Progressives

A Few Perspectives on Political Correctness

In honor of Jonathan Chait

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freestylethunder/Flickr

Earlier this week, Jonathan Chait set a lot of the Internet alight with a piece on "political correctness." Much of Chait's piece will be well-worn territory to regular Reason readers, covering various recent, high-profile instances of the tyranny of tolerance run amok.

Aside from finding Chait's tone (as always) minorly annoying and his distinctions—between "liberals" and "leftists," between silencing and criticism—somewhat confused, I didn't see much in the piece that would provoke outrage beyond the perpetually outraged. Ha! Maybe the perpetually outraged club is a lot bigger than I think, or maybe it's just that Chait's reputation precedes him, but the Commerical and Internet Left were swift to excoriate Chait's piece. Some, like Vox's Amanda Taub, went so far as to insist that "political correctness doesn't exist." 

(A side note: As recently as last year, I took earnest use of the term "political correctness" to be the sole province of dullards, bigots, and general morons. Sure, the phenomenon of reactionary left-wing language-policing, etc., was real enough, but "political correctness" had come to mean just about any ideas or linguistic norms a speaker disapproved of. Use "sex worker" instead of "hooker"? GAHHH, the politcal correctness! Criticize police brutality in black communities without complaining about baggy pants? Political correctness! Try to be something of a decent human being? Political correctness!!!1!! But as a Victorianism-meets-1990s rhetoric continues to dominate progressive politics, the term "political correctness" seems to have come back in vogue to describe an actually troubling phenomenon. Okay, fine. It's hard for me to use the term without scare quotes, but I'm going to try.) 

If you haven't already encountered the Chait backlash, I wouldn't bother looking for it. But some of the backlash to the backlash is pretty damn great. First up: Cato analyst (and ex-Reason staffer) Julian Sanchez, who tackles some of the mockery Chait received from folks who read his essay as nothing but "an angsty white man opus." While Chait may indeed come across whiny or a little clueless, "discursive norms that lead to substantive self-censorship" aren't simply a matter of "some precious snowflake's project of expressive self-realization (being) constrained," Sanchez writes.

Imagine an argument where someone invokes a spurious or unfair accusation of (let's say) racism or sexism as a cudgel to close down a conversation. Maybe many other members of the accuser's ideological in-group ("allies") themselves perceive it as unfair, but life is short and people are busy—what's the incentive to chime in and say "hey, wait a minute"? Pretty weak even in the absence of negative feedback. And as anyone who's watched these arguments play out is well aware, questioning whether such a claim is fair or reasonable in a particular instance is going to be read by some observers as denying that sexism or racism are problems at all. … You end up having to explain and justify yourself to all these folks whose good opinion you care about, and who needs the hassle?

Iterated over time, though, that means the people who do object in particular cases are increasingly from out-groups: People who really don't care about racism or sexism or think they're serious problems.  Now the incentives are even worse for in-group members. Because now being the one to say "hey, wait a minute" in a particular instance doesn't just mean conflict with an ally, it means associating yourself with those assholes.  Increasingly the objections are coming from people who just don't care about the good opinion of the in-group, many of whom are expressing those objections in actively racist or sexist terms.  So now anyone voicing reservations has to do all sorts of throat clearing (I did it instinctively at the start of this post) to avoid the ever more statistically reasonable heuristic inference that any pushback is coming from those repulsive quarters. If you're the only ally pushing back, hey, maybe you're not an ally at all, but secretly one of those assholes.

You end up with team "x is the problem" and team "x is not a problem," and ever fewer people prepared to say "x is a problem, but maybe not the most useful lens through which to view this particular disagreement." When teetotalers are the only ones willing to say "maybe you've had one too many," because your friends are worried about sounding like abstemious scolds, the advice is a lot easier to dismiss. Which is fine until it's time to drive home.

