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I wish I could find the exact book, but there was a philosopher writing about anti-semitism after WWII.

I really want to give you direct quotes but I'm about to run to a meeting, I'll search harder afterwards.

The jist, as written in ~1950s IIRC:

1. Anti-semites are immune to argument or criticism, because they are "Just Joking." They will spew hate speech and throw every argument they can at you, logical or otherwise, and outright lie, because they are "just forcing a discussion." If you actually pin them down and try to challenge them, they'll laugh you off. "I'm just starting the discussion here, are you really taking me seriously? Hahahahaha loser, triggered!"

2. It is acceptable to argue the possible benefits of levying import tax on wheat from Alegeria, because there are genuine positive/negatives to the transaction. However, it is not acceptable to argue over whether "All Jews should be killed." A standpoint that suggests the outright destruction of an entire people, or their enslavement or removal of freedoms, is so heinous as to not even be worth discussing the possibility of merit. In other words, anti-semitism is a garbage philosophy that our zeitgeist should not permit. It does not fall under the protection of "free speech," it is simply rejected wholesale.

My point: Restricting hate speech is not a slippery slope for freedom of speech. I personally believe there is no universal morality, but if I had to pick, I'd argue that the best outcome for the human race would be a culture that purges all racist and other arbitrarily prejudiced mindsets that judge entire populations on untenable grounds (race, gender, etc).

It is not a slippery slope if you set clear boundaries.




> I wish I could find the exact book, but there was a philosopher writing about anti-semitism after WWII.

You may be thinking of Sartre's Anti-Semite and Jew

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Semite_and_Jew

Here's a quote:

Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past. It is not that they are afraid of being convinced. They fear only to appear ridiculous or to prejudice by their embarrassment their hope of winning over some third person to their side.

(Thanks to 'geofft and 'tptacek for this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13089118)


I'm pretty sure I've heard this argument made about the campaign for our recent President as well. HRC had to use words well because she, and her supporters, believe in them.

While DJT and his supporters believe in "LOL - just kidding - can't you take a joke? Don't be so uptight." So he was free to play with the truth. His supporters aren't trying to convince themselves - they know their arguments to be BS - instead they're trying to find the secret code to convince enough bystanders.


You have to take into account, though: they won.

What's interesting to me is that reading through this thread, particularly Sartre's description of anti-Semite thinking, is that the exact same thoughts are voiced in the rightist spheres I inhabit, but referring to the left. Particularly regarding discourse and respect (or lack thereof) for it.

In fact, it gets interesting when I think about speakers being no-platformed of late. When, IDK, Richard Spencer or someone gets protested away from some university, is this an example of:

- blatant disrespect for words, as shown through Spencer's poisoning the well as Sartre describes, or

- blatant disrespect for words, as shown through him not being allowed to speak?

It is a strange world indeed where both sides, referring to the same incident, take completely different positions, both in the name of free speech.


Yeah, totally agree on that. The worse part is that you can't offer a solid argument without being called biased by the other side.

I think this is one where you just have to call them wrong and tell them to do one if they disagree. Hate speech just isn't something that we have to accommodate, nor do we have to give credence to the arguments for it.


> What's interesting to me is that reading through this thread, particularly Sartre's description of anti-Semite thinking, is that the exact same thoughts are voiced in the rightist spheres I inhabit, but referring to the left. Particularly regarding discourse and respect (or lack thereof) for it.

Probably because of postmodernism, which is perhaps best interpreted as "defense against the dark arts" for the left. The "disrespect for words" and meaning itself, a hallmark of postmodernism, has its origins in propaganda techniques developed by corporations for marketing purposes, and was weaponized by the right long before it ever got picked up by the left.


Given that Spencer is an anti-Semite I'm not sure that is a particularly tough question. It's exactly what Sartre described.

One can still disagree with the decision of course, but there is no doubt which way Sartre would lean.



Ah, Karl Popper, interesting to see his work about tolerance make a resurgence of attention. It seems to be mingled about in various political discussions from talking heads. It's right on about lax tolerance welcoming the intolerance and the whole system crumbles. In the end we all have to make a stand for something, every robust structure needs a sound skeleton to stand upright.


Reading the "Bad Faith" section of the wikipedia entry was especially interesting when you compare the profile of your average alt-right person with the mindset Sartre is describing.


It's tough. I'd encourage you to take a step back and reflect on arguments used from many positions. Currently a lot of discourse is breaking down and polarization increasing because of a lack of reflection and understanding one's own biases and the arguments one's making and where they're coming from. No one has a monopoly on bad faith (unless you're considering humanity as a whole). I've found Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind[0] to be really insightful and useful in this regard, particularly if one has a goal of effecting meaningful change.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Righteous_Mind

Edit: Re-reading this, it's coming off harsher than intended. I likely need to eat something. Apologies.


I'm not saying anyone has a monopoly on bad faith. Your rebuke isn't overly harsh. If your criticisms were more pointed I may have a more directed response... but I'm not sure exactly what you have in mind when you say "discourse is breaking down", etc.

(EDIT: I'm perfectly aware I'm generalizing and speaking of stereotypes when I say "average alt-right person", but Sartre wasn't exactly describing separate individuals either...)


Are those generalizations useful and constructive, particularly in this case? I'd argue strongly no. In fact, I'd argue they're actively counter-productive. One of the self-described reasons for the feeling of alienation that many have expressed is exactly this type of generalization. If you have a goal of working against, this, it seems that you're actually reinforcing it when you do so.


I think if those generalizations let us draw a useful parallel to a historical example, we can note the similarities (and differences) and apply lessons learned from that era to our own.

(Not that Sartre included a chapter called "How to Have Avoided The Whole Affair" in his book...)


I do not buy the 'a standpoint can be too extreme to not be worth discussing'. Interracial marriage would have been one of those standpoints as recently as the 1960s. If you find yourself incapable of articulating actual reasons, not emotional appeals, of why certain things are wrong, that is a personal failing and certainly you shouldn't tackle those issues yourself. But those who have thought about these issues should be able to bring them forward and deal with them objectively and dispassionately.

