Thursday, December 31, 2015

PC Denialism / Villifying Opponents of PC: Michael Roth Edition

   Well this is really terrible.
   It's difficult to believe that anyone could actually be so clueless about political correctness and opposition thereto. But dishonesty seems to be the only other possibility...  One way or another, it's shocking to see that the president of Wesleyan could write something so bad...not to mention publishing it...
   I'm not going to waste much time on this. Here's the main idea: PC good; opposition to PC bad. Roth spews out some half-baked and undefended hypotheses as if they were established fact:   
Alas, in 2016 I expect to see the bogeyman of political correctness circulate even more widely in academic circles and in national political discourse. On colleges and universities the idea of "political correctness" has an important function -- it pumps up the myth that our biggest problems stem from a lack of tolerance for ideas friendly to the status quo. When fraternity brothers are disturbed by changes to the ways they organize parties, they will continue to cry "political correctness." When middle-aged alumni of past college protests no longer see their own battles and slogans repeated by today's students, they will go on whining about pc culture undermining free speech.
   Quickly--because this doesn't deserve to occupy much of my time:
   First, no one has ever claimed that PC is "our biggest problem". That's a straw man. This could be called the "bigger problems exist" fallacy: someone puts their finger on a problem, you want to dismiss their concerns, but you can't think of any way to defend the claim that the problem isn't a problem...what do you do? Accuse them of claiming that the problem is our biggest problem. Because all problems but one--whatever our biggest problem actually is..and I have no idea what it would be...death? The looming threat of nihilism? Evil?--will fail to be our biggest one. So this fallacious defense can be used to deflect concern about almost every problem there is. Sneaky. Stupid and dishonest...but also sneaky. 
   Second, opposition to PC does not mean defending the status quo. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with defending the status quo. Some of it's good, some of it's bad. So some of it deserves to be defended and some doesn't. But pointing out the PCs are insane does not mean defending the status quo. It just means: rejecting one insane set of objections to the status quo. 
   Third, that bit about middle-aged alumni doesn't even deserve consideration. 
   Then there's this:
There just isn't any downside to attacking this imaginary monster of groupthink, so we can expect to hear speakers trumpeting their own courage in "not being pc" as they attack especially vulnerable groups in society.
   First, PC groupthink is in no way imaginary--again, only ignorance and/or dishonesty could explain someone believing that it is. Second, what we have there is yet another ad hominem: if you oppose PC, you must be doing to in order to seem courageous. What nonsense. Finally: there's a big downside to attacking PC on many campuses: you'll be mercilessly harassed and accused of bigotry. Your career might even be disrupted or ruined--ask Erika and Nicholas Christakis...
  The rest of the letter is just as bad, but I'm not going to waste time on it. The upshot is: PC doesn't exist. It's a "fantasy."  This, you'll note, coming from the president of a university at which the following occurred:
In September, sophomore Bryan Stascavage — a 30-year-old Iraq veteran and self-described “moderate conservative” — wrote an opinion column for the Wesleyan Argus, the student newspaper. In it, he criticized the Black Lives Matter movement — not the movement’s mission or motivations, but its tactics and messaging, particularly those of its more anti-cop fringe elements.
The essay was provocative, but it contained neither name-calling nor racial stereotypes (the usual hallmarks of collegiate column calumny). It was no more radical than the conservative commentary you might see on mainstream op-ed pages such as this one.
That didn’t stop all hell from breaking loose.
Within 24 hours of publication, students were stealing and reportedly destroying newspapers around campus. In a school cafe, a student screamed at Stascavage through tears, declaring that he had “stripped all agency away from her, made her feel like not a human anymore,” Stascavage told me in a phone interview. Over the following days, he said, others muttered “racist” under their breath as he passed by.The Argus’s editors published a groveling apology on the paper’s front page. They said they’d “failed the community” by publishing Stascavage’s op-ed without a counterpoint, and said that it “twist[ed] facts.” They promised to make the paper “a safe space for the student of color community.” This self-flagellation proved insufficient; students circulated a petition to defund the newspaper.
   Funding for the Argus was eventually cut in half.
   Did Dr. Roth not notice when this happened at his own university?
   So Roth is the president of a university at which students attempted to completely defund the student newspaper for running a politically incorrect op-ed...and they eventually succeeded in halving its funding. Yet he insists that PC groupthink is a fantasy...
   It's difficult to believe that ignorance is the explanation here...
   And that leaves dishonesty.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Edsall: Trump, Obama And The Assault On Political Correctness (and: What Is Political Correctness?)

