Free Speech

"A Letter on Justice and Open Debate," with Many Prominent Liberal Signers

Posted at the Harper's Magazine site.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Seemed worth passing along:

Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts.

But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second. The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.

We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.

More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes.

Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal. We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement.

This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time. The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation. The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away.

We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other. As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences. If we won't defend the very thing on which our work depends, we shouldn't expect the public or the state to defend it for us.

Elliot Ackerman
Saladin Ambar, Rutgers University
Martin Amis
Anne Applebaum
Marie Arana, author
Margaret Atwood
John Banville
Mia Bay, historian
Louis Begley, writer
Roger Berkowitz, Bard College
Paul Berman, writer
Sheri Berman, Barnard College
Reginald Dwayne Betts, poet
Neil Blair, agent
David W. Blight, Yale University
Jennifer Finney Boylan, author
David Bromwich
David Brooks, columnist
Ian Buruma, Bard College
Lea Carpenter
Noam Chomsky, MIT (emeritus)
Nicholas A. Christakis, Yale University
Roger Cohen, writer
Ambassador Frances D. Cook, ret.
Drucilla Cornell, Founder, uBuntu Project
Kamel Daoud
Meghan Daum, writer
Gerald Early, Washington University-St. Louis
Jeffrey Eugenides, writer
Dexter Filkins
Federico Finchelstein, The New School
Caitlin Flanagan
Richard T. Ford, Stanford Law School
Kmele Foster
David Frum, journalist
Francis Fukuyama, Stanford University
Atul Gawande, Harvard University
Todd Gitlin, Columbia University
Kim Ghattas
Malcolm Gladwell
Michelle Goldberg, columnist
Rebecca Goldstein, writer
Anthony Grafton, Princeton University
David Greenberg, Rutgers University
Linda Greenhouse
Kerri Greenidge, historian
Rinne B. Groff, playwright
Sarah Haider, activist
Jonathan Haidt, NYU-Stern
Roya Hakakian, writer
Shadi Hamid, Brookings Institution
Jeet Heer, The Nation
Katie Herzog, podcast host
Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College
Adam Hochschild, author
Arlie Russell Hochschild, author
Eva Hoffman, writer
Coleman Hughes, writer/Manhattan Institute
Hussein Ibish, Arab Gulf States Institute
Michael Ignatieff
Zaid Jilani, journalist
Bill T. Jones, New York Live Arts
Wendy Kaminer, writer
Matthew Karp, Princeton University
Garry Kasparov, Renew Democracy Initiative
Daniel Kehlmann, writer
Randall Kennedy
Khaled Khalifa, writer
Parag Khanna, author
Laura Kipnis, Northwestern University
Frances Kissling, Center for Health, Ethics, Social Policy
Enrique Krauze, historian
Anthony Kronman, Yale University
Joy Ladin, Yeshiva University
Nicholas Lemann, Columbia University
Mark Lilla, Columbia University
Susie Linfield, New York University
Damon Linker, writer
Dahlia Lithwick, Slate
Steven Lukes, New York University
John R. MacArthur, publisher, writer
Susan Madrak, writer
Phoebe Maltz Bovy, writer
Greil Marcus
Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center
Kati Marton, author
Debra Maschek, scholar
Deirdre McCloskey, University of Illinois at Chicago
John McWhorter, Columbia University
Uday Mehta, City University of New York
Andrew Moravcsik, Princeton University
Yascha Mounk, Persuasion
Samuel Moyn, Yale University
Meera Nanda, writer and teacher
Cary Nelson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Olivia Nuzzi, New York Magazine
Mark Oppenheimer, Yale University
Dael Orlandersmith, writer/performer
George Packer
Nell Irvin Painter, Princeton University (emerita)
Greg Pardlo, Rutgers University – Camden
Orlando Patterson, Harvard University
Steven Pinker, Harvard University
Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Katha Pollitt, writer
Claire Bond Potter, The New School
Taufiq Rahim, New America Foundation
Zia Haider Rahman, writer
Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, University of Wisconsin
Jonathan Rauch, Brookings Institution/The Atlantic
Neil Roberts, political theorist
Melvin Rogers, Brown University
Kat Rosenfield, writer
Loretta J. Ross, Smith College
J.K. Rowling
Salman Rushdie, New York University
Karim Sadjadpour, Carnegie Endowment
Daryl Michael Scott, Howard University
Diana Senechal, teacher and writer
Jennifer Senior, columnist
Judith Shulevitz, writer
Jesse Singal, journalist
Anne-Marie Slaughter
Andrew Solomon, writer
Deborah Solomon, critic and biographer
Allison Stanger, Middlebury College
Paul Starr, American Prospect/Princeton University
Wendell Steavenson, writer
Gloria Steinem, writer and activist
Nadine Strossen, New York Law School
Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., Harvard Law School
Kian Tajbakhsh, Columbia University
Zephyr Teachout, Fordham University
Cynthia Tucker, University of South Alabama
Adaner Usmani, Harvard University
Chloe Valdary
Lucía Martínez Valdivia, Reed College
Helen Vendler, Harvard University
Judy B. Walzer
Michael Walzer
Eric K. Washington, historian
Caroline Weber, historian
Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers
Bari Weiss
Sean Wilentz, Princeton University
Garry Wills
Thomas Chatterton Williams, writer
Robert F. Worth, journalist and author
Molly Worthen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Matthew Yglesias
Emily Yoffe, journalist
Cathy Young, journalist
Fareed Zakaria
Institutions are listed for identification purposes only.

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  1. Just had to throw in a gratuitous Trump slam.

    1. Of course.

      Otherwise they’d be accused of loving Literally Hitler. Especially Chomsky, who obviously has no credibility as a man of the far, hard Left.

      (The President has authoritarian impulses, I’ll grant. I’m not sure he has them any more than most Presidents, just is unfiltered about them.

      But as far as “threats to Democracy” go, in America, he’s not at the head of the list.

      I don’t think he’s even top ten.)

      1. Ok. Tell us the top ten, then.

        1. I’ll get started:

          Facebook
          Google
          Twitter
          Washington Post
          NY Times
          George Soros
          The FBI

          Someone else can come up with 3 more.

          1. You can’t come up with 3 more? Just throw in some liberal universities and Nancy Pelosi? AOC?

            Some of these are pretty strange. The Post, NYT, and the FBI are all over 100 years old. What’s taking them so long?

            How do you propose the government protect democracy by doing bad things to Facebook, Google, and Twitter? Maybe the administration should just seize control over them. (Or are you saying Twitter is a threat to democracy because of the President’s tweets?)

            1. No single University is influential enough to make the top 10. And suggesting politicians for a list of threats to Democracy? Why would successful politicians threaten their route to power? It doesn’t make sense.

              Demoralizing a population like the US takes a long time: http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=260

              That post is from 2006 so more of that road is behind us now.

              1. “suggesting politicians for a list of threats to Democracy? Why would successful politicians threaten their route to power?”

                Because they don’t want the next guy in line to come and take the power they’ve already captured, perhaps.

                1. Maybe. Pelosi is in her 80s though. And AOC has little power. So that doesn’t fit those two examples.

                2. “Because they don’t want the next guy in line to come and take the power they’ve already captured, perhaps.”

                  That’s more or less the nature of the problem the Democratic party is facing in this election cycle. The people leading the party were so afraid of challengers from below, that they fratricided the next generation of leadership. The upper end of the party now consists of geriatric cases and people too wet behind the ears to be plausible Presidents.

                  The Republican party suffers from its own problems, but not that one.

