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Political Correctness

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Some essays are better left unwritten. Jonathan Chait’s essay bemoaning the “political correctness” supposedly defining and dominating modern American liberalism is one of those essays.

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  • IM

    The nineties called and want their “serious liberalism” back.

    Really dated, this sort of thing. Well, you can take the man out of TNR but not TNR out of the man…

    • IM

      The episode would not have shocked anybody familiar with the campus scene from two decades earlier. In 1992, an episode along somewhat analogous lines took place, also in Ann Arbor

      He is stuck in time.

      • The Dark Avenger

        The Doctor has been notified.

        • John not McCain

          “Regretfully”, the Doctor has more important matters to attend to elsewhere. Hope Chait likes VHS.

          • The Dark Avenger

            Or Radio 1990.

    • Thlayli

      John Cole’s version was “Camille Paglia called”.

    • JMP

      At least he should update the lingo; though it means the same thing as “political correctness”, bigots trying to sound hip are whining about “social justice warriors” instead these days.

      • Lee Rudolph

        It’s all about ethics in catch-phrase journalism.

  • “Come the revolution, comrade, you’ll have strawberries and cream every day.”

    “But I don’t like strawberries and cream.”

    “Come the revolution you’ll have strawberries and cream every day and like it.”

    • RonC

      Damn, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard that. Perhaps for a reason.

  • Theobald Schmidt

    Normally, critiques come with some substance to them. What, exactly, did you feel so objectionable about the piece, when it’s well understood that the Tumblrization of activism is not a useful phenomenon?

    • That almost everything Chait cites as a problem isn’t a problem and the exceptions are not problems related to “political correctness.”

      • Ann Outhouse

        Yes, and I see he has also swallowed the decidely non-liberal, authoritarian view that graduating students should just shut up and put up with whatever controverial, overcompensated asshole the administration unilaterally chooses to inflict up on them as their commencement speaker because it’s good for them or something something something.

        • Hogan

          Where else but a Rutgers commencement could you hear Condoleeza Rice’s very profound and valuable thoughts about, you know, stuff?

        • Brien Jackson

          My jaw damn near literally hit the floor when he included protests over a speaker not over any sort of substantive issues with their views, but because they presided over a brutal police crackdown against students for…exercising their right to free speech! If Chait came back tomorrow and said this was all supposed to be a parody of Bill Maher I wouldn’t totally disbelieve him.

    • joe from Lowell

      Say, Theobald?

      Do you see the problem with leading off with “Normally, critiques come with some substance to them,” and ending by dropping “the Tumblrization of activism” on us?

    • postmodulator

      Is it well understood? A lot of the “Tumblrization” stuff that I’ve seen does seem kind of, well, stupid, but those are all a bunch of 19 year old kids. How useful do we insist that they be?

      They may be easy targets for mockery, but the right’s going to find something to mock anyway. They can make it up, if they need to.

      As far as objectionable stuff about the piece…I was bothered by his tearful defense of rich peoples’ right to collect speaking fees from universities regardless of any past war crimes they might’ve committed. On the other hand, some of those examples really were bullshit. (Someone at a student paper had the gall to say that he or she “felt threatened” by a column? I mean, come the fuck on.

      • It’s well understood among a certain crowd that Tumblr SJWs are totally ruining everything.

        • Theobald Schmidt

          The pejorative of SJW is not “social justice” but “warrior,” and yes, SJWs descending on people for honest mistakes or being shaped by their past oppressions is indeed depressing.

          Plenty of room for compassion, empathy and respect out there.

          • Malaclypse

            Yea, but you need to keep in mind that Social Justice Warriors always need either Social Justice Clerics or Social Justice Druids to tag along and heal – you can’t solo with them at all. They are also sorely lacking in SJDPS.

            • NonyNony

              I do not understand how anyone could think that the term Social Justice Warrior is a pejorative at all.

              It makes me think of Martin Luther King or Ghandi. Or Captain America or Superman. It certainly doesn’t bring to mind anything negative. I don’t understand the mindset of people who think that’s some kind of slam or slur.

              • postmodulator

                It’s the kind of term that would ordinarily get me on your side, too, but I confess to being a little dismayed the first time I read an epistle by a Tumblrina who identified as “transfat.”

                (If you’re not aware, this has nothing to do with what NYC banned in food. A transfat person is one who believes that he or she is actually a fat person, despite appearing skinny, and so deliberately consumes excess calories daily to gain weight.)

                • John Revolta

                  OMFG. Every time I convince myself that this ain’t such a bad century after all, I come up against something like this. Check, please!

                • Pseudonym

                  Campos has a tumblr?

                • dr. fancypants

                  Every time I convince myself that this ain’t such a bad century after all, I come up against something like this.

                  These people always existed. It’s just that, pre-Internet, it was much harder to find them.

                • JL

                  But…who really cares? Some random person on the Internet, who might also be an advocate for social justice, described themselves using a nonsensical label. I don’t think that says anything one way or the other about whether being a “social justice warrior” ought to be a good thing or a bad thing. I don’t think it even says much about social justice advocacy on Tumblr, which ranges from the enlightening to the absurd to the infuriating, much as discourse does in general.

                • This sort of thing might be stupid, and I would like some cites or links before I believe you that such people exist and in large enough numbers to be worth worrying about, but it is a sign of progress.

                  It means that essentially leftwing ideas about diversity, representation and pride in being who you are have become mainstream enough that you get this sort of bandwagonesque made up identity chasing.

              • Lee Rudolph

                It helps if you realize that “Social Justice”, by itself, is a pejorative.

                • witlesschum

                  Yup. The people who use the label with most vehemence (Hi gamergate) straight up object to women, gays, minorities, non-assholes speaking and/or existing.

                • Lee Rudolph

                  Actually, looking up for the first time, I see that Theobald explicitly claims that it’s “Warrior” and not “Social Justice” that is meant pejoratively. I think he’s wrong, though.

              • William Berry

                Yeah, sorta like “bleeding heart”. Says a lot more about the person using that as an epithet than it does about the intended target.

              • AcademicLurker

                The term “social justice warrior” has made the same trip that “politically correct” made, from a term of mild mockery used by the left to a term of genuine venom used by the right. SJW just made the trip a lot faster; it took about 3 years rather than 15.

                I first encountered SJW in reference to a certain kind of over eager person on social media, usually young, who had just discovered progressivism last week and was SUPER SUPER ERNEST ABOUT YOU GUYS I JUST LEARNED ABOUT THIS NEW IDEA CALLED PRIVILEGE AND LET ME TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT!!!

          • McAllen

            The question is how do you determine whether something is SJWs descending on people for honest mistakes or people calling out genuinely harmful ideas? Not denying that misdirected call-outs happen, but a lot of times people trying to show why something is harmful get dismissed as a mob, especially if they’re women or PoC or queer and especially especially if they’re some combination thereof.

            • postmodulator

              The problem is that this is a judgment call, and morons are terrible at making judgment calls, and most people are morons.

