Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Agent fired from literary agency for using Parler and Gab (newsweek.com)
403 points by DeusExMachina 78 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 554 comments

Reminds me of Dawn Frederick, a literary agent who was "cancelled" for calling 911 on looters who rammed a van into the gas station on her apartment block: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/p...

This happened during the BLM protests this summer in St. Loius. The looters she reported were blocks away from any BLM protest, and other looting bands were setting fires on nearby blocks.

Frederick was a vocal advocate and financial supporter of BLM and had attended protests in the past. Didn't stop the hordes from calling her racist and threatening to ruin the careers of agents who dared to work for her literary agency, and authors represented by her.

Her agency was gutted. All over calling 911 to report people crashing a van into a small business to raid it.

(Edited to add: I worked in publishing for years. I left because of the censorship in the arena. And I'm a proud lefty.

It's gotten really crazy. Authors getting death threats. Books literally ripped off the shelves and destroyed. (No, not rabid white supremacist books. Books by PoC authors.) But industry professionals insist this is NOT censorship, just business decisions. And if you disagree? You're a dirty, filthy -ist.)

Another edit to add links to the incidents I was referring to:

Black author/illustrator team had their book ripped off shelves and pulped: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jan/25/censorship-chi...

Asian author was threatened and intimidated into cancelling the publication of her novel: https://www.vulture.com/2019/01/ya-twitter-forces-rising-sta...

Black author was intimidated into cancelling publication of book: https://www.newyorker.com/books/under-review/in-ya-where-is-...

I can think of 10+ more books that belong on this list. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

I honestly don't know why people use "post what you're thinking" style social media at all at this point. With employers being so sensitive, how can the cost/benefit analysis ever really result in a determination that it's a good idea to be active on Twitter/Facebook (or Gab, Parler, TheDonald.win, etc.)?

Maybe that's part of what makes things get so extreme on those sites. The most reasonable people know enough not to risk their livelihoods by jumping in and posting, and that leaves the less reasonable people to just sit there and escalate.

I have literally seen NYT bestselling authors talk about how they're super excited to publicly heckle an author at his next book signing. And join in on conversations promoting burning his book.

His crime? Writing a female character who goes on the run, has limited food, and trains in martial arts--which leads to her losing weight.

This was, apparently, fat-shaming and deeply sexist.

The authors involved in these threats and book-burning talk had literally no punishment. None. Just a bunch of new followers who gushed about what "strong women" they were. (As a woman, I can't think of anything weaker than threatening to burn a book and harass someone, all for internet points.)

The thing is, Publishing Twitter is super safe if you're on the far left. You can talk about harassing people, burning books, and purposely destroying careers. Zero consequences at all.

But if you're so much as a hair right of center left? Forget it. Your career is gone.

I assume you're speaking of the Scott Bergstrom debacle?

Yeah, I remember that one. Link to Scott's interview that infuriated those authors is here: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/child...

Don't want to dox anyone and post which authors had such horrible behavior, but I will say I personally witnessed those tweets discussing book burning, stalking, and public harassment.

Linking to someone's public posts isn't "doxing". Publicly sharing their personal details (private email address, home address, phone number, etc.) or other private information as a form if direct or indirect harassment is.

It could still result in a mob piling on them, which is exactly the behaviour they're arguing against...

Correct. I know at least one of the authors who was behaving horribly has severe depression. I don't care how horrible their behavior was, I'm not going to potentially sick an unknown internet mob on a person with suicidal tendencies.

Ah yes, they may want to chop off my head... but I would never tell them this is wrong.

I am 100% fine with telling them this is wrong. I'm quite vocal about this being wrong.

But I am not okay with unleashing random internet people on a mentally ill person, which could easily spiral into a mob that involves death threats, doxing of personal info, etc. Hell, I'm not okay doing that to a mentally healthy person.

I'm genuinely ok with a mob piling on someone who is making stalking threats.

I think large parts of the right has now come to the conclusion that it can not hold itself to so much higher moral standards than the opposite team, or it will continue losing and moving down leagues until there is no right team left.

People can downvote this, but I've literally read right-of-center people making this argument.

People basically found out a new way to be an asshole. They would have been an asshole in another way if this current lane was closed and socially challenged. It just happens to be that virtue signaling and sticking some BS cause in front of your behavior lets you get away with it at this point in time.

I’m not sure that I’d call the reaction to Bergstrom a debacle. Here are a couple of quotes from the excerpt that made everyone angry:

“It’s a novel with a teenage heroine set in a dystopian future. Which novel in particular doesn’t matter because they’re all the same. Poor teenage heroine, having to go to war when all you really want is to write in your diary about how you’re in love with two different guys and can’t decide between them. These novels are cheesy, I know, and I suck them down as easily as milk.”

“They love this—the school uniform, the flash of seventeen-year-old legs.”

The first quote is a pretty direct attack at the Hunger Games. HG has a rabid following so that was risky. The second is just godawful writing. He still would have been okay but he went a little too far mocking the amount of talent needed to write YA.

Scooter Braun recently learned a lesson about screwing with media that rabid young adults identify with. It’s a bad idea, but if you’re going to do it, bring better prose. Or at least accept that the genre’s bestsellers are way better at the internet than you are.

Those quotes really don’t warrant the disproportional responses to his book nor the vitriol directed at him personally & professionally.

I think it’s time we start calling out the social media mobbing for what it really is: hateful.

Everyone will dismiss it with the "Paradox of Tolerance".

Did you actually read his interview though? If you’re going to mock your entire genre, you should at least be accurate. Otherwise, critics will rightly point out that you’re writing a genre you don’t know. When you add in that second quote, it’s even more obvious that he doesn’t know his genre.

The dude wrote some books at a team with YA was all the rage and got a film deal out of it. He made some godawful marketing and communications decisions and faced predictable consequences. I don’t feel bad for writers who can’t communicate. Nor do I feel bad for writers who aren’t capable of thinking through how their work fits within a genre they’re trying to capitalize on. Businesses that make bad marketing decisions cancel themselves and in this case, the writer made a myriad of awful business decisions. That’s capitalism.

And seriously, who would outright mock the Hunger Games without expecting some sort of disproportionate backlash? YA works in disproportionates - it’s the entire beast, right down to the growth strategy. If you’re not wise enough to understand your genre, you lose. The thought that you could dismiss that entire genre with garbage critiques and not face bizarre retribution is so insane that I can’t take it seriously.

