius, is not at all like the Amazon girls. Page one of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ finds Meg angsting away in her bedroom. The next day she meets a boy and, after a shamefully brief period of caution, goes gooey over him. She’s embarrassed when her mother accidentally reveals she still plays with dolls – but that’s nothing to what a small boy identifying with her would feel.

Now part of why that boy keeps reading is because if small boy reader gets as far as page 2, he may think for a bit that the book will be about Charles Wallace. Adoring elder sister Meg knows Charles is a genius, despite the neighbours thinking he’s an idiot. Every small boy relates to this. Every small boy knows he’s a genius but, for some strange reason, the people around him treat him as if he were an idiot. Maybe this book is really about the amazing deeds of superboy Charles Wallace, as chronicled by Lois-Lane-like sister Meg?

If this brief mistake were in any way contrived, it would be a huge turn-off to re-reading. “The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler” was praised by all the usual suspects. Aided by deceptive cover art, its writer works hard in the first half of the book to persuade you that first-person-narrator Tyke is a boy. Then she reveals Tyke is a girl. It’s as easy as ringing a doorbell and running off. “Yes comrade, this proves you too still suffer unconscious gender micro-stereotyping. Report to your assigned gender deconstruction re-educator immediately.” I assume some boys with feminist mothers read it once. I’d guess fewer read it twice. (Of course, these days, the making of those fixed binary assumptions about Tyke’s she-it-he gender identity would be the verboten thing. It is so hard for the woke to stay ‘relevant’.)

In a ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ however, this initial impression is wholly natural and innocent. It is close to how Madeleine L’Engle really does see Meg’s and Charles’ later relationship. (In the later books of the series, more-grown-up Charles is usually pointman, with Meg in a supportive role.) In the first third of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’, Charles takes the initiative in trying to rescue their lost father. Meg is the observer of the action but also the weakest: the slowest to recover from multi-dimensional travel, the slowest to learn the lessons their guides teach, the least patient (though the value of this is slightly more ambiguous). In a character-displaying scene the children confront the wall that sucks in the forms which define everyone on the totalitarian planet of Camazotz. The two boys each reach out a hand to touch it – “Ugh!” says Charles, “It’s like ice”, says Calvin – while Meg, between them, is intensely conscious she has no desire whatever to let go of their other hands to touch this vile wall herself. The boys can explore the wall; her job is to give (and receive) moral support. Already however, we’ve had hints that Charles is too young, too confident, more at risk than he realises. When he first attempts a dangerously overconfident move, Meg, terrified, temporarily saves him by almost knocking him out but when he recovers the two resume their relation of Charles taking the lead. Assuring her he can handle it, he advances open-eyed to his doom. The first third of the book ends with Meg, her rescued father and her boyfriend fleeing in the nick of time from Camazotz, where Charles is now far more enslaved than his father was.

In the middle part of the book, Meg is desperate to rescue her beloved baby brother – and her plan for doing so is that her father and boyfriend should come up with a plan for doing so and carry it out. Her job is to motivate them, so she gets angrier and angrier as, despite their best efforts, they make little progress at the impossible task before them. Finally, they manage to contact the guardians who have guided them, only to be told that both father’s plan and boyfriend’s plan are pure suicide. In the awful silence that follows, the unbelieveable idea occurs to Meg (for the first time) that she is expected to do something. Her immediate reaction is to shout, “I can’t go”, and when the cuttingly dismissive response shows her that in fact that is the idea, she has a tantrum. Only after that can she face the facts. It is Charles mind that is enslaved. Her boyfriend has known him for less than a day. Her father has been a prisoner since before Charles could speak. Only Meg knows him well enough to have any chance of freeing him. An impossible task for them, it is only almost impossible for her. Father and boyfriend protest vigorously against sending her – and it is clear both Meg and Madeleine L’Engle would be immensely unimpressed with them if they didn’t – but there is no escaping the logic to which the plot has naturally led her (and the small boy reader). If anything defines Meg, it is that she loves her brother, and to this, everything else she thinks about herself must give way.