The number of people who seem to operate on this mindset of "killing loads of people would actually be good, but its too nasty to speak of" is really fucking disturbing. There are objective, rational reasons why such things would be monumentally destructive. I also encounter a disturbing number of people who are earnest racists, who believe that certain races have inherent biological advantage over others, but who believe that they are not racists because they find acknowledging that as inhumane. They don't use epithets and they support affirmative action and diversity and such out of DUTY. All the while never being able to learn that they're WRONG.


I agree that nothing is too extreme that it shall be completely purged from all discussion. Is that what we are talking about here though? It's not like r/fatpeoplehate and r/CoonTown were communities of academic discourse regarding obesity and race. These were communities where people (probably mostly teenagers) spewed hatred for overweight or black people 24/7. Together I think these contrasting ideas... (1) hate speech should be mitigated, but (2) retaining free speech is paramount... engender a few interesting points:

1. Purging these communities from reddit does nothing to remove the underlying fact that given an anonymous social forum, some people will readily participate in hateful discussions targeting overweight people and minorities.

2. When removed from reddit, do these people find different alternative social outlets to share their hate (i.e. after the ban, did 4chan etc. experience a measureable increase in fat/racist posting).

3. If #2 is yes, is it better or worse (and in what ways) that these people and their discussions are forced to move into forums that more readily accept, or even champion hate-speech.

4. Is there a net benefit or net detriment to keeping these shithead communities within an ecosystem like reddit where they, on one hand, can recruit more moderate minds, but on the other hand, are subject to the ridicule of more moderate minds.


I think it's entirely possibly that there may be a net benefit to segregating problematic groups now, but it may not necessarily remain that way in the future. We are undergoing growing pains in our society stemming from a vast easing of the cost of self publication along with massive siloing of opinions such that people are not always presented with credible alternatives to their own point of view (or credible alternatives are rendered less credible through lack of trust).

In the same way that I think those being born now will have different views on privacy, spreading personal information and identity than those in their teens now, and those have different views on those topics than those in their thirties (the pendulum swings slowly, but I'm confident we'll settle on being more private than early adopters of social media have been, but less private than those that lived without it), I think future generations will come up with their own solutions to the problems of credibility, fake news, and the other myriad problems insular social network sub-groups have exacerbated.

Put another way, these hate groups are using tactics that are proven, but have wider reach and more effectiveness given our current reality, so the only way to effectively fight that virality of that in the short term (until people learn to mitigate the worst effects on themselves) might well be to isolate the behavior. It's like any other virulent disease in that respect.


From my experience, many of the people that inhabit these hate groups often browse subs like r/incel (involuntarily celibate). It may be the case that simply quarantining these groups may work to drop their numbers because members of these groups will simply not reproduce and not spread their toxic ideologies onto their kids.


While funny, that's actually an interesting point. If the main spread of the ideology is through viral memetics to the point that spread through cultural familial indoctrination is very low, quarantining the the practitioners in some manner is double effective. This works even without them having problems procreating, as the same outcome would be observed if offspring are less likely to have similar beliefs (which I'm not sure is true).


Or... maybe they just need to get laid? ~/s

I suspect if there is high overlap between the involuntarily celibate sub and the fat shaming sub, there is perhaps something deeper going on in the psyche of these people related to their own body-related issues.


Regarding 3: it is very easy to create an echo-chamber on reddit. Readers on /r/the_donald can stay on that subreddit, or on a multireddit, and completely ignore mainstream subs. They also rigidly enforce the echo chamber by banning outside perspectives.


There is a very deep irony in these subreddits and their champions holding high the banner of free speech while simultaneously exercising their right to censor any dissenting opinions from the purulent conglomeration of hatred.

The sad thing is that when people say they champion free speech for even the most violent and malicious groups of people that means they tacitly support those same groups clamping down on speech they dislike. Because ultimately that is their end goal and you can see it through their actions and speech. A fundamental misunderstanding of what constitutes freedom of speech has led down it being used as a weapon against free speech.


> 2. When removed from reddit, do these people find different alternative social outlets to share their hate (i.e. after the ban, did 4chan etc. experience a measureable increase in fat/racist posting).

Yes. See Voat.

> 3. If #2 is yes, is it better or worse (and in what ways) that these people and their discussions are forced to move into forums that more readily accept, or even champion hate-speech.

Not really. I think echo chambers are good for peace of mind and general contentment. I think they also tend to accelerate extreme viewpoints and further entrench the balkanzation of the Internet. It's like watching the Tower of Babel live.

> 4. Is there a net benefit or net detriment to keeping these shithead communities within an ecosystem like reddit where they, on one hand, can recruit more moderate minds, but on the other hand, are subject to the ridicule of more moderate minds.

Something new can only be birthed from the meeting of two or more different things. If we value free speech and a common identity/norms, then it is required for us to be able to reconcile our differences in some manner.


> I'd argue that the best outcome for the human race would be a culture that purges all racist and other arbitrarily prejudiced mindsets that judge entire populations on untenable grounds (race, gender, etc).

Except most people are not good with nuance. Distinguishing justified judgment from unjustified is pretty much hopeless. Just read any thread anywhere discussing any politically charged issue, like sexism and racism. Purely factual statements are always labelled sexist or racist if they don't support a particular narrative, and sexist or racist sentiments that follow that narrative are applauded. And of course actual sexism and racism is similarly absurd.

The point being that the "untenable grounds for prejudiced mindsets" is sufficiently slippery in and of itself that you haven't escaped the slippery slope argument. People will understand "untenable grounds" to mean what they want it to mean, and we're right back here where we started.

The argument for unrestricted free speech then is, do you have more confidence in the position that speech of type X is unequivocally morally wrong AND that whoever is enforcing morally righteous speech understands the proper nuance not to overreach, or do you have more confidence in the position that people ought to be able to speak about their beliefs without violent reprisal? Because I think these are mutually exclusive.


"It is not a slippery slope if you set clear boundaries."

How could those boundaries ever be clear if they aren't near absolute? Definitions, interpretations, and the cultural mindset change constantly. Prejudice today is different than yesterday, and will change again tomorrow.

I see a remarkable tendency of people to assume that liberal / progressive ideas will always remain free to express, so there's no need to protect all speech. I don't see how this is true.