Next up: blogger Freddie de Boer, who has long voiced similar concerns as Julian's from his perch on the left. As an instructor at Purdue University in Indiana, he sees this phenomenon first-hand all the time:

I have seen, with my own two eyes, a 19 year old white woman — smart, well-meaning, passionate — literally run crying from a classroom because she was so ruthlessly brow-beaten for using the word "disabled." Not repeatedly. Not with malice. Not because of privilege. She used the word once and was excoriated for it. She never came back. I watched that happen.

I have seen, with my own two eyes, a 20 year old black man, a track athlete who tried to fit organizing meetings around classes and his ridiculous practice schedule (for which he received a scholarship worth a quarter of tuition), be told not to return to those meetings because he said he thought there were such a thing as innate gender differences. He wasn't a homophobe, or transphobic, or a misogynist. It turns out that 20 year olds from rural South Carolina aren't born with an innate understanding of the intersectionality playbook. But those were the terms deployed against him, those and worse. So that was it; he was gone.

(…) These things aren't hypothetical. This isn't some thought experiment. This is where I live, where I have lived. These and many, many more depressing stories of good people pushed out and marginalized in left-wing circles because they didn't use the proper set of social and class signals to satisfy the world of intersectional politics. So you'll forgive me when I roll my eyes at the army of media liberals, stuffed into their narrow enclaves, responding to Chait by insisting that there is no problem here and that anyone who says there is should be considered the enemy.

Which brings us, lastly, to David Sessions, writing in In These Times. There are quite a few things in Sessions' piece I disagree with, but I think he makes an important point: Chait is wrong in portraying this sort of excessive political correctness as a flaw of "the radical left," whom Chait contrasts with good old-fashioned "liberals" like himself. 

Sessions and de Boer are both what one might call radical leftists. It is not them and their ilk committing the sins of social-justice warriorism. The radical/socialist/Marxist (pick your label) voices on the American left right now are the most likely to be railing against the sort of performative politics Chait decries, which they see as a barrier to actually affecting structural change. As de Boer put it on Twitter yesterday, "Chait … thinks "PC" politics is a matter of extremity, like Adolph Reed and Suey Park are the same person. But "the 'Marxist left' gets into constant, destructive fights with the people Chait critiques. Those aren't the same groups." 

Why does this matter? Because if we hope to mitigate this prevailing political aesthetic, it probably helps to diagnose it correctly. Chastising the "radical left" (or "radical feminists") for this sort of thing only muddies things up. It is very much mainstream liberalism, or at least one branch of it, taking up the p.c. mantle these days.

Similarly, I think it's a mistake to read this nouveau-p.c. cult as coming from academia. Sure, it shows up there frequently, but where are 18-year-olds taking their cultural cues from? It's not professors but media and online culture. As Sessions suggests, "the misguided excesses of the Social Media Left" are in very large part a product of "the dynamics of the Internet." In part, this means the way Twitter and Facebook incentivize certain sorts of attitudes and actions (in the vein Sanchez mentioned above). And in part, it's a product of the fact that "identity-based outrage is now one of the most reliable sources of clicks and Facebook shares" for the mainstream press. 

A large part of online outrage politics is performative—and I'm convinced that most of the journalists engaging in it know it. But, hey, they have to eat. And they can justify the theatrics to themselves because, really, it's for a good cause, right? When there is so much racism and sexism in the world still, what's a little hyperbolic sensitivity going to hurt?

Sanchez and de Boer do a good job laying out exactly how it can hurt the very causes it's ostensibly aimed at rectifying—by making cultural tolerance appear ridiculous or intimidating, by creating epistemic closure, by turning off many people who would otherwise be supportive. I also worry about the college students who are taking their cues from Guardian columns and Gawker posts and Twitter timelines. Do they realize how much it's all driven by economics, not ideology? Can one generation's political aesthetics become the next one's deep-seated political conviction? 

NEXT: Remy: I Need a Hashtag!

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  1. Of course PC exists. Moving on:

    “I have seen, with my own two eyes, a 19 year old white woman ? smart, well-meaning, passionate ? literally run crying from a classroom because she was so ruthlessly brow-beaten for using the word “disabled.” Not repeatedly. Not with malice. Not because of privilege. She used the word once and was excoriated for it. She never came back. I watched that happen.”