Thus we reach the final part of the book, and it is Meg who must “do the hero bit”, as Dianna Wynne Jones puts it. She is the one who must walk, alone and terrified, towards the dark tower, armed only with the usual cryptic clue – that only a single weapon can save her “but you must find it for yourself”. I won’t spoil it for you by telling whether she wins through or not – but I suspect you can guess.

So (for those who have managed to endure reading this far) not only could ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ be made the subject of “classroom discussions” but I have (I hope) demonstrated that a lefty teacher with at least two brain cells to rub together – and, much more important, the ability to set their inner PC censor temporarily to a low enough setting while reading it that they can think about it – could make remarks about roles and expectations and all that stuff they like to go on about. But “you can’t say that” silences their ability to think more than our ability to speak. Gross crude effects – make Meg black, replace the Christian themes – plastered onto the tale like Pollock-style paint blobbed onto a Rembrandt, provide the ‘definitive text’ for a socially-aware classroom discussion, a woke review, an idiocy of political correctness – but nothing that relates the actual work to their actual (supposedly) concerns.

The Parable of the Man of Many New Words

The teacher told the crowd a parable. In a village in the old South in the year 1866, there were several men who had owned slaves, and fought for the confederacy, and been forced to free their slaves, all of them unwillingly, some bitterly so. And there was also in that village a man who had repented of slavery and freed his slaves many, many years before, and had fought for the union, and so returned to that village with their authority and commanded the freeing of all the others’ slaves. And there came to that village a man of many new words. And he said to the man who had freed his slaves long before, “You deplorable sinner. You have owned slaves, therefore you are vile, and you have used force upon these others, therefore you are vile, so you must wear sackcloth and ashes and cringe before these others; and though you repent thus all your days, which I shall make as short as I can, yet you will never be cleansed, you will never be forgiven.” (Except that the man of many new words said this with his many new words, not as I have told it to you.) And he said to the other men, “You have been terribly wronged by that deplorable man. You have no power therefore you can do no wrong and he has used power over you – wrongfully, since he in his past has done evil, and I tell you he still does evil this day and every day. Therefore you must hate him with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength.” (Except that this too he said using his many new words, not as I have told it to you.)

Afterwards, the disciples asked the teacher to explain the parable. He told them the men who fought for the confederacy represented the non-European cultures of the world, all of whom had at times been much enslaved and at other times had done much enslaving, and had sold and bought and owned those they themselves enslaved, and also others. The man who fought for the union represented the English-speaking culture that long ago had been much enslaved, and later had themselves bought and sold and owned slaves (more than some, fewer than others), and then had repented of slavery and made it rare in the world. The man of many new words was the attitude that praises all the cultures that were forced to free their slaves, especially those that were most bitterly unwilling to do so, and hates the only one that freed them by choice.

The disciples asked the teacher why he had not spoken this plainly to the crowd. “If I had done that”, he said, “the men of many new words would have interrupted me before my first sentence was done – and if I had then rebuked them roundly, they would have arrested me for hate speech. (Also, they would have pretended to see a likeness in me to Donald Trump!) But because it is their absurdity to see the ex-confederates in that village as like their enemies, not like their proteges, they did not notice my meaning.”

“But”, replied the disciples, “they’re still not noticing – and they’re still inventing new words.”

The Heart of Emptiness

“It is no strange thing … to find a violent persecutor a perfect unbeliever of his own creed.” (Edmund Burke)

I can’t have read 1% of what’s been written about Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood in the last few days, so to say there’s a point I’ve not seen spelled out may mean very little. But as I’ve not seen it yet, I’ll say it here.

Of course, I’ve seen much that I agree with – and much that I already knew.

– Long before this story broke, I knew that the very industry that virtue-signalled its devotion to PC in public was certain to be the very place where vile conduct would abound, just as Sweden is rated a world-leader in feminism – and is where a raped girl waits more than a month for the police even to interview her. Only someone stupid enough to be surprised that the workers are starving in socialist Venezuela would be surprised to find the politically-correct victimising a group they patronise.