And if you’re going to do that after you’ve signed a film deal?? I’m sorry but you deserve to be cancelled.

It's beyond my comprehension that anyone can believe that it was a reasonable response to some anodyne literary criticism. Hunger Games is rubbish. It's OK to say so. It's not OK to behave like a vicious lunatic because someone said the books and genre you like are rubbish. If you do lose your shit over it, then you are at best infantile and at worst mentally ill. The reaction might be predictable, but it's not defensible.

>If you do lose your shit over it, then you are at best infantile and at worst mentally ill.

The very sad, unfortunate thing is that a lot of these authors are indeed mentally ill. A lot of the ring-leaders of these mobs openly embrace their mental illness as a personality trait (ie: listing it in their Twitter bios).

It leads to this bizarre environment where their reactions are, medically speaking, insane (ie: the reaction of someone in bipolar mania, the reaction of someone suffering from paranoia or extreme anxiety.) But there are so many insane reactions, that it becomes normalized.

And then people who don't struggle with mental illness start to mimic the insane behavior, because hey, everyone else is doing it! And it's now the best way to get internet points, collect followers, and get some profitable attention to your own books.

>And seriously, who would outright mock the Hunger Games without expecting some sort of disproportionate backlash?

I believe you're having some selective memory issues. This was back in 2015, when "Hunger Games" was starting to lose steam. And many feminists on twitter were lampooning it for focusing on romance, and having a flimsy love triangle, when the life-or-death situation of the book wouldn't realistically allow for that.

Mocking the "Hunger Games" and any book with a love triangle was totally in vogue.

>He made some godawful marketing and communications decisions and faced predictable consequences.

It's funny, because I've seen dozens of YA authors sneer at "Fifty Shades of Grey." Call it toxic, poorly written, laugh at it, mock it, insist it was dangerous to even publish it.

Yet I've never seen the Fifty Shades of Grey fanbase, or any Romance genre authors, talk about threatening, stalking, and publicly heckling those authors who criticize the work.

You call it "predictable consequences." I call it "hateful, disturbing, potentially dangerous behavior that reeks of censorship."

What could possibly be wrong with mocking the Hunger Games?

I think it's worth clarifying two things:

1) This excerpt is written from the POV of a snarky, troubled 17-year-old girl. Very different from the author himself saying these things.

2) I can excuse 14-year-old fangirls losing their minds over the Hunger Games and lashing out at anyone who criticizes it.

I can not excuse 35-year-old adults encouraging their huge following to harass the author and cheering on the idea of burning his books.

I find those quotes absolutely normal, what's wrong with them?

You should maybe start off with his interview with Publisher’s Weekly. He said a couple of things about the YA genre that just aren’t true. The biggest one was that he seems to think it doesn’t take a lot of brains to write YA whereas his book is somehow special.

That interview was the first time that anyone had taken any notice of Bergstrom. So then, everyone read his excerpt.

(Incidentally, that’s a bad flow in writing. If your press insults an entire genre, your excerpt better be damned flawless. This goes 100x if you’re talking YA.)

The first paragraph delivers a really traditional out of touch old dude description of the Hunger Games. That’s treading on dangerous territory because you’re dealing with a universe that young people have become deeply invested in.

The second quote violates one of the genre’s rules about writing women.

So, you’ve got a writer who signed a big contract and a film deal. His introduction to his genre’s fans was an absolute disaster. So, the genre’s fans did what they always do and made a huge mess.

Some might call it disproportionate but then they don’t understand the genre either. YA is about disproportionate reactions. That’s essentially marketing.

All of that should make everyone seriously question whether this is a Paramount growth hack. Heaven knows Paramount wouldn’t be the first company to try to create controversy when they own rights to a book.

>YA is about disproportionate reactions. That’s essentially marketing.

I think you are entirely missing the point of these comments, which is: the "disproportionate reactions" of the YA community are hateful, bizarre, mob-like, and often dip into censorship.

You're also stating that the "genre's fans" are to blame. As the comments above clearly state, the criticism in this thread is toward the professional authors who take part in these mobs. Not the "young people."

Some people just want to hurt others. These are just excuses to do it in a way that they can enjoy being malicious while claiming to be "good".

That is sad but normal.

What’s scary is that this behavior is now acceptable. As long as it’s against group X

Ah, reminds me of the difference of treatment between Sam and Frodo in Lord of the Rings:

>> Looking in a mirror he was startled to see a much thinner reflection of himself than he remembered: it looked remarkably like the young nephew of Bilbo who used to go tramping with his uncle in the Shire; but the eyes looked at him thoughtfully.

> Pauline Baynes's illustration of the Fellowship, done while Tolkien was alive, shows all four hobbits as being of very much the same proportions. Oddly enough, the movie shows Sam as more or less the same build when he leaves Hobbiton and when he reaches Mordor, even though he had some weeks of semi-starvation.


FWIW, in Lord of the Rings, it was implied that the change in Frodo was due to carrying the One Ring, and that it was due to it that he couldn't rejoin normal life while the other Hobbits could (and in Shire, ultimately became much more famous)

No, not when that scene happens. It clearly was a comment he made on how he got healthier by walking around.

It's early in the book.

Ah. Well, he was the lazy stay-at-home guy of the four hobbits before the adventure :)

Samwise did hard physical work regularly, and Meriadock and Pippin while also somewhat pampered (remember, of the four hobbit, only Sam wasn't nobility!) were somewhat known for their adventures.

If you go with the horseshoe theory then the far left is barely distinguishable from the far right. The only thing that changes really is the framing of the issue and the motivation.

If you're looking at people being criticised because they're not writing characters of their own skin colour or sexuality, or 'staying in their lane' with their culture, or because their own experiences don't conform to some expectation (like the author criticised for describing slavery but not how it was in the US), then you're still looking at segregation and oppression, but approaching it in a way that is falsely empowering. It is still massively authoritarian and oppressive and extreme, no matter how virtuous people think the left wing is, and it's certainly not liberal. There's just nothing good about being at the extreme end of anything.

But that aside, and with the crowds on twitter, I just wonder what it will take for people like that to be happy, and not perpetually angry. So much aggression couched in seemingly kind language.

