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Jon Chait’s Political Correctness

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Unlike at least one commenter, I’m inclined to think that Erik’s reaction to the unfortunate Chait p.c. piece was pretty much appropriate.  But I suppose what’s wrong with it could be spelled out in more detail.  First, as Angus Johnston says, it has a serious “what’s true isn’t relevant and what’s relevant isn’t true” problem.  Obviously, vandalism as a response to speech is illiberal and indefensible, but these isolated cases aren’t representative or defended by liberals of any influence or significance.  His examples of behavior that’s more common, on the other hand, tend to be self-refuting calls for less or different speech. People expressing disagreement with who gets chosen to receive a hefty check to express platitudes before a captive audience, for example, are not actually attacking on free speech; they are engaging in it. (Citing events invoking Catharine MacKinnon from the first Bush administration to pad out the list of anecdotes is a tell here, like a conservative culture scold still basing arguments around “Piss Christ.”) As Amanda Marcotte puts it:

While the article purports to be a lambast of “the culture of taking offense” and censorious attitudes, it quickly becomes clear that the only speech that Chait is interested in protecting is conservative or contrarian. When it comes to people saying uncomfortable or provocative things from the left, Chait comes across as just as censorious and silencing as any of the leftist prigs he attempts to criticize.

To be clear, Chait has plenty of examples of what has become a genuinely serious problem of liberals who react to uncomfortable ideas by turning to censorship: Harassment campaigns against conservatives, cancelling plays or art shows because of political incorrectness, tearing down anti-choice posters.

But outside of those few examples, most of Chait’s article is not a defense of rowdy public discourse at all, but the opposite: Most of the piece is little more than demands that liberals silence certain forms of discourse that make Chait uncomfortable. For a piece that mocks the use of “trigger warnings” to alert people about disturbing content, it sure seems Chait has no problem trying to silence anyone who says something that might hurt his feelings.

As Marcotte and several other people have observed, this argument in the Chait essay is particularly problematic:

Two and a half years ago, Hanna Rosin, a liberal journalist and longtime friend, wrote a book called The End of Men, which argued that a confluence of social and economic changes left women in a better position going forward than men, who were struggling to adapt to a new postindustrial order. Rosin, a self-identified feminist, has found herself unexpectedly assailed by feminist critics, who found her message of long-term female empowerment complacent and insufficiently concerned with the continuing reality of sexism. One Twitter hashtag, “#RIPpatriarchy,” became a label for critics to lampoon her thesis. Every new continuing demonstration of gender discrimination — a survey showing Americans still prefer male bosses; a person noticing a man on the subway occupying a seat and a half — would be tweeted out along with a mocking #RIPpatriarchy.

Her response since then has been to avoid committing a provocation, especially on Twitter. “If you tweet something straight­forwardly feminist, you immediately get a wave of love and favorites, but if you tweet something in a cranky feminist mode then the opposite happens,” she told me. “The price is too high; you feel like there might be banishment waiting for you.” Social media, where swarms of jeering critics can materialize in an instant, paradoxically creates this feeling of isolation. “You do immediately get the sense that it’s one against millions, even though it’s not.” Subjects of these massed attacks often describe an impulse to withdraw.

Let me get this straight. Rosin wrote an article promoting her recent book in Slate with the title “The Patriarchy Is Dead.” Some people on Twitter disagreed with this rather obviously silly and overstated premise and even used — avert your eyes! — what the kids today call “hashtags” to express their disagreement. (There are cases where Twitter can be used to engage in outright harassment rather than just disagreement, but nobody seems to be claiming that this is one of them.) And apparently the principles of freewheeling liberal free discourse are that — these people should not have disagreed with Rosin’s piece? That using Twitter snark to express disagreement crosses some magical line? To the extent that “P.C.” means anything at this late date, it’s Chait who’s expressing the “P.C.” views here. I admire a lot of Rosin’s work, but we should also return once again to dsquared: using provocative contrarianism to attract attention and then whining when people take the bait is not very sympathetic behavior.

…I also recommend this from Jia Tolentino. 

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  • MacK

    To be fair to Rosin I have seen a lot of articles published with titles that an editor wrote to make the article click bait – which are often at odds with the message of the author. Having read what Rosin says, “the Patriarchy is Dead” sounds like one example.

    • drkrick

      Her tweet today might be of interest:

      Funny @jonathanchait when i picked your resume out of the TNR pile, I considered it an aff action hire. No Harvard. http://nym.ag/1BuxlFr

  • MikeJake

    I don’t feel silenced or oppressed by internet PC nonsense, but I do find it extremely tedious.

    • Ronan

      I agree .. although also wouldnt deny that Ive undoubtedly added to the pile of internet nonsense at some stage. I might even do so regularly (we are all fallen angels, and all of that)But youre 100% correct, the internet has lost its collective mind.

      • efgoldman

        we are all fallen angels

        Not me. I’m nivir rwong.

        • pianomover

          I request a trigger warning for all trigger warnings.

        • c u n d gulag

          Mee two!

        • Ronan

          “never take advice from a man with a trumpet. He’s only blowing hot air”

          edit: I apologise for adding to the pile of internet nonsense, fallen angel etc etc

          • efgoldman

            “never take advice from a man with a trumpet. He’s only blowing hot air”

            How did you know I was a trumpet player? (Real true fact.)

            ETA: One should never apologize for nonsense on the intartoobz.

            • Ronan

              Im your twin from a parallel universe. I never knew how to broach the topic before now..

              • postmodulator

                If we can’t figure out which one of you is the evil twin, we’re supposed to kill you both.

                • Ronan

                  to get me youll have to find the gate that leads to my universe, or find your twin in my universe to do the job.
                  afaik efgoldman is somewhere in the western hemisphere so could be a better place to start

              • MAJeff

                You’re Bizarro efgoldman?

                • efgoldman

                  You’re Bizarro efgoldman?

                  Well, mrs efgoldman thinks so.

            • Ronan

              ..and youre my twin, also from a universe parallel to mine. I dont want to privilege either of our universes.

              • postmodulator

                As the “joking about this” phase begins, it’s useful to remember that “politically correct” started as a joke West Coast leftists used to poke fun at themselves.

                It’s sort of nice to be on the side that can do that.

          • MikeJake

            Reported.

    • StarryEyedHater

      I would agree, but I actually find it pretty easy to ignore if you don’t seek it out and/or make generous use of the block feature on some websites.

      • tsam

        I do too, but then sometimes I can’t help UNLEASHING THE CAPS LOCK WOLVERINES with some Navy Seal Copypasta or something similarly childish because it’s just what I do.

  • Bob

    “what’s true isn’t relevant and what’s relevant isn’t true”
    I guess that’s the best summation.
    The problem with a vague term like “political correctness” isn’t that it is totally meaningless – such a concept does actually exist and there are legitimate examples of it. It’s just so grossly overused that today it usually ends up meaning something like what the word “liberal” means to a conservative: “that with which I disagree”.

    • Derelict

      I think political correctness has taken on a pejorative meaning as conservatives constantly complain about “political correctness” silencing their free speech. Typically this is broken out two or three sentences into a diatribe about “why can’t a White man say ‘nigger'” or something similar.

      Chait does have a very small point in saying that political correctness is used to censor some speech. But the speech it usually ends up censoring (or, more accurately, condemning) is generally racist or sexist.

      • MAJeff

        think political correctness has taken on a pejorative meaning as conservatives constantly complain about “political correctness” silencing their free speech.

        The thing is, they aren’t being silenced. They can say anything they want. They just object to being judged negatively for saying ignorant, bigoted nonsense.

        It’s the Palin First Amendment: Criticism is Censorship.

        • postmodulator

          I don’t know, what counts as “being silenced?” Getting a death threat? I’m not naive enough to think that wingnuts don’t get those too.

          • MAJeff

            so, death threats are now political correctness?

            • postmodulator

              Maybe I’m phrasing that badly. Everyone’s accusing everyone else of “silencing” their political opposition. Clearly we’re not throwing anyone in prison for attending a Take Back The Night march or demanding equal time for creationism. So what actually counts as being silenced? Certainly the bigger assholes who threw death threats around in Gamergate were trying to silence their opposition. It didn’t work, but that was certainly the goal.

              “Political correctness” is basically too nebulous a concept to refute. I’m trying to think about what the actual problem is, here. (If any. As I said in the other thread, vandalizing that dude’s door was a Bad Thing, but isolated incidents and all that.)

              • liberalrob

                I’m trying to think about what the actual problem is, here.

                As I said in Erik’s comments, it’s tribalism. If you openly disagree with my tribe’s values, I must protect my tribe.

                “Political correctness” is just a buzzphrase, shorthand for “your politics don’t agree with mine.”

                • Aimai

                  No–political correctness only applies within the tribe, not between tribes. There’s a real difference there. Its about splitterism–its a form of policing the boundaries of acceptable discourse within the group not between groups.

                • liberalrob

                  You’re talking about P.C. as a concept. I’m talking about it as a label. Chait mistakes the latter, which is how conservatives use it as a pejorative (“you are p.c.” = “you are a liberal”), for the former. (Giving him the benefit of the doubt that it’s a mistake and not his actual belief).

                • mark

                  Yes, this. “Political correctness” as a phrase is used by people on the right to shut down debate; you are announcing your opponent is a mindless drone spewing dogma.

                  So if I,say, talk about a piece of crap science paper saying women aren’t programmers too stupid to do math, and you drill down on the statistics and completely demolish it, all I need to do is mention the “PC police.” Doesn’t matter that you actually understood the paper and I only even heard about the “science” for political reasons.

                  This usage is like 99% of uses of the word “PC” in the real world. But Chait doesn’t notice that–no, you aren’t really close minded until you use the word “mansplaining.”