                  1. Brett Bellmore : The upper end of the party now consists of geriatric cases and people too wet behind the ears to be plausible Presidents.

                    Yet you voted for a reality-TV-show huckster buffoon. Now that’s what I call implausible……

                    1. Actually, no, I didn’t vote for him. Though I certainly meant to, a close relative died the weekend before the election, when it was too late for me to get an absentee ballot. Spent election day in a funeral home 700 miles from home.

                      But I certainly intend to vote for him this time around. Yes, he was a reality TV show huckster buffoon, guilty as charged. Sadly, we live in a world where a reality TV show huckster buffoon can be the lesser evil.

            2. Sure, here’s 3 more.

              1. China
              2. Russia
              3. North Korea.

              Happy?

              1. The question was who are threats to democracy “in America.” China, Russia, and North Korea certainly represent serious threats to democracy, although our current President sometimes doesn’t seem to realize it. But they are not American.

              2. My top 2 would be:

                1 Congress
                2 The President (no, not Trump specifically)
                3 Big Government generally.

                Yes, the use democracy to get in office, but effective democracy with competitive elections is never in the incumbents best interests.

                Any democracy where few if any elections are competitive is dying.

              3. Wonderful examples, in context.

            3. An organization can be a threat to democracy today without having been such a threat for it’s entire history.

              The FBI has only been the FBI for 84 years. It’s predecessors the DOI and BOI were not exactly the same as the FBI.

          2. “Someone else can come up with 3 more.”

            How did you miss “random Internet idiots”? (Does that count as 1 entry on the list, or does each one get his own entry on the list?)

        2. Marxist academia. Socialist murdered 100 million people last century, far more than Nazis if you want to exclude National Socialists from being socialists, yet any clown with a confederate flag is banished while Marxists get tenure.

          1. Yes, what democracy really needs is another McCarthy era. Great concept.

            1. We’re in the midst of one, in case you missed it.

              1. More of a cultural revolution than McCarthy era; I don’t recall the McCarthy era involving a lot of mobs rioting.

            2. McCarthy murdered fewer people than the Marxians.

              I repeat — why are Marxian professors granted tenure when they support regimes which murdered 100 million people, and support murderous regimes today — Venezuela, Cuba, China? Cops in the US kill something like 1000 people a year. Even if all of those are unjustified and tantamount to murder, it doesn’t even approach China, North Korea, and other active Marxist states.

              1. Murderous regimes… are you counting GW’s? The Marxian professors didn’t support that one. Or are the people killed by that regime somehow less dead because we were bringing them Christianity, democracy, and free elections?

                1. We’re talking about regimes that kill their own people; While the Bushes aren’t entirely innocent on that score, American leaders haven’t been putting Americans in concentration camps since FDR finally died.

                  And even using Lancet’s fake numbers, GW can’t hold a candle to your average communist killer.

              2. Why are people who advocate for things you disagree about, allowed to do so? Because Maoists took the different approach. You’re the communist in this example.

    2. The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture:”

      The radical right hasn’t censored anyone since Joe McCarthy died of alcoholism. The right mocks & taunts, yes — but we aren’t getting professors fired on a daily basis.

      Mike Adams at UNCW was the latest — he got bullied into early retirement for comparing his Governor’s shutdown to slavery.
      The tweet: “This evening I ate pizza and drank beer with six guys at a six seat table top. I almost felt like a free man who was not living in a slave state of North Carolina. Massa Cooper, let my people go.”

      And anyone with a scintilla of knowledge of the Christian or Jewish religions would know that “let my people go” is a quote that occurs nine different times in the Book of Exodus.

      1. “The radical right hasn’t censored anyone since Joe McCarthy died of alcoholism”

        You seem to be suffering from some kind of revisionist history.

        “And anyone with a scintilla of knowledge of the Christian or Jewish religions would know that “let my people go” is a quote that occurs nine different times in the Book of Exodus.”

        So the fuck what?

      2. The response to Colin Kaepernick is not terribly different from censoring him, in terms of making it politically toxic for a team to sign him.

        Yeah, it’s not clear whether he can play at the high level he needs to to be signed. I’ll grant that (at least as to being a starter — he’s good enough to back up *somewhere* for sure, if he can stifle his ego for a paycheck and a chance to win the starter job). But you’re delusional if you don’t think the hostile media circus surrounding him is not a significant factor in no team having signed him.

        1. This was a guy who realized that he really wasn’t able to play at a high enough level, and hit upon the clever strategy of making dropping him politically impossible.

          Only it failed, and in failing foreclosed the option of signing someplace for a lower level sports gig. But that’s alright for him, because it opened up a career in SJW politics.

        2. He wasn’t playing at that level when he was on the team. Quarterbacks that win 1 game out of 12 are a dime a dozen. That’s why he was benched, and he made himself toxic since then.

    3. I’d have had a lot more interest in their claims to care if they had admitted that Democrat mayors and governors have controlled these malicious police for decades. Instead they chose to blame the federal President for the malicious local and state police. Consideration faked, worry faked, fake solutions coming right up.

      1. Democrat mayors and governors and legislators and presidents are always innocent, completely powerless bystanders whenever something works out badly. Didn’t you know?

    4. Just had to throw in a gratuitous Trump slam.

      Trump is a sociopath with no redeeming qualities whatsoever; no slams on him are gratuitous.

  2. The Girondists are beginning to realize The Mountain is coming for them too.

    1. You said it, brother!

    2. Amen to that.

    3. Bob from Ohio nailed it.

  3. Ho hum. “ORANGE MAN BAD!”

    Trump is illiberal? Trump is consistently on the side of liberty; the jackasses who wrote this letter would prefer if everybody simply conforms to their “correct” view.

    What the “authors” seem to forget is that in the end, the mob killed the leaders of the French Revolution. They are reaping what they have sown.

    1. “What the “authors” seem to forget is that in the end, the mob killed the leaders of the French Revolution. ”

      They are starting to realize it.

      1. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of authoritarians.

        1. Yes, yes, egg each other on!

    2. Trump is a populist in the sense of Andrew Jackson, populists follow the majority and sometimes ignore the minority but that is a far cry from being undemocratic. If anything, they tend to be *too* democratic.

      1. When has Trump been associated with a majority?

        He is about to dip below 40 in approval. He is 15 points down. He was millions of votes behind on Election Day, has declined from there in popularity.

        1. Trump is President because he got a majority of the Electoral College votes, but I’m guessing you don’t know the Constitution.

  4. Please show your work on the Trump is a threat to …….
    Specific examples, please.

    Crickets…..

    1. A few examples on the President’s threat to democracy:

      (1) The President’s improvident decision to ask a foreign power to investigate a political rival for personal gain.

      (2) The President’s attacks on, and removal of, whistle-blowers (Vindman) who alerted the public to, or educated the public on, the President’s improvident decision, and the removal of those who attempt to protect whistleblowers (Atkinson).

      (3) The President’s unhinged attacks on the media generally. The examples are too legion to recount.

      (4) The President’s dogmatic insistence that people who criticize him are not just wrong but should be silenced (Bolton, Hayden, Brennan, Clapper).

      (5) The President’s disrespect for an independent judiciary (repeated personal attacks on judges he disagrees with).

      (6) The utter chaotic randomness of the President’s approach to policy (military trans gender tweet, the wall, staffing turnover writ large, COVID anemia, etc.).

      (7) Complete disinterest by the President in behaving apolitical (4th of July speech, Boy Scouts speech, pretty much anything he has done or said his entire presidency, etc.).

      (8) Truly compulsive lying, about everything. It’s enough to make career politicians blush.