– I see, as Virginia Postrel does, that Hollywood’s recent rush to escape Harvey includes a preference cascade – far, far, far more of one than the way everyone in East Germany had always hated communism after the wall fell. (For a rare exception, if you can pass the Times paywall, read the revolting Matt Frei’s revoltingly sympathetic account of his revolting East German apparatchik relations’ feelings in the October 24th 2009 edition.) It’s easy to see why the PC mantra ‘regret is rape’ is so well liked by those who remember how unenjoyable their career-enhancing trysts with Harvey were  – and remember less well how indifferent they themselves were to others. I have not a moment’s doubt there were actual crimes; the details of Harvey’s technique that have emerged scream that there were. And I have not a moment’s doubt that the acted pleasure of others, who knew well the bargain they were making, was as fake as the better sex under communism that the NYT believes in (but I don’t). Who wouldn’t ‘regret’ spending time with the elephant in the hotel bedroom? Thay say power is an aphrodisiac; it would need to be.

– I see, as many do, that this phoniness of many Hollywood women is grossly (in every sense) matched by that of many Hollywood men. I’d like to write that I can’t imagine a less convincing apology that Tarentino’s – except that I don’t have to imagine it. Hillary Clinton, let alone his fellow Hollywood types, offered still worse or still less honest or still slower, or all three. If Brad Pitt had carried out his threat to beat up Harvey long ago – if he had done it somewhere so public that the story was unkillable – then he might have spared more than just Gwyneth Paltrow from future unpleasant encounters. That would have meant taking a risk; that would required him to act like the heroic characters he acts. But Brad took it out in unpublicised venting – which still puts him well above the filthy norm of Hollywood, I guess. Far lower is writing a blank-verse poem (after the story broke!) about your shameful inaction in all the years before. It shows some contrition, but my poems rhyme and scan, so I rate low the value of one that doesn’t make that much effort. At least the author’s poetic form lets him naturally repeat again and again his refrain: “Everybody-fucking-knew”. Finding out that Harvey’s contract included a clause protecting his company from paying his harrassment suits is as if we learned Hillary’s pre-nup included a protection against her money being used to pay off future Juanitas, Paulas and Etceteras. We don’t need that to know Hillary is full of it – and we didn’t need that clause to know that the poem tells less than the whole truth, not more.

– I see that Sarah Hoyt writes sense about passes, and that Stephanie Gutmann describes a real un-Hollywood workplace. I see just as clearly that those who took their pay-offs in career-boosting gigs or confidentiality-agreement payouts or both have yet another reason to indulge the left-wing tendency to blame society as a whole, not specific individuals typical only of their specific self-chosen society. On recent data, Harvey perpetrated one-and-a-half incidents per year over decades. My not-so-left-wing views tell me that many crimes are committed by far fewer criminals, so I agree with those who say that number will rise.

So (if you’re still reading 🙂 ), what have I not seen? Well, John Ringo, repeated in instapundit, tells a parable about how many in Hollywood (and it would be men as well as women) might need, for their own self-respect, to believe men outside Hollywood are far worse. It’s a well-written piece and it could explain the crazy antics of an Ashley Judd. But Occam whispers a simpler explanation in my ear. THESE PEOPLE ACT. The one thing we truly know about them is they can act – all of them competently, some exceptionally.

(To pick a name entirely at random) I never believed Chloe Grace Moretz drank blood for dinner because her vampire character does in ‘Let Me In’. I never thought she loved guns better than Dana Loesch because Hit Girl does, or that Hit Girl’s mocking, “Dude, that is one gay-looking taser”, meant Chloe never bowed to the tyranny of “you can’t say that”. I would very gladly believe she never suffered at Harvey’s hands what her character does in “I love you Daddy”. But when we see her nervously praising Hillary at the Democrats 2016 convention, why would we believe her? I don’t mean, why would we believe she is a good judge of political character, I mean why would we believe this is not just a career-serving acting gig in her own mind? It is easier, and less demeaning, to feign liking for Hillary in public than liking for the elephant in the bedroom in private – isn’t it? (Female commenters, please feel free to correct my victorian-valued mansplaining if I’m wrong about that.) In a Hollywood where some were enduring Harvey and more were covering for him, and this is far from the only such scandal, why on earth would we assume that anyone’s enthusiasm for PC is any more sincere than the eagerness for Harvey that was feigned on the casting couch? That Harvey never believed in his public creed is well, kind of obvious, but isn’t it the simplest explanation to assume that pretty well none of them do?

