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After Storm Over Tweets, The Times and a New Hire Part Ways (nytimes.com)
47 points by artur_makly 30 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 76 comments

Something she had to say about herself...

"For those of you honestly concerned. I don't support weev, that's not given in how I define friendship. I believe white folks should engage with the racists in their life … and I believe all people are redeemable, and "all people" is all people."

That's an admirable perspective.

She is clearly not racist or anything else herself. She is a casualty of the reactionary zeitgeist.

Lest we all forget the words of one of the greatest Americans in history, Martin Luther King Jr., here is a portion of his speech from Dexter Baptist Church delivered in Montgomery Alabama in 1957:

"So I want to turn your attention to this subject: "Loving Your Enemies." It’s so basic to me because it is a part of my basic philosophical and theological orientation—the whole idea of love, the whole philosophy of love. In the fifth chapter of the gospel as recorded by Saint Matthew, we read these very arresting words flowing from the lips of our Lord and Master: "Ye have heard that it has been said, ‘Thou shall love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven."

Certainly these are great words, words lifted to cosmic proportions. And over the centuries, many persons have argued that this is an extremely difficult command. Many would go so far as to say that it just isn’t possible to move out into the actual practice of this glorious command. They would go on to say that this is just additional proof that Jesus was an impractical idealist who never quite came down to earth. So the arguments abound. But far from being an impractical idealist, Jesus has become the practical realist. The words of this text glitter in our eyes with a new urgency. Far from being the pious injunction of a utopian dreamer, this command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies."

I also think it's inherently silly to believe you can't be friends with people you disagree with. Some of the more lasting memories in my life came from conversations I've had with people that I couldn't be further apart from in perspective and opinion, and some of them, I'd go so far as to say I was friends with.

There is a huge difference in my mind of being friends with someone who doesn't share your political views and someone who actively belittles a group of people because of race, sex, etc.

I treat anyone in my family with a "long handled spoon" whose whole topic of conversation is about "those White folks" don't want to see "us" get ahead, and "they" are all alike or "them foreigners" are taking all of our jobs.

I don't need that crap in my life. Not only from a moral perspective, but they are insulting people I consider friends, hang out with, and at the end of the day, I have far more in common with than the people making the remarks.

Also, from a practical standpoint, I know they are probably talking about my family who are almost poster children "liberal elite".

It's fair for you to say that you don't need that negativity in your life, but remember that your family members may have experienced racism in a different era even if they're only a few decades older than you. You'd be surprised how different your day to day life as a minority would be in a different socioeconomic ladder, city, or industry.

I spent my first first two years in the States bullied and called various ethnic slurs by classmates. My brother who attended the same school and grade only 6 years later never felt or received any of that, partly due to his knowledge of the English language, but also because blatant racism became totally unacceptable in grade school by that time.

Now, do I hold a grudge against an entire race for that? No, in fact, my first few friends even then were all caucasians. But I can certainly see someone who grew up 10 years before be harboring some resentment because I've also seen how rapidly racial remarks can fall out of favor.

Makes sense. But let's take that a step further. I was just talking about this in another thread on HN. How much racism is a proxy for just overall resentment?

I think my parents' families serve as a perfect case study. My parents who are now in their 70s and have been married 50 years were high school sweet hearts. They both grew up and went to school together in the segregated South and both of their parents were poor but they did scrape by.

All of my parents siblings went to the same segregated school. My mom and her four siblings all graduated from some type of post secondary school - teachers, nurses, and one that owns his own car repair business. Out of my dad's siblings, he was the only one to graduate from high school or college. One side, all of them beat the odds and experienced upward mobility and the other side for the most part didn't.

So which side of the family do you think I'm referring to when I say I have to deal with some of them with a long handled spoon?

My parents and more so my grandparents dealt with the brunt of the Jim Crow South. But my parents made sure that they balanced making me aware of our history without allowing me to use that as an excuse or be resentful. Of course they didn't tell me any of this while I was going to a predominantly White private school....

or come back. it didn't take too many years between joking about illinois nazis and having one on the ballot.

Right, if we force ourselves to be declared enemies of anyone who does not share our world view, then nobody will grow, and people will just get more entrenched in their bubbles.