      1. Trump has ADHD — that’s different.

        1. I’m sorry, I said it was just a few examples.

          (9) The President has ADHD.

          1. And you are a bigot who probably doesn’t have a clue what ADHD actually is — a non-hierarchical means of processing information.

            1. My son’s got ADHD. He’s also got the President’s award for academic excellence, and an unbroken record of winning spelling bees. Being a bit hyper doesn’t mean you’re stupid.

              1. You can’t be stupid and have ADHD — you wouldn’t be able to overload the neural network. IQs in the 130-150 range are common, and the problem is that with the limited upper end, many scores should be higher as the person would have been able to answer more questions had there been more.

                But I digress.

                1. This is flat wrong.

                  You are talking completely out of your ass.

                  1. I’d say he’s wrong: There’s nothing about AHDH, or my own Aspergers for that matter, that actually requires you to be smart. They’re just not incompatible with being smart.

                    1. That, I would agree with.

                  2. This is flat wrong.

                    You are talking completely out of your ass.

                    Dr. Ed? It must be a day ending in “y.”

              2. Brett Bellmore : Being a bit hyper doesn’t mean you’re stupid.

                True enough, and thank you for explaining that through your own personal family experience. However it suggests an addition to the list :

                (10) The president is dumb as a box of rocks.

                In Trump’s case it almost seems to be imbecility by choice. Stupidity as self-indulgence. Moron as proud life-style decision. Definitely has nothing to do w/ ADHD….

                1. People who are dumb as a box of rocks don’t get elected President, let alone on their first try, while being out-spent 2-1. If they luck into wealth, they lose it. They don’t become reality TV stars, if they’re involved in cons, it’s as the mark.

                  People on the left have gotten into this bizarre competition to have the lowest possible opinion of Trump. It’s not enough to dislike his policy positions and his manner, you have to claim he’s stupid, ugly, has bad breath, is poor, and cheats at solitaire.

                  Do you have any idea how stupid this makes you look? Don’t take your own trash talk seriously, whatever Trump is, you lost to that, which makes you worse.

                  1. Trump was elected president because :

                    (1) Close to forty percent of Americans would vote for a storefront mannequin with GOP behind his name (and, yes, you can say the same thing about the other side)

                    (2) Some people refused to vote for Hillary because she’s a “liar”, which pushes irony to stratospheric heights.

                    (3) Some people refused to vote for Hillary because she’s “corrupt”, which launches irony on a translunar injection

                    (4) Some people voted for Trump because he was a “successful businessman” (sic) and would bring a new competence into the White House. All of which has irony out of the Solar System into deep interstellar space.

                    (5) We’d had eight years of one party in the Oval Office so it was time for independent voters to flip – which might be comforting to Trump except his freak-show has crammed eight years of exhaustion into four.

                    (6) The aftereffects of the Great Recession was lifting Trump-types around the world – sleazy little petty power-hungry demagogues. It’s the fascist Thirties repeated as farce, with our own Trump fortunately the most incompetent of the bunch.

                    Plus Russia, Comey, etc. The point is this : It wasn’t Trump’s election that was almost impossibly implausible, but the nomination of such a clown by a major American party in the first place.

                    PS : You actually bring up his business record ?!? Hilarious…..

                    1. Trump was elected President because Hillary Clinton was the worst candidate for President in our lifetime, so she lost to the second-worst. Everything you said is just standard idiotic leftist bullshit.

                  2. Empirically false, because Donald Trump is dumb as (if not dumber than) a box of rocks, and he got elected president. There is overwhelming evidence that Trump is really really stupid, and no evidence other than the argument from incredulity (“How could a stupid person have won a popularity contest?”) to the contrary.

                  3. Brett,

                    People who are dumb as a box of rocks don’t get elected President, let alone on their first try.

                    As David points out, this has been proven fallacious

                    while being out-spent 2-1

                    Are you counting all the money and airtime used by Republicans since 1992 to pillory Hillary?

                    If they luck into wealth, they lose it.

                    Too many counterexamples. Plenty of dumb people are rich and plenty of smart people are poor.

                    They don’t become reality TV stars

                    Do you realize how dumb this statement make you look?

                    if they’re involved in cons, it’s as the mark

                    Okay, he has a certain kind of intelligence. He did get billions in free media time and he did have an innate sense of the ugly Republican that had been cultivated since the 1960s (beginning with the Southern Strategy) and he had few enough morals he is perfectly fine with openly speaking directly to it and encouraging its worst impulses. (He has “accidentally” retweeted an astounding number of overtly white supremacist messages, most recently “white power” but also false crime statistics pulled from a white supremacist organization and lots of other stuff in between.)

                    But, more to the point, grb noted that it is imbecility by choice. His native intelligence is probably slightly above average, much like George W. Bush’s (and likely higher than Sarah Palin’s, a governor and VP candidate, giving lie to your idea that it is only possible to reach high office with intelligence). He thinks he is far smarter than he is and he lacks very basic knowledge (from suggesting he would have the Supreme Court investigate Hillary to being entirely unaware that China and India share a border which, in fact, is one of the longer international borders in the world and painfully obvious to anyone with even a passing familiarity with a globe or atlas and loads of examples where he just doesn’t know how government works, how anything, really, works. He is excellent at marketing and fraud. Those are the only things, other than purchasing sex partners, that he has ever shown the least interest in “studying” or even learning.

                    He is willfully ignorant, but thinks he is smarter than everyone else (whether generals or epidemiologists or economists, always to disastrous effect). That makes him monumentally stupid (. A box of rocks does have more intelligence.

                    But don’t believe what you see on TV, what does his Cabinet and White House staff have to say about him:

                    Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Trump had the understanding of “a fifth- or sixth-grader”

                    Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in July 2017 called Trump a “moron”

                    Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said in November 2017 that Trump was “like an 11-year-old child”

                    Former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster called trump an “idiot”

                    Former National Security Advisor John Bolton called him, among other things, “stunningly uninformed”

                    Trump is an idiot by choice. That’s worse than if it wasn’t a choice. It’s even worse that you choose not to see it. You can still think everyone who opposes Trump are Democrats, that all Democrats are liberals, all liberals are socialists, and all socialists are evil (a logic chain that would say something about you, if you chose to adopt it) and admit that Trump is, at best, stunningly uninformed but, nonetheless, chooses to rely almost entirely on his stunningly uninformed instincts.

                    It would be safer to put all that power in the hands of your average (name a profession not generally pursued by the intellectually curious) because at least that person would understand their limitations, perhaps the most important intelligence for any leader to have.

                  4. I’d like to add one more question addressed to Brett :

                    Do you honestly believe Trump doesn’t cheat at solitaire?

                    I’d bet Trump maximizes all opportunities at cheating, regardless how minuscule, petty or irrelevant the occasion. Remember, we’re talking about someone who used charity funds from his foundation to pay Little Don Jr’s seven dollar Boy Scout fee.

                    He saw a chance to cheat; he certainly wasn’t going to let it pass by.

                    1. I have no idea whether Trump cheats at, or indeed, even plays solitaire. I don’t know if he flosses, or whether he has BO, for that matter.

                      But it’s conspicuous the way the left, irrationally, treat him as a shambling collection of negative traits, as though somebody without any virtues could have accomplished what Trump has.

                      This is just trash talk, from the loser, about the winner. I’ve never been impressed with trash talk, but believing your own trash talk? That’s beyond obnoxious, it’s stupid.

                      It’s his best hope of winning reelection, frankly: That you’ll underestimate him due to being insanely convinced he’s an idiot who’s just acting randomly, rather than a smart guy pursuing a strategy.

