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Peter Thiel is a YCombinator partner, yet YC has steadfastly refused to disavow him. In a Twitter exchange with David Heinemeier Hansson, Paul Graham suggested that to do so would somehow be the equivalent of firing an employee for having a distateful political opinion.

YC's silence on a partner's outspoken support of Trump is disgraceful, and sends the most shameful message about our industry.




What is disgraceful is trying to ensure there is only one acceptable point of view, and preclude people from trying to support other points of view under threat of public boycott, being fired, deemed unemployable, etc. This is ultimately what you fight is for - so that nobody would be able to speak in support candidate you don't like or policy you don't like or idea you don't like because if he does, he will be run out of his job and made into a pariah. You (taken broadly, not as you personally but as a community of people making similar demands) are not only trying to ruin Thiel, you are trying to make not participating in ruining him as dangerous as being Thiel. And, I assume, not participating in ruining those that didn't participate too. This is not how marketplace of ideas supposed to work. This is how a totalitarian state is supposed to work.


This false dichotomy of "Thiel is making a political statement and expressing his beliefs, he shouldn't be punished/bullied/ruined/etc for it, less we start moving down the slope of totalitarianism" is intellectually dishonest. It paints Thiel as this everyman who is simply expressing his rights, while the truth could be no further than this story.

Peter Thiel is an influential person. He has created and helped build some of the richest companies in the world, an extremely impressive effort. However, his success, intentionally or not, has catapulted him into a leadership role for many in the tech industry, and an advisor for many more. As a result, we should hold him to a higher standard, because he has so much more sway and influence than your every day person. When Thiel made this contribution he crossed the line of neutrality, moving from expressing his speech into an action. Whether this action is a good one or not is debatable, but to pretend that it is not an action is incorrect. We should allow everyone to express their freedom of speech. We should definitely criticize those who perform actions we deem harmful, since to act as a bystander comes close to being complacent with the action.


> This false dichotomy of "Thiel is making a political statement and expressing his beliefs, he shouldn't be punished/bullied/ruined/etc for it, less we start moving down the slope of totalitarianism" is intellectually dishonest.

It's not a false dichotomy, for two reasons. First is it's not a dichotomy - you need two things for it, and you have here just one claim - that Thiel should not be ruined for expressing support for Trump. Also, it is not false - it is completely true, he should not, otherwise we are on the way to totalitarian unity of opinion, where dissent is not tolerated.

> Peter Thiel is an influential person.

So is it ok to support people you don't like, but only if you are not influential? Once a person is influential, and their opinions actually does matter, they must agree with you or it is beyond the acceptable normal? It looks like for you only acceptable opposition is a weak and inefficient one. Having strong and influential opposition is something you are not willing to tolerate, but powerless and useless dissent is completely OK. It's a step away from not tolerating any dissent at all, but very small and largely meaningless step.

> When Thiel made this contribution he crossed the line of neutrality, moving from expressing his speech into an action.

Thiel does not owe anybody any obligation to be neutral, and of course he is not. Of course he did it in support of Trump, and it's completely normal. "Speech" does not mean only literally producing acoustical vibration with your mouth, it is a much broader term and has been for centuries. It means a multitude of actions done in support of political point or candidate you prefer, including donating money to the causes you prefer. His expression of his political opinion is not some fault you can tolerate, but only if he hides it well and it doesn't matter. It's a basic right any person of a democratic country is entitled to, and it is a right that millions of persons exercise proudly every day. Thiel is one of them, and there's absolutely nothing exceptional in what he did or is doing.

The only difference is that he is doing it in support of the cause you oppose. That may be unpleasant for you - as is a row of millionaires and billionaires routinely supporting the causes I hate is for me - but it's in no way abnormal or unheard of or beyond what is normally done in US politics.

> but to pretend that it is not an action is incorrect.

Of course it's an action. Nobody ever claimed otherwise, including me. What I said is claiming his action somehow is exceptional is completely false, and trying to get him and everybody he associates with ostracized for the fact he did it betrays intolerance to opposing opinions which can develop into a full blown totalitarian mindset if left unchecked.

> We should definitely criticize those who perform actions we deem harmful,

Criticizing him and demanding his peers to ostracize him is different.


> So is it ok to support people you don't like, but only if you are not influential? Once a person is influential, and their opinions actually does matter, they must agree with you or it is beyond the acceptable normal?

To believe that somehow our leaders only need to be held to the same standard as we are is a notion that works only in theory. If a normal, every day person commits a small crime, say speeding, it is a routine procedure. If a billionaire speeds, it becomes a story. Because leaders hold so much influence and sway, criticizing them is not a direct criticism on them, it is criticism on the group of people influenced by the leader. Thiel's vote is not a singular one, it is a vote that has a dramatic effect on those influenced by him. Is this not a sufficient reason to bring outcry against him?