This reminds me of a podcast, incidentally "The Daily" produced by NYTimes, where a former white nationalist tells a quite fascinating story about how he completely changed his mind about the white nationalist movement after being regularly invited to dinners by his Jewish friend whom he met in college.

If anyone is interested, the episode can be found here: https://dfkfj8j276wwv.cloudfront.net/episodes/d7b8650b-3ef3-...

Let me add that listening to his story helped me understand that white nationalism, or any form of bigotry really, is mostly about identity and belonging to a group, often their own family who subscribe to the same ideals. By offering your friendship to such a person, you also offer an alternative. By declaring your friendship over because of your differences, you not only lose a friend, you also validate that other person in his/her views and help him paint a picture of you and people who think like you as the enemy.

It saddens me that so many people think that it is unforgivable to have a history of friendship with a person like that, and I am genuinely scared that the fear of backlash from the internet means that public figures will be forced to reinforce a stereotypical good/evil picture of society. Then we will truly all lose in the end.

It's very sad that in today's climate people can't be associated with Louis Farrakhan or Steve Bannon for fear the outraged masses will make the implication to befriend such people means you submit to their particular theories of politics and other belief systems.

It's utterly juvenile and should be condemned by our thinkers and influencers.

Hmm. In the writer’s situation, it was somewhat more than an old pal with a habit of telling off-colour jokes. Friendship involves acceptance of the other person and their values on some level, and we’re talking about a Daily Stormer writer who promotes Nazi rallies and celebrates Timothy McVeigh. I’m sure Weev is an absolute charmer.

Engaging with people and being friends with them are different things.

How many Nazis are you friends with? Could you be friends with someone who wants to murder "jew children" like weev? I sure hope not.

Could you please stop posting unsubstantive inflammatory comments in this thread?


I don't think I'm friends with anyone I'd call a Nazi or white supremacist, I don't follow everyone I've ever been friends with before, so couldn't tell you for sure noone I've been friends with isn't one today.

I did have an annoyingly frustrating conversation yesterday with someone I had to work really hard to convince the footage from the Tesla in orbit wasn't shot in a studio. I'd call him a friend, I think. Definitely have some big rifts of views though.

Flat earther versus actively advocating for the murder of Jewish children is not even in the same ballpark.

There's a difference between engaging with people who have different viewpoints and being friends with them. I consider friendship to be an endorsement of the other person. Same for "loving your enemies". MLK is advocating for peaceful protest here, not saying that you should excuse and forget your enemy's actions.

I'm not sure I agree with any argument made in favor of being friends with white supremacists. Defend their right to free speech and engage in debate? Sure. But society should strongly condemn and criticize them for racist thoughts and words. Freedom of speech doesn't guarantee you freedom from consequence of those words.

Friendship can’t be an unqualified endorsement of another person.

I have an alcoholic friend. Does that mean I believe alcoholism is healthy?

I have an anarchist friend. Do I call for the end of government?

I have a Muslim friend. Does that mean I abide by Sharia?

Of course not. If I must agree with every view a person holds in order to be friends with them, I shall sooner or later find I have but one friend - myself.

There's an Italian proverb that "one can never have a friend if one must have one without faults". Obviously, the degree of the faults matters, but your implication that friendship is a tacit endorsement of all the complexities of a person is extreme.

Edit: I feel this also applies to politicians. Sometimes I just dislike all the candidates for a given election, but for different reasons. And I have to choose which of my principles I value the most. It's awful! But it's reality.

"I consider friendship to be an endorsement of the other person."

Not everyone feels that way.

Since you only seen to be getting "disagrees" I want to say I agree with you. Obviously no friend is going to be without fault, but also there has to be a line where you say "no, given this, we can't be friends." White supremacy is certainly one of those lines for me.

I could associate with terrible people for work or to try and get them to be less terrible, but I couldn't be friends with them.

> I consider friendship to be an endorsement of the other person.

In that case I have no friends. Nor I believe I'll ever have. All of my friends have some conflicting opinions. Not just with me but between all of us.

