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Letter on Justice and Open Debate

Discussion in 'Political Debates' started by Stevicus, Jul 9, 2020.

  1. Stevicus

    Stevicus Veteran Member
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    Apparently, this letter published in Harpers is raising some hackles.

    A Letter on Justice and Open Debate | Harper's Magazine

    I've noticed this general trend, even among some of the posters here on RF.

    Another thing I've noticed is that this particular phenomenon has been going on for a long time, at least more than 30 years since Jimmy the Greek got fired. So, the tactic has gotten stale. Even if it may have been effective once upon a time, it appears that diminishing returns are setting in.

    Another problem is that the characteristic of "cancel culture" and the shaming language that comes with it is that it is way too reliant on people's emotions and doesn't do enough to demonstrate critical thinking, logic, or reason.

    The interesting thing about this, at least when seeing the reactions and criticisms against this letter, is that apparently, some people are more concerned about wanting to shame and ostracize people rather than actually call attention to the issues they purport to care about.

    In other words, there are some people are far too trigger happy when it comes lumping anyone and everyone into the "basket of deplorables." The more people get lumped into that basket, the fewer supporters there will be for the supposed "non-deplorables."

    This is very true. The best way to fight an idea is with another idea. But it's also possible that those who embrace "cancel culture" really have no other ideas. They've created an intellectual wasteland of stale, fossilized ideas, and they're at a dead end now. That's what is really being revealed here, not so much that they're intolerant meanies who get people fired for specious reasons. The fact that shaming and ostracism are the only things they can think of, that would indicate a certain degree of vacuousness and anti-intellectualism.

    Thoughts?
     
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  2. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    That's clearly what the current and unprecedented world-wide awakening of of the BLM-inspired social justice movement demonstrates, right? Wrong!

    We are where we are because, in part, the basket of deplorables was sustained by four centuries of indifference, tolerance, and white liberal angst.
     
  3. Lyndon

    Lyndon "Peace is the answer" quote: GOD, 2014
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    Cancel culture is right wing fake news, a term that was only invented a few weeks ago and still has no meaning I can see.
     
  4. Stevicus

    Stevicus Veteran Member
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    Those who wrote this letter are supporters of the movement, so it's not really about that. This is about something different.

    It was actually sustained more by greed than anything else. The indifference and white liberal angst was a side effect of that - a symptom more than a cause. I think it still exists today; that's what this letter appears to be pointing out.

    What degree of "deplorability" are we talking about here? Is deplorability an either/or proposition, or is it possible that some people might be more deplorable than others?
     
  5. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    I’m all for free speech, let’s just get that disclaimer out of the way. I think people have a right to say whatever it is they want. Nor do I think people should fear for their jobs for voicing unpopular speech (unless such ideologies actually conflict with their ability to do their duties on the job.)

    However, I have noticed a trend that people either use that as a shield from criticism or complain when people experience the wrong end of the stick in terms of consequences. And it’s a very powerful thought stopping technique. Because you have this righteous even noble cause of defending what is fundamentally a basic human right. Which can be intoxicating. But then one starts to focus so much effort on that aspect that it literally distracts from the actual discourse. So there are none of these so called filtering systems that are often being touted as “better solutions than cancel culture.”
    Because let’s be real here, it essentially presumes that the people behind said speech are far nobler than perhaps they are.
    On top of that, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that since everyone obviously disagrees with person X, the defence of their speech takes precedent of actually holding discourse.

    That’s not to say I have no issues with so called cancel culture. Sometimes it can go too far and I’m not for compelled speech at all. But it’s such an easy shield that I’m quite wary of it now.

    I think what we’re seeing is the threshold of the paradox of tolerance shifting. And we will experience growing pains from that.

    I think it’s important to always recognise nuance. This is not an either or thing. And the letter is so vaguely worded that I’m not entirely convinced this isnt the “powerful” trying to deflect criticism by focusing on something else. As there are signers of all political backgrounds on said letter (See JK Rowling and her very recent spat with cancel culture after some apparently very transphobic tweets.) There is more to this letter than meets the eye.
     
    #5 SomeRandom, Jul 9, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2020
  6. Stevicus

    Stevicus Veteran Member
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    Well, I think it was more than a few weeks ago, although it does appear to be a relatively new term. I think the underlying issue is that no one really wants to discuss things openly anymore; it's just competing levels of posturing and grandstanding, but there's no real public debate anymore.

    This is more a comment on what the political culture has become, something observable on both sides.

    If you look at the names of the people who signed this letter (such as Noam Chomsky), I don't think we're talking about right-wingers here.
     