    …And did you say anything about it in class?

    I saw this sort of lefty tribalism in University too. Except some professors would not tolerate it. One guy, Hermann his name, a professor from Germany and right out of the comics. I LOVED him because he graded hard and literally mocked idiotic students; especially the ones who wanted professors to walk them through the syllabus in order to know what to focus for exams. Dumbasses.

    1. focus on

    2. I know someone who just got a job teaching high school biology. He’s already getting complaints that he’s being “too strict” on students.

      Oh, yeah. I’ve also heard about a local AP Chemistry teacher who’s being accused of being “too strict.”

      1. I can sorta understand the biology class. It’s just the plain ole high school biology class. Unfortunately, the school has a huge incentive to pass as many students as possible.

        But I don’t understand the AP class. Did they not know that it would be hard when they signed up for it?

        1. That’s seemingly not as true as it once was.

          1. Been a while now since I was in HS, but even then, AP was just “the highest-level class we offer” and you wanted to take it for your transcript, and maybe like…5% of kids actually took the AP exam in a given class.

            1. I think Alabama has started mandating AP coursework for a lot of classes. Not a bad idea, but it means a lot of dunces are now taking AP coursework and so their parents get angry.

              1. Alabama offers an “advanced” diploma and a standard diploma. So, you are not required to take the AP level classes, but it means you have to drop down to a standard diploma.

            2. Wow, really? In my high school, it was pretty much everyone in the class who took the exam. Of course, that was back in the 80s.

              1. I definitely took more than one AP course where I was the only person in the school to do the exam that year.

                1. My school’s “AP” courses weren’t the Princeton designed ones, they were designed by the teachers, and were therefore not “teaching to the test” for AP exams. Luckily they were very comprehensive and demanding and so ended up covering the salient points on the AP exams anyway. But a lot of people who took them certainly took the AP exam.

                  1. When I was in school, the theory was that we should be learning whatever we’d be learning in the equivalent college course. Not sure that’s quite true today.

            3. When I was in high school almost everyone took the two for AP English, because you just needed to be literate. (I got a 4 on both, and I’m a terrible writer). History was common. Chemistry and physics were somewhat rare. Most took the Calculus AP test if they took the class.

    3. No kidding. He watched this happen. He has a position of some authority.

      And he did nothing. Meaning, he either thought it was just fine, or he’s too weak to stand up for somebody being abused, right in front of him, in a situation where he is an insider, at the least.

      1. Eh, he doesn’t actually say anything about his role in these situations. He wasn’t necessarily in a position of authority.

        1. He’s an instructor. He’s higher on the food chain than the students.

          1. He’s only 33. A lot of what he saw could have happened when he was a student.

  2. Props on the side note, ENB. I appreciate your candor.

    For the record, I think that recent developments have shown that the derogatory use of the term political correctness has been shown to be justified.

    Its always been about silencing the unwashed outgroups. Its just that its gotten so blatant in recent years (privilege, triggering) that its impossible to deny any longer.

    1. I have said this before: the entire SJW “philosophy” and the terms and concepts that have surrounded it–which are basically what we call PC–are nothing but ways of justifying why it is ok to tell someone that they need to shut up and that their opinion is meaningless. It’s an end run around intellectual honesty and honest debating tactics. Instead of “I think you’re wrong and this is why”, it’s “you’re wrong because of [insert characteristic here such as race, gender, or sexual preference], and I don’t have to give any other reason why, so shut up”.

      1. Yep, that’s about it. It’s really just doing in words what Donald Sutherland did with a screech and a point of a finger at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

        1. This.

          I want to spread this meme all over the internet.

          Henceforward, I encourage people to respond to all moralizing scolds with a GIF of Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

          Maybe with the words “Racist!!!” or “Sexist!” “or “Gender-Normative!!” as the caption.