          • Aimai

            Christ–wingnuts *give* those too. Three is a political correctness on the right side of the aisle and we see it at work every day. Renee Ellmers stumbled into it just by trying to prevent the GOP from shooting themselves in the foot with the new pro-rape fetal pain anti abortion law. She went from being a righteous woman, in their eyes, to being as Erik ErikInfinityErikson put it “right wing abortion barbie.” If you think she didn’t also get death threats as well as political attacks and personal attacks you are crazy. There are a shitload of things you don’t say, if you are a right winger, or you don’t admit to thinking. And there’s a well established group of attack dogs to keep you on the straight and narrow.

            • postmodulator

              Oh, shit, absolutely they do. I follow Taibbi on Twitter, and after he criticized American Sniper he started retweeting the death threats he got. And that’s a white male party boy. I totally did not mean to say that wingnuts don’t give out death threats. (My memory is not what it used to be but it does extend all the way back to Gamergate.)

            • witlesschum

              I heard someone didn’t wear a flag pin!

            • Nick056

              PC is really the updated version of orthodoxy. The shame of it is, the right enforces orthodoxy across the whole spectrum of their policies in a way that’s more intense than the left does, but I think liberals really lack the language to say that, for instance, “I’m not a scientist, but … ” reflects conservative orthodoxy that anything that you can paint as a technical question can be dismissed. For another example, it’s conservative orthodoxy that Bill de Blasio’s comments about his son were divisive and incendiary. If you point out that they divided whites but essentially united all minorities, and were not accusatory, you’re way, way outside the “PC box” of how conservatives talk about race and law enforcement.

        • searcher

          Has there been a court ruling on whether racist diatribes are protected speech?

          IMO (which may not be grounded in the real world) assholes over-reach on ‘free speech’ in two ways. First, they think literally everything that could come out of their mouth is the sort of speech with must be protected — slander, lies and abuse included. The second is that they misconstrue a right to speak with a right to be heard by everyone. People don’t have to publish your manifesto or give you time on the news and the right to not be harassed by phone and mail and email and in person.

          • liberalrob

            I think in Yurp there actually are such laws. Australia too.

            Here’s what the ABA has to say:

            In this country there is no right to speak fighting words—those words without social value, directed to a specific individual, that would provoke a reasonable member of the group about whom the words are spoken. For example, a person cannot utter a racial or ethnic epithet to another if those words are likely to cause the listener to react violently. However, under the First Amendment, individuals do have a right to speech that the listener disagrees with and to speech that is offensive and hateful.

  • Manju

    Are you guys running amok again? Stop running amok.

    • efgoldman

      I’m running two moks. It’s easier to get around in the snow.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        well, my mok is a self-starter. i just sit back and watch it flail

      • c u n d gulag

        Are you talking about wearing your mokluks?

        Shoot me now!

      • Mr. Rogers

        I’m running Ookla the Mok

    • Bob

      Perhaps. Are you foregoing a conclusion again? Stop foregoing conclusions.

    • Malaclypse

      We do not speak of the pon farr to outsiders.

      • Wasn’t that the episode where we learned that the Vulcan language is basically Yiddish?

        • Derelict

          Nu?

        • Bitter Scribe

          Which would make the Klingon language…what, German?

          • DocAmazing

            Actually, it’s pretty close to Esperanto, except in pronunciation.

    • tsam

      Fuck amok

      • Shakezula

        Stop moking me!

    • tsam

      What the fuck did you just fucking say about me, you little bitch? I’ll have you know I graduated top of my class in the Navy Seals, and I’ve been involved in numerous secret raids on Al-Quaeda, and I have over 300 confirmed kills. I am trained in gorilla warfare and I’m the top sniper in the entire US armed forces. You are nothing to me but just another target. I will wipe you the fuck out with precision the likes of which has never been seen before on this Earth, mark my fucking words. You think you can get away with saying that shit to me over the Internet? Think again, fucker. As we speak I am contacting my secret network of spies across the USA and your IP is being traced right now so you better prepare for the storm, maggot. The storm that wipes out the pathetic little thing you call your life. You’re fucking dead, kid. I can be anywhere, anytime, and I can kill you in over seven hundred ways, and that’s just with my bare hands. Not only am I extensively trained in unarmed combat, but I have access to the entire arsenal of the United States Marine Corps and I will use it to its full extent to wipe your miserable ass off the face of the continent, you little shit. If only you could have known what unholy retribution your little “clever” comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your fucking tongue. But you couldn’t, you didn’t, and now you’re paying the price, you goddamn idiot. I will shit fury all over you and you will drown in it. You’re fucking dead, kiddo.

      • efgoldman

        C-
        You can do better.

        • tsam

          It’s copypasta–it must be pasted to achieve maximum ridiculousness.

          Here, however, is a different angle…

          What in Davy Jones’ locker did ye just bark at me, ye scurvy bilgerat? I’ll have ye know I be the meanest cutthroat on the seven seas, and I’ve led numerous raids on fishing villages, and raped over 300 wenches. I be trained in hit-and-run pillaging and be the deadliest with a pistol of all the captains on the high seas. Ye be nothing to me but another source o’ swag. I’ll have yer guts for garters and keel haul ye like never been done before, hear me true. You think ye can hide behind your newfangled computing device? Think twice on that, scallywag. As we parley I be contacting my secret network o’ pirates across the sea and yer port is being tracked right now so ye better prepare for the typhoon, weevil. The kind o’ monsoon that’ll wipe ye off the map. You’re sharkbait, fool. I can sail anywhere, in any waters, and can kill ye in o’er seven hundred ways, and that be just with me hook and fist. Not only do I be top o’ the line with a cutlass, but I have an entire pirate fleet at my beck and call and I’ll damned sure use it all to wipe yer arse off o’ the world, ye dog. If only ye had had the foresight to know what devilish wrath your jibe was about to incur, ye might have belayed the comment. But ye couldn’t, ye didn’t, and now ye’ll pay the ultimate toll, you buffoon. I’ll shit fury all over ye and ye’ll drown in the depths o’ it. You’re fish food now.

          Better?

          • efgoldman

            Aaarrrr!

          • Karen24

            Save this for next September 17.

          • Gregor Sansa

            What the horseapples did you just bucking say about me, you little blank-flank? I’ll have you know I graduated top of my class in the EUP guards, and I’ve been involved in numerous secret raids on such worthy opponents as an Ursa Major, and I have over 300 confirmed stuns. I am trained in defensive forcefields and I’m the top sparkler in the entire Equestria armed forces. You are nothing to me but just another changeling. I will teach you the power of friendship with precision the likes of which has never been seen before on this Earth, mark my bucking words. You think you can get away with saying that horsefeathers to me over the Internet? Think again, filly. As we speak I am contacting my secret network of BPFs across Equestria and your cutie mark is being traced right now so you better prepare for the sonic rainboom, Derpy. The rainboom that teaches you what a pathetic little thing your life is without friends. You’re gonna wish you had the cutie pox, filly. I can be anywhere, anytime, and I can out-pony you in over seven hundred ways, and that’s just with my earth pony magic. Not only am I extensively trained in non-magical feats, but I have access to the Elements of Harmony of the Mane Six and I will use them to their full extent to wipe your miserable donkey off the face of the principality, you little horseapple. If only you could have known what unponylike retribution your “clever-hooves” little comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your bucking tongue. But you couldn’t, you didn’t, and now you’re paying the price, you Celestia-ignored colt. I will shit rainbows all over you and you will drown in them. You’re bucking friendless, foal.

            • Manju

              are you kidding me you little piece of shit i’ll have you know i graduated top of my politics class and i’ve been involved in privilege checking with over 150 confirmed political demonstrations i’m trained in conflict resolution and i was the most oppressed person in my entire upper middle class high school you are nothing to me but another cultural appropriator i will wipe you the fuck out with precision the likes of which have never been seen on this side of the 49th parallel mark my words you think you can get away with saying that shit to me over the internet think again fucker, as we speak i’m checking with my anarcho-communist analyst brigade for your location so you better be prepared to deal with some molotov cocktails and angry feminists flying through your window yOU’RE FUCKING DEAD CHERRY! i can be anywhere at any time and i can kill you in over seven hundred ways and that’s just with me boring you to death while i talk about privilege not only am i extensively trained in hotline management but i have access to an entire arsenal of sociological articles to prove my point and i will use them to wipe your fucking face off the earth you little shit if only you had known what oppressed retribution your cultural appropriation would unleash then maybe you would have held your fucking tongue but you couldn’t you’re fucking dead kiddo

              • Aimai

                Brilliant. I think this should be its own thing. Rwnj/navy seal manly diatribes rewritten for lgm.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  Manju’s is authentic copypasta (avaialble at tsam’s link.) I broke the copypasta rule and actually wrote my version. If mine is ever going to become pasta itself, it needs some edits. (Sorry, I know it’s less funny the second time.)

                  What the horseapples did you just bucking say about me, you little blank-flank? I’ll have you know I graduated top of my class in the Equestrian guards, I’ve faced down an Ursa Major, and I have over 300 confirmed pals. I am trained in friendship magic and I’m the top sparkler in the Earth, Unicorn, or Pegasus branches of the guards. You are everything to me and not just another changeling. I will teach you the power of friendship with amiability the likes of which has never been seen before on this Earth, mark my bucking words. You think Celestia doesn’t care or that your scrolls just turn to ashes when your dragon burns them? Think again, filly. As we speak I am contacting my secret network of BPFs across Equestria and your cutie mark is being traced right now so you better prepare for the sonic rainboom, Derpy. The rainboom that teaches you that even a life that seems pathetically little can be better with friends. You’re gonna think you must have had the cutie pox, filly. I can be anywhere, anytime, and I can befriend you in over seven hundred ways, and that’s just with my earth pony magic. Not only am I extensively trained in kindness, but I have access to the Elements of Harmony of the Mane Six and I will use them to their full extent to wipe your miserable frown off your face, you little squeebundle. If only you could have known what kind of (((hugs))) your “clever-hooves” little comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your bucking tongue. But you couldn’t, you didn’t, and now you’re learning your lesson, you Celestia-beloved colt. I will shit rainbows all over you and you will frolic in them. You’re bucking adorable, foal.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  Turns out I’m not the first:

                  What in Ponyville did you just [buy some apples] say about me, you little [buy some apples]? I’ll have you know I graduated top of my class at the Ponyville academy, and I’ve been involved in numerous secret party planning committees on unsuspecting ponies, and I have over 300 confirmed parties planned. I am trained in the magic of friendship and I’m the top party planner in the entire country of Equestria. You are everything to me because you will be my next target. I will wipe the frown off your face with precision the likes of which has never been seen before on this Earth, mark my [buy some apples] words. You think you can get away with saying that [buy some apples] to me over the Internet? Think again, party pooper. As we speak I am contacting my secret network of party planners across the Equestria and your IP is being traced right now so you better prepare for the storm, debbie downer. The storm that wipes out the pathetic little thing you call your sadness. You’re gonna die, pony(when you see the party I have planned of course). I can be anywhere, anytime, and I can suprise you in over seven hundred ways, and that’s just with my bare hooves. Not only am I extensively trained in suprises, but I have access to the entire arsenal of the Equestrian Suprise Committee and I will use it to its full extent to wipe that miserable look off the face of Equestria, you little [buy some apples]. If only you could have known what amazing fun your little “amazing” comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you wouldn’t have waited to say something. But you couldn’t, you didn’t, and now you’re paying the price, you lovable pony. I will [buy some apples] fun all over you and you will swim in it. You’re in for fun, kiddo.

