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Clearly, This Is My Careerism Talking

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There are two rather obvious flaws Freddie deBoer’s critique of Elias Isquith. Here’s his first argument:

The dominance of personal branding and cultural signalling over political theory means that liberal attitudes change very rapidly and then congeal into a consensus that is supposedly so obviously correct that it does not need defending. In the past year, liberalism as an elite social phenomenon has abandoned first rights of the accused and second the right to free expression. The Jameis Winston and Woody Allen sexual assault cases saw the rise of resistance to any discussion whatsoever of due process and rights of the accused…

Omitted, of course, it a cite of a single liberal asserting that Woody Allen or Jameis Winston should be denied their full due process rights. The reason for this is that, however ambitious they might be, such liberals don’t exist. Liberals certainly have noted that the investigation into the charges against Winston was a disgraceful botch saturated with sexism and star-athlete privilege. But needless to say arguing that credible sexual assault accusations should be taken seriously by the authorities does not reflect “resistance to any discussion whatsoever of due process and rights of the accused.” Similarly, there are certainly liberals who believe that Dylan Farrow is more likely to be telling the truth than not. This position might be right, or it might be wrong. But either way, it doesn’t reflect any hostility to “due process and rights of the accused.” Private individuals making judgments about whether people are factually guilty of particular offenses is neither here nor there in terms of their belief in due process rights. When Matt Taibbi says that Goldman Sachs violated the law, he’s not coming out against due process even if the Department of Justice doesn’t charge them. “O.J. Simpson should be tried again for murder” reflects hostility to due process and the rights of the accused. “O.J. Simpson almost certainly killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman” does not. deBoer’s position to the contrary is so obviously absurd I don’t believe that even he believes it.

The second argument is similarly problematic:

Similarly, the Brandon Eich situation, and now the Donald Sterling fiasco, have prompted this social cohort to change liberalism such that its traditional staunch defense of free speech rights has become instead an assumed disgust with those who talk about free speech rights at all.

Omitted here is the cite to any major liberal political theorist arguing that free speech means that private individuals have the right to retain positions of immense privilege irrespective of what they say. Again, the reason for this omission is that they don’t exist. To reiterate, I agree that properly conceived “free speech” means more than simply protection against government sanction. It is equally obvious the this right cannot be absolute — if I suddenly decided that Sam Alito was actually right about everything, the American Prospect would not

be violating my free speech rights if it told me my freelance services would no longer be required. Applying free speech rights to the workplace requires attention to context, consideration of power relations, and so on. (deBoer, conversely, reflects the kind of arid formalism, innocent of power relations, that liberals are often accused of believing, sometimes accurately, sometimes not.) When an ordinary worker gets fired solely for expressing political views contrary to the views of their boss, this is problematic because in large the consequences of the sanction are so devastating. Trying to evaluate when somebody losing their job over political speech requires an analysis of contextual factors — the power of the person in question, whether they can fairly be said to speak for an organization, whether they have supervisory authority, the effect of losing a given position on one’s practical life choices, etc. Since a bright-line rule that “nobody can ever be fired for expressing political views under any circumstances” is obviously unworkable, it requires judgment.

We’ve been though this, but it strikes me as obvious that Eich and especially Sterling are both entirely easy cases. With Eich, the puzzle has always been who should have done anything differently; there wasn’t even any organized pressure from liberals that wouldn’t have presented any real threat to “free speech” in the first place, and if a board of a non-profit doesn’t want someone who contributed to a disgraceful campaign to strip people of their civil rights and stands by it years later to head the organization, I don’t see what the problem is. With Sterling, applying any reasonable criteria leads immediately to the conclusion that the NBA is well within its rights and not threatening free speech. In particular, let’s consider the issue of sanctions. Leaving aside the fine that to Sterling is the equivalent to about a hundredth of a cent to an ordinary person, what is Sterling’s punishment, exactly? He might be forced…to sell his team. Which will hand him a billion+ dollar profit in spite of his consistent ineptitude because of the lavishly taxpayer-subsidized cartel he bought into. If everyone who got fired for expressing a political view left with a billion-dollar golden parachute, I’d be happy to take a fully libertarian position and allow bosses to do what they wilt. (While I might disagree on the merits, I also don’t think a CEO being forced out for their support for abortion rights is a “free speech” issue, and that goes triple if it ends up in a massive windfall for the deposed CEO.) Anyway, the “free speech” argument against the NBA being able to do anything about having a team built primarily in the labor of African-Americans being owned by a racist slumlord is specious in the extreme.

It’s possible that everyone disagrees with Freddie about this because they’re arguing in bad faith chasing the massive dumptrucks of money driven up to the home of every liberal freelancer. But he may also wish to consider that people may disagree with him because his definitions of liberalism in this case are both unique and transparently untenable.

…if I may be permitted to highlight excellent comments Edroso style again, this from ReflectedSky is very well-put:

This decision was capitalism in action. Very wealthy men wanted to protect their economic interests and corporate brands. They did something they were able to do via the bylaws of the entity that they all, including Sterling, had agreed to when they bought into the league. What this has to do with liberalism is beyond me, unless liberals are expected to demand that highly skilled black men who have been directly insulted and shamed by their employer — who they do not have the freedom to elect to not work for, for the most part, for years to come — are required to swallow their rage and instruct their fans (many of whom are African American or other POC) to give this man who has insulted all of them their money. What would be the freedom argument in favor of that?

That doesn’t even begin address the reality of Sterling as a slum lord, and his other, non-speech related racist behavior.

He had freedom of speech. He exercised it. The players and fans also have freedom of speech. They exercised it. The men who own the teams made a market-based decision allowed by their legal organizing documents, to which Sterling was a voluntary participant. So the point here is?

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  • Cue Freddie showing up to blabber on without citations about how much LGM loves dancing on the graves of Muslim children in 3….2….1….

    It’s possible that everybody thinks Freddie is a moron because he they are all sellouts and he is the only true uncompromised moral voice on the left. Or it’s possible that he is, in fact, an idiot.

    • sharculese

      Freedsie DeBoer is an argument in search of an editor.

      • DrDick

        DeBoering is a troll in search of a bridge.

        • Calming Influence

          A metaphor pretending to be an analogy.

    • A transparently pissy, petty and resentful jerk who sees everyone’s success–Elias recently going from scratching along to a well-deserved regular gig at Salon–as a slight against him.

      He’s just a more pompous version of Comic Book Guy, but instead of “Worst. Episode. Ever.” he rants about those he declares the “Worst. Liberal. Blogger. Ever.”

      I’ve never once seen anyone link to anything that dude wrote except his every-six-months-or-so hit jobs on more successful young writers.

      • sharculese

        Corey robin continues to engage with him for reasons that escape me.

        • Well, there are reasons that haven’t escaped me. Robin seems to have calmed down a bit lately, but he’s engaged in some Greenwaldian disputes with people (myself included) where his “argument” was essentially purity trolling and factually incorrect ad homs.

          • sharculese

            Huh. Did not know that.

          • Ronan

            whether or not he’s better than GG et al I’m agnostic on, but what Ive seen of Isquith is not worth writing home about

        • IM

          He probably thinks he is a radical left-winger critesizing the liberal mainstream from the left, like e. g. Corey Robin.

          He isn’t. He is just Tartuffe.

      • BTW, Salon going from having Greenwald and Sirota to having Elias, Josh Eidelson and Jim Newell is a huge upgrade. Kudos to Salon.

        • ThrottleJockey

          You don’t like Greenwald? Really?

          • joe from Lowell

            Glenn Greenwald is a poor writer, who writes about one topic – the moral of superiority of himself and his close allies over the Obots – and treats important stories as mere evidence of his thesis.

            He may be an effective activist, but he’s a bad columnist.

          • witless chum

            I think Greenwald’s virtues overcome his flaws, but, boy, those are some flaws.

            • That’s about the size of it.

            • Ronan

              yeah but by extension boy those are some virtues

              seemingly to the point that he’s in the virtuos 1% ?

              • Ronan

                perhaps more likely that his flaws and virtues are overplayed

      • Manta

        Nowadays Salon is mostly a collection of click-baits.

        • And I thought I was the only one.

        • FlipYrWhig

          I thought this said “dick-baits” and figured, yeah, that’s about right.

      • Anonymous

        A transparently pissy, petty and resentful jerk

        sounds like Dhimmi from back in the day on Kos

        • I’m very fortunate to have the right friends, and the right enemies.

        • Theophrastus Bombastus von Hoenhenheim den Sidste

          Sounds like quite a few people at the GOS, IMHO.

    • Kevin

      He’s already accused Balloon Juice of that, so i won’t be shocked if he does (and i’m writing this before reading all comments).

      • He said this very thing about LGM (and myself in particular) yesterday on a facebook thread.

        • Kevin

          I can’t for the life of me remember a single post on this site, or on BJ, supporting drones, war in the mid east, anything really. Is his logic: You voted for Obama instead of Ron Paul, and Ron Paul was the only one who was against drones, and therefore you support drones and why do you hate brown babies?????”

          • asmallmoose

            Ron Paul only hates domestic brown babies, the choice is clear.

            • Of all those babies he delivered, I wonder how many were brown.

          • Basically. And calling out idiots like Connor Friedersdorf for saying people can’t vote Obama because of a single issue.

            • Scott Lemieux

              And calling out idiots like Connor Friedersdorf

              Well, what do you expect when you won’t stop attacking real leftists like Conor and Ron Paul?

          • rea

            Well, the attack is on commentors as opposed to front-page posters. And there are a couple of us–JFL and me, and maybe couple of others–who don’t think Obama’s use of drones is very problematic. Personally, I don’t see what happened to Anwar al-Awlaki as being more objectionable than what happened to Albert Sidney Johnston or Leonidas Polk. On the other hand, I think we should get out of Afghanistan.

      • The prophet Nostradumbass

        He as briefly a front pager there, and was essentially laughed off the blog.

        • IM

          by the commenters, mind. He really couldn’t complain about Cole.

    • Drew

      I will say that I like his most recent post though. But his leftier than though schtick is obnoxious. He’s gotten marginally less idiotic over the years.

      • Kevin

        I have difficulty reading him. Too much of it is “I’m better than you” or “you’re doing it wrong” or just simple resentment of people who are more popular than him. And it just bleeds out of every blog post he writes.

        • Drew

          This is true. His good points are very few and very far between. I’m only slightly younger than Freddie, by a couple of years, and I found his old blog just when I was becoming politically aware. I have since evolved from where he is though. Not that I’m better than him, just I don’t think the same way anymore. But I do have a high tolerance for reading b.s.

          • cpinva

            “But I do have a high tolerance for reading b.s.”

            as I’ve grown older, my tolerance for b.s. (written, oral or visual) has diminished considerably. perhaps it’s because I am of an age where my own mortality is staring back at me harder, or because I just don’t care to waste valuable minutes, minutes i’ll never recover, reading some dim bulbs drivel.

            • Drew

              I dunno, I enjoy it. Don’t know why.

              • Kevin

                I enjoy it in a train wreck kind of way, but then I never end up finishing most of his blog posts, because he is such a bad writer. It’s just words piled on top of each other, endlessly filling the page without saying anything other than “you aren’t doing it right”.

                Every blog post is the same basic idea – some liberal, in some way, is wrong. And it takes a few thousand words to get there. And it’s poorly argued with lots and lots of the feels.

    • cpinva

      i’ll take door# 2 alex, for $500. ding, ding, ding, ding!!!!!!!
      oh look, it’s the daily double!

      serially, this maroon is expecting to be awarded a PhD, for anything, by an actually accredited institution of “higher” learning? really, that says more about the institution, than it does about mr. deboer. let me guess; he realizes the academic market is a dry hole, so he’s shooting for a gig on fox?

  • asmallmoose

    Nice try Scott but Freddie knows you, he has seen into your soul. You are a hopeless opportunist left crying and impotent when faced with his withering purity. In the future people will speak of Frederik DeBoer in hushed, reverent tones. And really they should, because he… :climaxes:

  • You’ll notice that you didn’t even attempt to answer the basic question: how do you defend the rights of a CEO who is forced out because he supports a woman’s right to an abortion? Or a sports team owner who is frozen out because he supports a Palestinian state? Conservatives can use precisely the same arguments that you and your cohort are using to denigrate the very idea of a free expression, and they will. So what do you say when that happens?

    If you actually bothered to read the piece, instead of immediately going into the classic LGM “someone to my left has an opinion– release the hounds!” mode, you’d know that my concern is about treating even basic questions of where the line exists as tantamount to racism, which is what Isquith and others have done. You say, ” Applying free speech rights to the workplace requires attention to context, consideration of power relations, and so on.” That’s exactly what I want to do. But you can’t do that when you’ve reflexively sneered at the very question, which is what Isquith has done. And that is so enculturated among progressives now, the idea that having these conversations is itself worthy of contempt. That does not help you. Not in the long run.

    And now comes your pack of HUAC-quality “liberals” to talk about how Glenn Greenwald lives in Brazil and how Muslims don’t have rights. Enjoy getting frothy and righteous, gang.

    • Yep, that took about 2 seconds.

    • asmallmoose

      haha holy fuck, take a bow Erik, 3rd one in.

      • asmallmoose

        derp ninja’d

      • joe from Lowell

        Look at the time stamps.

        Erik’s comment, which took less than a minute to write, is 3:33.

        Freddie’s, which probably took 2-3 minutes, appears at 3:37.

        • asmallmoose

          Yea, did he even read it all before he flipped out?

          • sharculese

            Considering his primary charge is that Scott ignored something ge actually explicitly addressed? No. No he did not.

          • Malaclypse

            Let’s be fair – any mention of BONERS is likely to be mocking at this point. It is, shall we say, an internet tradition.

            • I believe the sound effect for mocking boners is a sad trombone.

          • DrDick

            More importantly, can he read it? A dubious proposition, if you ask me.

          • joe from Lowell

            I was referring to Erik’s small comment, not the OP.

            • asmallmoose

              I know but that popped up pretty shortly after it was posted.

        • tgm

          what do you think about the Neocons getting Helen Thomas fired for standing of to the Zionists?

          • asmallmoose

            yeah, joe? What do you think about this entirely random question?

            • somethingblue

              Well, perhaps not entirely random …

            • joe from Lowell

              I…uh…don’t?

          • joe from Lowell

            Like any red-blooded American, I…uh…haven’t given the episode a thought in several years.

      • Oh shit, I lol’d for real

    • asmallmoose

      Also, HUAC-quality liberals? Have you considered that you might be pre-overreacting?

      • Code Name Cain

        I, for one, am all for bringing zombie Joe McCarthy back so he can tell society what are acceptable views.

        I’ve already started digging at his grave and just need a little help with the resurrecting.

        • asmallmoose

          I know some Wiccans but I don’t think that’s really their deal. Maybe a vodoun priest?

          • ChrisTS

            Doesn’t the process have to started considerably earlier?

            • asmallmoose

              Sure, if you want a nice looking zombie, otherwise it’s pretty much whenever.

            • Sure, we should have attempted to revive his dead soul circa 1947, but I wasn’t alive then, so I accept no responsibility.

        • K488

          I hear Appleton is quite lovely this time of year…

        • Morbo

          They already have a robot version up and running.

    • djw

      The position that extremely privileged and powerful people should be robustly protected from any reputational costs or consequences stemming from speech could be characterized in a variety of ways, but I can’t see how any of them would be positioned to the left of the position Scott staked out here.

      • Yeah. How did the left get into this discussion? Who hates glenn greenwald for living in brazil? I got lost in the stream of unconsciousness.

        • I believe people have raised, at various points, that Glenn’s living in Brazil (along with his having a lot of privilege otherwise, as many of us do) means that he has less skin in the game wrt US elections thus is freer of the consequences of some of his “Ron Paul is a reasonable progressive choice” stuff.

          I’m not a fan of this line since while being able to live in Brazil with his partner does have some of the features appealed to, it’s also the case that he can’t easily live in the US with his partner because of still wildly discriminatory US policy.

          • Do we know that’s why?

            Greenwald has in the past said they were prevented from living in the US, suggesting it was because they’re a same-sex couple, and giving the impression of persecution. Of course it’s a huge, huge issue that we don’t have marriage equality, and that his partner wasn’t allowed to immigrate as might have been the case if he’d married a Brazilian woman. But, uh, they’re not married in Brazil. That shouldn’t prevent a same-sex couple from living together in the US if the non-American lives somewhere without same-sex unions. But Brazil has had unions for several years now, and marriage since last year,, yet Greenwald and his partner haven’t, to my knowledge, entered in to any of those arrangements. And after the DOMA case, that immigration rule was overturned anyway, so they don’t even need to be married.

            Not having marriage equality means his partner couldn’t get in to the US by a marriage visa. But it doesn’t prevent him from getting in by other means. He was unable–if they really actually tried–to get in via other means. Maybe that was entirely because he couldn’t meet any of the immigration standards, and didn’t have any family here for unification. But with Greenwald, I never accept anything he says at face value. His reasons for not living in the US but instead living in Brazil are, for me, unknown, regardless of what he says publicly.

            [Of course now he probably couldn’t get a US visa because of being a mule for Snowald.]

            • rea

              And my understanding is that same sex spouses or fiancees can now get visas on the same terms that apply to anyone else.

              • That’s only since last year, but yes, that’s what I was referring to wrt DOMA.

                • My reply seems to have gotten eated.

                  I agree that there’s some complexity but I also feel that, for many reasons, it’s worth giving some benefit of the doubt. Maybe Greenwald would have gotten married if it would have allowed them to immigrate easily to the US. It’s obviously moot now for a variety if reasons including them having built a life together in Brazil.

                  It just doesn’t seem like a good critique. Greenwald is a pretty easy target on a lot of fronts. No need to go here.

                • If Greenwald didn’t use it as a way to bolster his image of being the persecuted teller of hard truths I’d be more inclined to not even think about it. Sure, i don’t think it’s a strong case against him, that he lives in Brazil. But really, hasn’t Greenwald abused the benefit of the doubt thousands of times?

                  Also, knowing people who actually couldn’t get their same-sex partner in to the US, I’m both sympathetic on the issue, and even more unforgiving if Greenwald is shading the truth on it.

                • Hmm. Yeah, I hear you.

                  My impression is that he has mostly used it as a retort to people who claim he’s detached from the consequences of US politics.

                  Any which way, it doesn’t seem the biggest point against him. It’s certainly not his claim to fame.