This is ok.
   The comments are pretty lame, though. It seems as if nearly every other one is of the "Political correctness???  What does that even mean???" variety. This is a ploy usually used by liberals of the "no enemies on the left" variety. It's little more than a hollow gesture, a generic bit of semantic obfuscation. Trump and the other GOP candidates might use the term in an overly-expansive way in order to paint ordinary liberals with the same brush... But ignoring that, anyone who's honest and paying attention knows what political correctness is. Roughly and off the top of my head: it's the largely campus-and-internet-based movement that advocates illiberal leftist positions and policies--e.g. speech codes, "de-platforming" of insufficiently leftist speakers, harassment and shaming of dissenters, etc. It's characterized by its association with a cluster of bad ideas from Continental philosophy--postmodernism, post-structuralism, critical theory, etc.--and by its passion for inaccurate, quasi-technical terminology ("differently abled," "person of color," "microaggression," "de-platforming," etc.). Pretending that we don't know what 'political correctness' means is dishonest and futile. We can use the terms "campus left," "illiberal left," "regressive left," "social justice warriors," or whatever you like. But what we're talking about is the extremist leftist movement that showed up in the late '80's and early '90's, and that is back again now. When we talk about PCs, we're talking about the people who, for example, tried to stop Germaine Greer from speaking at Warwick because she (like well over 99% of the population) does not believe that "transwomen" are actually women. We're talking about the Princeton student shrieking about Halloween costumes, the Mizzou students and professors assaulting a photographer for entering their self-declared "safe space," the Wesleyan students who cut funding for the student paper after it ran a politically incorrect editorial... "I don't know what 'political correctness' means" is not an objection to anti-PC arguments, it's a profession of ignorance. Ignorance is usually excusable, and can be remedied by, for example, reading. The only real problem with the relevant professions is that they masquerade as objections. But "I don't know what x is" is not a reason for rejecting cogent arguments against x.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

No Justice For Tamir Rice?

To say the very least, it's very difficult for me to understand this decision. Same for Robby Soave.
I have nothing else to say about this right now that can be said in a civil manner.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Model View Culture: The Stupidest Site On The Web?

In fact, the home pages I've seen are even stupider than that old one...  Here's the actual link, if you don't mind giving them the clicks.
Here's a virtually incoherent article about how you should give your money to women.
If you know of anything stupider, please do let me know...but I doubt that you do.

"Give Your Money To Women"

This makes Anita Sarkeesian look like an amateur.

Can NYC Fine People $250,000 For "Misgendering" The "Transgendered"?

Well...Breitbart is typically full of looks like they might be right, according to the link they provide.
If this is right, it's insane. For one thing, it seems to say that you can be fined a quarter of a million dollars if you refuse to use the language incorrectly and call males 'she' or females 'he.' For another, the definition of 'gender' used in the commentary is completely, totally, entirely, unequivocally wrong.
I'm not going to waste any time on this right now, but I might come back to it later.
What utter madness.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

George Yancy Gives You The Gift Of You Being Racist

The same mistakes over and over and over again.
The tl;dr is:
[1] If we presuppose you are racist, then it follows that you are racist!
And, needless to say, there's also the quasi-Freudian auxiliary hypothesis that constitutes the pseudoscientific turn:
[2] If you deny this, then you are really racist.
Also if you deny this, then you're turning down a present! That's just bad manners, dude.