                  Goes to show that you should never try to out-pasta the pasta.

    • The Temporary Name

      Amok over here
                                                                           Amok over there

      • efgoldman

        Here amok, there amok, everywhere amok, mok.

        • tsam

          Amok Donald had amok

        • Lee Rudolph

          Into the valley of mok rode the 300!!!

          • tsam

            I need a rake for all this mok.

            • Lee Rudolph

              The men with the mok rakes are often indispensable to the well being of society; but only if they know when to stop raking the mok.

  • Linnaeus

    This looks like the latest incarnation of the “political correctness” track that Timothy Egan, Isaac Chotinier, and Michelle Goldberg went on in response to the commencement exercises brouhaha this summer at a couple of colleges. I’ve been contemplating why they are conjuring this up now – I wish I had more time to go into it now, but have to leave in a few minutes.

    • efgoldman

      but have to leave in a few minutes.

      Don’t forget your mittens!

      • toberdog

        Or your moks.

      • People from the Mitten seldom forget their mittens. Even Mitten native Mitt probably remembers his (they’re the right height).

        BTW, L, as I think we’ve discussed before, Chait is very much a certain kind of product of U of M of that era. There was a lot of racial resentment blowing around that campus in the 80’s and early 90’s.

        • Linnaeus

          BTW, L, as I think we’ve discussed before, Chait is very much a certain kind of product of U of M of that era. There was a lot of racial resentment blowing around that campus in the 80’s and early 90’s.

          Yep, and I remember it pretty well. I was at U-M at the same time Chait was. Hell, we were in the same dorm during our sophomore year – he lived down the hall from me. We interacted a fair amount back then, but he might not remember me.

          • JL

            Ooh, do you have any fun stories? Not anything meant to humiliate him, just something fun and humanizing. I could tell entertaining-but-not-humiliating stories about most of my undergrad hallmates, and they could do the same about me.

            • Linnaeus

              I don’t have any fun stories, really. We were casual acquaintances – we’d chat from time to time in the dorm, we played together on our dorm’s intramural softball team (Chait was a decent athlete), we interacted electronically through U-M’s “Confer” system – kind of like a BBS/proto-blog, etc. We got along pretty well.

              It’s interesting – my politics at the time were, um, different than they are now, so I saw the “PC incidents” at U-M that Chait describes through a somewhat different lens.

  • Bob

    Perhaps. Are you foregoing a conclusion again?

  • MattMinus

    One thing I don’t get is how the political correctness of the right never gets brought up in these discussions. They’ve got just as much orthodoxy and language policing as we do. Try doing wrongthink about guns, or even referring to a magazine as a clip, on a right wing forum. Look at the attempts to silence any voice that doesn’t agree that the American Sniper was the absolute paragon of righteous manhood. These aren’t expressions of a political correctness? These seem a little more culturally relevant than a comp lit professor deciding that it’s a hate crime if you don’t use their personal pronoun set.

    • humanoid.panda

      Soft bigotry of low expectations.

    • Linnaeus

      As I like to say, it was pretty politically incorrect to be a communist in the United States in 1950 or so.

      • Lee Rudolph

        I was astounded to learn the other day that Earl Browder’s grandson (son of the oldest of his three sons, who all became mathematicians) is an apparently amoral hedgefund fiend who become a British citizen and renounced his US citizenship as part of his amoral hedgefund fiendishness.

        Funny old world.

        • Must be less Marx and more Engels.

        • Linnaeus

          Wow.

    • Hogan

      But they’re supposed to be authoritarian douche canoes. It’s their thing.

    • tsam

      It’s called defending freedom when conservatives do it and it’s about freedom, not correctness, even though it is correct because freedom.

      Why don’t you stupid libs get this?

    • toberdog

      Obama cited a regular Minnesota working-parent family in the SOU address. Rush & Co. promptly attacked the family. I suppose they were glad that they hadn’t replaced their countertops anytime in the recent past.

      • tsam

        Or that they didn’t vocally support birth control like Sandra Fluke.

        THE HORROR! HOW DARE SHE

    • SIS1

      You are completely correct, but unfortunately the term P.C. got grafted on to the politics of the left and not the right. If anything, the policing of thought and speech in order to make it politically “correct” is a lot stronger on the right than the left.

  • Linnaeus

    It just occurred to me that the magazine that this article appears in is the same one that published a big article on political correctness on college campuses around 1990/91 or so. I remember it got quite a bit of attention.

  • burnspbesq

    I’m not at all surprised by your and, especially, Loomis’ reaction. Chait’s critique couldn’t be more applicable to this blog if he had called you both out by name.

    He nailed you. Reflection, not reaction, is called for.

    • Malaclypse

      True, that is why nobody ever disagrees with anybody here.

      • Sez you.

        • Malaclypse

          When you look at the groupthink on display on, say, a Campos BMI post, I think we should all reflect on burnsie’s indictment.

          • I wouldn’t have thought there were enough Mercedes fans here to cause trouble about Campos’s beemer, but whatever.

          • If everyone agreed Loomis would never be able to generate 300 comments just by posting about condiments.

            • Aimai

              And don’t bring up the dead horses or the lynching pictures.

              • If you don’t like the dead horse pictures you can just go back to Albania, Comrade Hoxha.

                • Malaclypse

                  Remember the blog war with Crooked Timber? Farley sank their battleship, or something…

    • Aimai

      Geez, you wandered over from Balloon Juice to post this, Burnsie?

      • Hob

        Not only that – he went back over there to describe his valiant posting and concluded that he’d probably get banned for it.

        • JL

          Wait, the second comment on that Balloon Juice post is using my ‘nym. I guess “JL” wasn’t ever going to be unique. Just for the record, whoever that JL is, they aren’t me.

        • Origami Isopod

          I’m cackling at Cole’s tag “Squid Cloud of Butthurt.” I may steal it.

    • Ha ha ha.

      Great stuff.

    • Shakezula

      “I came here for an argument!”

      • efgoldman

        “No you didn’t.”

    • JustRuss

      Erik Loomis is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.

    • Linnaeus

      Firmly disagree with this – to the extent that Chait nailed anything, LG&M’s front pagers don’t even come close to what he was talking about, especially someone like Lemieux, who strikes me as a solidly mainstream left-of-center writer.

    • MAJeff

      Trolls gonna troll.

  • SIS1

    As someone who would identify much more with the Marxian left than Enlightenment Liberals (whom I think worked off a completely incorrect template for mankind), I do find a lot of these new “p.c” terms both confounding and not useful, and I graduated college only in 2002, so not that long ago. I think its completely correct and fine to point out how certain communities or individuals are marginalized or oppressed by the existing power structure – what I don’t understand is the seeming elevation of those portions of identities as being central to our political discourse. No one should feel marginalized and no one should be oppressed, but the only way to conduct real popular democratic change is to emphasize those ways in which we are equal, or if someone is unequally treated, how that needs to change.

    In short, as brutal as it might be, certain portions of our identities must be prioritized above others in order to create a common front for change. Diversity is good because it makes the whole stronger when different voices and viewpoints are considered, but at the point in which it tears the group together, it looses value.

    • Bruce B.

      It’s true. If white people could be persuaded to make less of an issue of other people’s race, and if men could be persuaded not to regard women (and others) as fair game for all kinds of harassment, it would be substantially easier to work on class issues and overall systemic justice.

      • SIS1

        Oh please.

        Which of your identities is central? Is it your sex, race, gender identity, religion, party affiliation, sexual preference, income level, profession, regional identity?

        You can be all those things at once, but the truth is that the number of people you can then claim community with declines with each level of identity, until you are just you. And social change is never the work of just one individual, but movements.

        One example – the reason same sex marriage is now legal in almost all of the country as opposed to almost none of it (and why this happened so fast) is because supporters were able to get the majority of people to identify with the idea that people should be able to marry whom they love, period. The sex of the two partners should be irrelevant. That argument works specifically because advocates have been able to move the discussion about marriage away from “its about reproduction and family alliances and passing on wealth” to the notion that its about partnership of individuals who love each other. Notice how specificity about sexual preference is basically removed from the discussion. Its not about whether you want to have sex with someone of the same or opposite sex (something that divides people) but whether you can be with those you love for life (universal value). That is how big social change is made. The partial victory of the civil rights movement came from being able to point out how utterly unfair it was that so many American citizens, due to something that should be irrelevant (race) where being terrorized by a political system that denied them basic American rights. Where it failed was being able to move beyond rights under the law to equal respect and economic rights, which are just as important, but where building that shared identity becomes much harder.

        • Aimai

          I don’t think any victory, ever, comes from “pointing something out.”

          • SIS1

            “pointing something out” in the sense of changing the social narrative.