I don't think people should be valued as a sum of their parts. People are an aggregation of experiences opinions ans characteristics. We should evaluate each part individually.

Example: John Doe is an excellent programmer, a 10x programmer even. But he is known to have a neo-nazi blog. One thing is "good2 and the other is "bad". Does being a neo-nazi make him a bad programmer? No. Does him being a 10x programmer make his social ideas good? No. He is both things. One "good", the other "bad". And they can live side by side.

Based on John's opinions I probably wouldn't invite him to dinner at my house. But I would damn sure go to him if I had a programming problem.

If you want to have no idea what your enemy is doing, then by all means cut all types of communication with them. If you want to be caught unexpected by the actions of your enemy, then by all means pay no attention to them. If you want to be destroyed by your enemy, then by all means ignore and belittle them as there is no faster way to your own destruction.

The most efficient way to understand and predict the actions of your enemy then by befriending and walking among them.

I have friends who lean toward the conservative side of libertarianism and I lean more liberal, I have a friend who is the opposite politically from me in almost every way but they all seem to believe that one shouldn't be judged by their color or discriminated against. That's basically the only line I draw.

> I consider friendship to be an endorsement of the other person.

That's odd. May I ask how old you are, and what culture/country you're from?

Certainly. 2016 is evidence of what happens when you don't listen to people you disagree with. Lower class whites are disproportionally-likely to have "deplorable" views. Yet even as we as a society move to bring education to more and more people, still this demographic has become the last remaining group of people that it's "OK" to hate. So they've reacted.

Disclaimers: Obviously, not everyone who's a lower-income white person is racist. Nor do I support racist views -- just saying that ignoring people will not help effect change. MLK was a genius and great person.

I believe it's important to put racism and hate in their contexts. Often times people are racist or discriminatory because they fear, either for their own way of life being eroded or because they don't understand the "other".

This does not mean those attitudes are good. Far from it. But we must try to empathize with all people. Which is much easier to do when, as MLK advocated, we love all people.

Oh, that's another great point. There are different kinds of racism.

There's a great video from the 80s called "The Color of Fear" which has a bunch of randomly-chosen people of various ethnicities put into a room, who slowly start to talk about more and more uncomfortable subjects.

There's fear. There's lack of empathy for problems which don't affect you personally. There's even outright hate. These are different problems with different solutions.

The reason people were surprised is because they did listen to the voters.

Look at all the conservative religious voters voted for Trump, despite him being nothing like what they describe as an ideal candidate, and often believing he's been unfaithful to his wife or lying about his religious beliefs.

People often don't know what they want, or have reasons to lie about it. Talking to people about what they want is often ineffective.

I can think of more than one religion that's pro-life _and_ advocates for refugees, the poor, strong marriages. Individual people always have their own flaws.

My problem with voters is that they're not willing to take enough risks. The "Throwing away your vote" meme was election tampering just as much as the Russian Facebook ads.

It's also worth noting that not one race has a monopoly on racism. Racism exists amongst many groups. Older Koreans hold some pretty odious views about Japanese. Newer generations don't hold the same views, normally, but some do. Same in the US, if you walk through or work in low income neighborhoods you'll hear racist point of views pretty often as well as anti lgbt comments. But often it's only the lower class whites who get called out.

Another observation is that we've created an environment where we condone hate on some people, even by progressives.

Basically the rule is, it's not okay to hate, unless its directed against the outgroup of society.

Are sure you don't just hear about lower class white racism more because they're more numerous than older Korean(-Americans)? That seems like mostly a scaling issue to me.

It's sort of like how people say "well, some African Americans are racists too." Well, yeah but 90% of CEOs are white, so if they're racist against you, you're in more trouble on average than if the other 10% discriminate against you.

This is the problem with the big tent. My primary concern in the 2016 election was media propaganda. I voted for Trump in California, where it would never, ever, matter, as a protest vote. That makes me a deplorable racist? :)

It’s worth noting that like Jesus, MLK was murdered by said enemies. Maybe they were still right to love them, but maybe Malcom X was right.


For those in this thread that think you can’t be friends with a racist, consider this story of a black guy who has convinced over 200 KKK members to give up their robes, simply by engaging them and being their friend: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-man-daryl-davis-b...