I don't think the horseshoe theory works. The critical factor is authoritarianism. Which is a grown-up word for bullying and narcissism.

Authoritarians are invariably toxic damaged people who are full of rage and are looking for a target to make themselves feel better.

Sometimes they end up on the left. Sometimes they end up on the right. Sometimes they end up in management or venture capital.

Same issues, same dynamic, different context.

The difference is authoritarians on the right are more likely to use physical violence. "Cultural" authoritarians are more likely to use social exclusion - brigading on social media, getting people fired, and so on.

The key point is that the presenting issue is irrelevant. The social dynamic and mode of relationship - angry tribalism used to justify violence without any sense of context - is the real tell.

You're just redescribing the horseshoe theory. The X axis is political leaning, the Y axis is level of authoritarianism.


Horseshoe theory implies (if not explies, if that's a word) that going far left or far right automatically entails becoming authoritarian, and that they converge as you go farther "left" or "right". That's pretty demonstrably false, and even a two-dimensional political compass (let alone one with more axes) does a much better job of describing actual political stances than a horseshoe can. Authoritarianism v. libertarianism and socialism v. capitalism are separate and independent axes, and societies have existed across the whole gamut, corner-to-corner-to-corner-to-corner and everything in between.

I always viewed it as descriptive and not prescriptive, so I wouldn't say it implies movement across the authoritarian axis just by moving more right or left.

I feel like even as a descriptive theory it doesn't really map all that well to reality, though.

Pretty sure leftist authoritarianism exists and is violent. i.e.: Communist Russia, Maoist China, Cuba.


Bob Altemeyer would disagree. He formulated the idea of right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) as a psychological condition. His research discovered that there is no corresponding left-wing authoritarianism -- that even the authoritarianism exhibited by followers of Stalin or Mao was right-wing.

Kinda hard to be authoritarian if one of your central beliefs is in the fraternity and equality of all. It's more useful to describe Stalinist USSR or Maoist China as right-wing regimes cloaked in leftist rhetoric.

Thomas Costello has found countering data: https://psyarxiv.com/3nprq, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S00926...

This sums it up pretty well: "Left-wing authoritarians, in Costello's research, typically strongly agree with the following statements: the rich should be stripped of their belongs and status; deep-down just about all conservatives are racist, sexist and homophobic; classrooms can be safe spaces that protect students from the discussion of harmful ideas." (https://www.newstatesman.com/international/2020/05/there-suc...)

All of which lines up with the rhetoric from the Bolsheviks and the Maoists and a lot of the modern day critical race theorists.

Have to agree. If Mao and Stalin can be disqualified as being left-wing due to the contradiction between their actions and the leftist values of equality and universal solidarity, then, by the same token, Hitler and Mussolini must be disqualified as being right-wing because of the contradiction between their actions and the values of limited government and rule of law.

Critical race theory has more in common with National Socialism than with the leftist values of equality and solidarity, because when you get past the verbal subterfuge which ostensibly denies that race exists, you find a deeply racist ideology of racial collectives locked in a struggle for supremacy, with one particular collective singled out as evil beyond redemption and in need of destruction. We have seen that before, and it is undeniable where it must lead. Critical Race Theory is Nazism barely disguised by a light sprinkling of leftist pixie-dust.

The common factor between the extremes of left and right is collectivism. Totalitarian demagogues, left or right, favor collectivism as a tool of control because it detaches people from their moral obligations to other individual human beings and transfers their loyalties wholly to an abstraction controlled by that demagogue.

I completely agree. Honestly, I'm pretty sure those people have no friends in real life, the way they jump down peoples' throats for every minor thing, so they gravitate online to find echo chambers. Their cohorts online are only "allies", not real friends. They will turn on each other as soon as one of them challenges their ideology.

I agree that it isn't really about 'left' or 'right', as both leanings are held by plenty of rational non-extreme people. Extremism itself seems to be growing in our culture, and as long as we're focused on putting a political label on it I think it will continue to grow. It is very tempting to believe that everyone you disagree with is part of the most extreme representation of that disagreement, because that makes it easy to dismiss them, and ultimately I think that just pushes people more to the extreme ends.

I don't know how we get out of this. I can't think of a good way to encourage empathy over outrage, as the former is often too painful and the latter often too enjoyable. In the information age it is far too easy to find the hedonistic outrage-dens, and there's a lot of money to be had running such places.

Speaking of likening echo chambers to opium dens, the Rat Park[0] experiments suggest that environment does play a significant role in drug-seeking behavior, and it does seem that a lot of this extremism can be traced back to things like the increasing wealth-gap, the hollowing out of rural America, systemic racism, rampant political corruption, and other societal ills. Therefore, maybe it isn't necessary to address the symptom of extremism directly --by, say, trying to teach people empathy-- but instead focus on treating the underlying illnesses. Of course, since our politicians are elected by the people they represent, and it would seem far easier to manipulate people's outrage for votes than to focus on actually fixing things, that might not be possible either.

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

It's interesting you're being downvoted - because from the way I'm reading this you're not advocating that this theory is true but merely pointing out that it exists, describing it's attributes, and showing a couple of examples that seem to overlap with the theory. Which only seems to shore up your last statement.

> is super safe if you're on the far left

Liberals are not considered the "far left" and people on the far left dislike them as much as people on the right do.

This isn't a "no true Scotsman" issue either, there are clear distinctions between various left-wing ideologies and mainstream liberalism (radical or not). Finger pointing and blaming individuals, the type of behavior your describing, is classic dominant capitalist ideology, something that all flavors of the left are deeply skeptical of.

Both "radical" liberalism and rising right-wing extremism are different varieties of nihilism, stemming from the same root cause of a degradation in our overall material conditions and the breakdown of late capitalist society. Both are essentially empty systems of rhetoric with no underlying values that ultimately lead to a totalitarian way of thinking.

To reiterate, the thinking your describing is absolutely not "far left".

Political trials, formal and informal, against "class enemies" are typical of extremist left wing movements. See for example Maoist "struggle sessions", which seem nothing else than an in-person version of a twitter mob:


Note that the targets of cancel culture are in the most proper sense "class enemies" since their sins are not directed against specific individuals but entire classes of people: blacks, women, transsexuals, etc.- and can be as vague as dismissive attitudes or generic antagonism.

