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Shame Storm (firstthings.com)
232 points by joebeetee 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 234 comments

As I've mentioned before, one of the interesting things I like to study in a casual way is the effect of social community structures on behavior. At this point it is not terribly controversial that modern social media systems encourage shame storms, via things like easy "viral" sharing, the existence of moderation systems that can be used to nuke any attempt to defend oneself out of existence, and the way modern social media encourages cheap virtue signalling by its nature (if nothing else, because there isn't really a way to demonstrate an expensive commitment to anything, everything is cheap words).

So, as an interesting constructive exercise rather than just bemoaning the situation, how could a social system be engineered in a way that it might address the staggering ease with which this sort of shame storm arises, feeds itself, and flings itself against individuals? You can either start from an existing system and try to tame it, or start from scratch.

It's worth thinking about both because it's fun, and because the people who may actually someday fix it may well be here.

It's weird to me that almost all posting/commenting platforms are about the same. You get a series of small boxes with text in them and a small box to type into, usually too small to fit more than a couple of sentences, perhaps a button to promote, a button to reshare, and that's it. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Medium, Disqus... all the same.

We've explored so little of the design space.

If I had to hazard in extrapolating from only a few data points, it seems that shame-storming behaviour correlates with (a) how easily you can reshare without thinking and (b) how easily you can reshare without context.

It would be fun to brainstorm all the possibilities for how we could be communicating online differently. Here are a few stupid ideas I've thought of; I'm sure there are millions more and I'd love to hear yours:

* You have to wait at least 30 seconds before you can hit the reply or reshare button.

* Short or low-information comments are discouraged; if your comment is short or an exact duplicate of something previously written (e.g. a common insult), it's blocked or you have to wait longer before posting it.

* You must listen to your comment read back to you aloud before you can post it.

* Even when reshared, your comment is always presented together with, and close to, the content of the original source article so it's hard to ignore the source.

* You have to correctly answer a simple question about the article before posting a comment on it. A Norwegian newspaper tried this (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14883842).

* After you've gone back and forth a couple of times with the same person, the only option presented to you is to make a voice call directly to that person. You can't just type text at them any more.

* Variant: after a thread gets long enough, you can't type text any more. You must record yourself speaking.

* Every comment must be approved by its parent. (If you never approve replies, then your threads aren't interesting to read, and maybe you get a reputation for never approving, so no one will bother to reply to you.)

About a decade ago I've been thinking about how to design a good discussion platform, and the ideas I came up with have a lot of similarities with what you posted. I think that encouraging long-form communication where quickness of replies is not an inherent advantage and where there are costs to posting (as opposed to not posting) would be great for improving communication quality.

I also think that visual design cues matter much more than people think. Simply having large text fields to type in and clean design where large posts are readable really changes the tone of dicussions. I've seen this on many websites.

Another, newer, idea I have is that there should be some cost to finding/reading new content. It's probably not what you imagined right now. Here is an example. Let's say you have a popular YouTube video when someone plays Overwatch. Instead of the garbled toxic mess we have right now, comments could be split into different tabs/topic. There could be one tab where people discuss the strategy of the player, while in another tab people could discuss balance of the game as a whole. The "cost" of reading comments would be reading the titles of all tabs and clicking on one. It's not much, but I am 99% sure it would do miracles for decreasing toxicity.

People behave much better when they feel they are interacting in a social "space" with a defined (if open) group of other people. Information overflow destroys this feeling in an instant, no matter what other social features you add.

> We've explored so little of the design space.

The design space that we are willing to explore is limited by the fundamental evolutionary drive of social media platforms to hold your attention as long as possible by feeding you little hits of dopamine for minimal effort. Social media platforms thrive on size and activity and neither can be established by raising the bar, only by lowering it to new depths.

On the other hand, Mastodon doesn't have this drive. Facebook, Twitter et al are designed to be addictive because higher engagement translates to higher ad revenue. But Mastodon is ad free and the cost of operating the service is defrayed over thousands of inexpensive, federated instances, so there's less pressure to generate revenue of any kind.

Unfortunately Mastodon chose to clone Twitter's design and the Tweetdeck UI, so the tendency toward short-form, low information comments is carried over from Twitter. I too believe that these design patterns encourage toxic behavior. A simple experiment for any short-form social platform would be to lift any post character limit, make longer posts more readable, and prioritize longer comments in the ranking algorithm, and see what influence that has on the toxicity of the overall experience.

I mean if ten thousand people have responded to something, I would really rather read a few responses where someone made the effort to type out a few hundred words and what they wrote became popular. This doesn't guarantee it will be sane, cogent, etc. but it's better than staring at a wall of one line haters and trolls, which Twitter harassment victims always reference as one of the most traumatic parts of the experience.

I think (at least a few) people are starting to realize that this is what's happening. There may be a window of opportunity opening up to try new and different things. I suspect there are a fair number of folks who are looking for alternatives to Facebook/Twitter/etc. and would be intrigued by novelty.

Bumble is an example of a platform that was all about changing the rules of engagement, and it seems to be doing all right so far. Perhaps there's hope?

It's doing alright as in not failing, but remains to be seen if any of their paradigms measurably improve anything.

this is the first time i’ve heard someone mention bumble in about two years

> Social media platforms thrive on size

Yes. This means federated social networks might long-term have the edge, since someone can launch a new one, and by being part of the federation it automatically starts with lots of users.

We've seen similar limited designs in forum systems. And they aren't necessary driven by the social media economics.

So why are they so similar?

I like your list of ideas, but I just want to bring up one point:

Sometimes the only way to get an insight to the thought processes of the busy & insightful people of the world is through something like twitter, because they don't have time for anything else. Certain subcultures of twitter can be fairly positive despite the lack of moderation tools because the community is small and not a current political hot potato.

That is something I wouldn't want to lose.

> * You have to wait at least 30 seconds before you can hit the reply or reshare button.

I think there should be more and longer delays:

* a one minute delay before you can enter text into the reply box.

* a half-hour (or longer) delay before any comment/post/reply goes online. During that time you're free to edit or delete (but there must be at least a 5 minute delay after your last edit).

The idea is try to let any initial impulse of outrage pass before anything can be said, to force people to put more time into what they say, and lower velocity to keep things from snowballing out of control.

The majority of these suggestions raise the level of effort to make (and display) posts and comments. As someone who currently rarely blogs or tweets, I'd prefer something that lowered the effort to make good posts. I freely admit that I have no obviously good ideas for that at the moment.

One of these suggestions, though:

> Even when reshared, your comment is always presented together with, and close to, the content of the original source article so it's hard to ignore the source.

...is interesting because the most prominent example of that workflow is Tumblr, which is widely expected to be near death. I like the idea in principle, but I notice that when I share an image or post from Tumblr with someone I am very likely to do it by sharing a screenshot, precisely to avoid having the bit I'm calling attention to overshadowed by its context...

> Every comment must be approved by its parent.

Design twist: every comment must be approved by the commenter's parent -- father or mother.

Hahahaha! >_<

> Short or low-information comments are discouraged; if your comment is short or an exact duplicate of something previously written (e.g. a common insult), it's blocked or you have to wait longer before posting it.

I am for this one in particular, if for no other reason than to see more Shakespearean insults due to people being forced to get creative.

> Short or low-information comments are discouraged; if your comment is short or an exact duplicate of something previously written (e.g. a common insult), it's blocked or you have to wait longer before posting it.

4chan tried this based on a script called Robot9000 (by Randall Munroe). Not to imply causation (since there are a ton of cultural factors as well), but that board is now known as the breeding ground of the incel and redpill movements.

I do think the R9K script itself is a good idea though.

> Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Medium, Disqus... all the same.

Of the ones I've used I like Reddit the most. It allows long posts, uses Markdown, and is threaded.

> We've explored so little of the design space.

I've recently started writing a federated blogging platform which will use the ActivityPub protocol. One nice advantage of federated platforms, is they can share each others' messages meaning it's easier for them to get lots of users (you can piggyback on the rest of the federation), so there can be more experiments on doing things different ways.

> You have to wait at least 30 seconds before you can hit the reply or reshare button.

Or the message isn't sent until a cooling down period.

> Short or low-information comments are discouraged; if your comment is short or an exact duplicate of something previously written (e.g. a common insult), it's blocked or you have to wait longer before posting it.

Sometimes a post can be short because a short post is all that is needed. E.g someone might ask me a question that the answer might simply be "yes". I would find it annoying to have to artificially pad the length.

But longer posts should always be possible and the user interface shouldn't discourage them.

> You must listen to your comment read back to you aloud before you can post it.

That's an interesting one. The way I'm going is posts will be edited in Markdown and will then appear as marked-up text.

> Even when reshared, your comment is always presented together with, and close to, the content of the original source article so it's hard to ignore the source.

What I call the "context" of a post is the post its a reply to and that post's context. This could all be stored in a data-structure (such as JSON) when the post is transferred across the network, so the context would always be there. Also the id of a post could be a hash of its contents, making it tamper-evident.

> Sometimes a post can be short because a short post is all that is needed. E.g someone might ask me a question that the answer might simply be "yes". I would find it annoying to have to artificially pad the length.

> But longer posts should always be possible and the user interface shouldn't discourage them.

Yeah! For example, this is a node with two subnodes, one of which has a title and description and everything, the other just a body, so it gets a little permalink thingy:


These are posts in a CMS and not comments, but the principle is the same. Just don't display gigantic things inline by default and there is no reason for big and small posts can't coexist.

Reddit is no better.

The majority of posts on /r/popular are shaming, harassment, mocking, etc. Whole subs are devoted to that.

This depends entirely on what subreddits you read.

Of course. That's true anywhere. I'm just pointing out that even when a platform allows people to write long essays, what most people really want to do is make fun of other people.

> You must listen to your comment read back to you aloud before you can post it.


Ha! I think I thought of this independently from Randall Munroe, but who knows.

Anyway, we should do this experiment, and others! What's to lose?

You couldn't engineer one such social system, you'd have to arrange for multiple social systems, all with their own rules. Communities where people are nice to each other tend to be a.) small, so that you can't just find someone else to piss off b.) have lots of repeated interactions, so you're invested in maintaining good relations and c.) have freedom of exit, so when someone's values don't mesh with the community they leave rather than get perpetually shamed by the other community members.