          • postmodulator

            I disagree in at least one instance. I think gay men and women outing themselves — pointing out that gay people were members of families and of communities — helped gay rights immensely.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              i sometimes think that if everyone attending services in a given church who was party in one way or the other to an abortion gave off a special glow the church leaders would have to gulp down a big mug of stfu

            • Linnaeus

              That’s Dan Savage’s position – he’s said repeatedly that the most significant political act any LGBT person can do is be out to their friends, families, and communities.

              • postmodulator

                He may be where I first encountered the idea. I’m rather boringly straight myself so I didn’t come up with it on my own.

              • Hob

                Harvey Milk’s position by way of Dan Savage, really. Props to the elders.

                • Linnaeus

                  True, that.

            • SIS1

              Well, its hard to claim some form of equality if one side of the equation is absent from the discourse, and I say this as someone whose father died while still in the closet for the most part, certainly to me.

        • The Temporary Name

          Which of your identities is central?

          To whom?

          • MAJeff

            And when?

            • SIS1

              Both important questions certainly; does that change the reality thought that to build a movement you need to be able to gather others that will identify with it long enough to get real change? Because in the end what brings about change is the ability to wield some form of power, and if you put a bunch of advocates in a room and the discussion inevitably descends into an argument about how no one in the room is pure enough to really be part, that bunch of advocates won’t be able to affect any change.

              • Aimai

                Can’t we all just get along, don’t attribute to malice what can be attributed to idiocy/incompetence/innocence, etc..etc…etc… are great organizing slogans and I actually prefer them to purity. But Identity politics doesn’t mean purity over alliances. People have identities that they can’t and don’t want to submerge just to push a program of advancement that some white dude thinks is the most important one. Its like you’ve never heard of intersectionality and/or you’ve never considered that certain identities: being a woman, being black, being Jewish, being an immigrant are valuable. They aren’t a thing holding us back from a real understanding of our goals as a society they are constituent parts of who we are, our values, our experiences.

                • SIS1

                  “But Identity politics doesn’t mean purity over alliances.”

                  I would argue that nowadays, it can in fact descend to that level, where it becomes impossible to organize for change because of internal squabbles.

                  “Its like you’ve never heard of intersectionality and/or you’ve never considered that certain identities: being a woman, being black, being Jewish, being an immigrant are valuable. ”

                  Identities are certainly valuable to an individual person, but something that can be of immense value to a single person might prove of no value to the group as a whole. As for intersectionality, I had not in fact heard that term before. And in doing some quick research, I can see how the term is analytically valuable but I don’t see how it helps politically. If you are oppressed in multiple ways, the effective means of relieving your problem is by uniting with others to, if possible, undermine and/or remove both forms of oppression or at the minimum one. To use black women as an example, all of them uniting only with those others who suffer under both form of oppression (only other black women) won’t give them as much power to affect change as uniting with all women or all blacks. And then of course you have to realize that black woman is still a pretty broad classification which papers over gender/sexual preference/religious/class differences.

                • tsam

                  I would argue that nowadays, it can in fact descend to that level, where it becomes impossible to organize for change because of internal squabbles.

                  That’s been a hallmark of Democratic and liberal politics since forever. Can’t organize a glass of water.

                • Hogan

                  Look, little lady, the main thing is to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US and rebuild the middle class. Then we can deal with the meanies who are marginalizing and oppressing you.

                • The Temporary Name

                  To use black women as an example, all of them uniting only with those others who suffer under both form of oppression (only other black women) won’t give them as much power to affect change as uniting with all women or all blacks.

                  Well, if what you want to say is bafflingly obvious, yes other people have to listen to your issues and take things seriously, and lo and behold, it has happened. It should be just as obvious that without gay people banding together and being active, gay marriage would have gone nowhere at all. To say nothing of other movements in which people have banded together in various groups.

                  There is IMMENSE political value in saying “I am X Identity and I am a Democrat.”

                • joe from Lowell

                  People have identities that they can’t and don’t want to submerge

                  Yes, they do.

                  I like Aimai’s answer a whole lot better than

                  It’s true. If white people could be persuaded to make less of an issue of other people’s race, and if men could be persuaded not to regard women (and others) as fair game for all kinds of harassment

                  as a response to the question of how big a role identity politics should play in the left.

        • MAJeff

          There’s more to it than that, though.

          Marriage itself has also changed drastically. When Baker v. Nelson was produced, it was unimaginable that two members of the same-sex could marry. This wasn’t only because of people’s attitudes toward gay folks, but because of the gendered nature of marriage at the time. Today, it’s much less a “husband and wife” institution, particularly in law, and more of a “spouse and spouse” thing, with far less rigid roles.

          • SIS1

            I would not dispute that, but how does that challenge what I said? To me, it seems that statement would simply point to the impossibility of having successfully pushed for same sex marriage 40 years ago, and go towards explaining how fast the tide turned in the last 10.

            • JL

              It challenges what you said because you implied that same-sex marriage won out through appeal to universal values and what people have in common. But the only reason that could even happen was that those things changed (and a big factor in their change, in this case, was feminism, and feminists being willing to challenge what were widely considered to be universal values, decades ago).

              Also, I doubt the universality tactic would have been in a position to work if attitudes toward homosexuality hadn’t already changed a great deal in the previous 15-20 years, and if advances forced on an unwilling society (same-sex marriage in MA, employment nondiscrimination laws in some states, civil rights for people with HIV) hadn’t demonstrated that gay and bi people were less scary than previously believed, and earlier, often more confrontational, activists, did that.

              • SIS1

                Still not clear as to why realizing that a fundamental change in the underlying social fabric being necessary to set the state for change refutes the notion of still needing to unite in a movement that can bring others in is necessary for change. Those two things are not in fact in any way or form opposed.

        • JL

          Oh please yourself.

          The whole point of intersectionality, which is not exactly a brand-new idea in the social justice world, is that you can be your whole self and don’t have to pick one of the many aspects of your identity.

          One example – the reason same sex marriage is now legal in almost all of the country as opposed to almost none of it (and why this happened so fast) is because supporters were able to get the majority of people to identify with the idea that people should be able to marry whom they love, period.

          And it took decades to lay the groundwork for that, and a lot of that early work was done by people who were very aware of, and had a strong basis in, what some would like to deride as identity politics, from the Stonewall rioters to ACT UP. The Massachusetts case that finally brought same-sex marriage to a state and showed large portions of the country that it wouldn’t make the sky fall, was won by a law firm, GLAD, that had been practicing identity politics and taking on divisive issues for two decades by that time.

          The partial victory of the civil rights movement came from being able to point out how utterly unfair it was that so many American citizens, due to something that should be irrelevant (race) where being terrorized by a political system that denied them basic American rights.

          Well, and also from causing so much disruption and so much damage to the US’ image abroad that the government was pressured into acting. And from the fear that more radical alternatives would rise if their demands weren’t addressed. Social change isn’t really about appealing to the majority’s better nature. Or winning people over with your reason and ideals. It’s about building power, which is likely to involve both of those things to some degree, but also involves a whole lot more.

          Edited to add: I see that other people already brought up the intersectionality point.

          • SIS1

            “The whole point of intersectionality, which is not exactly a brand-new idea in the social justice world, is that you can be your whole self and don’t have to pick one of the many aspects of your identity.”

            Which is fine and great for an individual, but does squat for movement building and bringing change.

            “Well, and also from causing so much disruption and so much damage to the US’ image abroad that the government was pressured into acting. And from the fear that more radical alternatives would rise if their demands weren’t addressed. Social change isn’t really about appealing to the majority’s better nature. Or winning people over with your reason and ideals. It’s about building power, which is likely to involve both of those things to some degree, but also involves a whole lot more.”

            Given that the US in in fact a democracy, however imperfect, the ‘Government’ is in fact the majority, or at least that one which votes. Unless you have a chance at winning an armed revolt, in a democratic society getting 50%+1 of votes on your side is how you gain power.

            The violation of specific civil and legal rights was concentrated primarily in one part of the country, and the rest of the majority in essence ignored it – what the movement did was force that system into the open, showed that at the end, it was violence that sustained it, and made ‘ignorance’ impossible for the rest of white America outside of the South.

            The issues that remain with regards to race are those which in fact permeated the entire nation and not just the South. While it was easy for Northern whites to feel disgraced about how Southern whites denied Southern blacks many civil rights, including making it almost impossible for them to vote, getting them to admit they were just as likely (if not more due to it being easier) to segregate their schools, housing, or actively undermine black economic and social advancement has been the hard part, exactly because it requires the majority to fess up its own sins.

            • JL

              Given that the US in in fact a democracy, however imperfect, the ‘Government’ is in fact the majority, or at least that one which votes. Unless you have a chance at winning an armed revolt, in a democratic society getting 50%+1 of votes on your side is how you gain power.

              Eh but it’s not like this is a direct democracy. You gain power in a lot of ways and they aren’t all winning 50%+1 votes. “Government” includes the judiciary and the unelected portions of the executive. Again, I’m going to point to your own example of same-sex marriage – most people in the US opposed same-sex marriage when it came to Massachusetts through a lawsuit and judicial ruling. Most people in Massachusetts opposed it. Part of what won people over was that they gradually saw that the world didn’t end with same-sex marriage.

              To go back to one of your other points, I don’t think movements are getting smaller as people refuse to deemphasize certain parts of their identity. They’re getting more inclusive – feminism has a long way to go when it comes to racial justice but it’s better than it was 20 years ago – and there are more caucus-type subsets of movements, but the movements aren’t breaking up. Pretty much nobody in, say, the undocuqueer sub-movement, is suggesting that they should have nothing to do with not-specifically-undocuqueer LGBTQ activism. The Black Lives Matter wave of black activism, from the beginning, has been very heavy on black queer/trans people and black women, who have been quite insistent that they are black queer/trans people and black women and they will not check those parts of themselves at the door, but they’re still part of the movement, that is how coalitions work.

              • Aimai

                Thank you, JL, for saying everything I wanted to say but saying it better.