                  Knowing people who just had their situation drastically changed for the better due to DOMA repeal, I’m also inclined to be sympathetic, but somehow not more unforgiving. In point of fact, for much of his relationship, he was denied a right granted to straights even if he wouldn’t have taken advantage of the right. That’s really enough.

                • Dana, you really make a lot of ad hominem arguments. Which really makes it easy to infer that your actual arguments are weak.

                  Try disagreeing with Greenwald on the merits. It might be more persuasive.

                • That you infer arguments, rather than follow implications, is not one bit surprising. Also, that you accusing me, without an example, of ad homs, is a nice bit of unintended irony.

                  Don’t go changing, Dilan, or developing self-awareness.

                • Wha?

                  Ok, is any arbitrary thread with Dana going to be an occasion for you, Dilan, to play out your beef? Getting old, fast.

                  I don’t see that Dana’s made any ad hom here. The no skin in the game argument does have a pure ad hom form, but I think it generally can be a reasonable part of a dialectic.

                • Since you can’t put more than one link in a comment without it requiring moderation, I’ll split up my response in complimenting Dilan for so responsibly assuming I’ve never engaged Greenwald on “the merits”

                • …much less having engaged him on the merits two...

                • …or three times.

                  Dilan, yes, you’re such a careful and responsible thinker.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Dilan Esper says:
                  May 4, 2014 at 8:45 pm
                  Dana, you really make a lot of ad hominem arguments. Which really makes it easy to infer that your actual arguments are weak.

                  Dilan Esper says:
                  September 9, 2013 at 1:12 pm
                  For people who love violence, it really is like a sexual thrill when we can push foreigners around. So there is always going to be some available excuse to push for war.

                • witless chum

                  Whatever the original reason was, I expect Greenwald would be signing of for a lot of official harassment if he came back to the U.S.

                • Maybe, maybe not. But his partner now almost certainly wouldn’t get in (and there may be a reason that already existed that meant he’d never get in that’s independent of SSM/DOMA stuff and independent of the Snowden stuff).

                  But Greenwald was citing this as his reason to not live in the US long before Snowden.

                • I don’t have a beef with Dana. He routinely calls me an idiot. In contrast I make arguments on the merits.

                  He has every right to call me an idiot,or to attack Glenn Greenwald for his sexual oorientation and residence. What I am simply pointing out is that these sorts of attacks are the province of people who don’t have better ones. Simply put, Dana doesn’t tend to say substantive things all the time, and his homophobic attack on Greenwald is a nice example of this.

                  As for Joe, I believe there is a lot of documentation that hawks do derive a thrill from bloodlust. That’s not an ad hominem at all.

                • sharculese

                  Simply put, Dana doesn’t tend to say substantive things all the time,

                  You say this all the time about Dana and it continues to be a fiction you invented.

                • He has every right to call me an idiot,or to attack Glenn Greenwald for his sexual oorientation…his homophobic attack on Greenwald…

                  Showing why I call you an idiot is one of the few times you’ve backed up an assertion with sound supporting evidence.

                • Guggenheim Swirly

                  attack Glenn Greenwald for his sexual oorientation

                  Which he did ….. um, where, exactly?

                • I don’t have a beef with Dana.

                  Then act like it!

                  He routinely calls me an idiot. In contrast I make arguments on the merits.

                  Er…Look, I’m not going to do a survey on this, but you have plenty of argument free comments and some of your comments contain really bad arguments that it would have been better for them to be free of such arguments. You are quite free with invective as well.

                  Now, esp. the latter, I don’t have much problem with this per se. They’re comments on the blog. But I don’t think they point to a fundamental distinction between you and Dana.

                  Oh, Dana publishes comments on campaign insider thinking that are highly informative and hard to come by. I don’t recall any comparable such valuable comments (e.g., on law) from you. FWIW.

                  He has every right to call me an idiot,or to attack Glenn Greenwald for his sexual oorientation and residence.

                  I’m really amazed that you would misread Dana’s comments in this grosteque way in a comment talking about how good you are and how lame he is. It’s rather shameful and you owe Dana an apology here.

          • Tyto

            Do I misremember, or was there also a problem with the no-fly list or other immigration particular?

        • sharculese

          Amanda Hess got Glenn Greenwald deported or whatever.

          • Lee Rudolph

            Why not Amanda Marcotte?

            • NewishLawyer

              Most deportations require the signatures of at least two Amandas so it was probably both of them.

              True facts.

              • Lee Rudolph

                You’re talking about a writ of Amandamus, right?

            • sharculese

              See BONERS, below.

              • NewishLawyer

                Yes, that is usually where they are.

                #couldntresist

        • djw

          Freddie views everything through the lens of his self-image as the One True Leftist beset on all sides by feckless, unprincipled, liberal-in-name-only centrists. His commitment to this worldview is only loosely connected to the particulars of any specific dispute, which makes it seem particularly jarring in cases like this, where he’s taking a fundamentally conservative position.

          Re: Greenwald, I do recall some people essentially saying that we should discount Greenwald’s views on American political matters because he doesn’t live here anymore in the comments here. I called it out as xenophobic, vulgar nationalism, and more people agreed with me than not.

          • I’m glad I’m not the only one who recalls that, especially because I don’t think this was the only blog where it happened.

          • As I do above, I agree that the critique is bad, but the variants I saw were more of the less skin in the game variety, fwiw.

    • Ian

      how do you defend the rights of a CEO who is forced out because he supports a woman’s right to an abortion?

      What rights are you talking about? The right to be CEO of a corporation that doesn’t share his views? This is sheer idiocy.

      • Tybalt

        It’s important to remember here that corporations can’t have views, because they don’t think. Directors have views, boards of them may share views, shareholders have views, managers have views, but corporations don’t. And who has the views and who is causing the corporation to act in such ways, and why, matters in these cases.

        • Ken

          Right. Corporations can have religious principles, but not views. Unless they’re spending money on political candidates, in which case money is speech promoting the views they don’t have.

          (I really have to stop trying to think like the Supreme Court. It’s going to give me a stroke.)

          • Warren Terra

            The advice of the Red Queen seems relevant. Especially as in much of the US, it’s likely Before Breakfast right now.

            • somethingblue

              Also a no-jam day. For non-corporate persons, at least.

    • joe from Lowell

      Conservatives can use precisely the same arguments that you and your cohort are using to denigrate the very idea of a free expression, and they will. So what do you say when that happens?

      I’ll argue the merits of their beliefs, and the wrongness of forcing people out because of those beliefs. The defenders of Donald Sterling are invited to do the same in the court of public opinion.

      • dh

        Shorter Freddie deBoer: Sure, the things these people said were bad. Sure, you could boycott their businesses and publicly shame them. I mean it’s not illegal in any way to do that, and has historically been shown to be an effective method to force change, but the principled and ideologically correct thing to do would be to accept the status quo.

        • Actually, I think most people here are missing the point. His reason for writing that had nothing to do with the arguments. It was that Elias got a gig at Salon. Had Elias written what DeBoer is arguing in that piece, DeBoer would probably have argued what he’s opposing today.

          • asmallmoose

            Why wouldn’t Salon hire Freddie? He’s got such a sunny and engaging personality

            • He’s more of a match for Pierre Omydar.

            • Kevin

              Actually, Freddy has been angling for a job with Gawker. His method is to post a comment on ever article.

              His problem is: he is a terrible writer and his “style” as it were, is only suited for guest blogging on Connor Feiieieifjeorfs blog (i ain’t going to check the spelling of that guys name)

              • ChrisTS

                Turgid and verbose. I cannot believe he is in a writing program.

                • Warren Terra

                  To be fair, surely the turgid and verbose are those most in need of a writing program?

                  DeBoer thought his ship had come in when he realized there were career opportunities in being a total assho|e on the internets. Shame he didn’t realize you have to be able to express yourself compellingly …

                • ChrisTS

                  @Warren: Well, yes, but the program does not seem to have worked for him.

              • tonycpsu

                Yeah, I’ve also noticed how often he shows up in the Dentonverse, which is funny, because there’s nothing more conservatarian than a content farm that pays its writing staff peanuts to write clickbait-y claptrap.

                • Kevin

                  My favourite moment from his gawker trolling was on Tom Scocca’s epic “Smarm” post. Where Freddy is the first comment, and he just writes the smarmiest bs you’ve ever read, perfectly illustrating Tom’s point. it’s a perfect distillation of his essence:

                • junker

                  I think your link got eaten.

                  I enjoy seeing him at Deadspin because in addition to his terrible track record on Politics, he also has a terrible track record on sports (like his famous “You will ALWAYS RUE the day you chose Derrick Rose over Michael Beasley, Chicago Bulls!” rant).

                • But has he ever done astrology or got in trouble with the SEC for his pump-and-dump business? If not, he’s not to Jerome Armstrong-level combo of being hilariously wrong and unethical in multiple areas of online activity.

                  But that he’s also wrong about sports does make me chuckle.

                • Kevin
                • Lee Rudolph

                  I just got to the end of the Smarm piece, having taken a break only long enough to fix the second cup of coffee and try to get some wax out of my ears. It’s amazing. It’s wonderful. It may be perfect.

    • tonycpsu

      As you very well know, Eich’s participation in Prop 8 had a direct negative effect on many of the employees he would be in charge of, something that isn’t true of either your pro-choice or Palestine examples. Eich’s political speech indicated a view that his own employees weren’t worthy of equal treatment under the law, and that is a perfectly fine reason to put public pressure on a company to change their CEO.

      Conversely, your hypothetical CEO who gets booted because he’s pro-choice is working to expand the rights of his employees, not take them away, and your hypothetical Palestine-supporting CEO’s views don’t really have any sort of direct impact on his employees except in vanishingly small corner cases.

      • tgm

        once the precedent has been set the Israel lobby will use it to silence their critics. it is very hard to oppose Zionism in the country with being accused of “anti-semitism”. the Israel lobby had massive amounts of money from Wall Street and thank to Citizens United they will now have even more power.

        • MAJeff

          Is that like Hobby Lobby?

          • sharculese

            The paint-by-numbers kit is the new of the Hobby Lobby.

        • asmallmoose

          You get accused of anti-antisemitism (nice scare quotes, btw) because you are an anti-semite. This is obvious to everyone but you it seems.

          • asmallmoose

            oh derp, just one anti on antisemitism

            • Manju

              I blame anti-anti-communism.

          • tgm

            would an “Anti-Semite” be a supporter of Norman Finkelstein

            • asmallmoose

              “But I like this Jewish guy?” Yeah, you still are. Stop with the scare quotes, it’s not helping you.

              • tgm

                Israelis are European colonialists Palestinians are genuine Semites, the real Anti-Semites are the state of Israel and it’s supporters.

                • cpinva

                  wrong again, bluto:

                  “Israelis are European colonialists Palestinians are genuine Semites, the real Anti-Semites are the state of Israel and it’s supporters.”

                  jews settled the land (mostly) known as Israel, some 1200-1500 years bce. they were pretty much forced out, in the first great diaspora, after the romans invaded, roughly 30 years bce. so, if anyone has the greater historical claim to the land, that would be the jews, not the Palestinians, who are wayyyyyyyy late comers.

                  having said all that, I will certainly grant that the british managed to screw just about everyone over in the middle-east, before they left town, including the modern Palestinians. so I do sympathize with their plight. the only real reason the arabs gave a rat’s ass about the Palestinians, is because they didn’t want them relocating/permanently settling in their countries.

                • Tybalt

                  Indeed; define the term to exclude Jews, and the most virulent Jew-hater is rinsed clean of his anti-semitism! It’s magic, I tell ya.

                • Manny Kant

                  Oh for God’s sake. I assume the Welsh are the rightful owners of England, too? For that matter, seeing as Latin was the primary language of North Africa in Roman times, mightn’t we argue that the Pieds-Noirs (French, Spanish, and Italian, primarily) were the rightful inhabitants of Algeria, and that the Arabs, who after all came only in the 7th Century AD, were interlopers? Why should anyone accept arguments about the “right” of Jews to Israel that we wouldn’t and don’t accept for any other ethnic group in the world?

                  The fact that one’s ancestors lived in a place two thousand years ago is absolutely unacceptable as an argument for why they should be allowed to settle in a place and expel the existing population. That’s not to say there weren’t legitimate arguments for a Jewish state in the Middle East in 1947, but that certainly is not one of them.

                • Warren Terra

                  You do realize that if you go out of your way to redefine “antisemite” so that it no longer means “hater of Jews”, in order to prove you’re not an antisemite, you’ve effectively proved you’re a hater of Jews, and by most people’s definition an antisemite? Don’t you realize that?

            • sharculese

              Congrats on having a black friend?

              • eventheHUACliberal sharculese

                You probably should have lead with this instead of the anti-semitic innuendo belowthread.

                Rookie mistake. You won’t make it next time.

                • Malaclypse

                  Yes he will.

                • asmallmoose

                  Yeah, he’s already brought up Finklestein elsewhere, that time after being called an antisemite too.

                • eventheHUACliberal sharculese

                  I’M TRYING TO GIVE HIM SOME POSITIVE ENCOURAGEMENT MAL! IT’S CALLED GOOD COACHING!

              • cpinva

                ” I assume the Welsh are the rightful owners of England, too?”

                no, geez, that would be the celts, or anglo-saxons, get your damn history right. see, that’s a problem with pretty much any claim to historical ownership: unless you go back to pre-human settlement times, there’s always going to be someone with a prior claim. in the case of the jews and Israel, it’s a pretty well documented prior claim. they didn’t leave of their own volition, they were forced out, at the point of a spear/sword. so their claim has a bit more legal authority behind it. kind of like the guy whose car is stolen, then sold to an innocent third party, the actual owner still gets the car back.

                • Pseudonym

                  Except for that part of the Bible that claims to document how the Jews took over Israel by ethnically cleansing the original inhabitants because G-d told them to.

                • Manny Kant

                  The Welsh are the Celts, surely? They were driven out of England by the Anglo-Saxons and forced back into Wales and Cornwall.

                  Anyway, I just don’t see how you can possibly believe what you are saying here. There is absolutely no legal basis for saying that you have a right to live in a place that your supposed ancestors lived in two thousand years earlier. That is not a recognized principle. It is not a thing in any way at all. It is a completely ad hoc argument that is allowed only to apply to just this one case.

                • witless chum

                  Plus, in the case of English and Welsh genetic studies have suggested it was mostly a matter of switching ruling classes and dominant cultures. The actual people are pretty hard to tell apart.

                  The idea that because some Jews were driven out of Palestine they get to return thousands of years later and take land from people who are probably descendents of their cousins who didn’t leave doesn’t make a damn bit of sense and no one would believe it for, say, the Navajos demanding to have part of northern Canada back.

                • Warren Terra

                  @witless
                  If the Navaho had just been subjected to a continent-wide industrialized genocide of unprecedented scale, following on two millennia of repeated outrages and slaughters, and Navaho spread across another continent were being rapidly dispossessed of their homes, there might be some resulting impetus to find a new home for them that might alter your calculations.

                • If the Navaho had just been subjected to a continent-wide industrialized genocide of unprecedented scale,

                  I think we can argue the points here without diminishing the genocide against any group.

                  It’s also a bit of a non sequitur wrt to the point at hand: Whether prior claims to land persist through large amounts of time. It’s perfectly possible that a Jewish nation state was a strong imperative at the time and that it doesn’t strengthen their land claims at all. (E.g., post-Holocaust Jewry may have been owed a homeland without them being owed *that* homeland.)

                • witless chum

                  It’s also a bit of a non sequitur wrt to the point at hand: Whether prior claims to land persist through large amounts of time. It’s perfectly possible that a Jewish nation state was a strong imperative at the time and that it doesn’t strengthen their land claims at all. (E.g., post-Holocaust Jewry may have been owed a homeland without them being owed *that* homeland.)

                  This, exactly. I can see why Jews wanted a nation state and I can see why the world community had some desire to give them one, but I can’t see why that made it okay to push the Palestinians out to give them that one on dubious historical grounds. The only reason it was considered okay to pick that area was because of the Bible’s nonsense being widely believed. Giving them a part of Germany as a Jewish state would have been less unjust, at least.

                • Manny Kant

                  They probably ought have been given that piece of East Prussia around Konigsberg/Kaliningrad that’s now an exclave of Russia. The Soviets were kicking the Germans out of it already anyway.

                  At any rate, obviously there’s a lot of reasons why, in 1947, the options were basically a Jewish state in Palestine or nowhere. The historical connection of the Jewish people to that region was why it became the focus of Zionism long before that, and there were already a large number of Jews who had immigrated there over the past 50 years. Looking at the situation at that point, there’s no obviously fair solution. But nothing is added to the Zionists’ case for a Jewish state by going on about how the Arab population were interlopers, or whatever.

                • Manny Kant

                  Also – my understanding is that genetically, Palestinian Arabs are pretty similar to Mizrahi Jews. So the English:Welsh::Palestinian Arabs:Jews analogy works pretty well, all things considered.

                • At any rate, obviously there’s a lot of reasons why, in 1947, the options were basically a Jewish state in Palestine or nowhere.

                  Sure, but that’s distinct from the historical claims having justificatory force, right?

                  But nothing is added to the Zionists’ case for a Jewish state by going on about how the Arab population were interlopers, or whatever.

                  Oh, right! We agree :)

                • Another Holocene Human

                  My Jewish and Bavarian wife strongly approves of partitioning a portion of Germany, preferably in Bavaria, as a Jewish state.

                  Where’s her family’s ‘right of return’?

            • Warren Terra

              I’ve listened to more Finkelstein than I care to recall, usually on Pacifica or similar outlets, and I’m no fan of Likud et al. I have a hard time imagining anyone but an antisemite being a fan of Finkelstein. All that vitriol for any concept of Israel and for American Jews, and that whiny, wheedling voice.

              • Jewish version of a seeing Clayton Bigsby?

                • Warren Terra

                  More of a Stepin Fetchit character. A member of the despised minority community who will conform to all negative stereotypes and will proclaim arguments acceptable to the racist members of the majority community.

        • DrDick

          Needs more Reichstag.

        • Tybalt

          I know that Brendan Eich and Donald Sterling have been effectively silenced through all this. Were it not for their views being trumpeted all over the U.S. media, thanks to this invidious campaign of silencing, I’d never have been able to hear their views at all.

          Monstrous.

          I’m sure The Infamous Israel Lobby will be lining up to similarly silence those with whom they disagree.

          • Warren Terra

            I feel especially badly for Sterling, left with no comfort to cling to save his billions of dollars of personal fortune (and, I suppose, his one NAACP Lifetime Achievement award).