> Liberals are not considered the "far left" and people on the far left dislike them as much as people on the right do.

Indeed. Graffiti in the wake of a recent riot read: "Liberals get the bullet too "

> Twitter is super safe if you're on the far left

For now. There is a deliberate tactic on the left to become more and more extreme. A sentiment expressed today that's totally fine may not be fine tomorrow. It will be used against you. The left will turn on itself once it has made Conservatism illegal.

The right just tried to burn down the House in the US, murder the government, and install a dictator because it didn't accept that it lost a fair election.

Many on the right still can't, even now.

If you want your philosophy to remain legal, acting like this is a very bad thing and not something that can really be excused - for any reason - might be a good start.

I think another post hit the mark here but generalizing people into extreme groups is a real problem. I know many people on the “right” and “left” that basically only agree with half of what their chosen party says, or maybe they only agree with one issue that is very important to them. On the left it is usually abortion and the right it is usually economy. My point is that saying things like “many” is not all or even a majority. Taking the capitol building riots, even the people present there were incredibly diverse in their mindset. There was a group of a couple hundred that had bad intents and there were several thousand that were actively stopping others from causing damage or fighting the police. There are many videos of people pulling rioters away from breaking windows and shouting at them to stop. The big problem is that the peaceful group didn’t mix with the rioting group soon enough. Trump was having a rally not even close to the capitol building meanwhile this other group started storming the capital. I find it similar when people get angry at like a “Google” employee for saying some obviously idiotic things. Sure an employee represents the company in some capacity but for companies that have tens of thousands of employees, there is almost certainty that some will behave badly. Now take mentality that to the over 70 million Trump voters. Each has their own individual reason for voting for him and lumping them together is no different than saying all men or all women are the same, the ratio is about the equal to genders. This gets exacerbated by media companies who will take one example and call that out as if it is the rule. I can’t tell you how many articles and new shows that say “some say” and use one tweet saying that as evidence as if it is a majority held opinion or representative of a whole. In the BLM protests it was reasonable was assume a lot of the rioters were not protesters or not there for the protest but that same standard was dropped for those at the capital.

You're not going to convince many that symbolically property damage across the nation is of the same offense as storming the capitol and beating one of your own to death. The group that stormed the capital was also not ideologically diverse. They were running on a common emotion of hate. Sure, you had hundreds of useful idiots giving the bad actors cover but that's the whole point of being a useful idiot for the left/right/center. It provides an excuse for like minded to dismiss the extreme position but they still sat down with Fascists to eat a meal.

Property damage? I mean literally police stations and city halls were attacked across the US and many people did die in the protests, and cops were even killed at random in the name of BLM. Don’t try to stand on the grave of one individual officer in the case who volunteered to protect the building and reports still read his “injuries were unknown” and report it as if it was a murder. Officers die every day around the country from a traffic stop and somehow it is an “insurrection” when one dies in a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people. And to you that fault is all of those hundreds of thousands of people? Did anyone at your high school ever murder someone, does that make you a murderer because you all were not ideologically diverse and had the same education. It is prejudice to assign others blame by virtue of association. There was no hate by many people they simply wanted election integrity to be verified and allow investigation to occur.

You've lumped about 3 months worth of time into a single response as some kind of single metaphor to a single incident incited by a rally held by several political figures. You want to sit with Fascists and that's okay with me but don't tell me you don't stink mate. Every single person who went to that shit show knew what it was going to be about and anyone so blinded to not see it devolving into violence falls into the useful idiot camp.

Sure that was 3 months of very similar riots. Take any single one of them and it was as violent as the capitol protest. I guess you know exactly what everyone was thinking that went there? Even though the “leader” of the whole thing, Trump, said “be peaceful, don’t give them what they want, be peaceful.” Please tell me how fascism even relates to this conversation? Isn’t asking for election integrity the exact opposite of fascism?

We're not even existing in the same general reality of truth at this point so it doesn't make sense to continue talking past each other. Have a good evening and maybe buy some GME stock.

Really though I see fascism as something people actually fear is coming true. What are people afraid of?

I always suspected there's a little bit of survivorship bias (? not sure of the best term here) going on. If you haven't suffered the hoards, or had someone you know suffer them, you're likely to think some combination of "it only happens when it's justified" and "no one will care about little old me"

I've witnessed it happen to a colleague early on in my career. He posted how trivial it was to cause an IoT device to reset because they had a reset password only protected by hashing an English word that they changed every update. There are multiple security lapses there, and he didn't even mention the really scary ones, this one was almost silly.

Turns out the parent company of the IoT device and his parent company were the same, and calls got made, his post misunderstood by management, and he got told to find a new job somewhere else.

Still makes my blood boil, and I'd name names, but neither company exists anymore. It did teach me to be _very_ careful what I post online, even when I'm anonymous.

To be fair, sometimes things happen, and it can be good (I think JP said something like that). something like "never interrupt your enemy when they are making a mistake" - if people demonstrate their shittiness, help them.

It would just be your friend that got an (admittedly mandatory) wake-up call - other employees would too. The best remedy is just a totally neutral post/tweet detailing what happened, with no judgement at all - 3rd parties will get angry on your behalf, and a lack of initial anger will only motivate that moreso.

If neither company exists, why not name names anyways?

Yeah, that sounds mostly really unlucky :(. I mean, anyone can understand that a company fires an employee that publicises a security weakness in a product instead of clearing it internally. However, when the employee doesn't understand that he is an "employee" of that company... Sounds like an unfortunate mistake.. you can be fired for those.

A bit of a tangent but, this is all the result of having people use their real names on the internet. I remember when there was a big push for people to create profiles tied to their real identities with the argument being that everyone would behave themselves if their real lives were connected to the things they did online. That argument is dead as discourse is now. Instead of well mannered discussion between opposing views we got media fuelled echo chambers that now extends right to the top offices of government along with political persecution by online mobs that high five each other as they destroy lives and careers. I don’t know what a good solution is.

There’s no solution because it’s not a technical problem. Something is broken in our culture.

Pseudonyms and team moderation work pretty well, along with the ability to block abusive users. The HN voting system is also helpful.

I received threats through my HN account. Caused me to remove identifying information from my profile.

