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The Yale Problem Begins in High School (heterodoxacademy.org)
525 points by frostmatthew on Nov 25, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 491 comments



I've taught at two colleges and based on my (purely) anecdotal experiences and attention to the climate, I'd say that the number of students and faculty interested in stifling or censoring ideas is small but also very, very noisy. They also have no sense of humor and college administrators as a group have no sense of humor or perspective, and they're chronically worried about accusations of indifference or insensitivity (which are themselves as good as convictions). There is a strong economic and career incentive for administrators to take everything seriously and to keep their heads down as much as possible.

Brew this up and one gets a majority of students who are reasonable but a small minority who drive all the discourse.

I don't teach at Yale and have never taught at Yale or schools with similar cultures, so I can't speak to the environment there, but William Deresiewicz did, and his book Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life came out of that and I recommend it. His book A Jane Austen Education (http://jakeseliger.com/tag/a-jane-austen-education-how-six-n...) is also very good, even for someone like me who does not love Jane Austen.

Edit: Also, almost all of the censorship calls and nasty behavior / comments came from students on the left. Vox's "I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me" (http://www.vox.com/2015/6/3/8706323/college-professor-afraid) is congruent with my experiences.


The problem with "balancing viewpoints" argument is that it isn't based on a critical ethos and so it cannot progress on the basis of logos. You can have a "balanced viewpoint" and still have debates about "whether the moon is made of the body of Vince Foster or not." There are certain ideas that just don't belong in a university setting because they are bunk and this has nothing to do with diversity of opinion.

It similar to the bogus fair and balanced media argument. News reporting is about reporting the facts as they lead logically so that if anyone would perform the work of the journalist they would arrive at similar conclusions regardless of their perspective or polity. It's very much like the scientific method. Focusing on opinion diversity is a red herring.


"There are certain ideas that just don't belong in a university setting because they are bunk and this has nothing to do with diversity of opinion."

I'm sure all of the students getting faculty and administrators dismissed right now would describe the opposing ideas as "bunk" not worthy of consideration.

I see a few reasons to explicitly address "bunk" ideas.

* Students have already been exposed to the ideas, and many already believe them. Having a discussion explaining why they are bunk might be critical to moving on to more interesting topics.

* Appeals to authority make for bad pedagogy. Sure, evolution is the scientific consensus. But students who just accept it at face value without asking to be shown the evidence are not students capable of scientific thought.

* Ideas you thought were bunk might turn out to have more merit or nuance than you expected, once you start digging deeper. It's easy to see other people's deeply held bunk ideas. But how do you force yourself to see your own?


You're missing the thrust of the argument entirely.

The author does not advocate validating factually invalid statements - see his anecdote in the second article linked in GP regarding "whether or not the economic collapse was caused by poor black people":

"I gave a quick response about how most experts would disagree with that assumption, that it was actually an oversimplification, and pretty dishonest, and isn't it good that someone made the video we just watched to try to clear things up? And, hey, let's talk about whether that was effective, okay? If you don't think it was, how could it have been?"

In other words - in the case of "bunk" it can be summarily dismissed with a proper basis. Which is entirely different from vilifying and personally attacking a person for their beliefs or thoughts which are doing no actual harm to anyone else. People can have bogus ideas and those bogus ideas can be completely harmless no matter how much you might find them distasteful.

Viewpoint diversity is entirely about bringing different perspectives and experiences to bear on a subject.

It works in the hard sciences: https://www.quantamagazine.org/20151124-kadison-singer-math-...

Why shouldn't it similarly be applied in areas of morality, ethics, social science, etc?


I think the parent is on to something about the implications of the argument, although it is not how the post's author would look at it, of course.

To really understand an argument, one has to start with its subject. Are we talking about viewpoints or people? What the blog post author focuses on is people:

> Me: Now lets try it for politics. How many of you would say you are on the right politically, or that you are conservative or Republican?

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of how discourse is conducted and should be conducted. People are not on the right politically, conservative, or Republican. People are people, and each might hold or articulate viewpoints or opinions that are on the right politically or conservative. They might be a member of the Republican Party. All of these are elective and potentially temporary.

The whole point of discourse is that viewpoints, opinions, and memberships can change. So to start by framing those as elements of identity needing protection, feeds directly into a framework for discussion that is conflicted. If a discussion must validate and protect all viewpoints (conservative or liberal), then what is going to be discussed?

IMO the right way to approach this situation is to explore the potential consequences of voicing an unpopular opinion. Often, they are far less scary than teenagers might suppose. We should focus on how to give each individual student the mental tools to effectively evaluate arguments, and to manage their anxiety about going against perceived social norms.

Teaching kids to be brave in speaking up against prevailing opinion can help create positive outcomes throughout their lives. We want citizens who will speak up for what they know is right, even if they know they will face trouble.


> We want citizens who will speak up for what they know is right, even if they know they will face trouble.

I thought your comment was really good, but I don't think this conclusion is quite right. The problem is that lots of different people "know" that lots of different things are "right". In my life experience (read: I have no data on this), we don't seem to have the problem that not enough people will "speak up for what they know is right" because they fear trouble, we instead have the problem that not enough people are willing to challenge themselves on what they "know" is "right".

Sorry for all the scare quotes, but my point is that the entire idea that people can know that things are right, and then speak up for those things, is off-base. Certainly, it's a good thing to have a sense for what you think is right, and to be able to speak up for those things, but it's a much better and much harder thing to be open to being convinced that you are incorrect. That's what I don't see much of in our society, and what all schools, and universities in particular, should do a better of imparting to their students! Instead of teaching people to better manage their anxiety about speaking against perceived social norms, we would be better off improving peoples' skills of hearing things they disagree with, and of structuring their own arguments such that they don't drown out that disagreement (for instance, the all too familiar tactic of yelling and/or ranting continuously).


Replying to myself, because I've found that my comment ended up supporting the original article, at least in part, which I didn't particularly like or find myself nodding along to.

I guess where I find that I agree with the author is that we could all use to do a better job of really listening to different opinions. But where the author was targeting that advice at the "victims" who shouldn't shout down their "oppressors", in my experience it is more often the case that people with brash opinions that tend to offend people are the ones who "know they are right" and are unlikely to really hear the other side.

But I suppose there is plenty of closed-mindedness, lack of charity, and stubbornness to go around!


>Viewpoint diversity is entirely about bringing different perspectives and experiences to bear on a subject.

Yes this is what I understand, too. Let me say, for the record, I think diversity (race, creed, gender, color, tint or hue) is important. And bias on those things doesn't belong on campus. But campus isn't group therapy, either. It's a place like no other where we're supposed probe the universe and try to find the answers. Diversity in that context should be in the service of that mission, not in the service of balancing faction which is what the OP is all about. Balancing faction is a slippery slope, set it aside.


Look, are you trying to help the bad people spread their bad ideas? You must be on the side of the bad people!


I don't think the comparison of balancing viewpoints in a classroom is really comparable to the fair and balanced media argument. In a classroom, you're dealing with a classroom full of a limited number of people who need to be able to state and defend their ideas. It's unlikely that someone in such a classroom will bring up whether the moon is made of the body of Vince Foster, but if they do, students should be able to make a reasonable decision on how to respond (in that case, it requires little response beyond polite derision).

Dismissing something as a red herring without even bringing it up in a classroom avoids a key responsibility of an educator: students need to be able to recognize red herrings and respond to them as such. Red herrings occur in the real world. The role of the educator is not to dictate accurate information, it's to teach people how to critically process information.

The news, on the other hand, does have the responsibility to dictate accurate information. As such, the only opinions that matter are the opinions of experts, and those should be subservient to data. "Fair and balanced" doesn't often matter because if there are really two sides to the issue, the "information" isn't accurate enough to be presenting to an inexpert public anyway. Debates should happen between experts based on the data, without politicization, and news should report the results.


But in a classroom setting, the students should feel free to debate the composition of the moon.

Very quickly, the proposal that the moon is made of Vince Foster would be dismissed as false. This is critical thinking in action.

The problem today is that students and faculty are self-censoring. This doesn't expand erudition.


> But in a classroom setting, the students should feel free to debate the composition of the moon.

No, they shouldn't, and I'll follow-up as to why below.

>Very quickly, the proposal that the moon is made of Vince Foster would be dismissed as false. This is critical thinking in action.

Given sufficient rhetorical skill and sufficiently many appeals to "open thought" or "questioning assumptions" or "viewpoint diversity" - in short, various forms of postmodern denial of the external world and the strict rules for reasoning about it - a sufficiently motivated student or professor will manage to make "the moon is made of Vince Foster" the center of attention.

We are living in the same world, with the same academic institutions, which was fooled by the Sokal Hoax, and we are also dealing with the human psychology of social proof, in which giving time and energy to considering an idea in-detail is considered evidence for the idea's truth (rather than evidence for its vagueness or logical complexity).

We cannot allow academia to be consumed with discussions over whether gravity is a social construction, especially not because right-wing partisans feel that only mostly owning the field of economics means that academia is engaged in conspiracy against them.


But I think you have indirectly hit upon the solution.

The rules of good arguments, good logic, and relevant evidence are the points to emphasize and enforce.

So disallow any and all appeals to social proof, and you eliminate the ability for these people to waste everyone else's time.

If someone wants to argue the Earth is 6,000 years old, let them take a couple of cracks at it. But once it's clear they are deviating from the rules of scientific reasoning in science class, make it clear that is the reason for disallowing their arguments and move on.

"We cannot allow academia to be consumed with discussions over whether gravity is a social construction, especially not because right-wing partisans feel that only mostly owning the field of economics means that academia is engaged in conspiracy against them."

Take this sentence, for example. It's not clear at all how the second clause logically follows from the first.


Yes, because it is imperative to teach and learn by rote. If any idea is commonly held to be true, there is no reason to have any discourse. Even for ideas that seem to be binary this is just ridiculous -- you will note that this position would preclude discussing topics and discoveries regarding a round earth, DNA, electricity, and many other understood "truths" over human history.

Discourse and unpopular ideas drive discovery and learning more than memorization ever will. It does not mean that unpopular views are "right" it means that the act of understanding, listening to other perspectives and being able to construct your own beliefs in that discourse is a net win and absolutely core to higher learning; even if the unpopular view is garbage.


Who gets to decide which ideas are off limits?


The epistemological method in use in the class, so for instance in theology appeals to faith or words written thousands of years ago would be acceptable, while you'd probably want to reject appeals to logic/rationality.

In science you'd want to use the scientific method and reject appeals to faith.


> The epistemological method in use in the class, so for instance in theology appeals to faith or words written thousands of years ago would be acceptable, while you'd probably want to reject appeals to logic/rationality.

Theology, while its foundational principles may be established on the basis of revelation such as scripture, often proceeds from foundational principles by logic.


The foundational principles are usually logically inconsistent with each other.

Please explain how you proceed logically from the position that eating from the tree of knowledge is sin?


"Please explain how you proceed logically from the position that eating from the tree of knowledge is sin?"

This doesn't seem hard. Apologist hat on.

It wasn't the knowledge that was bad, it's that the knowledge was attained by doing what God said not to. Certainly, we can condemn things done in pursuit of knowledge - Mengele being probably the easiest example.

That hat fit kinda funny.


> It wasn't the knowledge that was bad, it's that the knowledge was attained by doing what God said not to.

This is merely an interpretation (incidentally, of which all text requires). How do you know it is the correct one?


Personally? I've no idea if it's the correct one. Not subscribing to a school of thought that admits supernatural origin of these stories, I'm not really sure what "the correct one" would mean for me.

I interpreted fleitz (in the bit I quoted) as saying "if knowledge is bad, then we shouldn't be using logic to get us more knowledge, so the whole exercise is absurd." I was pointing out that there's at least one out.


Given that eating from the tree of knowledge is sin ...

=)


The group with the most power evidently.


The right-thinking people.


Indeed. Some stuff is really clearly not true, and we shouldn't need to work to make space and provide representation for it in schools and such.

But how do we avoid the problem where if I suggest that maybe the moon isn't all Vince Foster all the time, I'm an evil person? (a racist, and oppressor of women?) Can we get to a place, not where we agree that the moon could be made of Vince Foster, but where one can suggest it's not Vince Foster without being literally ostracized, from schools and jobs?


How do you think a history class should handle a student who wants to discuss Holocaust as a hoax? How about a law student who thinks rape is a victim-less crime?

My answer used to be "why, if you have the truth on your side, just prove 'em wrong and move on! so much the better for your standpoint!". However, it can get extremely tedious. A stubborn student can "plausible deniability" his way into extremely metaphysical arguments, about historical revisionism and psychology, and ultimately about epistemology itself.

I think it's important to phrase the argument not as "the students want these topics to not be discussed", but instead as "the students want these topics to be included in the actually already existing list of topics we don't discuss". And then take it topic-by-topic.

This idea that student-activism is largely composed of completely irrational anti-logic zealots is a caricature.


I think a history class that can't make a strong argument that the holocaust wasn't a hoax and a law class that can't make the argument that rape victims exist are in VERY serious trouble.