              • McAllen

                And the other problem, of course, is that more privileged people will make the call that best preserves their privilege.

                • postmodulator

                  Unless they try really hard to see their privilege. Which is difficult. And they might not even try if they are assholes or the aforementioned morons.

            • joe from Lowell

              a lot of times people trying to show why something is harmful get dismissed as a mob

              A lot of time, they are a mob.

              The two concepts there aren’t opposite sides. One goes to intent, and the other to behavior/tactics. People genuinely trying to show why something is harmful can act like a mob.

              It can’t just be “It’s ok when I do it, but wrong when they do it.”

              • McAllen

                Well, yes, but what makes a group a mob, as opposed to people trying to make an argument? And who decides?

                I just wish people would think a little more before they dismiss people who are criticizing them as a mob, even if they’re angry or uncivil.

                • joe from Lowell

                  That wish a pretty tall order, in a situation in those “people” being so unfairly dismissed as a mob are jumping down someone’s throat for some relatively tame semantic problem.

                  I mean, we’re supposed to bend over backwards to see the good in people who are being angry and uncivil while ganging up on someone, but we’re supposed to find uncivil group anger to be a perfectly appropriate response to some pretty minor offenses.

                  Shorter me: “Take it easy, it’s not such a big deal!” isn’t really an argument that you get to make immediately after you and twelve of your best friends just threw an angry bit of incivility at someone for writing “lady” instead of “woman.”

                • McAllen

                  It can also be a tall order to demand that people remain calm and civil about an issue that may be much bigger to them than a mere “semantic problem” in order to be taken seriously.

                  I understand that it’s difficult not to reject criticism that seems too vitriolic to us, but I still think we should try. It may be unwise for me to say “The Earth orbits the fucking sun, pisslord shitknocker!” and it may be understandable that you turn to geocentrism after that; but you’re sill wrong.

                • joe from Lowell

                  It can also be a tall order to demand that people remain calm and civil about an issue that may be much bigger to them than a mere “semantic problem” in order to be taken seriously.

                  To put it in legal terms, this is a mitigating factor, not evidence of innocence.

                  I can sympathize with why certain people in certain situations might be on a hair trigger.

                  If people can’t live up to the ideal, that’s just human nature, but let’s not denigrate the ideal.

                • joe from Lowell

                  So it seems like there are a lot of tall orders out there, and maybe a general increase in giving people a fucking break instead of leaping at the opportunity to launch into a death-scene aria where you get to point at the devil and flop dramatically to the stage would be in order.

          • Ann Outhouse

            The pejorative of SJW is not “social justice” but “warrior,”

            Eh, bullshit. When the term SJW is used venomously, it is invariably by nutjob rightwingers who fucking hate the idea of social justice but are just fine with “warrriors” like Chris Kyle.

          • njorl

            I always thought that meant “Single Jewish Woman”.
            That certainly explains some of the responses I got.

            • Stag Party Palin

              Snorf. Good one.

              Liked your saga, BTW.

      • Theobald Schmidt

        Michelle Goldberg’s piece in the nation here is a pretty good description of how “callout culture”, as a variation on the circular firing squad, creates a toxic environment for discussion, and is broadly what I talk about when I refer to “the tumblrization of activism” — that calling people out means that people who are conflict-averse are increasingly unwilling to post their thoughts online, for fear of a social media mob.

        But yeah, I share your mixed feelings about the column.

        • LeeEsq

          Goldberg’s critique is much to the point than Chait’s critique of political correctness. The real problem with the tumblrization of politics is that it leads to the circular firing squad of who is a real liberal or progressive and that it makes more difficult for liberals to speak to people that aren’t already in agreement as Freddie De Boer pointed out a few months ago.

          • Of course, such circular firing squads have existed for the entire history of the left.

            • D.N. Nation

              And have a welcome home in this age of Instantaneous Internet Hot Takery.

              One’s own petard, though. One of the SJWs mentioned in the Chait piece (Brittney Cooper) was put through an online salad shooter when she wrote that belle epoque-ish semi-defense of Adrian Peterson beating the crap out of his kids. (Complete with Christopher Columbus, Ferguson, and “white people parent like THIS” references! Go Brittney go!) Big thing about Cooper, though- she had the pride to ignore rightful condemnation of her bullshit. Unfortunate, but respectable in a way.

              If Tumblr is making you think twice about your beliefs and the things you say, you might not’ve really been into them in the first place.

              • joe from Lowell

                making you think twice about your beliefs and the things you say

                Finding people offensive and obnoxious isn’t quite the same thing as “thinking twice about your beliefs and the things you say,” though. The “I guess I hit a nerve!” shtick is just the leavings of every internet troll that ever trolled.

                I got pretty pissed off by people responding to my comments about the Iraq War with “objectively pro-Baathist” b.s., but I assure you, it wasn’t because they were causing me to engage in soul-searching.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            i’ve learned a lot of stuff here and other websites over the years but i have a hell of a time getting it across to ‘real life’ people in conversation because i’m trying to put ‘our’ concepts into ‘their’ language. the easy example is things like ‘agency’ and ‘privilege’ that are givens here, but all they get me in real life is blank/bored stares. maybe this just means i would make a terrible evangelist, i dunno

            • postmodulator

              Well, privilege is hard because it’s by its nature often invisible.

            • LeeEsq

              I’m just going to link to the Freddie De Boer blog post I referred to:

              http://fredrikdeboer.com/2014/04/29/bingo-cards-go-both-ways/

              Freddie would argue that by using words like agency or privilege isn’t really trying to get people to understand something but a type of “magic words” mode of rhetoric where if you use the right words in the right conversations than the other side will break down and agree with you. The article comparing being a white man to the lowest possible difficulty setting in a video game was probably read more by people who already agreed with it than disagreed with it or were neutral towards it. Words like privilege or agency or mansplaining already assume that your audience knows about and accepts your basic propositions. Real argument requires you to realize that most people don’t come from the same reference frame you do. They might not necessarily be hostile but they aren’t going to know or care about privilege either.

              • Murc

                Freddie would argue that by using words like agency or privilege isn’t really trying to get people to understand something but a type of “magic words” mode of rhetoric where if you use the right words in the right conversations than the other side will break down and agree with you.

                And Freddie would be dramatically wrong about that.

                Words like privilege or agency or mansplaining already assume that your audience knows about and accepts your basic propositions.

                … the hell are you getting that from?

                I use those words because they are useful words that articulate real concepts in a useful way. I do usually assume my audience knows what they mean, but not that they agree with them. I’ve had plenty of arguments with people who were very clear on what I meant when I used the word privilege but utterly rejected it as a meaningful concept.

                Real argument requires you to realize that most people don’t come from the same reference frame you do. They might not necessarily be hostile but they aren’t going to know or care about privilege either.

                People not knowing about privilege isn’t someone’s fault, but if they do know and don’t care about it they are wrong and I refuse to bow to their wrongness. If they’re under no obligation to accept my basic frames, why should I accept theirs?