Many parts of the Internet actually do meet these conditions, but they tend to be small niche hobby sites that are either overlooked or private, not the massive media/FB/Reddit/4chan/Twitterverse where shame storms propagate.

Failing that, the best alternative is sharp boundaries between you and the public sphere of discourse. This is how cities work - you have dense groups of people with diverse opinions and many casual interactions, but most people learn to mind their own business, so it really functions as a group of small interlocking communities rather than one mass of people. It's also how to stay mentally healthy on the Internet - when everybody hates you, unplug.

The more I hear of these new social rules I have to follow [retroactively, mind you] to ensure I'm not "shamed", the more lower income rougher occupations sound grand.

No one probably gives a damn about the sexist wielder or the extreme right/leftist garbage collector because no one wants those jobs and are just happy someone is willing to do it.

Reddit's robin [0] experiment did this - the communities grew until they decided not to anymore. The stakes were a bit higher, you had to vote quickly or fall apart, but I think this could've made for a really novel way of organically growing healthy communities, and I wish they'd explored the idea more. Someday I'll revisit it and maybe implement my own, and see how it does.

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/joinrobin/comments/6398yp/what_was_...

I've been considering this for a while as well.

I don't think there's anything wrong with social media. It's just pointless and irrelevant. The only thing that's wrong is that we rely on it to do something it could never do. As experience on HN showed me and others years ago, with a big enough crowd? You can't say anything. People misunderstand. People disagree with points you never made. A term you use in one way can be construed another way. You're foced either to write 10K word essays on supercillious topics like "I like ice cream" or accpeting the feedback as not worth responding to.

I think there are two things that are required for useful social forums: curated participation and a creed (not a set of standards). You need to have a group of 3-30ish people that you've curated that all subscribe to a small set of beliefs. (Beliefs might be something like "the primary reason for our existence on this planet is to care for and help others", or "Building a strong AI is more important than anything else we can do")

Both the number of members and the number of items in the creed have to be manageable. They both have to be visible at all times.

At that point -- I think -- you can start sharing content and opinions, speculating on interesting and complex social topics.

Just not with the world at large. Big groups don't work that way. Big groups where everybody tries to be kind to one another, and isn't that the point, norm downward to the weakest member. We can't both emotionally-reassure a mentally-challenged victim of gang rape while simultaneously discussing something like sexual harassment legislation. This is stuff we all know innately if we're in a room with a thousand people but somehow completely forget when we're typing stuff into a little box on a screen. Important conversations about tough topics don't happen like that. There's nothing wrong with Twitter, it's just not the tool for having any kind of interesting/difficult conversations.

It can’t be engineered, it can only be enforced. There have to be rules against these kinds of storms and those rules have to have some sort of effect. Social media platforms have to be actively moderated. There is no alternative to this. Having rules and enforcers is how we deal with negative behaviour everywhere, because that is the only thing that works. People’s lives are meaningfully impacted by these things to the degree that they, if perpetrated by an individual, would be considered a crime. Something will have to be done to temper the crowd.

Of course I’m willing to be proved wrong about that if anyone has an example of people collectively being good and self-moderating.

You can’t have a rule against a storm, only a raindrop. Rules have to be enforced against individuals. And what rule would you make that could be enforced?

That isn’t to say you couldn’t have a storm response policy. But then how would you keep the storm from happening first?

Pretty simple: Disallow posts about the subject of the storm. Do so with the explanation that it is a moral good to prevent this kind of dogpiling and that those taking part should be ashamed of themselves.

And how do you prevent the moderators from being corrupted by any influence and stay perfectly objective? You say every forum needs a moderator, I say every moderator is, or quickly becomes, unacceptably corrupt.

Maybe we could come up with some really basic rules for these popular sites, and implement them algorithmically, but good luck dealing with that PR shitstorm.

What’s your point, that we can’t ensure perfect rules so let’s not have any? By extension we can’t ensure perfect government or laws so let’s not bother? I’m looking for a more charitable interpretation but there isn’t one.

Maybe some level of democratisation or at least community engagement, but there will always be people who are dissatisfied.

The only hard rule I'll agree to is no direct threats of violence.

Shame storms would be most effectively fought with better education, not moderators. Don't make judgements based on hearsay. Internet moderators don't help when a shame storm grows larger than the internet.

Bit from the article:

The solution, then, is not to try to make shame storms well targeted, but to make it so they happen as infrequently as possible. Editors should refuse to run stories that have no value except humiliation, and readers should refuse to click on them. It is, after all, the moral equivalent of contributing your rock to a public stoning. We should all develop a robust sense of what is and is not any of our business. Shame can be useful—and even necessary—but it is toxic unless a relationship exists between two people first. A Twitter mob is no more a basis for salutary shaming than an actual mob is for reasoned discussion. That would be true even if the shaming’s relics were not preserved forever by Google, making any kind of rehabilitation impossible.

In other words, the honour system. People will just be good by themselves, despite all of the incentives to act badly. Good luck with that.

I find it interesting that in any real life situation people would want rules to protect people from one another, but online they will argue that they aren't needed.

One does not simply 'engineer' a moral foundation. While the law of the land hints at what the morality of a people is, the people themselves are responsible for their behavior.

While systems can amplify or dampen certain behaviors, they cannot, without brutal authoritarianism, enforce behavior.

"While systems can amplify or dampen certain behaviors"

That is the topic I'm opening, yes. We're clearly amplifying it right now. How can that be changed?

HN lacks some features that allow (and focus) conversations in a single medium.

At the very least, we could take notes from this interface for social interaction: things like 1) lack of notifications, for anything, 2) lack of PMs, 3) lack of any sort of 'personalized' stream of information. We have to pick and choose what we consume, rather than being spoon fed.

Coming from the other side: what allows these storms to form? I think part of the root cause is the ease of sharing information. It is very easy to re-blog/tweet/share on many platforms. In some cases (like Twitter or Facebook) a person doesn't even have to interact with the stuff they're passing on. The act is nearly passive.

I think my thesis is this: things are better here (in part) because it is more difficult to interact with content and people.

A partial solution could then be: add friction to things you don't want to see (or disallow them outright, like HN). Alternatively, make the stuff you want to see very easy.

I agree to some extent with your thesis. I think another factor is how many other words you have to see. This could even be a quantifiable metric.

In order to post a comment on Hacker News, you simply cannot avoid seeing hundreds of other words around it, dozens of comments. It is much harder to read and reply to a single comment out of context.

Come on. The Reddit user interface used to be quite similar to HN (it is obviously less so now), and Reddit has certainly seen its own share of detrimental "human flesh search engine" dynamics, if not outright shaming behavior - remember the whole "We Did It Reddit!" fiasco in connection with the Boston bombing?

I suspect that social media is trying to be too much. at the beginning of Facebook, I remember people basically only interacting with people they knew in real life. it certainly didn't feel good if your whole high school class singled you out for public shame, but it wasn't much worse than what they could do face to face when the teacher wasn't looking.

today, I notice that people are mainly sharing posts from prominent figures with tens of thousands of comments on them. there's simply no way to have a productive conversation when everyone's contribution is immediately buried. all you can really do is agree or disagree emphatically. the result is that now any person with a bunch of followers can say "fuck this guy" and thousands of people will pile on in an instant.

aside from stuff like deliberately curating all the most inflammatory content for our feeds, I think one of the biggest issues with current communities is just scale. if you could only talk to people by joining a small group focused on a locality/hobby/occupation, I bet the experience would be a lot better.

> While systems can amplify or dampen certain behaviors, they cannot, without brutal authoritarianism, enforce behavior.

"Social" media managed to amplify detrimental behaviours by unquantifiable factors. The idea being that maybe you can also built it in a way that doesn't happen or perhaps even in a way that amplifies positive behaviours and dampens detrimental behaviours? Neither is the case currently; with social media being a marked negative influence across the board (except for shareholders).

I believe these tendencies exist because of a strong emotional attachment to personal identity. If you engineered a social system where people devalued personal identity, then I doubt these problems would be so invasive.

That would be 4chan, and it seems to have the opposite effect.

Granted a large part of that is due to the Laissez-faire/incompetent moderation of the site

Actually I'm surprised there hasn't been an anonymous website with strict rules and actually decent moderation; every single spin-off of the site also takes a freeform approach to everything

A site where everybody is invited to submit content anonymously but it's heavily censored & moderated becomes a mouthpiece for the moderators. It's basically Yelp, or the Op-Ed section of a newspaper.

Or Reddit.

Interesting comparisons, but I would have to say those places still have a sense of identity, even if it's one cooked up 30 seconds ago with a 10minuteemail address.

I'm more curious about a site with the "enforced" lack of identity present on those imageboards, except with the ruleset of Twitter or Facebook.

How so? Channers are all anonymous, so there isn't a public persona to shame in the first place.

Rather, 4channers are very adept at heaping shame on other people. They might avoid the return fire by virtue of being anonymous, but it doesn't actually solve the problem of shame storms, just turns it into asymmetric warfare.

4chan (and other such networking media) attract individuals who have developed in an existing social environment. My understanding was that jerf wanted us to engineer a new type of social structure that could be taught to children during their formative years of development.

You want to teach them that they don’t have identities?

It's not as crazy as it sounds. PG wrote an essay about this once [1], and many East Asian cultures have much weaker conceptions of personal identities (separate from a family or larger society) than American and Western European culture does.

The challenge is that this is not an evolutionarily-stable-strategy from a game theoretic perception. When a person from a culture with a weak conception of personal identity meets a person from a culture with a strong conception of personal identity, the former tends to subordinate their desires to the latter, because that's what it means to have a weak conception of identity. As a result, the sphere of public discourse gets dominated by all those individuals with strong identities, even if the majority of people on earth do not have one. (Growing up half-Asian, this was a major source of angst for me, and still something I struggle with.)

[1] http://www.paulgraham.com/identity.html

I think it likely you’d just be replacing one set of neuroses with another.

I’m not even sure what “keeping your identity small” entails, other than assigning more of your merits/demerits to extrinsic factors, or in the Asian case to family or national affiliation. I’m not sure that either of those would help in the case of the online mass bullying that we’re discussing here.