Being able to debunk such looney claims is very valuable for students so they should develop these skills not be shielded from exposure to them.


In general I agree with you, but having dealt with (less severe) examples of this with some coworkers, it's really, really annoying. When someone simply states their (contrary or contrarian) viewpoint and refuses to admit any evidence presented is valid, you can't win. It's an exercise in futility.

I had a guy simply insisting that evolution wasn't real. "Ok", I say, "what about (found some reports demonstrating observable changes in a species over time)?". "Oh, well sure, microevolution is real, but big things can't change, like humans." And around we go again and again. (Same guy believes that we can't actually analyze someone's genome and that people become resistant to antibiotics, not diseases, and 9/11 was an inside job.)

Show them video, show them photographs, bring in first-person witnesses, and they'll find a way to dismiss all of it. Either because they truly believe what they're saying, or, like a current coworker, they're just a contrarian asshole. That doesn't mean we shield people from these views, but we have to, at some point, accept that not all viewpoints are equal, some simply have no merit and aren't worth discussing beyond acknowledging that some people believe them (would you really want to engage with a flat-earth believer? I mean, it was fun once, but that was enough for me).


If it's an academic setting and you are the instructor, you can

* Flunk them for not learning or engaging with the material.

* Limit their time in class discussions if they are not engaging constructively.

* Have the administration remove them from the class if they become belligerent.

Of course, the third item is the crucial one. It seems at many universities these days, administrations are taking the side of the customer, er, I mean, student, in every dispute, regardless of the merits.


"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into."


Run your meetings / classes according to Roberts rules, move to set out a time limit for each person to make their point, limit each person to 1 rebuttal, and then vote on the issue.

Whenever I had to deal with contentious issues as a chair of a meeting this is exactly how I proceeded, much to the dismay of the people who wanted to argue all day.

The people who cause the most issues usually take their rebuttal early and then the debate can proceed amongst the more reasonable people.


You're not going to convince everyone to agree with you, or even just with what you think is most important. That's ok. You can agree to disagree. Especially if this is an acquaintance at a party, or a coworker, and the topic is not at all related to what you're doing.


At one point in our history, it was contrary to known and upheld belief that the world was round. Given your position would we have ever had the debate and changed popular belief considering it was absurd by its very nature?


What about someone who argues "Rape victims don't matter because they are just women, and women's feelings are not important"

That isn't something that can be argued against with facts. You can't present evidence to counter this, because they didn't use facts to come to the opinion. As the saying goes, "You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into"

There are a certain class of opinions that we need to be able to dismiss with just a "that is just not worthy of even talking about." While I believe this list of things should be very small, it DOES exist.


>That isn't something that can be argued against with facts.

Yes it can. In the context of a law class, there's tons of laws which clearly state that rape is a crime, so it clearly does matter. That's just as factually incorrect as saying "Fraud does not matter because suckers aren't important." You can't just say: "_______ isn't important." in a law class.

If I were a history professor and someone tried to bring up Holocaust denial in my class, I'd first explain why it's absurd to try and argue that all that evidence is somehow fake, which then shows that anyone who tries to defend this position either:

1. Has legitimately no idea what they're talking about.

2. Has willfully taken up the agenda of bending the truth to support Nazi-ism.

I wouldn't shout them down though. That's counter-productive.


>That isn't something that can be argued against with facts.

Oh, and now you want to argue meta-ethics and meta-philosophy :-p?


Yes! Finally put my Philosophy degree to use!


I agree that artificially imposing a "fair and balanced" framework onto news/discourse is a bogus concept as, like you say, the centre of gravity can be shifted in favour of nonsense ideas just by posing the question.

But in your second paragraph, you seem to imply (maybe I'm wrong here) that there is a sense of objectivity inherent in news reporting, because the reporting leads logically from the facts. However, the facts are hand-picked, meaning bias is unavoidably baked into the premise. In which case we are no closer to avoiding "focussing on opinion diversity", as the same opinion diversity arguments apply to choosing the facts on which to report.

edit: RTFA


The issue with this stance is that history has shown many times that unpopular views and lively debate leads to growth, understanding and knowledge.

You can have a "balanced viewpoint" and still have debates about "whether the moon is made of the body of Vince Foster or not." There are certain ideas that just don't belong in a university setting because they are bunk and this has nothing to do with diversity of opinion.

IMHO this concept falls on its own sword. What harm is there debating about the moon being made of Vince's body if there is a question in the forum? Does it harm the people that have solidified beliefs about it being false? The person who believes it to be possible? What is learning beyond discussing the possibilities, informing each other about beliefs, viewpoints and deductive reasoning leading to growth/questioning what is true and false and constructing and reconstructing your closely held beliefs.

Uniform thought begets uniform thought and does not foster growth. I shiver thinking about wonders/discoveries would have been lost if people in our history were afraid to discuss unpopular ideas and constructs; as it stands too many already have been.


Thank you, you've summed up the question of balanced journalism far better than I ever could. The current approach of sticking someone with an opposite opinion on the news, even if that opinion is clearly utter horseshit, really gets to me, but I wasn't able to properly describe why.


BTW the name for this is "false balance".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_balance


..thanks, this thought anti-pattern has become a cultural virus - having a name helps combat it.


However, I think the approach of sticking someone with an opposite opinion, then tearing their argument apart with debate, insightful questions, or merciless satire are wonderful approaches to dealing with this problem. Stewart and Colbert, of course, mastered this art in the U.S., and many British journalists seem to have a knack for it as well.


The problem with focusing on the focus of balanced viewpoints is that it focuses on obvious chaff. People will say, well, we don't want to give holocaust/climate/secondamendment/etc. deniers equal voices, or rather equal imprimatur, the problem is actually the censoring of thoughts so that people feel compelled to toe the received and accepted thought on a given topic.

So, in effect, investigating root causes or nuance is denied because any of that could, in some people's minds, undermine the larger issue(s).

It's sad and unfortunate that discussing things must become personal attacks rather than being viewed as inquiry.


I wish more people understood this.

I like it frame it in a less politically correct way and simply ask people if they're up for debating whether or not pedophilia should be legal. If the answer is no, then they necessarily must agree that there are things for which a reasonable person can have a closed mind about and still remain reasonable.


This is perceptive. As a society we must tolerate a diversity of opinions. Everything must be open to question and debate. But after questioning and debate, there must be a final disposition that lets us move on to other challenges. How we reached that disposition should be so clear that it invites renewed debate only in circumstances where new insights have been made.

I feel like we already use this pattern in a variety of settings. The legal system comes to mind, where we build this collective body of decisions that either prove useful and are built on, or modified and removed if not. But there is not a sense of anything being "inappropriate" to question. The very core of the legal system is challenged on a regular basis and we don't feel the need to censor those who challenge it. We have a general level of confidence that the system has checks and balances that let justice prevail.

Two observations. One is that this reminds me of eventually consistent systems. The law lags slightly behind reality but we know it catches up eventually. Reality is always changing and so we don't expect the law to always be up to the minute perfect. Perhaps we can embrace this notion of imperfection as a reason to keep discourse constantly open.

Second is that the law is effectively the source code for running society. It has procedures set up around it very similar to how we'd run a successful open source project. Integrators, reviewers, unit testers, engineers, project managers, pull requests …

Perhaps in the case of Yale and other institutions, what is needed is the same level of transparency we have in a well run source repo or legal system.

1) everything is written down somewhere, is properly attributed, and openly discussed. 2) systems are in place to propose changes, understand the impact of those changes, and integrate or reject those changes. 3) there is an understanding that this is an evolving system, it has a past, present, and a future. 4) history is recorded so that present and future discussions can be made with the appropriate context in place.

I feel like this is the solution for incorporating dissenting views, converging on the set of beliefs that identify the underlying priorities and preferences of the participants, and making it clear why certain things are the way they are.

It is entirely possible that institutions may converge around policies that are abhorrent to some, but being clear and transparent about that at least makes people know what they're getting in to. It's possible that a system like this at Yale would result in some students or faculty deciding that their views would not be welcome there, which is better than discovering that after the fact.


Agreed. It strikes me that "balanced viewpoints" are actually antithetical to the anti-fragile philosophy Haidt promotes. We need to be malleable in our viewpoints so that we are both free to express them and should be expected to change them when we encounter evidence against them. A "balanced viewpoint" means keeping viewpoints safe from the world (a "fragile" viewpoint!).

It's also worth noting that humans respond better to praise and work more efficiently when we feel safe. So we obviously can't be completely "anti-fragile".


Yup, that parallels my experience pretty closely, as an undergraduate at an Ivy League college that was in the news recently.

There might have been about a hundred people on campus that were actively interested in protesting things (what things?, all the things). For the most part, everybody else is there to go to class, learn, do their own thing, and drink too much beer on the weekends/Wednesdays/Mondays, etc. This vocal, seemingly-permanently-aggrieved small subset of the population seemed to stir up almost all of the controversy, and seemed hell-bent on ruining everybody else's good time at every opportunity. Increasingly, they seem to be succeeding; I'm glad I graduated when I did.


My wife went to one of the 7 sisters. She said 'This happens every 3-5 years with regularity. Just wait for the cocaine to run out. Things will quiet down after that'


Amusing joke and I've run across similar ones (South Park, for one, had two old guys grumbling about how long it took "PC" to run its course last time) but on a more serious note, I wonder how much of it is just the nature of young, relatively wealthy/privileged people to want to "change the world" and find a cause.

I'm a bit past college age these days but in the mid/late 90's when I was at university, there were plenty of "causes" that students took up (myself included) to various degrees and in retrospect, a lot of it came down to the newly-found freedom of adulthood combined with the idealism of youth and the lack of wider awareness that comes with a bit more exposure to the world at large.

I think it's a good thing that young people are able to see some of the real injustice in the world that some of us older folks have learned to accept (or at least take for granted) and have the drive to want to improve things. At the same time, cultural attitudes don't change through force or under threat. Additionally, there's still a bit of that youthful naivete where just because something is a huge deal for you, you may not realize the bigger issues at play or know which "battles" to choose yet.

I'm sure my attitudes will keep evolving over time but just between my college years and 20 years later, I think about how some things seemed so important and unfair back then but I've since found that there are usually bigger issues or at least more subtle and effective ways to address the problems you recognize in ways other than shouting matches or mob-mentality public shaming.


The biggest failure of such people is that their own conduct serves as a terrible advertisement for the sort of worldview they promote. Look at these people: do you see happy, healthy, mindful, compassionate, self-confident, well-adjusted human beings? I don't. I see bitter, spiteful, demanding, insecure, Us-vs-Them types, perpetually searching for the next perceived slight. Are these the sort of people I'm supposed to want to emulate? They are so caught up in making me a good person that they have not made good people of themselves. And everyone suffers for it.


That's actually our biggest hope of getting rid of SJW phenomenon. The underhanded methods they use means also that as they grow, they start to turn on each other. The cancer gets cancer, and dies before it can grow too much. I think the general population will slowly realize that being evil is not the best strategy for making others better people.


The post you replied to described "bitter, spiteful, demanding, insecure, Us-vs-Them types." I think there are people in various leftist movements that can fairly be described in that way. But I also think it's a good description for anyone who describes a desire for social justice as a cancer.


Temporal was referencing what's remembered as the Whale Cancer post [0]. The metaphor is meant to (rather than insult) describe a social dynamic by analogy of a biological mechanism.

[0] http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/06/14/living-by-the-sword/


Yes, I was referencing that post; the phrasing of "cancer getting cancer" stuck with me. I admit that I might have sprinkled a little bit of hidden insult, because it's hard to filter out the feeling of anger at uncivil behaviour so that it doesn't show up in writing.

But I mean cancer mostly in the same way Scott Alexander used it - uncontrolled growth by "all means necessary", not an insult. Cancer happens when some cells eschew cooperation and start promoting their interests at the cost to everyone else. As it grows in size it grows in complexity, and given that it's made of components who tend to disregard cooperation, Scott argues that instead of self-organizing it tends to develop a cancer of its own, which slows the overall growth. Similarly, if the group gains voice by using every dirty trick in the book and then some because it's most effective, they should not be surprised that - as their movement grows in size - they end up fighting each other at some point.


There's a small confusion in terms here: the "social justice movement" and "a desire for social justice" are not even close to synonymous.


Here is a good litmus test if someone is hurting the society with the participation in said society - they have seriously written or said the phrase - "I support free speech, but ..."

I hear that phrase more on the left lately than right. Which says a lot ...


And the problem now is that if you say something like that the response will range from being told to "check your privilege" to sensitivity training. You may be told your speech is violently aggressive and creates an unsafe environment.


>Look at these people: do you see happy, healthy, mindful, compassionate, self-confident, well-adjusted human beings? I don't. I see bitter, spiteful, demanding, insecure, Us-vs-Them types, perpetually searching for the next perceived slight.

And do you think that's a random sampling of everyone who believes in similar causes? From where I sit, "the butthurt minority" are such a self-selecting group, and their rage is so completely independent of their actual cause, that they don't constitute evidence for or against any particular idea, cause, or proposition.