        • Barry

          “once the precedent has been set the Israel lobby will use it to silence their critics. it is very hard to oppose Zionism in the country with being accused of “anti-semitism”. the Israel lobby had massive amounts of money from Wall Street and thank to Citizens United they will now have even more power.”

          Are you seriously trying to pull one past us, that they haven’t been doing that for decades, and regardless of what liberals do?

      • Este

        I don’t buy the line of argument about harming his employees. A pro-lifer could claim that being pro-choice hurts innocent children, which is even worse than harming employees; a Palestinian-American could claim that pro-Israel policies promote racism against Palestinians in America, or that his relatives in Palestine are harmed by them. I’d disagree with the pro-lifer and have some sympathy with the Palestinian, but that’s irrelevant–the whole point of free speech is that it’s protected regardless of the merits of the argument. Saying “no, but that can’t apply to me because I’m really actually right, unlike that other guy who only thinks he’s actually right” is deeply unconvincing and misses the point of free speech.

        I think the Eichs situation is defensible because (1) he’s a CEO, and CEOs don’t have the same scope of free speech as other employees because of their representative function, and (2) he resigned, not as the result of a coordinated pressure campaign by any organization, but because people just got mad and expressed it. Which they’re entitled to do, thanks to their free speech.

    • joe from Lowell

      And now comes your pack of HUAC-quality “liberals” to talk about how Glenn Greenwald lives in Brazil and how Muslims don’t have rights

      Yeah, nope. No one talking about Greenwald, no one saying Muslims don’t have rights.

      You aren’t nearly as good as Erik in predicting the responses of the commenters, are you?

      • Bruce Baugh

        I am boldly in favor of the rights of all Brazilian Muslims and condemn Freddie for his silence on their plight. Presumably he’s too busy planning marriages for Glenn Greenwald’s legion of body doubles.

        • asmallmoose

          How many body doubles could you possibly need? I would think three at most. Anything else is decadence and ignores the very real body double shortages in Yemen.

          • herr doktor bimler

            I think the first one is a body double, the second is a body triple, and so on.

            • dmsilev

              I’ve always wanted a body ground-rule double.

            • njorl

              Not if it’s a double for the first double.

              • herr doktor bimler

                Curiously, doubles of the second and third degree – doubles derived from another double, doubles derived from the double of a double – magnify the flaws of those of the first degree; fifth-degree doubles are almost identical; those of the ninth can be confused with those of the second; those of the eleventh show a purity of line that the originals do not possess. The progression is regular, and a twelfth-degree double is already in a state of deterioration.

                • dh

                  Worst pitch for a sequel to Multiplicity ever.

                • Pseudonym

                  Borges?

                • Manny Kant

                  Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius

      • ChrisTS

        Are we supposed to be against Muslims having rights or are we lamenting that they don’t have them?

        I need clarification so I can jump on the congealing and frothy consensus. (Ugh; that sounds nasty.)

        • asmallmoose

          The second one I believe.

        • dh

          I think he believes it’s the opposite of whatever position he has taken.

        • sharculese

          Defense of legality of drones plus Freddie’s trademark hyperbolic vitriol equals LGM hivemind opposes Muslim rights.

          • Lee Rudolph

            I prefer hypergolic vitriol. Try it, you might like it!

            • efgoldman

              I prefer hypergolic vitriol. Try it, you might like it!

              Does it come in mint-chocolate?

              • Hypergarlic vitriol for those of us who prefer savory to sweet.

          • joe from Lowell

            Ohhhhhh, is THAT what that meant? Got it.

            Very good, shark.

            I can do that with crazy shit libertarians write.

          • ChrisTS

            Ahh. There is almost something like a chain of reasoning there.

        • joe from Lowell

          I need clarification so I can jump on the congealing and frothy consensus.

          Robert! That’s gotta go into the banner rotation!

          I mean…look at it!

          • ChrisTS

            Wow. I would be honored!

    • ChrisTS

      the basic question: how do you defend the rights of a CEO who is forced out because he supports a woman’s right to an abortion? Or a sports team owner who is frozen out because he supports a Palestinian state? Conservatives can use precisely the same arguments that you and your cohort are using to denigrate the very idea of a free expression, and they will. So what do you say when that happens?

      Which rights need defending, here? We are not, I take it, speaking of legal rights, as no CEO has a legal right to a job when the owner has a superseding legal right to fire him and no team owner has a legal right to remain in a private organization that has the legal right to push her out.

      That we would be very unhappy if a CEO got forced out of a job for supporting reproductive rights or that a team owner got forced out of a sports body for supporting Palestinian rights is beside the point.

      Now, if you want to argue that no one should ever lose a job because of their expressed views or that sports groups like the NBA should not be able to force out members once admitted, I think it will take far more than liberalism to get you there.

      Furthermore, none of this has anything whatsoever to do with Woody Allen’s taking a beating in the court of public opinion. A merely metaphorical court, where ‘due process’ is not a pertinent concept.

      • To follow up, the primary unhappiness I think we’d experience is how that would be expressing a view we strongly disagree with. If there were chilling or other secondary effects, then that could be a concern as well. So, if contrary to fact but not to some people’s fantasy there were a homosexual lobby so powerful that they could force everyone, on pain of financial ruin, to affirm that they will glorify all gay marriages everywhere, then there’d be a problem.

        We so don’t have this problem.

        Now the ouster of a pro gay rights CEO is not the same as the ouster of an anti gay rights CEO because the stigma and discrimination of the respective groups is not the same. And, for that matter, denying human rights is not the same as affirming them.

        • ChrisTS

          Well said.

        • dh

          This makes sense if one wants their actions to be based on reality. deBoer is trying to ensure this hypothetical oppressive homosexual lobby never comes into existence. If you think about it, he’s just like Sarah Connor.

          • deBoer is….just like Sarah Connor.

            He’s going to marry the king of Westeros in a few years?

            • Manny Kant

              No, he’s going to marry James Cameron in a few years.

      • herr doktor bimler

        With his eagerness to defend the rights of CEOs to consequence-free behaviour, I imagine Freddy as a White Knight. In the Lewis Carroll sense.

      • IM

        Also: liberal-world was split in the middle regarding farrow/allen.

    • Lev

      OK, I’ll bite.

      The greatest strength and greatest flaw of liberalism is that it depends upon the power of reason: that people are persuadable, that you can appeal to their better angels, that they can respond to appeals to enlightened self-interest and so forth. This approach has some great successes in that past, but it’s also led to astonishing failures. It is for example one of Barack Obama’s bedrock principles, one which both helped elect him and led to the greatest disaster of his presidency, the first debt ceiling crisis. In this particular case, Freddie’s argument is that if we respect his set of free speech rules, the other side will be in some way compelled to respect them too when the shoe’s on the other foot. However, conservatives generally do not care about better angels and are perfectly willing to use fear and sophistry rather than reason. This is the second side of the double-sided sword. The scenarios he envisions strike me as irrelevant to the case at hand: I can see why he thinks that progressive martyrs can be better defended by people who argue they’ve consistently defended people regardless of their politics, but aside from Freddie himself I can’t imagine anyone who might actually be persuaded or care. It makes sense as a debating point but is wholly useless in the modern political environment, unless a person believes that conservatives forcing out a hypothetical pro-choice owner of the OK City Thunder would reconsider when deBoer-esque liberal pundits mention how much they defended Donald Sterling?

      • In this particular case, Freddie’s argument is that if we respect his set of free speech rules, the other side will be in some way compelled to respect them too when the shoe’s on the other foot.

        I don’t know that Freddie’s taking his argument there. I think what he’s saying is that if there is no formalist defense of free speech rights, then if a hypothetical CEO got bounced from his job because he’s pro-choice, or an NBA team owner got banned for being privately pro-Palestine, liberals couldn’t say anything about it because, per Freddie, they’ve abrogated free speech rights for execs/owners.

        To me Freddie is articulating not so much a way to get the right wing to finally respect liberals but a kind of Caesar’s wife problem: liberals must not only be the better option, politically and personally, but they must appear to be so.

        (Full disclosure: I think, though I’m not the right person to make it, that there should be a liberal formalist defense of free speech rights. I don’t think the Eich or Sterling cases are good jump-off points for it.)

        • ChrisTS

          Sure, there is a formalist defense of free speech rights – against the state.

          This de Boer person seems to be arguing that we should have free speech rights against public opinion, employers, and private organizations.

          I might like to see more robust protection of employees, but the rest of it is silly. I’m not even sure it is a liberal position. Rather, it seems to be a privileging of the first to speak position: Nasty bigot speaks and now no one can criticize him in public?

          • asmallmoose

            This de Boer person

            Is this really the first you’re hearing of him? How have you been so lucky?

            • ChrisTS

              Nah. I heard about him sometime back on LGM and saw the lovely take down at Tigerbeat. But, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by him.

              • ChrisTS

                In other words: I’ve been lucky because I refuse to acknowledge his existence.

                • asmallmoose

                  I read his blog a couple of years ago. Pretty much every post was him trying to start fights with people he saw as ideologically impure. It was pretty tedious.

                • sharculese

                  I wanna write a series of children’s books based on his blog. Title: The Li’lest Trot.

              • efgoldman

                He was a regular at the old Obsidian Wings blog, and used to show up from time to time at Balloon Juice. He was unreadable then, too.

                • He really is unreadable in every way. The prose is awful and the arguments worse.

                • eventheHUACliberal sharculese

                  Dear god, yes.

                  If his writing wasn’t mired in leaden pomposity his arguments would still be atrocious, but more people might pay attention to them.

                • ChrisTS

                  Like wading through a pond of self-righteous verbiage.

                • FMguru

                  He’s pretty much a less-charming version of Camille Paglia.

                • Warren Terra

                  I adored that time when he’d been given front-page privileges at Balloon Juice, and been encouraged to engage in reasoned debate with the commenting community (with some power to quash trolls implied), he would post these unreadable and indefensible screeds, would not respond to even the most polite of comments, and apparently would post elsewhere about how awful Balloon Juice was, and how his ideas weren’t given a fair chance at the site – at the same time that he had front-page priveleges there!

                  Mind you, the first I and I suspect many others there heard of him was then he was given front-page rights there. His complete failure to win over readers was achieved strictly on the (de-) merits of his posts there, for me and I suspect for others. I didn’t learn until later that he was already a longstanding and widespread internet punhline.

          • dh

            How would you even enforce these protections against public opinion without, y’know, violating the protesters rights to free speech? They always seem to gloss over this part.

            • Aimai

              I think the idea is that real leftists would be willing to shut up about Sterling and Eich for the sake of the country. Or something.

              • asmallmoose

                Real Leftists don’t criticize billionaires. Real Leftists only attack others on the left

                • IM

                  Real Leftists only attack others on the left

                  Ans so honor a cherished left-wing tradition

      • If in this book harsh words are spoken about some of the greatest among the intellectual leaders of mankind, my motive is not, I hope, the wish to belittle them. It springs rather from my conviction that, if our civilization is to survive, we must break with the habit of deference to great men. Great men may make great mistakes; and as the book tries to show, some of the greatest leaders of the past supported the perennial attack on freedom and reason. Their influence, too rarely challenged, continues to mislead those on whose defence civilization depends, and to divide them. The responsibility of this tragic and possibly fatal division becomes ours if we hesitate to be outspoken in our criticism of what admittedly is a part of our intellectual heritage. By reluctance to criticize some of it, we may help to destroy it all.

        The Open Society and Its Enemies, 1st Edition, Karl Popper

      • Scott Lemieux

        . It makes sense as a debating point but is wholly useless in the modern political environment, unless a person believes that conservatives forcing out a hypothetical pro-choice owner of the OK City Thunder would reconsider when deBoer-esque liberal pundits mention how much they defended Donald Sterling?

        This too. The idea that binding precedents will be created by the Sterling case is deeply strange. If Sterling kept his team it would do absolutely nothing to protect an ordinary worker fired for their political views.

        • Bruce Baugh

          And it’s not like it’s news that conservatives place no value whatsoever on precedent anymore, except as a weapon. They may accuse their enemies of disrespecting tradition and prior art and all, when it’s convenient and/or fun to do so, but they are never stopped by an awareness that they’re breaking these things themselves.

          Whenever the question is “What will conservatives do in the future if liberals do this now?”, the answer is “Whatever they want, backed by whatever lies they tell.” If anything, following Cleek’s Law, it’s a bit more likely that the existence of an attempt at liberal precedent will make them decide to do something else.

          All of Freddie knows, he just chooses not to act as though it matters.

          • Aimai

            This. One thousand times this.

    • You’ll notice that you didn’t even attempt to answer the basic question: how do you defend the rights of a CEO who is forced out because he supports a woman’s right to an abortion? Or a sports team owner who is frozen out because he supports a Palestinian state? Conservatives can use precisely the same arguments that you and your cohort are using to denigrate the very idea of a free expression, and they will. So what do you say when that happens?

      I would oppose it with…speech? Eg arguing that these are reasonable positions in our society that I share?

      I’m sorry, is there some sort of puzzle here?

      And Scott answered this in his post.

      I agree that we don’t have a formalist free speech defense here but that’s because we don’t think there is one or that one’s needed.

      • herr doktor bimler

        how do you defend the rights of a CEO who is forced out because he supports a woman’s right to an abortion?
        I can’t see any rights at risk in need of defense.

        • Aimai

          As I understand it under Freddie’s position Planned Parenthood was wrong to protest Karen Handel and the Susan G. Komen’s foundation position against it because…meanies?

        • Sure. But I’d still oppose those firings (I can easily imagine).

          • dh

            If there was public backlash over pro-choice comments I would defend this CEO because I believe it is the right opinion to have and I want public opinion to move towards the pro-choice side. I would argue the merits of the opinion, and that it is wrong to fire someone over this opinion. I would not argue that businesses never have the right to fire a CEO over public comments.

            If there was no public backlash over pro-choice comments, I would argue since there is no financial threat to the business, they are firing this CEO for purely political reasons. Again, I would not argue that businesses never have the right to fire a CEO over public comments.

            • Yep.

              It’s interesting to consider professors and pundits. Ideally, the former have academic freedom (and duties!) which requires rather robust free speech. Even there, you will have trouble getting tenure if you profess noxious opinions. And you’ll have trouble with advancement after tenure if you are sufficiently unpopular. But profs have typically far less power and runumeration than CEOs.

              But too, the mission of most universities is the pursuit of knowledge. Allowing wide latitude for dissent and exploration is a key part of that in a way that it’s not for a CEO.

            • junker

              That is what this really comes down to – Eich and Sterling’s defenders are (mostly) people who agree with their views but don’t want to come out and say that, and so it has instead morphed into a much less defensible position, i.e. “no one should ever be fired for political views ever.”

              Then this has been picked up by people like deBoer as a free speech thing, because he wants to prove how much more committed he is than you.

      • tgm

        the Zionists claim the anyone who cares about Israels oppression of the Palestinian people is just as bad as Hitler. they think that anyone who opposes the agenda of Wall Street funded groups like AIPAC is a bigot who should not be welcome in polite society. Americans shouldn’t have to pledge allegiance to the flag of Israel.

        • asmallmoose

          When I was growing up we pledged allegiance to a picture of Ronald Reagan. What kind of Commie symp school did you go to?

        • DrDick

          Needs more Kirch und Kinder.

    • Scott Lemieux

      You’ll notice that you didn’t even attempt to answer the basic question: how do you defend the rights of a CEO who is forced out because he supports a woman’s right to an abortion? Or a sports team owner who is frozen out because he supports a Palestinian state? Conservatives can use precisely the same arguments that you and your cohort are using to denigrate the very idea of a free expression, and they will. So what do you say when that happens?

      Um, I did — I don’t think a CEO being forced out because they support abortion rights and this is inconsistent with the mission of the organization presents a free speech issue. You may not like the answer, but there we are.


      someone to my left

      Assumes facts not in evidence.

      • Manju

        I don’t think a CEO being forced out because they support abortion rights and this is inconsistent with the mission of the organization presents a free speech issue.

        After this, speaking from my Libertarian side now, you will always be the scott in my scotus.

        • asmallmoose

          …you’re the Scott in my scotus, the Flow in my flotus, the invisible hand that helps me soar…

    • Spark

      Most of the commenters may not know that you’re cribbing from Carl Schmitt here, but some of us do. Come up with some original material, Freddie.

    • Tybalt

      By the way, Freddie, that’s quite the assemblage of Folks To Our Left you’ve assembled over there in your comment thread, nodding vigorously. My favorite is the guy with the Breitbart avatar who denounces Isquith for wearing a beard.

    • Pseudonym

      A business leader’s right to [consequence-]free speech loses its immunity from on-the-job repercussions when he uses that speech to express discriminatory attitudes about his employees. At that point employees have a right to push back, and us HUAC-quality liberals have a right to support them.

      There is no chance that you’ll bother to read any answers to your basic question, much less respond to them, so don’t be surprised when we mock your pose of martyrdom.

  • Bill in Section 147

    Liberals, as described by the bore, do not exist. Yet these non-corporeal beings are able to move the levers of power and turn the gears of government.

    Also problems, as described by the bore, do not exist. At least if the traditional definitions of the words used are not ignored.

    It is necessary to mention here, that Jimmy Carter was weak and yet still managed in in four short years to enable everything that is wrong with America, consolidate the power of the intellectual elite and drive the limousine of freedom off the cliff.

  • herr doktor bimler

    there wasn’t even any organized pressure from liberals that wouldn’t have presented any real threat to “free speech” in the first place

    Too many negatives?

    • N__B

      Is such a thing not impossible?

      • ChrisTS

        Is not such a thing not impossible?

        • Keanu__B

          Whoa.

          • ChrisTS

            Au contraire: giddyup!

  • Steve S.

    Why are you wasting our time with this? Don;t you have some Ralph Nader snark to publish? Don’t forget, we can’t achieve social justice until you snark Ralph Nader 9 billion times.

    • need a nym

      No, social justice will only be achieved if we admit Gore and Bush are the same and that Gore would have had the U.S. in Iraq.

    • sharculese

      So you are angry both when Scott does and does not talk about st. Ralph?

    • Scott Lemieux

      Of all our trolls, my favorites are the ones who think that this blog is a prime mover of American politics, so by writing about topic x we’re diverting our energies from transformative social change. This guy will have to pick it up if he wants to reach the level of the guy who used to send Erik and I 10 tweets a day holding us personally responsible for the election of Chris Christie.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        nothing like tweeting to demonstrate commitment to a cause

      • asmallmoose

        So, Farley is responsible for Rand Paul, it all makes sense now…

      • pzerzan

        When you and Erik reveal yourselves to be the real rulers of the US, can I be named proconsul of Hawaii?