Regarding the essay, I think PG was more right when he said politics and religion were topics which could not be decided upon, so everyone just lets loose. That echoes what Nietzsche said about modern (moral) debate being meaningless, because there are no objective grounds on which to judge anything, so people just shout at each other impotently. It’s an old one but a good one.

Do you think this weaker conception of personal identity is one of the causes of lower crime rates in Asian nations? It would seem an ethos more invested in the whole would exhibit this, along with a lower level of materialism in general.

Dunno. It seems plausible to me, but there are a lot of potentially conflating factors.

Having the system be private with separate groups seems to work pretty well at stopping shaming, or at least minimising its visibility. Don't hear much of this stuff going on in Discord groups or Slack chats or what not, and for many people now, those are their form of social media.

In fact, that may be why such private setups are on the rise. Being private means only your friends/allies/community can hear your thoughts, and it limits your posts' exposure to people who might otherwise try and stir up a mob/cause a media frenzy. I suspect a lot of ex Reddit users joined for that (after seeing how the media likes to dig into subreddits and find controversial posts to mock/mention in articles).

I would take a more pessimistic view. The platform enables and encourages toxic behavior, but at the end of the day, is plagued by toxic people who feel very insecure and thus need to show virtue signaling in its strongest form; who have little self control over their own emotions; and who have a strong desire to assert themselves. A large proportion of people get their opinions from garbage news and don’t care to think critically. Putting opposing groups of these people in a large scale forum of any variety will result in trouble.

Ability to communicate or downvote could be rate-limited, perhaps by the character, to encourage conciseness and quality of thought.

We used to have a simple system for this--duelling.

Having all of these people on Twitter and cable news draw on each other at high-noon...

I know you're being facetious, but dueling wasn't such a great thing for society. It gave tough people an advantage in life over smart or conscientious people. You wouldn't like living in a society where toughness won. It was one of Queen Victoria's great contributions to make dueling socially unacceptable.

Not joking. That, and it doesn't require toughness so much as good aim:


I'd much rather roll the dice with duelling again than introduce some new, elaborate, and untested form of social engineering.

Dueling implies that someone who is _better at one thing_ (hurting others) is inherently Right. It also means that someone who is sufficiently good at such things can act as a bully.

Dueling introduces personal risk for libelous claims, but it _also_ introduces the same risk for those who are making true claims. People already fear the people that hurt them; giving them a legally supported way of hurting them even more (as a legal "defense") would make people even less likely to report others' bad behavior.

Would you challenge someone to a duel, knowing that you're likely to die, even though that person wronged you? Few would take that risk.

#1 The challenge, demand satisfaction. If they apologize, no need for further action

#3 Have your seconds meet face to face, negotiate a peace or negotiate a time and place. This is commonplace, ‘specially ‘tween recruits. Most disputes die and no one shoots.

#8 Your last chance to negotiate. Send in your seconds, see if they can set the record straight.

> Dueling implies that someone who is _better at one thing_ (hurting others) is inherently Right

I don't think it does. Revisit the story of Jeffrey Hudson, and how winning a duel changed his life. What it does imply is some personal risk in making unsubstantiated claims against people.

Try looking at the glass as half-full. Under the present system, true claims are suppressed well enough by the pay-to-play nature of mass media. Re-introducing some aspect of personal risk--one that couldn't be mitigated by mere cash--would, hopefully, let the air out of entire industries of manufactured controversy, which fuel everything from needless wars to societal decay.

As for the challenge, there are worse things than death.

From all I know about past press, it was full of manufactured controversies. It also fuelled wars.

The notion of journalistic objectivity was not even popular.

Never sold it as a panacea.

School us on the booming gossip and accusations industry in colonial America.

> good aim

Andrew Jackson (I believe it was) was challenged to a duel once - he turned around, let his opponent shoot him, and then took his time aiming to make sure that his shot would be fatal whereas his opponents wasn't.

You should read Steven Pinker, then, if you think going back to a Golden Age of murder over social slights is a good idea.

You've also fixed declining television revenue in one fell swoop too. Impressive. Perhaps a smidge impractical, but impressive.

Public shaming can either become less common or more common over time. If it becomes more common, it might eventually become less damaging. Right now, because only 1000s of people have been targets, it's feasible for employers to search online and not hire people who've been shamed.

A historic parallel of diminishing effect is posting identifiable pictures on the Internet. It used to be a big no-no, because when only a few people did it, you really did put yourself at additional risk from stalkers. But now enough people have personal information posted that you're just one in a large crowd.

When Warhol said that in the future everyone would be famous for 15 minutes, people thought they'd be celebrated for 15 minutes. But perhaps it'll be the opposite: everyone will be publicly shamed for 15 minutes.

> If it becomes more common, it might eventually become less damaging.

I mean that's like saying if a huge percentage of Americans have been arrested then it might eventually become less damaging; that happened, and it has become less damaging, but at the end of the day it's still extremely damaging.

> I mean that's like saying if a huge percentage of Americans have been arrested...

No, it's not like saying that. It's saying that public shaming might eventually become less damaging. If you want an analogy that expressed the point of the commenter, one was provided:

> A historic parallel of diminishing effect is posting identifiable pictures on the Internet.

This, also, is not like being arrested.

This comment seems to woefully underimagine ways that public information can be used against you.

Your public photos that are now just one in a large crowd are also subject to having your image deepfaked into revenge porn, used as a spam photo for bot account sign ups, scraped for facial recognition, found instantly by a background check seen by your employer, used to attach demographic info to your name in those shitty phone number / address aggregator sites.

These are just things we know about today. Wait till your public photo is used to trick a self-driving car or biometric scanner. Or hundreds of other things that will be invented between now and forever (since your digital photos are instantly preserved and forever available).

Hope no one analyzes your photo and charges you higher insurance premiums because you were holding a cigarette.

The OP was saying that if shaming becomes common then being shamed can't hurt you relative to the general public, because most of them have also been shamed.

Yes, which fails to imagine the ways that preserved public info can be used to re-shame in the future. If new ways of using that info arise later, and your public info happens to be amenable to the new ways even if many other people aren’t, then it offers permanently-existing surface area for future possible shaming that singles you out in some way previously not anticipated.

  it'll be the opposite
Why not both?

Really interesting read-- this reminds me a ton of the New Criterion, which is constantly publishing articles of a similar style [1]. It's composed in this verbose, sometimes satirical New Yorker-style of writing, and offers such a stark contrast to what's normally cited as a "politically right" source, like Fox News, which I find pretty abhorrent in quality.

Thanks for linking to this; it's immensely important to learn >1 side to an issue, but with the quantity of shallow writing out there, it can often be a challenge.

[1] https://www.newcriterion.com/issues/2018/12/offense-archaeol...

Fascinated with the concept, I subscribed to the New Criterion a year ago. I'm not right-wing by any measurement, and I didn't even know the mag was oriented that way, but the idea of a magazine with no ads, no glossy pictures, no 6th-grade reading level? Based around art and commentary? I had to try it.

I like it a lot. It challenges me to be a more intelligent art consumer. It's not pumping stuff. It just wants to challenge me. I'm glad I tried it.

It’s a monthly review of books, art, classical music performance, the theatre, and the state of the world from the point of view of a classical liberal. There’s a refreshing lack of snark and partisan talking points. When I renewed, I gave a subscription to the local library.

The rule for how to deal with this sort of "shaming" is quite simple: no matter what you may have been 'accused' of, always double down and never issue anything that might even loosely resemble an apology or an admission of weakness, no matter what the costs might be. Then simply wait until the mob gets bored and moves on to the next easy target. There are very high profile examples of this working quite well, but mentioning them here would cause undue controversy, so it is best to abstain.

It's hard to make heads or tails of this without a better definition of what constitutes "doubling down" or "working quite well".

The example that comes to mind is James Damore and he "doubled down" in the sense that he stood by his original statements (which made sense because his original memo was clearly and explicitly not endorsing the things he was accused of endorsing). It "worked out quite well" in that he _only_ lost his job and endured a lot of harassment, abuse, and slander (although who knows what kinds of psychological scars this treatment could have left him with), but probably didn't have a hard time finding another job and the mob did eventually (mostly) move on.

So either the Damore example satisfies your definition of "working quite well" but not mine (or probably most people) or this example illustrates that your prescription doesn't always work. Perhaps it is exceptional, in that most mobs aren't marshalled by major publications nor do they conspire with the CEO of one of the most prominent companies in the world.

Might be wrong as I haven't followed this too much. But, my impression was that he mostly played a clueless person caught in a grotesque situation. Doubling down would mean going after his accusers directly.

He's in a tough spot given who he's up against. In an oligopolistic industry like ours it's risky to be hated by anyone.

But I do think it would work in the sense that he'd have a larger group of people cheering for him. And this is solely about clarity. If you're too nuanced in what you're broadcasting to the world people don't know how to react. Nobody wants to waste time trying to figure you out. Doubling down is exactly about taking out any nuance for a stronger message.

Do you think that James Damore would have been better off had he apologized and groveled to the mob of shamers? Even after he lost his job? (which there was no chance of avoiding - as you say, he went against the CEO of "one of the most prominent companies in the world".) That seems rather implausible if you know how these mobs generally behave. Forbearance - of the sort you might expect from an individual who has been wronged and sought appropriate restitution - never happens, because it's not a stable equilibrium. What happens is that the "storm" eventually blows over naturally, but that's a rather different dynamic.

Not sure if he would have been better off or not. I'm glad he didn't grovel; we shouldn't incentivize mobbing innocent people, especially under overtly false pretenses (though it's entirely unfair that the innocent party has to endure all of the consequences for doing what is right while the mobbers get off scot-free).

AKA the "we don't negotiate with terrorists" strategy of dealing with social outrage mobs

Same setup works well for companies too. Yes it's difficult to accept the short term PR hit, but at the end of the day, the social media mob will likely have zero influence on the success of the business or how many sales it makes.

That's arguably one reason certain games companies have gotten away with horrible, rather anti consumer behaviour for years (like EA), because they realised early on that boycotts and internet complaints do not matter. For them, it's like 'who cares if the angry mob is calling for our heads over on Reddit, because Madden/FIFA/whatever will still sell millions of copies'

At the end of the day, most drama queens and controversy fanatics don't make companies money, and those that do will give up their boycott in time. So the answer is to do nothing and just watch everything fizzle out.