This is basically true. A lot of what's going on is a result only of the new ubiquity of recording devices.

After all, the "Yale problem" refers mainly to a short confrontation where an immature student yelled at an administrator over something stupid. That's never been exactly unheard of at any college, the only difference is that it got captured on video and spread around the country.


Same here. Except replace the drinking with lab research and homework. I will admit it left a extremely strong negative impression of certain groups methodologies.


This might be the first time I have seen someone from an Ivy league college not mention the name (intentionally). Why not just say X/Y/Z?


It's not something I like to trumpet out. I dealt with enough toolbags at said institution of higher learning who tended to have little personality beyond exclaiming how they got a 2400 on the SAT, that they were the valedictorian of their class, how hard corporate recruiting was, and how sick it was that they got that internship at McKinsey, or Bridgewater.

Also white-trash Yankee hillbillies are rare enough at these sorts of places that I might as well give up any pretenses of online anonymity if I said specifically which one it was.


Don't they say that it is always Penn when they don't mention the school?


It's not uncommon for people who went to Harvard to avoid mentioning it right away, because of the way it can derail conversations or create weird expectations. (It's sometimes referrred to as, "Dropping the H-bomb.")

[1] http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012...

[2] https://www.quora.com/Why-do-people-who-went-to-Harvard-some...


I don't think specifying exactly which school, or even which "group of three" schools is really germane to the point being made. Probably "Ivy League" wasn't even especially relevant, but is a way to quickly state what probably was relevant, a "top school."


The most conservative group in the world is the avant-garde. They never change.


  > Also, almost all of the censorship calls and nasty behavior /
  > comments came from students on the left.
Almost all nasty behavior / comments come from the dominant subgroup, which in this context is the left.


Agreed. This happens on both sides almost all the time.

In this context, it is the left for sure. But I can imagine plenty of situations where it happens on the right in practice.


Which ideas do they want to censor?

Edit: I'm looking for specific examples. Otherwise we are just feigning outrage.

I had an ex co-worker who confided in me that he doesn't like gay people. I was very happy that he couldn't say that in public.


Here are some. Note that I do not necessarily believe these ideas, just that they are considered taboo to the point that they cannot be tolerated or seriously discussed in certain circles.

* The USA is a moral country.

* The USA is morally superior to most/all other countries.

* A specific member of an in-power "preferred" group can experience unjustified prejudice, oppression, and bullying from members of an out-of-power group.

* Men and women have some neurological differences.

* Some cultures are morally superior to other cultures.

* Christianity's values are moral.

* Conforming gender identities exist for more reasons than culturally enforced gender roles.

* Abortion involves the killing of a baby.

* Poor whites are not a privileged class.


There are just tenants of liberal vs conservative philosophy. If you hang out with a certain group of people, half of those things will be unspeakably taboo. If you hang out with the Young Republicans, the other half will be just as unthinkable. That's just culture and world view, not censorship.

If someone says something unpopular on hackernews, ie "Edward Snowden is a traitor" they will be downvoted into oblivion. You could say that hackernewws censored the person's ideas, but I think the reality is that what they said wasn't very popular with the people they said it to. I think this effect is just as relevant and predictable with online communities as it is with college campuses.


>I think this effect is just as relevant and predictable with online communities as it is with college campuses.

Nope. Totally different. In your example, the poster on HackerNews would only get down-voted and thus, censored. Okay. No big deal.

What's happening at the universities right now is different. It is not censership. At these, universities, a person who says, "Edward Snowden is a traitor" would get fired, because students would force the administrators to fired the person they disagree with, because it's "offensive" to call Edward Snowden a traitor.

So totally different. On HackerNews, it's just a down-vote, a simple censorship. At the universities, the person loses his job/education/livelihood, all because he has a different opinion about Edward Snowden. That's not censorship. That's "ruinning-people's-lives-for-having-a-different-opinion" but trying to pass it off as just a simple censorship.


> Poor whites are not a privileged class.

I just wanted to respond to this because (like a lot of these ideas) I think they represent a response to a strawman. The core point of the discussion of privilege acknowledges that all people have privileges. The question then is defining what they are and how useful they are.

When talking about white privilege, the point is that poor whites are better off than poor blacks, just by virtue of being white. The interesting thing here is that there are privileges only afforded to poor blacks. The problem is that the privileges afforded to poor whites are more useful than those afforded to poor blacks.


> When talking about white privilege, the point is that poor whites are better off than poor blacks, just by virtue of being white.

Its not clear to me that that that's true; there is complicated intersectionality at play. Poor whites are more likely to have social networks and other advantages that provide things useful to getting out of poverty, and may -- due to racism and the racially unequal distribution of wealth and power -- have better responses from people in power independent of their own social networks.

OTOH, they may also be more likely to have social networks that are less understanding of an accepting of poverty.

Whether this is a net advantage or net disadvantage varies, among poor whites, considerably from individual to individual.

Group privilege exists mostly in terms of average conditions across groups (and may not thus be particularly useful in discussing the positions of individuals.)

Taking White privilege as a given (which I think does accurately reflect reality, in terms of on-average advantage), I'm not sure that poor White privilege (compared to, poor non-White ) is valid; its certainly not a necessary corollary of White privilege.


Poor blacks, unlike poor whites, are subject to mass incarceration.

Edit: this is technically incorrect, see dragonwriter below.


Because (at least in part) they commit crime at far higher rates per capita. Black men commit about half of all murders in the USA, despite being about 13% of the population. The statistics are similar for many other crimes. 39% of people arrested for murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault were black from 2011-2013 per FBI statistics [1] [3].

In 2010, 62,593 blacks were victims of white violence, while 320,082 whites were victims of black violence. (Bureau of Justice Statistics). 2013 FBI homicide numbers show a similar ratio, with blacks being about 12 times more likely to kill a white person than whites were to kill a black person [2] (~10 blacks per 100k population kill a white, while ~1 white per 100k kill a black).

Some studies have shown that crime is correlated primarily with poverty, while other studies have found that being black correlates to criminality while controlling for other factors [4]:

"As a means to assess these possibilities, I estimate separate regression equations for the black and white block groups in Atlanta. [...] Consistent with previous research, percent black retains a strong, significant effect on violent crime net of the effects of other controls. [...]" "[...] Although this finding appears to provide partial support for the racial invariance assumption, the fact remains that for a large proportion of the black neighborhoods, the effect of disadvantage on violence is weaker than is the effect evident among all of the white neighborhoods in the analysis" (However this paper is largely inconclusive on the issue overall, and predominately suggests that previous research into the topic is inadequate to understand it)

Why this is the case is an interesting problem that I hope we can tackle, better understand, and attempt to solve as a society (by solve I mean bring violent crime down to zero generally, across all groups)

[1] FBI crime statistics by race for 2010: https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/...

[2] FBI homicide statistics by race for 2013: https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/...

[3] http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/factcheck-black-american... has additional details and citations.

[4] http://www.udel.edu/soc/faculty/parker/SOCI836_S08_files/McN...


It's important to note the distinction between "blacks commit 50% of the murders in the US" and "50% of the murder convictions in the US are black people." It's well-documented that 40 years ago a white person could openly kill a black person and they would not be convicted. I've read a lot of studies, reviews of court cases, and court judgements about the subject, and it is clear that prosecutors are far less likely to charge a white person with a crime than a black person.

Prosecution figures are simply unreliable as a metric for judging how many crimes are committed by whites vs. blacks. There are many interesting cases that show this. The most interesting one is McCleskey v. Kemp. It's not my favorite in terms of the specifics of the case, but it is my favorite because in the intervening years it has become pretty clearly a bad ruling, to the point that the justice who wrote the majority opinion wishes he could reverse his own vote. The unfortunate thing being that he cannot, and his vote has made it effectively impossible to detect and address racial bias in prosecution.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCleskey_v._Kemp


Other data support these ratios. For example, in surveys of crime victims such as the National Crime Victimization Survey, the race reported by victims of their attacker reflects the proportion of conviction rates:

"The UCR and NVCS show similar trends regarding the races of offenders. Generally, the number of minorities identified as offenders is disproportionately high compared to their overall numbers in the population. As Ronald J Berger et al. advise the NCVS, 'Data are consistent with the UCR. The offenders in these types of crimes are disproportionately young, nonwhite, and male.'" (NVCS page 312, can be found by Google search-inside-the-book)

I would be interested to research the topic further. Could you provide more information about the studies you mentioned? I have not previously seen convincing evidence that bias in the justice system is responsible for the racial disparity in these crime statistics. From what I understand, a lot of the murders are black-on-black violence, as well. In 2013, 90% of blacks were murdered by blacks. A majority of people are killed by one of their own race in general (though black-on-white violence is much higher than white-on-black). People are typically murdered by someone who knew them intimately.

  [Updated per correction]
  Blacks killed by blacks: 90% [1]
  Blacks killed by whites: 8%
  Whites killed by whites: 82%
  Whites killed by blacks: 15%
In what way are these murder statistics going wrong? White people are committing murder and getting away with it? Whites are committing murder, but it's falsely attributed to blacks? There are single examples of all sorts of crazy things happening in individual cases, but I haven't seen evidence or argument supporting that this happens systematically to a degree anywhere near enough to explain the discrepancy. Murder is a very serious thing, and it's hard for me to believe that prosecution bias is responsible for statistics saying that blacks commit ~4-5x as much crime as whites, and 10x as much murder as whites.

I find it plausible that there are effects along the lines of what you're saying, but I find it hard to believe that it would result in a murder per capita discrepancy of 10:1. It seems more plausible that that kind of bias would result in a discrepancy of much smaller proportions, especially for murder. I would be glad to review whatever evidence is available.

[1] https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/...


Those statistics are just false. More reliable numbers are:

  Blacks killed by blacks: 90%
  Blacks killed by whites: 8%
  Whites killed by whites: 82%
  Whites killed by blacks: 15%
  Ratio of whites killed by police to blacks killed by police: 1.857
[1] http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/nov/...

[2] https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/...


You're right, that table was inaccurate. I've corrected it to use your numbers. That's more consistent with the other data I was reviewing, which suggested that most homicide was intra-racial rather than inter-racial.

"For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." (Thomas Jefferson)


Read "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander. I'd suggest starting with chapter 2 since the introduction as well as the first chapter are more of a manifesto, the data which thoroughly demonstrate the point are in chapters 2-5.

One particularly damning statistic: black people pulled over and searched for drugs are significantly less likely to have drugs than white people.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/25/us/racial-disparity-traffi...

This is a pretty good digest of the figures, but really read The New Jim Crow:

http://www.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact-sheet


The UCR aren't independent data that confirm conviction-based statistics, they are based on law-enforcement reporting, and share the same biases as prosecutions do.


Policing perpetuates poverty and thus crime by forcing poor, black men to deal with the criminal justice system from an early age. Court fees, court appearances, civil asset forfeiture, jail time, and property damage from police searches are all burdens that poor, black, law-abiding people bear, not to mention wrongful conviction.

Edit: missed this line in your comment before:

> Why this is the case is an interesting problem that I hope we can tackle, better understand, and attempt to solve as a society

This is what Black Lives Matter is about. They understand the problem (often by living through it) and are focused on tackling it. Because they don't focus too much on helping other people to understand the problem, this might not be clear to you.

Edit: I was about to respond to your reply, but it looks like you deleted it.

> too many topics seem taboo to reason about objectively

I think the disagreement is about where this reasoning can/should happen. From the perspective of the BLM movement, it is not their job to educate people about race. I think this reasoning has already happened at an academic level and has concluded that (to summarize very broadly) white people have a whole lot of privilege.

> Do we have that evidence?

Yes, I believe so.

[1] http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/bobo/files/2010_racialized_...

[2] Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

[3] Alice Goffman, On the Run (this is an ethnography, so you may need to have an understanding of ethnographic methods to accept the evidence here as "data")


Poor whites and poor blacks are both subject to mass incarceration; though poor blacks are incarcerated at even higher rates. This is clearly among the factors that, on average, favors poor whites over poor blacks. I certainly did not deny the existence of such factors (I even enumerated some of them.)


> Poor whites and poor blacks are both subject to mass incarceration; though poor blacks are incarcerated at even higher rates.

Yes, good to point that out.

My argument (implicitly) was that this is a really huge factor which gives poor whites a "net advantage."


An aggregate advantage maybe, however the individual who decides to not put themselves in the position to be incarcerated is confused why you are calling them privileged.


Well some people have to work much harder to avoid incarceration.


I concede that point to you, however certain types of violent crime are easier to avoid.


Avoiding committing crime and avoiding being incarcerated for crime are not the same thing.

(The first may help in the second, but just as committing a crime is neither necessary nor sufficient to assure incarceration for it, avoiding committing a crime is neither necessary nor sufficient to avoid incarceration for it. It is frequently argued that it is both more necessary and less sufficient for blacks to avoid crime in order to avoid incarceration as compared to whites, for instance.)