                • Aimai

                  I second Murc’s points.. Its also the case that the article cited about how being a white male is a privilige level that can be understood with reference to video game settings is an argument designed PRECISELY for people who don’t get jargon or language about privilige but who do play video games (young white men, in fact) and that the entire point of the essay was not to be read by the cognoscenti but to be read and applied in real world teaching settings to people who reject theoretical language. As usual, in other words, Freddie is a moron.

                • Its also the case that the article cited about how being a white male is a privilige level that can be understood with reference to video game settings is an argument designed PRECISELY for people who don’t get jargon or language about privilige but who do play video games

                  I believe Scalzi was the first to use this metaphor. My guilty secret with him is that I find his blog to be far more interesting than his novels.

                • liberalrob

                  I use those words because they are useful words that articulate real concepts in a useful way.

                  That’s because you are a smart, thoughtful person. Others, not so much; for them, merely stating that an argument is “mansplaining” etc. is a one-hit kill. No further explanation is necessary.

                • Murc

                  I believe Scalzi was the first to use this metaphor. My guilty secret with him is that I find his blog to be far more interesting than his novels.

                  Hell, I’ve stopped feeling guilty about that.

                  John Scalzi is an excellent commentator but his commercial works are mediocre at best; the man has amazing ideas but he usually executes them in the most predictable, paint-by-numbers way possible. Part of this is deliberate on his part; Scalzi freely admits he’s in this to make money, and part of that is making his work accessible, so he goes through his works in editing and makes sure to use conventional, non-difficult language. Part of it is because he’s more enamored of his big ideas than he is with erecting the necessary scaffolding around them.

                  I don’t often agree with John Ringo, but he was right about Redshirts (although for the wrong reasons). It isn’t a Hugo-caliber book and won because it was a deeply, deeply weak year and they had to give it to someone.

                • witlesschum

                  I don’t often agree with John Ringo, but he was right about Redshirts (although for the wrong reasons). It isn’t a Hugo-caliber book and won because it was a deeply, deeply weak year and they had to give it to someone.

                  I don’t agree. Looking through the recent list of Hugo winners, I think Redshirts fits it just fine.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Award_for_Best_Novel#Winners_and_nominees

                  But I’m happy with any novel winning that has that straight-faced phone joke throughout.

              • postmodulator

                I dunno, I’m sort of in love with the word “mansplaining.” What a lovely portmanteau.

                You hear that thing about it being used to shut down arguments, but I don’t know that I’ve seen that happen all that often. Maybe I don’t hang out at the right places.

                • Hogan

                  I gotta say I’ve never seen someone accused of mansplaining respond with, “Oh, I better shut up now.”

                • liberalrob

                  I’ve never seen someone accused of mansplaining respond with, “Oh, I better shut up now.”

                  No, usually it just devolves into a shouting match.

                • Murc

                  You hear that thing about it being used to shut down arguments, but I don’t know that I’ve seen that happen all that often. Maybe I don’t hang out at the right places.

                  I’ve had this happen; people have told me “Check your privilege” and then leaned back as if that meant they’d won the argument.

                  And, well, that’s annoying certainly, but so what? It doesn’t somehow mean privilege isn’t a useful concept. People misuse meaningful words all the time. People debate or argue badly or in bad faith a lot. It happens. It’s pretty banal.

                • witlesschum

                  I’ve had this happen; people have told me “Check your privilege” and then leaned back as if that meant they’d won the argument.

                  And, well, that’s annoying certainly, but so what? It doesn’t somehow mean privilege isn’t a useful concept. People misuse meaningful words all the time. People debate or argue badly or in bad faith a lot. It happens. It’s pretty banal.

                  This gets to the real fundamental problem with all Chaitesque whines.

                  I don’t know what moves these people, but there seems to be a demand that there be some sort of device or self-correcting mechanism that keeps left-wingers from being wrong. Or more accurately, keeps Jon Chait from ever being called a homophobe or whatever his specific complaint is. It’s the cousins of the whole weird demand from people like Chait that liberals be better, wiser, etc and bend over backwards, usually for people like Jon Chait.

                  That’s kind of my impression of Chait’s thing in general, that if you just get the policy right, things will take care of themselves and everyone will live happily ever after and there will be no conflict and a pony.

                • Lee Rudolph

                  I used to check my privilege, but with all the new surcharges, I just carry it on with me.

                  Some day it’s going to have shifted so much in the overhead compartment that there’ll be brains spilled.

                • The obvious solution to people using “mansplaining” or “check your privilege” as a cudgel is to stop engaging with that person, because it’s a sign of bad faith. There’s certainly people who use “mansplaining” to mean “a man is saying something I disagree with”, like “shrill”, “hysterical”, etc. mean “a woman is saying something I disagree with”.

                  The difference is that in no case have I ever seen someone using “mansplain” as a cudgel against someone they had power over. It’s an internet term, used in disputes between strangers. “Shrill” is used in real life, by bosses and coworkers, in contexts where it’s likely to have a significant negative effect on a woman’s career.

                  Part of the meaning of ‘privilege’ is that some situations you encounter in life are merely annoying, not dangerous. This is one of those cases.

                • Mansplaining is such a weird example, because *everybody*, victims and perps alike, immediately knows what’s meant by it.

                  Hence the undignified squealing when somebody is called out on it.

              • jim, some guy in iowa

                mmm. i could see using the video game analogy myself, though not in the situation i was in yesterday (“racism is worse than ever and it’s because obama won’t stop talking about it!”) where i realized the only thing that *might* change the guy’s mind would be to wake up black in st louis and live that way for a year. then it just devolved into me appealing to his faith (!) by saying as long as people made good-faith efforts things would work out but it was going to be more work than he was allowing for

                he at least agreed to disagree then. sometimes i’m not trying to actually change anyone’s mind as much as talk them down from apocalyptic ledges

              • djw

                Words like privilege or agency or mansplaining already assume that your audience knows about and accepts your basic propositions.

                Insofar as this is the case, this isn’t a “problem of the left” or a “problem for feminism” so much as it’s an inevitable feature of human discourse, and comes up to a degree in virtually any epistemic community.

              • JL

                Here’s the thing about this. Nobody is born knowing what “privilege” or “agency” are, and very few people are raised to understand that framework. Most people had to learn them at some point. And perhaps I am wrong about this, but I don’t think this is a formal education thing; I’d guess that most people learned these terms on the Internet, in books, from their friends, or in meatspace activism, rather than in school. I support dejargonification in certain contexts, especially “101” contexts – I enjoy the exercise that those of us who do public education for my local rape crisis center do, where we draw a social justice jargon word out of a hat and have to explain it in non-jargon language – but people can learn this stuff and many do.

                Real argument requires you to realize that most people don’t come from the same reference frame you do.