Except anti Semitism isn't just "kill all Jews". If you're the ADL, then it might be "Israel sucks, screw those guys". They'll label it anti Semitism, lump it in with "garbage philosophy" and shut down discussion. Exactly what people are worried about.

So sure, feel free to censor "kill all Jews" but know it is 100% a slippery slope, in no small part because once you are allowed to delete opponents that meet that criteria, you'll try to expand the criteria.


>My point: Restricting hate speech is not a slippery slope for freedom of speech.

I don't know how you could be aware of what's going on in academia and believe this.


> I don't know how you could be aware of what's going on in academia and believe this.

This talking point is the epitome of filter bubble bias.

First, this is usually characterized as a somewhat recent liberal attack on speech. But the most blatant and egregious examples of speech restrictions at colleges and universities in the USA all come from right-wing christian evangelical colleges. If you think being a conservative at Berkeley is bad, try being liberal (or even conservative but non-christian) at Wheaton or Hillsdale. The only examples I know of students actually expelled for blatantly political reasons all happened at christian colleges.

Second, nearly all universities are infinitely more supportive of free speech -- in policy and in practice -- than other employers or businesses.

This is especially true for private secular universities, who often embody the values of free speech without any legal obligation to do so. MIT can tell anyone they want to "get off my property" but in practice allows, hosts, and even encourages an extreme diversity of viewpoints.

You can probably build a case against my assessment if you spend all day scouring the past decade for counter-examples. In fact, that work was (literally) already done. But "cat everything | grep 'my view point'" does not a preponderance of evidence make.


Religious colleges are restricting speech mostly due to the religious nature of the institution though. A church isn't required to give equal time to atheists in its pulpit, and it's not "political" if the expulsion is due to differences in religious doctrine.

I wager that many of the expulsions at those colleges are due to said liberal holding a position counter to religious doctrine; like homosexuality is not immoral, or premarital sex is okay.


Let's try this: "liberal-leaning institutions are restricting speech mostly due to the (choose:political OR diverse OR learning-focused OR religious!) nature of the institution though. A private entity of any sort isn't required to give equal time to people it disagrees with in its space."

> and it's not "political" if the expulsion is due to differences in religious doctrine. I wager that many of the expulsions at those colleges are due to said liberal holding a position counter to religious doctrine

See, you've already conceded the only viable response to my above rewriting. Most all controversial differences in religious doctrine ARE political. Your distinction is one without difference. The political nature of these difference in doctrine is what makes them worth firing over in the first place!

Unless you want to point me to the Mathematics professor who got fired for critiquing the finer points of the Church's justification of its position on transubstantiation. (This century, please :-) )

If you want to critique Hillsdale AND Harvard et al, go right on ahead.


This is delusional. How many colleges are out there like Wheaton (?) or Hillsdale. Is the ration less than 1000:1?

And anyway it doesn't address the point. Restrictions on speech at Hillsdale don't come from rules against "hate speech". The real problem with "hate speech" is it doesn't actually mean anything. You can keep redefining it until only speech you like gets spoken.


> How many colleges are out there like Wheaton (?) or Hillsdale. Is the ration less than 1000:1?

Yes. In fact, I even said so in the post you're replying to. In the very next paragraph, I state that "nearly all universities" are extremely welcoming of free speech.

In other words, most places are great, and the vast majority of places that aren't great wrt free speech are cloisters of conservative christiandom, not liberal utopias.

My point is, if you go through each universities and evaluate its attitude toward controversial speech acts on a case-by-case basis, you'd be hard pressed to make the argument that the data set, in aggregate, supports the "liberal censorship on college campuses" narrative.

In other words, the only way to reach this conclusion is by living in a filter bubble where you a) ignore the vast majority of circumstances where universities -- especially non-public universities -- welcome controversial speech; and also b) ignore the fact that the most obvious examples of educational institutions which do not welcome controversial speech are all staunchly conservative.

Stop and think for a second. How many actual concrete examples of censorship on college campuses can you think of? 10? 20? 100? There are literally millions of political speeches and politically charged courses every semester on college campuses.

Taking millions of data points and filtering out 10 or 100 of them, and then generating a perpetual outrage machine out of your teeny tiny artisinally crafted sample set, is the definition of a delusional filter bubble.

> Restrictions on speech at Hillsdale don't come from rules against "hate speech"

1. Why in god's name does it matter what you call it? A restriction on speech is a restriction on speech. Either you value free speech or you don't.

2. Here's one plausible definition of hate speech: "behavior that -- on the part of individuals or student organizations -- violates the bounds of common decency and civility... or that disrupts the climate of academic reflection and discourse proper to serious study."

Guess which college categorizes this behavior as a valid reason for expulsion.


I guess you could go through the case log of FIRE.

https://www.thefire.org/category/cases/free-speech/

How many instances does Evergreen rate? How many instances of self censorship do you think such an atmosphere creates? Do you think actions like this only result in one person being afraid to speak up? Does it only matter if someone is willing to go to a journalist and make themselves a target?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/06/0...


> I guess you could go through the case log of FIRE.

As I stated above,

>> You can probably build a case against my assessment if you spend all day scouring the past decade for counter-examples. In fact, that work was (literally) already done

In that comment, I was referring to the FIRE database.

So I already addressed the rest of your argument:

>> But "cat everything | grep 'my view point'" does not a preponderance of evidence make.

And in the post after that:

> There are literally millions of political speeches and politically charged courses every semester on college campuses. Taking millions of data points and filtering out 10 or 100 of them, and then generating a perpetual outrage machine out of your teeny tiny artisinally crafted sample set, is the definition of a delusional filter bubble.

I'm glad organizations like FIRE exist!

I agree places like Evergreen have bad cultures.

But the "liberal threat to free speech on college campuses" is 1) extraordinarily over-blown to the point of absurdity; and 2) places undo emphasis on liberal institutions when the most heinously anti-free-speech institutions are all conservative.


You still haven't explained what a "preponderance of evidence" looks like. You keep doing blanket refusals that the liberal threat to free speech is overblown.


The claim at hand: "colleges are restricting conservative speech".

I make two counter-points:

1. Writ large, Colleges remain some of the most liberal institutions when it comes to free speech.

2. The emphasis on "liberal" is misplaced since all the best exemplars are religious universities. (I think we agree on at least the second part of this claim).