Its hard to be incarcerated for murder without someone actualy being murdered. Therefore the most effective way to avoid incarceration for murder is to stop murdering. People are not being wrongly incarcerated (wholesale) for violent crimes that dont exist, not being violent is sufficient to avoid incarceration for such crimes.


> Its hard to be incarcerated for murder without someone actualy being murdered.

No, its hard (but not impossible) to be incarcerated for murder without someone being dead. In a system in which law enforcement, the judiciary, and/or the population from which juries are drawn are biased against people like you -- whether for race or other reasons -- it can be quite easy to be incarcerated (or worse!) for murder without having killed the person who is dead, much less having murdered them (which is legally more specific than merely having killed them.)

> People are not being wrongly incarcerated (wholesale) for violent crimes that dont exist, not being violent is sufficient to avoid incarceration for such crimes.

No, even if the premise was true (that people are not wrongly incarcerated for violent crimes that do not exist), it doesn't justify the conclusion: not being violent would not be sufficient to avoid incarceration based on that premise, you'd have to stop everyone else from being violent, too, since only the existence of the crime, not you actually being the one who committed it, is posited as necessary for the punishment to occur.


Are you suggesting that the majority of convicted murderers are wrongfully convicted? And if you are what is the basis of that premise?


>People are not being wrongly incarcerated (wholesale) for violent crimes that dont exist, not being violent is sufficient to avoid incarceration for such crimes.

That's absurd. You're completely ignoring the face that the FBI invented completely bogus disciplines of forensic science (hair analysis, bite marks) and self-certified experts in those disciplines who then went forth and helped convict scores of people for two decades.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/fbi-overstated-fo...


Of all murder cases in a period of time what % of cases are effected by these issues with these types of forensic science (you arent suggesting all forensic science is bunk are you?), I never said the justice system is infallible, however are you suggesting that the majority people who are convicted of murder are innocent?


I'm not suggesting, I'm pointing out the fact that the FBI has systematically perverted the courts with bogus testimony, and for a long time.

I'd suggest that the fraction of wrongly convicted people is much higher than the number of those who are/were known to be wrongly convicted.


So its a subjective claim then not something that can be looked quantitatively? There are around 13,000 murders per year in the US, how many of these murders per year result in the wrong person being convicted? I would be surprised if its greater than 4%


I'm certain that poor whites are better off than poor blacks, but both are much worse off in most respects than wealthier people of all races. The problem is that poor and lower middle class people of all races are fighting among themselves for scraps.

Yes poor whites are privileged compared to poor blacks, and poor blacks are privileged compared to poor indians living on a reservation. There is almost always someone worse off than you, arguing about who is the most worse off is the wrong fight.

The groups that we divide people into are fairly arbitrary anyway. Why stop at race? Surely you can subdivide any race into smaller groups where some are more privileged than others.

But to most people taking about privilege (especially college students) this issue is purely binary. If you are white you're privileged, if you're black you're not. To them it doesn't matter if you're comparing a middle class black guy and a dirt poor white dude.


This is a good list, but of course the most incendiary additions would involve race.


Well according to that Vox article about that liberal prof who got censored (and links therein) linked by the parent comment, the following things:

1. works of Edward Said

2. works of Mark Twain

3. works of Upton Sinclar

4. works of Maureen Tkacik

5. Ovid's Metamorphoses

6. The movie Avengers

7. Debates about abortion

8. Some "Afrobeat" band that had too many white people in it

9. Some male professor who was "creepy" at a conference

10. Asking harassment victims for proof

And if I recall correctly from pop culture several months back:

11. The comedic act of Jerry Seinfeld

12. The comedic act of Chris Rock


I'm pretty sure Chris Rock self-censored and doesn't play colleges anymore. But, he still plays other venues.


Yes, he said (paraphrasing) that college kids don't have a sense of humor anymore, they just get outraged at everything.


> I had an ex co-worker who confided in me that he doesn't like gay people. I was very happy that he couldn't say that in public.

He can still talk about it when he's around other like-minded people though. By not being able to say it in public, isn't he basically ensuring that he'll never have a conversation with someone with a dissenting opinion and never be forced to think through it? These things just reinforce his attitude probably.


> I had an ex co-worker who confided in me that he doesn't like gay people. I was very happy that he couldn't say that in public.

Good call. As long as your opinions remain "acceptable" you have nothing to worry about.


Are you being sarcastic? I'm happy that he's not harassing my other co workers.


Saying "I don't like you" is not harassment.


Does HN really think telling a person that you don't like them because of orientation/gender/race/religion doesn't contribute to a hostile work environment? That's kind of disturbing.


Yes, ALL of HN thinks that! What a violent online community!


I'm judging by the number of downvotes my post had. Don't get too excite. Welcome and enjoy your stay. ;)


There's a difference between saying "I don't like gay people" to a gay person and "I don't like you."


yeah, but if he felt free to say publicly that he didn't like them because they're homosexual, then he might feel free to harass them, as has been the custom.


There's a difference between discussing much a person hates a group of people and discussing why people hate people; There's a difference between discussing why racist halloween costumes are offensive (and perpetuate subconscious hate) and discussing whether or not hate speech has a place on college campuses.


The line I quoted says "doesn't like" not "hate" but by equating the two and then banning "hate speech" you are succeeding in your goal of shutting down ideas and discussion.

Well done.


Distilling one's "like" of a person down to their sexual preference [or skin color/religion/take on abortion/etc.] isn't exactly the best way to promote ideas and discussion, either. I am not sure if someone saying "I don't like gay people" is the best person to defend in the debate of "what is free speech?", which is what it seems like you are trying to sarcastically do here.

Note, this coworker in question didn't say "I don't think gay marriage should be an institution of the state" or some other impersonal statement that can actually be evaluated through logic. There is a distinct difference between those two types of statements. Do you think it's reasonable to defend people who say "I don't like gay people."?


He has the right to no like gay people. Just like you have to right to not like [insert whatever it is that you don't like]

As long as he don't act out on it, and go around killing gay people or something.

Just like you have the right to not like George Bush, or football jocks, or goths, or whatever. Nothing wrong with that. As long as you don't try to assassinate George Bush, you have the right to not like him.

I mean, sure, not liking gays make him a homophobic, but as long as he don't continuously go around calling all gays "Faggot" to their faces, harassing them, threatening them, etc.


It's just as reasonable as defending someone who says "I don't like pumpkin pie", "I don't like racists" or "I don't like project managers". Nobody's obligated to like anyone or anything else, and you're not a bad person for not doing so.


Yes.


The no-good verybad wrongthink ideas, of course. What are you, some kind of dissident?


"I had an ex co-worker who confided in me that he doesn't like gay people. I was very happy that he couldn't say that in public."

Let's unpack this.

Are you happy that homophobia is now socially inappropriate? Or are you happy that it is verboten to reveal or express a homophobic opinion?

There is an important distinction to be drawn here. That homophobia is becoming socially backward and marginal is a wonderful thing. That nobody can say something homophobic is not. The way free speech works is, at its most basic: you're allowed to express yourself publicly. The public will then determine how it deals with you. If you say "I don't like gay people" to your co-workers, and your co-workers ostracize you, and/or you are fired for creating a hostile work environment, then you reaped the just results of your decision to speak up. But you should have the freedom to speak up, nevertheless. The choice should be yours.

We should also note that prior restraint and group-self-censorship aren't going to change your co-worker's opinions. Whether or not he's too scared to speak his mind, his mind is made up. Deprive him of the chance to engage in any sort of dialogue about his beliefs, and he'll never get the chance to have them challenged, and they'll remain deeply held.


If you reasonably expect to lose your job for expressing the opinion, you're not free to express that opinion in any meaningful way.


They want to censor what might be called secular heresy—anything that questions the reigning "mainstream" (progressive) orthodoxy.


Why should that idea be censored by an external source? If he really wants to say that, he will pay the societal penalties.


> They also have no sense of humor and college administrators as a group have no sense of humor or perspective, and they're chronically worried about accusations of indifference or insensitivity (which are themselves as good as convictions).

I don't think this is where I want to draw the argument. If someone makes an insensitive joke, it's true that the social justice movement often reacts disproportionately, but I'm not that worried about people's right to make insensitive jokes. I'm much more worried about the people who are sharing opinions that are perfectly reasonable and necessary to the public discourse and are being squashed. Erika Christakis presented a reasoned argument at Yale for free speech, and people were calling for her and her husband to resign. This isn't a matter of lacking a sense of humor, this is an active campaign to forcibly silence discussion.


> His book A Jane Austen Education is also very good, even for someone like me who does not love Jane Austen.

Off topic, but you might try Persuasion if you haven't. I've attempted the others but been unable to get past the all-caps-bold-with-flashing-lights SMUG plastered over every page, save for in Emma, which was an excellent first 2/3 of a tragedy ruined by the last 1/3 in which it... isn't a tragedy. Persuasion, though, is snappy and enjoyable, IMO.


It's more precise to say that the majority are apathetic than reasonable. Apathetic folks are just easier to deal with / ignore.


a liberal tea party?


>Edit: Also, almost all of the censorship calls and nasty behavior / comments came from students on the left. Vox's "I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me" (http://www.vox.com/2015/6/3/8706323/college-professor-afraid) is congruent with my experiences.

I've read that article. At least in the article, the only student ever to actually cause trouble in-class was right-wing, and accused the professor of being a Communist because he doesn't blame the 2008 Global Financial Crisis on black people taking mortgages they couldn't pay. The professor's administration also knew this charge of Communism was utter bullshit.

That doesn't sound to me like the problem is a left-wing regime of censorship and extremism.


In the article Haidt makes it clear that he sensed the shift in the academic community and adjusted his patterns of teaching accordingly.

Each example he cites subsequently involve those with a moral liberal or left-leaning set of ideas.


I don't see any more subsequent examples. He appears to cite other people who claim to have data showing there's a "social justice problem", but if his citations have such data, he doesn't present it.


> I don't see any more subsequent examples.

There's a fairly non-specific, second-hand example regarding a student which made complaints with an unspecified basis about offensive writings of Mark Twain and Edward Said that preceded the non-renewal of a (different) adjunct professor's contract, which the author relates resulted in the author expunging anything they thought might be perceived as offensive from their syllabus (the author doesn't explain how they "saw" this scenario unfold, and given the usual confidential nature of such contracting decisions, it seems unlikely as someone who was neither the subject nor the decision-maker that the author had the full picture of the discussions or the reason for the decision.)

Everything else is the description of the author's fears about what might happen, and repeating non-specific generalities from other sources.

So, there is one vague subsequent example, but nothing in it actually specifies the basis of the offense and ties it into anything left/liberal (or right/conservative, for that matter). I've seen both left- and right-origin complaints about both Twain and Said (in the latter case, often the exact same complaint, of his perceived-by-some anti-Semitism.)


These people act this way because they are elitist. They think they know what should be better than anyone else and therefore there is no need for debate or for rights like free speech.

I find that quite ironic because presumably, these people subscribe to left leaning ideologies. But maybe there isn't so much of a contradiction. They are simply more elitist than they are anything else.

They don't really stand for equality because they do not possess the humbleness to bring themselves to the level of the common person. They believe themselves to be intellectually and morally superior to the common Joe. And yet they want to dupe the common Joe into thinking that they will safeguard his interests while at the same time thinking so poorly of him!


I think "vanguardist" is a better term than "elitist". "Elitist" connotes a passive enjoyment of privilege, whereas these people see themselves much more as the enlightened few bringing the orthodox[1] to the unwashed masses by any means necessary. They share far more in common with Communists who viewed it as their duty to shepherd the proletariat towards social consciousness than with the Oxbridge set who merely take what's "rightfully" theirs without a second thought.

[1] in the literal, etymological sense


>"Elitist" connotes a passive enjoyment of privilege

Any student on an Ivy League campus is among the most privileged human beings in the world (regardless of where they came from).


True, but this discussion is being used as a lens for the greater social justice movement, where it would be hard to make the same generality (especially when their uniting quality is that they denounce privilege).


Exactly. The people often complaining about 'privilege' are some of the most privileged individuals out there, yet they don't see that their huge class based advantages kind of make the others a tad moot. But hey, got to complain about the attitudes of those from a worse background, because otherwise they'd have to see their own issues and the holes in their own belief systems.


Sure. I'm not sure how that addresses the topic at hand, though. We were talking about what drives these kids to behave in the way they do. The GP described their ideology as elitist, whereas I view it more as vanguardist. I'm not sure how these kids' privilege relates to that discussion.


> among the most privileged human beings in the world

The most elite elitists among American elitists. :-)


> these people subscribe to left leaning ideologies.

Might as well call them extreme-left, which is just as bad as extreme-right and the extreme ideologies that come with it. The left / right spectrum aren't polar opposites either, but it tends to be horseshoe-shaped, so you'll find some ideas that are dangerously close to those on the other side (#KillAll(White)Men is literally calling for ethnic / gender purging. Somehow it's not causing as much as an outrage as #KillAllJews would).