        • How about Commissioner of Dead Horses? That’s where the real power is at.

          • Malaclypse

            Official Ale Taster?

            • Overseer of the Hops!

            • Aimai

              I don’t think you want to be Official Ale Taster when the blog owner is obssessed with dead horses. If you see what I mean.

              • herr doktor bimler

                Dead horses are not listed in the Reinheitsgebot as a legitimate ingredient for beer, but no-one would mind if you include them in the Scrumpy.

              • Warren Terra

                Since we’re talking questionable beer, I just want to point out that one virtue of dead horses is that they make no horse piss.

          • pzerzan

            I will make sure you get all the photos you want, provided I get to spend my winters in a warm climate…

          • asmallmoose

            Is this Commissioner of Making More Dead Horses? Because I hate those fuckers and I have a pretty nifty uniform I think would work well.

        • Macarthur

          Shirley you mean American Samoa.

          • Malaclypse

            How is your sister Douglas doing?

            • BP in MN

              I thought the sister was Hirohito.

          • Ambassador Duke

            Whatever you do, do not stop for hitchhikers anywhere near Barstow.

      • Back in the day, at DKos, we would often ironically quote one of the more flamboyant and erratic personalities at the site: I have blogged, and I have blogged hard.

        • taylormattd

          Ha. I’m pretty sure Jake had that as his sig line for a while.

          • Heh, now that you mention it, I think he did.

            I know for a fact we’ve said it over beers at the Big Hunt in DC.

      • Tybalt

        my favorites are the ones who think that this blog is a prime mover of American politics

        If it makes a difference, Scott, this blog is a prime mover of American politics in my office. In Canada. In which only I sit. Still, it’s a kind of influence.

      • “This guy will have to pick it up if he wants to reach the level of the guy who used to send Erik and I 10 tweets a day holding us personally responsible for the election of Chris Christie.”

        That was a truly special time.

    • DrDick

      Why are you wasting your time on this instead of wanking off to your own reflection?

      • He’s got to take a break from wanking at some point. I mean, my god man, he’s not a machine!

  • Nobdy

    A) Due process means launching an investigation, not ignoring a rape. You rarely hear liberals become enraged over investigations that don’t lead to charges unless those investigations appear to be woefully inadequate, and liberals don’t get upset at verdicts any more than conservatives do (which is to say that of course they were upset about Zimmerman being found innocent, but conservatives would have been enraged if he were found guilty.) Due process doesn’t just apply to the accused, it applies to victims too. For another example of this see lynchings. Victims were denied their due process by racist cops and juries, and liberals HATED that, even way back then.

    B) Liberal outrage had nothing to do with Eich or Sterling. They were both PR moves by powerful organizations with a lot to lose. Nobody cares what Salon.com thinks about someone’s prejudice or statements. They care if people threaten to stop watching basketball, or the players threaten to stop playing. Sterling made himself a COMMERCIAL liability, not a moral one, and the other owners are going to kick him out because he’s bad for business. This is not about the liberal commentariat. If liberal outrage could move the needle then the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson wouldn’t be sitting as pretty as they are.

    • efgoldman

      Nobody cares what Salon.com thinks about someone’s prejudice or statements.

      Or for that matter, what LGM bloggers or commenters think.

      They care if people threaten to stop watching basketball, or the players threaten to stop playing. Sterling made himself a COMMERCIAL liability

      This, exactly. When Sterling’s commercial sponsors bailed within 24 hours, that was the tell.

      • Tybalt

        But that’s just it. A robust liberalism requires us to TAKE ACTION AGAINST companies who demonstrate concern about their products being linked to racism. EQUAL TIME FOR LESTER MADDOX!

  • The dominance of personal branding and cultural signalling over political theory means that liberal attitudes change very rapidly and then congeal into a consensus that is supposedly so obviously correct that it does not need defending. In the past year, liberalism as an elite social phenomenon has abandoned first rights of the accused and second the right to free expression.

    Translation: liberals refuse to replace “words have meanings” with “cultural signalling” and therefore insist that you can’t mean “rights of the accused” to mean whatever’s rhetorically useful at the moment.

  • Ian

    [BONERS]

    Not exactly relevant, but I’d hate for anyone on the Internet to have missed it.

    • asmallmoose

      See, this kind of LGM McCarthyism is distracting from the real issue at hand, which is that Freddie is always right and everyone else is wrong.

    • junker

      I was going to post that. As far as I’m concerned the dude lost all credibility on that day.

      • DrDick

        Did he actually ever have any to lose?

        • Aimai

          That TigerBeatDown post is one of the greats. I’d forgotten about it but it is truly righteous. I’m kind of amazed he didn’t just evaporate in a (limp, flaccid) puff of smoke after that.

    • So awesome.

    • ChrisTS

      I remember that. A thing of beauty. Thanks for the reminder.

    • sharculese

      its never the wrong time to mention BONERS as long as his behavior remains consistent with BONERS.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      wow. there’s a good example of someone thinking the little box for comments needed to be filled and being really, really wrong about it

    • The one thing I wish is that Sady had preserved the original text from all those [BONERS] comments, so that some time later we could read Freddie’s impotent squalling and giggle.

    • taylormattd

      hahahahaha!

    • Robert M.

      …words fail me. I don’t know who Sady Doyle is, but she’s going on my RSS feed right the hell now.

      • Robert M.

        D’oh. No new posts since last year. )c:

        • asmallmoose

          She’s at inthesetimes now I think.

          • pseudalicious

            Rookie Mag, iirc.

  • joe from Lowell

    OT: the Naomi Wolf “Federal Crackdown on Occupy” theory is showing its head again on the GOS diary list.

    These people are like Republicans: having their case refuted just makes them that much more determined to believe it.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Well, it certainly couldn’t have been our benevolent local overlords. No police department has ever exercised arbitrary violence without being personally ordered to do so by a Democratic president.

      • LBJ ordered the police attacks at the siege of Chicago? It all begins to make sense…

      • joe from Lowell

        Dumbest thing on the internet today: someone wrote in their comment “The idea that the cities were working independently is a conspiracy theory!”

        What is this, I can’t even….

        • asmallmoose

          “No, your theory is a conspiracy!” to which they later added “neener”

  • joe from Lowell

    The Jameis Winston and Woody Allen sexual assault cases saw the rise of resistance to any discussion whatsoever of due process and rights of the accused…

    Uh, yeah, remember how there wasn’t any disagreement about Woody Allen, and how nobody brought up issues like due process?

    • Nobdy

      To be fair, liberals did haul him away and put him in jail where he remains, unable to see a lawyer or his family. They DID do that, right? They didn’t just have a whinyy conversation about whether they would still watch his movies or whether he should get awards, right? Because I don’t remember there being a due process that you could invoke to protect yourself from whiny conversations about you.

      • joe from Lowell

        To be fair, liberals did haul him away and put him in jail where he remains, unable to see a lawyer or his family. They DID do that, right?

        That’s just how we roll.

        They didn’t just have a whinyy conversation about whether they would still watch his movies or whether he should get awards, right?

        Of course not – that would suggest there was some sort of dissent or internal disagreement, as opposed to usual conformity to a single lock-step line.

      • ChrisTS

        Ah, but you clearly labor under a cribbed and illiberal conception of ‘due process.’ A truly liberal conception of due process would extend it to popular blogs, comment threads, and – indeed – private living room conversations.

        Also: who the hell is Isquith?

        • asmallmoose

          Jeez, I’ve denied a lot of people due process over the years.

          • ChrisTS

            Repent, and ye may yet be saved.

            • So we’ve just thrown away the principle of political predestination?

              • ChrisTS

                Gotta get the suckers in the door somehow.

                • “Lose weight! After death! Exciting new diet!”

                • Lee Rudolph

                  It is, as I understand it, incumbent upon the elect to relieve the reprobate of whatever worldly goods they may temporarily possess.

                • Newt Gingirch has been trying to do that for several decades.

        • He wrote for Balloon Juice a while back, if I remember correctly, and got a lot of the same rhetorical criticism Freddie did. (I could be wrong, but I think both got hit hard for formalist arguments and other similar problems in their views of modern American liberalism.) Seems Isquith took it to heart.

          • ChrisTS

            Ah, thanks.

  • shah8

    Wait just one second…

    I squat on the Jameis Winston topic because the (more conservative, white) feminist *do* try to imply that Winston was guilty, and he was unjustly and leniently let off for rape. People are encouraged to think that “we know he did it” without ever actually looking at what evidence there actually is. You get NYTimes articles with college sexual assault advisors talking about how Winston may not have raped *this* girl she knows, but trust me, he was brutal to this young woman I know. And the deep sort of unprofessionalism was widely prevalent from the start, like with that reporter who tried to upstage aftermath of the big game by trying to grill a guy on a completely inappropriate venue.

    Because peeps, black quarterbacks explicitly do NOT have privilege in the way Woody Allen does, or Roman Polanski. We wouldn’t have been making crab jokes at Winston’s expense otherwise. In fact, the *better* the black quarterback is, the *less* privilege he gets. All high profile sports players have a lot of privilege on campus, and as a result, a great deal of sexual assault goes on, unreported. I mean, forget Taylor Lewan, do you really think Mettenberger got kicked off from the UGA squad *merely* because he groped someone while drinking too much? Fortunately, Mettenberger had a mom in high places, and he could slink off to Butler CC and then LSU. Star athletes are *never* kicked off teams, particularly in the South without very serious character issues. Therefore, the vast majority of cases that reach the media are pretty damned open and shut, and it should make people slow down just a bit when the evidence against Winston is so scanty and contradictory. A lot of people who are pressing that assumption of guilt are very much relying on the racism of white people to prejudge Winston, regardless of his actual guilt or innocence, racism that is very easily tapped wrt any minorities in highly visible positions of authority. The fact that FSU and Tallahassee PD didn’t do a good job, doesn’t change this essential dynamic. Because, you know, police in general don’t do a good job on rape and familial violence issues–this goes way beyond any idea that Winston was privileged…

    • shah8

      This is not to agree with Freddy DeBoer, and the original inclusion of Winston sez quite a bit about what Freddie is. And in actually reading it, Lemeiux takes an unnecessarily generous reading of what DeBoer wrote. And I’m 100% behind Elias Isquith’s post. Free Speech libertarianism is wrong, and this wrongness was push waaaay beyond the usual defense of race baiting etc, etc, into a kind of “boys will be boys” defense and you shall respect that billionaire’s authoritah!

    • Tybalt

      I squat on the Jameis Winston topic

      Not only that, you saw that move right through to its logical conclusion.

      • shah8

        Yeah, pet peeves do that to you…

    • need a nym

      We wouldn’t have been making crab jokes at Winston’s expense otherwise.

      You think that no sports fans would be making fun of a non-black athlete for shoplifting crabs. What fucking planet do you live on where that’s true?

      • shah8

        Sure, we laugh hard at the foibles of all athletes…

        However, have you ever noticed just how extreme, or how petty, it could be, specifically for black quarterbacks? And not just for ha-ha funny stuff, or just stupid things like shoplifting crab, but with a pretty strong focus on humiliation and degradation?

        • Jay B.

          Bret Farve’s penis disagrees with your premise.

  • Manta

    I don’t follow sport news, but wasn’t Sterling guilty not simply of expressing racist views in private, but of actual discrimination (and had to pay quite a hefty fine for it)?
    If so, what does his removal have to do with freedom of speech or freedom of opinion?

    • The discrimination issue with Sterling was in housing, but if the NBA banned him for that, they kind of forgot about it for a good eight years – the case against him was brought (and settled? Maybe?) in 2006.

      • efgoldman

        Sterling agreed to a consent judgement, and paid a hefty fine, specifically without a finding of guilt. And it was a civil action.
        If David Stern (commissioner at the time) had wanted to do something, which he probably didn’t, Sterling, known as one litigious sumbitch, would have dragged the league into court and the case might still be tied up.
        As it is, he’s probably going to take the league to court anyway. The prostate cancer (if it exists) might get him before a forced sale goes through.

  • djw

    A third flaw–the practical logic he’s advancing, encapsulated in the title. He seems to be arguing there’s a causal chain between the fate of Sterling and Eich and the outcome of the great controversy of the pro-Palestinian CEO of 2015 or whatever. The implied premise appears to be that in some alternative universe identical to ours in every other way, in which Eich and Sterling’s critics self-censored in order to protect these men from any and all reputational consequences, and as a result they were subsequently permitted to retain their positions, the wingnuts in that universe would refrain from to get some liberal CEO fired out of gratitude, respect and reciprocity. This doesn’t seem particularly plausible to me; I’d be fascinated to See Freddie spell out why he believes it to be true.

    • sharculese

      In all fairness its not like we have any evidence American conservatives hold traditional norms of behavior in contempt.

    • djw

      Lev makes this point above; I missed it the first time through.

  • ReflectedSky

    I need to come back and read this thread more carefully when I’ve gotten more sleep, but has no one pointed out that the primary reason Sterling was removed was because all the play-off teams had gotten together and told Silver they were prepared to strike for the rest of the play-offs?

    This decision was capitalism in action. Very wealthy men wanted to protect their economic interests and corporate brands. They did something they were able to do via the bylaws of the entity that they all, including Sterling, had agreed to when they bought into the league. What this has to do with liberalism is beyond me, unless liberals are expected to demand that highly skilled black men who have been directly insulted and shamed by their employer — who they do not have the freedom to elect to not work for, for the most part, for years to come — are required to swallow their rage and instruct their fans (many of whom are African American or other POC) to give this man who has insulted all of them their money. What would be the freedom argument in favor of that?

    That doesn’t even begin address the reality of Sterling as a slum lord, and his other, non-speech related racist behavior.

    He had freedom of speech. He exercised it. The players and fans also have freedom of speech. They exercised it. The men who own the teams made a market-based decision allowed by their legal organizing documents, to which Sterling was a voluntary participant. So the point here is?

    • sharculese

      Supportingstriking workers? Not poncey enough. That’s bad liberalism.

      • “Poncey” is a woefully underused word.

      • I’ve been advised to be wary of poncey schemes.

    • dh

      My take is deBoer is arguing people may not like it but they shouldn’t be doing anything about it. He thinks the players striking would be wrong on principle. Public speech should have no consequences. You can write in your papers opinion page why you think so-and-so is wrong, but that is the limit.

      • Aimai

        Matt Bruenig (?) just had a great column about how upset people got with him for calling out Megan McCardle or David Brooks by name, for stuff they had written about their own lives because it was so very mean and personal of him. He points out that McCardle and Brooks both argue from the personal anecdote all the time–using and smearing the good names and lives of “poor women,” “divorced women,” “working poor mother’s of three children” etc..etc..etc… but somehow when you attack an entire class or race or gender from up high that’s not personal, that’s not mean, that’s not humiliating. Only a certain kind and class of people are entitled to have their grievances and humiliations addressed publicly, and with sympathy. The rest of the world has to shut up and take it. I see deBoer’s argument for the billionaires as being of this kind. Weep! Weep! my children! for the sorrow of the lonely and the burning of the billionaires.

        • dh

          It’s like we don’t even recognize their money and position makes them superior to us.

        • Macarthur

          If workers do not defend the rights and the privacy of wealthy privileged people, then who will?

      • Tybalt

        “My take is deBoer is arguing people may not like it but they shouldn’t be doing anything about it.”

        Right, but of course no one’s done anything. Or rather, those who have done something are a group of (mostly millionaire) workers who decided to strike and a group of (mostly billionaire) capitalists who decided to respect the strike and kick Mr. Dumbass out of their cartel.

        The rest of it has been a bunch of name-calling; very cathartic, but not rising to the level of political action. Yet somehow, this is all happening because of The Left and its insufficient devotion to the political purity of Freddie DeBoer.

        I’m willing to be persuaded, I think, but I do not get it.

    • Scott Lemieux

      This decision was capitalism in action. Very wealthy men wanted to protect their economic interests and corporate brands. They did something they were able to do via the bylaws of the entity that they all, including Sterling, had agreed to when they bought into the league. What this has to do with liberalism is beyond me, unless liberals are expected to demand that highly skilled black men who have been directly insulted and shamed by their employer — who they do not have the freedom to elect to not work for, for the most part, for years to come — are required to swallow their rage and instruct their fans (many of whom are African American or other POC) to give this man who has insulted all of them their money. What would be the freedom argument in favor of that?

      Why do you insist on attacking the people to your left, who think that NBA franchises are an absolute right, like a feudal title?

      • ReflectedSky

        I was so excited that you had replied to me, and so tired, that for moment I thought you were actually scolding me. (It’s a little intimidating commenting here.)

        • Scott Lemieux

          Now that you’ve been celebrated in the OP, feel free to relax. :)

    • Sly

      So the point here is?

      That when a liberal CEO is fired for saying some liberal stuff, liberals everywhere ought to be shamed into complying with the firing out of deference to an pointless procedural argument instead of supporting said CEO on the merits of his or her stated position.

      And if we do not feel this shame, that only demonstrates how inconsistent we are in adhering to the deeply cherished beliefs that we never adhered to in the first place.

      • The CEO is a very weird hill to die on. I can sorta see thinking that the highly paid pundit is in a sort of quasi public/academic position if you ignore history and reality or have a institutional analysis which if it were good would point to public subsidies of journalism, maybe. I think that’s wrong but there is a free exchange of ideas rationale

        But…CEOs? Putting aside the tremendous direct power they wield, they are accorded a general status that’s just freaking ridiculous.

        Now, all that power and status is an excellent reason to be concern about fair representation of marginalized groups. But I think the idea that this status might be contingent on eg a certain circumspection is hardly a massive assault on free speech. Why, next thing you know people won’t vote for a politician because of views they held when young!

  • booferama

    I’m just reiterating Scott here, but can we take an extra moment to bask in the shallowness of de Boer’s argument? Not a single quote, not a single citation–simply a series of generalizations easily demonstrated as false or overheated. That’s especially ironic given the fact that de Boer studies and teaches rhetoric. In terms of his (lack of) evidence, his post reminds me of nothing so much as a first-year college student’s first argumentative essay.

    • Kevin

      Let’s be honest, Freddy knows as well as you do his flaws in the argument. He is just trying to get blog hits, because very few people know who he is, or that he started a new blog. A good blog feud is the way to go, so the worse his argument, the more likely a more popular blog reacts to it.