> It means a multitude of actions done in support of political point or candidate you prefer, including donating money to the causes you prefer. His expression of his political opinion is not some fault you can tolerate, but only if he hides it well and it doesn't matter. It's a basic right any person of a democratic country is entitled to, and it is a right that millions of persons exercise proudly every day.

Where is the line between speech and action drawn then? I can't go out and destroy property I dislike and hide behind the notion I was "expressing my right of free speech". Thiel's donation is massive, far larger than any regular donation amount from a common man. Does this still qualify as speech?

> What I said is claiming his action somehow is exceptional is completely false, and trying to get him and everybody he associates with ostracized for the fact he did it betrays intolerance to opposing opinions which can develop into a full blown totalitarian mindset if left unchecked.

Anything and everything can lead to negative effects if taken to an extreme. However, to preemptively withhold criticism because it has a chance of leading to negative consequences if left unchecked is an awful rule to hold yourself to, since where are we at otherwise? Endlessly creating equivalencies where they do not exist? Blatant trying to stay neutral in the face of overwhelming disgust? This election, as I'm sure anyone will agree, is nothing like the norm. One side has attacked the fundamental structures of society that we have held ourselves to, when is the point of no return? We (as a collective group of people who enjoy the merits of democracy) should realize when some ideas fall outside of the moral lines, and what else decides moral lines than a society?

>Criticizing him and demanding his peers to ostracize him is different.

I'm sure many people who agree with idlewords don't completely agree with him word for word. Is it wrong to demand people who have both 1. publicly disparaged Trump and 2. collaborated with someone who supports Trump on a massive scale to pick a side of the fence? If idlewords believes that Thiel is acting unethically, and that Thiel is simply a business partner to YC, is it wrong of idlewords to ask that YC stop doing business with someone he perceives to be unethical?


> Thiel's vote is not a singular one, it is a vote that has a dramatic effect on those influenced by him. Is this not a sufficient reason to bring outcry against him?

Of course not, unless you routinely outcry agains people the try to influence other's votes - like journalists, political pundits, campaign workers, prominent bloggers, etc. When last time you outcried against George Soros or Tom Stayer spending money in support of political causes? I'd venture a guess - never.

Unless, of course, the problem is not supporting. The problem is supporting the case you oppose. In which case, half of the country should boycott the other half, and independents should boycott everyone.

> I can't go out and destroy property I dislike and hide behind the notion I was "expressing my right of free speech".

Right, because it's not your property. You can't donate other's money - though unions routinely do that, and so does DOJ recently, but that's a topic for another day - but you can donate your own. I can't believe this distinction is a problem for you. Your property - you do what you want. Not yours - you don't.

> Thiel's donation is massive, far larger than any regular donation amount from a common man. Does this still qualify as speech?

Of course. Just as editorial in NYT is massively more influential than a tweet of an obscure geek with 10 followers, all spam bots. Both are speech. I still can't see why it is a problem for you - do you have a problem with New York Times or Washington Post influencing millions with their speech and being large corporations with a lot of money? Do you have problem with what MSNBC is doing called speech? If not, why understanding that what Thiel is doing is a speech is a problem?

Let's ask another question - if you learned that Tom Stayer donated a million dollars to a Clinton-supporting PAC, would you say it's something exceptional that should raise an outcry from everybody?

> However, to preemptively withhold criticism because it has a chance of leading to negative consequences if left unchecked is an awful rule to hold yourself to

Nobody asks to withhold criticism, as I said, criticizing somebody and demanding that he will be ostracized by his peers is a different thing.

Also, criticizing somebody for doing what everybody is routinely doing and what is completely normal and a right of every citizen to do, exercised daily by thousands - is not a valid criticism. Valid criticism has to outline what is different that Thiel did that nobody else is doing. So far nothing was shown.

> This election, as I'm sure anyone will agree, is nothing like the norm.

Yes, it features the worst candidates from both sides on my memory.

> One side has attacked the fundamental structures of society that we have held ourselves to,

Yes, I think the handling of Clinton case by the FBI and the shameful refusal of Comey to prosecute, despite numerous rank-and-file advising to do so and ample evidence of wrongdoing, is a disgusting affront to a principle of rule of law we hold dear. But I don't think it is new for this elections - principle of rule of law and accountability of government, of limited government and separation of powers, is under attack for a long time. Members of the government routinely lie to the Congress and the public, routinely use their office for partisan purposes, routinely circumvent the law and sometimes blatantly disregard it, routinely avoid accountability and brazenly destroy evidence in clear view of the public, and are almost never held responsible for it. This election would not change this, most likely, as neither of the candidates is fit to do anything about it.

> We (as a collective group of people who enjoy the merits of democracy) should realize when some ideas fall outside of the moral lines, and what else decides moral lines than a society?

Yes. One of these ideas is that if somebody supports a person we disagree with, he must be run out of town tarred and feathered and everybody who associated with him must undergo struggle sessions and repent of their association, lest the same fate occurs to them. This is a very dangerous idea, and I agree that we should realize its danger before it's too late.