Regarding 1, I'm not sure what a "preponderance of evidence" looks like for this claim, but I'd eat a shoe if even 0.001% of controversial speech acts that happen on college campuses result in any action, let alone something that actually effects anyone's life in any material way.

Combining FIRE's cases and disinvitations lists, I have something far south of 1000 total data points. People talk about controversial things a lot at colleges and universities.


Observation:

> the epitome of filter bubble bias.

> This is delusional.

Delusion definition[1]: an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder.

Note that GP chose to describe "filter bubble bias" which is a neutral observation, whereas P chose to describe GP's idea as "delusional" which carries the connotation of a mental disorder.

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


So here are two cases I've pulled up on Wheaton College:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/12/christi...

http://time.com/3722790/wheaton-college-lgbt-apple/

Both definitely support your point that for holding different views than the majority, people were attacked and/or suppressed. Here's the thing though: Wheaton is an evangelical college. Is it expected that an evangelical Christian college is going to be open to or supportive of a professor saying that Muslims and Christians worship the same God? Or that marriage is a union between more than just a man and a woman? I think that's kind of like going into r/The_Donald and then posting pro Hillary comments. It's not the kind of venue that is established for dissenting views. They're built for proselytization. Furthermore, association of evangelical universities and academia as a whole seems like a mismatch considering how specific their focus is.

On the other hand, one can argue that secular universities such as Berkeley and MIT have a much different expectation. It's easier to argue that as they are secular universities (and in the case of Berkeley public and home of the FSM movement), they are meant to represent a much wider set of views.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/11/the-d...

But when you see dramatic shifts in the political leanings of professors, then followed by conservatives being attacked on campuses that are dominated by liberal thought you have to wonder. I'm not sure what qualifies as a preponderance of evidence in this case according to your words.

That being said, I would also argue that there is plenty of persecution of liberals in deeply conservative areas as well. It's not really about conservative vs liberal, so much as it's about how majorities operate and deal with minorities.


> Furthermore, association of evangelical universities and academia as a whole seems like a mismatch considering how specific their focus is.

This is just tautologically false. IDK what else to say about this particular quote.

I don't really understand the rest of your first paragraph. Why does MIT have a special duty to respect the speech of e.g., neo-luddites or young earth creationists where Wheaton has no reciprocal duty?

I believe free speech is imperative to higher education. I also think the current hysteria about liberals attack free speech on college campuses is 1) ridiculously overblown at 99% of institutions; and 2) hilariously misdirected given that the worst offenders are conservative christian institutions.

> On the other hand, one can argue that secular universities such as Berkeley and MIT have a much different expectation

Berkeley absolutely does. They are publicly funded. This muddies the waters some because Berkeley almost certainly allows some speech -- on the left and the right -- which, if not for constitutional necessity -- it might prefer to silence.

So the comparison is unfair both to Wheaton and to Berkeley. Unfair to Wheaton because it doesn't have a legal requirement to allow speech. And unfair to Berkeley because it can't quietly turn people away (if leftist-Milo wanted to give a speech at Wheaton we would never hear about it, but Milo can generate an entire news cycle out of Berkeley because they're obligated to not turn him away.)

This is why I put special emphasis on a private secular vs. private evangelical comparison. It's fair to both sides.

I'm not sure why MIT has any special obligation to allow free speech that isn't shared by Wheaton. Care to explain?

> But when you see dramatic shifts in the political leanings of professors, then followed by conservatives being attacked on campuses that are dominated by liberal thought you have to wonder. I'm not sure what qualifies as a preponderance of evidence in this case according to your words.

Look, secular universities just don't discriminate on the basis of political belief. Outside of a few very niche, very tiny, very not-influential departments, this just doesn't happen either explicitly or implicitly. When it comes to hiring new professors, teaching matters. Research matters. Personal political beliefs do not.

EXCEPT conservative christian colleges, which uniformly want a whole damn essay dedicated to convincing them candidates christian enough and conservative enough to work there.

Liberals are over-represented on college campuses and in the faculty. There are a lot of reasons for this. (I conjecture that one major factor is the 5-7 year pledge of poverty that precedes an academic career. But again, lots of reasons.)

But IMO there is a very important difference between not correcting for an existing bias in your hiring pipeline, and actively and explicitly introducing political bias into your hiring pipeline. I assert the latter rarely if ever happens at liberal-leaning universities, but is absolutely part of the explicit hiring policy at many conservative-leaning universities.

> It's not really about conservative vs liberal, so much as it's about how majorities operate and deal with minorities.

My personal experience -- and I think the evidence backs me on this -- is that liberal universities are far more welcoming to conservative viewpoints than the other way around.

I agree that being a minority is always hard.


> This is just tautologically false. IDK what else to say about this particular quote. Re: the rest of your first paragraph, this seems like a huge double standard. Would you be happy with MIT throwing out every climate skeptic and neo-luddite if only they wrote "advancement of science and technology" into their charter?

Not really. Religion as in organized religion exists to promote a specific belief system. Science has a much different mission in it's search to describe the world accurately. A dissenting view there can potentially be the truthful path.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/the-key-to-s...

If MIT threw out every scientist who opposed global warming, they'd be little better than a religious college.

> This is why I put special emphasis on a private secular vs. private evangelical comparison. It's fair to both sides. I'm not sure why MIT has any special obligation to allow free speech that isn't shared by Wheaton. Care to explain?

MIT has an obligation if it wants to present itself as a college that promotes education in general. Wheaton is there to teach people about a Christ filled life. MIT makes it clear they value innovation and groundbreaking ideas and discoveries. There no way to do that effectively without considering as many points as possible.

> Look, secular universities just don't discriminate on the basis of political belief. Outside of a few very niche, very tiny, very not-influential departments, this just doesn't happen either explicitly or implicitly. When it comes to hiring new professors, teaching matters. Research matters. Personal political beliefs do not.

https://medium.com/@freddiedeboer/theres-no-pro-campus-censo...

https://medium.com/@freddiedeboer/conservatives-are-wrong-ab...

Freddie has written a lot on this subject in general. In fact he's been routinely attacked and DDOSed for critiquing the liberal culture both on campus and in the institution. He's posted some really controversial stuff about how bad the research is in the liberal arts. It's also worth noting that he's hardly a conservative and is quite soundly a liberal.