The argument may be dead, but the powers that be are pushing hard to make online anonymity illegal and a thing of the past, precisely because they want the kind of mob mentality that happened to the literary agent mentioned in TGGF.

Haha I remember that argument. The thought was anonymity made people horrible to each other online. Turns out people are horrible to each other online regardless.

I’m not saying cancellation should be illegal or whatever, but that isn’t healthy. You can’t let a minority of extremists (and it is a minority) muzzle everyone. It turns over control of the culture to them and that’s extremely dangerous.

Never could see any positives from the "stream of consciousness" type of particpation in social media. I myself have gone farther and have never participated at all on Facebook, Twiter, et. al.

Closest thing I've ever had to a social media presence is here on HN, where I deliberately remain anonymous.

I actually like Reddit as well. You can remain pseudonymous there if you so choose and still have meaningful interactions with people. And (depending on the sub) people don't form mobs as easily as on Twitter/Facebook.

Social media without moderators was a really bad idea, as we learn now.

Blame the victims? If the majority are scared to publicly state their opinions, it's somehow normal that the ones that still do it get punished. They should just be more cautious what they post, right?

> I honestly don't know why people use "post what you're thinking" style social media at all at this point.

See also: https://www.socialcooling.com/

I've said it before and I'll say it again.

Only use social-media as a read-only medium, or for marketing.

Anything you say there can, and will, be used against you in the court of public opinion, FOREVER.

On other sites, such as HN and reddit, retire your username after a few weeks / months. Your internet points don't matter.

I was lucky I became "self aware" in that sense. Granted I never posted anything that attacked people but I did clean up my FB that I haven't used for years to post/browse. Deleting stuff, hiding images, etc...

Also try not to be doxable in general but sucks like when YT forces you to use your actual name in comments otherwise changing it would change it in email. Can make another account too. At least the comments I don't think are indexed publicly.

That's always fun finding dumb things you posted online as a kid.

> That's always fun finding dumb things you posted online as a kid.

The older I get, the more I understand the push for a right to be forgotten. I wish that (most?) public sites had some kind of filter where things disappeared. There is no reason why comments made as a kid should follow you forever. Or, if not entirely removed, then maybe the authorship masked.

I mean, if bad decisions fall off your credit report after 7 years, why shouldn’t the stupid tweet you posted 7 years ago? This is especially true for accounts where the person was under 18 at the time.

> some kind of filter where things disappeared

Well, people can delete ill-advised tweets, but it doesn't matter - if somebody else screen-shotted it, they can hang on to the screenshot for as long as they like and use it against you when you run for congress some day.

> dumb things you posted online as a kid

I'm very, very thankful that the internet didn't exist when I was a kid. And am very worried for my own children because it did when they were - I've been counseling them since they were old enough to use a computer that whatever they write will be there forever.

I post about music on my Twitter. Tech stuff here. Instagram for my hobby photography. Facebook itself is long gone. And all for the reasons you’ve stated. I use none of them particularly often.

I’m as left as they come, but I don’t trust that the winds won’t change or I will make a stupid decision, and my future is too important to risk that. And honestly I’m not missing much. If I want to talk politics, I do it with my friends over a beer.

> If I want to talk politics, I do it with my friends over a beer.

As a former Soviet citizen, this is particularly funny to me. Where the safest place for political discussion was at home, in the kitchen, with vodka and couple of good friends. It was part of Soviet culture back then.

Even then you could still end up in the gulag. My wife's great grandfather spent years in work camps because his drinking "friends" turned him in for expressing "unfavourable opinions about Stalin".

While not anywhere nearly that extreme, it makes me nervous that we're moving in that direction culturally (where it's socially acceptable and encouraged to turn someone in for having the "wrong" thoughts).

Victorians in Australia have been arrested for contemplating protest, and some of those originated from via "tips." It's not a giant leap.

This is in no way an endorsement of the Soviet Union but it does need to be noted that the Soviet Union was in most parts of it's history, far more moderate than the Soviet Union under Stalin, Stalin has a higher body count than Hitler. Now in saying that, the Soviet Union was never a bastion of enlightenment era liberalism, free thought or personal freedoms. I agree it's not a end goal we should be striving for.

Interestingly the same could've been said for China post-Deng, pre-Pooh.

Do posts like this one count as "post what you're thinking" social media?

Yes. Good question.

Technically; people can't post to thedonald.win either. It has been closed down too.

Only technically. They moved to another domain to dodge the FBI investigation post-Capitol. It's just a rebrand.

it moved to patriots.win and there's apparently an even crazier group at greatawakening.win

It was closed due to their single financial backer pulling out, not due to being "cancelled" though.

Supposedly he was being pressured by the media, so it was a cancelling of sorts. The reasons are documented at the rebranded site.

>The most reasonable people know enough not to risk their livelihoods

This is literal victim blaming. US culture leaders have deep and worsening problems that need to be discussed openly.

It's worth noting that Frederick's employees quit -- her statements on twitter angered her staff so much they no longer wished to associate with her.

That's not cancel culture. That's common sense. Don't make your coworkers so angry that they'd rather be jobless than spend time in your presence.

The freedom of speech isn't the freedom to speak without consequences. Frederick spoke her mind in a public square, and signed her name to those statements, and other people freely chose not to associate themselves with her. That's bound to happen from time to time. It's a free country.

This line of reasoning breaks down whenever a population is experiencing any form of mass hysteria, and I think there's a reasonable argument that the US is very much in the midst of such a phenomenon right now. Indeed, that was the point of the example being provided by the poster you replied to: her staff quit because they acted based on a hysterical rather than rational analysis of the situation. They didn't break a law by quitting, but that doesn't mean this is something to take lightly or ignore. Mass hysteria is a very, very dangerous path to go down -- it's not something to brush off.

I don't really see where the mass or the hysteria is. It's an individual business parting with an employee because the views shared in public are likely going to harm the business.

Happens probably every day somewhere, why has this even become noteworthy?

I downvoted you because I am very confident you are acting in bad faith. Why is it notable? Because “Some rioters crashed a van through a gas station and I called the police” being a “view” that will “harm the business” is a novel take. I understand the logic behind it. I also know that the most fervent believers in that logic understand it is provocative and radical relative to the mainstream.