                    2. You must enlighten us on Trump’s “virtues”. Except for a huckster’s low cunning & carnival barker skills, they aren’t apparent to the naked eye. But maybe you have an electron microscope….

                      As for cheating, apparently that’s well-covered in the book by Trump’s niece : “A memoir by President Donald Trump’s niece due to be published next week describes the president as a pathological narcissist who cheated on the SAT college entrance examination and has embraced “cheating as a way of life” ever since”

                      Who knows whether that covers solitaire?

                    3. But it’s conspicuous the way the left, irrationally, treat him as a shambling collection of negative traits, as though somebody without any virtues could have accomplished what Trump has.

                      Only someone without any virtues could have “accomplished” what Trump has.

      2. You think democracy can’t handle Trump’s cry baby tweeting? It’s a wonder Trump hasn’t declared himself the one true king yet. I’m sure it’ll happen any day now.

        1. “You think democracy can’t handle Trump’s cry baby tweeting?”

          I think it can. But there is a critical mass of apologists (like you) that will kill democracy. I hope we’re nowhere near that, yet, but it’s hard to tell.

          1. “apologists (like you)”

            Like me? You’re a special kind of stupid. I voted L last election, and I will vote L again this election. However, as an adult, I recognize that Trump’s odious behavior and stupid tweets are a nothingburger with liberal tears as the special sauce. At least it isn’t Hillary in office. Instead of “Trump apologists”, we’d have Hillary enabling morons fighting each other to be the one who gets to have Hillary sit on their face. Threat to democracy, the guy who has to fight for everything, because even “his party” barely tolerates him…? Ok, sure, keep telling yourself that.

            1. “Like me?”

              Yes, like you. I had to dig deep to find some examples of you engaging in apologism. Here’s one example:

              “I recognize that Trump’s odious behavior and stupid tweets are a nothingburger with liberal tears as the special sauce.”

              1. Doubling down on the stupid, interesting tactic. You can race yourself to the bottom.

              2. Some alien languages are difficult to learn, the idioms and nuances almost impossible to capture. Say someone had to translate the following phrase into normal people talk :

                “I recognize that Trump’s odious behavior and stupid tweets are a nothingburger with liberal tears as the special sauce.”

                A proper rendering might go like this : “Yeah. I defend him, even though he’s a sleazy reeking human turd. But I defend him, which embarrasses even me (someone without shame). Yet I defend him ….. so how can I make this be about liberals instead? ….. There’s got to be some way to recover a little self-respect.”

                1. Wow, you’re full of shit. Tell us more about Gropey Joe’s dementia.

                2. Some alien languages are difficult to learn, the idioms and nuances almost impossible to capture. Say someone had to translate the following phrase into normal people talk :

                  “I recognize that Trump’s odious behavior and stupid tweets are a nothingburger with liberal tears as the special sauce.”

                  A proper rendering might go like this : “Yeah. I defend him, even though he’s a sleazy reeking human turd. But I defend him, which embarrasses even me (someone without shame). Yet I defend him ….. so how can I make this be about liberals instead? ….. There’s got to be some way to recover a little self-respect.””

                  Shorter grb: “Yeah, I can out-stupid NToJ. Check this keyboard vomit out.”

            2. Hillary would have had us involved in 2-3 new foreign wars by now.

          2. The people trying to kill democracy are mostly leftists these days, or haven’t you been paying attention?

      3. I think you misspelled “Obama”.

        1. You’re right. I fucked that up. President Obama’s firing of Atkinson and handling of the COVID pandemic have been abhorrent.

          1. Well, it looks like Obama and his crew were behind the endless attempts to overthrow the result of an election that did not go their way.

            If that ain’t a threat to democracy, I don’t know what is.

            1. Obama also did far more than CRITICIZE reporters. And his FBI worked closely with foreign agents (Steele) to use foreign disinformation (that dossier) to go after political rivals.

          2. “firing of Atkinson”

            Cough. Gerald Walpin.

      4. Shorter version:

        Orange man words cause sad face. Words bad!

      5. (1) Presumption of guilt: You assume a bad motive for a legal act.
        (2) Becoming a “whistle-blower”, even if not in violation of the actual terms of such, doesn’t immunize you against removal for unrelated reasons.
        (3) Free speech.
        (4) Only people who have security clearances, and are leaking.
        (5) Free speech.
        (6) You don’t like his policy. That doesn’t make him an authoritarian.
        (7) Presidents are politicians. What’s new about that?
        (8) Rather exaggerated, (If he says, “Nice day!” Democrats label it a lie if it’s raining anywhere on the planet.) but I’ll grant his habitual braggadocio is annoying.

        1. (1) There is one bleeding obvious motive for asking about the Bidens during a call with the Ukrainian President. You really think it is entirely coincidental that his sudden feigned interest in supposed corruption involved a Biden? I don’t believe you are that gullible.

          (2) Funny, though, how a suspiciously large number of people who testified truthfully in the impeachment hearings have had unfortunate career turns. All a coincidence, right?

          (3) I take it you concede this it is an assault on the principles of free speech for the President to lie about, berate, pull the credentials of, threaten, and otherwise verbally abuse “the media” including by calling them “the enemy of the people”. Kudos for your honesty.

          (4) Your #4 needs to have a conversation with your numbers 3 and 5.

          (5) You do understand that free speech guarantees the right to advocate for all manner of undemocratic things and when the President attacks the judiciary in personal terms and undermines their independence, it threatens an important pillar of democracy notwithstanding it isn’t illegal for the President to do it.

          (6) You don’t dispute that his policies are chaotic. Telling. (The virus is totally under control, shut businesses down and here are guidelines for reopening, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN”, the guidelines though, never mind the guidelines – open everything, maybe wear a mask, I sometimes wear a mask and look like the lone ranger….and on it goes, guided by the stunningly uninformed, if misleadingly rotund, gut of POTUS.

          (7) Nearly every politician on the national level at least gives lip service to representing all his constituents. Trump doesn’t. All base, all the time.

          (8) He frequently lies about important things, Brett. From the false explanation for the Tump Tower meeting that he drafted for his son, lying about trying to fire Mueller, lying about whether he won the popular vote (undermining faith in our voting and the soundness of our democracy), lying about the coronavirus (under control, never true……more testing than anyone when that wasn’t close to being true….we’re doing better than anyone, which has never been true…will magically disappear, not true……and on and on killing people as he goes). It isn’t just annoying braggadocio. He also lies about things no President should lie about and which, when he lies about them, weakens our democracy.

        2. 1) I presume motive for a motivated act. What does legality have to do with it? He’s survived impeachment.

          2) Again “immunize”. I’m not talking about legality. A real leader can take criticism. Vindman didn’t call himself to testify.

          3) Not everything the President is allowed to say, is something you should defend him saying. President Obama was allowed to wear a tan suit, remember?

          4) Bolton is not leaking. He submitted it to State.

          5) This is pathetic. Can you think of anything President Obama said that he was free to say, but that you don’t think he should have said? On topic, were you miffed whenever he talked shit directly to SCOTUS?

          6) Agree. There are a lot of people I don’t like who aren’t authoritarians.

          7) I have already highlighted the differences between, as an example, Reagan and Trump.

          8) He’s a liar. No hyperventilating by the media will change that. He’s a fucking fraud.

          1. “4) Bolton is not leaking. He submitted it to State.”

            You’re not following the news, I take it? Partway through the State Department’s review process, he said, “screw this!”, and just went ahead and published it.

            UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. JOHN R. BOLTON, defendant

            “On June 8, 2020, John Eisenberg, Deputy White House Counsel and Legal Advisor to the NSC, issued a letter to Bolton that claimed the manuscript still contained classified information. Mitman Decl., Ex. J, ECF No. 3-15. By that point, Bolton had
            already delivered a final manuscript to his publisher for printing and shipping, without written authorization and without notice to the government.

            “The government submitted classified declarations for the Court’s ex parte review in camera. ECF No. 4. On June 19, 2020, the Court held a sealed ex parte hearing for further in camera review with the government. ECF 6/19/20. Upon reviewing the classified materials, as well as the declarations filed on the public docket, ECF No. 3-1–5, the Court is persuaded that Defendant Bolton likely jeopardized national security by disclosing classified information in violation of his nondisclosure agreement obligations.”

      6. Gosh, is that it? I thought you’d give us something serious, like using personal goons to break into the opposition’s political headquarters to steal information, or using the FBI and CIA to spy on your political opponents for political gain, or using the IRS to shut down opposition political groups, or assassinating US citizens without a trial.

        Criticizing the media? That’s practically American, and just about every president has done that.

        1. Lincoln killed plenty of US citizens without trial.

        2. When Obama called Fox News “destructive”, he was threatening democracy!

          1. Shh… They can’t hear you…

          2. It’s a great way to highlight the differences between this President and our last. Read this: https://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/obama-says-fox-news-promotes-destructive-viewpoint/

            Compare it to what we live with daily. But keep it simple. Did President Obama revoke press passes from Fox? Did President Trump? “Enemies of the people” versus:

            Mr. Obama was asked by Rolling Stone whether Fox News is “a good institution for America and for democracy.” He began his answer with a look back at history noting that “we’ve got a tradition in this country of a press that oftentimes is opinionated,” invoking William Randolph Hearst’s use of his newspapers to promote his viewpoints.

            “I think Fox is part of that tradition — it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It’s a point of view that I disagree with,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world.”

    2. (9) Attempts to prevent publication of books critical of him.

      (10) Attempts to suppress voting by those who are likely to vote against him.

      1. “Attempts to prevent publication of books critical of him.”

        Yeah, that’s bad. Although the last candidate wanted to amend the first amendment to prevent people from making films critical of her.

        1. Don’t be a tool. CU remains a controversial decision. I agree with the majority (my issue is with Buckley), but to say that people who litigate and lose hate the Constitution is some tendentious partisan nonsense.

          1. Yes, tautologically, CU remains a controversial decision, since some people disagree with it. Even the ACLU now, though they considered it a victory for free speech at the time; The last such victory their backers would permit them, I guess.

            But it genuinely is true that Hillary tried to use the courts to shut down a movie critical of her, which is a hell of a lot worse than Trump has done.

            1. Good lord, that’s a ridiculous framing.

              You think Hillary cared a lot about that movie?

              1. You’re aware that is what drove Citizens United to court in the first place, right?

                1. Campaign finance reform?

                  1. Thanks for that laugh, unintentional as that humor likely was.

                    1. Forgive me, I think the big money sloshing about in politics is a problem. On both sides.

                    2. I can’t disagree with that.

                    3. Can’t reduce the money “sloshing around” so long as government is powerful enough to make and break fortunes. The only way to make people spend less on winning elections is to make them care less who wins them, which requires the stakes to be lowered.

                      When every election might destroy your way of life if the people who don’t like your way of life get power, you don’t pull punches.

                    4. You are right under current 1A jurisprudence, Brett. I don’t think it need be so, however.

                      Mouths talk. Pens write. Money shouts.

                    5. Yeah, that’s the excuse people who try to censor using money as a handle, (“Honest, I’m not infringing his freedom of the press, I’m just not letting him spend money…. on paper, ink, or a printing press!”) use.

                      Then you look at 2016, and Trump beat Hillary while being outspent 2-1.

                      They’ve studied this: Once you’re spending enough money to get your message out, any extra is wasted, even annoys people. “Shouting” is a myth. Money gets you heard, your message then has to persuade.

                    6. I get that you think campaign finance reform ripping apart the First Amendment.

                      AND that everyone thinks like you do, just some people lie about it.

                      But it’s once again not true.

                    7. And I get that you’ve got a way to rationalize that ordering people to STFU with the force of law behind it isn’t really a 1st amendment violation if you’re “just” regulating money.

                      But all you are doing is rationalizing.

                    8. I don’t think keeping money out of politics is ordering people to STFU, Brett.

                      You continually begging the question at a higher and higher level of hysteria does not somehow transform my opinion into bad faith.

                2. What drove Citizens United to Court was the lawyers for Citizens United, who filed a lawsuit challenging former President Bush’s FEC.

            2. “it genuinely is true that Hillary tried to use the courts to shut down a movie critical of her, which is a hell of a lot worse than Trump has done.”

              In the sense that Trump only sent Mr. Barr after people who wrote books critical of him, which is TOTALLY different…

              1. I don’t think that former members of the intelligence services leaking classified information, like Bolton, actually count: Just to get their jobs they agreed to subject themselves to censorship.

            3. What the fuck are talking about???

            4. Bellmore, that movie was simply a bunch of Fox News personalities giving their opinions like they do every night on Fox News.

        2. Did she? I thought CU itself filed the lawsuit to challenge an existing statute.

          Maybe that’s not how Hannity tells it.

          1. She didn’t initiate the legal action in the CU case, but she did advocate the constitutional amendment, which is what TwelveInchPianist said she did.

            1. Pretty sure the Amendment didn’t say ‘No one can make films critical of Hillary.’

              What kind of pedantic debate-club nonsense are you trying to pull?

              1. She wanted an amendment that would overturn the result in CU, which was that they COULD make films critical of her during an election year. How pedantic do YOU have to be to deny that?

                Sure, it would do a lot more damage than just that; Is that a point in her favor?

                1. You don’t have to be pedantic, really. You just have to try to stop yourself from attributing dishonest, bad faith motives to everyone with whom you disagree.

        3. Well that’s just a fucking lie.

          1. No, you’re a fucking drooling idiot that can’t back up your words.

    3. “Please show your work on the Trump is a threat to”

      Not a tough question for anyone with functioning neurons and access to current events.

      Trump is, in fact, trying to prevent states from counting the votes of all the voters who are housebound by the pandemic, coincidentally, a pandemic he tried to banish by ignoring. Guess what, the weather is warm now, and the coronavirus has NOT magically disappeared all by itself, Dr. Trump.

      1. I presume you’re referring to stopping vote-by-mail, which has more security holes in it than Microsoft Windows, though people like you who make dishonest arguments refuse to admit that.

  5. These guys aren’t the ones who decide whether you’re cancelled.

    Don’t let them fool you into saying something their totalitarian comrades can cancel you for. Always be very careful.

    If you can, you may want to go back and delete anything you said publicly more than a couple years ago. They can change the rules and cancel you for anything — even completely meaning stuff like the OK gesture — based on whatever the moral panic of the month is.

  6. “But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second.”

    Off to a good start.

    “The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy.
    …While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.”

    And downhill fast. The demagogues of the left show that they are out of touch with reality. Really, censoriousness is /also/ spreading…? The censorious left makes the “radical right” look like amateurs.

    But hey, at least you finally realized that you can’t stay silent any longer, now that they are coming for you.

    “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” -Niemoller

    1. “Really, censoriousness is /also/ spreading…? The censorious left makes the “radical right” look like amateurs.”

      What did you have in mind?

      1. Assuming the “radical right” is the religious right (I’m not sure exactly who they’re referring to), the censorious left looks like the Catholic Church during the times of Galileo, turned up to 11.