> Is it wrong to demand people who have both 1. publicly disparaged Trump and 2. collaborated with someone who supports Trump on a massive scale to pick a side of the fence?

Yes, it is.


pinboard is a bookmarking website with a funny twitter, not the gestapo.

people giving other people shit for supporting bad ideas is a fairly important part of the marketplace of ideas.

do you draw any line where support of abhorrent politics is grounds for social shunning?


As another immigrant to this country, I agree with idlewords. Trump is not a regular candidate but someone who has openly argued for bigotry, war crimes, violence against journalists and other groups as well as jailing opponents.

He's not out to make some policy changes; he's openly arguing for throwing out the regime of this country. Now, I don't think he'd be able to do that but at best, he's so callous and lacking of judgement that he'd be utterly manipulated by people, inside and outside US, to do so.

Trump and Hillary are not on any sort of comparable level; Trump is utterly out of what's acceptable political behavior.

And I haven't even come to his personality; which I would argue in a civilized society would be enough to distance yourself with.

So Thiel's actions must be considered in this regard. He's not some poor, misinformed person. He's not someone who is so ravaged by the economy that he's judgement compromised. He should not be prone to demagogues putting the blame on immigrants.

The only explanation I can come up with is that he's arguing for Trump because he's arguing the current political system must be fully debased and must be replaced with something else. That could be an argument but if you are supporting Trump, the only thing that can replace it with is a form of authoritarianism tinged with racism, bigotry and outright hatred.

It's just disingenuous for me to see PG, who while I rarely agree with his views on most things outside of tech, ignore this. He's said that Thiel's actions are a blind spot and it would be a slippery slope to "punish" Thiel for his political stance.

Firstly; calling this a "blind spot" is being naive at best; misleading at worst. Thiel has contributed millions, spoke at a keynote. And he's obviously smart and thoughtful. This is not just some guy being tricked.

And no one is calling for a punishment. YC, by way of taking Thiel's money, is now supporting financially (I assume Thiel invested in YC to make money), this person. This isn't firing someone, which is a different kind of relationship where you involve someone's livelihood.

What idlewords (and others like me) are asking for is just a statement of disapproval of Thiel's actions. Just like Zuckerberg did when Marc A. spoke about the wonders of colonization for Indians (and even then he had the decency of apologizing for his callousness) or when Musk withdrew from FWD.US when he realized there were fossil fuel companies on board as well.

This isn't hard.


Right there with you.

I'd like to know your perspective of the explicit amorality of the SV "quirky-elite", especially the YC-Facebook nexus. To me, Altman, Zuckerberg, and Thiel all very obviously have ulterior scifi motives (live forever, solve the question they think underlies existence, etc) predicated upon a sort of über anthropic principle, i.e., "I'm one in a million so there is a special underlying meaning to my life."

I'm only guessing this from afar. Do you think I'm on base with this, or is their issue just hubris?


I think of it as "AI cosplay". They imagine how an ultimate superintelligence would behave, trying to pull the hidden levers of power in the world to achieve their ends, and then try to emulate it.

At the heart is a very undemocratic belief that the most capable people should 'hack' the world to their own ends, and the rest of us will catch up.


It's disgraceful that you're trying to bully an organization based on the political opinions of one of their partners. You should be ashamed of yourself and of the damage you're doing to your country.


bully : (verb) use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.

i.e. you're completely wrong about what it means to "bully". You should be ashamed of yourself for your abuse of the English language.


I wish someone would tell this to UK politicians/media, where MPs are constantly being "bullied" by their constituents who said a mean thing to them on Facebook.


Having political beliefs that you disagree with does not constitute "bullying".


Trying to shame someone who has different political beliefs via social pressure seems like bullying to me. One of the big reasons why so many people are voting for Trump is because people like you (and liberals in general) like to shame people for beliefs by calling them racists, sexists, homophobes and all that.


If someone votes for Trump because because they oppose the shaming of racists, sexists, and homophobes, they deserve the shame they feel. They have the right to express their noxious beliefs, but no norm of justice or civics or our Constitutional system protects their feels from my right to warn others of their noxiousness.


>because they oppose the shaming of racists, sexists, and homophobes,

They oppose unjust shaming. If someone believes in stronger borders and they get called a racist for that it's an unreasonable form of shame that happens way too often.


Where I wrote "oppose the shaming of", you can simply add or substitute "belief that shaming people for racism, sexism, and homophobia is unjust".


Trying to make expressing those belief dangerous to the point of losing one's job, income and business is. Trying to make not participating in implementing the above as dangerous as expressing those opinions, through guilt by association, is. If you don't like somebody's speech, speak against them, not try to ruin their life and lives of those that don't run to help you to do that.


That's exactly what's being done here. And, I'll remind you again:

* Thiel is not an employee of Altman or Graham's

* Graham himself publicly claims that a strength of startups is that one can choose business partners without regard for moral norms, unlike employees.