                I want to add that I see both sides–the “more inclusion” side is really saying “my feelings get hurt when I see other people taking the helm of political activism and taking it in directions I don’t think are important, or running the meetings in ways that don’t respect my goals or feelings.” That’s what it boils down to and I’m sympathetic to that feelign or that experience. But its not really about the work then, its about positioning in the work and power in the struggle. I have really been enjoying the link to the work of Brittany Cooper, the “blackademic” who Chait attacked. But I can see that it makes people uncomfortable for her to both offer a critique and a set of actions/goals for political engagement and at the same time refuse to make white allys feel needed, or loved, or even liked. Its damned uncomfortable and its easy to say that such a person makes the movement “smaller” or is excluding (some) allies from the fight. But that’s on us, not on her. She’s fighting the fight she needs to fight and we can either come along or be left behind.

              • SIS1

                “Eh but it’s not like this is a direct democracy. You gain power in a lot of ways and they aren’t all winning 50%+1 votes. “Government” includes the judiciary and the unelected portions of the executive. Again, I’m going to point to your own example of same-sex marriage – most people in the US opposed same-sex marriage when it came to Massachusetts through a lawsuit and judicial ruling. Most people in Massachusetts opposed it. Part of what won people over was that they gradually saw that the world didn’t end with same-sex marriage.”

                The people of Massachusetts could have overturned the court democratically, but they didn’t. So could the people of the US – after all, courts base their power on the law, and Legislatures set law. That our system has unelected positions is a decision made by an elected government. The basis of power does not change.

                Also, re: the article, there is this bit:
                “Then, 48 percent polled supported legalizing gay marriages, while 43 percent were opposed. In the recent poll, 35 percent supported legalizing gay marriage and 53 percent were opposed; the survey of 400 adults has a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points.”

                and this part:

                “The 10-point increase in opposition to legalizing gay marriage came after a strong campaign by the Catholic Church and other opponents, who have denounced the SJC ruling and lobbied for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Among Catholics, the percentage of those who oppose gay marriage increased from 47 to 66 percent.”

                Also left out of that story because it happened later is the fact that there was a Constitutional convention held in Massachusetts in 2004, and attempts to change the Constitution to undo the law failed.

                So, seem to me the version of the story that is more true to the facts is that before the court ruling, support and opposition to gay marriage was about even, then the court rules, which mobilizes and invigorates the opposition, but not enough to overcome resistance to an outright constitutional ban on gay marriage.

                As for movement issue – inclusivity is positive, certainly, but the question remains on effectiveness. I hope that Black Lives Matter makes positive change and I am glad that people have fought to make it exclusive, but the real test is legislation being passed.

                • JL

                  Yes, there was a Constitutional Convention, which I remember vividly, and the state legislature failed to toss the question of same-sex marriage to popular vote in part because there was a tremendous amount of lobbying, rallying, phone banking, and so on that went on. Certainly, that was about power coming from the people, but it wasn’t about power coming from the majority. Same-sex marriage supporters did not want the outcome to depend on getting majority popular support; I remember that quite clearly.

                  I hope that Black Lives Matter makes positive change…

                  It already has. Certainly I hope it makes a lot more, but it has been amazingly successful for a movement that’s only really been around for a few months.

    • Origami Isopod

      certain portions of our identities must be prioritized above others in order to create a common front for change.

      Apparently, that would be the white, male, straight, etc. portion. Everything else is “divisive.”

      • It’s not my fault that you are not a default human being.

  • Downpuppy

    Alex Pareene has the most fun chopping Chait into chum.

    • Aimai

      Lovely. Thanks for linking to it. The comparison to the boxer is great but it must also be said that Chait may be reaching the outskirts of “get offa my lawn-ism.”

      • njorl

        He could be looking for an easy pre-retirement sinecure as even-the-liberal-Jonathan-Chait. It can take years of groundwork for one of those to blossom.

        • I think Chait is a sincere liberal on a lot of matters, and I’m much happier he’s on our side on things like taxes and health care, where he runs conservatives in circles. But to me one of the most revealing things he’s ever said was a month or two ago, when he was defending Peretz and explaining that back in like 1970 he sponsored some event of lefty-liberals and many of the group attacked him (as I remember the telling, it did seem like they were rude jerks, but using that as an excuse for then being shitty on race is like becoming a conservative because you got mugged).

          Anyway, Chait, I think in a tweet, referred to the offending parties as members of SNCC. In fact, they were either Black Panthers or some group like the Black Panthers. I saw that and thought “only an intellectual/political writer who’s white, even if well-meaning, would mix up SNCC (or maybe he even said SCLC!) and the Black Panthers. And if you’re in your mid to late 40’s when you’re doing that, you’ve probably not really understood much about the political and social context of being black in America in the last 60 years, and probably never will.

          • Actually, now that I think about it again, the group may have been some workers party sectarian splitter group of some variety. Whatever the case, it was far far far far far from the SCLC or SNCC.

    • This bit is great:

      But if Chait can’t prove his thesis, he can at least repeatedly assert it. “While politically less threatening than conservatism (the far right still commands far more power in American life), the p.c. left is actually more philosophically threatening. It is an undemocratic creed.”

      I.e., while The Left still has no real power in American politics and only some small pockets of influence in academia and the media, they still concern me a great deal because they are more likely to wound my pride and sense of self-worth as a good liberal than conservatives are, and so therefore they pose a real threat to democracy.

      • CP

        I.e., while The Left still has no real power in American politics and only some small pockets of influence in academia and the media, they still concern me a great deal because they are more likely to wound my pride and sense of self-worth as a good liberal than conservatives are, and so therefore they pose a real threat to democracy.

        This really summarizes the hippie-punching drunken frenzy the country’s been in since forever.

    • MAJeff

      I want to start smoking again after reading that. Quite satisfying.

    • Linnaeus

      Pareene articulates what I’ve been thinking for a while after the commencement speaker dust up that Michelle Goldberg, et al, labeled as anti-liberal political correctness: these articles seem to say more about the anxieties of folks like Chait, Goldberg, Egan, etc. than anything about the groups they’re criticizing.

      • Phil Perspective

        Just don’t try telling that to Julia Ioffe. She took the exact opposite meaning.

    • Origami Isopod

      Sullivan pissed his pants over it. As someone in Gawker comments said, Sullivan’s jumping to Chait’s defense because “they’ve both been extremely proud of the work the did at [TNR] and to see it sullied as the anti-Islam, white supremacist claptrap it actually was is deeply depressing to both of them.”

      • Manju

        see it sullied

        nice.

    • witlesschum

      My favorite gem from among the horde of riches:

      Do you know who else once called for a journalist to be fired for allowing wrongthink to be published? Jonathan Chait, who in 2009 called for the firing of a Detroit Free Press editor for allowing a columnist with opinions about the head coach of the University of Michigan football team to report on the head coach. The columnist wasn’t even as blatantly biased as Chait claimed. Chait merely found the opinions he had expressed distasteful, and he wanted someone punished for them.

      Upset about someone saying something you think is racist? Pipe down, little lady.

      Upset about someone saying something you don’t think is fair about the football coach where you went to school? WOLVERINES!!!!!!!!!!!

    • DocAmazing

      For real lulz, read the Freddie deBoer offering in the comments.

      • witlesschum

        I thought about mentioning that, too. It’s BONERS! Literally, it’s him making the same exact argument that got him tagged with that name by Sadie Doyle, whiny concern trolling lefties and feminists that they need to stop stating things in a way Freddie thinks is politically unhelpful to their cause, cites to a reason we should believe Freddie on that point, again, omitted. Why, oh why, won’t they listen to the wisdom of Wise Uncle BONERS?

  • cpinva

    “To be clear, Chait has plenty of examples of what has become a genuinely serious problem of liberals who react to uncomfortable ideas by turning to censorship: Harassment campaigns against conservatives, cancelling plays or art shows because of political incorrectness, tearing down anti-choice posters.”

    of these 3 examples, the only two I would agree are “genuinely serious problems” are the first and the last, and even then I’d need a bit more information. for instance, define “harassment”. according to sarah palin, anyone who disagrees with her is “harassing” her. as well, where are those posters displayed? are they on private property, with the permission of the owner, or public property, where no one has an inherent right to tack things up? the last time I checked, the owners of private property (theatres, for instance), have every right to decide what will and won’t be shown on their screens or stages. you might not agree with their choices, but it hardly constitutes censorship.

    so yeah, no, I am less than whelmed by the “examples” of “censoring” the right, or denying them their free speech rights. the lack of a willing audience/someone disagreeing with you, isn’t quite the same as the government stopping you from speaking. so boo fucking hoo for them.

  • Aimai

    Everyone on this thread seems a bit giddy for a serious discussion, or maybe they are just exhausted by the earlier thread, but the Roisin thing made me think of something else that has been happening on twitter and social media which, mysteriously, Chait seems entirely ignorant of. I wonder why that is? I mean–Condi Rice decided not to speak at a commencement where she wasn’t going to receive total adulation from the students. But Women speakers have received death threats for speaking at colleges and women have been stalked and harrassed via social media by men, specifically for being feminists for years. Why is this not a problem? I’m talking about Gamergate. I’m talking about actual, published, death threats towards Anita Sarkeesian and other women. And I’m not even getting into the historic harrassment of gays and women perpetrated by the College Republicans and the various assholes of the Dartmouth Review over the years. Its no the left all on its ownsome that has made college life difficult for college men, women, and the faculty.

    • Not a direct reply, but some interesting info: Sarkeesian has announced a new series of videos on male tropes in video games. I expect the harassment and threats to get significantly worse once she starts releasing those.

      • JL

        My advisor is bringing her to my university to speak in a couple of weeks. I am so happy to have him as my advisor in my hugely male-dominated and often very sexist field. Not just for this, but damn, the fact that he was upset about the harassment she was getting and thought it would be good for the department to hear what she had to say, thought enough of it to arrange it and to potentially risk threats for arranging it…that’s a big statement right there. It makes me proud and confident in having gone with him as an advisor (and makes me feel lucky as hell too given the number of sexist senior computer scientists that I could potentially have ended up being advised by).