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  7. Stevicus

    Stevicus Veteran Member
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    The thing that I see with all this is that, I imagine a certain thought process takes place in those embrace the methods and attitudes of "cancel culture." This is my impression of what they must be thinking:

    "I don't like this 'deplorable' and what he is saying. However, I lack the education and intellectual ability to debate them openly and publicly in good faith, so therefore I will use a different tactic. I will instead shout at them, shame them, call their employer, call them 'deplorable,' and use what ever other dirty trick I can use to silence and punish them for offending me."

    Crybullies are not as clever as they think they are.
     
  8. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    I have a different interpretation. The paradox of tolerance argues that a truly tolerant and functioning society has a limit on what it can tolerate. If one can debate ideas civilly, then that of course should be the first option. If the ideas are too toxic for the threshold to maintain civil discourse whilst still ensuring that very little harm befalls communities, then stronger action has to be taken.
    One cannot simply allow I dunno the KKK to function with simple civil discourse. Because the ideology is simply too toxic and if allowed, can fester and will actually hurt people. So it must be quashed.
    Today we are seeing that people with large audiences and platforms on various social media sites can in fact have a lot of influence. It is therefore reasonable to be far more critical of the ideas promoted by these “celebs.” Because the ideas they propagate can have real world consequences. Hitler was allowed to do his thing whilst in open discourse and in the marketplace of ideas. I know how that looks, but you get the idea I hope.

    It is not always enough to denounce ideas in a civil manner. Sometimes you have to quash them before they’re allowed to permeate and fester within society.

    Now sometimes I do think people are just being “crybullies” as you put it. But freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences. If you get on your platform and say racist things, don’t come crying to me about being called a racist.
     
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  9. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Christine's Uncle Fergus
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    It certainly isn't a new phenomenon, particularly on RF.
    (This place might even be better than it was 10 years ago.)
    Has it gotten worse generally?
    I wonder about that...how would it be measured?
     
  10. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue The gentle embrace of twilight has become my guide

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    Yeah I remember cruising through the archives. Looks like they were pretty good times then as well.. *grin*
     
  11. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Christine's Uncle Fergus
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    Oh, the stories I could tell....if I could survive telling them.
     
  12. icehorse

    icehorse Well-Known Member
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    Who will moderate in this brave new world of speech stifling? Seems like a great example of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" to me.
     
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  13. Stevicus

    Stevicus Veteran Member
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    This isn't about the KKK. If we're talking about quashing the KKK and eliminating them from existence, then I'm with you all the way. Same for Nazis or white nationalists or whatever they might call themselves - those who are obviously and publicly embracing that toxic ideology, then yes, I agree with that. I think it should still be "allowed," at least inasmuch as it's necessary to educate people and be able to identify it.

    But for those who aren't like that, but may have put their foot in their mouth or said something stupid while drunk or did a dumb thing in high school and get called out on it decades later...that's where it goes too far. Many of those who get "quashed" are not KKK and don't necessarily deserve to be treated as if they are. Some things need to be put into better perspective.

    I have no fear of any idea, however ridiculous or repugnant it might be. Maybe I've grown somewhat immune to it, as I've had many interactions and travels in my life where I've encountered so many strange people with bizarre ideas.

    As you mention Hitler, the ironic thing is, he's not disallowed at all. There are volumes and volumes written about Hitler, not to mention countless documentaries, movies, etc. He has no statues or monuments, yet he's probably one of the most single recognizable figures in the 20th century. I think it's important to study history and learn from it, but one thing that might get glossed over is connecting the past to the present in a coherent manner.

    Apart from Hitler, some people have openly wondered how people could have been so blind as to support him in the first place.

    Or even when we look at our own history, one might well ask: What was wrong with our forebears? Why did they do all these horrible and atrocious things to innocent people? I tend to attribute it to greed more than outright hatred or malice. One such "deplorable," Thomas Jefferson said: "Money, not morality, is the principle commerce of civilized nations." This is the mindset which has driven our national consciousness, and it still largely remains in place today.

    No, but they can conceivably cry to others who might sympathize. Again, it's a matter of practical politics, which is mainly a numbers game. The ideas are not being quashed in any way, shape, or form. They will continue to fester either way, so maybe this tactic isn't the wisest course of action, from a practical and objective viewpoint. There are consequences for everything we do, on both sides of the spectrum.

    "Crybullies" are those who are as hostile and aggressive as bullies, but they also rely heavily on playing the victim card as well, expecting sympathy and support from the masses. Now, with a letter like this, many of them seem even more upset that they appear to be losing that sympathy and support they've grown to depend on.