> I can barely deal with my racist in-laws in Texas, so I have no idea how you could be friends with a Nazi

Aren't there lots of interactions that people can have with each other besides discussing topics such as race, or nation, (or gender, or sexuality)? Why are people so willing to define themselves by their stance on any of these particular topics, to the point of being openly hostile to people with other positions on any of those subjects?

> Why are people so willing to define themselves by their stance on any of these particular topics, to the point of being openly hostile to people with other positions on any of those subjects?

I can't speak for anyone else but for me, at pretty much the top of the privilege ladder, if I don't push back on the people who want to hurt others for their own gain, I'm just as bad as them. Which does make me openly hostile to racists, misogynists, homophobes, etc., yes but, I'm hopeful, also on the right side of history (and, yes, atoning for past sins when I was less understanding.)

> if I don't push back on the people who want to hurt others for their own gain, I'm just as bad as them

Now, I don't mean any offense, and I am sure you are a wonderful person, but doesn't the phrase above translate into you wanting to hurt (~ push back on) certain people for your own gain (i.e. for your peace of mind)?

> doesn't the phrase above translate into you wanting to hurt (~ push back on) certain people for your own gain (i.e. for your peace of mind)?

Sure, you can read it like that but then you'd be equating e.g. "denial of basic human rights" on their part with "me vocally and publically disagreeing with them". Which seems like a really daft stance to take.

What does "denial of basic human rights" mean though? Do these people have the power to grant or deny any rights to anyone, or do they just talk rubbish and behave eccentrically?

> What does "denial of basic human rights" mean though?


Specifically #2, #3, #6, #7, #9.

> Do these people have the power to grant or deny any rights to anyone

They advocate that these rights should be removed from people. In some countries, where you have similarly aligned people in charge (like the US), these denials of rights eventually get made into law.


If you take some of the advice given freely in this thread you might have a better chance at improving their lives.

Also, based on your performance in this thread I'm not sure the Texans should take all the blame in this particular case.

It's like MLK said in another of his famous oratories, love your enemies and pepper your speech with ironic slurs.

I can understand why you would think that, but you should read her tweets a few more times.

The words she used in the past don't seem to have been used with the intention of belittling anyone. While it's probably unwise to use them at all, I doubt her intent was to hurt others.

And I'll quote MLK whenever I want. His words may make you uncomfortable because they preach love of people you disagree with, something you may not support, but they are his words.

I legitimately do not understand why people expose themselves on social media like this! I was 12 or so when i got my first social media, and even back THEN i knew that posting the wrong thing would get be in trouble with my friends, parents, or even school. It blows my mind that full grown adults use such devisive language in a public setting. You have to KNOW that what you are doing is dumb and risky. Not to mention she works in writing, which is a job that's at least partially about YOUR PUBLIC IMAGE, i mean really this is first grade "if you don't have anything nice to say don't say it at all...[ESPECIALLY IF YOUR LIVELYHOOD DEPEND ON YOUR IMAGE]"

Reading the comment by @meri_dian I initially thought "ok she had a non-pc racist friend and supported them. Then by association she was deemed to risky for NYTimes". That by itself is a not "character damning" to her, but you can see how a company would want to distance themselves.

Then i read her actual tweets, where she actually called people slurs. That is not defend-able, and I think she deserves it.

What a load of b.s. Since she engages with communities known for hateful actions she must also be a hateful person and agree with all their thoughts? If you have to dig all the way back to 2013 to find someone using the word "fag" then that's not too bad. Nobody's perfect. Do we not allow for people's attitudes to change over time, or is using the word "fag" once enough to brand you a homophobe for life? Most gay men have used the word before. Or maybe, just maybe, we need to examine the context in which a word is used.

There's an old story about a dude named Jesus that hung out with the deplorables of his time, and it got him killed. Whether or not you believe it actually happened it's got a good moral, and that is: The people in power don't like the people who actually engage with the enemy, you might find that they are people too, or you might actually persuade them to fix their evil ways and then you can't hate them any more. They would rather sit in their ivory towers and do nothing. When someone actually talks with people to try and understand their mindset it makes those ivory tower dwellers look bad for not actually doing anything.