Still recommended reading:

http://members.shaw.ca/jeanaltemeyer/drbob/TheAuthoritarians...

The key takeaway isn't so much that the left/right spectrum is a horse shoe, but that in fact there are (at least) two independent axes, and authoritarian attitudes don't necessarily correspond neatly to left/right distinctions.

Although the book spends a lot of time looking at authoritarians on the far right, there's an interesting and useful coda about left wing authoritarians.

I've found it much more useful to ignore the traditional spectrum and look instead at the degree of scorn, hatred, support for social violence and exclusion, and/or support for direct physical violence.

Non-authoritarians don't support harm of others. Even revenge is uncomfortable.

Authoritarians make a point of conspicuous identification with power and authority - however defined - and reliably support verbal, social, emotional, and physical violence.

Self-identified political groupings are much less relevant than tone and behaviour.


I don't think your political leaning has anything to do with being a crybaby who thinks they are entitled to live in a "safe space".

You can easily be an extreme liberal or conservative and still tolerate other views.

This has nothing to do with their politics.


Their argument is demonstrative rather than persuasive (although there is a persuasive component, but they expect interlocutors to be familiar with structuralist theory, which is not unreasonable in an academic setting). I'm not sure this is the most effective way to communicate their ideas, but the frustration and discomfort they are causing to other people is something that they have a lifetime's experience of, which is why they are able to push people's button's so effectively. They are showing people what it feels like to be unexpectedly and unjustly placed into an out-group.


> Their argument is demonstrative rather than persuasive (although there is a persuasive component, but they expect interlocutors to be familiar with structuralist theory, which is not unreasonable in an academic setting).

I think this is spot-on.

> They are showing people what it feels like to be unexpectedly and unjustly placed into an out-group.

But I don't think this is the intent. Rather, the goal is to create a place where the structures they oppose are weaker/nonexistent. A consequence may be that people with privilege are made uncomfortable and/or put in an out-group, and that is fine because as you said this "is something that they have a lifetime's experience of." And that discomfort is even seen positively as a sign that the culture is going in the right direction, but it is just a symptom, not the goal.


The interesting part is not why these people do this, but why they are winning.


This is the most interesting part of the whole phenomenon. I think the answer is that everyone is scared to confront them. The modus operandi of this movement is to personally attack the character of anyone who disagrees with them. They've toppled university presidents, CEOs, and politicians. They got Rolling Stone to publish a completely unsubstantiated article falsely accusing a bunch of young men of a vicious gang rape. No one wants to be next.



Wow thank you for this link.

Its interesting to see where these horrible tactics come from.

It certainly frightening to see things like rule 13 “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

This is horrifying to see codified, and what I assume being practiced on purpose, like what those yale students did to their professor, or at least tried too.


Yep once you know "the rules" you can easily analyze all these protests or incidents.


I am strangely relieved that their perception of power is this basic:

“Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood.


I think they're winning because the overall premise is just correct. Black death and torture is one of the most serious moral issues the U.S. faces today.

There are some people with poor impulse control who get in the news a lot. The opposition promotes the hell out of those people (as we are doing right now) in order to try to discredit the leaders. The fact that the movement is still winning despite the countercampaign is because so many of the other people in the movement are extraordinary, grounded people speaking for truth.


Generational poverty and crime are definitely serious issues, but that's not the movement's "overall premise". The movement's philosophical underpinning is a complete abdication of personal agency and responsibility. They perceive themselves to be part of a powerless and oppressed group (which is false, especially for some of these 'victims' that are Ivy League students with many open doors). To support that, they've built a revisionist narrative of Western civilization, espoused in works like "A People's History of the United States", that centers on oppression of these out-groups and on the evils on capitalism. They have a paranoid sense that everything is an act of oppression, see "microaggressions" and "cultural appropriation". They are hostile to freedom because their goals of changing how individuals relate to each other socially cannot be achieved without coercion.


You are accurately characterizing a subset of behaviors but I don't think they are characteristic of the movement's day to day operations.


Freedom is not their goal, the goal is equality of outcome.


>I think the answer is that everyone is scared to confront them.

Yep. They're winning because people are too afraid to confront them. And people are too afraid to confront them because this is what happens when you confront them...

At Work: They complained to HR that you sexually harass them. You get fired.

As an Administrator at Universities, Schools: They accused you of being racist, and you get fired.

As a Student at Campus: They and their 100 mob of students surround you. They are clearly angry. 100 people. Surrounded you. Angry. Anything goes. You will obviously have to apologize for having a different view than them, if you want to get out of there in one piece.

Online: They accuse you of doxxing them. The mods bans you.

And so on and so on...


Because certain parts of the media have a disturbing attachment to such beliefs (despite their jobs being closely tied to freedom of speech and expression) and these types appealed to their views perfectly. Perhaps because of a certain 'holier than thou' attitude towards the general public.

It might also be because for an authority figure, this sort of thing is a great distraction. It takes the focus away from wealth inequality and corporatism and aims it at other normal people with the 'wrong' opinions.


Just look at this very forum anytime anyone mentions maybe just maybe some self-proclaimed feminists do more harm than good.


Because until recently no one has had the balls to stand up to sjw/radfem kids. What worries me the most is that in the process of fixing this social misalignment the far right could gain ground. Which is replacing one evil with the other...


Looks like they are winning on university campuses, and there is a counter-movement led by Trump appealing to non-college-educated whites. Many of the people supporting Trump cite "saying things other people aren't willing to say" as their reason for supporting him.

These seem to be the two extremes driving political discourse in the USA right now.

The "Oh My God We Must Punish You for Saying Anything We Suspect of Maybe Possibly Being Construed by Some as Racist/Sexist" crowd, and "I'm Going to Say Racist/Sexist Things Constantly, and You Can't Stop Me" crowd.


They're winning because, while their tactics can be terrible, immature, and oppressive, their moral thrust is correct. Most women and minorities do face obstacles in American society--even today--that most white men don't. This is evidenced in a wide variety of population statistics, at confidence levels that would be high enough to make headlines if they were risks in a medical study.


I don't see how getting an administrator, who support a women's right to freedom of speech, freedom of expression (the ability to wear a nurse outfit for Halloween, the ability to wear a Native American outfit for Halloween, since she loves Native Americans). I don't see how getting an administrator, who support a women's right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression, fired is going to help women become less oppressed.


Because everybody is too afraid to confront them.


I read a post on reddit the other day that left vs right is really a horse shoe. That the far left and far right are very close to each other. I thought it was fairly intuitive.


So if Common Joe's views on gender can be summarized as "Women should stay in the kitchen", is it elitist to not take that idea seriously? It has nothing to do with people's relative social or intellectual standing, and no one should have to bring themselves down to anyone else's level. Bad ideas are bad ideas, and should be labelled as such.

It's hard to tell if someone making a controversial statement is doing so to learn and participate in discussion, or if they're just trolling. And with ol' Common Joe the latter can be just as likely as the former. So sometimes people err on the side of caution, and prefer to avoid outright controversial topics that are difficult to discuss and articulate. I don't think it's an issue of anyone looking down on anyone else.


I have never seen a single person take the position you a suggesting with any real seriousness, this is a caricature of a real discussion, the problem is who gets to decide on what the current brand of "band ideas" are. At the moment its who ever is the biggest bully.


It depends on whether you don't take that idea seriously because you have thought seriously about whether women should stay in the kitchen and have concluded that they shouldn't, or whether it's just because that's what Common Joe thinks.


Look how Silicon Valley folks treated Brandon Eich when he made a donation to the majority side in a California proposition.

It's not just academia where you can't speak freely.


The fact that other people are free to speak against you does not mean that you can't speak freely.

Free speech does not mean freedom from having your speech acts criticized (quite the opposite; it includes freedom of others to criticize your speech acts.) And, yes, it means that your speech acts may affect your ability to hold a job where you are one of the major public faces of an organization (such as its CEO) and are not capable of dealing with the PR resulting from the association of those speech acts with a public face of the corporation (the same as it would if you couldn't deal with any other PR issue affecting the corporation, even if it wasn't resulting from your speech acts.)


While their behavior was entirely legal and protected by the First Amendment, the problem lies elsewhere. It's in the utter lack of tolerance to the views not conforming to the group's, not unlike the reaction religious extremists would display.

Can't help but quote:

--

The Emperor summons before him Bodhidharma and asks: “Master, I have been tolerant of innumerable gays, lesbians, bisexuals, asexuals, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, transgender people, and Jews. How many Tolerance Points have I earned for my meritorious deeds?”

Bodhidharma answers: “None at all”.

The Emperor, somewhat put out, demands to know why not.

Bodhidharma asks: “Well, what do you think of gay people?”

The Emperor answers: “What do you think I am, some kind of homophobic bigot? Of course I have nothing against gay people!”

And Bodhidharma answers: “Thus do you gain no merit by tolerating them!”

-- (http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/i-can-tolerate-anything...)


Is this from a book. I would love to read it.


[flagged]


Why is it necessary to "come down hard" on people who express morally wreak (or even stupid) viewpoints?

Surely, putting forth a better argument or, at least, ignoring them is a far more morally superior response than suppressing their speech?

I've recently read about Bobby Sands (who was a IRA member who starved himself to death) and am reminded of that monk who lit themself on fire in protest.

I think an interesting question about these two people is why did their action have any impact? The authorities were against them and killing themselves doesn't "oppress" those authorities.

I think the opening paragraph of this book http://www.jstor.org/stable/3750951 is an interesting angle: martyrs against a cause illegitimize a cause.

If that is true, as I think it is, then it is crucially important to not victimize people no matter how wrong they may be. I think that the way to do that is, as I said above, to tolerate wrong viewpoints but respond to them or ignore them.


You think it's OK for a majority to say that racial Jews should not have property rights and then make it so? Eich achieved hos goal of writing oppression into the state constitution. Ignoring or tolerating promotion of oppression doesn't make it go away. (That's exactly the fair and balanced horseshit I was talking about.) Tolerating morally neutral actions is entirely different from tolerating morally bad actions.

Pretending that Eich's treatment for promoting oppression (or even the downvotes I've received for stating my views or you may have received for stating yours -- I've seen a lot of handwringing in this thread about maintaining multiple HN accounts and self-censoring themselves on HN as if that was some great horror) are in any way equivalent to actually taking away rights is another form of fair and balanced horseshit.


Suppose that everyone in the world (except Jews perhaps) believed that it WERE OK for them not to have property rights, then what would protect their property rights?

The truth is that what is right is decided by how well the arguments for it can convince people.

If you look back far enough, the arguments were: my army is stronger than you. As you get closer to the present, we tend to like using better arguments (the veil of ignorance for example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veil_of_ignorance).

It's based on notions like the veil of ignorance that we can say maybe every human should have property rights lest the group we're part of today lose it when the balance of power shifts.

That's why I believe that jews should have property rights, but don't believe that advocating against what I believe should be stifled. I am confident enough that my argument is better than theirs to not need to prevent their speech if you prefer. I also don't believe that we should stifle: climate change denial, flat earthers, religious people, pro-life people and a host of other people that I believe are wrong.


You make a nonsense point (nobody is arguing for morality by majority rule) then refute it by pointing out that you have good arguments for advocating a certain morality. Then you make a straw man (nobody is arguing for stifling anybody).

At the core, you seem to agree with me that there are certain actions that we should be intolerant of. Things like murder we should not tolerate forcefully, and things like oppression, we should argue against strongly until they go into effect, in which case, other action is sometimes better.


Hmm, I thought thinking about my initial question would be enough to see my point from your perspective. Maybe it is.

You were, in your now flagged comment, arguing for stifling (or censoring if you prefer) people who, you believe, hold that kind of opinion.

The point I am making is that morality is only part of it. In practice, it doesn't matter that you're right if you're dead. You say that

> tolerating promotion of oppression doesn't make it go away

I'll answer that arguing with words without understanding the process that allows for people to agree to "fight" with words rather than weapons is even less likely to make bad ideas go away.

This won't convince you, I know, the tone of your replies shows an adversarial reading of my comments. But maybe one day you'll have a more skeptical approach to your own beliefs.


My now-flagged comment said absolutely nothing about censorship or stifling. It said bad actions shouldn't be tolerated. Again, what is bad isn't up for vote. It can be deduced logically -- see my other posts. Otherwise, why do people not follow the "extremes" in their religious texts?

You seem to hold a revisionist historical view that the civil rights movement was entirely unproductive, even though it was unpopular at the start (again, morality doesn't depend on the majority). Loudly pointing out bad actions works.

The funny thing about that now-flagged comment is that it was up to +5 points before it dropped fast. There must be an unwritten rule against calling out superstitions.


> It said bad actions shouldn't be tolerated.

What do you mean by not tolerating if not stifling? If you look at the Mizzou and Yale things, stifling is exactly the right word: "we're just walking forward", "we can't hear you" and others.

> You seem to hold a revisionist historical view that the civil rights movement was entirely unproductive, even though it was unpopular at the start (again, morality doesn't depend on the majority).