   Look, there's a serious discussion to be had more-or-less in this vicinity...but this isn't it. What we see over and over again is the mere assertion that everybody (white) is racist. I've known quite a few people--EVEN Z0MG SOME WHITE PEOPLE!!!--, however, who just weren't. Or, if they were, they did an amazing job of hiding it. Again: The automatic dismissal of disconfirming evidence is almost definitive of pseudoscience.
   I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this. Somebody on the internet is wrong. Stop the presses.
The thesis of universal necessary (white?) racism probably isn't true. It could be...but it probably isn't. Neither is the thesis of universal necessary (male?) sexism. Those claims are false. And it's also worth noting that they don't do anything to solve the relevant problems. Even if they did help, they'd be false...but, because so many people erroneously turn the factual question into a moral/political one, it might help to note that the thesis about imaginary racism doesn't help reduce actual racism.
   I will point out that part of the problem is a shifting and astonishingly broad conception of racism. Contra Yancy, being white and going to the store is not racist. It isn't racist to receive a bank loan without being racially discriminated against. What Yancy--and others--do here is basically expand the definition of 'racism' until--basically--merely being white counts as being racist. And you can't be right about a factual claim merely by adopting a more expansive definition.
   This isn't a matter of covering anything up, nor of refusing to feel bad, nor of turning down Yancy's "gift"...  This is just a matter of rejecting bad reasoning.
   There's a lot going on here that I really do think is worth discussing. For one thing, it's worth thinking about the urge so many people have to eagerly admit their alleged sinfulness... Personally, I think it's because some people think that it' stick up for your own interests. I used to be one of those people. But I got better. Now I recognize that what's important is being objective. That'll mean admitting error sometimes, sticking up for others sometimes, sticking up for yourself sometimes, and denying error sometimes. Erring in either direction is erring...
But I'm done with this one for now.
   Yancy fails to prove his case...and you can't make up for that with rhetorical tricks that suggest that we shouldn't be assessing claims, but rather accepting them uncritically. Imagine if a Christian had written something analogous asking us to accept Jesus, arguing that we already do so in our hearts, and setting things up rhetorically in a way that pretends that atheism is really further proof our deeply Christian nature... Nobody's going to fall for that nonsense...

Dickey and Rosenberg: How To Protect Gun Rights While Reducing The Toll Of Gun Violence

I'm not sure why the CDC needs to be involved in this...the DOJ, for example, collects and analyzes statistics...
I'm skeptical of the claim that violence (of any kind) should be categorized (primarily?) as a health problem... And I worry about the medicalization of everything... But none of these concerns are very clear in my mind, so I can't give them much weight. At any rate, past CDC politicization of the problem should be taken seriously, but needn't lead us to block all CDC involvement for all time. CDC research shouldn't be allowed to start with an anti-firearm goal/agenda...but it makes no sense to block any CDC research that might lead to more restrictions on guns.
Or so it seems to me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Obama To The PCs: Don't "Shut Up" Opposing Viewpoints

The reasoner-in-chief comes down on the PCs again.
Man Ifreaking love that guy.

Misandry Is All The Rage

This is gross.
But I'm not going to waste my time or yours tearing it apart.
Not gonna do it.
You think I am.
But I'm not.
I am TOTALLY not.
Though...y'know...I'll just point out a couple of things quickly:
   First, here are the current rules, so far as I can tell:
If a man says anything that can be construed by anybody--no matter how obviously ludicrous the interpretation--as in any way misogynistic, then he is a misogynist, jack. He's in the same category as overt, actual, intentional haters of women. Hell, he's in the same category as Ted Bundy...
   However...women can--in an overt, absolutely clear, intentional, fully-conscious way explicitly advocate hating men...and that is just dandy...
   Second, don't miss the exploitation of the bullshit generic attempt to persuasively redefine all types of bigotry so that only white males can be bigots. After a lot of cheerleading for anti-male sexism, the author of this piece of extreme crap briefly asserts that misandry isn't really hating men after all! It's hating something something structures of something something oppression something! And then it's back to advocating misandry...real misandry, that little bit of nonsense having been thrown out for the sake of plausible deniability...
I don't know how modern feminism can be so wrong about so many things...but, ab esse ad posse, it obviously can, because it is...
   Now, I don't worry about this a lot. The vanguard of contemporary feminism is deranged. They can shriek whatever they want to shriek until the cows...I mean...the non-sex-specific bovines...come home... But liberals are so good at double-standarding of this kind, that I just want to point out how disgusting it is in no uncertain terms. People wonder why people like me don't take contemporary feminism seriously anymore... Well, there's your answer. Exhibit A. Or, rather, Exhibit ZZZ'''(xxviii). If this piece of crap were some kind of outlier, that would be one thing... But, y' just isn't...

