Friday, February 03, 2017

Peter Beinart: Milo Yiannopoulos Tested Progressives--And They Failed (Also: Milo And Transgenderism)

   Beinart is right...but this should come as no surprise. (Damn I miss The New Republic... I don't suppose there will ever be another...)  Progressives failed a test that's crucial to liberals. Not to make too much of a shaky and perhaps merely verbal distinction, I hope. At any rate: if 'progressives' means liberal, then this is an important consistency ad hominem. If 'progressive' means left-of-liberal-but-not-quite-full-blown-PC-crazy, then, well, progressives don't care that they failed a test they don't care about. And liberals shouldn't be surprised. Progressives (see above) don't think free speech is important. They will be unfazed by Beinart's point.
   But...though it doesn't matter for Beinart's point...he seems to buy into and promote--though it seems to me perhaps half-heartedly--some bullshit about Milo. I don't care much about Yiannopoulos, though I tend to agree with him a lot, and I'm mostly glad he's out there doing what he's doing. "Progressives" assert that he's a racist...but (a) I've never heard him say anything racist, and (b) progressives say everybody is a racist. So...  Ditto "misogynist." Given his shtick, I have little doubt that he's crossed the line more than once. And figuring out how to think about's a whole big thing.
   However, as for this:
The second argument for preventing Yiannopoulos from speaking is that his ideas are more than merely offensive. His conduct at public events has constituted harassment. As a group of Berkeley professors detailed in a letter, Yiannopoulos, , projected a picture of a trans student onto a screen during his speech at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, last December—an event that was also live-streamed on Breitbart News. He “continued to ridicule and vilify her in front of the live campus audience and the online audience. The student was so disturbed by this experience that she withdrew from the university.”
Well, here's the thing: Milo was right. The student in question is male. He is not a woman. You know all my standard rants about this. About facts and biology and suchlike. One might not like the fact that Milo picked out an individual student and ridiculed him...and when the story is told in polite parts of the web, it's always spun to sound horrific. But the student became a public figure by insisting that he be admitted to the women's locker room. And he--of is own free will--became a party to the misuse of Title IX to do so. Milo showed a picture of him--and he was clearly a guy. The point is a true and important one: a patently false theory is being foisted onto the public, and the coercive power of the state is being used to force people to comply. It's a fantasy. It is not true. It's absurd. One can see much of its absurdity directly with one's own eyes--hence the picture was important. You can see that he is a guy. No matter how shrilly the left screams that black is white and night and day are social constructs, no matter how angrily it insists that it is morally obligatory to deny the plain facts before us, it doesn't make it so. All the pearl-clutching and pseudo-moral outrage in the world won't change that.
   So...though Beinart's point is: no matter how horrific Milo is, he should be allowed to speak...and, though I agree with's also worth pointing out that at least some of the things being cited in support of Milo's horrificality just don't stick. What he said is politically incorrect...but it's neither false nor wrong. When we eventually overcome the current madness, people looking back on this will shake their heads in disbelief. A guy who is saying look, uh...see how this person is a man? is being treated as some kind of criminal for just saying what anyone can see. Refusing to drink the kool-aid is verboten. The emperor walks down the street, and the one guy how is willing to say " realize that dude's buck nekkid, yeah?" is being treated as some kind of monster.
   So anyway.


Blogger Pete Mack said...

Yeah he's right about trans 'women', but singling out a particular student isn't called for in a public speech. I agree he should have been allowed in. And there's a right way to shut them down, too, when it's really necessary. Back in the day, when Shockley (Nobel prize winner in physics) tried to present his seriously crackpot racist theories in a speech at Dartmouth, the audience started applauding.... but then never stopped.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, I'm not sure about the thing about singling out the individual student. You're probably right about that.

1:10 PM  

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