        Also, he defended me to the student paper after my recent arrest at a Black Lives Matter protest. My advisor is great.

        • I am happy to hear about your advisor, both for your sake and because we so rarely get good news on this topic from that corner of the STEM world.

    • Hogan

      But that’s not happening on Chait’s side, so he can ignore it (or now he can say something about it because he’s earned his “both sides do it” cred).

      UFO Follower: What have you got against intellectuals?

      Sandy Bates: Intellectuals? Nothing, why?

      UFO Follower: Mr. Bates, I’ve seen all your films. You really feel threatened by them.

      Sandy Bates: Threatened? You’re kidding me. I’ve always said they’re like the mafia. They only kill their own.

    • D.N. Nation

      It’s a same-song-second-verse version of “men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid that men will murder them”*. Chait, and the “Hanna Rosin” Chait feigns to speak for, are worried that people might tell them their arguments are crap on the tweets. Meanwhile, women’s voices are being silenced with freaking rape threats.

      As I’ve said before in the case of Professor Crunk- I think Brittney Cooper is a sophist and a hack, and I ignore her arguments. It’s easy peasy, Chait. Rape threats, death threats…those aren’t so easy to ignore.

      * Yes, it’s an oversimplification. But it’s catchy.

      • Aimai

        Not much of an oversimplification really. Just a straight up fact.

        • postmodulator

          There was supposedly that poll that revealed that men’s #1 online dating fear was meeting a fat woman, and women’s #1 online dating fear was meeting a serial killer.

          (Of course, every single man will meet a fat woman if he uses an online dating service long enough. But nothing bad will happen to him as a result. Almost no women will meet serial killers, but the ones that do, it tends to go badly for them.)

          • Aimai

            There are certainly more fat women in the world than serial killers, but there are more predatory abusive men in the world shopping online for new victims than there are predatory fat women shopping on line to meet men. And women get attacked verbally for being fat in a way that men never get attacked verbally even for being physically violent towards women. So the chances that women lie about their appearance and expect no dangerous backlash from potential dates is quite small–while the chances that any given many that you might date from an online profile could be dangerous to you is quite high. I should add that I met my husband through a personal ad in the newspaper so I did quite a bit of research on the topic before placing the ad and while interacting with men through the ad.

          • Sly
        • D.N. Nation

          It skews too white and straight for my taste.

    • postmodulator

      If Chait ever wrote about Gamergate, Google seems unaware of it. Shocked, shocked I am.

      No one’s really put it like this, but I feel like a lot of the criticism of Chait is the probably accurate sense that he’s punching down. If he called a Republican constituency a bunch of cousin-diddling hicks, that constituency probably has the juice to get him fired. Far less so some moron who works for the U of M paper.

    • Phil Perspective

      That’s what a lot of us are saying.

  • brugroffil

    Her response since then has been to avoid committing a provocation, especially on Twitter. “If you tweet something straight­forwardly feminist, you immediately get a wave of love and favorites, but if you tweet something in a cranky feminist mode then the opposite happens,”

    So is it just me or is she leaving out a pretty important and common reaction to anything remotely feminist that’s not exactly a “wave of love and favorites”?

    • Aimai

      This all has to do with her “mattering map.” She likes to recieve love and attention from her social equals or superiors and she (like everyone) likes to receive it from her social inferiors and random starngers too. Twitter and a vocal minority of other people (POC, other feminists, etc…) means that people who don’t matter can make themselves heard and it can be very, very, scary to have their unsolicited negative opionins flying at you. Its like you wrote a letter to a friend expressing some thoughts and discovered they’d published it in a newspaper and complete strangers were joining in the discussion with you. Only the notion that you can publish an article just to a select number of “people who matter” you you is absurd. Its out there. And people are going to read it and comment.

      • Murc

        It’s also worth noting that if you simultaneously want to publish and avoid backlash, that’s completely an option! Anyone can start up a blog and then not enable contents or provide a reachable email address, and publish via pseudonym. Boom, your stuff is out there but nobody can call you out on if they think it is dumb.

        I keep getting the impression that people want to be able to be on media platforms that are explicitly designed with the idea that anyone who wants to can comment on your stuff and simultaneously only have people who are saying things they find comfortable commenting on it. And, well, no. Such platforms exist. Twitter isn’t one of them.

      • Phil Perspective

        You’re 100% right. I can’t tell you how many people of Chait’s status blocked me on Twitter. They can’t stand hearing from us proles. Even if we don’t call them a string of 4 letter words.

  • Shakezula

    I learned about Chait’s latest when my Twitter account exploded earlier today. It turns out members of disadvantaged groups who receive hourly death treats for having the effrontery to express their opinions on matters relating to race/gender/orientation get a bit tetchy when someone “playing on the lowest difficulty setting,” wants them to be quiet.

    And really, even if we didn’t have fun stuff like Gamergate and #Ferguson/Baltimore/NYC/Denver/Dallas going on, the “I’m the real victim” schtick is grotesque. When people from his demographic are demonstrating daily how very dangerous they can be when someone says things they don’t like, it’s time for a double helping of StFu.

    • Aimai

      Prezackly.

  • NewishLawyer

    I post things even when the mood seems uncharitable:

    I was roughly entering adolescence when the original “P.C. wars” happened in the early 1990s. I think it was relatively quiet during my time at undergrad from 1998-2002. Our big fight was about whether voting for Nader was evil or not before and after the 2000 Presidential Election (how quaint this argument seems now). Is this a repeat of the old war?

    I think there are a few ways of talking about P.C. There are still seemingly a large groups of conservatives and libertarians who proudly hold an “anti-PC shield” to hide their racist, sexist, homophobic, and otherwise bigoted views and as a stupid reason for why they don’t have to treat people with dignity and decency.

    There do seems to be a strong current of leftist circular firing squad that goes on now and there do seem to be lots of debates about whether you can or cannot hold certain opinions or like certain things and be considered liberal. I seem to remember that liking X became verboten a bit once Exene made rather delusional conspiracy minded tweets about the UCSB massacre.

    I don’t think that the Left should become as lock-step as the Right.

    Are microagressions real? Absolutely. But there are also times when a microagression might be treated under the rubic of “Don’t attribute to malice what can easily be attributed to ignornance, inexperience, negligence, etc.” Now telling the difference between the two situations is a very hard line and can be a very fine one.

    It is still very easy to turn someone that we disagree with on the Internet into an abstraction and ignore their biography or exaggerate the parts of their biography that make for an easy target. Is the point of debate to convince people or is it to declare a moral high ground and that one is above the sullying ground of compromise?

    No one is ever going to be fully right about everything and people can have opinions and possibly worthy of consideration but they express in inarticulate or less than perfect manners because they are human. I generally think these are points to consider before resulting in the “SOMEONE IS WRONG. LET ME SHOW MY RIGHTEOUS ANGER!!!!!” especially if this someone you generally agree with. I generally like Chait. I don’t agree with him about everything especially “school reform” but he is a good liberal ally and should not be treated like Jonah Goldberg.

    • Aimai

      I’m not so sure about the last point you make. Is Chait a “good liberal ally?” In what sense? He gets his stuff published and other, more liberal people, often don’t. So in that sense he has his uses as a spokesmodel. But what he’s objecting to, ultimately, is that other people–to the left of him–are clearing ground and social media space to make themselves heard and that he doesn’t get to gatekeep. That their ideas/words/experiences can be heard without going through a thorough “vetting” for relevance (to what he thinks is the only workable liberal project) or for kindness (to people who he thinks matter). If Chait dissapeared from the journalistic world aren’t there tons of people who could take his place and do it better? If not–why not? It isn’t because those people don’t exist. There are tons of great political commentators out there. But they can’t be hired because they are actually too far left and too dangerous to be employed regularly by the kinds of magazines that want to sandwich a little political commentary between the high priced advertisements. Is Chait really such a “great ally?” I don’t see it. He’s just a paid political pundit who talks a little left while keeping the real left far, far, to his own left.

      • liberalrob

        He’s just a paid political pundit who talks a little left while keeping the real left far, far, to his own left.

        What’s the “real left”? Yours? Mine? Chait’s?

        Chait is a good liberal ally because of the things he is liberal on. He is a poor liberal ally because of the things he is not liberal on. (Also, you went from questioning whether he was “a good liberal ally” to is he really such a “great ally”. I see what you did there, Mr. Colbert.)

        The reason more great liberal political commentators aren’t hired isn’t because Chait is taking up their space. It’s because Chait is about as far left as those hiring those political commentators are willing to go.

        • saminmpls

          Exactly. Because if we change one word:

          He’s just a paid political operative who talks a little left while keeping the real left far, far, to his own left.

          You’ve just described most of the people who work for or along side the Democratic party in D.C., right?

      • NewishLawyer

        Most people don’t want the far far left just like they don’t want the far far right. The far left and far right have more in common than they would like to think and I find the utopianism of both the far left and far right to be very dangerous.

        There are seven billion people in this world and there is no way to get seven billion people to agree on the definition of a good life.

        • There is a very long gulf between Chait and the “far left”, which is so small in the US that it can nearly be said to not exist at all.

      • cpinva

        “But what he’s objecting to, ultimately, is that other people–to the left of him–are clearing ground and social media space to make themselves heard and that he doesn’t get to gatekeep.”

        not just “gatekeep”, but make no money off of.

        “If Chait dissapeared from the journalistic world aren’t there tons of people who could take his place and do it better?”

        yes, yes there are. coates comes quickly to mind, actually.

        “Is Chait really such a “great ally?”

        no, not really. he’s a dilettante, with respect to liberal/progressiveness. his main thing is keeping his (I suspect) well-paid job. for that, he’s perfectly happy playing the house semi-Liberal.

        geez aimai, I normally don’t comment on more than one, two at most, items in people’s post, but you just had so many interesting points………………

      • Barry_D

        “But what he’s objecting to, ultimately, is that other people–to the left of him–are clearing ground and social media space to make themselves heard and that he doesn’t get to gatekeep.”