Monday, December 21, 2015

Putin Thinks Trumpo The Clown Is "Brilliant"

In return, Trumpo thinks that Putin is not a murderous tyrant.
What is there to say about this really?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Fighting Back Against Mass Shooters

   I've periodically tried to encourage people to at least reflect on the possibility that people in mass shooting situations must at least consider fighting back. If, for example, people in a Virginia Tech-type situation were to fight back, the expected death toll will be lower than if they didn't. This is not an indictment of any of the actual victims/survivors of any actual violent incident . It's to cite a specific type of example of relevant facts in order to help us think about future cases in a more realistic way.
  Conservatives have been generally more receptive to the arguments. Responses by liberals have, frankly, been embarrassingly irrational. I don't think this is caused by anything inherent in liberalism...but it sure is a noticeable thing. From liberals I've gotten the following responses:
* It is impossible to fight back against someone armed with a gun if you are unarmed
* Even if you have a gun yourself, you are more likely to simply kill more innocent people than you are to incapacitate the shooter
*  The idea of fighting back in such a situation is a "macho fantasy"
And, of course:
*  VICTIM-BLAMING!!!!!11111
  Liberals often accuse conservatives of having fantasies of heroism when the suggest fighting back. I think that's an interesting issue, but won't pursue it much here. In brief: what sane, good person does not have hero fantasies?  Well...more modestly: the conservative attitude is truer, more reasonable, more useful, more psychologically healthy, and more morally admirable than the leftward counsel/conviction of helplessness, which is reprehensible in almost all the relevant ways.
   Of course not all liberals believe the gospel of helplessness...but a lot of vocal ones do. This is not to indict all liberals, but to encourage the reasonable ones to correct an unreasonable doctrine that is currently fairly common among liberals. One way to start would be to explain why the fallacious responses above are fallacious... I'm going to go ahead and conclude that the responses are so obvious that I don't need to type them out.
   Incidentally, the 20/20 anti-firearms piece "If I Only Had A Gun" that I've complained about before is relevant here. The unstated conclusion of that piece is: it's impossible to defend yourself in a mass-shooting situation even if you yourself are armed. Just throw your gun away! It can only make things worse! You are likely to kill more people than if you just left the shooter alone and ran away! The only person you absolutely cannot kill is the shooter! Run away! Run away! Believe me--that is actually not an exaggeration... But, of course, if fighting back makes sense for those who are unarmed, then a fortiori it makes sense for those who are armed.
   Anyway. Glad that reason seems to be triumphing over ideology in this discussion.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

NPR: The Long, "Necessary" History of Whiny Black Protesters At College

This seems extremely slanted even by the standards of NPR.
   It actually got my attention for several paragraphs. I thought it was good, and it made some points unusually clearly with a few poignant examples...but then the spinning started. The authors note that even many older blacks think that the students are whiny and unreasonable...but that is dismissed with some dishonest rhetorical footwork. The bullying, freaking out and shrieking at faculty because they dared to suggest there are other ways of thinking about Halloween costumes, etc. are dismissed as "heavy-handed," and excused with a shrug and a mention of the protesters' relative youth. There's no mention of the interminable lists of absurd demands, nor of the attempts to suppress dissenting speech. In the end, this is just one, long, strained attempt to paint an irrational movement as rational. There seems to be no understanding that many of the alleged crimes often cited (white students saying that they don't see race, wanting to touch black students' hair, etc.) simply do not warrant the kind of anger and outrage that's often been displayed. And that's something that everybody is qualified to make a judgment about.
   Anyway. Perhaps there's a reasonable case to be made on the side of the PCs in general and black student protesters in particular...but even if so, this thing from NPR isn't it. Maybe there're more truth fragments in it than I give it credit for...but if so, you can't prove it by me.

The Student "Demands" Fad: Oberlin Edition

What? No pony????

Also: they really care about the jazz department.

(via Leiter Reports)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Trumpo The Clown Does Not Know What The Nuclear Triad Is

Drum's nomination for the worst answer of the most recent GOP debate.
I recorded it, but haven't watched it yet. These things have become so appalling and embarrassing that they're not even fun anymore. In fact, the thought of most of these people being anywhere near the Presidency is gut-wrenching.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

This Woman Has Something Important To Say About Donald Trump

Camille Paglia Contra Contemporary Feminism

I never agree with everything she says, but I think she's in the vicinity of the truth in a lot of that interview.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Slate: The Trans Women Who Say That Trans Women Aren't Women