Some things I will miss about the now defunct Bella Caledonia web magazine

Bella Caledonia is, or was, a magazine style website devoted to a far left vision of Scottish Independence. I lurked there often and commented seldom. When I clicked on the link http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/ this morning I saw a message abruptly announcing its closure, and when I visited it again just now I saw the “404 Not Found” message. (Update: the site is now back up, though its future is still in doubt.)

I hope that was just a glitch and they haven’t really taken the whole site down. However far from them I am politically, I can have nothing but sympathy with someone who has been writing for or commenting at a website for a decade and then finds it has all been wiped. I would cry if that happened here.

As someone interested in languages, I shall miss the writing in and about Scots. I shall miss the commenters. Some of them were refreshingly, some worryingly, far from the mainstream of politics. A feeling of kinship… I shall say no more. Above all I shall miss their clarity about what they wanted for Scotland.

Three years ago I was so struck by an essay by regular Bella contributor Robin McAlpine, director of the Common Weal thinktank, about his desires for press regulation in a future independent Scotland that I copied it to my clippings file. The title alone was an Orwellian masterpiece. It originally appeared at this url: http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2013/03/19/real-freedom-sounds-like-many-voices/. Since that piece now seems to have vanished along with the rest of the Bella Caledonia archive, and since it is a mirror to the latest efforts by a Conservative UK government to end press freedom, I shall preserve it by posting it below.

I have put the phrase “Above all, this would require that titles other than the franchised ones would be banned” in bold, but other than that have made no changes. Here it is:

Real Freedom Sounds Like Many Voices

by Robin McAlpine 19TH MARCH 2013

“What we are actually having a debate about is the right of very, very rich people to control our society outside of any oversight or regulation …”

I have unburdened myself of the frustration I feel at the way I feel about how the media regulation debate has been covered in the Scottish press (here). Since then I’ve been contacted by a number of people who share my frustration but who want to know if there are other options for media regulation or other possibilities or arguments that are being censored in this debate. Yes there are – all of them.

→ Continue reading: Some things I will miss about the now defunct Bella Caledonia web magazine

Nice job breaking it, Huffman

Amelia Tait, writing in the New Statesman, says,

Reddit’s CEO edited comments on a pro-Trump thread and everyone should care

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has publicly admitted to editing comments on the pro-Donald Trump subreddit r/the_donald in a move he has described as “trolling the trolls”. Huffman – who goes by “spez” on Reddit – deleted comments from the pro-Trump community on the site, and also altered comments that insulted him. He replaced comments reading “fuck u/spez” with those of the users who moderate the thread. This meant the criticism directed towards him appeared to be attacking the thread’s own moderators.


Yet although this might seem like a small and temporary lapse in judgement, the implications are huge.

Normally when a comment is edited on Reddit – by a user or a moderator – a small asterisk will appear after the time stamp to indicate that it has been changed. In this instance, no such asterisk appeared, meaning Huffman ostensibly has the ability to edit comments without a trace. This is crucial because two months ago, a Redditor was taken to court for comments he left on the site. Huffman’s editing powers could clearly be abused to cause trouble for individuals.

Beyond this, however, Huffman chose the wrong Reddit community to anger. Those on r/the_donald are already deeply convinced by conspiracies, and, in a way, Huffman has now validated their claims.

I first came across r/the_donald when news was breaking of the terrorist massacre of 49 people attending a gay nightclub in Orlando carried out on behalf of Islamic State by Omar Mateen. I say “news was breaking”, but it was not breaking at r/news. As one Reddit user said, “They deleted EVERY other thread about the shooting”. Another said, “You know whats crazy? I live in Orlando and I had no idea this was going on. I depend on reddit for my news 100% since it can rapidly deliver news from many sources that I can validate or discard. I have literally been up all night on Reddit and due to the apparent thread lockings and deletions, this story took 9 hours to make it to me — I probably live within thirty minutes of this place.” Yet another said, “This situation has been unfolding for hours, it’s the deadliest mass shooting in US history, and the only evidence of it on the front page is stuff from /r/the_donald?”