My argument isn't that it didn't work, but that you fail to understand why it worked.

It worked because the arguments were convincing, not inherently because people pointed to something and said "this is stupid".

It has nothing to do with being loud (in the literal sense that I understand you to mean it).

Perhaps a better way to say what I'm trying to is: I think that the reason you arrive at the "right" conclusion is coincidental. The approach is flawed and it does and will lead to nonsense sometimes.

Another way to show what I mean is by counter-example: if someone advocated for, say, racial tolerance because they argued that we can't know who's a Christian based on race, I don't care if we agree on the conclusion, the process is a big problem.


Once again, you're pretending I said things that I didn't actually say. I said that certain bad actions should not be tolerated. Where you get stifling from this, I don't know. In particular, your first post claimed that we shouldn't be intolerant of people implementing (not merely talking about) Biblical punishments on gays, which is what I claimed that our society rightfully would very harshly not tolerate, just as our society wouldn't tolerate government-sanctioned mass lynchings of blacks


Yes you did say actions in that last post. I'm fairly certain your flagged post argued for "coming down hard" on people advocating for certain things rather than doing things. I'm fairly sure, given the tone, that I would still disagree with whatever you mean by "coming down hard"/"not tolerating", but this is getting speculative so I think this is a moot point.

> Biblical punishments on gays

Where does that come from? Was that what Eich wanted?

As far as I know, there was no advocacy for violence (something we do punish but in a due process, legal manner).

Are you arguing that you see no difference between 'death to the sinners' and whatever notion of 'sanctity of marriage' Eich might have espoused?


> just as there are certain hamburgers that are better than others

There's nothing that objectively makes a hamburger better than another. It's all subjective, just as views are subjective. Some people like bread a lot, so they may want a really thick bun which could be overpowering to another person. Some people are vegetarian, while others cringe in disgust at a black bean burger. It doesn't make those hamburgers any better or worse than others, though.


This is very true. I knew a guy who only ate fast food, and he could not (or would not) eat at better restaurants. He simply did not like anything but the fast food hamburgers.


It's exactly like hamburgers. At the top, there are actions that are hard to distinguish morally, just as there are hamburgers that are hard to distinguish quality-wise.

But we can all agree that a hamburger with actual shit in it is worse than a hamburger from Smashburger, just as there are certain actions that are clearly morally wrong and don't need to be evaluated with some false fairness.


> But we can all agree that a hamburger with actual shit in it is worse than a hamburger from Smashburger

I'm sure that out of the 7 billion people living on our planet, at least one person genuinely likes the taste of shit. To them, this wouldn't necessarily be true (I've never had a Smashburger and I don't like the taste of shit, so I couldn't possibly make this comparison myself). Which is why it's not objectively worse. It's all based on the person eating the burger, because everyone has different likes and tastes. That's why there's never one burger option; everyone shockingly doesn't like the same things.


Eating a burger with shit in it will likely kill you. Should I have said cyanide instead to get the point across? The point is that there are some burgers that are clearly worse than others (use your own imagination if cyanide doesn't work for you), just as there are certain actions that are clearly morally worse than others.


> Should I have said cyanide instead to get the point across?

No, you should have used an analogy that actually works.


I can't help it of you don't understand the concept of an analogy. The form of this one is good X:bad X::good Y:bad Y. We're not dealing with GRE-level stuff here.


> Eating a burger with shit in it will likely kill you.

Preferences for death or risk of death are not exactly unknown, so, while that may be true, it isn't sufficient to establish the universal preference you've offered it to support.

> Should I have said cyanide instead to get the point across?

No, for the same reason. The problem isn't the example, the problem is that the point is wrong; whether or not one believes that an absolute morality exists (in whatever sense of "exists" makes sense for morality), you aren't going to any of its contents through universally-extent preferences, just as you won't for food, because preferences aren't universals.


Under what moral framework are you judging Eich? I can think of many ways what Eich did could be construed as morally neutral and/or morally positive.

Not that I think gays shouldn't have the right to marry. It's just that your idea of what makes something moral is horribly naive and self-serving.


Under the framework of cold rational logic. In what ways could Eich's actions be construed as morally positive without resorting to superstitions and other faulty logic?

You're absolutely right that my ideas are self-serving though. I am neither gay, nor black, nor a descendant of Abraham, but I am a human living in society. As such, I want to live as long as possible, and oppressing people to the point of ingesting cyanide is not going to help grow a scientific community large enough to keep me alive as long as I would like.


> Under the framework of cold rational logic. In what ways could Eich's actions be construed as morally positive without resorting to superstitions and other faulty logic?

Yeah that isn't an ethical framework. You were judging his actions under the framework of moral utilitarianism. The flaws with this can be found in a google search.

His actions could be construed as moral under a rule-utilitarian moral framework and a kantian virtue ethic framework. (The virtues being participating in politics and standing up for what you believe.)

> and oppressing people to the point of ingesting cyanide is not going to help grow a scientific community large enough to keep me alive as long as I would like

This is a straw man. Oppression of gays in the US amounted to not giving them the right to marriage and not having them be protected in the work place for their sexuality. Neither of which amount to "oppressing people to the point of ingesting cyanide".


Hilariously, the two justifications for Eich as you've presented them would paint Hitler as moral. As Feynman was fond of reiterating, there is a vast difference between naming something and understanding something, and you've illustrated his point perfectly.

As you're no doubt well aware, marriage rights encompass many other legal rights, and denying those rights is granting gays a form of second-class citizenship. This official form of discrimination combined with the private sector hate they receive for not being in a protected class causes gays ti have a higher rate of suicide than the rest of the population, continuing Turing's tradition.


>Hilariously, the two justifications for Eich as you've presented them would paint Hitler as moral.

First of all, neither are justifications. It was simply analyzing Eich's actions under a different moral framework as yours.

Second of all, yes, you could argue (this is the key word) Hitler's actions as moral (even though everyone would almost

Hilariously (not really actually) using your reasoning and your ethical framework you could also argue that paedophiles should not be discriminated against and that they deserve the right to sleep with and marry minors.

As society we don't want this so we choose to discriminate against child predators. Discrimination in this case is a pretty good thing.(I don't actually believe child predators should have this "right")

>As you're no doubt well aware, marriage rights encompass many other legal rights, and denying those rights is granting gays a form of second-class citizenship. This official form of discrimination combined with the private sector hate they receive for not being in a protected class causes gays ti have a higher rate of suicide than the rest of the population, continuing Turing's tradition.

I don't really understand what you are trying to say here. Yes, I'm aware of these things. They don't matter in the scope of this argument. You say that reason and logic drive your believes about what is moral but this entire section of the post I quoted is just an appeal to emotion.

Also don't you find it ironic that you can justify discriminating against someone because of their beliefs but you can't justify discriminating against someone because of their sexual identity?

And before you respond with an argument telling me you can choose what you believe. Can you really?


I think you're missing the point of the story. The point is, that unless you're tolerating something that you consider morally wrong or unethical, you can't really claim you're tolerant.


You're missing the point of my reply. Tolerance isn't good for tolerance's sake, and claiming that tolerating something that actively harms people is the same as tolerating something that is morally neutral is just fair and balanced horseshit that leads to Jews losing property rights and Gays losing rights in the state constitution.


There are certain views that are morally superior to others

Whose morals? Back in the 1800's in the South it was generally viewed as moral to have slaves. Was that right?


Secular morals. Owning slaves obviously doesn't pass the test.

As a secular person, your main purpose is to live a long healthy life because that's all there is -- secular people don't get brownie points in the afterlife for the bodycount of heathens they've racked up. You will live a longer life if you live in a society of educated people who can do the science to keep you healthy and don't want to kill you (because you've oppressed them in slavery, because they have no money, or because they're brain-damaged from lead poisoning).


> Owning slaves obviously doesn't pass the test.

You're at best begging the question here. In the South there were (horribly wrong) people who honestly and truly believed (incorrectly) that not only was it morally permissible to own slaves, but that it was morally necessary. They (wrongly, racistly) believed that the only way the "African race" could be saved from "savagery" was to be in captivity.

This argument is clearly stupid and wrong from a 21st century perspective. But it was honestly believed. Under your framework, a slave owner in 1800 would be correct to "come down hard" on an abolitionist. After all, the abolitionist would be promoting "clearly wrong" morals.

The idea that a majority should "come down hard" on dissenting ideas is inherently a conservative (if not reactionary) move. In the 1950s, a vast majority of the country (wrongly) thought that homosexuality was a toxic sin that could (stupidly) infect children who were exposed to it. If you gave that majority the power to "come down hard" on dissenting views, the gay rights movement would never have happened. (Yes, I'm aware that lots of people in the gay rights movement were punished by the majority -- that was bad and we shouldn't encourage it).

So long as you get to decide what's right and wrong it's easy. But imagine George Bush got to decide. Or ISIS. Or some other group you don't like.


Well said. Crude majoritarian morality has hole after hole that even its most thoughtful adherents can do nothing to defend. Why people continue to invoke it is beyond me.


Revisionism with some sloppy relativism mixed in. For you to believe your argument, you must honestly believe that at some point in the future, it will be secularly moral to remove rights for gays, remove property rights from racial Jews, enslave blacks, and conquer, kill, and rape.

The truth is that nobody believed it was morally right to keep slaves who wasn't benefiting from it and using your type of relativism to sloppily justify it to themselves.


You have no idea what secular means do you? Admit it. The Eastern Bloc was extremely secular. That doesn't prevented it from being quite oppressive.


Nobody is saying that the Eastern Bloc was secularly moral.


Please stop, both of you.


Because there is no such thing as secular morality. And morality is mostly fiction anyway. Usually determined by who won the last major war.


Ah, so killing isn't bad? You can call it morality or whatever other name you have for it, but there are actions that society shouldn't tolerate for entirely secular reasons.


Sure, it's a free country for everybody.

But, IMHO, the threshold for taking arguments outside the political arena and into the realm of boycotts and demands for resignations should be a lot higher than it seems to be today. Otherwise vibrant, productive arguments don't happen, since everyone's concentrating on bankrupting the other side of money, "platforms", or legitimacy.


This is the reason I keep two HN accounts - I fear that any political comments I make here could jeopardize my professional life (about which I contribute fairly often).

Online, that's a fairly easy thing to manage. In real life, it means I really have to walk on eggshells a lot, and I seldom participate in voicing my opinions (or supporting certain causes) in which I'd otherwise participate, solely out of fear. In many cases, you can keep your personal views and professional life isolated, but not always. Maybe it's an irrational fear, but then again, in today's political climate it seems foolish not to worry about that.

And if that need to self-censor isn't cause for concern, I don't know what is.


I do this too. I found it almost impossible to post on my account under my own name, on any topic about psychology, politics, economics, or diversity because I am too afraid of what I've said being taken out of context later, or used against me in ways I can't anticipate now. I found myself frequently writing a post, only to delete it shortly afterward, worrying that it was somehow too risky.

In today's climate, you can't really even propose a thought experiment or discuss a hypothetical without being accused of holding that position yourself, and criticized as such. I don't even really have strong convictions about most of the things I discuss, except the desire to analyze them rationally and objectively, and the willingness to challenge both conventional wisdom and new radical positions.

Even while posting under an anonymous username, I still find myself self-censoring because of the risk that my identity could someday be connected. HN administrators can certainly trivially connect me, since they see the origin of my traffic for my two accounts, and I have not taken pains to anonymity the traffic for this one. However, HN admins themselves like pg have been posting under alts (and probably still do, for the same reasons), and seem to support this.

I have been wanting to propose that HN or some site like it offer a feature where you can switch your post to "Anonymous Coward" later, if it proves to be too controversial. Or post as "Anonymous Coward", and later assign the post to your name if you feel OK about how the discussion turned out. I think this would be better than having people feel like they can't post at all, or that they need alts to post. Having an alt is kind of like Anonymous Coward, except that you can't claim credit for just a single post that you turn out to feel OK about later.

The thing is, I think, that humans "try on" ideas like they try on clothes. We don't necessarily mean everything we say all the time (unless we take great pains to ensure it). The public discourse seems to expect that people have their minds firmly made up about everything, and a completely firm viewpoint that can be understood and criticized, but the reality is much more fluid. Or to put it differently: writing something that you can firmly stand behind requires a lot of time and energy, and a bar of quality and thoughtfulness and judgment that can rarely be met for Internet forum comments. Sometimes I'd just like to have a conversation, without fearing that something I say can be taken out of context and used against me years later when random-topic-of-the-day becomes a hot-button issue.


"I have been wanting to propose that HN or some site like it offer a feature where you can switch your post to "Anonymous Coward" later, if it proves to be too controversial. Or post as "Anonymous Coward", and later assign the post to your name if you feel OK about how the discussion turned out."

1. I've thought about this too.

2. I don't think it's possible because Google indexes these comments at lightning speed.

3. I used to wonder why HN only allows a user to delete for a specified period of time(a few minutes?). I think it's because of Google?