      2. Milo mocked — and was funny. But he didn’t censor anyone.

    2. “The censorious left makes the ‘radical right’ look like amateurs.”

      Well, the radical right makes the radical right look like amateurs, but sure, the leftists are willing to pile on.

      1. “Well, the radical right makes the radical right look like amateurs, but sure, the leftists are willing to pile on.”

        Yeah, I can’t argue with that. It speaks volumes of the intellectual capacity of those leftists, aka Artie’s congregation.

  7. “The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy.”

    It’s hilarious; They say that, but every bit of ‘illiberalism’ they cite is coming from their side.

    I suppose they’re already afraid to correctly identify where the threat is really coming from.

    1. It is funny. I half expected a “Brexit bad” and a “globalism good” thrown in there somewhere after seeing that.

      Still, politics makes strange bedfellows, so let’s give these folks a gentle golf clap for at least *attempting* to police the left by giving them a stern lecture.

    2. They only care now because they’ve realized that they aren’t safe from the monster they raised. They realized that if even JK Rowling isn’t safe, surely there is no hope for the rest of them. At this moment though, all allies are welcome and needed to fight the monster.

    3. I don’t think you have a hope of understanding people who disagree with you, so long as you’re committed to a Manichean worldview in which everybody who disagrees with you does so from horrific motives.

      1. Literally, they called Trump illiberal, but every single instance of illiberalism they identified came from their own side, not Trump.

        It’s not Trump they’re afraid of. It’s their own allies. The attack on Trump was just an attempt to immunize themselves against the mob.

        But they’ll find that throwing in a perfunctory, “Orange man bad!” has no such protective effect when you criticize the left.

        1. “Literally, they called Trump illiberal, but every single instance of illiberalism they identified came from their own side, not Trump.”

          They assumed you were firmly-enough versed with reality to be able to recall Mr. Trump’s mis-steps on your own. Certainly, their intended audience is.

          1. Well, they do know who their intended audience is, and it is more persuasive to a rank-and-file liberal to accuse Trump, and to indicate that “we (our side) is better than theirs”.

          2. Which ones? The 24/7 hyperventilating panic on the news makes everything look the same. The Russia stuff was conclusively proven false you know.

            1. It was not, Ben. That you think it was is disturbing.

              You do understand that Russia did interfere in the 2016 election? FBI, CIA, NSA, Senate Intelligence Select Committee, the Mueller Report, and several intelligence services of our allies all agree on that. Putin, Trump, and you seem to be the only ones unaware on that.

              If you mean “collusion”, it is a serious misrepresentation to say it was “conclusively proven false.” The conclusion was that “the investigation did not establish” conspiracy or coordination, not that there was no evidence of it or that it is established that no such conspiracy or coordination occurred. It was established that, at the least, the Trump campaign tried to collude (“If it’s what you say, I love it.”) and, at best, the Trump campaign was too inept to successfully connect with Russians who were ready to, willing to, and in fact did assist the Trump campaign.

              1. Of course we’re aware Russia messed with our politics in 2016. They’ve messed with our politics for decades.

                What we’re not going along with is the fiction that they were actively trying to make sure Trump got elected. Or that their spitting into the hurricane level of spending dictated the outcome of the election.

                Pretending they were trying to elect Trump was part of the effort to delegitimize his administration, that’s all. What they were actually doing was just trying to turn up the thermostat, so that whoever did win would find the nation ungovernable.

                1. Brett,

                  Nothing like a few good straw men to avoid admitting the obvious.

                  What we’re not going along with is the fiction that they were actively trying to make sure Trump got elected.

                  Their interference was with the purpose of helping Trump. Perhaps you are hiding behind the wiggle words “make sure” as if they could “make sure” of anyone winning the election, but they can certainly try to help. Which they did. (They also helped Trump win the Republican nomination by systematically trying to hurt all candidates who were hawks on Russia. Like everyone else, they probably didn’t think Trump had much chance of winning, but they certainly wanted to make it as likely as possible.)

                  Or that their spitting into the hurricane level of spending dictated the outcome of the election.

                  Similarly, I assume you are letting “dictated” do a lot of work here.

                  Which of the following are you suggesting:

                  A. Russia’s efforts conclusively made no difference in the outcome of the election.

                  B. It is unlikely that Russia’s efforts were determinative of the outcome of the election.

                  C. Russia’s efforts likely helped Trump, but we can’t know if Trump would have won absent the Russian help.

                  D. Russia’s efforts definitely helped Trump, but didn’t “dictate” the result in that Russia’s efforts were only one of several but-for causes of the narrow victories in Michigan and Pennsylvania that delivered the electoral college majority to Trump.

                  In answering, please explain your level of certainty that Russia’s release of stolen Democratic email and other documents did or did not change a few thousand votes in MIchigan and Pennsylvania. (Mueller Report finding: “a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working on the Clinton Campaign and then released stolen documents.”).

                  If you conclude that these leaks of stolen email and other documents made no difference in the election, what is your basis for that conclusion?

  8. And liberals wonder why everyone thinks they are insincere asshats…

    1. Yes, I’m sure they’re obsessed with your opinion of them, informed as it is.

  9. Is this a signal you are going to stop engaging in content-driven censorship, Prof. Volokh?

    Or just another passive-aggressive, cherry-picked nip at the ankles of mainstream America?

    1. Do the world a favor and remove yourself from the gene pool. Thanks.

    2. You sound bitter, Rev.

      Open wider.

      1. Bitter? I’m winning — have won, largely — the culture war. I have been very fortunate during the recent stresses.

        I am not among the conservatives who will be swallowing even more progress against their wishes.

        I will be pleased when Barack Obama becomes the tenth Justice (no strong preference with respect to the eleventh spot). The Conspirators’ reactions will provide great entertainment.

        Carry on, clingers . . . for another six months.

        1. Keep on telling yourself that….

        2. Trump will continue to be your President until January 2025, whiny leftist.

  10. Todd Gitlin signed off on this?

    Noam Chomsky???

    I suppose it is true, then: sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

    1. Noam Chomsky was canceled years ago for opposing European laws against Holocaust denial. Ages ago I was in a linguistics class in Europe and people were objecting to having to read Chomsky because of his “extreme” views. I spoke in his defense and you would have thought I had denied the Holocaust myself.

      1. As opposed to the things he should have been canceled for… 🙂

  11. It is with great irony I note that several people on this list are part of the reason it has gotten to this point.

    Sow the wind; Reap the whirlwind — oh Prometheus what thou hath wrought!

    1. Exactly. The sound you hear is the dog complaining about having caught the car.

  12. “Hussein Ibish, Arab Gulf States Institute”

    ROTF,L….

    Hussein Ibish is calling for “tolerance” and “free speech”?!?!?
    When he was at UMass, he was taking over buildings and doing his best to silence anyone to the left of Vladimir Lenin. Daniel Pipes has a concise summary of him, albeit dated: http://www.danielpipes.org/141/hussein-ibish-us-arabs-firebrand

    1. Back in the ’00s, Ibish is the one who claimed that then AG Ascroft had ordered all cats removed from the DoJ because cats, particularly “calico” cats, were an offense to either Judiasm or Christanity – Ibish wasn’t clear as to which.

  13. I do have to admit there is an intense odor of holier-than-though, ivory-tower, SELF-PRESERVATION-ism in this letter.

    At the same time, when people are getting murdered by the cops, it’s really not the time for a Robert’s Rules of Order style debate.