                But the point of argument isn’t always to convince people who don’t come from the same reference from that you do. It can be to convince people who accept your basic propositions but disagree about the details, nuances, or implementations. It can be to mobilize people who already agree with you. It can be to develop your positions more deeply through back-and-forth with people who are in your approximate ideological ballpark, or to learn new things about the issues from people you respect, or to present a new take on an old issue to people who already agree with you. Since people like to complain about Tumblr all the time, most Tumblr social justice discussion I’ve seen is about one or more of those purposes – which isn’t surprising because it has a lot of youngish people who are using it to learn about issues that interest them and to develop their thoughts on how the world works – and not about convincing people who don’t accept the idea of privilege that they’re wrong.

              • Freddie de Boer is a dumb sack of shit and always has been the worst kind of pseudomarxist.

                In reality, if yer average fifteen year old Tumblr user can understand privilige or agency, so can actual adults.

            • Ronan

              I dont know. Concepts of ‘agency’ and ‘privilege’ were understandable to my parents, although neither had an ivy league education.

              For example ; ” yes I understand your friends were egging you on, but you threw the stone through the window, so it’s your responsibility’ (although the specific scenatio isnt real)
              or
              “you should be thankful for what you have, most people have much less”
              I’d be surprised if these arent easily understandable concepts for anyone.

              However, agency and privilege as the Ivy League twitter mafia would have it, yes impossible to explain..because it generally makes no sense.

              • jim, some guy in iowa

                how conservative are your parents, if you don’t mind the question

                • Ronan

                  depends really. I’d say centrist, as neither left or right would describe them as a whole (though might describe certain positions)

                • Ronan

                  though to your specific question, Id say *not very* conservative (considering some of the competition)

              • djw

                No kidding. That argument is one of Freddie’s dumber efforts.

        • Murc

          that calling people out means that people who are conflict-averse are increasingly unwilling to post their thoughts online, for fear of a social media mob.

          The alternative not calling people out means people don’t get called out, though.

          I mean, when people are racist or misogynist in my hearing, I’m gonna call them on that shit, or at least attempt to. And if I’m in a position where I can’t, I’m going to have the grace to feel bad about it.

          Calling people out is important. It’s how slurs stop being used and it make it known to people that, no, your shit isn’t really acceptable.

          • NonyNony

            I mean, when people are racist or misogynist in my hearing, I’m gonna call them on that shit, or at least attempt to. And if I’m in a position where I can’t, I’m going to have the grace to feel bad about it.

            This is a lesson that I literally learned in the eighth grade, and so I find it so obviously true that I can’t even argue when people hold the counter position because they might as well be from another planet.

        • Sorry, I lost interest at “Michelle Goldberg” and reading her article I see it’s once again conflating criticism with hostility and arguing by anecdote.

      • Darkrose

        I think it’s important to realize that Tumblr skews young, and that for many people there, this is the first exposure the’ve had to the concept of intersectionality. They’re still working stuff out, and they’re at a stage when everything seems pretty binary. It can be annoying–I’ve essentially left one fandom because of it–but on the whole, I feel like having some awareness of social justice issues isn’t a bad thing, even if it doesn’t always manifest in a balanced way.

        • Aimai

          I can’t speak to Tumblr but there are certainly blogs I read that I no longer comment on for fear of falling afoul of local shibboleths. In particular We Hunted the Mammoth, which I think is a great blog and has wonderful commenters, has a very active policing of the comments which amounts, sometimes, to a witch hunt. Casual use of what are considered wrongful slurs (for instance calling someone “crazy”) is basically a bannable offense even if the person under discussion is fairly clearly delusional. I got hounded off because I pointed out that a guy who had become a vicious MRA but who also was comforting himself with the notion that feminism would lose out, in the long run, because of the heat death of the universe was not someone you could argue with fruitfully because he was delusional. I wasn’t using it metaphorically or as a slur–I wasn’t arguing that all crazy people are also mean assholes, or that being a mean asshole (which he also was) was because he was crazy. I was just pointing out that his logic was not logical and not going to be logical or susceptible to change through reasoned argumentation. Nevertheless people went from telling me certain words were forbidden to outright calling me a troll there to foment disorder.

          I’ve got nothing against calling people out for language misuse, or banning trolls, but any community (online or offline) can end up organizing itself around exclusion just as fast (if not faster) than it can attempt to evangelize and grow. That’s usually a bad tactic.

          • Seconded with regard to WHTM, although I think I only ever left half a dozen comments over five years. I read it but have no interested in commenting there and am rapidly losing interest in reading the comments. They have occasional blow-ups because it’s not possible for a group to police language to that degree without running into contradicting claims as to whom is injured by the use or banning of individual words.

            Per your last paragraph, that mentality helped badly damage Shakesville.

            • Aimai

              N_B you have hit the nail on the head. Just a couple of days ago the WHTM commenters humiliated a woman who identifies as “crazy” off the boards for using the word “crazy” in an unapproved way and then everyone split up and began pointing fingers about who had done it and whether it was an agressive act that people kept coming back and making fun of her for “flouncing” off when she had apologized profusely for her “errors” and decided not to come back because she couldn’t figure out how to get back into everyone’s good graces. It was absolutely hysterically funny, in an awful kind of way.

            • D.N. Nation

              McEwan being cruel and systematically abusive to her commenters/former mods didn’t help her cause. Policing language is a good way to make someone you’re abusing feel worthless. There was definitely a method to her (Shakesville trigger warning: madness) madness.

              These days there’s only a handful of regulars left over there. Alas, or not.

              • Absolutely. But without the circle of commenters attacking one another for being insufficiently pure, it would never had been so bad. The “all in” post of whatever it was, five years ago?, was the most perfect mass self-flagellation I’ve seen on the inter-tubes.

                • D.N. Nation

                  Worth noting that most of the people who put their names to that garbage have long since left. Some have even apologized for it on former-SV emotional support sites (seriously, these are things that *people need to exist*, which is incredible), so good on them.

                • I agree, better late than never. I was never more than a casual reader, so I watched what appeared to me to be a cult being formed with some astonishment.

            • JMP

              Shakesville – especially in the comments – sometimes seemed to come off almost like a parody of liberals & feminists created by Rush Limbaugh, and that became more and more common as most of the co-bloggers left the place and it became mostly just McEwan.

              • Lee Rudolph

                I had never looked at Shakesville. I just did. The content note preceding the first paragraph of what is currently the top post includes the tag “war on agency”. I do not think I will investigate further (given that I read that tag with the framing I’ve gotten from this thread; perhaps, after all, it’s an in-joke, or something, but I’m afraid to find out).

                • It all depends on what agency, no? A war on, say, Michael Ovitz would be more than welcome.

    • djw

      The most obvious, glaring flaw was succinctly pointed out by the dread Marcotte on facebook:

      “half of his supposed article about the importance of rowdy free speech was dedicated to shaming, policing and trying to silence people whose only crime is saying things that make Chait uncomfortable.”

      Chait has written some stuff that’s come across as lacking in self-awareness before, but this is off the charts.

      • McAllen

        Right, Chait complains that Politically Correctness silences people, but any attempt to stamp it out will silence people too, and it will particularly silence more marginalized people.