It's not a novel take at all, people have been fired for random takes that blew into shitstorms countless of times. You seem to be confused about my post, I'm not passing any judgement here in the sense of approving with the firing, I'm saying, if you make a post on some political event and you create some sort of backlash, even if you didn't do anything wrong, but you're being perceived that way, your place of work may let you go.

That's unfair but it's not a sign of hysteria, other than for the general shittiness of viral internet communication.

The person in question wasn't fired for "random takes" but rather being seen in the vicinity of services that have been seen in the vicinity of people making decidedly non-random takes on political matters. And now she, perhaps correctly, believes she is the victim of religious and political persecution.

As for not being mass hysteria, from the outside looking in it's clearly exactly that. Firing someone because of a mobile app they have installed, when that app was briefly at the top of the app store, is ludicrous and wrong.

The US left appear to be descendeding into full bore anti-conservative hysteria. This is exceptionally dangerous because when the left has taken power in the past with that kind of mentality it ended up in bloodshed on massive scales. That must not happen to America.

> The US left appear to be descendeding into full bore anti-conservative hysteria. This is exceptionally dangerous because when the left has taken power in the past with that kind of mentality it ended up in bloodshed on massive scales. That must not happen to America.

I wouldn't single out any particular faction on this to be honest. The Obama birther movement purportedly started in 2004 and Trump himself peddled the narrative that Obama wasn't a US Citizen. There was also the general narrative that Obama was the "Anti-Christ" and a secret Muslim.

Now you have a portion of the GOP who believe Democrats and "Hollywood elite" are harvesting children's adrenochromes in a massive paedophile ring.

Any argument that hysteria is the domain of one party is not based in fact.

Obama birtherism was dumb but never took over swathes of institutions like this. Even Trump abandoned it before he became President.

What we're seeing now is not merely a set of hysterical beliefs, but widespread pulling on the levers of power on the basis of them. That seems pretty new.

> The US left appear to be descendeding into full bore anti-conservative hysteria.

The corporate actors involved here are nowhere near the left, they are closer to the center-right; the problem the Trumpist faction is facing isn’t that the Left doesn’t like them, its that they’ve earned the firm enmity of the centrist factions that, even when they opposed conservatives them on certain issues, kept good relations with them because they knew the next day they might need them as allies against the Left. And, beyond that, they’ve also lost a substantial minority of the Right; the various long-time and recent Republican figures that have come out in opposition to the Trumpist faction – and not just in the usual intraparty opposition sense but to the extent of either making a dramatic exit from the Party and/or advocating for the defeat of not only its Presidential candidate but of its downballot candidates as long as the Party adheres to Trumpism is telling.

Shouting about the Left is, I’m sure, cathartic, but it is also very much irrelevant to what is going on here. That’s not where the change that is driving outcomes comes from.

That's disagreement, not enmity. Conflating the two is hysteria.

No it’s not just the “the Trumpists” versus everyone else. Almost all of these incidents involve conduct which nobody except a small fraction of the progressive left finds problematic. The mainstream left goes along because they’re afraid of being lumped in with “Trumpists.”

I expect this to change once Trump is gone and mainstream liberals aren’t so terrified of being compared to him.

As a centrist myself I disagree with the premise that centrists take issue with Trump.

I personally take issue with his heavy-handed approach to the George Floyd protests, but I consider George Bush Jr to be by far the worse president between the two. He's mostly just an arrogant asshole.

The left's response to him however... And I've spoken with many many other centrists online who agree with me so it's not clear to me why you think the centrists are anything but just silent so they don't get swept up in the hysteria (which is where I've been at for years now, which is why I've never been on Twitter, instagram, etc. Was on FB briefly and promptly left it long before it got popular to do so).

Not in countries with functioning labor law.

There is no chance they would have quit were there no hubub about it. Zero.

They quit likely because they are in a rep-based business and their boss is stained.

The 'mass outrage' is to some extent, outrage on them by virtue of trickle down or association.

The public outrage adds emotional momentum to it.

That the woman did something slightly questionable makes it one of the better examples of cancel culture, because were she to have done truly noting remotely wrong, then none of the actions would have any justification at all. Because there's a shade of possibly bad acting, we see the disproportional response.

What was the questionable decision?

Joining a website where nasty people make comments.

Imagine if every redditor was fired or or had their employees quit because of the absolutely horrific things some other users post there.

You know, there are people who think HN is one of those websites. Like, squarely in the left-wing (I'm not saying mainstream liberals think that), but it's definitely a thing.

Taking a snap of a worker on the train eating their sandwich an posting to Twitter was obviously a questionable thing to do at minimum.

> where is the hysteria

The hysteria is literally facing HARM from opinions.

Why is death threats and intolerance noteworthy? Maybe because intolerance, hate, bigotry and threats of violence should always be noteworthy? especially when concerned with those who claim to be tolerant?

There seems to be mass hysteria about the claimed "mass hysteria", at least when it relates to private business or individuals cutting ties with someone over their actions and statements as opposed to online harassment.

Over the perception of their actions, not their actual actions.

Nobody anywhere would care a single bit were there not mass hysteria.

Also it's not necessarily harassment to call out people if they are not doing their jobs. It's just very (almost pathetically) petty.

>Over the perception of their actions, not their actual actions.

Trying to discuss in good faith here so hopefully this doesn't garner venom: it doesn't feel novel to be fired or quit over public perception of actions or statements - all my corporate employers since the onset of social media have had disclaimers to not enter the public discourse in such a way that might cause negative publicity for them.

>Nobody anywhere would care a single bit were there not mass hysteria.

This is what my original comment was getting at: claims of 'mass hysteria' come off as something like a conspiracy against a specific group or unfairly targeted wrong-think, which feels like a much more exciting answer than the mundane reality. It seems hysterical in itself to not just assume we're in a politically polarized climate and certain topics of discourse easily earn you close friends and/or committed enemies - something that can make any group dynamic fall apart.

>Also it's not necessarily harassment to call out people if they are not doing their jobs. It's just very (almost pathetically) petty.

Entirely agree! I do think social media has had a tendency to allow people to indulge in their worst sides without much consequence in the case of doxxing and, well, harassment by mass-reaching out to personal lines of contact. That's really distinct in my eyes from filing a complaint to their public employer for the public perception of their public statements.

So this is a good comment - however the term 'hysteria' may not be correct, I suggest that the reaction is ultimately hysterical to the point of overreaction.