And, of course, are right.
It's silly that either of these things has to be said, but:
(A) Everybody should be able to live their lives as they like, so long as they're not hurting anyone else.
(B) There are no values of x (none I know of, anyway) such that you become x in virtue of thinking that you are x.
(Note: thinking thing is, notoriously, the best candidate for an exception here... But I currently don't think that the Cogito is valid, so I currently don't think that's an exception either.)
Certainly man and woman are not categories that one falls under simply because one thinks one falls under them.
Will information like that in Goldberg's article pull the American left back from the precipice of insanity to which it has driven itself over these issue? Who knows? If it does it will be good...but also bad. Anyone who's waiting to hear from transgendered people about what they should believe about this are still making the fundamental mistake that drove them here: they think that certain groups have the power to make things so by fiat. And that is utterly insane. The left has gone so far in the direction of valorizing victims that it even wants to give them the magical power to control reality by decree... Speaking in theoretical terms, and not in terms of actual harm done: that is probably the most insane belief on either side of the political spectrum right now...
But of course most of what this is really all about is petty verbal kowtowing...  Which is better than the magical thesis...but still damn stupid.

Yale Prof Attacked by PCs for Halloween Email Will Stop Teaching; Husband Will Take Sabbatical

   Whelp, PC insanity, still out of hand.
   I continue to see liberals and lefties deny that it even exists. Sometimes the main assertions are basically: there's no such thing as PC! And it's worse on the right!
   Here's something I learned: if you would like to remain a liberal, I suggest that you not talk to liberals on the internet.
   Though the PCs are obviously nuts, their only real weapon is intimidation. Aside from efforts to silence disagreement by using Title IX (as in the Laura Kipnis case), what we've mostly seen from them is (a) moral indignation, false charges of bigotry, etc., and (b) a couple of fairly unconvincing gestures at physical intimidation. These are not the Brownshirts. Honestly... The fact that so few people are willing to stand up to these people is astonishingly disheartening. And, of course, it tells us something important about American liberalism that liberals are still defending the PCs. Though, as in the first PC outbreak in the '80's-'90's, I think what we're discovering is that many "liberals" are not actually liberals, but illiberal leftists themselves. Or perhaps we might say that liberalism itself is evolving in the PC direction, leaving its Enlightenment orientation behind. That would be unfortunate to say the very least.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Soft-Peddling PC: "It's A Wish For A Better Future"

   And worries concerns about stifling dissenting views are "code for racism."
   This is yet another in the genre pretend that illiberal PC extremism is just about being nice!
   Too bad we don't have a term for the opposite of a straw man--mischaracterizing a position by representing it as more modest than it actually is in order to make it more defensible...

Trumpo The Clown Says: Ban All Muslims

I'm trying out a new policy: If you can't post anything without cursing, Don't post anything at all...
So here's the goddamn link.

Monday, December 07, 2015

No More Male Feminists!

Well, if you insist...
   Here's my worn-out line on this: every movement has its kooks, and it's wrong to judge the whole movement on the basis of them. But in the case of feminism (a) the kooks are the vocal, influential vanguard of the movement; (b) egalitarian feminists rarely speak out against them; (c) the sane parts of feminism are now indistinguishable from ordinary liberalism. For these reasons I would no longer classify myself as a feminist. 
   Now, admittedly, much of this is because I'm in academia, where it's assumed to be obligatory to classify yourself as a feminist. So part of my not doing so is just my oppositional defiance disorder kicking up again. Or still. Whatever.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

A. C. Grayling: Whimpering Students Need To Grow Up Or Get Out Of University

Except for what I hope is a throw-away comment that the origins of PC were "honorable," I think this is right, unsurprisingly.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Everyone Who Has Ever Worked With Ted Cruz Despises Him

This comes as no real surprise to me.
There's just something wrong with that guy.
He's allegedly smart...but if that's true, you certainly can't tell it by reading what he says nor watching him on the teevee.
He's also on my punch list, FWIW...

[via Inside Carolina / the ZZL]

Thursday, December 03, 2015

How Many Mass Shootings Are There in the U.S.?

Mass shooting isn't a natural kind, so it's a bit tricky to figure out how to classify them.
I say this is a good, brief discussion.
The conception of mass shooting according to which there is more than one per day in the U.S. seems wrong to me.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Emeritus Yale Faculty Respond To PCs, Defend Free Speech and Freedom of Intellectual Expression

Finally, a forceful response to campus proto-totalitarians.

The Telegraph: PC Rules In America's Safe Spaces

Carolina 89-Maryland 81

Holy crap, that was a great game.
(Not even going to complain about the free throw shooting down the stretch...)

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Young Fogies: Catherine Rampell vs. PC

John McWhorter: Closed Minds On Campus

John McWhorter, extremely reasonable as usual.