Money quote: "And while I think conservative students can mostly get by fine on the average campus, I really can’t imagine going through life as a conservative professor, particularly in the humanities and social sciences. Is that a problem? That depends on your point of view. But if it’s happening, shouldn’t we talk about the fact that it’s happening?"

> "My personal experience -- and I think the evidence backs me on this -- is that liberal universities are far more welcoming to conservative viewpoints than the other way around."

I don't know how to measure the merits of explusion/suspension vs. social ostracization. I also have known a fair amount of conservative people at Berkeley due to my efforts to outreach to other point of views in my student days. I don't think "welcoming" is the word that they would use when it comes to liberals and conservative viewpoints.


> MIT... science... There no way to do that effectively without considering as many points as possible.

Respectfully, exactly the opposite is the case. Ask any mathematician at a top university how many crackpot letters they have to throw out every year. Ask any biologist how much Real Work they would get done if they had a department half-full of young earth creationists.

Universities are bastions of free speech, but they are also inherently exclusionary. And places like MIT regularly let down that exclusionary guard to invite speech that explicitly interferes with the efficiency their institutional truth-finding mission. An admirable thing, IMO.

At universities, free speech serves a political purpose far more than it serves a scientific purpose.


I don't buy your distinction between Wheaton and MIT. Free speech pre-dates the scientific method and exists independently of scientific inquiry.

Also, at places like Wheaton and Hillsdale, politics are part-and-parcel with religion. Demanding religious belief, while allow a broad spectrum in which to express that belief, is one thing. But the divide between politics and religion at these places is tenuous at best.

> I really can’t imagine going through life as a conservative professor... particularly in the humanities and social sciences

In the sciences no one cares. Except Wheaton et al, who are afraid of the liberal atheist branches of mathematics or something...?

Humanities and social sciences vary by field. IDK a lot about most of them them. But the one person I know from purdue -- where Freddie is from -- is in the humanities and very conservative (and doesn't hide it or anything).

Maybe Freddie should've taken a leaf out of your book and talked to more people while at Purdue -- the unimaginable was right in front of him ;-)

> I don't think "welcoming" is the word that they would use when it comes to liberals and conservative viewpoints.

Sure, "more" is relative and being a minority always sucks.

Still, MIT might make you feel alone. Hillsdale will just expel you.


> I don't buy your distinction between Wheaton and MIT. Free speech pre-dates the scientific method and exists independently of scientific inquiry.

You can publish your research that challenges the status quo so long as Free Speech is respected. Do you think it's a coincidence that Socrates challenged the physicists in Athens? (Granted that was one of the reasons they executed him) Or Aristotle? I can't think of better examples of early science and those came up under the first place we know of that did direct democracy.

> Also, at places like Wheaton and Hillsdale, politics are part-and-parcel with religion. Demanding religious belief, while allow a broad spectrum in which to express that belief, is one thing. But the divide between politics and religion at these places is tenuous at best.

Again. They're evangelical colleges. What do you really expect?

> Humanities and social sciences vary by field. IDK a lot about most of them them. But the one person I know from purdue -- where Freddie is from -- is in the humanities and very conservative (and doesn't hide it or anything). Maybe Freddie should've taken a leaf out of your book and talked to more people while at Purdue -- the unimaginable was right in front of him ;-)

Yes, one person is a preponderance of evidence. Not countless articles of students and professors being harassed and attacked for their conservative views in an environment that is supposed to be about higher truth. And some of those views that are becoming less and less conservative over time.

"For years and years I have denied the idea that campus is a space that’s antagonistic to conservative students. I thought Michael Berube’s book What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts? was the last word on the subject. I still reject a lot of the David Horowitz narrative. But as a member of the higher education community I just have to be real with you: the vibe on campus really has changed. I spent years teaching at a university in a conservative state recently and I was kind of shocked at how openly fellow instructors would complain about the politics of their students, how personal they go when condemning their students who espoused conventional Republican politics. I encounter professors all the time who think that it’s fine for a student to say “I’m With Her” in class but not for a student to say “Make America Great Again” — that’s hate speech, see — despite the fact that both are simply the recent campaign slogans of the two major political parties. Yet those profs recoil at the idea that they’re not accepting of conservative students.

I hear people say that they won’t permit arguments against affirmative action in their classes — hate speech, again — despite the fact that depending on how the question is asked, a majority of Americans oppose race-based affirmative action in polling, including in some polls a majority of Hispanic Americans. The number of boilerplate conservative opinions that are taken to be too offensive to be voiced in the campus space just grows and grows, and yet progressive profs I know are so offended by the idea that they could be creating a hostile atmosphere, they won’t even discuss the subject in good faith."

"The idea that we need any intellectual diversity at all invites immediate incredulous statements like, “you’re saying we should debate eugenics?!?,” as though the only positions that exist are the obviously correct and the obviously horrible. The idea that you’re supposed to read the publications of the antagonistic viewpoint has been dismissed as a relic. People call for conservative books to be pulled from library shelves; they insist that the plays of conservative David Mamet have no place in the contemporary theater;"

> Sure, "more" is relative and being a minority always sucks. Still, MIT might make you feel alone. Hillsdale will just expel you.

I don't think forced resignation and expulsion are much different.


I've already conceded that most universities are majority liberal and that being in a minority is always uncomfortable.

The rest of your anecdotes are just that. So one guy has some bad coworkers. BTW, my response is more than just any old anecdote -- It's a refutation of the single anecdote that you're offering. Same time, same place.

Do people get harassed and fired for political beliefs? Absolutely. And the fact that organizations like FIRE fight back when this happens is great.

But the "liberals attacking free speech on campus" thing is a bunch of politicized bullshit. At most non-religious universities, this isn't happening in any meaningful sense.

Let's put this in perspective. FIRE has less than 1000 cases over the past decade that I can find on their website. Literally millions -- probably tens of millions -- of controversial speech acts happen on American campuses every year.

Universities are still bastions of free speech. If you're conservative, you might find a lot of people who disagree with you. But the odds are extraordinarily small that you'll be silenced in any meaningful way. Like literally a one in a million+ shot.