      • postmodulator

        half of his supposed article about the importance of rowdy free speech was dedicated to shaming, policing and trying to silence people whose only crime is saying things that make Chait uncomfortable

        I like Marcotte, but vandalizing someone’s door is, in fact, a crime. In the same example, the school paper didn’t just say things, they fired the guy. I also think “trying to silence” is hyperbolic. (“Shaming” and “policing” fit.)

        • witlesschum

          But it’s not an article about how you shouldn’t vandalize people’s doors, now is it?

          Chait connects those examples to his general whine about how people are making Jon Chait uncomfortable with their alleged political correctness, so it seems fair for Marcotte to do the same.

          • postmodulator

            But it’s not an article about how you shouldn’t vandalize people’s doors, now is it?

            As near as I can tell the article is about how mere speech can not be threatening and shouldn’t be policed ever. I’m sympathetic to that in an abstract sort of way; back when I believed in things, that was one of the things I believed in.

      • The problem as I see it is that politically correct people are too politically incorrect while politically incorrect people are too politically correct.

    • witlesschum

      There’s no response other than “This guy is full of shit.” I went to college in the 90s and he’s not writing about a world I recognize and I don’t think I’m the crazy one.

  • Sly

    What’s “political correctness,” Grandpa?

    • rea

      It’s the notion that Catharine MacKinnon rules the left in 2015 with an iron hand.

      • Lee Rudolph

        All intercourse is rape. But an iron hand job—now you’re talking.

        • Davis X. Machina

          “Iron hand job” sounds like a literal translation of something in Mandarin…

          • liberalrob

            Or a really interesting reality show.

            • Bas-O-Matic

              Today’s secret ingredient……jalepeno peppers!

          • I’m thinking one of those James Joyce-on-mescaline English subtitles that often graced 1990s kung fu movies from Hong Kong.

            “You’re skills are extraordinary!”

    • mud man

      When I was at Berkeley in the early ’60s, PC was an outgrowth of Maoist thought. Does leftism really require that kind of conformity? How did libertarianism move from the left around to the right, anyway? Free speech ought to be free, that shouldn’t be hard to understand. Regulate money, not speech.

      • postmodulator

        How did libertarianism move from the left around to the right, anyway?

        If we could embed images here, you would be seeing a GIF of a spit-take.

      • Murc

        Is… anyone seriously arguing for speech to be more regulated than it is now?

        Because if they are I’m not familiar with them.

        • Malaclypse

          I used to be a liberal, but comment moderation over at Shakesville has made me realize the importance of deregulating petrochemical industries, for freedumb.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            somewhere there’s a joke about comments exercising their second amendment rights in order to protect themselves in the event of differing opinions but i’m not funny enough to think it up

        • CaptBackslap – YOLO Edition

          The author of the post you’re commenting on did, not too long ago. Adam Weinstein at Gawker called for climate-change deniers to be jailed earlier this year. There’s something of a coordinated effort to find a way to end online anonymity for the explicit reason “people are saying things I don’t like, and they’re getting away with it! ” And a lot of people were spewing spiders and nonsense after the Charlie Hebdo attack.

          That’s not even counting the suddenly mainstream liberal position that freedom of speech is just the 1A, and any sort of private efforts to punish people for disagreeing are a-ok (up to and including getting strangers fired for things they say on social media). That argument sucks when libertarians use it about economic freedom, and it still sucks when liberals use it about speech.

          I’ve been a committed liberal since my mom took me to a Geraldine Ferraro speech when I was a little kid, and my policy views are still liberal. But something has happened to liberalism the past few years (it seems like it started soon after Obama was re-elected),and it’s really been distressing to watch.

          • Lee Rudolph

            That’s not even counting the suddenly mainstream liberal position that freedom of speech is just the 1A, and any sort of private efforts to punish people for disagreeing are a-ok (up to and including getting strangers fired for things they say on social media).

            Dammit, I’m beginning to think I’ve been deliberately dropped from the Mainstream Liberal memo distribution list!

            What are some examples of what I’ve managed (to the benefit of my blood pressure) to miss? I subscribe to the Nation and The Progressive but don’t always read them cover to cover any more, I haunt a small handful of blogs like LGM, and I read Paul Krugman; otherwise my exposure to politics in general, and perhaps mainstream liberalism in particular, is pretty limited these days.

            • I think you have to listen to Rush to find out what liberals “really” believe.

            • CaptBackslap – YOLO Edition

              I saw a ton of it during the Eich controversy (that is people weren’t saying “this is an exception to free speech because X,” but were straight claiming that free speech wasn’t relevant because it wasn’t the government. Various Gawker Media employees were all over it. Some people are saying it to defend the Getting Racists Fired tumblr, although that’s pretty split. Freddie had a good piece on it at some point (sparked by a terrible xkcd comic that people kept pointing to, if memory serves) with plenty of examples.

              • JL

                I saw a ton of it during the Eich controversy (that is people weren’t saying “this is an exception to free speech because X,” but were straight claiming that free speech wasn’t relevant because it wasn’t the government.

                I think this is caused by our overloading of the phrase “free speech,” to mean both “That bit of the First Amendment” and what Barry Deutsch calls “a culture of free speech.” Conflating the two has long been popular in certain corners of the Internet, and rigidly insisting that the only correct meaning for the phrase is the former has become popular in some other corners in response.

                • CaptBackslap – YOLO Edition

                  That seems about right. Now I’ll be even more annoyed when I see someone complain that a private institution/person/etc. is “violating the First Amendment.”

                • Darkrose

                  Also, there’s the strange idea that “free speech” means “I can say whatever I want, but if you criticize what I said then OMGCENSORSHIP!!!!”

              • drkrick

                The First Amendement isn’t ever relevant unless it pertains to action by the government. Free speech, obviously, is a bigger issue than just 1A jurisprudence. In the case of the Eich controversey, his openly espoused political positions were obnoxious to the customers and partners of his company which made him bad for business. That’s never been a recipe for job security. I’m not going to be surprised if a Baptist preacher in Mississippi gets fired for coming out in favor of gay marriage, either.

              • Brien Jackson

                Well, of course free speech wasn’t relevant to the Eich case. He had every right to use his platform to spout whatever ideas he wants, but other people don’t have to support his company in order to protect his right to say offensive shit they disagree with, and the company doesn’t have to continue to employ someone who’s actions/statements are directly hurting the material interests of the business because FIRST AMENDMENT!!

          • JMP

            Remember what freedom of speech really means: no one should ever be allowed to say anything criticizing anything someone powerful says.

            • CaptBackslap – YOLO Edition

              Just ask Barrett Brown :(

          • Bas-O-Matic

            That’s not even counting the suddenly mainstream liberal position that freedom of speech is just the 1A, and any sort of private efforts to punish people for disagreeing are a-ok (up to and including getting strangers fired for things they say on social media). That argument sucks when libertarians use it about economic freedom, and it still sucks when liberals use it about speech.