The talk is all of “fake news” at the moment, with a presumption that the fakery is coming from the right. But many of those Americans who saw with their own eyes the main Reddit news page attempting to play down a major news story while the Donald Trump subreddit reported it freely will have concluded that those Trump guys were telling the truth and the other guys were fakers – and who can blame them? Some of them will have switched from r/news to r/the_donald as their first news source and will have gone on to vote for Trump as a result. It is always fun to watch the “Nice job breaking it, hero” trope play out in real life, but r/the_Donald is not itself a good news source. The comments that Huffman altered were the usual conspiracy rubbish that is thrown at any politician these days. I don’t believe that Hillary Clinton is running a paedophile ring for the same reason that I never believed that Ted Heath was. Apart from anything else, major political figures are too closely watched. Steve Huffman had the right and was right to ban the “Pizzagate” subreddit, which made claims absurd even by the standards typical of such things and had caused real harm to innocent people. As ever, the believers in the conspiracy took any opposition to their theories as PROOOOF that the opposer was in on it too. Mr Huffman would have been completely within his rights and acting in the interests of his company to have banned the people who were libelling him. Instead he chose to play games with his own site’s credibility. A few weeks ago I would have dismissed the idea that the Reddit CEO would personally hack the accounts of his own customers on the r/the_donald subreddit as yet more conspirazoid rubbish. As Amelia Tait said, Huffman has now validated their claim to be persecuted. He has also validated their claim to be important.

What are we to make of the Power of the Daleks?

One of the fun parts of growing up is the realisation that Doctor Who serials that you watched as a child are in fact analogies of contemporary political situations. Frontier in Space is about the Cold War. The Sea Devils is about Northern Ireland. The Planet of the Daleks is about Vietnam. The Mutants is about Rhodesia. Curse of Peladon is about joining the EU and Monster of Peladon is about what happens when you do.

But what of Power of the Daleks? I am sure it’s about something but I just can’t figure it out. Here’s a synopsis:

The colonists come across a small group of migrants who appear to have fled from some great disaster. The colonists shelter them and provide nourishment. The migrants start doing small jobs around the colony.

Sadly far from being grateful to the colonists for getting them back on the their feet – or skirts as it is in this case – the migrants turn out to be wedded to an ideology that regards themselves as superior and all other forms of life as candidates for either slavery or extermination.

The colonists for their part are divided between the revolutionaries and non-revolutionaries. The revolutionaries reckon that they can use the migrants to gain power. While the two factions are busy fighting amongst themselves, the migrants are busy multiplying and becoming ever stronger. Eventually, they are in a position to embark on a campaign of conquest and extermination.

All six episodes of Power of the Daleks are “missing” from the BBC archives (see here for some of the details). Somehow, I suspect the BBC is not too bothered about that.

An enterprising migrant

An enterprising migrant

Jeremy Corbyn’s heart really is not in this Remain business, is it?

Jeremy Corbyn admits Britain cannot put a ceiling on immigration while in the EU

Asked on BBC One’s Andrew Marr show if there was any kind of upper limit to the numbers coming into Britain, he said: “I don’t think you can have one while you have a free movement of labour – and I think the free movement of labour means that you have to balance the economy so you have to improve living standards and conditions.

“And so that means the EU’s appalling treatment of Greece… that is a problem. If you deliberately lower living standards and increase poverty in certain countries in south-east or eastern Europe then you’re bound to have a flow of people looking for somewhere else to go.”

I do not know what “balance the economy” means and I doubt Mr Corbyn does either. But at least he is not a weasel like Cameron. In a TV appearance allegedly aimed at persuading us to vote to stay in the European Union Corbyn resignedly says that the main claim of the other side regarding the most hotly contested issue, immigration, is correct. Then he says that the EU’s treatment of one of its member states is “appalling” and deliberately aimed at lowering living standards. Why he wants to stay in a union that wants to impoverish people is a mystery… or it would be, if he did.