4. I have never used my real name on the Internet. Wait, I did have a Facebook account, but changed my real name years ago. I would like to use my real name, but just don't want to be taken out of context. Or, never forgiven fir having a bad day.

5. I would like to see the day where the IP owner can delete anything indexed by Google, or any database, but that will probably never happen.

6. People on here know the risks of posting under your real name, but the average person doesn't have a clue. They post away with a false sense of impunity.

7. What scares me most about the Internet never forgetting is what if a website decided to post your IP to your house number?

8. Then again 99.99 percent of the stuff I say, I believe strongly. It's just we need to play the phoney game in real life.


Sites with anonymous posting features already exist. It's an addon you can get for XenForo, and it's been installed on quite a few internet forums.

For example;

https://xenforo.com/community/resources/bd-anonymous-posting...

But we need something similar on sites like Hacker News and Reddit as well.


I view HN as a forum for professionals so I don't make comments that could negatively impact my professional life here. In that way I think self censure is fine. If you don't agree with my assessment thats fine as well of course.

Of course most of the sparse comments I make here are dumb jokes...


The point is, thanks to Social Justice Warriors, you never know what comment could affect your career. Expressing opinion about merits of Angular.js is probably safe. But anything that involves gender - a study, or a remark about distribution of men and women in tech industry - is not to be touched with a ten foot pole if you value your employability. It takes very little to become a victim of a Twitter outrage.


Bingo. Let's say that I wanted to argue that -- just for the sake of argument, not necessarily as a true belief -- that discrimination is not a significant problem in tech hiring with respect to diversity, and that the key problem is that there aren't qualified candidates from special-interest-group-in-question applying in the first place, and so the majority of the problem is upstream when you consider tech companies.

Is that something I'm allowed to say, even as a hypothetical? It seems like anyone saying that could be viciously attacked. Yet if we want to reason about the world objectively we need to consider all shades of truth and possibility, not blindly latch on to one particular idea and walk on eggshells while talking about it. The victimhood culture is completely stifling to any kind of discussion about such things.

Now, maybe we shouldn't have discussion about that on HN. I don't know. A lot of them have sure been interesting though. For example, I've found contributions by yummyfajitas particularly thought-provoking to read. He frequently challenges the "popular wisdom" and gets downvoted for it despite making what seem to me like reasonable, fair, respectful arguments that go against the popular activist narrative and victimhood culture. I don't know where I really land on these issues, but I've not been satisfied that there is adequate thoughtful analysis of them in mainstream culture (even arguably on HN).

I am hoping that this victimhood thing, and that attempts at social justice by creating privileges for special interest groups, are phenomena that are ultimately temporary as our society evolves to a greater level of egalitarianism and liberty. That is, I hope that what we're seeing now are the growing pains as old prejudice is put down, as we as society we eventually move past this (in whatever subdivision you care to name). We've seen huge strides for equality in recent years such as with recent US Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. But it feels like for every two positive strides, we take a step back with victimhood culture or by fighting injustice with more injustice (e.g., changes to Mormon Church doctrine on gays, to pick a totally random example).


The problem with starting these hypothetical-filled discussions is that they're not helpful. People can and have been positing many hypotheses about the pipeline issue in tech (and of course many other issues) and the discussions have been mostly heat and very little light.

What would be helpful, is if you would post actual objective findings--studies, analyses, etc. Cold hard facts. Otherwise you're just adding to the heat. Even my reply is not adding much right now, being primarily opinion.


It's hard to post actual objective findings, beacuse scientists themselves are seriously affected by the culture around those issues. Just like people are afraid of saying something contrary to the mainstream narrative, scientists are afraid to publish it too. On the other hand, a lot of studies - even completely unrelated to the issue - are having their conclusions purposefully and forcefully fitted to match the narrative, to score cheap popularity points. The topic is so politicized, that you can't rely even on studies to tell you anything at the moment.

I'm willing to admit that all I think about various minorities is completely wrong. I'll be happy to, when presented with evidence (and I've been adjusting my views every time I stumbled upon something that looked even little like legit research). Personally, I'm not arguing for any side of the issue. I'm arguing against using bad methodology, bad science, logical fallacies, lies and propaganda. I'm arguing for civility and detached behaviour in discussion. Only when people calm the fuck down we'll be able to figure out where the truth lies and how much we have to adjust at personal and societal level.


> Expressing opinion about merits of Angular.js is probably safe.

As long as you don't say that Angular is better or anything else that might be construed as you supporting meritocracy...


Still, people are not that insane yet to make expressing opinions about frameworks a danger to your employability. I've frequently been a part of flamew^H^H^H^H^H^Hcivilized discussions about obvious superiority of Emacs over IDEs, or Lisp over everything, and never for a second felt I'll get fired for it, or that I'll lose my career, my home, or that I'll get into national news over it.


Contrary to your first comment, it sounds like you know very well which comments could affect your career.


The more the political arena is dominated by money and marketing, the more people will use that language to make their voices heard.


This is a frequently repeated argument and I find it less and less convincing. It is true that America's constitution only guarantees the congress will not abridge the freedom of speech. However, an argument could be made that in a free society there's a fundamental right to have a dissenting opinion or voice; a right that is not codified by the constitution because it's simply irrelevant to a constitution. It seems to me that it's up to all of us to tolerate non-extreme dissenting voices, even if we disagree with them.


> However, an argument could be made that in a free society there's a fundamental right to have a dissenting opinion or voice

Of course, there is a fundamental right to have (and express) a dissenting opinion or voice.

There is also a fundamental right to have (and express) displeasure with an opinion or voice, whether dissenting or not.

And there is no fundamental entitlement to a job whose responsibilities include managing the public image of a corporation, and if you are unable to do that in the real circumstances and public image problems the corporation faces, whether or not your own speech acts are the source of that PR problem, you shouldn't expect to continue to have that job.


I mean, yes, you're right, but surely, if voicing a dissenting opinion will damage or outright destroy your career, then unless you're extremely privileged and can afford to take the hit, you can't really do it, even if technically you have the right, can you?

Technological advances such as social media make vilifying dissenting views (and the people who express them) cheaper and more effective than ever before. There must be some kind of a balance between the right to dissent and the right to "have a displeasure with an opinion" as you said, and I feel like the way things are going now, it doesn't look like we have found that balance. Ultimately a healthy society will need both.


The problem is that the current system in practice legally protects certain opinions. E.g. If Eich was pro gay marriage and vocally so, firing him on that basis would have been very risky legally. Especially if he was gay, it would probably be impossible to fire him without losing an expensive lawsuit afterwards.


I don't think legally but more politically and PR wise. There a difference between firing someone for making donations to pro-X groups and firing someone for being X. In this hypothetical scenario, Eich would have to prove he was fired for being gay instead of for making a public donation that support a group and leads to potential blowback against the company. It's bad either way. Mozilla had a no win situation here. They got bad PR from both sides.


Forget about whether it has blowback against the company- It's totally legal AFAIK to fire someone for their "off the clock" speech for any or no reason at all.

In reality, though, I think a jury would be very skeptical of a company's claims that someone was fired for promoting the gay agenda (which would be legal) and not for being a gay person.


> However, an argument could be made that in a free society there's a fundamental right to have a dissenting opinion or voice

Since we're not talking about the constitution, which strictly relates to government and public property, then we're talking about private entities and private property.

You do not have the right to speak on my property. Forcing that is in direct contradiction to a free society that has a concept of private property.

I am all for fostering tolerance to offensive speech, but not at the expensive of destroying the concept of private ownership. It is absolutely not a fundamental right. It should be a social norm, but that's all it should be.

> It seems to me that it's up to all of us to tolerate non-extreme dissenting voices

Who gets to define what is and is not extreme?

Freedom of expression means tolerating something offensive by definition. If it's not offensive, it doesn't need to be tolerated.


And thus you have the shifting definition of what is "extreme" or not.

Then again, if you keep chopping off the edges of the bell curve, everything that doesn't precisely match the middle is extreme by comparison.


>Since we're not talking about the constitution, which strictly relates to government and public property, then we're talking about private entities and private property.

Except a lot of private entities receive a lot of money from the federal government - either as subsidies, tax breaks or programs. So they should abide by the rules of the government too. Giving public money to entities that not view the first amendment as obligatory for them - that is wrong for me.


A way to address this might be to add "political opinions" to the list of protected classes. It is undeniably bad for a democracy (I know I know, we aren't technically a democracy) where people aren't free in practice to discuss contentious issues.

As currently stands, you can stand in the town square and promote affirmative action it would be very risky legally to fire you. But if you get up and argue for the repeal of some affirmative action legislation you can be safely fired with no objection from legal.


> As currently stands, you can stand in the town square and promote affirmative action it would be very risky legally to fire you. But if you get up and argue for the repeal of some affirmative action legislation you can be safely fired with no objection from legal.

Legally, promoting either of those opinions is subject to exactly the same degree of protection. The willingness of a particular employer to accept the legal risk maybe different between them, but that's a different issue than the law itself.


That in practice it does not work as intended means it is bad law and needs tweaked. One way would be to say that all behavior "off the clock" and all attributes of a person not related to the job are protected. Another way would be to say nothing is protected. Right now we have a middle ground that plays favorites.


> That in practice it does not work as intended means it is bad law and needs tweaked.

In what specific, concrete ways does it not work out the way you think it is intended?

> One way would be to say that all behavior "off the clock" and all attributes of a person not related to the job are protected. Another way would be to say nothing is protected.

Those are obviously potential rules, but I don't see that either of them is closer to any reasonable interpretation of the intended result that antidiscrimination laws are intended to serve.


In what specific, concrete ways does it not work out the way you think it is intended?

I think we are starting to go in circles, but: It has the effect of cancelling out free discourse which is important to a functioning "democracy". A trivial example is that a business owner cannot be vocally anti-same sex marriage, because if she is, and a gay employee is fired for a "legitimate" reason, her behavior will go a long way towards convincing a jury.

Where this is going is why we are expanding the number of protected classes over time is that the real "intended result" is that you should not suffer at work for attributes that have nothing specifically to do with the job you are hired for.


Yes, of course Eich's critics had the right to criticize him. The point is that calling for his resignation was grossly disproportionate.


The point is that calling for his resignation was grossly disproportionate.

Depends where you draw the line. Many people feel that when Eich chose to support groups that were running bigoted TV ads (beyond simply expressing an opinion as to a ballot issue) he effectively crossed that line.


And others feel that a person who can make this statement:

https://brendaneich.com/2014/03/inclusiveness-at-mozilla/

  ...I know some will be skeptical about this, and that words 
  alone will not change anything.  I can only ask for your support 
  to have the time to "show, not tell"; and in the meantime 
  express my sorrow at having caused pain. ...
and who has never even been accused of discrimination, harassment, or abuse of any kind in his professional capacity (or otherwise AFAIK) should be given the chance to prove himself.

I'm pretty sure they didn't send the ads out for the approval of every campaign contributor before they aired them.


Eich's statement in that posting is indeed a valid, mitigating factor in his favor.

He could have done more, by addressing the issue of the TV ads directly. By not doing so, people had reason to believe he was sidestepping that key issue (and that he may not really understand why people were offended by those ads).


What can I say, that is just not the world I want to live in. A world in which your defeated [1] political opponents must repent, wear sackcloth, and cast ashes in their hair or else be professionally destroyed.

[1] Proposition 8 had been struck down by the time of Eich's appointment to CEO


It's now about repenting and wearing sackcloth. And it isn't even about Eich.

People had just gotten very, very, VERY tired of the pseudo-tolerant stance he was endorsing [1], and didn't want to feel that they were lending credibility to it, by having him at the head of an organization they were a part of. The message they were trying to send was simply, "we're really tired of this shit, and we want it to stop."

[1] "Love the sinner, hate the sin". Those aren't his words, but that's the gist of the religious-based opposition to gay marriage. You have to understand that at some point, people just get sick of hearing it -- or being a party to it.


It was the activists who dragged Eich's donation from years ago into the spotlight, made it an issue, and demanded that he apologize. The "pseudo-tolerant stance" people are/were "sick of hearing" or "being a party to" would never have seen the light of day if the activists just left Eich's personal political beliefs alone. This is precisely a demand for repentance.

Eich's stance was "pseudo-tolerant" because the activists were demanding that he renounce his religious beliefs. At least he had the stones not to say something he didn't believe just to keep his job. So instead he was cast out. Should a Catholic CEO be subjected to the same treatment if they personally oppose abortion? A Republican one for opposing Affirmative Action?


...the activists were demanding that [Eich] renounce his religious beliefs.

They did no such thing. Why do you think it is helpful to base your arguments on overtly counterfactual assertions, such as these?


It's right there in your comment. You said "Love the sinner, hate the sin" was not considered an acceptable viewpoint for him to hold.

But even removing that point from my comment the rest stands. You wrote that people were "sick of hearing" about his views on gay marriage. Well all they had to do to stop hearing about it was to stop asking him about it.


You said "Love the sinner, hate the sin" was not considered an acceptable viewpoint for him to hold.