        This. One of the nasty things accomplished by TNR under Peretz was helping to draw an establishment-approved line, beyond which liberals became ‘leftists’, ‘PC Artists’, etc.

        Chait’s attitudes reflect that.

    • SIS1

      I read Chait and I like much of what he writes when he is skewering those I want skewered, but I think a lot of the criticism of him here is completely earned. There is a tone deafness to his argument, and his rationale against this behavior never becomes functional (ie. don’t get into circular firing squads) but instead seem like his claiming those like him as “victims”.

    • D.N. Nation

      He *can* be a good liberal ally.

      “Jeez, you sound like a dope” doesn’t preclude him from getting six figures and fame to write the things he writes.

      • NewishLawyer

        Chait’s a big guy and can defend himself.

        That being said, I am not interested in having the Left become as lockstep as the right on what you can and cannot believe in while being considered a good liberal or a good member of the left.

        I don’t agree with Chait on everything. I rather strongly disagree with him “education reform” which is just a short-hand for union bashing. But I don’t think that disagreement over that issue (even though it is serious) should take away Chait’s liberal card.

        What I like about liberalism is that it acknowledges that the world is complicated. There is no one right answer. There are seven billion people in this world with seven billion worldviews. There is one “the good life” but there could be many variations of “a good life.” I am not interested in being on anything that makes me do a checkmark of beliefs to count as a member.

        I don’t think Chait is completely right. I do believe that microagressions but there can be a danger in being a circular firing squad of leftier than thou. The Hamilton Nolan school of rhetoric of “You are an asshole for liking or believing X” is not really about convincing anyone of anything but simply preaching to the choir and the writer showing how good and pure they are. Instead of going for real change which is hard and often involves compromise because we live in a nation with 300 million people and the chances of 300 million people agreeing on something are slim.

        • The Dark Avenger

          Worrying about the far,far left in this country is like fearing a stampede of unicorns.

      • cpinva

        “Jeez, you sound like a dope” doesn’t preclude him from getting six figures and fame to write the things he writes.”

        ok, should have read further before commenting.

    • JL

      I seem to remember that liking X became verboten a bit once Exene made rather delusional conspiracy minded tweets about the UCSB massacre.

      I do know what X is, and like a lot of their stuff, but…where do you live that enough people in the kids-these-days age groups that Chait is mostly complaining about know what X is to declare liking them verboten? This isn’t really a response to your comment at all, it’s totally a minor side point, but I have literally never seen a Tumblr or Twitter social justice person or random college student (all of whom tend to skew pretty young) get upset with someone for liking X, because few have heard of X.

      No one is ever going to be fully right about everything and people can have opinions and possibly worthy of consideration but they express in inarticulate or less than perfect manners because they are human. I generally think these are points to consider before resulting in the “SOMEONE IS WRONG. LET ME SHOW MY RIGHTEOUS ANGER!!!!!” especially if this someone you generally agree with.

      What’s that you say? Sometimes people on our same general side are wrong about some things, and sometimes they can have good points worthy of consideration that are expressed incoherently or with bad manners, and we shouldn’t automatically react with fury and dismissiveness? Sure, you could apply this in defense of Chait, but you could just as easily apply it in defense of 19 year-old Tumblr kids.

      In fact, I find it more applicable to 19 year-old Tumblr kids, since the problem with Chait’s piece here isn’t bad manners or inarticulateness.

      • I don’t remember any blowback against X. Progressive fans of punk rock have always had to accept the presence of right-wingers in their favorite bands, and X has been one of those bands for a long time (because of Billy Zoom). Exene had a reputation for being off her rocker already, and the stuff she said wasn’t really partisan (it was Illuminati, Alex Jones type stuff).

        If there was any blow to the band’s reputation, it’s more like what happened with Screeching Weasel — the “wow, what a jerk” reaction.

        • Scott Lemieux

          I seem to remember that liking X became verboten

          [cites omitted]

          • Barry_D

            “I seem to remember that liking X became verboten

            [cites omitted]”

            My reaction was ‘WTF is X?’.

            I notice that critics of PC have to really reach far to find their terrible examples.

          • snarkout

            It was the same week every good comrade proved her loyalty by burning her Ramones records, Scott. You could look it up!

    • Darkrose

      You don’t seem to get the idea of microaggressions. It’s not that they’re assumed to be malicious–it’s exactly the opposite. Microaggressions are people being hurtful without realizing that they’re doing so. The faculty member who said told another consultant he didn’t want to talk to me because I “sounded colored” probably thought he was being nice by not saying that to me, but that doesn’t magically make it less of a racist thing to say.

      • Aimai

        Thank you for posting this, btw. It deserves more discussion than it got.

    • Origami Isopod

      I post things even when the mood seems uncharitable:

      You’re such a brave truthteller.

      • weirdnoise

        You’re being chaitable.

  • whetstone

    Here’s a very good example of why I’ll take anything Chait has to say about the left with a grain of salt.

    In the end, though, I can’t quite root for Lieberman to lose his primary. What’s holding me back is that the anti-Lieberman campaign has come to stand for much more than Lieberman’s sins. It’s a test of strength for the new breed of left-wing activists who are flexing their muscles within the party. These are exactly the sorts of fanatics who tore the party apart in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They think in simple slogans and refuse to tolerate any ideological dissent. Moreover, since their anti-Lieberman jihad is seen as stemming from his pro-war stance, the practical effect of toppling Lieberman would be to intimidate other hawkish Democrats and encourage more primary challengers against them.

    So Chait acknowledges that Lieberman is an awful politician, in form and in deed; acknowledges that America and the Democratic party would be better off without him in office; and that Lieberman gives hawkish Democrats a bad name: “Lieberman, unlike other Democratic hawks, musters little passion for exposing and correcting the massive blunders the Bush administration has committed.”

    But! The perception that Lieberman would be challenged merely because of his support of the Iraq war, full stop, is enough for Chait to support him.

    This is the sine qua non of dim hippie punching. Forgive me if I think that Chait’s anti-PC screed has a lot less to do with Our National Dialogue and more to do with Chait’s particular hang-ups.

    • liberalrob

      Forgive me if I think that Chait’s anti-PC screed has a lot less to do with Our National Dialogue and more to do with Chait’s particular hang-ups.

      You don’t need to be forgiven for thinking that. I think your conclusion is quite well-founded. The specter of Chicago 1968 haunts Chait, I guess. Strange, since he was born in 1972. How the hell would he know what “tore the party apart in the late 1960’s?” It wasn’t all SDS and YIP.

      • Darkrose

        Wait–Chait’s younger than I am and he’s yelling at clouds?

      • drkrick

        He doesn’t know the difference between SNCC and the Black Panthers. It’s safe to say he also has no real idea what tore up the party that he didn’t learn from his menter Mr. Peretz.

      • weirdnoise

        Funny that the folks he’s railing against were generally placed under the label “anti-war” at the time…

    • tsam

      Moreover, since their anti-Lieberman jihad is seen as stemming from his pro-war stance, the practical effect of toppling Lieberman would be to intimidate other hawkish Democrats and encourage more primary challengers against them.

      This could have appeared on the NRO. Stupid Democrats, mad at the guy who’s campaigning for the Republican presidential candidate. What’s their fucking problem anyway?

      Don’t forget to use a wholly inappropriate word like jihad to describe it, because well, it’s NOT PC, BRAH. Boom. Yeah, that just fucking happened.

      Paichk plz?

      • To be unnecessarily fair, this was 2 years before Lieberman decided to stump for the other party’s candidate. Democrats were primarying him because he talked, acted, and frequently voted like a Republican, not yet because he had endorsed one.

        • tsam

          Ah–I thought it coincided with the discussion on what they should do with him after the 08 election–when he had NO friends except Chait.

    • Barry_D

      “But! The perception that Lieberman would be challenged merely because of his support of the Iraq war, full stop, is enough for Chait to support him.

      This is the sine qua non of dim hippie punching. Forgive me if I think that Chait’s anti-PC screed has a lot less to do with Our National Dialogue and more to do with Chait’s particular hang-ups.”

      It’s also extreme political correctness – Lieberman’s stance on a key political issue must trump everything else.

  • MAJeff

    Has Chait commented on l’Affaire Salaita?

    • NewishLawyer

      As far as I can tell from a very brief Google search, no.

    • JL

      While it does seem like something he should address given his apparent fears about attacks on free speech in academia, I’m about as anxious to read his views on Salaita as I was to read his views on “political correctness.” He can be a bit of a Likudnik.

      • Phil Perspective

        A bit of a Likudnik? He’s a full on Zionist, or else Peretz would never have hired him.

        • JL

          Er, “Zionist” is not a more extreme form of “Likudnik.” It’s usually closer to the other way around. I am both an anti-Zionist and anti-Likud but your comment is a non-sequiteur.

  • Charlie

    On Twitter, Will Saletan called Chait’s essay the best thing he’s read this year. So, you know, Mission Accomplished.

    • leftwingfox

      Sullivan, DeBoer, and Salatan? This is a veritable douche-magnet.

      • UncleEbeneezer

        And in due time I’m sure Dawkins/Harris/CHSomers will retweet it.

        • leftwingfox

          Yep.

        • Manju

          Well, we at least we don’t have to worry about Darryl, Franco, and Suzanne.

  • Brien Jackson

    Reading Chait’s piece, all I could mentally imagine was Bill Maher complaining that liberals calling people racists for saying racist things are ATTACKING FREE SPEECH!!!!!!!!

  • JL

    I see Chait is trying to resurrect the horrible trigger warnings debate of last year. And he’s doing it with Bullshit Psychology, claiming some kind of equivalence between exposure therapy under the supervision of a trained mental health professional, and being randomly triggered. Jon Chait, and everybody else who makes this argument, you are not my fucking therapist, I already have one of those, with a doctoral degree, that I pay money to help me with this stuff, please stop trying to be the mental health version of that one Facebook friend who tells everyone that they would stop getting so many colds if they went on a “detox” diet or started eating gluten-free.