These are tiny details, which are immaterial for the large point - that supporting unpopular point should be ruinous, and mere association with somebody doing this must be a blemish one has to work to remove, or else.

Thiel is billionaire and he probably has way over fuck you money. He can do anything he wants. Most of us don't have fuck you money, and that's exactly the point - creating the climate in the industry where not being politically conformant, expressing or supporting unpopular point of view, doing something not conforming to the majority opinion or fashionable opinion - means being ostracized, being denied job prospects, being fired, being uninvited from conferences, being target of personal destruction campaigns, etc. Being a pariah.

Thiel is not the point, he'll be more fine than 99.999% of people here in any case. Creating the intolerant lynch mob culture is the point. They may be building this machine to use it against Thiel or Eich or some other large target, but once it's working, the potential target would be everybody. Such things are never put in storage after the first use, they are only used more and more. And what I am seeing that not only this machine is being created and successfully tested, people are enthusiastically cheering it because it's being used against people they dislike. That's always how it starts - but it never stops there.


Honest question: what makes me a large target? I'm not in the "one percent". I have to work to eat. Not whining about it, just saying: I do not have f.u. money.

I agree with you on "the potential target would be everybody."


Based only on the limited knowledge I have of the state of Mozilla when you stepped down, I think what happened to you is wrong.


Lynch mobs were a real thing. They're aren't a literary device. Mobs of white people really did grab black men and boys, torture them, and then hang them to death from trees. People are alive today who witnessed this happening.

Nobody is "lynching" anyone here.


He can dry his tears with the $25 I pay for Pinboard.


I sleep on that $25! I got it in singles so it would look like a lot.


Political opinions are not always sacred - there IS a point where you must oppose what is wrong. If you don't think that Trump's racism, bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny, demagoguery, and general incompetence crosses that line...you're obviously not alone. But many of us feel that speaking against Thiel is justified.


I know that after this, I won't work at any YC company, as well as any place Peter Thiel is involved in any way. The organization get to decide which reputation hit they want to take, but no option is neutral in the face of a racist, sexual-assaulting demagogue.


Why aren't you going behind mark zuckerberg as well? Thiel is not only an influential investor, but also has a board seat there, and he probably has a bigger share in facebook than he has in YC right?


I agree, and I've called them out, too. But I'm trying to tilt at one windmill at a time. Paul Graham (to his credit) at least answers my emails, while I have no hope of reaching anyone at Facebook.


So, basically, you're only targeting YC because they respond/reply to you? Also, Thiel is the biggest shareholder in Palantir, you should also start a movement for all anti-Trump employees/stakeholders of palantir to quit as well? Also it doesn't seem fair to target YC even though their supposed "crime" is pretty small compared to facebook or palantir, does the fact that pg and sama have been vocal about their stance against Trump differentiate them? Had they not said anything about their political views(much like zuck and many other important people in the valley), would you still have pressed them to disavow Thiel?


There's a bunch of responses here:

* It would be weird to suggest that Zuckerberg gets a free pass from the likes of DHH and Maciej Ceglowski.

* Zuckerberg's affiliation with Thiel is less voluntary than Graham and Altman's. Fb took on Thiel before the Trump election, and they're bound together by contract.

* Attacking Facebook for not taking a stand against Trump would probably be counterproductive, because it would play into the false Trump narrative that the media elites are conspiring against him when in reality it's simply human decency creating all his public adversaries.


What are you suggesting that YC say or do? Should they be compelled or forced to make a statement?


They should say whatever they want, but remember that silence looks an awful lot like assent.


The current chief of the Australian army has a great line on this.

"The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. that goes for all of us, but especially those, who by their rank, have a leadership role."


His silence here is assent. He'd rather we not recognize it as such, and I feel bad for him because I think he'd rather not recognize it as such either. But Graham's own writing spells out what makes his relationship with Thiel different than that of a relationship between employers and employees. If he can discriminate against mothers with young children, he cannot claim that the unfairness of discrimination prevents him from severing ties with Thiel.


Public statements made under duress (however weak the duress) or after the political calculus is done are worth their weight in tweets. Any silence -- which has been anything but in Graham's back and forth with Hansson -- is already indelible.

This is really just a lame, Valley-lensed Pascalian wager. Say nothing and maintain a flatline with YC applicants (who care mostly for YC demo day flow) and the notoriously humorless Thiel; say something and enjoy only the satisfaction of having demonstrated (Apple-like) courage of conviction -- while risking whatever havoc Thiel wishes to wreak upon you.


I think Graham's point is sound. How is making a donation not an instance of political expression?


It's a public political act. I'm asking Graham to do the same thing—publicly express an opinion.


I have to admit as much as I dislike Trump pg raises a valid point. Another analogy would be YC disavowing Thiel for being gay.

An employer has no business in their employees sexual lives or politic preferences.


Disavowing Thiel for being gay would be the opposite of what I am asking for.

"Supporting bigotry" and "gay" are not interchangeable moral categories.