I'd be curious to hear some mentioned, in case there are examples I missed.


Never explain never apologise.

My advice to anyone would be don't make even the slightest effort to please people who hate you.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions that highly educated people have is to think that they are immune to the effects of an angry/unruly mob. As participant or as victim.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions that anti-mob people have is that there is no cost to letting people go un-shunned.

There is much hand-wringing over the handful of people wrongly shunned, but many of the wringers give no thought at all to the victims who are forced out of their careers, families, and communities every day because the people around them refuse to consider the possibility that there is a wolf in their midst.

Nieces absent from Thanksgiving while their uncle sits at the table. Talented women leaving tech while their spiteful coworkers are promoted.

Should we allow abusers to hold power because there’s a shadow of a doubt that they might be innocent, thereby sending their victims to start over in a new city?

Outside of the court system, shouldn’t we try to hit a 1:1 ratio of wrongful excommunications to failures to excommunicate?

Or should it be 1:1,000,000 like the courts do? A million unpunished rapes for every wrongful conviction? A million women pushed out of their rightful career path for everyone one man who was wrongfully fired?

When the information doesn’t exist to make perfect decisions, how do we decide who takes up the burden of our mistakes?

I'll admit that I'm fairly sketched out in general at the suggestion of extra-legal measures of justice in a civilized society. I think the potential for harm far outweighs the good that might be done and that your goal of a 1:1 ratio sounds a lot like "eye for an eye". It's about as counter to societal progress an idea as I can think up.

And I say all that as someone who saw the Surrogate Court system abused to steal away all of the lifetime wealth honestly earned by my mother.

> I think one of the biggest misconceptions that anti-mob people have is that there is no cost to letting people go un-shamed.

You're conflating "shaming" and "mobbing". Mobbing includes shaming, but it also includes violence, threats, harassment, or the facilitation thereof. We should oppose mobbing, but shaming serves a useful social function and you can be "anti-mob" and "pro-shaming"; however, the anti-mob group probably does oppose the new trend in slandering overtly innocent people and then mobbing (including shaming) them on the basis of the slander.

> Outside of the court system, shouldn’t we try to hit a 1:1 ratio of wrongful excommunications to failures to excommunicate?

For every valid offence some other completely innocent person should also be punished to ensure that no one ever escapes justice?

What could ever go wrong with that...

I think it's safe to say that the costs of vigilantly mob justice is far higher than any benefit it might have. You usually end up with situations like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Scare

It's also impossible to have the full context of a story from the information available in a shame storm (often the other half of the story from the shame-ey is missing or not believed). The severity of the "punishment" that is doled out based on extremely thin "facts" is terrifying and not something a just society should encourage.

That is because highly-intelligent people realize that some things may be true which are not palatable or acceptable to the masses, and vocalizing any of these brings on much consternation in the twitterverse, even if it's a simple rational observation

Jon Ronson's book on this topic, So You've Been Publicly Shamed, is another insightful look at the wild world internet-fueled shaming.


I think that the actual issue is the collective desire for punishment, and our inability to forgive others. From what I can see, forgiveness is something that we should strive to achieve as soon as possible after an offense. It's far too easy to hold people in public contempt, or prison, far longer than their just deserts.

I think forgiveness assumes that most of these “righteous“ crusaders are actually personally angry though, which is rarely the case. It’s frequently just virtue signalling in a way that sociopathically ignores that a real human beings’ reputation is at stake and the massive consequences of that.

I'm sorry, I'm not sure how you could know that, or why it would be a precondition to forgiveness. Assuming that large numbers of people are dishonest and sociopathic may not be incorrect, but acting as if that were true seems pretty misguided.

The problem of forgiveness is forgiving atrocity. Yeshua bar Youssif suggested that one should "turn the other cheek," that is, not just to immediately forgive the offense, but to immediately give the perpetrator the opportunity to commit the same offense again. The application of this precept to persons such as Robert Bowers is a sickening thought -- clearly we must not condone atrocity in the name of forgiveness. Yet we must come in time to forgive, and indeed, sooner than our wont. The matter is a frequent and weighty concern for me; I don't have any answers.

"If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged." -- Cardinal Richelieu

I'm 44, and either I'm just getting old enough to notice things I never noticed when I was younger, or there's something very concerning brewing - it seems to me like a small but growing subsegment of western society is working as hard as they can to escalate civilization to an actual violent conflict. And, based on my understanding of history, the biggest losers in that conflict will be the ones pushing the hardest for it right now.

I don't think there's a concerted effort to escalate. I think it's more of an emergence phenomenon. But yes, the outcome you describe is likely inevitable if something doesn't change soon.

This "small but growing subsegment of western society" was rioting on the street on a regular basis a year or so ago and had an actual date set for a violent revolution (in the US at least). They seem to have petered out though, probably because they were deemed a domestic terrorist organization.

I'd recommend people having kids give them very common names and consider giving them modifications of the last name if it's rare. It's depressing advice and a bit like paying a lifetime of insurance premiums that's likely never to be needed.

Unless the concept of a search changes in the next couple decades, getting lost in a sea of similar names is the only defense against unfounded accusations. (Changing one's name after the fact doesn't work as you're required to give prior names for many jobs.)

When I registered for a library card as a kid, there were five other people with my exact first + last name. The doctor's office my parents used when I was an infant had to modify their policies to ask for my middle initial because there was another infant with the same first + last + birth month.

Definitely recommend it. The first ten pages of Google results for my first + last show like at least 50 other people that aren't me.

Only issue is that it can be difficult to use your name as an email handle - fortunately my parents were tech savvy enough to grab concat(firstName, middleInitial, lastName) as a gmail address and domain name for me.

Not just names, usernames too. People will find it much harder to dig up information on someone going by a generic sounding name like 'cat' or 'computer' compared to someone with a more unique handle.

Combine that with a generic name like John Smith, and you've got someone who's basically impossible to dox.

It’s pretty awesome to have a common name. There are five people in my company with my name. There are at least two in my very small city.

So the author of this piece appears on a panel to defend a book by an author who had published another book called, Liberal Fascism [0]. This piece is supposed to make me feel sorry for her?

Well I don't fully understand the entire context of this person's story but I do know something about being publicly shamed. When I was a kid in high school I had to suffer being called a fgot every day. By every one. I had been hospitalized in an altercation and had been involved in several more. My car had been vandalized on more than one occasion. People would openly point, yell the word, and laugh until the whole crowd had joined in. It was an exercise in torture.

No side eye on the train. No wondering what people were shaming me for. The police couldn't do anything about it.

I used to think public shaming was a bad practice given my poor experience with it. When I heard the first stories of people using social media to shame serial offenders of the social norms of public life I thought... who are these people to judge and decide? What if that person had a reason? Do we really want to lower ourselves to this vigilante justice?

However this is 2018. This world has books like, Liberal Fascism. It has platforms for people with radical opinions to gain an audience from the comfort of their living room. Instead of limiting the spread of anti-LGBTQ sentiments it has fostered them and allowed them to spread. Instead of reducing racially-charged crimes and hate speech, social media and the Internet has enabled it. On a whole new level.

I think you should count yourself lucky that the people hurt by your conservative views have made you feel ashamed. You felt the discomfort of someone who doesn't fit in. Welcome to the club. How will you change now?

[0] https://www.amazon.ca/Liberal-Fascism-American-Mussolini-Pol...

The subject of the linked article wasn't forced to resign because he was accused (but not convicted) of sexual misconduct, but because he didn't immediately and passionately _condemn_ somebody else who was. If this can happen to him, it can happen to you or me - the only difference is that our reputations are, for the moment, inconsequential and not worth destroying.

I agree that public shaming can and does serve a useful function in dissuading fringe right-wing ideologies (among others); however, the whole reason we're seeing an uptick in these fringe ideologies is because public shaming has lost its potency after it was repeatedly abused (mobbing moderate liberals and conservatives for violating far-left moral tenets under the overtly false pretenses of fascism/racism/white-supremacy). Basically

TL;DR, if you (like me) really want to push back against dangerous ideologies like racism, fascism, white-supremacy, etc, then you should oppose groups who try to combat moderate ideas by conflating them with the aforementioned dangerous ideologies.

NOTE: The author of "Liberal Fascism" is a moderate conservative, by the way, and trying to associate him with extreme right-wing views is exactly the problem (and we can acknowledge as much without endorsing his ideas).

The difficulty I have with this is that many right-wing conservatives with radical opinions on everything from the rights of LGBTQ folks to race are trying, desperately, to rebrand themselves as moderate conservatives. In the same way that white nationalists are trying to avoid being called out as White Supremacists.

I'm sure Jonah would like me to believe he is a moderate conservative. The history lesson in Liberal Fascism is laughably inaccurate and built on a poorly thought-out premise. It was an argument made that had never existed before. In a word, I don't have any reason to believe he is any kind of moderate person.

I think what we're seeing with public shaming are dis-empowered people calling a spade a spade.

What I'm curious to see is whether people who have felt this kind of shame will change. Will they re-examine their behavior? Or will they, like the Jonah's of the world, dig in and continue to bloviate about leftist-shame-mongering hordes abusing their free speech? And in the process what happens to the rest of us? Will my kids be shamed and called a f-g when they get to school and end up in a hospital with a fractured skull? Will we ever change?

Whether or not you or I agree with his book or his beliefs, Jonah Goldberg has a long and distinguished career as a moderate conservative. He's an avid critic of Trump and he vocally condemns racism and white supremacy. Casting him as an extremist is witch-hunting, and it hurts our ability to keep actual racists and white-supremacists in check.

> Will my kids be shamed and called a f-g when they get to school and end up in a hospital with a fractured skull? Will we ever change?

The world has been changing for decades before this "moderates are actually white-supremacists in disguise" trend kicked off. It's precisely this kind of conflation that jeopardizes the progress we've made.