What were the actual racist and homophobic statements? Reading this article the actual offending things are absent and not linked to.

Some context here on "fag" / "faggot"

In some cases Quinn seems to be bantering with her gay friends. Quinn is queer herself.

In other cases she is calling out some 4chan person, for unknown reasons since they deleted their account. Norton is using the common lingo on that site. Especially at the time, on 4chan, everyone was a fag. Being a "fag" on 4chan or certain IRC channels was a complex identity. It was acknowledgement of being a high school social outcast who got called a "fag", and also part of a community that's turned that hate inwards, and is merciless towards outsiders and even each other.

And yes, it's also a slur against gay people and it causes many people pain to read it.

These aspects of internet culture are hideous and awful. It's also the culture that Norton fell into, and grew out of. I suspect many people here are the same.

Where she is right now? Was she a good pick for the NYTimes?

She's complicated. In her personal life she can be very, very difficult to deal with, and her associations are questionable. (Like probably all of your favorite writers from other eras!)

But there isn't anyone else writing with her compassion and understanding about what's happening with young men online in odd technical corners of the internet. And her prescription, that compassion and understanding are the way out – some may find it naive, but I see no other plausible response to the rise of fascism in developed countries today.

I encourage everyone to read her works.

Very well said. Can you link to some things she's written you'd recommend in particular?

Oh dear god yes -- https://medium.com/message/everything-is-broken-81e5f33a24e1 Brilliant piece, spot on

This seems to me that she was mostly using words which are offensive, but frequently used outside of their intended meaning. Definitely language I wouldn't use myself. But for example, "that's gay" has been relatively often used as an insult/derogatory, inadvertently by people not intending to be homophobic.

I'd definitely call out it's use today, but I'm not sure I'd hunt someone down and try to ruin their career over them using language they shouldn't have five years ago.

Nobody has had their career ruined. She's just had a job offer at one of the most prestigious and influential sources of opinion writing change their mind about hiring her.

It seems to me poor and distasteful use of language is a pretty reasonable reason to not want someone in that position.

There are plenty of outlets for idiot 4chan style insults in the world, I'm not sure we really need people from that community holding one of the top positions in tech journalism and opinion writing.

I wouldn't be surprised if I learned that a fair share of high ranking tech people spent time on 4chan.

I mostly agree but it's also understandable on the part of the NYT. She wasn't really even on board yet so this probably counts as one of those battles that isn't worth fighting even if they they wanted to.

Not that it really pertains in this case, but personally, I'm pretty glad that there was no social media prior to my being an established adult professional in a role that made me very aware anything I wrote was out there for all to see and interpret.

Indeed. I don't think Norton is a racist/homephobe, I do think she made poor choices with her social media presence for her career. And while I don't think she should lose her job because of five year old tweets that aren't the greatest, I understand where NYTimes would be at: Their first and foremost responsibility is to their brand and reputation.

>Their first and foremost responsibility is to their brand and reputation

Right. People with no skin in the game often want companies to do the right/heroic/etc. thing. Even leaving aside what the appropriate action in this particular case is, the reality is that when there's a mob or the likelihood of one that wants your head, your employer is probably going to think about it for about 10 seconds and then toss you off the deck. "It's just business" as Bill Belichick would put it. We can all think of plenty other examples over the past few years.

The NYT shows an ever more feeble understanding of brand and reputation in this age - Quinn's writing and public commentary really shouldn't come as a surprise to them, any more than going to a talk by Brenda Laurel and having her call out questions with 'Yo' and shoot down bad questions with 'That's a stupid * question' - I don't always agree with her, but I have always seen her as authentic (both of those fine women, actually)

I wasn't familiar with her before this. But it certainly seems as if they didn't do their homework before hiring someone potentially controversial into a rather visible role (given that they apparently didn't want someone who could be controversial).

Yeah, if what Quinn says comes as any great surprise to you, well, that's just sad. Pity too, she can be funny as hell - and I'd have probably signed up for NYT instead of just going in anon

Edit: removed since apparaently it was a RT

In her own words via Twitter: “I retweeted @JPBarlow using offensive language in a sarcastic tweet that was meant to slap back at racists after Obama's first election. Eh, not my best retweet, even if the intentions, both mine and Barlow's, were in the right place.”