I'm not saying that it's OK when it happens. I'm just saying the whole "liberals shut down free speech on campus thing" is over-dramatized echo chamber bullshit, that you only notice because there's an entire cottage industry generating outrage every time that 1/1000000 event happens.


this reply probably doesn't matter since this thread is a few days old, but here goes anyway:

> I encounter professors all the time who think that it’s fine for a student to say “I’m With Her” in class but not for a student to say “Make America Great Again” — that’s hate speech, see — despite the fact that both are simply the recent campaign slogans of the two major political parties.

here's the thing: "Make America Great Again" is a dog-whistle slogan, pining for a time that was racist. it is, to a lot of people (myself included), an inherently racist slogan. so, the problem is that a statement which was "simply the recent campaign [slogan]" of a major political party was, in fact, racist. i know it seems crazy to some people, but one of our major political parties ran an overtly racist candidate, on a (barely) covertly racist platform.

EDIT: sometimes the platform was overtly racist too. though it tried it's best to make it palatable for people who wouldn't want to identify as racist.


the power to 'purge' actors exhibiting what in practice can be arbitrarily and fluidly defined (eg, cultural appropriation) is not a power i want anybody to have.


>the power to 'purge' actors exhibiting what in practice can be arbitrarily and fluidly defined (eg, cultural appropriation) is not a power i want anybody to have.

It's a power everyone has. You should read Habermas (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_sphere). The entire purpose of civil society is to draw the boundaries around what's acceptable and create the norms that allow people to work out their differences.

Allowing your public sphere to be filled up with people hostile to the concept of being able to work out their differences leads to a breakdown in social order and the rise of totalitarianism.


When control of the modern public sphere is vested in the owners of social networks and internet infrastructure, that balance of power becomes rather lopsided.


>When control of the modern public sphere is vested in the owners of social networks and internet infrastructure, that balance of power becomes rather lopsided.

Absolutely, but I'm not sure that's germane to this topic. That's an argument for why we should have open standards and be opposed to monopolies, it's not an argument for not having moderation.

As it stands though, many social networks are dominated by the perspectives of a minority of technically savvy people with an abundance of free-time and a willingness to spam propaganda. They get away with it because these social networks were designed as ad platforms, so spamming propaganda in peoples' faces is literally why they exist and they don't want to invest too many resources into letting you control who gets to shove things in your face and who doesn't.


[flagged]


Ha. I actually drafted it in a markdown editor and pasted it over.


> so heinous as to not even be worth discussing the possibility of merit

Right, so, what's the clear boundary here? If it's specifically mass murder, ok. "Arbitrarily prejudiced mindsets", however, is not well defined, and therefore subject to slippery slope effects.

Almost all prejudices start with some nugget of truth, if only a correlation with the causation backwards. Further, humanity frickin loves lumping people trying to tell the truth with those who build nasty stereotypes on said truth. In fact, there is no sharp line between them. For instance, the guy in this thread getting downvoted to bedrock for pointing out that being fat is bad for you. Is that person being hateful? (I can't tell, but I collapsed the threat so maybe there's real evidence in there I missed) When do you start restricting that sort of thing, just pointing out awkward facts? Good luck coming up with a clear boundary we can all agree on, because oh yeah, you have to get consensus on that or you've solved nothing.


Amazing and very telling that in your defense of censorship you can use the phrase "arbitrarily prejudiced mindsets" without a hint of irony.


Notice below I stated that I believe racism unhealthy for the human race as a whole - I can back my argument up.

A racist may be capable of making a racial purity argument to the same point, however, the racist's argument will infringe on real freedoms (give certain people less because of the color of their skin) whereas my argument is snip that mindset out of the culture as a whole.

I get what you're saying, all morality is arbitrary, and yes I agree. However, I've made a decision, and you don't exactly get a lot of points for a morality argument as a perfect nihilist. At some point you have to put some skin in the game, and that's what I'm doing here.


For a good example of slippery slope in action wrt anti-semitic hate speech, look at how the BDS movement is attacked as both of these things.

Note: I don't support BDS. But I don't consider it to be either anti-Semitic nor hate speech, and the fact that many people who support hate speech legislation genuinely believe that BDS does qualify as hate speech, puts me firmly into the anti-hate-speech-laws camp. Simply put, I don't trust democratic majoritarianism to provide a definition of these things that I would consider acceptable, much less good.

Furthermore, given that hate crimes are directed towards minorities, and hate speech legislation is passed by majorities, I would posit that in any case where that speech actually makes a difference (i.e. where it can translate to tangible action), the majority will always immunize itself. Meanwhile, it will use such laws selectively against minorities (e.g. see all the right wing politicians referring to BLM as "hate group").


As objectively abhorrent as anti-semitism is, I unfortunately think the issue is not so cut-and-dry for a variety of reasons.

First, just to respond to those 2 points:

1. There's a spectrum of anti-semites. On many parts of the Internet, you will see many anti-semites who won't even hide under the veil of "just joking". They will tell you to your face that they sincerely believe that either the Holocaust was a hoax, or that it was a good thing. (Or it was a hoax but should happen for real.) Many of these people don't come to these beliefs purely through childhood indoctrination but rather exposure to communities and information sources which, to them and in the context of their existing worldview, seem rational and accurate and polarize them further. When you debate an anti-semite on the Internet, you'll often find that a good percentage don't argue in bad faith and actually do cite what they consider to be credible evidence of their claims. This is in the form of links to websites that look superficially scholarly and professional, images and infographics that claim to be backed by studies, and long documentary-style videos. No, the evidence is not good at all (and any accurate information they do manage to present may support something or other but doesn't support their anti-semitic claims), but many genuinely and truly think the evidence they're linking you is damning.

These aren't all random idiots purely looking for an excuse to hate on Jews. Many are brainwashed from what they read and are exposed to, just like any extremist ideology or cult. They're conspiracy theorists.

You can't fight that sort of thing with censorship: you're proving their point when you do that. "They want to hide this information because they know we're right. They're trying to hide The Truth from the goyim masses. We have facts and data on our side, and all they can do is censor and ban us." As futile as it almost always is to actually have a logical discussion or argument with such an individual, rhetoric must be fought with rhetoric, plain and simple. You can't fight rhetoric with "your argument is too ridiculous or evil to be dignified with either a response or even an allowance of existence".