My sunken hopes rise a little, given added lift by the fact that the dear old Guardian had this story on the front page for about a minute and a half before someone realised. It now can only be found if you already know it is there. For its part the BBC has clipped the key words off the beginning of the relevant clip from its own programme. Mr Corbyn answered a straightforward question in a straightforward fashion. That media organizations in favour of Remain seek to hide this rather than boast of it speaks volumes.

“They deleted EVERY other thread about the shooting”

These comments were all taken from posts to the Orlando shooting megathread on https://www.reddit.com/r/news/:

– Dear Moderators:
You are not journalists. You are not editors. You are not arbiters of good taste or what constitutes “newsworthiness”. Stay in your lane.
Your actions today have failed the Reddit community.

– You know whats crazy? I live in Orlando and I had no idea this was going on. I depend on reddit for my news 100% since it can rapidly deliver news from many sources that I can validate or discard. I have literally been up all night on Reddit and due to the apparent thread lockings and deletions, this story took 9 hours to make it to me — I probably live within thirty minutes of this place.

– To me the funny thing about the censorship here is that the people who do it think somehow that they are helping the situation by deleting anything they don’t like or anything they think might offend somebody.
What they are really doing is creating more repressed anger and outrage. If you think that deleting comments about Islam will decrease animosity towards Islam then you’re sadly mistaken my friends. You’re simply creating more hatred by many who feel that any criticism of one particular group with one particular ideology is forbidden while it is open season on the rest of us. Let us remember a simple fact. Islam is an ideology like belief in Donald Trump or believe in magic pixie is forbidden while it is open season on the rest of us. Let us remember a simple fact. Islam is an ideology like belief in Donald Trump or believe in ghosts. It is not a race, or people, or color,. If you attack Islam you were simply attacking an ideology. Nothing more nothing less.
Please stop deleting comments– you are increasing anger not decreasing it

– Wtf? 50 people are killed and I have to look around for 5 minutes? Wtf reddit, don’t make me go back to getting my news from the fucking TV, alright? Just get your shit together.

– Its not even on the front page. This is going to be a monumental shooting event and its NOT EVEN ON THE FRONT PAGE.

– As soon as my boyfriend told me, the first place I came for information was Reddit. Not CNN, not CBS, not NBC. Reddit. Not a goddamn thing about it on the front page. Unacceptable.

– reddit is normally my first port of call for this sort of thing
It needs to stop being your first source. Reddit is about information control. You’re not getting the full picture

– I’ve been on reddit for 7 years (this is not my first acct) and I’ve seen its gradual shift from the pure, raw immediate news that put CNN to shame, to a useless, slow-moving organization that is more concerned with affiliate clicks, admin control and promoting ideology.
reddit used to be a serious option for people seeking help in the wake of some catastrophe. now it suppresses useful information

– You know it’s sad when r/the_donald is covering this more than the fucking main news subreddit. The amount of blatant censorship on here is ridiculous.

– I’m sorry, but this whole thing has been ridiculous. This situation has been unfolding for hours, it’s the deadliest mass shooting in US history, and the only evidence of it on the front page is stuff from /r/the_donald?
Mods you really dropped the ball here. In a (poorly executed) attempt to be unbiased, you ended up letting a completely biased source take over the flow of information. What the hell were you thinking?

– More than anything else, the actions of the mods this morning have fostered anger and resentment and suspicion. They have made the discussion about this site’s cowardice and emboldened those who accuse it of pandering to the PC left. The mods here have failed and permanently damaged the site’s credibility.
Shooter was Muslim. Stop hiding posts you fucking idiot mods. Who cares what nationality the shooter is, this is a tragic event you fucking cunts.

– There was a time I relied on r/news for up to date /recent news. I had to learn about this shooting through a fucking iheart radio notification. …seriously mods, get your shit together.

– Is it true that you’re banning users for mentioning that the shooter was a radical islamist?
People are right to be upset at those defending islam. It’s the only unreformed abrahamic religion–forever stuck in the 10th century. Fuck islamists and anyone who defends them.
This is absolutely abhorrent censorship. 50 dead and you’ve prevented discussion because something about it goes against your identitarian political agenda. I guess more people will finally realize what a shithole this place truly is. You fucked up.

