Sunday, September 11, 2016

Jim Sleeper's Response to FIRE: Even Worse Than The Original Post

   Ok, Sleeper's post discussed here was really, really bad.
   FIRE responded, mentioned here.
   Then Sleeper responded even less rationally here. It's not really worth reading--in fact it's really, really not worth reading. It's mostly ad hominems about FIRE being conservative--false, of course, though it would be fine if true. I don't care who's defending freedom of thought and expression against the PCs and other would-be thought police. Hell, Dinesh freaking D'Souza of all people wrote one of the better exposes of PC lunacy back during the paleo-PC era. What matters is the quality of argument and the reasonableness of the position. Sleeper, however, apparently doesn't realize this. In addition to accusing FIRE of the unutterable sin of accepting funding from conservatives, he also accuses Lukianoff and company of playing a "conservative long game," being part of the right-wing noise machine, consorting with the likes of...prepare yourselves...Roger Kimball!...and so on. (Kimball's Tenured Radicals is also an anti-paleo-PC classic. The conservatives, rather predictably, were all over the paleo-PCs long before liberals woke up and smelled the bullshit.) So anyway, lots of guilt by association stuff. And in best PC fashion, Sleeper posts a picture of the staff at FIRE and notes that it's insufficiently "diverse." Really, you almost can't parody these people.
   Honestly, I ended up skimming most of it. It's a screed by an avowed PC partisan, not a serious, rational response to FIRE. The thing ends with a truly bizarre argumentum ad Gingrichum. Sleeper notes that Harvey Silvergate, founder of FIRE, like Lukianoff, has noted that FIRE is not conservative. (In fact, anyone who keeps up with FIRE knows that it's not conservative.) Sleeper notes that Silvergate credits the left--sometimes the far left--with doing its share to protect the freedom of speech. And that's when things get weirder...  Sleeper notes that Gingrich once explicitly credited the Democrats with ending segregation...but goes on to claim--providing no evidence--that Gingrich was really saying this in the service of pushing freer markets (a terrible, horrible thing, of coruse...) And, you see, this...somehow...shows that FIRE, by acknowledging contributions by the left, is doing something similar, "taking on the mantle of progressivism" in order to...well...then it descends into some nonsense about the comintern, and the "con-intern" and...well, borderline gibberish. Silvergate's claim that “We don’t care what you say. If you are penalized for it, we’re there,” turns out, according to Sleeper, to apparently be the proof that FIRE is conservative. So, to review: acknowledging contributions to both ends of the spectrum means that you're conservative, and saying that you're not conservative means that you're conservative. Also something something "free speech absolutism"...
   Just not good, and not worth a read. I might not even mention it if Sleeper hadn't e-mailed me about it--which I appreciate. But FIRE has won this exchange resoundingly thus far. So score one for the good guys.

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