For a more gracious treatment of the subject of public shame, try listening to Monica Lewinsky [0]

"[I was required to] listen to my sometimes catty, sometimes churlish, sometimes silly self being cruel, unforgiving, uncouth; listen, deeply, deeply ashamed, to the worst version of myself"

[0] https://www.ted.com/talks/monica_lewinsky_the_price_of_shame

I have a pretty simple algorithm for articles about the dangers of public shaming. If they fail to catalog GamerGate and the online shaming of Zoe Quinn as an example of the problem, they are probably not a balanced look at the phenomenon. I find Justine Sacco's case is a reasonable metric for the other half of the equation.

> If they fail to catalog GamerGate and the online shaming of Zoe Quinn as an example of the problem

One word: /v/

So yes, the online shaming of Zoe Quinn is a crystal-clear example of the problem we're dealing with here! And this fact alone (though a seldom-acknowledged fact) actually explains much of how a lot of the "censorship" that fed the GG controversy originally came about.

My understanding of the GG drama was that it started fairly unsavory, but rapidly became about something entirely unrelated to Zoe and her relationships.

The reaction from the gaming media organizations being accused of serious (if video games can be serious) lapses of journalistic integrity, complete with multiple examples of it just poured fuel onto the fire. After that, I stopped following it, but it does seem that more gaming media organizations put effort into disclosing conflicts, so perhaps some good came out of it in the end.

Agree in part, disagree in part -- but nonetheless it's a pretty significant episode of public shaming, and I have a hard time imagining a really high quality article about the subject that doesn't cite it.

I'm afraid I only saw the GG thing after it had stopped being about journalistic integrity and video games (whatever the hell that is). Unsavory is a pretty mild description.

Spoiler: there's no "before" and "after". It was always about /v/ trolling Zoe Quinn. And to some people, I suppose, it was about journalistic integrity and video games (to channel '45'). Does one negate the other? That's a hard question, and a matter of interpretation - no matter where you stand, you'll never get everyone on the same page.

Funny, how the misogynistic mob finds a defender here, seeing the good within the hate. Meanwhile, the dozens of incidents cited of sexists and racists rarely get more than a "I, too, believe this is the end of free speech".

Defend the misogynistic mob? That's exactly what parent did not do. Indeed, the unsavory, /v/ element was always a huge liability for GG as a social phenomenon, and I don't know of anyone who would even attempt to deny this.

"It started really bad, but [...] some good came out of it in the end."

That's a defence, without question. It does include an acknowledgement of the harms of what happened, but by pointedly ending with a hand-wavey invocation of some supposed benefits, it is characterising those harms as a sort of necessary evil.

The difference is that Quinn was widely praised by the media, and ended up getting a book and movie deal out of it. It's a poor example of "dangers of public shaming". Sacco, like many other victims, was vilified by the media and lost everything.

I have good news for you! Sacco was hired as Director of Communications by FanDuel about 6 months after IAC fired her from a similar director-level position. She was promoted to VP at FanDuel two years later, and she is currently the VP of Communications for Match. (Which, as it happens, is owned by IAC.)

But that's not really the point. Let's say that Sacco's life really was destroyed... isn't that an even better reason to compare and contrast the two cases? Instead, the article we're talking about implies that the right never shames people. I sort of feel like that's a bad approach to the question.

This article, if written by someone else, might be more impactful for me. This is the story of a woman who fled half-way across the world from a Twitter-storm, but who, when confronted by a refugee who had been shot and tortured in his home country, that his suffering did not mean he had the right to seek asylum. This is a woman who admires Marine Le Pen and Trump, but is happy to seek her own asylum when a minor shit-storm goes down.

But to address the articles concern - the reason we all seek mob justice is because a) it works, and it hurts, and it can ruin the lives of even the richest of us and b) we have no other buttons left. We mash the twitter/facebook/HN button because it is the last place we have any agency. Corporate interests have taken over out politics, rendering even the power of the ballot box moot since most parties appear to be in someone's pockets, the power of our consumption is dulled by decades of moribund growth, our ability to protest curtailed by an ever-present state of surveillance. This is what we have and, by god, we will keep mashing those buttons until things change.

Stories like this are collected at reddit.com /r/selfawarewolves

I admit I am a little curious about what she thought about living in Australia.

I’m sure she found some pleasure and imspiration in the news coming out of Nauru.

The author of this article is a cunning, dangerous person. She was not shamed as she would like her reader to believe - she was “outed” for her inflammatory political views and she only stayed in self-imposed exile until the current administration made those views vogue among a certain set of deplorables. Now she’s skmething if an influencer in Trump-world. Which is to say: shameless.

A few thoughts just bubbled up while reading this.

1. Everyone is potentially a journalist. Smartphone & social media = capture & comment.

2. Everyone is potentially a celebrity. Virality = celebrity.

3. Everyone is potentially a publisher. Share, post, retweet = publish.

4. Almost no one is (cares to be) an editor.

It seems to me that though the obvious impact of these is exactly what you'd expect (a permanent social shit-stain), the times they are-a-changing. Belief is no longer a matter of truthiness but almost a lifestyle/fashion choice. People are learning to tune-out whatever it is they consider fake-news. I suspect that the amplified impact of modern "shame storms" will be discounted by the levels of latent disbelief held by people.

i.e. people could (soon) care less.


EDITED: fixed line-break formatting. Why do I keep falling for the same thing?

I had the thought the other day that what we're seeing here in the West is like an informal version of China's social credit system, and perhaps that something like China's social credit system is almost unavoidable when everything is hyper-connected like this. This is what humans do, and when you connect them all at scale they do it at scale.

The specific mores and taboos don't matter. People get hung up on this being a "liberal" thing, but go to a very conservative part of the Borg hive mind and you get the same behavior. Criticize Donald Trump on Reddit's conservative forums and you are instantly brigaded, shamed, or banned.

The mere existence of the emotion of „shame“ shows that this mechanism is old, probably older than Homo sapiens.

It’s simply a way to get people to behave in a society, without invoking the heavier tools such as the law.

Conversely, that the mechanism is so old indicates that it evolved to work in groups of the size humans (or their ape ancestors even) formed back when it first appeared - i.e. dozens, not millions. It's not a given that the way we scale it is optimal, or even good.

That's sort of what bothers me. This stuff evolved to work in small tribes, not global societies. When you don't actually know the person the behavior is very different.

China's "human flesh search engine", with its attendant doxing and shaming culture, is perhaps even more famous than its social credit system - in fact, one of the points of the latter is to avoid the excesses of the former. There's nothing new here.

From what I understand, they're closer to old anonymous, doing things because it's interesting. Alongside the bad, there's plenty of stories out there of various HFSE reuniting long-lost loved ones, stopping animal abusers, etc.

It's becoming increasingly clear that a fully connected graph is not the ideal form for productive human social organization.

One of the funny and snarky things Jordan Peterson has said is that he "figured out a way to monetize social justice warriors".

Which is true in some sense. He's become well funded through donations and book sales even as groups of people direct a ton of hate at him. He can afford to almost totally ignore them, because for every hater there are ten fans.

Which leads to a crazy thought: If the social media mobs knew that they were going to make their victims rich, might they moderate themselves somewhat?

Would they tell each other to "stop talking about X, you're just making them more money!"

I think some kind of meme like this might be a strong antidote in some cases. Maybe some benevolent person or organization could give a $100k patreon seed to each victim of the mob.

Maybe one solution to hateful internet mobs spewing bile is loving internet "mobs" sending donations.

I don't think they would stop. I suspect what we're seeing is that the mobs shouting very loudly is being propped up by social media and the news media (who fall all over themselves to report it because of the controversy).

The reality, I think, is that the population of mobs is otherwise quite small, but because of the social media and news media megaphones they appear larger than they are. We're at a point now where everybody else is in fear of being attacked by those mobs so they quietly fund whoever they perceive to be in opposition of the mob. But at the same time, because of the media megaphones, the mobs incorrectly believe they are having success and thus the negative cycle continues.

Thus, after I shame you in an unjustified way, I also get to shame you some more for profiting off of your newfound victim status, thus proving that I was morally right about you all along, even when I wasn't.

This is exactly what's already happening - coming from both sides, in fact.

It was the same with Trump. I'm pretty sure the outrage directed at him (even though much more justified) was a big reason for his victory.

This is a great essay on reviling. Revilers are mentionable in the last book of the christian bible.

Also known as mob rule, one of the main reasons philosophers like Plato and Aristotle didn't like complete democracies.

Buruma deserved to get fired because he had no idea what he was doing or what his magazine's audience was.

I don't know if there is a good fix for it, but labels are a very potent weapon. In the U.S. a few decades ago, calling someone a communist sympathizer was a dangerous label. In China in the 1950s being called a rightist was a dangerous label. Today being called a racist, a pedophile, a Nazi, etc. are still dangerous labels. In this article cited the author was labeled a sociopath by an ex-boyfriend and also of being cruel ("cruelty-based view of the world"). These labels are difficult to undo because they are so easy to remember. If you live in a small village and, let's say, get labeled a derogatory term like a "slut" ... that quickly propagates until every villager accepts it as common wisdom that you are. So I do like the discussion about how to engineer a better social system, but it would require censoring label accusations until they had been proven, and this goes up against another part of the social system of supporting free speech. So I think you'd have to ban negative labels in the way that we don't legally allow hate speech (in the U.S.) despite the First Amendment because of the way it causes disproportionate and long-term harm to the victim. I don't see any other realistic solution to a problem that has existed ever since humans formed social groups and speak languages... being ostracized, exiled, or worse has been the outcome of shaming for the last 100k years. I don't see a great way to avoid it other than to just walk on eggshells and always be really nice to everybody or develop the reputation of a maverick... tough but honest and fair (like Sen. John McCain was known for). Regardless, you have to fit yourself into some admirable persona that society values to avoid shaming. If there are other people that get shamed because they don't fit into one of the socially admirable personas, perhaps the best way to address it is to expand the list of socially admirable personas.


It's not going to stop because it works.

An opinion that is politically fueled should not allow this form of "shaming" unless we want to throw free speech out the window. Our small church was "Targeted" because I gave some advice to a gay woman who asked for it about her kids. She then tried to wreck our lives over the asked for advice. You can read the account here: https://www.scribd.com/document/389212460/Antisemitism-in-We...

Others got on the "Band wagon" at different intervals. Whatever the justification is for such behavior, ultimately there is no justification.