    I will also admit that some people have gone to far (e.g. rioters, professors being fired, defund the police, etc.), while reminding everyone that we live in a democracy and sometimes things swing too far – and when the rebound comes it’s usually to the opposite extreme before things temper down to “normal” or maybe a “new normal.”

    1. Exactly who thinks that what happened to George Flyoyd was right?

      That’s the fallacy — COPS don’t think it was right. The MPD fired all four of them THE NEXT DAY (do you know how hard it is to fire public sector union guys?) — and indicted them THAT WEEK.

      When a Black MPD cop shot/killed a White woman for no apparent reason, it took SEVEN MONTHS for an indictment.

      Now I’ll freely state that I don’t think him being on drugs helped much, but name one person who thinks that George Floyd deserved to die.

  14. Wow, what a comment thread.

    A letter saying free speechy things, and everyone races to write how the left is still super evil.

    It’s like a drug.

    1. Yup.

      It’s amazing.

    2. The left IS evil…

      1. Says the guy who wants to gas them.

        1. It’s not Team Red using Nazi tactics, cretin.

    3. It says free speechy things, but you’re only allowed to sign it if you will attest that Orange Man Bad.

      1. If a bunch of Conspirators and the like signed something that took a shot at Obama but also said that, diversity of background was vital in our society, I like to think I wouldn’t just say ‘whatever, I still hate you!’

        1. What do you expect? Many of the signers preach hatred toward conservatives on a regular basis.

          Hate gets hate returned.

          Me, I welcome some scales falling off eyes but most of the signers will forget about this heresy the next time some conservative says something “bad”. Its their butts they want to save, not some disinterested noble sentiment.

          1. Yep, there it is.

            Justifying your hatred by letting it define the other side’s hidden bad faith for you.

            A lovely closed loop of positive feedback.

            1. “hidden bad faith”

              Its not hidden.

              Where was this letter 2 years ago? Or one?

              The Rowling TERF episode last month triggered this.

              1. Bob, you’re making up the secret thoughts of these people. Your evidence is a pretty weak off-topic event.

                More or less proving my point that you are obtaining data from yourself and validating it by running it by yourself.

                And then you post it as though it is anything more than a view into your circular process.

                1. “off-topic event”

                  Trying to “cancel” Rowling just happens before a bunch of wealthy and famous authors write a letter opposing “cancellation”. Pure coincidence.

                  1. Yeah, Bob, that’s what I’m saying. It is a coincidence.

                    At any given time, there is always a controversy about an author’s politics. You could have as easily chose Lin Manuel Miranda.

                    You’re a narrative in search of a confirming anecdote.

            2. “Yep, there it is.

              Justifying your hatred by letting it define the other side’s hidden bad faith for you.

              A lovely closed loop of positive feedback.”

              Am I doing it right?

              1. Did I say Bob had bad faith?

                I would not that Bob absolutely is saying that about the signatories of the letter.

                It’s just a helluva signal of the level of negative partisanship here where people rush to assure us (multiple times for many of them) that they still hate the libs and this doesn’t matter.

                “Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them. Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question, inaptness to act on any. Frantic violence became the attribute of manliness” -Thucydides

                1. Hate is a strong word … and inaccurate.

                  A lifetime of hateful words by many of the folks on the list have led us to this point; that they now fear the mob that they helped create is welcome, but painfully ironic and seemingly self-serving.

                  1. Can’t speak for you, but Bob seems to be pretty comfortable with hate.

                    1. Your fellow travelers scream their hate about Trump at every opportunity, but for some reason you think that is “hidden”.

            3. Watch the idiot leftist pretend that Team Blue isn’t awash in Trump hatred. It’s about as “hidden” as a zit on your nose.

        2. “If a bunch of Conspirators and the like signed something that took a shot at Obama but also said that, diversity of background was vital in our society, I like to think I wouldn’t just say ‘whatever, I still hate you!’”

          I’d like to think that you would too, but I don’t believe in fairy tales.

          😉 lol

    4. That’s what free speakers say until the left gets enough power

      1. Just like Muslims, eh?

        Funny you have the same playbook for all those you see as your enemies.

        1. Trying to keep power out of the hands of central authorities is the playbook. So yeah, I guess so.

          What do Muslims have to do with anything? Are you rooting for a US grand ayatollah or something? Seems like a total non sequitur.

          1. Looks a lot like keeping power in your own hands to me.

            The idea that ‘Muslims look all friendly until there’s enough of them and then *bam* Sharia’ is basically the twin of what you’re saying about liberals.

            Both are cartoons.

            1. If the left would stop trying to commandeer the health care system, then that would be one less concern about them. There’s still the transportation system, the education system, and a bunch of other industries. Seems like health care is the one they think they can seize first.

              I still don’t get the thing about Muslims. I don’t watch those sorts of cartoons. I like One Punch Man.

              1. He is pretty good, remember him trying to catch that mosquito?

            2. You know, I’d love to live in a world where that “cartoon” wasn’t empirically true, really I would. I’ve known Muslims, and they were fine people.

              But how many Muslim democracies do you see out there? Turkey was one, then Erdogan got off the train.

              How many university faculties do you see out there that haven’t been purged? Only the ones where ‘liberals’ aren’t yet enough of a majority to pull it off. Partisan Registration and Contributions of Faculty in Flagship Colleges

              The ratios used to be slightly skewed to the left, then in the mid 1990’s the percentage of Republicans started taking a nose dive. The drop was so abrupt you pretty much had to conclude that, about 1990, conservatives just stopped being hired, period.

              A purge by attrition.

              Yes, Sarcastro: Some belief systems really do work that way.

              1. Do you think this means Muslims in America are plotting against our democracy?

                I know you think liberals are.

                I don’t want conservatives to be eliminated from the discourse, and despite what you think, most on the left agree. Unlike, I would note, folks like you with respect to folks like me.

                The urge to spin out dark futures due to liberals in order to justify bad behavior now is not a healthy one for the country.

                1. Muslims in America are maybe 1% of the population, and that only recently. Outside of a few places like Dearborn Michigan, there aren’t a critical mass of them, the nasty dynamic doesn’t have a chance to set in. But they still manage to punch well above their weight when it comes to terrorism.

                  But, again, where are the Muslim democracies?

                  And where is the majority liberal faculty that hasn’t purged conservatives?

                  Look, neither your average Muslim, (Even in Turkey!) nor your average liberal wants a totalitarian state where all dissent is silenced. But every group has its members who DO want that, and will fight for it.

                  The real question is not how many people in a group don’t want to oppress the other. It’s how many will fight their own side’s zealots. For some groups, the answer is, “Not enough.”

                  Academia went from a slight tilt towards liberals, to 20,30,40 to 1, in the space of three decades. If you’re going to clam that wasn’t a purge? If you’re not one of the zealots, you’re certainly one of their enablers.

                  1. What do Muslim democracies elsewhere have to do with how they’ll act in America?

                    ‘critical mass.’

                    The right has a bunch of people who want to go all Pinochet, so I don’t know what you’re trying to prove.

                    You think there was a conscious purge of academics by liberals? If your only evidence is that politics changed over 30 years, you’re just making things up again.

                    1. One of these bogeymen isn’t some callback to long, long ago.

                    2. See, you’re one of the enablers. Academic institutions went from about 1.5-1 Democratic, to 30-1 Democratic, and you are actually willing to pretend that happened without a conscious purge. Suddenly, spontaneously, nobody who was at the right end of the political spectrum wanted to be a professor. Nothing suspicious here, move a long.

                      You wouldn’t conduct a purge yourself, oh, no, but you’re going to refuse to admit it when your own side does.

                      That’s all the zealots need from you, a blind eye, and you’ll give it to them.