      2. I 100% agree. Add to this the favorite tactic of the Aggrieved SJW Facebooker, the soliloquy mic-drop, e.g.:

        [SCENE: a Facebook thread discussing some random issue. In the middle of a 20-post discussion, SJW shows up with the following:]

        “I just can’t BELIEVE that you all are discussing this issue and making ANY KIND of comparison to rape culture or the trials that literally BILLIONS of women and trans people face Every. Single. Day. It’s obvious a bunch of you really need to check your privilege long and hard and do some work to educate yourselves on this matter and maybe think of listening before you automatically start by punching down as a reaction to your internalized racism. Now I’m going to turn off notifications because I find this whole thing too traumatic to return to.”

        [END SCENE]

        1. ^^Spot. On.

        2. Is there a way I can save this as a macro on my Facebook account?

        3. That was a masterpeice. She manages to name-drop every buzzword in the SJW playbook and ends by excusing herself from any further argument by involking the “traumatizing” nature of the discussion.

    2. It depends on what exactly is meant by “political correctness.” I agree with ENB and Chait’s take that many on the left use it to stifle debate and to demonize things that do not deserve such treatment.

      At the same time, legitimate idiots on the other side essentially blame political correctness for being criticized for saying blatantly racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, etc. statements (I’ve seen this quite a bit on Reddit, for example). This in turn makes people who have legitimate complaints about political correctness look bad.

      1. At the same time, legitimate idiots on the other side essentially blame political correctness for being criticized for saying blatantly racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, etc. statements (I’ve seen this quite a bit on Reddit, for example).

        Well, I’ll ask, do you refute the statements? Or do you consider “calling them out” sufficient refutation?

        1. I don’t comment that much on Reddit. And at some point, I don’t think you can do much beyond calling someone out. How are you supposed to “refute” someone who says “All niggers should die” or “The Jews run the world and the Holocaust didn’t happen!” Someone who believes that isn’t going to respond to reason. If you think the Holocaust didn’t happen, despite all evidence that it did, I’m not sure how I could prove that to such a person in a Reddit comment. If someone wants to spend their time posting links to evidence that it did happen, great, but I’m not gonna get mad as someone for being “PC” if they call them an anti-Semitic piece of shit.

          1. You could give an example of a black person who should not die.

      2. It is ‘political correctness’ that has you jumping to the term “blatantly racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, etc. statements” instead of engaging in reasoned debate.

        You want to yell ‘racist’ instead of answering, instead of proving them wrong.

        And you think that your stifling of debate is legitimate. It’s not.

  3. Maybe the perpetually outraged club is a lot bigger than I think

    No, it’s just insanely loud because they are obsessives who will pour all their energy and time into letting you know how outraged they are. It’s practically impossible to deal with obsessives, because they care so much more than you do.

    1. How dare you slam obsessives! That’s just like you white male hegemonists to repress groups like obsessives with your scorn and ridicule and evil corporate money.

  4. Identity politics are a horrific development and distortion of something that is good, which is fighting for the civil liberties of the oppressed. That stops working when the fight becomes about other things, including oppressing other people.

  5. Similarly, I think it’s a mistake to read this nouveau-p.c. cult as coming from academia. Sure, it shows up there frequently, but where are 18-year-olds taking their cultural cues from? It’s not professors but media and online culture. As Sessions suggests, “the misguided excesses of the Social Media Left” are in very large part a product of “the dynamics of the Internet.” In part, this means the way Twitter and Facebook incentivize certain sorts of attitudes and actions (in the vein Sanchez mentioned above). And in part, it’s a product of the fact that “identity-based outrage is now one of the most reliable sources of clicks and Facebook shares” for the mainstream press.

    I don’t disagree with this, but I’m not satisfied by it either. I’m not that much older than a lot of the folks who do it (to be sure, many of them are my age or older as well), but somehow I escaped. Is it because I didn’t go to Oberlin? Because I didn’t do X Studies as a major? I just…missed it. Missed the brainwashing. I should have witnessed it, but I somehow didn’t, and it’s very confusing. It just all of a sudden popped up one day among everyone in my internet peer group (outside H&R, of course) with little explanation.