Don't really think the Kavanaugh example really fits in with the rest. Sorry, if you want to be a Supreme Court justice, yes, you should should be held to a much higher standard. Yelling about "revenge on behalf of the Clintons" does indeed count as "partisan bitterness".

If allegation of a decades old crime at an unspecified date, time, and location, and with no corroborating evidence is enough to block a Supreme Court nomination then we're not going to be nominating new justices any time soon (Democrat or Republican).

His attitude while defending himself on the stand is the basis for which I would rescind his nomination. His behavior was not befitting of someone who is about to be conferred lifetime appointment to the highest court in the country. I don’t want him crafting laws and making decisions that impact huge groups of people.

Behavior such as? Most people who I've seen criticize his behavior essentially boil down to criticizing him for not admitting guilt, or because he tried to discredit Ford - neither of which are valid points in my view. Defending oneself from an accusation inherently entails discrediting the accuser, to criticize defendants for doing so is essentially saying it should be socially unacceptable to defend oneself from an accusation. While I probably won't agree with Kavanaugh's court opinions, the opposition to his appointment also has negative effects. It was correlated with a drop in trust for alleged victims of sexual assault, for example: https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2018/10/15/after-a-...

Behavior such as repeatedly making easily disprovable statements (which numerous past acquaintances who had no particular reason to otherwise make public statements about his nomination called out as blatant lies), and pugnaciously asking a Senator whether she ever gets black-out drunk.

After starting his career in politics as a vicious partisan hack e.g. involved directly in a conspiracy to undermine Judiciary Committee hearings, perjuring himself in his first judicial confirmation hearing, and spending his judicial career on tireless and extreme support for corporate interests, he should have not been the nominee; there are many less controversial and more respected choices among high-profile career members of the GOP. But if he had acted like an adult in the hearing and been willing to admit to being an angry drunken partier as in his teens and twenties who might have done stupid things and not remembered, and demonstrated some contrition and sign of personal growth, I and many others would have some respect for it.

Instead, his behavior was the most hostile and disrespectful I have ever seen in a public hearing. I urge anyone curious about this to watch the 3 hour hearing for yourself. In my view his confirmation is a stain on the Senate and the Court. It cements the public perception that the rich and powerful can do anything they want, remain unapologetic, and face no consequences.

He repeatedly stated that did consumed large quantities of alcohol in late high school and in college. Maybe there is diagreement over the exact degree of inebriation, but I am not so sure it's correct to say he lied. Regardless, the two points after are where the problematic nature of the complaints against Kavanaugh surface:

> who sometimes shoved his penis in women’s faces,

Another allegation which he denies. As I predicted, the core complaint is that he denies the allegations made against him. This is effectively constructing a situation in which the accused is guilty of something no matter what. Either 1) the accused does not defend themselves and is guilty of the alleged crimes, or 2) the accused does defend themselves, but in the world view you've constructed this makes them guilty of hostility and disrespect.

> and demonstrated some contrition

Contrition for what? He denies said allegations. Again, when you get to the bottom of it this is essentially criticizing the fact that Kavanaugh maintained his innocence. This is what was so pernicious about the Kavanaugh hearings that bothered even me, a lifelong Democrat. The fact that merely trying to defend oneself against an allegations is grounds for negative character judgement is at odds with the core principles of justice.

> and sign of personal growth, I and many others would have some respect for it.

If going from a binge drinking teenager to Supreme Court nominee (let alone Justice) doesn't demonstrate personl growth I don't know what does. This is greater growth than most people on HN will likely achieve (myself included).

Update: It appears the above poster had since edited their comment. My response took a while to write, so it could be that their edit was made before my response was done. I urge commenters not to assume bad faith on their part.

> He repeatedly stated that did consumed large quantities of alcohol in late high school and in college.

No, he repeatedly denied it (while only admitting that he “liked and likes beer” and occasionally drank beer in moderation). He also made up comically absurd lies about his high school yearbook, and lied about several other more serious topics e.g. related to his work for Starr and his work as a Bush staffer. (I don’t intend to re-litigate this here. You can do a web search and find numerous analyses of the details.)

From his testimony:

> I drank beer with my friends. Almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers.

It may be valid to say that his drinking was more serious than his tone seems to indicate, but to say that he did not admit drinking to excess is factually incorrect.

The description from everyone who knew him was that he got shit-faced several times per week, and was commonly a belligerent drunk.

Did you watch the hearing? If not, I strongly recommend it. I don’t know anyone who watched it all the way through who thought that Kavanaugh was being candid or sincere in response to Senators’ polite questioning.

A nomination hearing is not a trial; you should not be trying to parse his statements as if it were. The standard for a Supreme Court Justice should not be “well if we give him the benefit of the doubt he was grossly misleading, uncooperative, and aggressively disrespectful but a jury might not convict him of perjury”.

P.S. What do you think “boof” and “devil’s triangle” mean?

> Defending oneself from an accusation inherently entails discrediting the accuser

This reduces the question to a black and white decision, which is unreasonable. I see two major flaws here:

1. You're eliding the difference between discrediting the accuser's claim and discrediting the accuser themselves. There is a significant difference between saying "that's not accurate" and saying "the person who said that is a drunken loser who has been out to get me for years."

2. You're likewise removing any distinction between true and untrue responses! Surely it's acceptable to criticize a defendant for lying?

Now, we have not established whether or not Kavanaugh was lying, and I'm not saying he was -- but your response completely skips over that entire facet of the question. You are assuming a conclusion which has not been reached.

>There is a significant difference between saying "that's not accurate" and saying "the person who said that is a drunken loser who has been out to get me for years."

Did Kavanaugh ever say the latter? In fact this line of criticism seems to work in his favor: the label "drunken loser" was applied to Kavanaugh much more frequently than it was applied to Ford, at least from the coverage I saw (admittedly, mostly from left leaning outlets so that may be a factor).

I'm not sure why you brought up #2 given that you later state that you don't know of any instances in which Kavanaugh lied. Yes, if Kavanaugh lied that would be significant. But as you stated in your own comment, you do not know of any such instances. I am not aware of any statement that was proven to be false either, at least outside of tangents that stretch my idea of relevance to the accusations (e.g. contents in his yearbook). So, yes if Kavanaugh lied that would be valid criticism - but we both agree that this was never demonstrated, so this point is moot.

No, he did not say such a thing.

I'm not specifically addressing Kavanaugh, I'm pointing out a flaw in your logic. You made a general assertion, which I'll quote again: "Defending oneself from an accusation inherently entails discrediting the accuser, to criticize defendants for doing so is essentially saying it should be socially unacceptable to defend oneself from an accusation."

Did you mean that, or did you generalize a bit more than you intended while defending Kavanaugh?

Yes, I meant precisely what I wrote. Defending oneself entails discrediting the accuser. Knowingly lying, or insulting the accuser in a way unrelated to maintaining one's innocense is not necessary. But as you stated yourself, the subject at hand did neither of these things.

How you made the leap from, "Defending oneself from an accusation inherently entails discrediting the accuser" to, "knowingly lying and needlessly insulting people is okay" is a mystery to me.

> How you made the leap from, "Defending oneself from an accusation inherently entails discrediting the accuser" to, "knowingly lying and needlessly insulting people is okay" is a mystery to me.

Ah, I'm sorry that was unclear.

The word "discrediting" is ambiguous. It's sufficiently general so that it's hard to make a moral statement about it. You can discredit someone by pointing out flaws in their statements. You can discredit someone by lying about them. There are lots of ways to discredit people, so just saying that it's OK to discredit the accuser doesn't really imply any specific moral principle. It's not a useful statement.

Does that help?

Edit: whoa, crap, I missed something. I did not say "the subject at hand did neither of these things." I said "we have not established whether or not Kavanaugh was lying, and I'm not saying he was." Close one there!

I would not say that the "inherently" in that comment should be read as a necessary condition, since some false accusations are the result of e.g. mistaken identity, that entails no blame on the accuser. However, it certainly is the case often enough to deserve mention, entirely aside from what the specifics of Kavanaugh's case might be.

Saying that the accuser mistook someone's identity is still discrediting them. It's selectively discrediting them, by specifically discrediting the part where the accuser claims it was the defendant that did the crime while not discrediting the fact that the crime took place. But it still is discrediting the accuser.

He was often blackout drunk according to his classmates, but he repeatedly lied and said he wasn't.

Stand in his place for a week and tell me that.

To echo manfredo, if the only people we can nominate to the Supreme Court are people who can just calmly sit there while the absolute worst accusations possible are flung against them, we're not going to be nominating new justices any time soon (Democrat or Republican). Or, alternatively, we're going to get a very, very distorted set of justices who lack all emotional affect or something.

Or, looking at it from another view point, there is this idea floating around (you're not the first place I've heard it from) that simultaneously, poorly-founded [1] accusations of rape are really, really terrible, like, the worst thing ever, more than sufficient to scotch a nomination to any serious office of the land... but at the same time, a person who is so accused of literally the worst thing ever should also have no reaction to this and be completely impassive in the face of these nominally terrible accusations.

Look, either it's that serious and it should be treated that seriously across the board, or it's not that serious at all, and it should be treated unseriously across the board. But if you try to have it both ways, the conclusion people are eventually going to come to is that it must not be serious. That's what's going to win out; are you sure you want that? Do you really want to say that the standard for reacting to being accused of serious crimes is that the accused should just wave the accusations away and be completely unaffected by them? Are you really asking for that to be the standard? Because if you think about it, I bet that's not what you want.

[1]: You want to consider them true, you want to consider them false, that's your business, but I'm very comfortable characterizing the accusations as very poorly founded either way.

> Stand in his place for a week and tell me that.

Imagine going to the less well-off part of America and start a conversation like that.

"Imagine you're accused of rape twenty years ago and you have to defend it in front of angry people."

"So, if I fail, I go to jail?"

"No, not really."

"...Are they gonna beat me up?"


"Do I lose my job? My house? Will they take my daughter away for me being a rapist?"

"No, none of this happens. But a lot of people will call you names."

"...A lot of people call me names for just walking around!"

From my discussions, as well as from surveys conducted (remember, poorer less educated people were more likely to support his appointment), it actually resonated more with less well off demographics. True, for Kavanaugh the stigma of being seen as a rapist doesn't have much effect - his employment is guaranteed for life after all. But for a poor person it may greatly impede their ability to get employment, potentially even putting them on the streets. For the less well off, being seen as a rapist, is a lot more impactful than getting called names.