I think frankly it's driven a small group of unimportant people, causing more serious forces to act out of fear or opportunity, which snowballs into overreaction.

A 'fear' moves over a group of people causing weird effects.

Maybe we need a term for this - but how do we have 'serious consequences' out of essentially 'inconsequential acts'?

It's leveraged consistently by those that want to use 'every little interaction' as 'proof' of their particular ideology.

It's just too much, it's wearing on my otherwise sympathetic view of people.

The reason for hysteria isn't polarization alone, but also the left has a mission and is compelled to use everything to complete it, including such hysteric campaigns. Maybe it's not truly hysteria, but it looks, walk and talks like one.

Those quitting people themselves describe their quitting as punishment of bad people to make the world better, not to save business. Quit for business harm happens the other way around: when management fires an employee who started a controversy.

> The freedom of speech isn't the freedom to speak without consequences

People in East Germany were free to speak, they just got consequences.

Freedom of speech in the US means that the government can't punish you for saying something, except in situations where they can (incitement, copyright, libel, contempt of court, etc)

Freedom of Speech in the US is a tenet and a philosophy.

What you're referring to is called a constitutional amendment, which also gets pulled under the umbrella term 'Freedom of Speech' because it's a practical implementation of the ideal.

This idea that it's defensible to actively work against the ideals of Freedom of Speech because of a constitutional amendment just doesn't fly. It would be akin to me claiming it isn't immoral to cheat on my spouse because there are laws requiring lawyers to avoid breaching the trust of their clients and therefore trust isn't anything people should consider unless they're lawyers.

"It's a free country" doesn't really add much to the discussion. No-one is saying her employees should be legally forced to stay with the company.

What is being said, however, is that we should reverse this spiralling cultural trend of thinking it's OK to rail-road/strong-arm those not on your "side".

It's a base, mob instinct that has caused riots, factionalism, witch hunts and genocide all throughout human history. It's arguably responsible for a lot of the damage in US society in recent years

I mean, her employees quit because she posted on Twitter that a business was being looted and someone should call the police (I believe, the original tweet seems to have been deleted). Resigning over something so innocuous surely points to a disturbingly reductionist world view, and that path leads only to violence.

The situation has escalated because normal, rational, calm politics has completely failed to deliver.

Police shoot someone dead. There should, at the very least, be a reliable public inquiry into each one of these incidents. We could treat it as an air accident or a murder inquiry, either would work; but instead, there is nothing. Over the years, the anger about being exposed to the risk of being shot dead without consequences boils over, and suddenly there is fighting in the streets and on Twitter. The way to "reverse the trend" is for justice to be seen to be done within the system, so people don't go outside the system. After all, there's no way to end calls for people to be fired without infringing free speech.

Is calling the police on somebody making a death threat? That's how SWATting came to be a problem, after all.

Completely different. Calling police with a false report of an extremely violent crime is hugely different from calling police on an actually crime.

And declaring war on policing is a horrific response to the (huge) problem of under 0.1% of interactions having inexcusably terrible outcomes. Lack of policing causes far more problems than policing. And if you disagree with that, do you deserve to lose your job for your good faith belief? The anti-policing extremists hurt the people they intend to help. The vast majority of Black communities don't want to cancel the current police as a whole, they want better police.

> It's a base, mob instinct that has caused riots, factionalism, witch hunts and genocide all throughout human history

This is it. In the last 10 years or so mob instinct has shown up in many ways - in looting stores, in doxing people and cancelling people who say the wrong things, in trying to overthrow governments, or just simple pile-ons. In part this has been fanned by big tech, but not entirely

The trick is tackling the causes of the creation of the mobs. "You're either with us or against us" is not new - Clinton and Bush were using it 20 years ago, but Cicero used it in Rome and it's in the bible. Big Tech is certainly a key part of the creation and expanse as it connects people, and people are encouraged to "pick a side". In traditional discourse what you'd say to your sportsmates up the pub could be a very different conversation to what you say to your collegues at an awayday. With social media, what you say to one, you say to all -- walking between worlds is difficult.

You might agree with group A on one thing (say housing), and group B on another thing (say BLM), and group C on another thing (say economy), but if those don't all align with your side, you won't fit in.

I think trying to stop what causes mobs can be noble but will be done in vain, validate people’s ideas since they are now being blocked and it also has the ability to be abused. Media sites spent months blocking, banning, demonetizing, and posting disputes about election fraud but none the less there were still riots at the capital building. I like to think of all these websites as a search engine and so will use Google as an example. If Google blocks searches for illegal activity does it stop that illegal activity? No. Does it even lessen that activity? No. In my opinion is hides it which is actually what those committing illegal acts want. They may not know they want it, but it literally protects them from being found by the ones who can stand up to them, sometimes the police. Let’s say you have a person who makes a threat towards another person and that is blocked before it’s posted. Now, the person who was threatened has no idea they were ever threatened. That person is unable to report to the police the treat and has no evidence of the threat. Not only can they not prepare to protect themselves or defend themselves but their evidence is gone and the person making the threats has no consequences. Google and others do turn over threats to the FBI but let’s be honest they don’t have the time or man power to investigate every threat on the internet. So who does? Websites don’t, but the people who are being threatened do. They need to know. This example obviously doesn’t apply as well to mob attacks, but I think the solution is the same. You need transparency and more visibility to these things not less. You literally need police for the internet, not just moderators. Stop the activity where it becomes illegal but not with hiding it, find a way to enforce that through the government with real world consequences, not through moderation of a narrative.

I'm thinking more tackling the causes that feeds people into mobs, the need of people to effectively wear gang shirts because of the lack of compartmentalisation of communication caused by non-anonymous online conversations

Another for your list: Jordanian-American woman gets her publishing deal canceled for tweeting about a rude DC Metro employee, because the Metro employee was black.


I’m very much against people being fired for their social media posts (unless we’re crossing way over a line that delves into calls for violence or is doing something illegal), but that situation was a bit more complicated. That author, who was PR professional and verified on Twitter, was using her account and her blue-checkmark to shame a worker on a train for eating on her break. She literally tried to get that employee fired and put their face all over the internet. So forgive me if I don’t weep for someone being snitched on on social media when they were snitching themselves and using their position (brands and places like the transit authority take complaints from people with blue checks much more seriously and blue checks absolutely know this) to try to get someone fired for daring to break a rule of eating on a train. Come on now. Her losing her book contract with a publisher no one has ever heard of seems almost fitting.