    1. You went to McGill! That’s, like, basically as bad! You really are the worst.

      1. And yet somehow it’s not as bad. That’s why I’m confused.

        1. I think it all depends on who you associate with. I know that I would have specifically and with prejudice avoided anyone that was even remotely PC or political. I hate that shit. And I’m guessing that you did too and just didn’t even think about the fact that you were automatically doing that. It’s not like there weren’t people doing this shit when I went to school, but they were the exact kind of people I would instinctively avoid like the plague.

      2. Hey, McGill is the Harvard of the Tundra.

      3. She’s lucky. She could have gone to Concordia – man, there were some serious derps there.

        1. If Nehanyahu ever walked onto that campus without any kind of protection, he’d be lynched.

          1. I refuse to give to Concordia for the way they let the Palestinian student body rum amok and banning Jewish speakers.

            Fuck them.

          2. I was in town when that almost happened, so yeah.

            1. Yeah, that’s what I’m referring to. I mean, they kicked a Holocaust survivor in the groin. LITERALLY.

    2. I was about to say, yeah, likewise… but then I remembered it’s been 10 freaking years since I graduated college. I guess I can’t really say I’m “not that far removed” from campus life anymore

      1. I know, samesies, 10 years. At first I thought it was all kids doing this, but I see other women my age who are all over it and I’m like…where did you learn it? Where did you get it? How did it miss me?

    3. I had very little of it in college because I was in an engineering program at a nerd school, but I still got a little of it. There were a lot of students who wore T-shirts that said, “Gay? Fine by me.” Because basic politeness is apparently something to morally preen about. I distinctly remember being irritated when Lawrence Krauss wrote a letter to the student paper complaining that, when students say statements of the form, “I made that test my bitch,” they’re supporting rape culture. Or something like that.

      But that was about the extent of it as far as I remember. It was a little disappointing, actually. I would have had fun being hating SJW types in the flesh. The closest I came to that was one annoying little communist (he would ostentatiously read Mao’s book in the weight room, and I often idly thought about flinging a 2.5 lb plate at him) who led some half-assed anti-Bush marches. And then he got kicked off campus for spitting on an ROTC student and calling him a baby killer, and no one cared.

    4. Similarly, I think it’s a mistake to read this nouveau-p.c. cult as coming from academia.

      But that’s where it started and spread from. The 18-year-olds are getting it from social media, but social media got it from academia.

  6. I have no problem with the natural evolution of language. But it seems like the rate of evolution is occurring far too quickly for anyone but the linguistic elite to have an intelligent conversation. You practically have to have an official style book with you if you don’t want to accidentally let slip a politically incorrect term or phrase.

    1. It’s not the linguistic elite. It’s the ID politics elite.

    2. Yep, exactly. When professional liberals can’t even keep up…

      1. E.g The Vagina Monologues is now “transphobic.”

  7. But “the ‘Marxist left’ gets into constant, destructive fights with the people Chait critiques. Those aren’t the same groups.”

    Yeah, whatev. I care as much about correct taxonomy of lunatic totalitarians as I do about the roster of radical Muslims slaughtering each other in Syria.

    Regardless of the picayune internecine squabbling in the danker regions of leftism, the response to anyone pushing this garbage is the same: Call them out and mock them.

  8. Chait is way more than “minorly” annoying.

    1. I don’t read him very often. I think that helps

  9. There’s certainly something behind a lot of the claims of PC.but I’m not sure what’s new about this other than that the left now has a bunch of subjects and classes you’re not supposed to talk about in certain ways. Try talking in an in sufficiently respectful way about soldiers or patriotism around conservatives for example.

    1. Try talking in an in sufficiently respectful way about soldiers or patriotism around conservatives for example

      Hey, I’m trying to win people over! /Richman.

  10. Victorianism-meets-1990s

    So legal and unregulated cocaine?

    1. Legalized prostitution and doctors providing orgasms?

      1. Oh for the days when you going get your teeth pulls by a barber.

        1. ugh, of for the day when you COULD get your teeth PULLED by a barber …

          Finger no typeee what brain think…

  11. “incentivize”…oh, come on. And, no, in fact “political correctness” is an accurate and useful term and I have rarely if ever heard it used as an epithet against those with whom we merely disagree.