The foundations of this argument are so rickety that my heart is racing just seeing you perched up on it. Come down, before you hurt yourself!

Graham isn't Thiel's employer. Neither is Altman. Thiel is a business partner of Altman's, and to a lesser extent (Graham's involvement with YC being at present attenuated) to Graham.

Meanwhile, Paul Graham is literally the dean of the movement to recognize tech-style startups as singular among modes of human endeavor. To my chagrin, he's managed to redefine a mainstream business term ("startup") through sheer force of will. And among the things that make his "startups" unique, so important that it got a callout in Graham's most famous essay about them, is that affiliation with partners and founders isn't subject to discrimination law.

I refuse to accept that Paul Graham simultaneously believes that it's right to refuse to start a company with a mother of small children, but wrong to refuse to maintain a partnership with someone who campaigns stridently for intolerance --- worse, someone who donates sum so large it makes the front page of CNN to the campaign for intolerance even as that campaign rallies to attack the vote itself.

A core understanding of justice and equal citizenship exists, even between libertarians and supports of teachers unions. We should be able to agree on these principles even if we agree on nothing else. By campaigning for intolerance, giving speeches in favor of intolerance, and funding intolerance, Thiel places himself outside that understanding. Our disagreements aren't merely political, but about the urgency of preserving equal citizenship.

Paul Graham knows this. He has obligated himself, in his own words, to oppose Trump. Were Trump to win, Graham says, he'd "join the resistance". We cross no lines of civility or fairness by pointing out what it takes for Graham to live up to his own words.

Justice does not require that Paul Graham stand idly by while Thiel works to destroy the society that makes Graham's life's work possible.


To conflate being gay with fascism is beyond the point of false dichotomy and well into being grossly offensive.

You should be ashamed of yourself.


I'd say that your kind of mentality which is very common within our industry sends a shameful message about our industry.


Unbelievable. I'm disgusted that you would suggest the blackballing of an investor simply because you don't agree with his political opinion--an opinion, I might add, that is shared amongst a large percentage of our country. Trump say a lot of nutty things but he's not far off the mark when he speaks of a liberal conspiracy to ruin him in this election. Your suggestion is a textbook example of this: using out-of-band threats and pressure to force the hands of major supporters.

You should be ashamed of yourself.


I'm suggesting Thiel face consequences for supporting a sexually predatory bigot.

I'm literally just a guy with a Twitter account, so the idea that I'm strong-arming billionaires with my ruthless tweets is a little hard to credit.


You're demanding a struggle session because someone openly supports one of the two candidates. The one that you don't like. What consequences do you have in mind for the millions of others that will vote Trump in November?

Don't you find it dangerous to try to witch-hunt individuals for their political choices?


That's not what he's doing. Paul Graham and Sam Altman have both openly repudiated Trump, not as someone whose ideas they disagree with but as someone whose efforts threaten the fabric of our society. Both Graham and Altman has publicly (and correctly) called Trump an aspiring dictator.

It is not then a "struggle session" when we point out to both of them that their actions and beliefs are incoherent: that they can comfortably disavow Trump while continuing to collaborate with one of Trump's chief enablers.

They are both, in a very small but (I think) meaningful way, working for the benefit of Donald Trump and the forces that make Trump possible.

If you support Trump, you are arguably in a safer moral position than Graham and Altman. Both of them believe you to be supporting a modern-day Mussolini. They have no regard at all for your politics. But they're both willing to continue profiting from and generating profit for Thiel through their entirely voluntary association with him.

(If you support Trump, I would implore you to reconsider).


I understand where you're coming from. That said, how do you recommend we heal what's dividing people? Do we stop associating with people that don't share our beliefs? What level of association is acceptable? I know I don't have the answer, but I don't think increasing the separation between people is a good general solution. I think calling out in a constructive way behavior we think is problematic is useful. And maybe there's a distinction to be made between someone in Thiel's position and someone who isn't so prominent.

If I'm putting words in your mouth, I apologize. And please don't interpret my comment as supporting one side or the other. And there's a significant number of people on either side. There's a lot of vitriol on both sides that I hope we as a society can overcome.


No, I don't recommend that. I don't think we should work to de-normalize Republicans. I don't think we should ostracize Republicans who vote for Trump out of genuine concern over the direction of the Supreme Court, or because they believe abortion is murder. I don't think we should ostracize Trump supporters.

But I think there's an obvious, material difference between the kind of support a voter might give Trump --- casting a vote, wearing a pin, putting up a lawn sign --- and what Thiel did. Trump is so troubling the the Republican party that they had to put Scott Baio on stage at their convention. Trump's most important GOP surrogate is the discredited former mayor of New York City. Every living former GOP nominee refused to speak for Trump at the RNC. Every living GOP president refused to endorse them. Thiel, though, did exactly that. He got up on the most public stage imaginable and told the American people that Trump was the only honest candidate in the election.