2.

>However, it is not acceptable to argue over whether "All Jews should be killed." A standpoint that suggests the outright destruction of an entire people, or their enslavement or removal of freedoms, is so heinous as to not even be worth discussing the possibility of merit.

First, only a subset of anti-semites believe or say that all Jews should be killed. I know that's a weird thing for me to say. Any kind of anti-semitism is of course despicable and irrational, even the lightest forms of it, but the distinction still needs to be made. It's much easier to talk to and potentially convince someone who merely believes in some common conspiracy theories and harbors low-level ill will towards Jews compared to someone with deep, zealous animosity and murderous intent towards some, most, or all Jews.

Second, as beyond disgusting an argument as that is, even such statements as "all Jews should be killed" must be (in a broad sense) "open for debate" if you truly believe in freedom of speech. If anti-semitism and other fringe ideologies can just be dismissed as banned topics, anti-semites (and far-right people who are against anti-semitism but find censorship to be anathema) will become more empowered, more secluded, more polarized, and potentially more dangerous.

Let's try to analyze what could lead a person to genuinely say or believe something like "all Jews should be killed". Let's assume they're being sincere, and aren't saying it just to be ironic or edgy or to piss people off. Many of these people have above average IQ and seem otherwise kind of normal. So how could this happen?

From what I've seen and experienced, the most common reason for this kind of sentiment is a delusional fear: they actually, truly believe that Jews are actively trying to gang up and exterminate them. Not just them in particular, but all Western Europeans/Americans/capitalists/right-wingers/white people or whatever their particular flavor of Nazism/fascism is. Of course, this is a ridiculous and false delusion, but in their mind it is a clear and present danger, and in their mind all of the evidence actually points this to being true in reality. They really believe they are in some kind of existential war with an organized "Eternal Jew" - a struggle for survival. And they believe that expelling or killing Jews is purely an act of self-defense.

Take a moment to just accept the craziness of it all. These people aren't playing with the same cards as us. They're fundamentally working off of a different impression of reality. They're on an unsupported fork of the "global/history" repo. All of their ideas and thoughts can be traced deterministically from initial delusional seeds that they accepted and integrated long ago.

I think the best explanation for most of these kinds of anti-semites is that they are a delusional/psychotic community of interrelated cult-like groups. And sure, there's generally no convincing crazy or delusional people, but you definitely aren't going to convince a, say, schizophrenic that he/she just needs help by decreeing "it is now illegal to think or say the things you are currently thinking and saying". (And no, I'm definitely not saying most anti-semites have schizophrenia or something, but I also would not be surprised if there's a disproportionate amount of overlap. I'm just using schizophrenia as an analogy.)

It's not easy, but racists and sexists can sometimes be convinced to soften their views or even change their stances. For example, Daryl Davis, a black man, managed to befriend many KKK members and leaders and convince them to completely rethink their entire ideology. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daryl_Davis#Career_as_writer_a...) He treated them with decency, kindness, and an open mind (even though they did not deserve it), and many of them eventually came to treat him the same way and reject much of their ideology.

Or take the case of the son of the founder of Stormfront. Stormfront is (or was, before their domain registrar revoked their registration) one of the biggest and most fervent anti-semitic/racist/extreme-right communities out there. Derek Black, the founder's son, helped maintain the website until he ended up befriending some Jewish people in college. After merely being exposed to the fact that they and their families were kind, ordinary people for a few years, he renounced his racist views and dissociated himself from the website and his family. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/the-white-flight-of-...)

Both of these situations required years of exposure to opposing viewpoints presented in a respectful way to change their views.

They will never, ever be convinced to change their views if your response is solely to prevent them from discussing certain things or to ban them from places or even to advocate for (or ignore) violence towards them. (One might say "but they advocate for violence towards minorities", but as explained, that can be an oversimplification. And even when it is literally true, two wrongs don't make a right).

>My point: Restricting hate speech is not a slippery slope for freedom of speech. I personally believe there is no universal morality, but if I had to pick, I'd argue that the best outcome for the human race would be a culture that purges all racist and other arbitrarily prejudiced mindsets that judge entire populations on untenable grounds (race, gender, etc).

Again, we're entering dangerous territory. A private community/company, even one acting as a de facto common carrier of communication like reddit, certainly has the right to ban people who make heinous speech like this. But as a society, ideas like "we must purge all racists and arbitrarily prejudiced mindsets from our population" are untenable, unsustainable, and may be playing right into the other side's hands even aside from the slippery slope arguments and how exactly we should or could set clear boundaries of racism and prejudice. Even if we could theoretically set these clear boundaries (and we can't), this is still folly. The founding fathers and their predecessors in the Enlightenment knew this all too well. Freedom of speech really is an all or nothing thing. If something happens purely within the bounds of speech (e.g. the speech is not directly inciting or calling for a crime to occur), it must be permissible under the law.

I think this paper shows that this did help improve the overall balance of toxicity in reddit. But it does not (and pretty much cannot) show how this affects the greater ecosystem of hate speech online. No doubt the vast majority of the people who posted in those banned subreddits have been using many other websites and applications before the ban and are continuing to organize and communicate after the ban. They're just not doing it on reddit anymore.

And this is not something I would normally ever include in a comment, but since this is such a sensitive topic and since my comments here could plausibly be seen as some kind of tacit concern trolling that's secretly supporting anti-semitism or Nazism, I do feel it's relevant to mention that I'm Jewish myself and am extremely aware of the dangers and evils of anti-semitism and fascism.


On the subject of persuading racists/sexists, I found a recent comment on Scott Aaronson's blog to be especially insightful (https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=3389#comment-1742322 ). Excerpt follows:

-----

If 'blatant sexism' is watered down to include discussing different averages, people are going to start reasoning that different averages can't be that bad to discuss, so sexism can't be that bad either.

It’s something of the same principle that was expressed in the post:

"If the elites, the technocrats, the 'Cathedral'-dwellers, were willing to lie to the masses about humans being blank slates—and they obviously were—then why shouldn’t we assume that they also lied to us about healthcare and free trade and guns and climate change and everything else?"

...