No, that's not what I said. Or even close to what I said.

I'd continue with you further on this, but it seems there's been a lot of gratuitous word-bending and insinuation in what you've been saying of late. That's not my style of communicating, and I don't see what I can learn from it -- but if you want to continue to feel the way you feel about the issue, that's fine with me.


Yes, that is what you wrote.

  People had just gotten very, very, VERY tired of the 
  pseudo-tolerant stance he was endorsing [1], and didn't 
  want to feel that they were lending credibility to it, 
  by having him at the head of an organization they were a 
  part of.

  [1] "Love the sinner, hate the sin".
Can you please explain how this could possibly mean anything other than "The CEO of Mozilla must not hold the viewpoint 'Love the sinner, hate the sin' because then it is implied that the members of the Mozilla community endorse that view". Because the logical consequence of that position is that Eich must either 1) renounce his view or 2) be removed.


Nobody protested Eich for privately "holding" a particular point of view. Their concern was around his donating money (and implicitly, legitimacy) to groups they felt were engaged in various harmful activities (running TV ads with derogatory rhetoric, for example).

The two phenomena are very different. You understand this - yes?


Fine, but that's not what you wrote above.

And so then we're back to demanding that a defeated political opponent repent. "Here is our political issue, you advocated against it, you lost, so now you must beg our forgiveness or lose your job which is completely unrelated to the issue."

Like I said, that's not the world I want to live in. If others like it they are welcome to it, but then they shouldn't start complaining if abortion-rights advocates are fired from their jobs in the American South.


Fine, but that's not what you wrote above.

True, it wasn't the exact quote you cherry-picked. But it was the main point of what I was saying, if you look at my remarks collectively.


Post-hoc edit: "now" should have been "not" in the first sentence.


Would you then also argue that the Hollywood blacklist was morally unassailable?[1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_blacklist


I didn't argue that anything was morally unassailable.

That freedom of speech includes freedom of speech criticizing others' speech acts does not mean that all speech is morally equal.

Nor, in any case, was the Hollywood blacklist a speech act; it was a conspiracy in restraint of trade.


Do you think that this corporate executive will be hired in a similar role from which he was let go? If not, how is this functionally different from a blacklist (or "conspiracy in restraint of trade")?


Since he is currently CEO of a technology company, I don't think it's anything like an industry blacklist, in effect (obviously, its nothing like it in structure, either.)


Being forced to leave one of the most influential software developers, and go start a new small startup is comparable to being forced out of the major studios and starting your own. I fail to see any significant difference between what happened at Mozilla and the Hollywood blacklist.


I'm not a master enough of this subject to form a detailed argument, but I hope we can agree there is a line somewhere between civil criticism and a lynching.

Especially, IMO, in the case of a ballot issue. Are we trying to coerce people to vote the way we want them to? That's unconscionable to me.


> I'm not a master enough of this subject to form a detailed argument, but I hope we can agree there is a line somewhere between civil criticism and a lynching.

Yes, there is, and what Eich experienced was not only not a lynching [0], it was quite far from the line that separates criticism from lynching.

[0] in case there is a lack of clarity, this is a lynching: http://abhmuseum.org/2012/01/an-iconic-lynching-in-the-north...


it was quite far from the line that separates criticism from lynching.

Where do you believe that line is? He certainly experienced mob justice in some form.


Other people in this thread have already expressed my opinion far more eloquently than I could have. But I am wondering, do you think the protests that lead to the resignation of Claremont McKenna's dean is appropriate (besides the legalistic sense)? And if not, why is it different from the pressure that lead Brandon Eich to resign?


Yes, the Eich takedown was entirely legal.

No one claims it wasn't. You're missing the point.


If you're a CEO and you're purposely creating a toxic work environment by continuously saying racist things to your workers, then obviously, you deserve to get fired.

But hell no you should not deserve to get fired for donating to the Republican Party. You have the right to donate to whichever LEGAL organization you want.


[Edit: the parent was edited after my comment, making it off-topic.]


As an individual you are free to say whatever you please.

As the CEO of a large organization, you are not. You are the face and voice of an organization. You speak for its employees and you are accountable to its shareholders. You are held to a higher standard and your every word/action is scrutinized. If your shareholders are afraid that your speech/actions will hurt the bottom line of the company, you will be removed from your position.


Yes, we know.

Profit != Justice


What exactly is your argument?

If you have strong views, you can express them in private, or you can head an organization that is dedicated to/aligned with those views.

Freedom to say whatever you want, whenever is not justice either.


Ironic that you've censored yourself rather than state what he donated money towards.


I think they're trying to make the point that it's not relevant.


Like, if he had donated to Save Kittens & Dogs foundation no one would have cared.

So yeah, it's obviously relevant and I doubt they were making any specific point.


While simultaneously appealing to a majority.


The conversations about Brandon Eich and his views regrettably died down before the Donald Sterling incident. I am still curious today where defenders of Eich fall in the controversy over Sterling.

Will anyone who defends Eich or is critical of his detractors come out and say that Sterling should not have received the wrath of the media and public and should not have been punished for expressing his views?

Or does your position shift based on the opinion being expressed by either man? Are there materialistic differences between these men and their beliefs?


Donald Sterling, 80 year old man in the early stages of Alzheimer's, has a private one-on-one conversation with a "trusted" person secretly recorded by that person, which results in his being banned for life from the NBA and forced to sell his team. To me that's literally one step away from thought-crime. If we had magical mind-reading technology that could prove Donald Sterling was prejudiced against black people, but he never took any actions[1] or spoke any words based on that, should we strip him of his team?

[1] I know about the housing discrimination lawsuit; I'm leaving it out of this analysis because the NBA clearly didn't care about it until the secret recording made Sterling a pariah.


Will anyone who defends Eich or is critical of his detractors come out and say that Sterling should not have received the wrath of the media

Absolutely. Both men were pilloried by mob justice for PRIVATELY holding unpopular opinions.


Well, you haven't exactly come out and said anything, given that you've posted under a pseudonym....


Now don’t be silly Who the fuck gon' bully me if I got a billi? If I got a billi and they're recording me I’m like who cares What I wouldn’t be is on TV stutterin' ta-ta-talkin' scared


Money is not speech, it's money. People were angry at Eich because he spent money opposing a cause they supported.

Brandon Eich is not an example of anything this article is about. It's much more straightforward: if you do things people don't like, those people won't like you.


Brandon Eich episode speaks volumes, esp. since he was at the winning side of the Popular Vote. Tinder did not walk away for CA after Prop 8 was won. I really do not know a single state including CA and OR, where gay marriage actually garnered Popular majority. Now the debate about whether something like that should be up for Vote is different and one I have no much domain knowledge. The fact was Brandon Eich's political belief were not fringe or extremist and more alignment to the times, is the case for NOT bullying him out of his Executive Office in Mozilla. For a organization that wants to stand up against Big Bad Governments and Corporations, Mozilla capitulated to a PC vocal minority. This has emboldened "Crybullies" of all shapes and forms including the ones in Yale.

note:I am for Gay Marriage but I am against bullying people who are not for it.


"I really do not know a single state including CA and OR, where gay marriage actually garnered Popular majority."

It's interestingly how strong your opinion is when it could be easily improved upon by just reading wikipedia[3]. Here are states that actually passed SSM by popular referendum:

* Maine [1]

* Washington State[2]

* Maryland

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maine_Question_1,_2012 [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Referendum_74 [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maryland_Question_6 [4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_the_Unite...

I also disagree with how the Brendon Eich was handled and it's important to have a diversity of views within an organization. Ultimately I think if Eich had been a stronger leader he would have been able to move past the incident, but there were already issues of confidence in his leadership BEFORE the incident happened.[5]

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brendan_Eich#Mozilla

"On March 24, 2014, Eich was promoted to CEO of Mozilla Corporation. Gary Kovacs, John Lilly and Ellen Siminoff resigned from the Mozilla board after the appointment, some expressing disagreements with Eich's strategy and their desire for a CEO with experience in the mobile industry."


Not OP, but I read his remark to mean "at the time Prop 8 was passed". To that argument, if that was indeed his intent, I believe he would have been correct.

Post Prop 8, we've seen some massive enlightenment on the subject.


You are correct. In my argument I was pointing out about how things were at the time of Prop 8, which I think is around 2008. The gay marriage debate got much needed momentum in 2012. In 2008 even Barack Obama was not for Gay Marriage.


Yea, sorry for the snark, comes naturally. I also think that if Eich had the same change of heart he would still have been booted. I really think the people protesting him didn't have as much influence as it seemed. Btw, Obama was against Prop 8 in 2008 for what it's worth[1].

[1] http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Obama-opposes-proposed-ba...


I was of the opinion that people should have at least given him a chance, he stated that he would respect the Mozilla policies of openness and put his personal beliefs aside and I would have liked to at least see him try.


The "PC vocal minority" were Mozilla's own employees and contributors. You can say what you like about the California electorate as a whole but to be against gay marriage in San Francisco is to be an asshole. Eich should have known he was endangering Mozilla's ability to attract and retain talent and outside contributions.


Let's not rewrite history:

https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2014/04/05/faq-on-ceo-resignat...

Q: Was Brendan Eich forced out by employee pressure?

A: No. Mozilla employees expressed a wide range of views on Brendan’s appointment as CEO: the majority of them positive and in support of his leadership, or expressing disappointment in Brendan’s support of Proposition 8 but that they nonetheless felt he would be a good leader for Mozilla. A small number (fewer than 10) called for his resignation, none of whom reported to Brendan directly. However media coverage focused disproportionately on the small number of negative comments — largely ignoring the wide range of reactions across the Mozilla community.

Mozilla’s culture of openness extends to encouraging our staff and community to be candid about their views on Mozilla’s direction, including during and after Brendan’s appointment as CEO. We’re proud of that openness and how it distinguishes Mozilla from most organizations.


I guess that's something I don't grok. How are his personal beliefs some reason to not work at Mozilla? He is not Mozilla. Do you refuse to work for companies where someone has differing opinions? You must not work then. Now, if he was using his position to proselytize to his fellow Mozilla employees, then I could see the point. But he wasn't.


Ugh. The Brendan Eich issue was about freedom of association -- in particular, the right of Mozilla employees and stakeholders not to be associated with the bigoted groups (and their hateful TV ads) Eich was supporting -- rather than freedom of speech.

If you're still not clear as to the distinction, please see: https://xkcd.com/1357/


What a ridiculous line of reasoning. If the ceo at my company likes to tango and donates to a tango club, it doesn't mean that I like to tango.

I'm absolutely supportive of gay marriage, but the people pillorying Eich find it necessary to contort their logic in the strangest ways.


If the ceo at my company likes to tango and donates to a tango club,

...this would of course be in no way analogous to the activity Eich was supporting.


Of course not because tango is perceived as being harmless and therefore an ethical injunction against firing people for liking tango is unnecessary.

Firing people for having wrong opinions on important things that are not directly related to the job is more controversial.


responding to someone's opinion with "Ugh." is exactly what the op article is about


It's not their opinion that merits the "Ugh." It's that people seem to be perpetually misinformed about many basic factors regarding the Eich case.


People hate to have their heroes torn down, even if their hero is just the creator of a fifth-rate programming language that nobody would willingly use if it weren't the only available zero-compile option on Berners-Lee's juggernaut of an application platform.

Turing's suicide is merely a distant memory.


> Ugh

Congratulations, you just lowered the value of the rest of your comment significantly.

Do there exist any social circles where the use of the term "Ugh" is reflected positively?


I think that the "association" in "Freedom of association" means the right to get with people (associate as in form a group).

The "association" that you speak of is a different concept: figurative association (how people compare or liken groups one to the other).

I do not think that it is right to conclude something about the one based on the other.


What about the freedom of Brendan Eich to associate with his employees and stakeholders who wanted a better web browser?

Note that Eich was NOT opposed by his employees. He was opposed by outside activists.

I don't see the current CEO of Mozilla resigning because they are meat-eaters, which, as a Firefox user, I find deeply offensive.


I can't remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending your actions by citing freedom of association is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for what you do is that it's not literally illegal to do so.


I'm not saying that the sanction against him was the best course of action, or that it was even necessary.

Just that people who think that his "freedom of speech" was in some way violated -- or that the anger directed against him was simply about his being on the wrong side of a ballot issue -- are at least very misinformed about certain things.


>his "freedom of speech" was in some way violated

Not just his freedom. There is a chilling effect that makes people more afraid of expressing their opinions for fear of losing their jobs.

Of course, I'm not arguing about the legal definition of freedom of speech, I'm making a moral argument.

>the anger directed against him was simply about his being on the wrong side of a ballot issue

What was it about? If his opinions on gay marriage make everyone involved in Mozilla look bad, then certainly the reputational effects of firing someone for his political opinions have to be taken into account as well. People might start being less enthusiastic about working for Mozilla if they feel they have to walk on eggshells all the time.


That would be the freedom FROM association.

Freedom of Association is the right to join or remove yourself from a group for the sake of collective right.


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