  12. Try to be something of a decent human being? Political correctness!!!1!!

    But as a Victorianism-meets-1990s rhetoric

    I started college in the late 80s (never having heard the term before) and was struck by how much “political correctness” aligned with the strict christianity I was raised with. Don’t tell dirty jokes. Be respectful to women. Don’t call people names. Don’t make fun of people, especially those who are vulnerable. It honestly didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Until it went off the rails with throwing out any sense of proportion or context.

    1. Neo-Victorianism is a remarkably apt name for the movement, especially in the way it captures the sanctimonious tone of the whole thing. If you took a clone of a prudish church lady from 1915 and raised them in Berkely this is exactly how they would turn out. It’s just a different set of sacred cows and blasphemies.

      1. And note that the extreme PC attitudes are often most pronounced among self-proclaimed atheists and agnostics. It’s almost as if the religious impulse is finding a nominally non- or even anti-religious outlet….

  13. The problem is Chait is just as nasty as any of his critics when dealing with anyone on the right. Chait is just angry that the hive turned on him.

    If Chait actually had learned anything from this, I would be inclined to defend him. Clearly, however, he hasn’t. Chait is still perfectly fine with the weapons of ad homonym, personal slander, and political correctness being used on the Right. He is just angry they were turned on a believer.

    1. Yeah, I think that’s why the takes I’ve liked the most have basically been “well, Chait sucks, but his larger points…”

      1. Yes. And it is a shame that Chait didn’t learn anything form this. You would think it would dawn on him that it is just as unfair when this happens to people he disagrees with as it is when it happens to him. Sadly, Chait seems to be untrainable in that regard.

    2. the weapons of ad homonym

      You know, most of us don’t have to worry about that particular attack and pay it no mind. I can understand, however, why it would be a huuuuuge deal to you, personally, John. 😉

      1. lulz that was perfect

      2. That’s splendid.

    3. PC is not the same as ad homen and personal attacks

      1. Yes it is. Not all PC is ad homen but a lot is. Saying “you can’t say that because you are a white person or a male or whatever” is just the ad homonym fallacy applied to groups.

        1. You’ve got an odd take on PC. Isn’t it more about declaring certain ideas or words to be racist, sexist etc?

          And, not all ad hom is PC and not all PC is ad hom. So they’re distinct. You’re doing what ENB is talking about dumping all kinds of things in there

          1. That is part of it. The other part is that certain groups cannot criticize other groups or say certain things.

        2. ad homonym

          That’s twice, so you get this warning. Next time it’s a citation.

          dictionary reference.com:
          ad hominem
          homonym

  14. Sanchez and de Boer do a good job laying out exactly how it can hurt the very causes it’s ostensibly aimed at rectifying

    All it is Elizabeth is a method of dismissing the other side rather than engaging them in debate. So, yes it is terrible for the intellectual health of the causes it infects. It is a wonderful thing to be able to dismiss your opponents instead of debating them, at first. Quickly, however, that power corrupts and just serves to prevent any self examination or intellectual growth in the movement. The left is completely intellectually dead. The reason for this is primarily because it has been able to avoid facing its problems and failures because it is able to use PC to dismiss its critics out of hand no matter how valid their criticism.

    1. It’s not their job to educate you, John!

      Even though by calling you out, they kinda started pretending to educate you…

    2. All it is Elizabeth is a method of dismissing the other side rather than engaging them in debate. So, yes it is terrible for the intellectual health of the causes it infects. It is a wonderful thing to be able to dismiss your opponents instead of debating them, at first.

      Yep, remember the Little Blue Book that was going to ensure that progressives won debates against the deceptive right wingers? That was its entire premise.

      the book’s recipe is not a recipe for winning arguments, but rather a recipe for preventing the reader from losing arguments ? from being convinced by the person they are arguing with. How? By preventing them from actually being able to consider the opponents’ arguments by removing the opponents’ language from the reader’s brain.