Elsewhere, I have seen this phrased as "One man's modus ponens is another man's modus tollens." One person asserts A -> B and mentally holds (A), therefore concludes (B). Someone else hears A -> B, mentally holds (~B), therefore concludes (~A).

-----

If you can accurately model the (~B) -> (~A) inferences that are happening, you have much, much better odds of being able to communicate effectively with these people.


As someone who frequently has reasonable exchanges with alt-righters I largely agree with your post.

To me the hatred from the right is somewhat self-aware. They know that their views are not welcome and they have no pretense of being inclusive. Segregation of cultures is their shtick after all.

But they are willing to debate things openly, at least on the internet. They might call you a shill, bluepilled or even a race traitor but I have not heard the that something is unthinkable to be discussed.

In fact, on 8chan you can find furry porn (which would be considered degenerate by nazi standards) and seemingly serious discussions how the purity of ones race and culture can be preserved side by side.

When then people from the left come and say things such as "it is not acceptable to argue over [...]" then the thoughtcrime bells in my head go off and I get the visceral feeling that the "distinct but equal" norm on the right might actually not be so bad compared to the "absorb and unify everything, when done stamp out things outside the overton window" on the left. Because I want to be able to argue hypotheticals outside the overton window without being accidentally mistaken as someone who might perform acts outside the window.

The fact that you feel you need to litter your post with a lot of virtue signalling out of concern as being mistaken as a nazi-sympathizer strikes me as something having gone wrong. Are people incapable of distinguishing between an argument being made vs. (non-)endorsement of an argument?

> but since this is such a sensitive topic

This is also something that I do not understand. As long as there are actual wars in the world, global warming, starvation etc. this seems to be an inconsequential topic to me. If we can discuss nations attacking each other, death penalty, sweatshops, massive extinction of many valuable species, etc. then we should be able to discuss groups within one nation hating each others' guts at a sub-war-threshold without putting on satin gloves. These "culture wars" are way too overblown considering what they represent on the hierarchy of needs.


My peppering of reassurances that Nazis are bad wasn't so much to protect me or my post (you would have to be very willfully uncharitable to interpret my post as pro-Nazi) but just an attempt to tailor my response to an audience which is likely skewed to the left and is a bit sick and tired of more simplistic "but free speech!" arguments.

But part of it was certainly based on how commonplace it is these days for people to jump on a word and assume bad intent. It is unfortunate that that's the world we now live in, where you can't even discuss concepts from a meta level without accusations that you secretly support evil ideologies. The culture wars are likely to only get worse at this point, with no end in sight. I don't really think they'll culminate in a civil war, but if we're not careful, anything's possible.


Case in point: Jewish man pointing out Jewish man is anti-semitic:

https://mobile.twitter.com/yonatanzunger/status/906809262273...

(Yonatan Zunger doing the pointing, Benjamin Netanyahu being the pointee.)


> purges all racist and other arbitrarily prejudiced mindsets

Purges? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purges_of_the_Communist_Party_...

I reach for hyperbole here, because usually the tool that societies reach for to kill ideas is to kill the people that hold them. 99 times out of 100.


> usually the tool that societies reach for to kill ideas is to kill the people that hold them. 99 times out of 100.

That's not normally the tool that democratic societies use. The US didn't wholesale kill its segregationists in the 60s. Western Europe didn't kill its Nazis, or its Stalinists. Ayn Rand wasn't pushed down a stairs. I'm trying to think of an example of where a modern democratic country _did_ do this. We didn't kill the misogynists or the racists or the homophobes, we just let them slowly fade into irrelevance. It's not done yet; it's a process.

Societies who do try to kill off bad or opposing ideologies rarely actually do that well with it. How well did the Soviet Union really do with getting rid of its ethno-nationalists, say?

Edit: I suppose one example would be covert action, there has obviously been some of that. Rounding people up wholesale doesn't really happen, though.


Indigenous people in Canada, Australia, and the United States were basically rounded up and killed (or re-educated, depending on the century).

Not sure how that's substantially different from the soviets rounding up the ethno-nationalists?


I mentioned modern democracy. I'd have serious trouble considering those to be modern democracies at the time. Universal suffrage seems like a minimum requirement.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Indian_residential_sc... was still expanding during the 1940's and 1950's when most everyone (except indigenous peoples) could vote.

"We stop killing off / imprisoning people once we give them the right to vote" seems a little too tautological.


Pretty big exception. No universal suffrage; not a proper modern democracy. They're pretty new, really.


Felons can't vote, today.


In the US, no. Bit of an oddity; most other democratic countries don't do that.


> Ayn Rand wasn't pushed down a stairs.

The thought of this was just way too satisfying...


I'd suggest doing some reading on labour history within the United States.


Or labour history back further...in fact, I specifically want you to look at Europe ~1790-1855 around when the craft guilds collapsed and mass protests started happening.

Police, as we know them today, were literally created in this period in response to these crowds of lower-to-middle class workers who were disrupting society.

They had to be because the armies that were sent in were ordered to shoot people in these crowds...and you had things like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peterloo_Massacre


>usually the tool that societies reach for to kill ideas is to kill the people that hold them. 99 times out of 100

This sounds like a conclusion reached through confirmation bias.


At least it didn't have to be from survivorship bias.

HEY!


> I'd argue that the best outcome for the human race would be a culture that purges all racist and other arbitrarily prejudiced mindsets that judge entire populations on untenable grounds (race, gender, etc).

Phrasing. You can't just come out and say purging--you have to dress it up a little more.


The term is often used for non-violent action. For instance, it'd be reasonable to say that the US democrats purged their racist 'dixiecrat' faction; it took a while, but they have been eliminated.


>"I personally believe there is no universal morality, but if I had to pick, I'd argue that the best outcome for the human race would be a culture that purges all racist and other arbitrarily prejudiced mindsets that judge entire populations on untenable grounds (race, gender, etc)."

Out of all the possibly noble things you could pick, you pick prejudice as the item that would be universally-forbidden in your moral code? I understand that race-relations, group-bias topics and intersectionality are in vogue and centre-stage at this moment, but we need to aim higher as a society.


I've got a pretty long laundry list of a moral code, but we're not talking about my moral code as a whole right now. It's not topical.




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