            Saying that it’s not particularly troubling for, say, a CEO to be removed from his position because he gave to an anti-gay groups at some point is a far cry from saying that it’s at all times a-ok for people to be fired for things they say on social media (surely it’s going to be OK in some instances, like when I call my boss an asshole and say the product sucks).

            Recognizing that the first amendment doesn’t include a Palinesque right to be free from criticism doesn’t preclude one from recognizing that private relationships (especially those with an imbalance of power like employer/employee) can be fraught with free speech implications. And recognizing that there can be free speech interests in private relationships doesn’t preclude one from recognizing that those interests are going to be competing with other, sometimes more important interests. You can’t after all expect to work at Planned Parenthood and then picket the clinic for performing abortions when you get off.

            • CaptBackslap – YOLO Edition

              The “getting strangers fired” line wasn’t about Eich, but a pretty popular Tumblr that exists only to encourage people to find examples of people saying racist things (usually THAT word) on Twitter or whatnot, so that they may be doxxed and their employers called.

              The targets are extremely difficult to sympathize with, but a privately-run Cultural Revolution is NOT THE ANSWER.

              And it doesn’t stop there, or with any ideology or affiliation. A whole lot of people now seem to think that other people are not allowed to disagree on anything. People have received death threats over disagreements on casting decisions in superhero movies. I’ve seen people get genuinely upset when someone, say, disparages their favorite pizza topping. It’s like almost no one has any confidence or center, so people’s only source of self-worth is their opinions on things. That means that disagreeing counts as a personal attack.

              • Malaclypse

                I’ve seen people get genuinely upset when someone, say, disparages their favorite pizza topping.

                So have I, but then I remember that Mini-Mal and her friends are eight.

          • JL

            That’s not even counting the suddenly mainstream liberal position that freedom of speech is just the 1A, and any sort of private efforts to punish people for disagreeing are a-ok…something has happened to liberalism the past few years…

            I’m pretty sure that what happened was liberals got sick of asshole reactionaries claiming that bloggers and forum moderators removing their comments or banning them was a grave violation of their free speech, and some liberals mildly overcorrected in response.

            I don’t think that the idea of free speech is just the First Amendment right to free speech, but how close to absolute each of those are is different, and ought to be different. Basically, what Bas-O-Matic said.

          • Murc

            The author of the post you’re commenting on did, not too long ago.

            … you know what, you’re right. And I was wrong. And I shouldn’t have been wrong, because I have a bookmark labelled “Loomis thinks the government should enforce speech codes, never forget that.”

            So yeah. That’s on me. And those people? Are super, crazy wrong.

            That’s not even counting the suddenly mainstream liberal position that freedom of speech is just the 1A, and any sort of private efforts to punish people for disagreeing are a-ok (up to and including getting strangers fired for things they say on social media).

            I am willing to go on the record that I’m okay with this, and the criteria I use for it is entirely based on whether the person in question being “punished” has it coming to them.

            I don’t really have any truck with racist, misogynist asshats. They should be allowed to be as vile as they want without government intervention, but in the private sphere they are absolutely fair game, and should be exposed to ridicule and shame and be made to fear voicing their vile shit because nobody will want to associate with them anymore.

            That’s how it works. That is how it has always worked. People didn’t stop using casual ethnic slurs and referring to women as if they were pieces of meat in their hearing because we were NICE about things. They stopped doing that because it was eventually made really clear to them that if they DIDN’T shut their face-holes, they would become social pariahs.

            If you have a better way to make them stop I would like to hear it.

            • CaptBackslap – YOLO Edition

              First, a few background things:

              1) I don’t believe in the concept of moral desert at all, so “had it coming” isn’t going to have much weight for me on its own.

              2) I think the internet should be walled off from real life to a large extent.

              3) That bookmark title is hilarious.

              That out of the way, I’m pretty worried about where “absolutely fair game” ends. If some guy posts some racist bullshit, and a bunch of people on Twitter call him an asshole, that’s fine. The answer to bad speech is more speech! If people make the jump to doxxing, harassment, and calls to his employer? FUCK NO.

              And the underlying reason it’s better for liberals that way is that no matter what you say on an issue, some people will hate it. I’m going to state confidently without even checking that at least one person who posted pro-choice things online has been fired after anti-abortion people contacted his/her conservative boss. A norm of RAIN DOWN HELL ON YOUR ENEMIES makes things worse for everyone, and that’s what things are starting to come to.

              Besides, anyone who’s just outright posting old-school racism on Twitter is probably pretty low-status already, and hence not the opponent we really care about. It’s the sly-boots racists who have the real power.

              • Murc

                1) I don’t believe in the concept of moral desert at all, so “had it coming” isn’t going to have much weight for me on its own.

                I don’t see how you can form a moral code of any sort, then. At least, not a consistent one.

                2) I think the internet should be walled off from real life to a large extent.

                Yeah, this is bullshit. The Internet is no less and no more real than any other part of life, just like how there aren’t real and unreal Americans.

                3) That bookmark title is hilarious.

                Really, from a functional standpoint it’s listed as “Loomis thinks th” until I fully mouse over it. So it’s less hilarious on a day to day basis. I keep it in a folder next to the famous soullite link popularized by Malaclypse, Sully’s “fifth column” post, and a number of others.

                That out of the way, I’m pretty worried about where “absolutely fair game” ends.

                Well, from a legal standpoint we are already there, as there’s basically no legal way to stop private measures aimed at ostracizing those you find to be morally vile.

                If people make the jump to doxxing, harassment, and calls to his employer? FUCK NO.

                Harassment is a real and legitimate crime and should not be resorted to. I freely admit to being soft on doxxing; I find the rightness or wrongness of it dependent on the situation. Outing the gay teen whose father will murder her if he finds out? Bad. Finding out that an evangelical minister is cruising the leather daddy sites when he isn’t thundering about sodomy from the pulpit? Good!

                As far as employers go, if I were employing people I’d want to know if they were crazy misogynists or marching with Nazis on the weekends or something. That said, I also think it should be formally illegal to fire people for anything other than on-the-job cause or lack of work. So there’s that.

                Besides, anyone who’s just outright posting old-school racism on Twitter is probably pretty low-status already

                There are plenty of Republican pols, people of power and influence, who have the people managing their twitter feeds post deeply old-school racism there on a daily basis. I wouldn’t call them low status.

                • CaptBackslap – YOLO Edition

                  I don’t understand why you think moral desert is needed for a moral code. Lacking the concept just forces pure consequentialism in some form, which I view as a feature rather than a bug (indeed, it’s a big part of the reason I wind up supporting so many liberal policies; conservatives love punishment for its own sake). There was a good article at Massimo Pigliucci’s site Scientia Salon a couple weeks back on morality without free will, if you want to burrow into the topic.

                  I view the Internet as basically a Dreamtime sort of thing. It’s a useful tool, but human interaction online is so far from reality that I just keep it in a separate mental box. This is probably a YMMV thing.