      1. E.g. “there’s no such thing as political correctness.”

  15. As de Boer put it on Twitter yesterday, “Chait … thinks “PC” politics is a matter of extremity, like Adolph Reed and Suey Park are the same person. But “the ‘Marxist left’ gets into constant, destructive fights with the people Chait critiques. Those aren’t the same groups.”

    I’d say there are multiple sects of PC/SJ/whatever that, if they came to power, would battle each other for whose brand of PC dominates.

  16. Some, like Vox’s Amanda Taub, went so far as to insist that “political correctness doesn’t exist.”

    Is this what they mean when they say fish aren’t aware of the water?

    1. The statement could be reformulated as: “I declare this thing I do to be nonexistent, thus making it difficult or impossible for anyone to criticize me.”

  17. As recently as last year, I took earnest use of the term “political correctness” to be the sole province of dullards, bigots, and general morons.

    Well, you were wrong. The phenomenon was as real then, if less extreme, as it is now. People objected, not to, say, your use of the term sex worker, but the fact that they were forbidden from using hooker, or even prostitute. They objected not to your failure to discuss baggy pants, but the fact that their noting of disfunctionality in black culture was treated as a sign of racism. They objected not to your trying to be a decent human being, but the imposition of standards of what defined a decent human being onto them while others were given carte blanche to violate those standards.

    1. Actually, to be clear, I wasn’t referring to you personally here, Ms. Brown.

  18. There is a very simple, very easy, way of dealing with the moralizing scolds of the progressive left: IGNORE THEM.

    People only have the power to shame you if you’re willing to let them make you feel ashamed. People only have power to make you an outcast if you WANT to be part of the group you’re being cast out of.

    Stop caring, stop listening to what they say, stop letting them have any influence over how you feel, and stop desiring to be accepted by them. Separate yourself from them. Find better friends and allies, and stop allowing them to subject you to that fucked up pattern of psychological abuse. You don’t have to be liked by a bunch of puritanical zealots.

    1. There is a very simple, very easy, way of dealing with the moralizing scolds of the progressive left: IGNORE THEM.

      I think that’s a start. But, the reality is that people often do find themselves at odds with these people, even when they don’t seek out relationships with them. And the moralizing scolds are able to inflict damage by hurting one’s reputation with third parties.

      So, the real answer is to LAUGH AT THEM IN THEIR FACES. Make them the ones worried about maintaining their social position.

      1. I would hope that third parties would be mature enough to form their own opinions.

        That’s always been my approach to gossip. Anyone who forms an opinion of me based on second-hand information, instead of making their own judgements, doesn’t deserve my respect or friendship anyways.

        1. Well, sometimes, as Nikki points out, those third parties are colleagues.

          1. Then your colleagues are dumb and don’t deserve your respect.

            1. Your respect, no. But, their respect for you could be an issue.

              1. Well, maybe an industry is sometimes dominated by weak-minded fools. But I’ve always found that the people who have real influence make up their own minds based on first-hand interaction.

                And anyways, in this case we’re talking about your past interactions with a twitter mob. I think, as long as you didn’t say something that was actually offensive, you should be safe.

    2. People only have power to make you an outcast if you WANT to be part of the group you’re being cast out of.

      Unfortunately, in some industries, that group might be the company you work at. And all its competitors.

      1. Like journalism?
        Start a blog. Print media is dying anyway.

    3. IGNORE THEM

      Not always possible. See: Brendan Eich, Michael Richards, Matt Taylor, etc., etc.

  19. All this talking about talking about talking makes me kind of sleepy.

    I’m going to just keep making a sincere effort to say whatever the fuck I want.

    Call out, mock, repeat.

  20. In part, this means the way Twitter and Facebook incentivize certain sorts of attitudes and actions (in the vein Sanchez mentioned above).

    This sounds a lot like what I’ve been saying.
    Twitter is a communications medium designed for 14 year old girls. And everyone who uses it ends up acting like a 14 year old girl.
    Complete with the social ostracism, hysterics, and bitchiness.

    Similarly, Facebook was EXPLICITLY DESIGNED to play on people’s social insecuties. That’s how they hook people. Zuckerburg wasn’t even shy about it. It’s all about making you keep coming back to get more likes and collect more friends. It’s totally designed to manipulate you via social status signalling.