That office is so important that I’m happy to wait until the right candidate shows up. And I don’t want republicans or Democrats.

I want scientists of law with integrity.

And there are plenty competent people with integrity. It is people who lack integrity that marginalize them.

Well there was one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merrick_Garland

A bipartisan moderate that everyone loved, recommended by both parties, poised to take the nomination, then blocked for years by the Republican party just as a total partisan f-you to Obama.

> blocked for years

He was nominated on the 16th of March 2016; the election was on the eighth of November of the same year, and his nomination expired on the third of January 2017, less than a year later. No matter how you slice that, his nomination to the Supreme Court wasn't 'blocked for years.'

Whoops, you're right. I got that bit wrong.

Garland would have made an excellent choice instead of Kagan, or even Sotomayor, if there was a desire for a more balanced, more centrist SCOTUS. However after those two nominations replacing Scalia with Garland was obviously a bridge too far which the R's could not accept. As unpopular as it may have been, In a way, I don't really blame them, and it seems to have paid off for them in the long run.

"And there are plenty competent people with integrity."

But there are also plenty of people who lack integrity and, if it is permitted and gets them what they want, will fling arbitrarily nasty false accusations at people. There is no one with so much integrity that false accusations can't be made of them. You're pushing a rope.

The Obama family has not had a single scandal.

Shouldn't that office should be held to the same standards as the other three branches?

No, because the other branches have failsafes, such as periodic elections. But with SCOTUS, if you make a mistake and confirm the wrong candidate for the job, the only remedy is impeachment, which is very hard to pull off (by design). Thus, the standards have to be extremely high.

That was actually my point. The lifetime appointments are given because they want the appointees to act as freely as possible without consequence. This is a result of elections having consequences.

> I’m happy to wait until the right candidate shows up

Well, you're in luck, because he was confirmed.

In Kavanaugh's case, the problem is deeper than the rape accusation itself. False accusations are horrible but we have to stop pretending that the people pushing for his nomination even cared if it was true or not. A majority of Republicans polled said that he should be confirmed even if it is proven he is a rapist. The Republican senators said they'd push the nomination through no matter what was found. It's clear from these facts that these Republicans were not approaching the nomination in good faith.

If you were interviewing someone for a job, and then found that he was accused of rape multiple times, do you:

A) Ignore them.

B) Not hire him.

C) Look into the situation more deeply.

D) Want to hire him even more.

I think we can agree C makes most sense, but most Republicans were pushing hard for D. They were an inch away from doing it without an investigation, but finally caved due to one holdout senator, and then did a quick crippled investigation where they couldn't even interview Kavanaugh or the accuser Ford.

As for the accusations itself, we know that Ford named Kavanaugh as her rapist to multiple people decades ago. We also know that Kavanaugh sent texts about how to deal with another accuser, before the accuser even went public. Also, he then perjured himself saying he didn't know about her until she went public.

Because of these reasons, I think the outcry against Kavanaugh's nomination was justified. If the Republicans really wanted the best person for the job, and if he really was innocent, they should have all agreed early on for a thorough FBI investigation which should clear his name. Instead, they made it a culture war issue and played up the circus. If they didn't want it to be a shame storm, they could've taken the allegations seriously and do their job to represent the will of the citizens.

We all know that we're not going to get 100% evidence of if he did it or not, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't seek to find what we can and build up some percentage of confidence in the candidate. If the available evidence instills us with perhaps 30% doubt of his word, should that have a factor in our hiring decision? Or do we only consider 0% or 100% conclusions? Is 30% too risky for hiring someone for what is arguably the most important job in the world?

To be fair, I don't think a media circus crucifixion is the right outcome of an unproven allegation, but it's also wrong to totally disregard such allegations when making such a high-stakes decision. It seems fair to me to at least take a risk-adverse approach without casting total judgement on the candidate.

Thanks for taking the time to write this analysis.

"I don't like their attitude" is even more rife for abuse than blocking nominations on the basis of unsupported allegations...

You’re willfully misrepresenting the accusations, and completely ignoring the reaction to them that many considered to be even more problematic. But let’s not rehash this particular flamewar.

Put yourself in his shoes for a moment, and pretend you're genuinely innocent of the accusations. Isn't a group of partisan operatives conspiring against you the most likely reason for very conveniently-timed and uncorroborated sexual assault allegations?

But put that aside. Maybe he's actually guilty of at least one of them. Even then, though, some of the allegations ended up being false:

Most recently here [1], but also here [2], and here [3], and here [4]. Four clear examples of accusations made that turned out to be completely false. So at best, one must acknowledge that this man endured a national media spotlight under four false accusations of sexual assault/rape, but came across as "too partisan" when speculating as to one of the few possible explanations for why these false accusers may have come forward.

I sure hope I'm never in the situation he's in, but if I'm on national TV being essentially questioned if maybe I don't remember all the gang raping I did because of how drunk I was, I can assure you my answers will be far less dignified.

[1] https://www.nationalreview.com/news/kavanaugh-accuser-admits...

[2] https://www.nationalreview.com/news/fifth-brett-kavanaugh-ac...

[3] https://www.apnews.com/c5ecf76c62ec4c398e35020b5df01061

[4] https://www.npr.org/2018/09/20/649787076/kavanaugh-accuser-c...

The problem with Kavanaugh isn't what he did as a drunken teenager. It's what he did as a sober adult - his angry, petulant outbursts at senators. A Supreme Court seat isn't just a question of experience or background. It's a question of temperament. Even if he was completely innocent (and being too drunk to remember or too arrogant to think it important isn't the same as innocent), he should have been completely calm and peaceful with the senators.

Think of it another way - it's a job interview. If you were crying and screaming about a conspiracy of your interviewers, would you get hired for any other job?

The GOP should have pulled him and put forward another candidate, one without that controversy. They've managed to find such candidates before. The resemblance of the Kavanaugh vote to a bunch of men having their way with women and covering their mouths while they screamed was unsettling.

Again: It is now objective fact that at least four of his accusers were lying, so we're legitimately evaluating how someone should react when being questioned surrounding false sexual assault and rape allegations after being in the media spotlight for weeks.

Many of these senators opposed his nomination prior to his name even being selected, yet you're expecting him to sit back non-chalantly as senators try to trick him into acknowledging maybe he was just too drunk to remember the raping. Him getting a little testy after weeks of the most intense character assassination I've ever seen is not unreasonable.

> Think of it another way - it's a job interview. If you were crying and screaming about a conspiracy of your interviewers, would you get hired for any other job?

This isn't a job interview, and again: at least four objectively false accusers. If there wasn't any planning involved, then at least four people acted independently to make very conveniently timed false accusations. Both conclusions seem implausible to me, yet logically one must be true.

> The GOP should have pulled him and put forward another candidate, one without that controversy.

It is now political reality that if the stakes are high enough, especially on the Republican side, you can expect false sexual assault allegations. Again: this is factual. It happened here, and it can happen again.

Dropping candidates due to "controversy" stemming directly from uncorroborated sexual assault allegations would only give more power to false accusers. Maybe we can come up with a standard of how we expect people to respond when the mainstream media and political left are openly labeling you as a "potential gang rapist" for weeks, but until then, I can only judge him based on how I'd expect a potential SC justice (and human being) to act in such a difficult situation.

I don't think they should have dropped him for simply being controversial.

That said, which four have been shown to be lying? Only Munro-Leighton has admitted lying outright, and Swetnick changed her statement enough that you could say she was lying too. And Munro-Leighton admitted she wasn't actually the original Jane Doe accuser anyway.

I do believe something happened with Blasey Ford, although ultimately I don't know if her memory of the events will fully gel with what happened, or with what Kavanagh thought was happening at the time.

Yes, I would have expected him to keep his cool even under such intense pressure. I wouldn't expect you or I would be able to do so, but I wouldn't put either of us forward for a lifetime position on the US supreme court either.

Ignoring his composure, a bigger issue for me is that he outright lied about his drinking at the time and the meaning of many phrases used in his yearbook. Renate Alumnus just meant they were all good friends? Boof is farting and devils triangle is a drinking game? These are simply lies, and not even good ones. I don't think the existence of lewd comments in his yearbook is disqualifying, but lying about them should be.

> That said, which four have been shown to be lying?

I posted a separate source for each of the four above. The two you're missing are the "rape on a boat" allegation and the woman who initially corroborated Ford's allegation on Facebook before backtracking after questions arose.

Keep in mind that at the time, the pressure was on to just drop him as a mere result of a large number of allegations. These allegations weren't intended to stand up to scrutiny--just to mount political pressure to drop him.

> I do believe something happened with Blasey Ford, although ultimately I don't know if her memory of the events will fully gel with what happened, or with what Kavanagh thought was happening at the time.


> Yes, I would have expected him to keep his cool even under such intense pressure.

I think he was in a no-win situation. If he had kept his cool, he would have appeared inhumanly cold. It would have been spun as him being uncaring and confident he's getting away with his sexual assaults.

That's kind of why I find this so disgusting, though. This is essentially the "new normal" of high-stakes politics. You're going to be put under a microscope as we hang "potential gang rapist" around your neck for weeks, and then win or lose, we'll move onto the next news cycle without even acknowledging how explicit this character assassination was, or the effect on future nominations.

And there will still be people who don't see this as reprehensible.

> Boof is farting and devils triangle is a drinking game?

Devil's triangle did end up being a drinking game, though [1]. It's not even weird or unexpected that high school boys would name a game after an explicit sexual act.

That the rest are being grouped in under "presumed lies" isn't fair, either, and the fact that this stuff is even being discussed is more an indictment of this circus of a process than the judge. We can expect future candidates to keep as many secrets as possible, be as vague as possible in answers, and we're all worse off for it.

[1] https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/devils-triangle-drin...

I didn't know about the boat allegations.

I agree that a lot of the main stream media, and particularly social media, can whip up a shitstorm over unfounded allegations.

However, the root of the allegations against Kavanaugh did have merit, as in they deserved to be looked into. After they were made a number of other allegations were made with less merit, or outright lies. However, just as there's an issue with rushing to judgement when a number of allegations are made, there's also an issue of letting unfounded allegations cast doubt on other allegations.