Months later, after Trump had pivoted his campaign to a strategy that depends on white voters presumption that black votes are illegitimate and that the election is rigged, after more than ten women came out to say Trump had sexually assaulted them, Thiel wrote a $1.25MM check for Trump.

I can tolerate Republicans voting their conscience about the Supreme Court.

I will not tolerate the people in the crowds whooping and cheering Trump's claim that some women are too ugly to have been assaulted by Trump.

Similarly, I will not tolerate Peter Thiel, Rudolph Giuliani, or Chris Christie, or any of the rest of Trump's high council of enablers.


Thanks for taking the time to respond. I was hoping more about how we might bridge the gaps between people of differing opinions, but I understand that might be a little too far afield from the original topic. I do think it's important, though, especially going forward after November 8. No one is going to be going away just because the election is over.


Personally, I think we can start by continuing the work HRC and Obama were doing at the beginning of this election to separate Trump from mainstream Republicanism. They've stopped doing that, now that they believe HRC's victory is a foregone conclusion. Now they're trying to tether the GOP to Trump to help downticket races. I think they're making a mistake. I also think that the country needs a loyal opposition, and a voice for limited government and humility in the state's role in regulating behavior and business. And I say this as a loyal Democrat.

But that's exactly what we're saying here: support for Trump is not normal support for the Republican party and its ostensible ideals. Trump is an authoritarian white nationalist and a con-artist. He's unfit to be counted alongside Thomas Dewey, Mitt Romney, or Barry Goldwater. He victimizes those in "his" party who feel compelled to support him. His enablers, the Giulianis and the Thiels, bear a special culpability in attempting to normalize Trump to the Republican party. And Thiel's supporters bear some culpability in trying to normalize Thiel.


> I also think that the country needs a loyal opposition

I've been thinking exactly the same thing for a while now. Maybe it's time for bumper stickers!

As I don't have anything meaningful to add right now, I'll sign off. Thank you for the thoughtful, civil discourse. I appreciate it.


> But I think there's an obvious, material difference between the kind of support a voter might give Trump --- casting a vote, wearing a pin, putting up a lawn sign --- and what Thiel did.

What's the material difference?

> He got up on the most public stage imaginable and told the American people that Trump was the only honest candidate in the election.

That's speaking in support of the candidate. Literally thousands of people do it every day. Many of them use this exact phrase. What's so exceptional with Thiel? I can't help but this the claimed exceptionality is not with what he did, but that he did it for Trump. And, maybe, also because what he did has potential to make a difference, unlike putting up a lawn sign. Is the only tolerable opposition an inefficient one?

> I will not tolerate the people in the crowds whooping and cheering Trump's claim that some women are too ugly to have been assaulted by Trump.

Such people, if they exist, would be despicable, but this has nothing to do with Thiel. Thiel never said something like that, as far as we know, and mentioning this as something that is similar to what Thiel did do - namely, supporting a candidate he prefers, which is the most normal thing in US politics - does not bear minimal standard of proper argument. You basically said "I won't tolerate these people who are bad and because of this Thiel is bad and has to be ostracized". It doesn't work this way.


So Paul Graham has disavowed Trump. Thiel supports Trump. Paul Graham hasn't disavowed Thiel's support of Trump.

That seems an absurd expectation, to ditch someone for exercising their own agency legally and within the parameters of a democracy.

I don't support Trump. I also don't support the goading and lack of empathy towards those that do. Nor the guilt-by-association accusations being promulgated in this election cycle.


Thiel isn't merely a supporter of Trump. There are, as many have pointed out on this thread, tens of millions of Trump supporters.

But they are not all the same: some of them support Trump because they cannot in good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate (they are wrong in this instance, but they are wrong in good faith). Others --- hundreds of thousands of them --- support Trump because they are themselves white nationalists who see in Trump the hope that America can revert itself to the social mores of the late 1940s. Some people put up lawn signs. Some people donate millions of dollars to Trump. Some people refuse to disavow Trump, because to do so would be to spend political capital to thwart an outcome that is already unlikely to occur. Others get up on stage with Scott Baio to shout their support for Trump into microphones and cameras.

Along virtually every axis you can come up with, Thiel's support for Trump exceeds the norms of our politics and of civil debate. Thiel is not a typical Trump supporter. I do not need to stretch to make this argument: it is clear and obvious.

Sam Altman and Paul Graham should acknowledge this. I don't care what else they do; I don't care if they "fire" Thiel. But they have to at least pay consistent lip service to the things they claim to believe.

* Some of them support Trump because they believe


> Thiel's support for Trump exceeds the norms of our politics and of civil debate. Thiel is not a typical Trump supporter.

But is this really so? That Thiel has the means to donate one million dollars while others must settle for lawn signs shouldn't determine how much ire we direct his way. You seem to be saying that having preference for a candidate is one thing but advocating and encouraging other people to have a similar preference is beyond the pale. Yet one seems a logical and natural consequence of the other.