Reading the RT itself, I think it’s clear she is AGAINST racism.

Wasn't that was a retweet (the good ole-fashioned retweet, starting with "RT")? It looks like it was a retweet from John Barlow, the founder of the EFF.

And it was definitely sarcastic, in nature. If you remove the loaded language, it's a bit easier to parse, I think: "If a black man was meant to talk to our schoolchildren, God would've made one President. Oh, wait, he did."

Ergo, a black man was, indeed, meant to talk to our schoolchildren.

That's exactly how I interpreted it as well. It is unwise to use slurs regardless of intent, because people are sensitive to them and rightly so. But her intent in using them was not to hurt or belittle.

You shouldn't remove it because it was a retweet, you should have removed it because it clearly meant the opposite of what you were implying it meant. Plenty often people get lampooned for statements that are later divorced from content but you are taking a single word and divorcing it from the content of the sentence it's in.

Post some inflammatory things on your twitter account and it can come back to bite you. But it is funny that it disqualifies her from writing opinion pieces for a newspaper, while other people tweet far more outrageous things nearly daily and can be President.

I'm not sure why some people get teflon and others don't.

> I'm not sure why some people get teflon and others don't.

In the unlikely case that that was not rhetorical, how much overlap do you think there is between the nytimes readership and Trump's base?

> how much overlap do you think there is between the nytimes readership and Trump's base?

More than you'd think, apparently, given their editorial stance that leans heavily towards normalising his supporters and actions.

Hint: she just so happened to be a woman. Interesting how that happens every time one of these Internet mobs heats up. See also Justine Sacco, and many others.

The smart thing to do here is build a Twitter background check app and sell a subscription to the NYTimes.

This is a pretty good idea. Something that scans tweets and other publicly accessible social media for a list of known words and then compiles it into a report for potential employers would go gangbusters in the HR/hiring areas. It obviously couldn't get everything, but would be a big help for employers.

Sounds wonderful. /s An automated tool that disqualifies people from employment for something ill-advised they once wrote in college based on a naive algorithm.

ADDED: Of course, if you want to be an authentic disruptive Silicon Valley startup you'd offer both this service and a service for end users to expunge any online content that would be flagged by their employer service. Should be good for some fawning tech press writeups.

I'm sure people that don't get a job because of something they said in the past wouldn't like it. I don't really like the idea of not hiring someone based on behavior far in the past (recent public behavior on social media is fair game in my mind).

However, in terms of a startup product that companies would pay for, I stand by my claim that it's a great idea. After all, HN is ran by yCombinator and startups are kind if its thing.

> Some of my friend are terrible people, & also my friends.

That's a really big deal. And for most people, that situation is a) unfortunate, b) unwelcome, and c) confusing in the extreme. People talk a lot with close friends about such a situation just to get a handle on it, to remain honest about the affection they feel while refraining from apologizing for the terrible person's behavior. It's usually painful to come to terms with it. Especially if the terrible person still acts unapologetically to hurt other people.

No one I know tweets casually about something like that, much less humble brags about the terrible person friends they've collected.


Since you won't seem to post according to the guidelines like we've already asked, we've banned this account.

The only thing left for these comments is something along the lines of "Now I know people on HN are smarter than average..."

Can we just stop these twitter outrage storms now? I don't care any more if the "victim" of the storm is left-wing, right-wing, SJW or fascist. Can't we have a truce on this stuff? It's pointless and achieves nothing but to help a few outrage-merchants get off.

This is about treating someone who advocates genocide as if they were merely holding an opinion rather than promoting a prescription for murderous mass action.

I don't think this is about someone befriending someone else who merely has a different, detestable point of view. This is palpably worse.

This is about befriending someone who advocates for withholding the right to live -- in a sense, for taking away the right of millions to have any point of view. I think that's a big difference.

I'm saddened to learn that she was Aaron Swartz's romantic interest. And I'm saddened that no comments here seem to have noticed that this is simply not about a mere disagreement.

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