    Personally, that's the aspect which I find the most disconcerting. My view is that, if people want to stand up against injustice or the kind of toxic ideas that might need to be quashed, there might be other ways of doing so. For one thing, it might be necessary to parse and examine the actual ideas which are being quashed, but if the ideas are disallowed and we can't talk about them, it's a little difficult to actually do that. Instead, people just end up arguing over symbols and slogans that supposedly represent the idea, but not about the actual idea itself.

    Of course, it's understood that there are consequences to what people say, but if, according to you, someone gets on a platform and says racist things, others might still want to look at the actual "things" being said and make their own determinations as to whether or not it's racist. Not everyone would subscribe to the same standard. People say things like "dog whistle" as if it's supposed to mean something.

    All I'm suggesting is that people should strive to speak with clarity and precision. People should say what they mean and mean what they say, and when called upon to explain and justify their reasoning, they should do so without hesitation or some quick one-liner.

    I agree with you about the consequences of what people say, but on the other hand, if someone chooses to visit the consequences upon someone, they might want to put more effort into it if they expect to get more support.

    In short, the "crybullies" are not trying very hard. They may want to quash certain ideas, but they're not putting in an honest effort. They're looking for shortcuts and quick fixes. They're all style over substance, and that's where their problems begin and end.
     
  14. icehorse

    icehorse Well-Known Member
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    An excerpt from the article in the OP:

    This is SO wonderfully written.

    Love him or hate him, Bill Maher talks about being a "classic liberal", which is some form of moderate liberal. I think this is what we need to promote. We need to counter extremism on both ends of every spectrum.
     
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  15. February-Saturday

    February-Saturday Devil Worshiper

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    I'm not a fan of your language here where you're vaguely advocating for "stronger action" and dismissing acting in a "civil manner." It's not wise to become the enemy of civility. I would hope that history has shown that by now.

    The language you're using is not the refined rhetoric of a revolutionary; it's the fervid propaganda of a dictator. You use "racist" in the same way Hitler used "Jew" and Stalin used "kulak." There's a reason hate speech is protected as free speech. It's not free speech that was responsible for Hitler's rise to power; it was the public buying into his tribalism like you're doing right now.

    Stop for a minute. Take a step back. Think it out. You're playing into the pockets of politicians and corporations, giving tools to the ones savvy enough to abuse to them. Don't do that.
     
  16. Nakosis

    Nakosis crystal soldier
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    Well, that is democracy. Folks get to vote for who represents them for whatever crazy reason they think will benefit them and here we are.

    It's about finding an effective way to persuade the vote. Trying to shame folks doesn't work well IMO as there exist many different moral values in play. Any moral criticisms mostly serves to embolden the opposing view.
     
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  17. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Christine's Uncle Fergus
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    Minor quibble....
    From the RF definitions used in restricted forums.....
    Conservative (also called classical liberalism)
    Classical liberals are far from moderate liberals (N Ameristanian usage).
    I identify as a classical liberal (which I see as libertarian), but not a conservative.
    So I'm prohibited from posting in either conservative or liberal only forums.
    (Much scorn do I earn when occasionally accidentally posting in the latter.
    Cons are more tolerant of outsiders.)
     
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  18. icehorse

    icehorse Well-Known Member
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    I think I found the definitions you're referring to. None fit very well.
     
  19. Nakosis

    Nakosis crystal soldier
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    Not even sure what conservative is. I test out liberal mostly cause I have no interest in religious moral values.

    I feel conservative is more about being self-sufficient as much as possible. Relying on the government as little as possible. "Liberals" seem to feel they need the government keeping everyone in line. I'm more concerned about who's keeping the government in line because it doesn't seem to be the voters.
     
  20. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    Why do you think I’m using loaded language? I was just trying my hand at Devil’s Advocate.
    I’m not advocating for abandoning civil discourse in favour of quashing enemies. I said specifically that one should opt for discourse first. I’m not dismissing racists as just racists. I’m simply saying it’s very easy to build a shield out of a concern for free speech. As a way to worm out of being held responsible for saying racist things.
    And that too is dangerous as it distracts from the “free exchange of ideas.”

    Dismissing cancel culture offhand as just overreacting crybullies or what have you is to dismiss the free market. People have always implemented a sort of filtering system. Rewarding speech and boycotting those they disagree with. It just happens that we’re more aware of those instances thanks to the internet. And people can organise far more efficiently. Though the algorithms on social media platforms do tend to reward anger, as emotionally charged reactions means more engagement. Which is probably why so called “twitter mobs” exist. These clowns are essentially rewarded for being overdramatic. And I think we can both agree that that particular crowd are a bunch of destructive ********. Not fit for healthy robust discourse.
     
    #20 SomeRandom, Jul 9, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2020
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