Also I'm a little suspicious of DHH's intentions in his tweets to Graham (later picked up by Pinboard). Not that it negates the point he's making but it appears to be a long-standing vendetta masquerading as sanctimony: https://mobile.twitter.com/search?q=from%3Adhh+to%3Apaulg

This is going to be my last comment. Too much politics is bad for you ;) Thanks for the alternative POV.


Yes, I think Thiel's enabling of Trump is materially different than a normal voter's support of Trump.

I understand the concern people would have about DHH and Maciej's opposition to Paul Graham. But DHH and Maciej aren't the only people that have this concern. They happen in this instance to be right.

Thanks for the civil disagreement!


> Along virtually every axis you can come up with, Thiel's support for Trump exceeds the norms of our politics and of civil debate

I don't see any shred of evidence for this. Donating money for a preferred candidate is completely normal for "our politics". Moreover, many establishments and persons donate money to both parties and sometimes even for both candidates. It's not only within the boundaries of normal, it is dead in the center of it - it's one of the most common things people do to support the candidate. Making it as if he did some outrageous thing that nobody ever does is completely disingenuous. He did the most normal thing everybody does.

> But they have to at least pay consistent lip service to the things they claim to believe.

That wouldn't be freedom of speech and freedom of political association, per chance?


Freedom of speech and freedom of association are two things Donald Trump has been campaigning against. Overtly. He believes that libel laws should be "liberalized" so that it's easier to sue the New York Times for publishing information about him. Just this week, he argued to a whooping crowd that the women accusing him of sexual assault should themselves be imprisoned.

All this, of course, after he took to the stage of a Presidential debate to argue in public that his political opponent should be jailed --- not investigated, but jailed. That is his rallying cry: "lock her up".

We are not required to tolerate intolerance when it actively jeopardizes the fabric of our civil society. Particularly when a movement towards intolerance is progressing so fast that there's little time for its adherents to be educated in the gravity of what they're doing before intolerance itself wins.


> Freedom of speech and freedom of association are two things Donald Trump has been campaigning against.

So did Clinton. To the point she promised first thing she would do is try to reverse Supreme Court decision which confirmed that people can organize to criticize her. And unlike Trump, which has neither the knowledge (President doesn't make laws, for starters) nor expertise not sound mind to actually produce anything but hot air on the topic, I fully believe she can do it - she can find a judge who hates the First Amendment, she can put him or, even more probably, her on the Supreme Court, and she can hurt freedom of speech and freedom of association for decades to come.

And I must also remind that in the last scandal about freedom of association - namely, documented use of IRS powers for political purposes - nobody was seriously punished and no safeguards preventing it from happening in the future were instituted. Which means it will happen again. And history shows Clinton has absolutely no problem with (ab)using state power against her enemies.

> All this, of course, after he took to the stage of a Presidential debate to argue in public that his political opponent should be jailed --- not investigated, but jailed. That is his rallying cry: "lock her up".

While I oppose Trump on a very long list of points, and dislike him for even longer list of reasons, on this point he is completely right. If anybody else but Clinton or another high-ranking Democrat would do what she did - he would be in jail. Many were for less, and many still are. US government is highly intolerant to mishandling classified documents and trying to circumvent regulations, even for benign reasons, let alone for reasons of avoiding oversight. Government hates avoiding oversight. Unless it's some of the "special people" who's doing it.

Of course, election propaganda tries to present it as if Trump wants Clinton to be locked up for opposing him. Nope. She must be locked up for doing things every regular person - including me and you - would be locked up. Because right now we know for sure that there's one law for regular people and another law for top government officials. And it's not a country of laws that US is supposed to be, it's a banana republic stuff.

> We are not required to tolerate intolerance when it actively jeopardizes the fabric of our civil society.

I'm sorry, but I hear this bullshit every election - if a Republican gets elected, our society is ruined. Ruined I say! Everybody will be dead! US will be a nuclear wasteland!

I heard it for Bush, I heard it for McCain, I hear it for Romney, now I hear it for Trump. It's nothing but electoral bullshit.

Yes, Trump is a disgusting pig, a blowhard and a conman. No, he won't ruin our civil society. Not unless we first dismantle the safeguards that was built into the system - on which, btw, both Obama and Clinton are working vigorously, because those are the same safeguards that limit their powers. To be sure, Trump is no friend of the safeguards either - but he has much less chance of success on actually removing any of them, unless something huge - like 9/11 - happens. In which case Clinton would be probably even worse, as the press would attack Trump vigorously and would be (already is) very servile and docile towards Clinton.

This hysterical frenzy about ruining the society is impossible to take seriously, and I won't. Even less I would take it from the same people is completely silent in the face of a thousands of routine government abuses taking place literally every day (I don't mean you here, I don't know your history, I mean the press and the commentariat). Our society has a lot of warts, and a lot of problems, and still survives. It can survive Trump and not even break a sweat.

> Particularly when a movement towards intolerance is progressing so fast that there's little time for its adherents to be educated in the gravity of what they're doing before intolerance itself wins.