  • The deBoer Method:

    * Stake out a position, ideally an aggressively contrarian one.
    * Preemptively declare your position to be to the left of all others, and also the most formally coherent.
    * Continue to insist that everyone is too afraid to address your central point, regardless of how many of your critics have already done so.
    * Declare victory.

    I’m not a big fan of the word “mansplain” but I think Freddie’s face is next to it in the dictionary of the future. Everything the guy writes is oozing with self-satisfaction. The dude’s named his balls “Theory” and his ding-dong “Praxis”. Every time he goes to take a leak it’s a radical inversion of bourgeois values.

    • asmallmoose

      Jeez, all those steps to declare victory? No wonder the left is so hopeless.

      • Manju

        Right. Proper method:

        1. Prance around on an Aircraft Carrier with your Cojones hanging out.

        2. Declare Victory.

        • 3: Cite DW-Nominate as the basis of your victory.

          FTFY, Manju.

        • asmallmoose

          Cojones out on an aircraft carrier is about as American as it gets.

          • Warren Terra

            There was an episode of the John Oliver / Andy Zaltzman podcast The Bugle that discussed their having heard about The Most American Event Ever. I believe it took place in New York Harbor and involved hitting baseballs off the deck of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, to be recovered by beer-swilling people riding jet-skis.

            • Manju

              This sounds like Universal Fun…indeed the endpoint of Fun’s evolution. Francis Fukuyama may yet be proven correct.

      • Manju

        People forget…this actually happened:

        1. Release your long-form
        2. Watch Ta-Nehisi Coates have a sad
        3. Invite Donald Trump to the White House Correspondence Dinner
        4. Make him your bitch (please excuse the prison talk)
        5. Kill Osama Bin Laden
        6. Watch entire RWing have a Sad
        7. Declare Victory

        You liberals should revel in this more.

    • Kevin

      Freddie was ripped for mansplaining some feminists once. Pretty funny, by the end, he was begging them to stop ripping him.

      He also wrote a lovely blog post against gay people, because they weren’t flaming and militant enough for him. Essentially, the gays were doing it wrong (you know, fighting for rights. he missed the militant queers he invented in his head).

    • Scott Lemieux

      Where would you like your internets delivered, sir?

      • Back the truck up to Freddie’s house and leave it there so he can find a whole new internet full of people to feel superior to.

        I’m a philanthropist, see.

    • Aimai

      How did I miss this post from Stepped Pyramids? Why did the huzzahs not ring forth? Here, have a Huzzah! You deserver it.

  • tgm

    people like Woddy Allen and Roman Polanski can molest children and get away with it because they have lots of power and friends in government. this type of person cannot be trusted

    • asmallmoose

      haha, you just don’t know when to quit. What type of person tgm? What type of person is this? Can you elaborate?

      • The T is probably for Teutonic.

        • IM

          could you please leave us out of that?

          • Not all Teutons are anti-Semites. It’s just like not all Jews are money-grubbing-drinking-the-blood-of-Christian-babies Christ killers.

      • Pseudonym

        Rootless cosmopolitans? International bankers?

        • asmallmoose

          Internationalist bankers. I think he had another euphemism too, but I’m not going to go look for it.

          • Pseudonym

            I’m just amazed that anyone in the year 2014 could invoke the phrase “rootless cosmopolitans” unironically. I’d call Poe but the anti-semitism is just too random and offensive to make a decently funny joke.

            • Nah, this is some guy doing a “look, I’m a leftist! and an antisemite, like all leftists!” bit. “Rootless cosmopolitans” is a huge tell.

              • asmallmoose

                If so it’s been a pretty impressive performance. The other day he must have listed the names of, like, 30 rich jews. This could all be copypasta from somewhere though.

            • I met my wife on Match. After I first emailed her, she searched Match for the term “rooted cosmopolitan.” The only two people of the tens of thousands of people on Match who used that term were the two of us. I’d used it somewhat ironically, before I found out from her that Anthony Appiah had used the term and developed a concept around it.

              I guess we were fated to be together or something.

      • Malaclypse

        What type of person is this?

        Couldn’t be these dudes. They’re not rootless cosmopolitans.

      • T. Paine

        Starts with a “J,” I suspect.

    • sharculese

      is this k?

      • Malaclypse

        No, we have a shiny new troll. This one hates Jews.

        • KmCO

          To be fair, most of our other trolls probably do too.

    • DrDick

      DAmn! Did somebody shut down Stormfront today?

  • Pseudonym

    deBoer may pretend that the only issue in question is the free speech rights of Eich and Sterling, but what about the freedom of speech and freedom of association of Mozilla’s board and employees, or of NBA players and fans? The efforts to oust those two leaders didn’t originate from the left, not even the not-as-left-as-thou HUAC liberals. Is the idea that good little serfs have to keep their heads down and not speak up if their boss makes it clear that they are less than human? Does Freddie want good leftists to shout down the concerns of the less powerful so that racist or homophobic bosses aren’t bothered?

  • Dr Ronnie James, DO

    So, just so we’re clear: Sterling owning a team for 30 years while being openly known as a racist shitheel is…a credit to the NBA now?

    • need a nym

      It’s not, but the NBA had one commissioner for that period of time (David Stern). The current commissioner, Adam Silver, has been on the job for all of three months.

  • Downpuppy

    Meanwhile, doctors get canned for writing old fashioned letters to the editor.

    Granted, do-rag & bike helmet could be a firing offense, but not in Oregon.

    • Manta

      I hope the executives get canned.

  • dh

    We’ve been ignoring the most important question of all. Does any type of compensation come with being part of LGM’s pack of HUAC-quality “liberals”? I’m new to commenting here, do I have to sign anything to join?

    • asmallmoose

      As long as you have always been at war with Nader you should be set

    • IM

      No extra pay. It is part of your Soros checks.

      • Ken

        But how can I be expected to survive on just $32,500 a month? You have to factor in cost of living. Why, the $390,000 a year in Soros checks makes me barely lower-middle class, for this area.

        • IM

          True, all liberals are bicoastal elites and so we have factor in the higher living costs there.

          On the other hand aren’t you bicoastal elites supposed to be good with money?

          • Lee Rudolph

            It appears possible, if not likely, that sometime in the next couple of years we will be leaving the small town on the south-facing coast of Massachusetts where we have lived and gardened since 1969, and moving to an actual city somewhere on (or near) the east-facing coast of Massachusetts. As part of our preparations, we have been winding down our gardening; in particular, this year it seems unlikely that we will be planting any of our usual fall crops, like turnips and rutabagas (the kale self-sows, so it will persist).

            Yes, it’s true: when all is said and done, we will truly have become bi-coastal rootless cosmopolitans.

  • ns

    As more reports have come out, its become pretty clear what principle Silver acted on in the Sterling affair: that the commissioner must protect the commercial interests of the league above all. Whatever his personal feelings on what Sterling said, or how it was made public, once the players threatened to strike during (one of the best) playoffs, Sterling’s fate was sealed.

    So the league, as represented by Silver, did not act as an ideological enforcer, per se. I guess liberals feel complacent about the situation because they see conservatives as a permanently weakened force, that won’t be able to muster the same outrage as liberals over cultural issues going forward. But I sincerely doubt that’s the case, and the next time conservatives manage to get the Smithsonian to censor itself[1], I wonder if liberals will be content to say, “well, bro, congress does control the public purse”

    https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech-lgbt-rights/censorship-smithsonian

    • Again, what prevents us from arguing that congress should not use the public purse in that way? I mean, aside from a non sequitur.

      • American political debate is polluted with an obsession with legitimacy — that it’s not sufficient to argue that your position is preferable to others, but that it’s formally and provably superior. I think it comes from centuries of Founder-idolatry.

    • dh

      Since this would be the federal government acting, invoking the First Amendment would not be out of place.

  • Captain Blicero

    Why do you guy’s reward Freddie’s attention-seeking posts?

    There are like 12 people who read and take him seriously. None of them matter. And even if they did, none of them would be swayed by reason.

    You and Corey Robin and…I think Sully’s linked to him are the oxygen to his flame. What good ever comes of responding to his borderline troll material? Other than entertaining comment threads of course.

    • Captain Blicero

      Ugh accidental possessive instead of plural in my first sentence. Do you even English bro?

    • asmallmoose

      His freakout up-thread was pretty funny. Cool thread too. idk though otherwise.

      • eventheHUACliberal sharculese

        Yeah, baiting Freddie is sort of the lefty blog equivalent of tossing the ball around to warm up, but I don’t feel bad about it because he’s just so fucking nasty.

        • eventheHUACliberal sharculese

          As I said upthread, I do not get why CR links him, although I totally get why Sully would; it’s exactly the mixture of sententious and contrarian that gets his motor running.

          • As far as I can tell, Sully and de Boer share a basic belief that what the left should be doing is criticizing the left, especially objecting to the left achieving and using power of any sort. A tiny, exquisitely perfected left seems to be both of their goals.

            • asmallmoose

              Who would be in this Left? De Boer, Matt Stoller, Sirota, Greenwald… Pretty much all dudes I would imagine.

              • Worst. Boy band. EVER!

                • Biggest hit: “I left you at the alter (I’m too left for your)”

                  From their short lived country period.

                • asmallmoose

                  I would say that De Boer is the moody one but they pretty much all are.

            • IM

              The left should criticize the left.

              But I doubt he is taking a left-wing position here.

              • asmallmoose

                I don’t think anyone disagrees with this tho. The problem is when you decide that all the left should do is criticize the left.

        • Captain Blicero

          I just don’t like the idea of feeding his ego. The implication that he’s worth responding too. Oh and feeding his martyr complex. I just disagree on strategy. The takedowns are always amusing and spot on, it just seems like it validates his sense of persecution (in his mind).

          • asmallmoose

            But being ignored wouldn’t? If he’s predisposed to feeling persecuted he’ll do it either way

          • herr doktor bimler

            I just don’t like the idea of feeding his ego… Oh and feeding his martyr complex.

            I can relate to that, but I am loath to change the habit of a lifetime — i.e. making fun of stupid things people say — just because it might make some silly person happy.
            What’s the worst thing that can happen? Freddy sees all the attention, his ego and his martyr complex are fed, and he is encouraged to blog more and say more stupid things? If that should happen, I can live with the responsibility.

    • There’s also that Charlie somethingorother guy, who has a blog and has been communications director for Code Pink. That means he’s a very serious, reputable source, you know…

    • Tybalt

      He is funny!

    • Warren Terra

      Sometimes when you’re a little bit bored, and you see that ome gibbering buffoon has once again presented their backsides to you for the booting, you will find that you yield to temptation and derive a crude pleasure from delivering a carefully aimed boot to the aforementioned posterior, with some feeling. And, to unpack the metaphor a bit, if you find yourself do be a blogger, and delivering your well-shod foot in the form of a blog post, other people known as “commenters” may opt to join in the general merriment, sending their own brickbats in the buffoon’s general direction.

      • ChrisTS

        Exactly. Furthermore, for those such as myself who are utterly unaware of this clown, these posts teach me about something going on in la-la land.

  • r

    It is very unclear to me that John Stuart Mill–a canonical ‘liberal political theorist’ if ever there was one–would agree with your treatment of the Eich case. For instance, you acknowledge that liberal theorists like Mill can be concerned with more than just legal sanctions, but you write:

    “With Eich, the puzzle has always been who should have done anything differently; there wasn’t even any organized pressure from liberals that wouldn’t have presented any real threat to “free speech” in the first place, and if a board of a non-profit doesn’t want someone who contributed to a disgraceful campaign to strip people of their civil rights and stands by it years later to head the organization, I don’t see what the problem is.”

    Your rhetoric is hard to square with Millian values. The fact that the campaign Eich donated to is ‘disgraceful’ or its particular political content aimed at stripping people of their civil rights is just neither here nor there. A representative pair of quotes from “On Liberty:”

    “First: the opinion which it is attempted to suppress by authority may possibly be true. Those who desire to suppress it, of course deny its truth; but they are not infallible. They have no authority to decide the question for all mankind, and exclude every other person from the means of judging. To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty.”

    “Strange it is, that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free discussion, but object to their being “pushed to an extreme;” not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case.”

    It’s clear that Mill intends all his arguments to apply to ‘disgraceful’ views as much as any other. As far as I can tell, the most natural reading of Mill, and his endorsement of the harm principle, is that society and the law are only entitled to interfere with a person’s employment when that person is not able to do their job–ideological considerations are to be kept entirely separate. I mean, there may be another reading–it’s been a while since I’ve read the texts, and I didn’t go through them again just to write this post. But I’d want to see the citations.

    So: I find it frustrating that you keep asserting that it’s some open and shut case even from the perspective of liberal political philosophy. Last time I was a department party with liberal political philosophers, and Eich was still in the news, I brought up the case with them; they did not seem to think that it was open and shut.

    • Mill:

      We have a right, also, in various ways, to act upon our unfavourable opinion of any one, not to the oppression of his individuality, but in the exercise of ours. We are not bound, for example, to seek his society; we have a right to avoid it (though not to parade the avoidance), for we have a right to choose the society most acceptable to us. We have a right, and it may be our duty, to caution others against him, if we think his example or conversation likely to have a pernicious effect on those with whom he associates. We may give others a preference over him in optional good offices, except those which tend to his improvement. In these various modes a person may suffer very severe penalties at the hands of others, for faults which directly concern only himself; but he suffers these penalties only in so far as they are the natural, and, as it were, the spontaneous consequences of the faults themselves, not because they are purposely inflicted on him for the sake of punishment. A person who shows rashness, obstinacy, self-conceit—who cannot live within moderate means—who cannot restrain himself from hurtful indulgences—who pursues animal pleasures at the expense of those of feeling and intellect—must expect to be lowered in the opinion of others, and to have a less share of their favourable sentiments; but of this he has no right to complain, unless he has merited their favour by special excellence in his social relations, and has thus established a title to their good offices, which is not affected by his demerits towards himself.

      This seems exactly what happened. People decided to avoid Eich and encourage others to do so. And the board decided not to give him and extremely optional office.

      • Well, the board at least accepted Eich’s resignation. I don’t think it’s been established that they pushed him out.

        • Right. Sorry, I knew that. ;)

          Even if they removed him, it still seems to be ok with Mill.

      • r

        This passage establishes the conclusion you’re going for if we both read ‘optional good offices’ as including employment (and also exclude competence as a special excellence establishing a title to those good offices). It’s not clear to me that’s the best reading. I am more keen to read the optional good offices here as essentially being friendship and the like: if you’re rash and boorish, I don’t have to invite you to my dinner parties. For one thing, textually this makes much more sense of the exception (‘except those which tend to his improvement’). If we’re reading good offices as jobs, then the theory resulting from that exception would be pretty weird: in general we’re allowed to fire people for being annoying, except we’re not actually if the job is helping them learn to be less annoying. Rather, that exception makes more sense if we read the good offices as stuff like dinner party invites: if you’re rash or boorish, I may decline to invite you, except if by having you at my dinner parties I could help you learn to not be so rash and boorish–then perhaps I am obligated to invite you as a social improvement project. At least as far as I can see, the latter makes more sense than the former.

        Another reason not to read optional good offices as including employment, as you’re choosing to, is that it’s hard to square the resulting theory with Mill’s ostensible interest in protecting people from social coercion. For instance, take this passage from the introduction:

        “Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant—society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it—its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence: and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.”

        If ‘getting fired for having odious views’ does not count as ‘society imposing, by means other than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices’ in a potentially despotic way, then I’m not sure what does. It’s hard to read Mill in a way where he is not even concerned with cases like Eich’s while still doing justice to his rhetoric here and elsewhere.

        • Special offices here is to a specific job, ie CEO. Eich wasn’t rendered unemployable or even unemployed: he remained CTO for years after his donation was known and made an issue.

          And Eich really wasn’t fired, as far as we know, nor was the opposition to him anything but in the spirit of what Mill claims is permissible. He had a pernicious view and people withdrew from association and expressed disapprobation in both a materially and rhetorically mild way. Eich, contrariwise, provided material support for an attempt to provide fairly extreme material and social harm. If we can’t speak out against that the Mill can’t publish On liberty.

          It’s really up to you to show that Mill’s exceptions don’t apply here and what people in the actual
          case should have done differently.

        • gmack

          A couple of notes (for those not versed in Mill, you might find this comment obscure. All apologies):

          You’re right that Mill is not just concerned in On Liberty with the actions of government. He is equally (if not more) concerned with social power and the “tyranny of thought and custom.”

          However, I don’t think this concern applies to the Eich case in the way you think it does. There are a few reasons why.

          Go back to chapter 4. In this chapter, Mill grapples with the question of whether there are genuinely self-regarding acts or not. He admits that there aren’t; even actions that only affect oneself can unintentionally harm others. So Mill modifies his harm principle by distinguishing between two kinds of harm. There are contingent harms and then there are harms that violate clear and assignable duties that I have to another. Mill develops this distinction by example: there is a difference between being drunk at home and being drunk while on the job. Violations of clear and assignable duties can be coerced, sometimes even by the state. However, even contingent harms, Mill tells us, can be subject to social power. When we apply this to the Eich case, I see no violation of Millian principles. If part of Eich’s job is to represent the company, then arguably his contributions to the Prop 8 campaign might in fact be a violation of his clear and assignable duties, in which case the company has the right to terminate him. However, even if one does not accept that claim, Mill acknowledges that social power is permitted. People are allowed to argue against him and to refuse social contact with him. Sure, one could argue that organizing boycotts against Eich might go to far, but so far as I know, this didn’t happen. I know of no major LGBT group, for instance, arguing for a boycott of Mozilla, no mobs of people protested his home, etc. Given these facts, I see no Millian argument against what happened in this case.

          • Indeed. And from chapter 5:

            In many cases, an individual, in pursuing a legitimate object, necessarily and therefore legitimately causes pain or loss to others, or intercepts a good which they had a reasonable hope of obtaining. Such oppositions of interest between individuals often arise from bad social institutions, but are unavoidable while those institutions last; and some would be unavoidable under any institutions. Whoever succeeds in an overcrowded profession, or in a competitive examination; whoever is preferred to another in any contest for an object which both desire, reaps benefit from the loss of others, from their wasted exertion and their disappointment. But it is, by common admission, better for the general interest of mankind, that persons should pursue their objects undeterred by this sort of consequences. In other words, society admits no right, either legal or moral, in the disappointed competitors, to immunity from this kind of suffering; and feels called on to interfere, only when means of success have been employed which it is contrary to the general interest to permit—namely, fraud or treachery, and force.

            Again, I think there’s a huge difference is someone losing a high profile, lottery scarce job (like CEO or member of congress) and someone being made unemployable.