                  It sounds like, really, the main disagreement we have on the original issue is on doxxing, since I would also support the law you mentioned. Besides the social-norm issue I mentioned earlier, the biggest issue with it is the unpredictability of what other people will do with information. While your own intent might be just to name and shame, other people might have darker ideas.

                  Fair cop on the last point. I’ll maintain that most of the remaining open racists are fairly low-status (since the relationship is causal to some extent), but I was thinking too narrowly/northernly about it. I fully support making elected officials’ employers aware of their racism, although too many of those employers knew full well what they were getting.

                  Good discussion, yo.

              • Origami Isopod

                Besides, anyone who’s just outright posting old-school racism on Twitter is probably pretty low-status already

                Ah, yes, the ol’ “It’s only blue-collar idiots who are vocally racist.” No classist assumptions there, nuh-uh.

      • tsam

        I’ll open with this: U wot m8?

        And move here: I don’t know of anyone trying to “regulate” anything, other than to excoriate assholes who say sexist and bigoted shit. I would think that a Libertarian would be fine and dandy with people verbally fighting back when they’ve been slighted by a guy like Rush Limbaugh. But then most self identifying Libertarians these days are dopey dipsticks like the Paul family, so I guess I shouldn’t expect consistency in ideology from them.

      • guthrie

        It didn’t.
        It’s just that a certain segment of the American right of a sort of anarcho-capitalist individualist type appropriated the word (Like they do to anything they want) and it ended up as common currency for an anti-government position.
        A morally feckless position that no sensible person would want to belong to, but at the moment we’re stuck with it representing something different from what it used to.

        Meanwhile in Europe we do still use it in the old way.

    • “political correctness” is any viewpoint that a conservative finds irritating, updated daily.

  • tsam

    I made it as far as “How the language police are perverting liberalism”.

    Chait can suck it. PC that, motherfucker.

    • Lingual perversion and sucking. Is it hot in here or is it just me?

    • Aimai

      I also didn’t get very far when I saw that the principle grousp being attacked for being a problem were all student groups of women and non whites while he seems absolutely unaware of the long term attacks by conservative student groups and conservative outside agitators on the free speech and teaching of professors. Its like he never heard of Juan Cole or, (heaven forfend!) Erik Loomis or the various people who have had right wing students videotape their lectures so that they can get the professor fired for anti-christian or anti american speech.

      • Its like he never heard of…Erik Loomis

        That’s crazy talk!

        Uh oh…I await my banning.

      • tsam

        Is that what this is all about? I’m sure what he has to say is stupid, but I’m not going to read past “perversion of…” in any context that involves crying about being held to account for saying something stupid. Not gunna do it.

    • MattMinus

      Your use of “suck it” is a hetero-normative, homophobic slur, and, due to its intimations of sexual violence, it is a triggering expression of rape culture.

      “Motherfucker” is similarly fraught and problematic. It is simultaneously triggering to survivors of motherfuckery and oppressive to those in non-traditional romantic relationships. It also serves as a weapon of the patriarchy, as it pushes the notion that motherfucking is somehow more worthy of disapprobation than fatherfucking, while, at the same time, completely negating the experience of those who identify as fatherfuckers.

      Now, let me tell you about my headmates, cis scum.

      • tsam

        **golf clap**

        Nice

      • JL

        Would that people who put so much effort into parodying the rhetorical overreach of people working toward a more just world, put that much effort into making a more just world themselves.

        • MattMinus

          Don’t worry, that took, like, no effort.

        • Origami Isopod

          A lot of the people who indulge in that kind of rhetorical overreach are not working toward a more just world. They’re indulging in intellectual masturbation and calling it activism.

      • Origami Isopod

        Shut yer fuckin’ face, fatherfucker…

  • sibusisodan

    Under p.c. culture, the same idea can be expressed identically by two people but received differently depending on the race and sex of the individuals doing the expressing.

    Right. Outside of “p.c. culture” this never happens.

    Sigh.

    • xq

      That’s not the implication of the quote.

      • sibusisodan

        Isn’t it? Given that he goes on to talk about ‘mansplaining’ – somewhat critically – I’d have assumed that the reality of whether ‘the same idea can be expressed identically…’ is being implicitly questioned as being merely as a construct of ‘p.c. culture’.

        I may have misunderstood, of course.

        • xq

          No? Chait is arguing that this is a property of p.c. culture, not that it is exclusively so. Given who Chait is and other stuff he’s written, I am certain that he would agree that p.c. culture is not the only context in which race/sex of speaker is taken into account by audience.

          • Aimai

            He’s bemoaning it, isn’t he? So isn’t the implication that its a sad state of affairs when that which is really real and truly true gets scanted when the “wrong” person says it? And the examples he gives, at least in the first part of the article, all lead you to think that the “wrong” person is either white or is a muslim guy who makes basically a lazy white man’s point of view joke piece.

            • xq

              Yes, I agree with your reading. It’s an attack on what Chait sees as political correctness on the left. He’s picking his examples to support that particular argument.

              • tsam

                Well, if the argument is that PC policing for the sake of argument or conflict is bad, then he’s probably not wrong. But I don’t think that most of backlash people get from being bigoted/sexist comes from trying to maintain a social norm of political correctness, but rather in defense of the people who are victimized by bigotry and sexism.

      • rea

        That’s not the implication of the quote.

        Depends on who’s saying it.

        • drkrick

          Oh, well done.

    • Shakezula

      Ugg. This isn’t about the N word, is it?

      • Aimai

        Yeah, that’s where I’d think it would be going. Also “the same idea” is very seldom expressed identically by two people of different ethnic/gender/class identities. Let alone received by other people in the same way because: different vantage points and different histories mean that the signficance of the utterance is difference. With regard specifically to the “N word” Ta Nehisi Coates has, once and for all, buried that moronic grievance by pointing out that one can call one’s own father “daddy” but other people can not. One can call one’s own wife “darling” but other people can not. A name doesn’t exist outside of the relationship that it encodes–is defined by the relationship that it encodes.

        Similarly certain arguments “Lets defend the second amendment by buying and wearing guns publicly” has a totally different meaning when said by a white guy in Utah than when it is said by a black guy in Bed Stuy–why? Because one isn’t risking anything by saying it and the other is.

        • NonyNony

          I would assume that Chait is decrying the fact that when my wife tells the auto mechanic about a noise she hears in her car he thinks she’s an idiot, but when I tell the same mechanic about the same noise in the same car he takes it seriously.

          Well, I actually wouldn’t. But Chait is a moron if he doesn’t realize that this occurs among all interaction between groups, and is not actually an artifact of so-called “PC culture”.

        • Lee Rudolph

          one can call one’s own father “daddy” but other people can not

          Unless he’s Mr. Warbucks.

          And/or the other people are gold diggers!

          • Aimai

            The Nepalese tell a joke like this. Its not funny told in English but basically it concerns a man who walks around calling all the women he meets on the path “mother”–which is acceptable–but then calls a woman that he meets “wife” and gets the shit kicked out of him. Some relationships you can assume/name into existence: its deferential to call a stranger “mother” or “father” or “older brother” or “older sister.” Its dangerous to call a strange woman “wife” because that relationship simply has to be unique (because sexual).