    So it’s not at all suprising that both of these medias tend to result in a lot of social-anxiety-motivated behavior with absurdly amplified signalling running rampant.

    Jesus people, just stop using twitter.
    Twitter SUCKS.

  21. How long before people realize that, in lefty precincts, the ultimate privilege is not having “X privilege”, for all values of X?

  22. Of course PC exists. Of course some people will misuse the term, but what else should we call it? “The attempt to make sure that people’s language and thought conforms to the vocabulary of the today’s left”?

  23. Use “sex worker” instead of “hooker”? GAHHH, the politcal correctness! Criticize police brutality in black communities without complaining about baggy pants? Political correctness! Try to be something of a decent human being? Political correctness!!!1!!

    Well, this is all exceptionally stupid. Nobody has every complained about using “sex worker” instead of “hooker.” “Prostitute” is a perfectly sanitary word. (Are we supposed to be concerned that people will think prostitutes are all about that titute?) Whereas “sex worker” is jumping on the euphemism treadmill while the speed is on 11 for … what exactly? You’re not fooling anyone by describing everything from rough trade to camming with the same phrase.

    1. “Police brutality in black communities” is not actually a thing, except maybe in the ‘100,000 incident sample size has a small statistically significant effect’ sense. People on the receiving end of police brutality are criminals who got a bad draw or idiots who threw feces at the apes. The reason that police brutality disproportionately affects black communities is because they disproportionately engage in that sort of behavior. Playing the “”police brutality in black communities” is an attempt to pretend that we’re always everywhere in Bull Connor’s Birmingham.

      And the “Try to be something of a decent human being?” is nothing but a repackaged version of the “feminism is just the belief that women are people” bait and switch bullshit.

  24. I’m sympathetic to Chait’s complaint but not to him. Just a week or so ago he called for anybody who doubted Global Warming to be disqualified from public office. He’s not against an oppressive environment that stops free speech as long as it’s his preferred version.

    The left always eats its own. It’s just a matter of time for the crazies to finally take over and start trying to destroy those that were there before them.

    1. The left always eats its own.

      Thankfully libertarians never do that. Right…?

  25. “These and many, many more depressing stories of good people pushed out and marginalized in left-wing circles because they didn’t use the proper set of social and class signals to satisfy the world of intersectional politics. “

    And here i thought it was *just me* and my instinctive suspicion that the Asshole-Density-Level in left-wing circles was approaching black-hole level

  26. “Similarly, I think it’s a mistake to read this nouveau-p.c. cult as coming from academia”

    I don’t really buy the claim that ‘radical leftists’ aren’t the original source of the contemporary speech-policing; insisting that the terms of discussion are themselves loaded with political assumptions etc. is very much an academic-leftist bastard-child.

    Where did the SJW-jihad/Social-media speech repression/Tumblr pronoun politics/””identity-based outrage” really emerge from?

    IMHO its Millenials who’ve spent most of their teen/adult lives entirely ‘online’, got to college in the mid 2000s, and then transferred the bullshit ‘safe-spaces’ conception that they developed @ school, and transferred it to the Social Media Sphere.

    up until ~2006 or so, you hardly ever heard of this Social Justice ableist/transphobic/Cisnormative B.S.; then it exploded

    The post ENB wrote about the girl @ Oberlin who was told “No” really crystallized it = there is a generation growing up now who have never actually known anything other than a world where whinging about abstracted oppression results in getting what they want. Being told “No” was a shocker.

    So yeah, its not the ‘radical leftist’ academics themselves; its the millions of dumbass kids *exposed to their shitty ideas* who’ve applied the generic concepts to real(internet) life, and have presumed to impose them on actual ‘adults’

    1. Incidentally, 2006 was the year Twitter was invented.

      Just saying.

      1. Good point.

        Twitter is nothing if not the greatest Stupid-Amplifying Machine ever designed.

  27. They should stop calling Twitter and Facebook “Social Media” and start calling them “Status Anxiety Media”.

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