            • r

              Again, I don’t think that passage establishes what you take it to. As I read it, that passage Mill explains that he doesn’t take losing your job to be the sort of harm that generates any legal or moral claim–when you lose it by way of competition. And the reason for that is that jobs are a scarce resource and allocating them by competitive mechanisms in in the general interest. But for this to establish that Eich was not relevantly harmed, it would have to be the case that Eich lost his job by some allocative mechanism whose operation is in the general interest. But this seems to just take us back to the original question: is it, for Mill, in the general interest to police employment on the basis of political advocacy? And given his blistering critiques of censorship, it’s hard for me to see the answer being ‘yes.’

              Some of your other points from your earlier post are, I think, addressed in what I said to gmack. But I will also add: you keep referencing, in your descriptions of what happened, the fact that Eich was advocating for a social policy that would cause material harm to gay people. Whatever we think of the significance of that fact, though, it seems like it cannot possibly have much–if any–weight for Mill. So, for instance, part of Mill’s defense of free speech proceeds by way of the claim that we can only really understand and justifiably believe a claim after we’ve seen it subjected to counter-examination by dissenters. But if this is so, then the fact that Eich’s view is not only false, but advocates for noxious harms, is neither here nor there when it comes to introducing penalties as against it. Because in order to know any of those things (its falsity, its harmfulness), we have to allow full examination of it by way of open discussion without penalty. Again, say what you will about whether any of this is actually true. But insofar as we’re talking about what Mill thought, it seems to me that the fact that what Eich was arguing for is harmful can’t matter.

              • djw

                As I read it, that passage Mill explains that he doesn’t take losing your job to be the sort of harm that generates any legal or moral claim–when you lose it by way of competition.

                I don’t understand how that doesn’t still apply to Eich.

                1) CEOs, unlike most jobs, are subject to regular competition, not just competition at the moment of hiring: they are constantly re-evaluated in light of what they can provide the company in light of available alternatives.

                2) All candidates for CEO have mixes of strengths and weaknesses.

                3) In Eich’s case, after his initial hire one of his weaknesses–his propensity to petition the state to dissolve the marriages of employees and business partners, whose good will and continued cooperation organization values–came to light. This changes the calculation. His strengths minus his weaknesses score just got lower, relative to other candidates. If he had some unique strength that still outweighed his weaknesses, he’d probably still have his job.

                • This.

                  Also, please actually read the passage, e.g.,:

                  In many cases, an individual, in pursuing a legitimate object, necessarily and therefore legitimately causes pain or loss to others, or intercepts a good which they had a reasonable hope of obtaining.

                  Do people working for Mozilla pursue a legitimate object when they express a preference for whom they wish to be their ultimate boss and public face? If not, why not?

                  Such oppositions of interest between individuals often arise from bad social institutions, but are unavoidable while those institutions last; and some would be unavoidable under any institutions.

                  So, the interest opposition needn’t be perfectly justifiable in itself, but stem from extent institutions. And finally:

                  In other words, society admits no right, either legal or moral, in the disappointed competitors, to immunity from this kind of suffering; and feels called on to interfere, only when means of success have been employed which it is contrary to the general interest to permit—namely, fraud or treachery, and force.

                  The “namely” is telling.

                  You wrote:

                  And the reason for that is that jobs are a scarce resource and allocating them by competitive mechanisms in in the general interest. But for this to establish that Eich was not relevantly harmed, it would have to be the case that Eich lost his job by some allocative mechanism whose operation is in the general interest.

                  This just isn’t supported by the text. The allocative mechanism per se needn’t be directly in the general interest (or effectively so). It might exist. I think the allocation of CEO job is horrible, but it’s there and people *used it*. The search and aftermath were well within normal (indeed, exceedingly mild) bounds. No fraud or treachery, or force.

                  Again, I’d feel differently if Eich were rendered unemployable.

                  But I will also add: you keep referencing, in your descriptions of what happened, the fact that Eich was advocating for a social policy that would cause material harm to gay people. Whatever we think of the significance of that fact, though, it seems like it cannot possibly have much–if any–weight for Mill.

                  But it’s exactly the effect on other people that justifies intervention. I don’t see how it can’t be significant to Mill. He’s attempting to cause great harm and people react by saying “Don’t hang out or promote this dude…he’s bad news.”

                  What if he was running for office. Is the campaign wrong then? How is being CEO significantly different than being a politician in this context?

              • Bring Back Bat Boy

                Because in order to know any of those things (its falsity, its harmfulness), we have to allow full examination of it by way of open discussion without penalty.

                This seems to me to be the crux of the misreading of the Eich case. Eich made a gesture, or a kind of speech, which true or false/harmful or not harmful caused a kind of open discussion which his company found problematic. He ended his tenure there, or they urged him to leave (however you want to imagine it) not because they decided his speech was harmful or false (which they were perfectly entitled to do) but because the company saw it as disruptive to their capitalist goals.

                Mill doesn’t seem to be saying anything one way or another about how a business conducts itself.

                • Aimai

                  Oh bloody hell, that was me again.

          • r

            It’s true that Mill allows for punishment in response to the violation of clear and assignable obligations. So if Eich, as part of his job, took on a clear and assignable obligation to present only ‘friendly’ political views then he would not be subject to any Millian protection. However, I doubt (as you seem to anticipate) that there really is any such clear and assignable obligation–that CEOs really are, per job description, mascots in the way that would presuppose. One reason I don’t think we should construe things that way is just that any employee whatsoever can be considered to be the ‘public face’ of the company, if we are loose enough in our understanding of what that requires. So if Millian protections are to mean anything anyway, we better be relatively strict in how we understand the distribution of clear and assignable obligations.

            You also say: even granting me that there’s no clear and assignable duty, it’s still true for Mill that ‘social power is permitted.’ But it seems to me that whether that’s so just comes down to the passage already brought up and how to appropriately read it. Mill allows the propriety of certain ‘natural’ penalties that arise from having a vicious character; people who are not vicious cannot help judge you for it, and as such may deprive you of their ‘optional good offices.’ As I said before, I think the best reading of this passage concerns social interaction narrowly; your employment is not held in the ambit of the ‘optional good offices’ which may naturally be assigned on the basis of virtue. So I’d want to hear why I was wrong about that reading.

            On that note, I am curious: you acknowledge that Mill is concerned with the tyranny of thought and custom as much as he is with the tyranny of public officials. What do you think, for Mill, would count as an explicitly non-legal instance of the tyranny of thought and custom? As before, I think that if losing your job on the basis of your advocacy for heterodox political convictions doesn’t count, it’s somewhat obscure what does.

            Finally: it may be true that Eich resigned entirely of his own volition, or alternately that the board already intended to fire him–and that this timing was just a coincidence. But I don’t really think so. It is much more plausible to me that the board gave him a choice between being fired and resigning on better terms, and that they did so on the basis of the mounting public relations disaster (brought on, as I understand it, largely by a sounding of the drums by OkCupid and some Mozilla employees on twitter). In any case, I’ll just say that’s the version of events I’m operating under. If you disagree with that version of events, you can read my claims as all purely conditional: if that’s what happened, then there is a free expression worry as per liberals like Mill.

            • gmack

              This is rapidly getting beyond what can usefully be discussed in blog comments, but here goes:

              I’ll divide my comment into a couple of parts.

              (1) Regarding the question of whether Eich, as a CEO, has a clear and assignable duty to represent his company in a way that does not make it look bad: Clearly the CEO is closer to the “public face” of the company than just about any other part of it (with the possible exception of a PR person). So I think there is a very strong argument to be made that a CEO who has embarrassed the company has violated a clear and assignable duty not to do so. CEOs are pretty close to mascots, or at least that is a significant part of their job. At the very least, there is now a fairly common practice for CEOs to be questioned with regard to their public positions and performances (think, for instance, of the CEO/founder of Lululemon, whose dumbass remarks cost him his job too). So I’m actually pretty convinced that there clearly are some distinct and assignable duties to being CEO that involve one’s public positions.

              (2) Having said that, the Eich case is somewhat tricky because there seems to be no direct connection between his opposition to gay marriage and Mozilla’s general mission. In other words, Eich’s case is relevantly different from the Lululemon case because the CEO of Lululemon’s remarks directly insulted some of the company’s potential customers (I’m thinking in particular here of his remarks to the effect that his company does not make clothing for overweight women). So for the sake of argument, I’ll go ahead and concede that donating to a public campaign regarding gay marriage is not a violation of his clear and assignable duties as a CEO.

              (3) And this leads me to my answer to your query about what would count as an impermissible non-legal instance of the tyranny of thought and custom. I’m not going to answer this for Mill, because I’m less interested in Mill exegesis than I am in the actual political question at hand. It’s a matter of judgment. Eich’s behaviors were, in the grand scheme of things, relatively mild. He contributed to an odious campaign, but he did not frequently discuss his position in public (to my knowledge), and there is no sign of a history of discrimination. But here’s the thing: the pushback against him was also relatively mild. To echo djw’s frequent posts on this subject, if you want to say that someone tried to silence his speech illegitimately, then you really need to identify who this person or people were. There were some resignations, and OKCupid lodged a protest against him. That’s it, so far as I know, at least with regard to organized exercises of social power (which, after all, are the primary forms Mill is concerned about). So I just don’t seen any significant violation of Millian principles here.

              What kinds of actions would violate Millian principles? I don’t personally think that’s the right question. Mill helps establish a framework for thinking through the issues, but I don’t think he necessarily answer them for us. So it’s a matter of judgment that requires significant attention to context. For example: I would probably be indifferent to petitions demanding his resignation (I wouldn’t likely participate, but I don’t find them to be all that problematic); I would very likely oppose organized boycotts of Mozilla; I would oppose any direct protests of him. In other situations, my calculus might be different. If, for instance, he consistently spoke out against LGBT issues, I might support a boycott. If there was evidence that he discriminated, I might support more direct kinds of protests against him and the company he represents. Also, to echo what a bunch of other people have said, I do think some of the concern about Eich is misplaced: the major violations of speech are usually faced by low-level employees, and they are much more vulnerable in any case. So my calculus looks very different in those situations (e.g., if I were to find out that, say, some of the custodians in my building donated to the Prop 8 campaign, I would be absolutely opposed to organized action against them. Arguing with them, of course, is a different matter).

      • ChrisTS

        Good, Bijan. Although, I have always wondered what he meant by “though not to parade the avoidance.”

        • Aimai

          No assless chaps, I think.

          • ChrisTS

            Ha! +100

        • I *think* it means not to make it part of a public shaming which would go beyond avoidance.

          • djw

            If any of you are still reading, thanks to all (including r, who made a decent go of it, despite holding the shorter stick) for impromptu Mill seminar. I’ve had the Millian question re: Eich in the back of my mind the last month or so, but hadn’t recalled/revisited the text sufficiently think through the incident on Millian terms.

            • I’ll add my thanks to r for raising it and arguing it through. It’s always rewarding to read Mill.

              Also, gmack is objectively awesome.

              • gmack

                Thanks Bijan! (I’m blushing!). The same applies to you, honestly.

            • gmack

              Same for me. I taught Mill earlier this semester but needed r’s prompting to think about the question more directly and more systematically.

              • r

                Thanks to all for the thanks, and first-order thanks to you all as well. It was good for me to get back to Mill (although I’m just fine with this petering out, since it is distracting me from other things I need to read more immediately). Before going though, I wanted to say a few last things to clarify and try to press my point. Might as well do it in a consolidated place here. I will end on a conciliatory note, though, so it’s not all salty.

                gmack: you’re right that focusing narrowly on exegetical concerns is often kind of boring. But narrow exegesis really is my topic here, because what provoked my response was the assertion in the OP that no liberal theorist would be worried about Eich; I think one would, namely Mill. Maybe he was wrong to be so concerned, but all the same. And once you do focus on exegesis, it becomes an important desiderata that you don’t read his talk of optional good offices or the legitimate objects so broadly that social coercion is written out of the picture entirely. Since Mill is clearly very concerned with social coercion, he cannot have intended those lines to obliterate it.

                Bijan: as you point out, Mill allows that legitimate objectives may be mutually unsatisfiable, and therefore my satisfaction of mine may deprive you of yours, but holds that this does not constitute a relevant harm. You ask: don’t e.g. the employees at Mozilla pursue a legitimate objective when they ask for someone else to be their boss? I think the answer, for Mill, is ‘no,’ that objective is not legitimate. And I think this just comes down to the interpretation of the same passage from before–what Mill means when he says we may, as a ‘natural consequence’ of our distaste for vice, distribute our optional good offices away from those we find vicious, subject to some exceptions. As before, I take it that the relevant good offices are things like friendship. This makes most sense of the passage in the context of Mill’s view: the particular exceptions he lists, the fact that he takes it to be a ‘natural’ consequence, due to virtue’s distaste for vice, that this must be so, the caveat about not parading the rejection, and etc. But if this is right, then people seeking to sever their employment relations with Eich on the basis of his politics would not be acting within the scope of Mill’s exception.

                djw and Aimai: you both bring up the possibility that Eich was fired because his presence dragged down the business. This may be sufficient for Mill to justify the firing. But if it’s so, it’s because some mix of consumers and employees are rejecting interacting with him in a business context, and as per above, I think that will, in Mill’s view, be an illegitimate preference. So in this case, it would not be the people firing him who acted wrongly, but the people who made him fireable.

                Bijan: you ask why, for Mill, the fact that Eich’s doctrine is harmful is beside the point. As before, I think this comes out of his arguments for the epistemic value of free speech. But rather than issue more on that, I’ll just give an example that I think establishes, whether he’s right or wrong, that Mill doesn’t think that the harm of a political doctrine can be relevant to whether we should sanction its expression. Mill claims that if someone expresses the views “corn-dealers are starving the poor” and “private property is immoral” then they should be allowed to do so, without sanction, provided they are not in the midst of starting a riot. But Mill also thinks free trade is an effective way of securing people’s well-being. So, it follows that he thinks that people should be allowed, unmolested, to argue for positions even given that they would be harmful if implemented.

                That all being said, I would add the further thing: even if I am in fact wrong about this interpretive matter, I put forward the further claim that it is not open-and-shut that I am wrong about this matter. That is to say, it is at the least contestable. And I think this already cuts against the rhetoric of the opening post.

                Another way to put it is: people’s sensibilities are revealed not only by the conclusions that they ultimately come to, but by what they fret over along the way. Although I am not perturbed by people who ultimately come to the conclusion that no one acted wrongly in the Eich case, I am perturbed by people who don’t even fret over it. It seems to me that if you have any liberal sensibilities, you should probably at least fret over it.

                But I said I would end on a conciliatory note. So, here are some things that hopefully keep my disagreement in perspective:

                First, even if I am right about Mill, I haven’t given any arguments that Mill was right. I happen to think that he largely was, but I haven’t offered any defense of that claim. So there’s always the ‘so what’ response.

                Second, even if I am right about Mill, and Mill is right, that doesn’t establish that the Eich case involved very serious wrongs, or wrongs of the type that we should be most exercised about. I agree that, in our system, we ought to be much more worried about abuses of low-ranking employees. I also agree that the relatively diffuse nature of the action against Eich diminishes the amount of negative responsibility that could be attributed to any particular person involved. It’s just that I think that even if it’s a diffuse, minor, or hard to locate wrong it’s still something to acknowledge.

                Third and finally, the OP mentioned four cases. Even if I am right, and one of them is problematic, that still leaves the other three. I don’t think that any of this extends to a defense of Stirling, for instance. So my point of departure is much more tempered than, e.g., the sky-is-falling pundit class. The area of agreement is thereby larger than it might seem.

                • Because I can never resist:

                  Bijan: you ask why, for Mill, the fact that Eich’s doctrine is harmful is beside the point. As before, I think this comes out of his arguments for the epistemic value of free speech.

                  But this view is well represented and Eich didn’t add anything new to the debate and his expression was more than expressing for debate: It really was an attempt to enact laws that attacked people in a huge way. So…?

                  I mean, what Eich tried to do is centrally what Mill is objecting to right? He was trying to establish religious hegemony (at least).

                  But rather than issue more on that, I’ll just give an example that I think establishes, whether he’s right or wrong, that Mill doesn’t think that the harm of a political doctrine can be relevant to whether we should sanction its expression. Mill claims that if someone expresses the views “corn-dealers are starving the poor” and “private property is immoral” then they should be allowed to do so, without sanction, provided they are not in the midst of starting a riot.

                  Sure, but the “midst of starting a riot” carries some weight here. Eich was doing something that was reasonably equivalent, yes? I.e., trying to mobilize the state to oppress people (literally!). And not just saying that that should happen, but trying to enact it.

                  And I’ll say that if Mill doesn’t agree with this (I think he would) he’s just flat out, and very obviously, wrong. If your “speech” is linked to the effective denial of rights of a class of people, then the epistemic value of having your view in the marketplace of idea is trumped by the harm your view being triumphant has. That it might settle out in the long run is dwarfed by the harm done in the now.

                  I think this entitles us to push back. I think power relations matter as well, as I said. I don’t think we should render Eich penniless and unemployable, but an independently wealthy person is, I think, not entitled to any job at all (and Mill does talk about them :)).

                  We disagree about the Mill exegesis. I agree that Mill expresses concern about the tyranny of the social majority, but there are all sorts of balances and exceptions. I don’t feel that you’re weighing them at all.

                  I mean, can a person with views noxious to me lose my custom? Can the people I alert to my revulsion also withdraw their custom? The answer to these is, I think, obviously yes. I probably can’t organize a boycott, but we’re well short of that here!

                  Indeed, the spontenaity and independence of most of the opposition is what makes it fairly easy. The only thing close is the OKCupid protest. You might be able to make that out as illiberal on Millian grounds, but I don’t see how the developer gay couple that withdrew from Mozilla development are anything near that. Or employees who asked him to resign (you can’t ask someone to *resign*?! if that’s Mill, so much the worse for Mill; not that I think that’s mill :)).

                • Oh, and from the very introduction:

                  I regard utility as the ultimate appeal on all ethical questions; but it must be utility in the largest sense, grounded on the permanent interests of man as a progressive being. Those interests, I contend, authorize the subjection of individual spontaneity to external control, only in respect to those actions of each, which concern the interest of other people. If any one does an act hurtful to others, there is a prima facie case for punishing him, by law, or, where legal penalties are not safely applicable, by general disapprobation.

                  (This is why the harm of Eich’s actions are totally relevent.)