            • Lee Rudolph

              a man who walks around calling all the women he meets on the path “mother”–which is acceptable–but then calls a woman that he meets “wife” and gets the shit kicked out of him.

              And then there’s this…. (Comments reveal, alas, that it’s a re-enactment.)

            • Ruviana

              This is certainly a dead thread but this reminds me of one of my dissertation committee members who fended off overfamiliarity from men in Nepal by addressing them as “older male relative” in Nepali (whatever that term was) which made them far less likely to approach her.

        • witlesschum

          Randall Kennedy had that explanation first, except it was his Grandma. But I read that in the 90s and nobody could learn anything then because Catherine MacKinnon was terrorizing Ann Arbor with fire and blood.

        • Shakezula

          With regard specifically to the “N word” Ta Nehisi Coates has, once and for all, buried that moronic grievance by pointing out that one can call one’s own father “daddy” but other people can not.

          And I’m not crazy about that comparison because it lacks nuance. Some people find the N word completely unacceptable no matter who says it and it is used as an insult.

          It’s more like friends who use insults like bitch or dickhead affectionately. It’s acceptable to specific people in a specific context.

          • tsam

            I get paid by the hour to be called daddy.

        • Brien Jackson

          Here’s how you know the “N-Word” thing is a crock of shit. Like, maybe two years ago, there was some conservative dustup about the amount of money the Obamas were spending on such frivolities as big state dinners with visiting foreign dignitaries. So, LSS, I shared some story about it on Facebook with the tag “Shorter conservatives: Who does this n—– think he is, the President?” Literally the only people who said anything about me using the n-word in this context were conservatives.

          So yeah, the crux of the N-word thing isn’t that there’s some total ban on white people using it in any context, it’s just that conservatives really want to be able to call black people niggers without social consequence.

    • Under human culture since the dawn of time, the same idea can be expressed identically by two people but received differently depending on the race or sex or status of the individuals doing the expressing.

      fixed for greater accuracy

  • sleepyirv

    Ah, the “I sorta give a shit” problem – where you don’t want to deal with the repercussions of stating your opinion but don’t want to change your opinion. So you whine about not being able to state your opinion instead of stating your opinion.

    • “Libtards who mock me are violating my first amendment rights!” – Sarah Palin

  • Shakezula

    Straight white liberal dude discovers being liberal isn’t an instant passport to full acceptance by non-white, non-straight, non-dudes.

    LOL.

    • liberalrob

      Someone needs to introduce Chait to the phenomenon of “tribalism.” That’s what he really should be attacking, and is the real source of all the ills he ascribes to “political correctness.”

      • NonyNony

        YES! Thank you!

      • Shakezula

        I think it is optimistic to think Chait can tell the difference between tribalism and hostility to jerks.

  • MacK

    Reading the article and the situations described – I was trying to work out whether the issue was political correctness or simply the reality that some people can be quite moronic. I was inclined to land on the “these are examples of moronic behaviour” rather than PC

    • dn

      That’s kind of the point. Chait blurs the two positions in such a way as to imply that the worst of PC exemplifies the whole. Which makes his accusations that PCers are the “illiberal” ones rather ironic.

  • witlesschum

    How long is that fucking thing? I read about three paragraphs and then skimmed awhile and it just kept going.

  • Bitter Scribe

    I’m surprised he didn’t drag out that “water buffalo” thing that the WSJ op-ed page couldn’t seem to go one week without mentioning back in the nineties.

    • That happened in the 80’s and was the greatest violation of human rights in American history up until that time David Letterman made a joke about Bristol Palin.

  • DrDick

    I have long made a point of ignoring anybody who uses the phrase “political correctness.” This is not and never has been an actual thing (at least not as any kind of significant trend/movement).

    • Darkrose

      Yup. The only times I’ve ever heard that phrased used seriously is from people who are defending their right to be an asshole and not get called on it.

    • drkrick

      I used to pretend to think PC stood for plain courtesy and wonder why people were against it.

      It tended to piss off the correct people.

  • MAJeff

    Scheiber and Chait’s work this week has sure made a case for a much earlier destruction of The New Republic.

    • Origami Isopod

      +1

  • CP

    “Political correctness” is easily the most grotesque and meaningless nothingburger the right wing has ever ballooned into the public’s consciousness.

    • tsam

      It’s a diversionary tactic. Victimhood: TEH PC POLICE IS TAKING ARE FREEDOM OF SPPECH! All I said was why are n***ers so lazy! Geez.

  • StarryEyedHater

    Why don’t we have a white history month? Why can’t I say n****r when rappers say it all the time? Asking questions like this is anathema to the politically correct mob turning our great nation into a pink police state.

  • Pingback: Jon Chait's Political Correctness - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money()

  • Lord Jesus Perm

    Alex Pareene drops daggers:

    Following his faux apologia for his support for the Iraq War, Chait, sounding personally wounded, bemoaned those who told people like him to “shut up and go away.” His philosophical position is that it is undemocratic—dangerously undemocratic, in fact—to tell Jonathan Chait to “shut up and go away.” It might be rude, and personally hurtful to Jonathan Chait, to tell him to shut up and go away (trigger warning: telling Jon Chait to shut up and go away), but he should perhaps try to remember that “shut up and go away” was his own magazine’s editorial position towards the entire left for the whole of the Marty Peretz era.

    So, to once again answer New York’s question, straight white men could (and did) viciously attack “the culture of political correctness” as much as they pleased back in the day, and no one who mattered ever seemed particularly bothered by it. Now, not only is it harder to avoid reading negative feedback from people with different perspectives than you, especially if you engage online at all, but there are actually important people—people with status, who’ve won awards and hold positions of authority—who listen to those people with different perspectives. Ta-Nehisi Coates is at The Atlantic, for godssake, not In These Times.

    These are fundamental attacks on Chait’s identity by people he cannot merely dismiss as cranks. Lashing out is only natural. When men like Chait are exposed to criticism of this nature for the first time, they generally respond with operatic self-pity. And then we get a column or an essay or a book about how people who criticize straight white men are Actually The Problem. This is Chait’s On Snark. This is his “Digital lynch mob.”

    Chait is understandably upset that the left is playing dirty by impugning his view of himself as a good, tolerant liberal, on the side of justice. No one wants to hear that the place that they worked for many years was actively fighting for white supremacy! But it’s fun to imagine Chait responding to the equivalent of this piece written by a conservative, about liberals. Chait understands the absurdity of the conservative position that to be accused of racism is worse than racism itself. He accurately notes that when conservatives bemoan “political correctness” they are generally upset that they have been asked to be respectful of people of different backgrounds. He simply cannot take that next step, and admit that perhaps his own concern about the proliferation of dangerous anti-speech Marxists and Social Justice Warriors is actually misplaced anxiety about his getting called on his shit.

  • ColBatGuano

    Isn’t Chait’s article just a finely distilled example of nutpicking?

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