    I really…I wish I had some snark about this part, but mostly I am just sad. I don’t like the fact that I have triggers, and I don’t like the fact that so many other people do too, because it means that a lot of people in the world have had shitty violent things happen to them. I don’t want to stop people talking about sensitive subjects – I blog about sensitive subjects a lot, and I trigger-warn in the tags – I just want, if feasible, the small courtesy of a heads-up, so that I know what I’m getting into. There are reasonable discussions to be had about things like what should be warned for, when, and what about people with less common triggers, but those aren’t the arguments Chait is making. I’m so tired of the disrespect and contempt and pretending-to-be-my-doctor from people like Chait, frequently even people (like Chait) on my approximate half of the political spectrum who I like and respect on at least some subset of other issues, over the fact that I was traumatized at some point. It makes me lonely.

    Sometimes when I say things like this, people come back with “Oh, we’re okay with people like you, but we oppose trigger warnings being commonplace because we’re concerned about some random Tumblr kid abusing the concept to avoid ever interacting with anything that upsets them.” You know what? That’s the trigger-warning-argument version of “Oh, we’re okay with assistance for a poor person like you who works a full-time job, but we have a problem with welfare because we’re concerned about those undeserving system-gaming welfare queens.” You don’t judge the worthiness of something that’s supposed to help people by whether it’s possible for anyone, anywhere, to abuse it, and anyway how do you know that Tumblr kid isn’t a trauma survivor too?

    Of all the essays I’ve seen over the last year about trigger warnings, one of the few that made a damn bit of sense is this recent post by Prof. Hope Jahren. My being triggered doesn’t look exactly like hers, but it has some similarities, and her essay, unlike most essays I’ve read on trigger warnings in the last year, is actually relatable.

    • I agree with you. People who haven’t experienced it don’t really have any idea what it’s like. Having warnings/content notes available actually helps PTSD sufferers open themselves to content that might be difficult to handle, because you can be prepared going in.

      The difficulty I have with warnings being a matter of policy (I’m not saying you’re advocating this or not, by the way) is that triggers are personal and varied. There are a couple of mine that I have never, ever seen in a content note and don’t expect to ever. They’re perfectly normal topics for people to discuss in detail without so much as a thought, and a lot of the time I don’t have trouble with them either. But I get hit pretty hard by them when my shields aren’t up.

      On the other hand, there are a few general topics that are so commonly harmful that I don’t think there’s any good reason not to note them. And, frankly, they can be difficult enough for people who aren’t triggered to deal with. I might not have a specific issue with depictions of violence, for instance, but there have been times that I’ve been happy to have the choice not to be surprised by them.

      • JL

        Yeah. On my blog, I’ll warn, via the tags that appear at the top of my post, for any form of violence or abuse (stating what form it is in the warning). What exactly I warn for and where depends on the forum. There’s one forum I post on where you can stick a “trigger warning” tag onto text so that it’s covered in gray and a reader has to choose to mouse over it, and then put what you’re warning about before it, and it is very useful easy to do and I do it for a lot of things (which is the expected practice there).

        I hear you on idiosyncratic triggers. I have a good friend who is triggered by anything from a Tim Burton movie or any music by that dude with the very distinctive sound who does the music for most Tim Burton movies. This is widely known by her friends (and stated in the list of house rules at her home) and we don’t ever talk about Tim Burton stuff around her, but of course when doing fandom stuff, sometimes she comes across posts about The Nightmare Before Christmas or whatever. There’s an essay that I think is linked from the Geek Feminism wiki by someone who is triggered by calculus (and also by descriptions or imagery of sexual violence). This is one reason why at universities I’ve come to think one should be able to register triggers with the disabilities office – it might help equalize things for people with idiosyncratic triggers. On a public blog or something it’s hard to do anything beyond warn for common ones.

        I also have a peeve about how in some circles everyone knows to warn for sexual violence but few people think to do for other forms of violence, like war or police violence, because those are circles where because of demographics fewer people have experienced those types of violence. But that’s an implementation issue that can be addressed with awareness – the understanding of the principle is there.

        • Linnaeus

          any music by that dude with the very distinctive sound who does the music for most Tim Burton movies.

          Danny Elfman?

          • JL

            Yep, that’s him.

    • KmCO

      Yes. Amen.

    • Gregor Sansa

      If someone doesn’t want to post trigger warnings with their stuff, that’s their right. Trigger warnings are the considerate thing to do, but they will never be ubiquitous. But complaining about other people having trigger warnings, or about norms of having them in community spaces you want to post in, is the equivalent of whining about having to press one for English. And yes, self-righteous defensiveness (such as Chait’s dime-store cognitive therapy argument) counts as whining.

      • Brien Jackson

        I’ll go further: Chait’s issues here seems to boil down to a very basic desire to not be actively confronted with the real issues women and non-white people actually face in the real world. He’s okay denouncing it in the abstract, but he doesn’t want you to actually put it in his white guy face that racism/misogyny have actual real world consequences in 2015.

        • Gregor Sansa

          People like Michelle Golberg have worthwhile things to say about PC excesses. Chait does not. If he wants to assume the mantle of a dispassionate judge, he needs to be able to be reflective about his own status and how that will be perceived. It’s self evident that either he lacks that reflectiveness, or he’s trolling. Probably the latter. And if so, it’s a damn shame that such trolling successfully racks up more hits than Goldberg’s more-thoughtful take.

          • Origami Isopod

            I’m really not sure Goldberg does have useful things to say. I agree with Linnaeus upthread that her column said more about her than about the issue she was discussing.

          • JL

            Nah, I don’t think Goldberg quite did either. I much prefer, for instance, this thing by Vero Bayetti Flores, which both (accurately, IMO) critiques the excesses, and explains what the problem is with the Goldberg-type critiques of Internet/Twitter feminism.

            • Gregor Sansa

              Fair enough. But I think that if Goldberg’s piece led to Bayetti Flores’s, then the former served a purpose. As far as I can tell, a lot of what Chait’s piece led to is just arguing about whether or how much he’s an asshole. And rather predictably (and avoidably) so.

      • If the argument against trigger warnings was “tough shit, deal with it”, that’d be one thing. It’s not a kind or empathetic attitude, but it’s an honest one.

        But this “I know what’s best for you; you need to be traumatized” attitude is disgusting.

    • Ronan

      Great comment, JL. (as is the linked article by Prof. Hope Jahren)
      I’d have to admit that my initial reaction to the idea of ‘trigger warnings’ would have been the one you highlight(ie dismissive), but I guess that just shows my ingorance of the topic more than anything else.

  • Shakezula

    In other news, Marissa Alexander has been sentenced to two years of house arrest. George Zimmerman has yet to be sentenced for anything.

    And yet we’re supposed to give a flaming fuck that John Chait is having an attack des vapeurs because the oiks are being disrespectful.

    Nope.

    • LosGatosCA

      I don’t understand Chait’s point. His article is actual proof that white dick privilege is still going strong.

      Also, special to Jon Chait only – stop digging.

    • Aimai

      Yes! Thank you! I just saw this at kos and i wanted to bring it up here in this context. Not only did she serve 3 years, not only did they threaten her with 60 years, but she must pay 11,000 dollars a year for her own ankle bracelet monitor and surveillance for two more years. There is a war against black women that simply cant be rolled into or subsumed by a generalized, non raced and ungendered “liberalism” such as that advocated upthread by s1s2 or whatever his/her nsme was. And if white liberals have a hard time putting aside their upper class white male identity politics and workjng with other people that’s not becsuse women and blacks and others are so obdurate and selfish with their messy identities. Its because who you are determines what you need from the struggle.

  • what the kids today call “hastags”

    lol cats i can has tags?

    • witlesschum

      Thanks, I needed that chortle.

  • MartinAlexander

    I think in relation to the unmentioned “political correctness” policing on the right ala Ellmers etc….it all ties back into the Republican parties ability to get their politicians to stick to the talking points without fail. As long as you stick to the talking points and immediately turn over and show your belly reversing any position how reasonable when attacked from the far right….you will be funded as a candidate. In the end it depends on who hands the talking points to the politician and how quickly the politician “turtles”. Outfits like AFP are great at forcing politicians on the right to turtle…. They’ve managed to grab all the wingnuts and direct them toward a goal…in this case forcing the rights’ politicians to toe the line.

  • Rob in CT

    As far as I can tell, the American Right is far more politically correct than the the Left. Like not even close.

    My guess is this is lingering butthurt about TNR.

    • witlesschum

      I strongly suspect you’re correct. When the ‘TNR is dying’ thing was going strong and Ta-Nehisi Coates was posting his New Republic racism greatest hits, Chait’s response was to tweet to him that he should consider the feelings of people who were sad because they lost their jobs.

      It’s like the same thing that plays out every time a controversial, but powerful person dies. People who approved of the person get to maunder on about how he was a great man and anyone who disagrees is being rude.

      • Aimai

        I felt sad because my friends lost their jobs but then I felt mad because I saw that Ta Nehsis Coates was a better writer and had more interesting things to say on topics I didn’t think were important.

        Its a new mantra for an old complaint. Professional (paid) writers feel marginal in terms of power and are touchy about their privilige to be read and listened to (its literally the only thing, besides money, which they get for their work). They get pissed when the amateurs come up and drink their milkshake, for free, and turn out to have a wider readership and different concerns.

        This is exactly the same issue that faces the press corps when Obama goes on youtube with youtube celebreties who have more viewers/followers than your average press drone does.

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  • joe from Lowell

    Obviously, vandalism as a response to speech is illiberal and indefensible, but these isolated cases aren’t representative or defended by liberals of any influence or significance.

    I wish this was more obvious to more people, but sadly, it is not. It actually does need to be said.

  • kped

    Does Chait linking approvingly to Slate-pitch Freddie DeBoer writing in agreement with him close the circle of hack?

    (mind you, young Freddie’s entire existence is to hackishly attack actual left wing liberals, so him agreeing with Chait that the left stifles the speech of more centrist liberal is probably so absurd that a million robots heads exploded with the lack of logic on that).

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