                  It is that stigma which is really effective, and so effective is it, that the profession of opinions which are under the ban of society is much less common in England, than is, in many other countries, the avowal of those which incur risk of judicial punishment. In respect to all persons but those whose pecuniary circumstances make them independent of the good will of other people, opinion, on this subject, is as efficacious as law; men might as well be imprisoned, as excluded from the means of earning their bread. Those whose bread is already secured, and who desire no favors from men in power, or from bodies of men, or from the public, have nothing to fear from the open avowal of any opinions, but to be ill-thought of and illspoken of, and this it ought not to require a very heroic mould to enable them to bear. There is no room for any appeal ad misericordiam in behalf of such persons.

                  Again, I would argue that this is Eich. Remember, he was CTO for years after his donation was made known. No one is trying to render him unemployable. And he’s well off not to seek a job for a while, at least.

                  Our merely social intolerance, kills no one, roots out no opinions, but induces men to disguise them, or to abstain from any active effort for their diffusion. With us, heretical opinions do not perceptibly gain or even lose, ground in each decade or generation; they never blaze out far and wide, but continue to smoulder in the narrow circles of thinking and studious persons among whom they originate, without ever lighting up the general affairs of mankind with either a true or a deceptive light.

                  This is definitely not anti-gay marriage doctrine!

                  Before quitting the subject of freedom of opinion, it is fit to take notice of those who say, that the free expression of all opinions should be permitted, on condition that the manner be temperate, and do not pass the bounds of fair discussion. Much might be said on the impossibility of fixing where these supposed bounds are to be placed; for if the test be offence to those whose opinion is attacked, I think experience testifies that this offence is given whenever the attack is telling and powerful, and that every opponent who pushes them hard, and whom they find it difficult to answer, appears to them, if he shows any strong feeling on the subject, an intemperate opponent. But this, though an important consideration in a practical point of view, merges in a more fundamental objection. Undoubtedly the manner of asserting an opinion, even though it be a true one, may be very objectionable, and may justly incur severe censure. But the principal offences of the kind are such as it is mostly impossible, unless by accidental self-betrayal, to bring home to conviction. The gravest of them is, to argue sophistically, to suppress facts or arguments, to misstate the elements of the case, or misrepresent the opposite opinion. But all this, even to the most aggravated degree, is so continually done in perfect good faith, by persons who are not considered, and in many other respects may not deserve to be considered, ignorant or incompetent, that it is rarely possible on adequate grounds conscientiously to stamp the misrepresentation as morally culpable; and still less could law presume to interfere with this kind of controversial misconduct. With regard to what is commonly meant by intemperate discussion, namely, invective, sarcasm, personality, and the like, the denunciation of these weapons would deserve more sympathy if it were ever proposed to interdict them equally to both sides; but it is only desired to restrain the employment of them against the prevailing opinion: against the unprevailing they may not only be used without general disapproval, but will be likely to obtain for him who uses them the praise of honest zeal and righteous indignation. Yet whatever mischief arises from their use, is greatest when they are employed against the comparatively defenceless; and whatever unfair advantage can be derived by any opinion from this mode of asserting it, accrues almost exclusively to received opinions.

                  Against Dilan Esper but also pointing out that the received view should not be the one which gets extra defense. And, come on! Anti gay marriage is still the received view.

                  s it is useful that while mankind are imperfect there should be different opinions, so is it that there should be different experiments of living; that free scope should be given to varieties of character, short of injury to others; and that the worth of different modes of life should be proved practically, when any one thinks fit to try them. It is desirable, in short, that in things which do not primarily concern others, individuality should assert itself. Where, not the person’s own character, but the traditions of customs of other people are the rule of conduct, there is wanting one of the principal ingredients of human happiness, and quite the chief ingredient of individual and social progress.

                  This is against Eich.

                  This conduct consists, first, in not injuring the interests of one another; or rather certain interests, which, either by express legal provision or by tacit understanding, ought to be considered as rights;

                  Against Eich.

                  Nor is this all that society may do. The acts of an individual may be hurtful to others, or wanting in due consideration for their welfare, without going the length of violating any of their constituted rights. The offender may then be justly punished by opinion, though not by law. As soon as any part of a person’s conduct affects prejudicially the interests of others, society has jurisdiction over it, and the question whether the general welfare will or will not be promoted by interfering with it, becomes open to discussion.

                  Supporting the opposition to Eich.

                  Acts injurious to others require a totally different treatment. Encroachment on their rights; infliction on them of any loss or damage not justified by his own rights; falsehood or duplicity in dealing with them; unfair or ungenerous use of advantages over them; even selfish abstinence from defending them against injury — these are fit objects of moral reprobation, and, in grave cases, of moral retribution and punishment.

                  How is stripping gay couples of their marriage rights something justified by Eich’s individual rights?

                  Whenever, in short, there is a definite damage, or a definite risk of damage, either to an individual or to the public, the case is taken out of the province of liberty, and placed in that of morality or law.

                  Is not creating a class of second class citizens a definite risk of damage to the individuals and the public?

                  (Ok, this is a bit tricky because, y’know, lots of people in favor of state religion will argue this. Pat Robertson’s absurdities come to mind. I don’t really know how to square this: If God getting pissed will destroy the world then I’m not free to be an atheist without social sanction, afaict.)

  • Quiddity

    My view is that anything not deliberately made public should be considered private (and that includes donations to political causes that by law are in the public record*). And private activity should not be a factor in one’s employment.

    That goes for all private activity: racist, homophobic, satanic, libertine, etc.

    Arguing that Eich’s case did not merit that kind of treatmente because (partial list):

    (a) he’s a CEO, not an “ordinary worker”
    (b) working against gay marriage removes other people’s rights, therefore privacy concerns can be discarded
    (c) prop 8 supporters “pose a threat to the well-being of children” which trumps privacy
    (d) Eich wasn’t fired but resigned
    (e) there was no state involvement in his dismissal from employment
    (f) Eich was wealthy, so no harm was done
    (g) Eich will get rehired ASAP, so hounding him out of a job is of no concern
    (h) odious characters on the right support Eich so the cause was vindicated somehow

    are instances of special pleading. Something lawyers are good at.

    deBoyer does not restrict his analysis to private behavior. He writes more broadly about free speech in the agora and warns that open season on people for their positions will benefit the powerful more than others.

    While I’m sympathetic to that point of view, I think he would have been better off starting out with the position that it should be normative to ignore private activity – which I think should be the default liberal position. Only when we agree that speech in private should have no consequences can we move to discuss the broader case of how to handle public speech.

    *Regarding money going into politics, I think it’s good that we allow the public to know where it’s coming from, so that people can make a judgement about the candidate or proposition, but we should not use that information in any way to punish the donor.

    • junker

      Okay, but even granting this Sterling, at least, has a wide range of famous, public acts of racism.

      I also wonder about your distinction when it comes to political donations. Imagine that a CEO donates $10,000,000 to fund a series of racist political ads. You claim that this is not deliberately made public and that the CEO should suffer no consequences for that, apparently including criticism.

      Now imagine that the CEO uses that $10,000,000 to book a stadium for a week and gives a week long speech about the obvious superiority of white people. This would be okay to criticize, based on your standard.

      Same end, in both cases. Why is the first one inviolable because there is a middle-man involved?

      • junker

        I just don’t understand how this “You may not punish someone based on their political donations” view is supposed to work. Imagine that I eat at Chik-fil-a every week on Tuesday. I find out that the owners use money earned from the business to attack gay rights causes. Should I be required to still eat there, or else risk unfairly punishing them for their political views? Isn’t this demand that I am not allowed to modify my behavior in response to their choices an infringement on my right to speech? I am completely dumb struck by this notion. In what way is this a practicable view of free speech?

        • “Shut up, or the powerful might use their free speech against libruls like you and I.”

          Yeah, that’s really persuasive.

          Q, please answer me: Where you drunk when you posted on this thread?

        • Quiddity

          Here’s how it works. You disregard someone’s political donations when assessing that person or their business. It’s a conscious action that may be difficult, but you try if you believe, as I do, that donations are very closely tied to voting – and for which privacy is essential.

          We often do what we consider to be right even if we are uncomfortable doing so, because we wish to honor a principle. In this case, that private actions should not be punished.

          • junker

            I think it’s incredibly privileged of you to tell a minority group “Sorry, doesn’t matter if this person is actively trying to destroy your life – as a matter of principle you cannot punish them for it.”

            • Aimai

              I agree with Junker’s point–its a bizarrely out of touch/above it all argument to make, almost as if Quiddity assumes a citizen with no skin in the game observing a merely distasteful private act, like farting, and withholding notice because, after all, its merely distasteful and expressive not a real act. Why its barely an act at all. All in the game, don’t you know!

              But its not merely speech and its not private–Eich isn’t ranting in the bathroom at home, he’s not scrawling in his private diary. He is engaging in a consumately public act: attempting to sway the public to legally disenfranchise other people. There’s no principle on earth that means I (or anyone) have to treat as private beliefs a public political act. Next you will be telling me that I have to vote for Mitt Romney because the 47 percenter tape shouldn’t be added to the list of things I know about the man and his politics.

            • Quiddity

              This has nothing to do with minority or majority groups. It has to do with the principle of how we handle political donations.

              My position would be the same if it was someone contributing towards an initiative that would restrict the majority of the population from doing something.

              In the latter case, the power relations are inverted and I, in that instance, would not be acting, as you put it, in an “incredibly privileged” manner.

              Sound like you do a power relations examination first and then decide how to act. That sort of thing leaves everyone vulnerable to passions of the moment.

              • This has nothing to do with minority or majority groups. It has to do with the principle of how we handle political donations.

                The principle is this: they should be open and obvious. And so it is. It should be plain who is writing law.

          • Here’s how it works. You disregard someone’s political donations when assessing that person or their business.

            No. Proposal rejected. Political donations are an attempt to exert influence over the voting decisions of others by the exercise of a resource that has massively unequal distribution. It’s justified to make a vote private because you’re exercising a resource that is evenly distributed. Otherwise, there is no presumptive right to anonymity.

    • Jordan

      “Regarding money going into politics, I think it’s good that we allow the public to know where it’s coming from, so that people can make a judgement about the candidate or proposition, but we should not use that information in any way to punish the donor.”

      Why? Even granting *everything else* you say, why should we accept your claim that political donations should be considered private activity? It seems, rather, that more or less the complete opposite should be the case.

      • Quiddity

        I consider donations to be closely tied to voting. Both are important to democracy and both should be handled as private matters.

        Those who think donations should be public and a reason for going after somebody should explain why voting should similarly not be made public.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Any single vote cannot have a corrupting influence. Political donations certainly can.

        • djw

          I think donations for initiative campaigns should be public for the same reason we keep a record of voting in congress, and for reasons that go well beyond donations to politicians running for office. You’re not choosing a representative here, you’re engaging in lawmaking directly. The Democratic norm that lawmaking be public and on the record exist for good and important reasons; citizen lawmaking may call for relaxing the application of the norm (by keeping the actual votes private) but not abandoning it.

        • Jordan

          Well, far be it from to add anything from the front-pagers who replied to you and covered most of it.

          Still: I asked you why donations should not be public. You offered nothing other than that it is “important to democracy” and should be handled as a private matter.

          But this is absurd. Political Speech is important to democracy. Almost by definition, it should not be handled as a private matter. So that rationale is terrible.

          So, try again: why should donations be treated as a private matter? You have literally offered nothing other than “I think this should be the case” and – i guess – “I think this is the same as voting”. Both of those assertions need support, which you don’t provide.

    • need a nym

      he’s a CEO, not an “ordinary worker”

      Yes, there is a difference between management and labor. That’s not special pleading.

      working against gay marriage removes other people’s rights, therefore privacy concerns can be discarded

      What privacy concerns? Eich’s political donations are public record.

      prop 8 supporters “pose a threat to the well-being of children” which trumps privacy

      Source? I pretty sure that Prop 8 supporters believed that they were protecting the children from the specter of SSM.

      Eich wasn’t fired but resigned

      There is a difference. Quitting is done by someone’s choice; being fired isn’t. Again, not special pleading.

      there was no state involvement in his dismissal from employment

      Again, this is a fact, and he wasn’t dismissed. He could have stayed and tried to withstand the backlash, but he didn’t.

      Eich was wealthy, so no harm was done

      Harm to whom? People get fired or resign all the time for various reasons. Eich has much greater financial security than the average worker, and he is not entitled to run a company.

      Eich will get rehired ASAP, so hounding him out of a job is of no concern

      Again, he could have fought it out, but he didn’t. Do you think that nobody in the company can take issue with anything that Eich has ever done or will do?

      odious characters on the right support Eich so the cause was vindicated somehow

      Source?

      • Quiddity

        Special pleading is taking a baseline principle and finding reasons for not honoring it. This debate started out with complaints about the disclosure of Eich’s donation. Lemieux responded to that complaint with special pleading: a long list of justifications that circumvented the initial complaint.

        • Scott Lemieux

          baseline principle

          You’re begging the question here. There is only “special pleading” if one assumes you’re right to begin with.


          This debate started out with complaints about the disclosure of Eich’s donation.

          Leftists are now committed to the principle that the political donations of the wealthy should be private? I need to start coming to the meetings, since before this I had no idea that our agenda was being determined by Clarence Thomas.

    • Tristan

      anything not deliberately made public should be considered private

      So, Klan rallies, price fixing, etc?

      • IM

        price fixing

        We should be charitable and assume he/she is talking about legal private things

    • IM

      and that includes donations to political causes that by law are in the public record*

      Now that is special pleading

      (e) there was no state involvement in his dismissal from employment

      Ant that begs the question.

    • While I do admire the “declare all considerations against my view as ‘special pleading’ without explaining why” argumentative technique, I still wonder whether you really want to claim that the extremely mildly expressed critiques of Eich are really something to suppress as you propose.

    • pillsy

      My view is that anything not deliberately made public should be considered private (and that includes donations to political causes that by law are in the public record*). And private activity should not be a factor in one’s employment.

      Eich’s support of Prop 8 isn’t a public matter by some weird legal quirk, it’s a public matter because a referendum is a public matter by definition. By donating to that cause, he was working to change a law that would affect everybody. It’s hard to see how much more public he could have been, or how he could have somehow been unaware that he was acting publicly. The only special pleading here is your attempt to somehow carve out an exception for a public act to make your objection applicable in this case.

      Not that I think this general principle is a particularly sensible one.

      • Warren Terra

        Eich engaged in public speech, and by “public speech” I mean money. He could had he cared to do so have attempted to diminish the effect of that previous public speech by again speaking to the public, by which I do not mean money. If he’d released a statement saying that whatever his position in 2008 he’d had cause to reconsider because of some of the gay married couples he’d come to know and to cherish, he’d probably be CEO of Mozilla right now. It was his decision to publicly identify with anti-Gay legislation, and it was his decision to remain thus identified.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Eich’s support of Prop 8 isn’t a public matter by some weird legal quirk, it’s a public matter because a referendum is a public matter by definition.

        Right. The idea that when you’re seeking to act as a legislator that your actions are entirely private is absurd.

      • Quiddity

        So no secret ballot then?

        • Scott Lemieux

          You really can’t see any difference between political donations and voting?

          • Quiddity

            You wrote:
            “The idea that when you’re seeking to act as a legislator that your actions are entirely private is absurd.”

            A legislator votes to enact legislation. So does the voter on a proposition. You are making the case that such votes by citizens should be public.

            • Scott Lemieux

              I’m not wild about initiatives, but we have a tradition of a secret ballot that exists for good reasons in representative elections, so OK. But 1)it doesn’t follow from this that political donations should be private, and 2)if Eich revealed that he had voted for Prop 8, this would not be a “private” act that cannot be allowed to have any reputational consequences.

              • Quiddity

                Thank you for the clarification. I disagree with your stance that political donations should not be private, but your logic on points (1) and (2) is sound.

                You write that there are good reasons for the secret ballot in representative elections*. Is the secret ballot not appropriate for (legislator-like) initiatives? Do we have it only because of tradition?

                • Scott Lemieux

                  Well, it’s probably still appropriate. An open ballot produces the potential for corruption and coercion on the one hand, while the effect of any one ballot is minimal, so it’s probably justified. Donations are an entirely different animal.

    • Patricia Kayden

      There should be (and will be) consequences for private speech once it is made public and once it is odious to those who hear about it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that in my opinion.

      Why should African American (Black) players and sports enthusiasts tolerate racist owners like Sterling? If I were the African American players on the Clipper team, I would refuse to play until Sterling is forced to sell the team. I’m not working for a racist. Period. And no one can force me to do so. I don’t care whether he thought he was speaking to his mistress when he made the racist comments (which is not even the case).

      So no, your desire that private speech have no consequences is a nonstarter. Your privilege is showing.

    • ChrisTS

      1) There is no reason that ‘private’ speech (donating to a campaign is not; see #2) should be free of consequences. If you insult me in private, I retain the right to insult you back or toss you out of my office or tell others about it.

      2) Your linking of donations to voting is a real stretch. Further, it is undermined by your own recognition that donations should be part of the public record.

      3) This whole thing has the ‘privilege of the first speaker’ ring to it. Eich and Sterling got to express themselves, but no one else may respond?

  • Tybalt

    “open season on people for their positions will benefit the powerful more than others.”

    The powerful do not give a rat’s ass about whether the season is open or closed. That’s what power means. Saying that we ought to defer to the powerful because it will shame them into deferring to us when the chips are down is, not monstrous, but merely stupid. (As well as ahistorical.)

    Lawyers are indeed good at making arguments like “Eich resigned” because lawyers, like lots of other people, have the ability to see through a farrago of bullshit to get at… get this… the quiddity of things.

    • ChrisTS

      +1

  • IM

    Ladies and gentleman, we proudly present:

    Holy Freddie, the last honest man on the left!

    In this episode gallant Freddie fights giants enchanted by the liberal consensus as windmills!

    Stay tuned!

    Truly the Lieberman of the left.

  • Does it ever occur to you guys that your commenters are objectively despicable people? Like, I get that the way you operate is to intentionally chum the waters for other people to do your dirty work and say the terrible, redbaiting, anti-leftist things that you actually enjoy (far more than you enjoy fighting with conservatives, clearly), but honestly: these are ugly, awful people. Maybe you guys should engage in self-criticism for what would have to literally be the first time in your lives and ask, gee, maybe creating a arena in which people drive themselves to the most vile extremes and utterly personal insults imaginable is not the way we should act.

    Also: an emailer who claims he got to my blog from here sent me pictures of where my office is on campus. So, yeah. Cool stuff, guys!