– How is this not front page? I found out about this from facebook… so much for getting my news from reddit!

– They deleted EVERY other thread about the shooting. I woke up this morning and got the information from Drudge, not one r/news post made it to my front page. Unfuckingbeleivelable.

– Why isnt this on the front page? I cant find anything to do with the shooting in Florida besides from /r/the_donald

Most of the above Reddit posts had disappeared in the quarter of an hour it took me to write this Samizdata post. This was the leading new post:

– The actions of the moderators today have failed reddit. They have failed the LGBT community and humanity as well! Clearly, their need to protect their narrative is greater than their need to protect REAL human lives. A REAL tragedy just took place, and people can’t get off their high horse for two seconds to discuss something far greater than their stupid pride. We need to let it be understood that we as human beings will not tolerate such action, and will stand up against terrorism.

Related post: Politically correct evasiveness fails on its own terms. I have added the tag “deleted by the Guardian” to this post because it deals with a similar phenomenon to the PC deletions of reader comments for which that newspaper is well known, but wish to state that in this case the Guardian‘s coverage included the lead hypothesis that this mass murder was an Islamist terror attack from early on.


Added later: I note that the name of the “deleted” tag has now been broadened to cover the PC media generally. It is indeed done by the PC media generally and it has been going on a long time. Ten years less a month ago I wrote this post for Biased BBC: But… you talk like war crimes are a bad thing:

yet when bombers murdered your own countrymen in London a year ago you were so anxious to avoid being judgemental that you had someone go through what your reporters had written in the heat and pity of the moment, carefully replacing the word “terrorist” with the word “bomber.”


Further update: The Daily Caller reports, Reddit Bans Users, Deletes Comments That Say Orlando Terrorist Was Muslim. The article contains several screenshots, including one of the front page of Reddit with /r/The_Donald filtered out. It showed “not a single mention of the worst US terror attack since 9/11, worst shooting ever”.

The brief era of freely commenting on British newspaper websites draws to a close

Bye bye, Telegraph comments. It was not always that nice knowing you but I shall miss you anyway. Er, I am right about Telegraph comments being abolished, aren’t I? Or have they disappeared for me alone due to my browser being full up or something?

For its part, the Guardian has drastically cut back on the number of articles open to comments, particularly in the section of the paper previously known as “Comment is Free”. The paper has run a dozen self-pitying articles by its columnists lamenting that their efforts to be “edgy”, “sassy” and “provocative” have worked and pleading for safe spaces where they can escape their readers. This piece by Joseph Reagle is a cut above the rest, but it is chiefly memorable for the most recommended reader comment by “Random Libertarian”. I am not this person, but feel I have a lot in common with them:

I’m not addressing this author in particular, but the whole Grauniad pushback against “abusive” comments.

Suggestion: Maybe you should stop writing abusive columns.

Don’t use a word deliberately chosen to portray climate-change skeptics as Nazis.

Don’t call people “rape apologists” when they question interpretations of statistics that show U.S. colleges to be more dangerous than war zones.

Don’t write stuff that assumes that all white people are racists, unless you can prove this to be true without Humpty Dumptying the meaning of the word.

Don’t write as if your political opponents are either eeeevil neoliberals or fat, pathetic dupes of the Murdoch media.

Try it. It might work

To comment on the Times requires passing a paywall, a moderator, and several years of your life.

The Daily Mail is the last, best hope for freedom to comment. But it gives you cancer.

Choose your sex, choose your race, choose your weapons

I cannot now remember any more than the general sense of a comment that was deleted by the moderators to this Guardian article:

Rihanna calls Rachel Dolezal ‘a bit of a hero’

(Dolezal, you may recall, was a white woman who pretended to be a black woman. Rihanna is a popular musical performer.)

But the general sense of the deleted comment was similar to these comments, as yet unmolested:

Changing race pales into insignificance compared to changing sex, but everyone who thinks ‘correctly’ pretends the later is possible and that the result is absolutely valid; it’s about time a famous cis-African spoke up on behalf of trans-African rights.”