                    3. “What do Muslim democracies elsewhere have to do with how they’ll act in America?”

                      “Don’t confuse me with evidence I don’t want to engage with!”

                    4. OK, Brett, you think American Muslims are stealth theocrats, and that there was a secret purge of conservatives in academia.

                      AND that anyone who notes that your evidence of both is nonexistent is an enabler.

                      That’s full-on conspiratorial thinking. Just keep on making up your alternate universe fan-fiction; anyone who tries to bring in reality is just in on it.

                    5. ” OK, Brett, you think American Muslims are stealth theocrats, and that there was a secret purge of conservatives in academia.”

                      Wrong, and wrong. Neither stealth nor secret.

                      Again, point out the majority Muslim democracy, if you want to claim that Islam is compatible with democracy. That’s evidence, even if you don’t like it, as to the nature of Islam.

                      And there’s nothing secret about the purge, people have been noting and complaining about it for decades.

                      Again, how do you get from academia being modestly left wing, to almost devoid of right wingers, without a purge? You think that happened naturally?

                2. Someone slept through September 11th.

  15. The list of signatories and letter kinda remind me of the people in my daughter’s neighborhood, with their cute little “Hate Has No Home Here” signs in the front yard.

    The same people that spend their meal times with their children and at the neighborhood BBQ, trying to one up each other about how stupid, evil, racist, homophobic and criminal Trump and all his voters are.

    I guess they don’t print; “Hate Is Welcome Here, Just Be Sure And Hate the Right People”.

    (At least they’ve stopped ranting about demanding more gun control lately and started quizzing me on what’s a good shottie for home defense.)

    1. Trump is a racist.

      His supporters embrace or appease bigotry.

      Why not tell children the truth?

      1. “Why not tell … the truth?”

        You go first. I won’t hold my breath though.

        Carry on clinger.

      2. Arthur, I discussed your suggestion about pain meds with my doctor today and came up with a non opiate strategy. Not great, but at least it helps a bit. Thanks for sharing.

        1. Suggestion about pain meds?

          1. He broke is leg, and is worried about opiate addiction.

            There was a pretty sweet bunch of people from all politics on a previous thread offering sympathy and advice.

            It’s an interesting note on how communities operate.

      3. The truth is not in you.

  16. This is great. The anti-“cancel culture” arguments get trotted out hypocritically by “libertarians” on this site pretty often. Now that the lights are turned on, they see that they are in the same room as a bunch of elitist, leftist millionaires, desperately trying to maintain their status as “loudest voice in the room” in the face of disagreement from a larger number of people.

    Because lets face it, that’s what has always been at stake here, not left/right politics, or someone actually being silenced. What’s actually at stake is that someone who gained power/wealth/respect doing something else, can’t transfer that power to prevent the masses from criticizing what they say.

    JK Rowling is upset that the billions she made from Harry Potter, doesn’t mean that her view is worth more than another’s. Tom Cotton and the people who fight for him are upset that being a US Senator doesn’t mean that his view is more worthy of being in the Times than anyone else.

    I hope it’s clear to everyone that the “anti cancel culture” thing is about rigging the marketplace of ideas so that the powerful control who speaks and who listens, not making sure everyone has access to ideas and speakers.

    1. Going from “let’s not destroy people’s lives over objectionable tweets” to “TEH ELITES WANT TO CONTROL WHAT U SAY” is the sort of subversive lunacy only a flaming Leftist could conjure. Good luck getting even a dumb conservative on board with your “hollywood elites want the same things as you” angle. lmao

      1. I know right, it’s hilarious.

  17. I see David Brooks and Michelle Goldberg have signed this. Figuratively speaking, of course, as NYT columnists, they were at the scene of the more notorious cancel crimes; i.e., the firing of James Bennett. Has either written a column on that?

    1. The answer is no. Only Bret Stephens dared to opine in the negative. Jennifer Senior is also a signatory. So only the older white columnists there, along with Boyle.

  18. “I hope it’s clear to everyone that the “anti cancel culture” thing is about rigging the marketplace of ideas so that the powerful control who speaks and who listens, not making sure everyone has access to ideas and speakers.”

    “cancel culture” only works if someone has enough persuasive power to convince other people to reject other viewpoints, and it is in no way unique to leftists. The right-wingers of America had no problems with it when it was being used to suppress criticism of Cheney’s management of the American government.

    1. Yes, because lots of people got thrown in jail for criticizing Cheney and none of them were ever heard from again.

      Do you ever read the bullshit you write?

  19. Ha ha throw in a little dig at President Trump, and the Volokh commentariat goes wild! Too bad there was no real criticism of the actual argument the letter was making. TDS definitely has its ADHD-like symptoms.

    1. Yeah, because without the ORANGE MAN BAD the letter was a good, if late and hypocritical, message. Duh?

  20. Translation: “we far-left lunatics have noticed that too many of our far-left lunatic allies have been getting banned, losing their jobs, publicly shamed… AND THAT’S NOT HOW THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO WORK! YOU’RE ONLY SUPPOSED TO HURT TRUMP SUPPORTERS! We hereby sign this love letter to ourselves and our allies to remind us all that ORANGE MAN BAD”

  21. The obligatory Trump slam won’t save these professors from eventually getting cancelled. They are getting in the way of progress.

  22. A tiny list of signatories to a statement intolerant of intolerance…

  23. “Seemed worth passing along:”

    Why?

  24. I note the inclusion of several prominent NYT writers, the influence of whom apparently isn’t enough to stanch the revolt of the woke staff. These writers, BTW, are all white. None of the three Black columnists signed up.

  25. “…Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy….right-wing demagogues are already exploiting….While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness…”

    Let’s see if these virtue-signalling phrases will immunize the signers of the statement from attack from the Left.

  26. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other. As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences. If we won’t defend the very thing on which our work depends, we shouldn’t expect the public or the state to defend it for us.

    You know, unlike the rest of the letter with gratuitous insults, this last paragraph does make sense. What is harder is to put this faithfully into practice. I will be especially interested to read in the coming months whether the signatories of this letter actually practice what they preach. I’ll be watching. Others will as well, I am certain. Will the signatories consistently assume good faith by those with whom they disagree? Time will tell. And we’ll read all about it. Will they be able to disagree without calling for ostracism and dire professional consequences? Time will tell, and we will read all about it.

    The record to date…is uneven. I welcome this letter. Now I will watch to see if it was just words on a paper, or a serious, heart-felt clarion call to action.

  27. “Men are not punished for their sins, but by them.” – Elbert Hubbard

    1. Sounds like all your claims it was all insincere don’t jibe with your current objection.

      (FWIW, I do think the withdrawals are a bad look and don’t say good things about the left. But attacking the letter remains a sign of poisonous partisanship).

      1. Maybe you can identify where I said the signatories were insincere? I think they’re sincerely afraid of cancel culture, and didn’t think they could risk criticizing it without throwing in some nominal “Republicans worse!” language.

        Well, the “Republicans worse!” language didn’t protect them, and they’re starting to back down.

      2. I’m sure they were all sincere, in their hopes that it would protect them from their monster. It’s apparent now that, at least some of, the signatories were only sincere insofar as they had faith in being shielded from the monster that they let loose.

        If they were really, truly sincere about protecting free speech and thought, the letter wouldn’t have needed the “orange man bad”-ism to communicate that.

  28. The mob doesn’t care about your impassioned pleas for freedom.

    The mob will punish you for your heresy.

    And your university will happily follow what the mob dictates.

    If you do not choose to kneel then you will be made to kneel.

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