The mindset of "we're right, so we should not be bound by the rules" is the most dangerous mindset there ever was, bar none. If you think it's ok to suppress opposition because you're right and it's too important to let them oppose you - you are the problem. Maybe in one particular regard you would turn out to be right - but it never lasts and not playing by the rules always does.

As for implication that Trump supporters are mainly moved by racism - it is also an electoral canard. I could expand on this but it's already too long, so I'll just say that it's true that many racists do support Trump, but it's not the reason he won the Republican nomination, and way detached from the reason every single person I know that supports him and millions I don't support him.


"This bullshit" is an almost direct quote from _A Theory Of Justice_ (I think I altered the pronouns). You hear it regularly because it's one of the most important works of political philosophy in the modern American tradition.


I'm sorry, you mean "A theory of justice" as 1971 book? And it says that you have to hate Trump supporters? I must admit I fail to follow your argument here.

My point is it is routine for the elections to paint the opponent in the most apocalyptic tones, Republicans will always claim Democratic candidate would immediately build USSR-type socialism, import 20 millions of immigrants to subvert the elections, and ban Christians from going to church, and Democrats will always claim Republicans would starve all the poor, reinstitute slavery and remove all the taxes from the rich. There's a tiny amount of truth in both claims, but the other 99% of it is pure bullshit.

Quoting this routine electoral bullshit as if it would be whole truth and nothing by the truth is nonsense, unsupported by any reasonable evidence, and can not be taken seriously. And I don't see how the book you mention, however are its excellent qualities, changes anything in this regard.

Whatever the book says, Trump is not going to ruin our society, he is not Hitler and he is not an indulgence to abandon all reason. He is a blowhard conman that raised to prominence because our politics and government are deeply troubled and we weren't able to find a way to fix it so far. Having people associated with his supporters to undergo struggle sessions, disarmament before the Party and a ritual purification is not going to fix it either.


Look, it's clear what you're missing here.

If you yourself support Trump, or believe that he's equivalent to Hillary Clinton, that's fine. (I mean, it's not "fine", and I implore you to reconsider, but that's as far as it goes).

But Paul Graham and Sam Altman do not agree with you. They have said, publicly and repeatedly, that Donald Trump is far more dangerous than an ordinary political candidate; that he's a dictator, a modern-day Mussolini, someone for whom we'd need to create a "resistance" were he to be elected.

The criticism animating this thread is that if Graham and Altman truly believe what they are saying, they cannot coherently continue to support one of Trump's more important surrogates and enablers.

You are welcome to disagree with Graham and Altman (and me, and most other people on HN) about this! I do not challenge your right to do so.

But please address the argument that's actually being made.


Everyone who voted for Bill Clinton and who now is about to vote for Hillary Clinton supported sexual predator and are supporting a person who at the very best enabled, vigorously defended and comforted a sexual predator for years. They are completely fine with that. I guess you'd agree all these people have to "face consequences" too and the consequences should be the same?

You personally are not strongarming anyone. You are trying to organize others in hope you can strongarm YC into pushing out Thiel. So far you have very little success, it is true. That does not make the motives of the deed or its goal more noble.


Trump is a racist and a misogynist, a serial adulterer and a sexual predator, a pathological liar and a con-man. He is totally unfit to stand let alone serve. His supporters are mostly either alt-right racists or Republicans who don't have the guts to do the right thing and put their country before their party.

Dozens of senior Republicans have done this and are backing Hillary Clinton. Staunch Republican newspapers such as the Arizona Republic and the Cincinnati Enquirer have also endorsed Clinton.

The suggestion that there's a liberal conspiracy is a totally crackpot theory, like most of Trump's. In fact, Trump has got far further than anybody expected because the reverse has happened: Clinton has been attacked by the liberal media, which hates her, while Trump was -- until recently -- given a free ride.

When you have a candidate who lies all the time, boasts about not paying taxes (and won't release his returns), insults Gold Star families and vets like McCain, makes racist attacks on Mexicans and US-born Hispanic judges, admires dictators and spouts Russian propaganda, runs a crooked Foundation, is involved with fraudulent scams like Trump University, is a serial adulterer who boasts about being a sexual predator, and is accused of raping a 13 year old girl, you really don't need a conspiracy theory. No other candidate could have such an appalling record and still be in the race.

Trump is a blot on the character of anyone who still supports him, and globally, he's a blot on America's character. In the UK and Ireland, we put Trump's picture in urinals and piss on him -- a first for a US presidential candidate.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/opinion/sunday/if-hillary-...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/06/30/he...

http://uk.businessinsider.com/hillary-clinton-endorsements-n...

http://mashable.com/2016/09/21/trumpinals-are-a-thing-now/


It's disgraceful that you would suggest someone be punished for a political opinion.

What's worse is that Clinton is a pathological liar supporting neocon policies which will likely lead to more conflict.

This whole anti-Trump atmosphere is very 1984.




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