The mere existence of unfounded or fabricated allegations shouldn't negatively impact on different allegations, just as the existence of an uninvestigated allegation shouldn't discount him as a candidate. If either or these thing were true it would be too easy to either destroy a candidate or invalidate all allegations against them.

Although a number of anonymous allegations shouldn't mean anything, I think you'd agree that if 10 Blasey Fords came forward with similar stories that would be a big problem. Obviously this is counter-factual, I'm not talking about Kavanaugh only how these situations can be dealt with in the future. I agree that this can get out of hand, but I can't see an alternative. Ignoring Blasey Ford did not seem like a viable option.

Regarding future candidates being vague, this could just be rejected. I don't have an issue with the path to the SC being a difficult and fairly grueling process.

To my eyes the Democrats severely wounded their stance by waiting until the last moment before revealing Blasey Ford. The Republicans lost it during the post Ford Kavanaugh questioning, choosing to grandstand instead of letting the prosecutor they'd specially brought in continue. Both of them fairly disgraced themselves. And let's not forget that the only reason this didn't happen with Garland is because the Republicans abused their power to avoid even having a hearing.

"Objectively false".

I don't think that word means what you think it means.

> objective - (of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts: historians try to be objective and impartial.

It does mean what I think it means, actually.

He was 100% right in speculating revenge on behalf of the Clintons in my opinion. It was a pointed reference to the accuser's lawyers, who kept her in the dark about the option of testifying privately. The lawyers had previously represented Bill Clinton. It's not a big leap, honestly.

Why is this dated January 2019?

The site seems to be for a print magazine so this article is slated to appear in the January 2019 issue.

I wonder if this improves or harm the SEO for these articles.


You should read more about Gallileo. He was wrong in many ways, and it's entirely likely that he was punished for his tendency to be a jerk as much as anything else. Actually, the analogy isn't half bad, come to think...


It's not good that people who come up with important new scientific theories should be forced to recant if they're jerks. Seriously, the progress of civilization depends on unreasonable men. Galileo's ideas about planetary motion weren't perfect but they were the seeds of our present understanding of planetary motion. And really he was persecuted more for saying that the planets were mutable with weather and so forth rather than perfect and eternal than he was for the whole heleocentrism thing. And he was perfectly right about that last bit.

That's really not a very accurate description of events, in any particular. In addition to the linked article, you may want to read Dolnick's The Clockwork Universe.

I'm not sure that Watson's expressed views that the inequality of races is demonstrated by the experiences of "people who have to deal with black employees" is a high water mark for scientific enquiry, or that his related comments on being particularly cautious about promoting black people were likely to have a neutral or positive impact on science. What I find curious is people who argue that unlike the progressives who eventually lost patience with a scientist using the profile he (deservedly) earned to articulate a long list of offensive crankery, Watson's own shaming of people for being fat, black, autistic etc really isn't worth paying attention to.

I think that it’s worth paying attention to, but doesn’t outweigh other achievements. Firing him over such comments was the wrong reaction, especially since the goal is to improve people’s viewpoints on equality. Not create some Galt’s Gulch of geniuses who are also flawed in a substantial way.

Please don't take HN threads into generic ideological tangents. That leads to equal parts tedium and nastiness—just what we don't want here.



The central story is about how a conservative author was publicly shamed by her conservative ex-boyfriend, so I'm not sure how illuminating your link will be.


Shouldn't everyone support the idea that every philosophy and religious belief has the right to participate in the public sphere?


Religious flamewar isn't allowed on HN. Please don't post like this here.

If emphasizing rational discussion (even if it flaunts someone's non-empirical belief) is wrong, then I don't really want to be right.

It's not about being right or even rational—it's just tedious and leads to the self-destruction of the forum. That's a bad combo, so we ban accounts that do it here.

Regardless of what you think the public sphere should include, restricting religious opinions from it is discrimination and should be condemned.

I guess you can go condemn governments, then


No. Because Nazis.

To quote:

> When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say.

The best way to deal with them is not to turn them into a figurative martyr and make people wonder what you're trying to hide, but to convince others their ideology is stupid by putting it on display and publicly rebutting it. You may even convince them to change their ways, rather than just build up the anger and resentment.

So what? Having actually read the article, nothing about the author's conservative viewpoint or religiosity is hidden (e.g. "In October 2010, I appeared on a panel to promote a book of essays by young conservatives, Proud to Be Right: Voices of the Next Conservative Generation." and "...my belief that suffering is sometimes necessary for personal growth, and an essential part of God’s plan for our salvation..."). While we, as liberals, may disagree with those personal beliefs, they're not the main topic of the article so your comment is merely an ad hominem.

I tried this road but got nothing but "I know you are, but what am I" in response. I think you also won't have much luck with this tactic.

Agendas are like you-know-whats... everyone's got one.

I wouldn't say I agree with them on everything but this is definitely on the sane side as agendas go, especially these days when vast numbers of people seem to have eaten the brown acid. They also deserve a bit of credit for being pretty up front with it.

> They also deserve a bit of credit for being pretty up front with it

+1 to this. It's impossible to write about anything without a basis of reasoning and accepted truths to start from, and to see it laid out offers a level of transparency rarely found.

It also allows the reader to examine and critique the piece better. If I argued that we should do 'x' because it's better for humanity long-term, and you argued that we should do 'y' instead because it will create more happiness in the world, then our argument will devolve into which of our fundamental ideologies/metrics is "better," (humanity vs happiness), rather than whether 'x' or 'y' makes more sense from the agreed-upon agenda/ideology/metric.

Yeah, everyone has an agenda, and I find theirs particularly noxious. You can immediately see their agenda shining through in the linked article once you know what to look for, like how they defend a man who was fired from the Atlantic for advocating for the death penalty for women who get abortions, and poo-pooed the notion that his presence might make his female coworkers very uncomfortable.

I don't know about you, but if one of my coworkers were calling for people like me to get the death penalty for doing something that was legal, I too would feel uncomfortable being around them.

Kevin Williamson is the child of an unplanned pregnancy. He was born a few months before Roe v Wade. He could easily apply your logic and say he's uncomfortable being around people who would advocate that he could have been killed before he was born.

I don't agree with his position on this at all. But I especially disagree with the 2018 approach of deciding that we can't tolerate people who think differently from us, and that we have to banish them so we're not uncomfortable.

If someone is going to physically harm you, or harass you, that is one thing. But we have to be able to tolerate differences of opinion. Pro-life people literally believe that millions of babies are being killed every year legally. It's a good thing they don't generally refuse to hire any pro-choice person on account of this.

So rather than debate the content of the article, you go for argumentum ad hominem instead?

You should give pg's Hierarchy of Disagreement a look: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem#/media/File:Graham%...

I'm literally debating the content of the article in the comment you replied to.

> I don't know about you, but if one of my coworkers were calling for people like me to get the death penalty for doing something that was legal, I too would feel uncomfortable being around them.

The entirety of your root comment and the first paragraph of your comment afterwards seems to be ad hominem, while the above quote is not.

I think your argument would be stronger if you had just commented with this sentence; it's a very fair position to have. While I'm empathetic to those who disagree with anything, and I think that we should try and increase the size of the Overton window wherever possible, advocating for the death penalty for an action that would apply to coworkers can absolutely, and understandably, create discomfort. Maybe enough to warrant the removal of that individual.

You aren't debating their points, you're debating their motives, as does your top post. This is literally textbook ad hominem here.

I can't help but notice the irony that all you're doing here is ad hominem against me, in an even purer form.

Telling someone they are using ad hominem is a specific relevant criticism, not dismissing you because you are just an intrinsically bad person who has wrongthink. Ad hominem is something specific, not just a catchall for disagreement, despite the popularity of that interpretation.

How exactly does one call out an ad hominem without saying that a person is performing an ad hominem?

Discussion here is not about the author's (supposed) background, or ulterior motive, it's about the merits of the issues specifically discussed in the article. It's best to focus on that

The issue is also that people got more and more sensitive over ybrast decades. Political correctness seems to be at a all time high.

Try to say openly in the bay area that you support Trump and you will be shamed like never before.

Shaming is now always in our mind and I find myself thinking more and more about redacting what I say to make it "unshameful" in order to avoid any possibility of shaming.

I don't think that's the same thing. It does point to a basic intellectual failing of the modern right, though... conflating being judged with being censored.

Nobody's taking away your right to free speech. We just reserve the right to think you're an asshole for saying it.

When it comes time for decision making, everyone wants to be heard, and everyone wants their opinions considered. Treating/dismissing someone as an asshole doesn't facilitate any sort of basis for discussion, debate, agreement, compromise. Then, when the ignored and dismissed get so fed up that they are boisterous and riotous, and their opponents still don't acknowledge or address their voice...what is next?

Answer: Violence

Well, this is why the country is so divided. Instead of having a debate, the new way of doing is to directly go to the conclusion that "you must be an asshole". Good Proof of openmindness...

Not targeting a specific side btw, this is a trend on the left as well as on the right.

Some things aren't worth debating. If someone says that protesters should be shot, they're not worth debating. They're an asshole. If someone says Sky Daddy waved his hand and created the world 5000 years ago, they're not worth debating.

> Political correctness seems to be at a all time high.

Do you think it has something to do with all sorts of common, abhorrent behaviours that were tolerated, or encouraged in the past becoming unacceptable today?

Sixty years ago, it wouldn't be out of place to tell the ------ to go to the back of the bus. Social expectations change, and there's always a few people who double down, dig in, and drag their heels, and insist that everyone around them is being too fucking sensitive.

> Try to say openly in the bay area that you support Trump and you will be shamed like never before.

Try being a 12 year old, in the south, who is openly mocked and degraded by his father for having a friend of a different race. How's that for shaming.

Try being a 16 year old, getting kicked out of your home and called a faggot for getting an ear piercing. Are we politically correct yet?

There is a lot of hate in this world and it is very rich for people to just turn and point the finger instead of taking a long hard look inside themselves and the company they keep.

If you believe what you believe, then stand steadfast in the face of the tsunami, but don't blame others for forcing self censorship, that's just cowardice.

Self censorship != true acceptance of other people.

Self acceptance leads to true acceptance of other people.

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