If you accept that Bruce/Caitlin Jenner is female I don’t see what’s wrong with accepting that Rachel Dolezal is black. Who are we to question her identity?”

Totally agree. I don’t get it – if we can choose our sex based on what we ‘feel’ we identify with, despite physical biology, then why not for race?”

If a man thinks he’s a woman and must henceforth be referred to as “she,” then why can’t a white woman be considered black if that’s what she thinks she is? Watching the Left grapple with this (cheering on one, while ridiculing the other) was an absolute treat.”

Being a libertarian is, well, very liberating. I do not have to contort myself to fit through the very oddly shaped hoop that demands acceptance of a man transitioning to a woman and demands condemnation of a white person transitioning to black. My exact attitude can remain in a state of Heisenbergian uncertainty. Everyone could be this happy if they could just drop the demand for public acquiescence. Yet it appears they cannot. The assertion that race is objective and gender subjective is so important to some people that an assertion to the contrary must be expunged by the Guardian‘s guardians of public decency. That gives me an idea. We can settle this once and for all in a manner acceptable to progressives and conservatives alike. Never mind having dissent expunged by the moderators, expunge it in blood. Let him, her or xem who will assert that he, she or xe will prove his, her or xir chosen gender and race upon the dead body of anyone denying it by the traditional means of trial by combat. That will get respect.

Samizdata quote of the day

“The last thing we need is to wake up in 50 years and find that a bunch of #gamergate nobheads are running Mars.”

That is exactly what is going to happen, because us gamergate nobheads (actually the technical term is neckbeards) are smarter and more creative than you, whereas you intolerant SJW thugs create nothing but faux outrage, grievance and a sense of undeserved entitlement to things created by better people than you.

– Guardian commenter ‘evilhippo’, who often gets his pithy remarks deleted on the Guardian. Dunno know he is but clearly a wise and witty seeker of truth, no doubt a devilishly handsome fellow to boot 😉

The silence of Shia LaBeouf

What to make of this?

Shia LaBeouf: I was raped during performance art project

In an interview with Dazed, the actor says that a woman ‘whipped my legs for ten minutes and then stripped my clothing and proceeded to rape me’ during his silent performance art work #IAMSORRY

My question “what to make of this?” is a real one. There is a whole slew of issues involved in this story, ranging from the double standard surrounding female-on-male rape (or allegations of rape), to the extent to which silence can be taken to be consent (particularly the absence of any appeal to bystanders when they were present), and including issues of fairness to the woman accused of rape and to the spectators implicitly accused of indifference to it, and the propriety of staging such an event “starring” a person whom all sides admit has mental issues, which leads us to the politically-charged question of how far one should question the testimony of one who is or may be mentally incapable . . .

Frustratingly, the Guardian story gives much more detail on LaBeouf’s philosophy of art than on what actually happened. A follow-up story quotes his collaborators in the art project as saying they “put a stop to it” as soon as they became aware of it. No mention is made of force being used; apparently she did stop when told to.

So why didn’t Mr LaBeouf say a word to stop her himself? As far as I can make out his reason was because the point of his performance was that he should sit still and not react. On its own, “I could not object because it would have spoiled my artwork” appears ridiculous. Yet people do sometimes freeze when subjected to sexual assault in a public place; it is a common reaction when women are groped on trains, for instance. Then again, what might the woman say in her own defence if these charges were put to her? Was not the whole point of this famous artwork that Mr LaBeouf consented to being humiliated? What did the spectators think was going on? If, as seems to have been the case, his artistic collaborators held that this was something to which a stop should be put, why was no attempt made to arrest the woman? In general I reject the blanket assumption that a person initiating sexual activity must obtain explicit and ongoing verbal assent before continuing. Such an assumption would only apply to creatures not human; the vast majority of all voluntary sexual intercourse takes place without anything remotely resembling such a procedure. But the vast majority of all sexual intercourse does not take place between strangers in public during performance art.

My bewilderment is genuine. All serious comments are welcome, and I would not be surprised to see serious disagreement among the comments. I do not expect to delete remotely as high a proportion of comments as the Guardian moderators did to the comments to the account in the link, but will not hesitate to delete any of which I disapprove.