    • IM

      Does it ever occur to you guys that your commenters are objectively despicable people?

      Yes, their opinion couldn’t have any value, no?

      Just a wretched hive of scum and villainy here.

      Maybe you guys should engage in self-criticism for what would have to literally be the first time in your lives

      splitters and logs…

    • Tybalt

      Sorry to hear about the asshole, Freddie. I hope you’ve taken the reasonable steps with campus security.

      I don’t think that we’ll stop the general beclownment of your hysterical denunciations, though. Clearly we are too far sunk in our various sins to afford the Last Sad Leftist the respect he deserves.

      • Tybalt

        I’m going to award myself minus 50 million points here for “hysterical”, a word I should despise.

        • “histrionic” is probably the word you wanted to use.

          • Tybalt

            It’s the word I should have wanted to use, yeah.

    • First, if someone is threatening you, even implicitly via “I know where you work” photos, then I urge you to report it at least to campus safety. I would be surprised and dismayed if any commenter, much less a regular, would do such a thing.

      Second, you are simply wildly inserious in your assessment of the commentariat in general or the commentary in this thread. It is critical and mocking of you, yes, but mildly so and, to be frank, pretty appropriately so. Perhaps I missed a comment which crossed a boundary, but I think that by any measures this thread doesn’t even approach vile much less vile extremes. Given long standing experiences of eg women bloggers and rape/death threats, I think you should engage in some self criticism and ask what compels you to such delusional persecution fantasies.

      • Warren Terra

        Yeah, this, both parts. Implicit threats are completely unacceptable, the more so with an apparent real-world connection. I’m sorry anyone would do that, and seriously doubt they’re anyone who actually comments here. I hope whoever this was learns not to do such things.

        And, on the other hand, except for the dramatic allegation that some person with an email account is apparently deranged – your comment is absurd. Tiresomely, predictably so, but still: absurd. Yes, you have been rather dismissively (but notably neither violently nor, for the most part, crudely) mocked at some length in this thread.

        Freddie: You choose to believe this happened because the commenters here are “objectively despicable”. The consensus of the rest of the internet, to the extent it has an opinion of you, is instead that you, Freddie, are objectively risible, a buffoon fit only for the piss-taking. It is thoroughly remarkable how many hours of your life you have dedicated to achieving this level of minor infamy as a laughingstock of the internet.

        PS it’s adorable that Freddi, famously one of the least persuasive people on the internet, is pursuing a PhD in Rhetoric, which he defines as being in no small part the science of Persuasion.

        • Lee Rudolph

          Can you deny that his writing is very persuasive? That it tends strongly to persuade its readers of the opposite of whatever it ostensibly is written in support of simply speaks to the subtlety of his rhetorical chops.

        • djw

          PS it’s adorable that Freddi, famously one of the least persuasive people on the internet, is pursuing a PhD in Rhetoric, which he defines as being in no small part the science of Persuasion.

          If I were giving notes on a screenplay with Freddie as a character, I’d flag this particular biographical detail laying it on just a bit too thick.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Yeah, this, both parts. Implicit threats are completely unacceptable, the more so with an apparent real-world connection. I’m sorry anyone would do that, and seriously doubt they’re anyone who actually comments here. I hope whoever this was learns not to do such things.

          And, on the other hand, except for the dramatic allegation that some person with an email account is apparently deranged – your comment is absurd. Tiresomely, predictably so, but still: absurd. Yes, you have been rather dismissively (but notably neither violently nor, for the most part, crudely) mocked at some length in this thread.

          +1, +1

      • djw

        Well said (on both counts). One can’t help but get the impression that Freddie wants all political discourse to be the Oxford Debate club, with a giant exemption carved out for his insinuations about the motives and character of the dread ‘liberals’ for some unexplained reason.

    • herr doktor bimler

      sent me pictures of where my office is on campus
      Were you lost?

      • rea

        I don’t want to scoff at FDB too much–I can see how this might seem a bit threatening–but note that FDB does not blog under a pseudonym, and has posted his office address on a CV linked from his facebook page. Don’t do that if you feel threatened by people knowing that information.

        • tonycpsu

          I carry no brief for Freddie, but this is a bullshit argument, of the same form as “if she didn’t want to get catcalls, she shouldn’t have worn a skirt.” He has every right to spew his nonsense without having assholes threaten him personally, regardless of whether he blogs pseudonymously or not.

          This is especially true considering how easy it is to discover peoples’ real identities when they try to remain anonymous.

          • rea

            Well, the point is, the implicit threat involved in sending someone a picture of their office, is that the sender has searched out and found information you believed to be private. It’s not very threatening if the sender only displays knowledge of personal informantion about you that is findable in 5 seconds on Google. If you feel threatened by people knowing where your office is, don’t tell everyone where your office is.

            • tonycpsu

              I understand your point, but you’re still framing this in a way that excuses the behavior of, or at least diminishes the culpability of, the perpetrator. Freddie should be able to post his info publicly and not be threatened — full stop.

              • Ronan

                i would assume that its probably a crock of shit that somebody (on account of this thread beef) went all the way to fdb’s office, took a picture of it and then emailed it to him.
                it makes no logical sense.

                • rea

                  somebody . . . went all the way to fdb’s office, took a picture of it

                  If that’s what happened, that might be a bit scary. But, on the other hand, there are lots of pictures of the building available on Bing or Google.

                  I don’t want to seem like I’m excusing doing this–it was an asshole move (and even though I responded to FDB’s comment by seeing how feasible it was do do it, I’ve got to say, it was not me). But, stranger on intenet aware of my private information = scary, while stranger on internet aware of public information about me = much less scary.

                • Ronan

                  that might make more sense, that someone emailed a pic from online of his office .. but then i couldnt see why he’d care. It shows an extreme lack of intent and laziness on the part of his stalker.

                  if on the other hand someone from here jumped on a bus from washington/new york/toronto etc, got off in freddies hometown, took a pic of his office, jumped back on the next bus, arrived home, uploaded the pic,and then sent it to freddie, thats just stoopid.

              • Rootless Cosmopolitan Drinker

                What the the evidence that this threatening email (and I agree that it is threatening) was sent by someone actually blogging/commenting here? If FDB knows who it is he should definitely complain to the proprietors here, and to his campus police department. But this is a public forum with, presumably, many more lurkers and readers than commenters. I fail to see how any individual commenter here can be held responsible for the fact that the internet is full of crazies. Speaking as a person who blogs I try not to blog under my real name for just that reason. Its a big, scary, world out there full of some very intemperate people. I have not, in my experience, found that feminists, leftists, and blog shouty people are actually likely to be stalkers–I do find that MRAs, right wingers, retired assholes, and NRA members are quite likely to stalk and threaten. Which kind of person threatened FDB? Inquiring minds would like to know.

                • aimai

                  Ooops. Nym fail. that was me.

                • rea

                  If, as Ronan seems to think, it involved someone going to the office and taking a picture (as opposed to finging a picture of the building on the internet), that would seem to limit the suspects to people who have ready access to West Lafayette, Indiana–probably not a big catagory.

                • aimai

                  Well, you wouldn’t catch me dead there. But then again, its not devoid of population. Could be a lot of people who live there who already dislike FDB.

                • ChrisTS

                  Right. How does de Boer know that this emailing person came from LGM?

                • rea

                  How he knows it’s someone from LGM, is that whoever did it said so:

                  an emailer who claims he got to my blog from here sent me pictures of where my office is on campus.

                  I think we can all think of a pancake loving person–“regular commentor” does not do justice to this individual’s status around here–who is capable of doing such a thing . . .

                • Jon H

                  Right, FDB posts comments at Gawker sites under his own name, too. And who knows where else.

                  Unless someone’s impersonating him at Gawker, but the comments match his style.

            • rea, I don’t think the threat and disturbingness is *reduced* necessarily by it being easy to find. If it’s easy to find then why did you email it to me?

              Seems rather pointed.

              We don’t really have enough detail to determine the tenor of the email, but I’d personally be weirded out if an unknown person sent me a picture of me that I posted. It’s odd behavior!

          • Tybalt

            Agreed, Tony. Said behavior is an implied threat, and that’s beyond the pale. No one asks for that.

        • herr doktor bimler

          I would certainly feel threatened if people knew my address on campus. Students might interrupt my nap.

    • Dave

      One day Freddie will disappear without trace, and we’ll all realise he was right all along and the system finally had to take him down.

    • Lee Rudolph

      Maybe you guys should engage in self-criticism

      Goodness knows that may be the only way I’ll ever get to go to camp.

    • Tybalt

      I should make one more observation here: when you yourself are the one being made fun of, that is the very worst time possible to haul out the word “objective” to describe your opinion of those poking the fun.

      • herr doktor bimler

        As for hauling out the word “despicable”, this is only a good idea if one is entertaining a party with an impression of Daffy Duck.

        • low-tech cyclist

          I’m glad to see I was hardly the only one who immediately thought of Daffy Duck while reading that “objectively despicable people” line.

          And wouldn’t that be a terrific name for a group blog?

    • rea

      As a gay man who has been told by you (in the passage quoted above) that I am not authentically gay because I don’t confirm to your preferred sterotypes, I might briefly feel like throwing something at you, but I’m enough under control that I wouldn’t actually do that, much less send you a threatening e-mail.

      • sharculese

        Yeah, speaking of that kind of behavior: threats are bad and all, but why are we all just assuming we’re the only people on the internet Freddie has irritated in the last week or so?

        That sounds implausible.

        • rea

          Who would bother to travel all the way to W. Lafayette, Ind., to get Freddie? Now if you are already there, maybe, but of course, a graduate student’s university office number isn’t exactly private, confidential information.

    • eventheHUACliberal sharculese

      Does it ever occur to you guys that your commenters are objectively despicable people?

      Oh dear god yes I’m pretty much a monument to self-loathing.

      • Did it even occur to you that you’re trying to limit the free speech of whoever sent you the e-mail, Freddie?

      • junker

        Add this one to the archives Sharc.

        • sharculese

          It’s taken care of, don’t worry.

    • asmallmoose

      And Freddie explains, more in sorrow than anger, that we pretty much suck and should really work on that.

      • Sucksplaining?

        • kenjob

          such ‘splaining.

          • ProfDamatu

            much platitudes. wow. :)

      • rea

        Everyone is entitled to their opinion, which they ought to be able to articulate without fear of retaliation or criticism, except of course if your opinion is that FDB is wrong, in which case you’re objectively despicable.

        • aimai

          Nope. I tried. Its literally impossible to read the word “despicable” in other than a Daffy Duck voice. I gave it my best shot. But it can’t be done.

    • junker

      I find it amusing that the very first thing you did was post a comment pre-insulting everyone who posts here, and now post to complain about the tone.

      • tonycpsu

        This. Same as it ever was with this guy. “FIGHT ME, YOU ASSHOLES, FIGHT ME!… Hey, why are people punching me back?

    • witless chum

      Am I having a problem with Firefox because I can’t see where [BONERS] quotes the anti-leftist red baiting? Criticism of specious nonsense by someone who claims to a leftist doesn’t count.

      And I hope no one was really shitty enough to send [BONERS] a threatening email.

    • Does it ever occur to you guys that your commenters are objectively pancake people? Like, I get that the way you operate is to intentionally chum the pancakes for other people to do your waffle work and say the terrible, pancaking, anti-syrup things that you actually enjoy (far more than you enjoy fighting with pancakes, clearly), but honestly: these are ugly, awful pancakes. Maybe you guys should engage in self-wafflism for what would have to literally be the first time in your lives and ask, gee, maybe creating a waffle in which people drive themselves to the most vile pancakes and utterly personal French toasts imaginable is not the way we should bake.

      Also: an emailer who claims he got to my blog from here sent me pictures of where my pancakes are on campus. So, yeah. Cool pancakes, guys!

    • Ronan

      seems a little OTT

    • It occurred to me the moment I saw your name headlining a comment, actually.

    • “Maybe you guys should engage in self-criticism for what would have to literally be the first time in your lives”

      Oh just shut up. I engage in self-criticism the moment I wake up. “Why the fuck did I set the alarm so early,” I criticize.

    • Yosemite Sam

      One of the teacher’s pet commenters,
      Aimai, is incredibly arrogant and hostile to anyone who dares disagree with her. People take mere disagreement as a sign that you’re either a dumbass leftist or a Wingnut. If she doesn’t like you she’ll just mock you. Because she’s too good to be criticized.

      • sharculese

        aimai?

        • DrS – Processed in a Facility That Also Handles Snark

          Right? Of all the commenters on this site, she’s the one singled out by this troll for that?

          I feel left out.

          • asmallmoose

            DrS is an arrogant jerk. I hate him. He’s mean and he’s not going to be invited to my birthday party this year.

            • aimai

              I get this a lot, actually. Though not from cartoon characters.

              • DrS – Processed in a Facility That Also Handles Snark

                I guess if you’re a troll who doesn’t think of women as full people, anything you say is going to come across as arrogant. Cause how dare you say anything.

              • herr doktor bimler

                Serves you right for sounding like Daffy Duck.

            • DrS – Processed in a Facility That Also Handles Snark

              Ahh…that just feels so right.

          • ChrisTS

            Aimai’s comments are often lengthy, full of complete sentences, even. One can see how a troll my feel beset by them.

            • Malaclypse

              She uses words of more than two syllables. If that is not arrogance, then I don’t know what is.

              • asmallmoose

                Arrogance is when you confuse me

                • ChrisTS

                  As is universally recognized.

        • Arrogant Aimai? Link please.

          • IM

            She is at least uppity.

      • witless chum

        Sam, I think it’s possibly reality is hornswoggling you again.

    • Captain Blicero

      If anyone here endorses that kind of intimidation, it’s news to me.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Has it ever occurred to you that when you engage in the tone policing of comments rather than responding to substantive points on the merits, it speaks for itself?

      The actions of the emailer are, of course reprehensible. Your implication that this behavior was somehow endorsed by linking to and disagreeing with a post is, however, very wrong.

      • herr doktor bimler

        The actions of the emailer are, of course reprehensible

        I for one am worried that judgments of this kind are impinging upon the anonymous e-mailer’s right to free speech.

        • ChrisTS

          Heh.

    • ChrisTS

      I am quite sure that I am not ‘objectively despicable.’ Indeed, in these 400+ comments, I don’t see anyone being despicable, even subjectively.

      If you think that people criticizing, even mocking, your blog posts is ‘despicable,’ you know very little about history or humans.

      If having your dreadful writing described as such strikes you as ‘despicable,’ you are not ready for an academic position.

      And, where, please tell, are the attacks on leftists and the red-baiting?

      You know, I was blissfully unaware of your existence until about a year ago. You have exposed yourself to the Internets, and now you are whining about being rejected by others on the Internets. You are a remarkably childish young man.

    • Kevin

      Report whomever sent you that. Pretty low thing for someone to do.

      Moving on to the rest of your post. Do you read this blog at all? or the comments? It’s all about ripping the Supreme Court, or Republicans, or Law schools for being rip offs.

      That you pretend it is just a circle jerk mocking leftists shows you are not out to make a real argument, just trying to elevate yourself further as an internet martyr. Maybe your actually trying to get on Vox or something. They are known to hire trolls for click bait.

    • Does it ever occur to you guys that your commenters are objectively despicable people?

      I think it is because they think people are objectively despicable.

    • Pseudonym

      Wait, you’re calling me objectively despicable and then complaining about personal insults when we respond to your attempts at argumentation? I resent that. I consider myself quite spicable.

    • Halloween Jack

      Any concern that I might have had for your personal safety is severely mitigated by your using it as an excuse for excoriating the commentariat here en masse for, of all the fucking things, “redbaiting.” Or maybe I’m just too amused by the notion that I’ve never “engage[d] in self-criticism.” Whatever.

    • pseudalicious

      Also: an emailer who claims he got to my blog from here sent me pictures of where my office is on campus. So, yeah. Cool stuff, guys!

      That’s fucked up and whoever did it is an asshole.

    • Kiwanda

      Freddie, I agree that most of the comments here are boring and stupid, that but just means you don’t have to read them. Sturgeon’s rule applies as always, anyway.

      Scott and co. are not responsible for that stupidity (or to be more accurate, that festival of false dichotomies, imputations of bad faith, strawman bashing, and tribalism). While I think LGM is a big silly in the very limited comment censoring that it does (the c-word is a big no-no, generalized threats of violence are fine), there doesn’t seem to be the rigorous enforcement of ideological conformity via bans and comment-editing that takes place on the “freethroughtblogs”, for example.

      When you lump together the tiresome, but harmless, invective of the comments with the serious “we know where you live” emails, you’re playing the same bullshit game as Rebecca Watson and friends, the false dichotomy of “there’s only two sides, so everyone who disagrees with me is as bad as the worst who does”. Freddie, don’t do that.

      • Malaclypse

        you’re playing the same bullshit game as Rebecca Watson

        True Feminism from a Freddie fan. I’m shocked.

        • Kiwanda

          Thanks for being such a clear example!

  • Ken

    For me, this thread is a lot like the supermarket checkout line, where there’s a dozen tabloids with headlines like “Martina and Brent: Marriage Shocker!” or “New Pics of Candice and the Baby” or “Theo’s Weight-Loss Secret”, and I’m standing there thinking “Who are these people and why does everyone call them by their first names?”

    Except those headliners are (I assume) famous for something, and at that, something big enough to get national attention – although of course, they might just be famous for being famous, thanks to a PR firm.

    • rea

      Well, you must admit that Martina and Brent would indeed be a a marriage shocker.

    • Manny Kant

      My understanding is that they are all former stars of The Bachelor.

      • rea

        I was thinking Navratilova and Musberger.

        • Downpuppy

          Hingis & Bozell?

          • politicalfootball

            Dina and Spiner.

    • Bring Back Bat Boy

      I miss the old days, when I could relate to the supermarket checkout magazines.

      • asmallmoose

        Bat Boy married Fergie recently, they just got back from a honeymoon in Atlantis

  • dh

    Maybe you guys should engage in self-criticism for what would have to literally be the first time in your lives and ask, gee, maybe creating a arena in which people drive themselves to the most vile extremes and utterly personal insults imaginable is not the way we should act.

    Good lord. By internet standards, this thread has been a Victorian dinner conversation.

    • ChrisTS

      Good point.

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  • pseudalicious

    If being some kind of free speech absolutist is what it takes to be a liberal, can I be something else? Because Freddie seems to want me to be as consistent as the ACLU if I’m to call myself a True Leftist. Guess I’m not allowed to prioritize making the world a better place for people with less power if it contradicts abstract principles.

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