ETA: Since then, she’s also been able to leverage that experience into redemption/victimhood profiles on Good Morning America and an article in Elle UK. Both opportunities I guarantee she never would have had with her debut novel, so she’s fine.

You’ve gone and assumed the worst. “Trying to get that employee fired?” I just don’t see it. Anyway, the Metro employees union would never go for it.

The no-eating rule is a fairly big deal on Metro. A twelve-year-old girl was famously arrested for eating a single French fry [0], in a case (Hedgepeth v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority) that went all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals, where the arrest was upheld. A teenager was arrested in 2016 for carrying chips and snacks into a Metro station [1]. If I saw an employee flouting this rule, I’d be indignant too. I wouldn’t have posted a photo of the person, but the kind of vitriol, racism, and naked hate this novelist faced in response to her tweet was totally unwarranted. The potential for negative consequences on the part of the Metro employee was greatly exaggerated.

[0] https://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=94999&page=1

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/met...

As someone who's never been on the DC metro, my first reaction to this story was that it's pretty unreasonable to post an employee's photo to Twitter just because they ate on the train. While we can't say for sure that they wanted to get the employee fired, their intent was clearly for them to be held accountable in some way by their employer for this infraction.

That said, if it's true that metro passengers have effectively been harassed and abused and arrested for years over this no-eating rule, then I can see how it would be more offensive to see an employee breaking it publicly, and this person's reaction makes more sense to me.

I've seen this interesting behavior in other contexts. There is a stupid rule that nobody likes. People make an effort to follow it despite hating it. When they see someone breaking the rule they feel that it's very unfair because of the effort they are making, so they report it to make it fairer. Either everyone should follow the rule or it shouldn't exist.

But in doing so they have become what they hated. They are now actively helping maintain and rooting for the stupid rule instead of fighting against it.

We all follow rules we don't agree with; that is part of the social contract. Selective enforcement of rules is one of the biggest threats to those who behave lawfully.

I see no compromise of principle in people who maintain and enforce stupid rules they disagree with. The most honest response is to argue for and support sensible rules, not to turn a blind eye.

I'm not saying that I think it is a good idea to follow bad rules - but people who disagree with rules and follow them anyway on solid moral footing and should reasonably expect others to do the same.

>We all follow rules we don't agree with; that is part of the social contract

it's been my experience that people generally don't follow rules they disagree with, unless they are afraid of the consequences. As such, seeing someone breaking the rule who is also someone in power over them with ability to enforce the rule can be especially galling.

Narcing on your neighbor for building an unpermitted shed because you feel like a chump for pulling permits when the reality is you both could have gotten away without permits is very different from narcing on somebody who is only getting away with it because they have some special status with the organization responsible for the rule.

I’m not defending the vitriol or racist and toxic remarks she received; I’m saying she was using her position as a blue checkmark to publicly shame someone and to try to get them fired. And as a self-described social media and communications expert, she should have known that using her position of power to shame/snitch on someone could carry consequences. She could have reported it privately, but she chose to use her platform that included her social status (most brands and orgs like the metro use CRMs to filter/prioritize responses from verified users, something someone who claims to be a social media strategist would know) to be a narc instead.

Moreover, the Metro had been ordered to cease citing people for jumping fares or eating on the train in 2019. I appreciate the author may not have known that. She still had no reason to use her clout to publish a photo of the employee and call her her to be punished. She was literally snitching someone and then cried tears of sorrow when she was snitched on back. I’m really struggling to garner sympathy in this particular case, although again, I don’t defend or condone the hate she received in return.

She also sued the publisher (an extremely small outfit with two employees) over canceling her book and they wound up publishing it anyway out of fear of litigation. She also tried to sue the distributor (Rare Bird, which is also small), who she didn’t have a contract with (these were the people that commented publicly they wouldn’t distribute it), but wound up dropping the case. I’m not trying to drag her for having a book deal with a boutique imprint, I just think it’s important to realize that this wasn’t Hachette or Simon & Schuster, this was an imprint with two employees.

And she then leveraged her experience to get positive international coverage/redemption arc. And you know what, if GMA and Elle UK want to buy into her narrative, kudos to her for selling it. But it really goes against the idea that her life was ruined, when again, she was able to place sympathetic stories about herself with Hearst (Elle UK) and ABC News (GMA).

> She could have reported it privately, but she chose to use her platform that included her social status ... to be a narc instead.

Reporting it privately is still "narcing", isn't it? You're saying she'd have been ok if she kept her anonymity while doing the snitching that the twitter mob seeks to "cancel" people for? Well sure.

There's a very substantial different between privately reporting someone, and publicly shaming someone for a behaviour, which has potentially far more extensive consequences, including putting additional pressure on the employer to act harshly.

It's perfectly reasonable to think one or both is wrong while still thinking one is far worse than the other.

Attempting to rile a Twitter mob is quite a bit different to reporting something to the authorities who should be the ones to act on something.

The adoption of “no snitching” culture well outside of its original contexts confuses me somewhat, but also in this case, how is this a situation someone should even concern themselves with? The entire thing is baffling to me: the original tweet, the Twitter mob against herself and firing afterward. Just seems out of this world.

> And as a self-described social media and communications expert, she should have known that using her position of power to shame/snitch on someone could carry consequences.

Exactly. She knew better and was sophisticated enough to discern what was proportionate to the situation.

To be fair, the DC metro is among the cleanest in the NE USA. It's not North Korea clean, but it's far better than NYC and Philly. The reason it's clean is because the system does a decent job of policing the trains and hires enough people to keep it clean.

I've seen people eat entire large pizzas on NY subways, I've seen people eat massive wet smelly hoagies in Philly and deliberately plop a handful of the onions on the floor of the train like it was nothing. I can at least understand her outrage, but she could have handled it differently.

Maybe she took the "if you see something, say something" directive a bit too seriously?

As a regular user of the DC metro for about five years, I can say that rule is often enough ignored. Overall the system is impressively clean and people generally do not eat or drink on the trains, but hop on after like 9pm and it’s a very different story.

As for “vitriol, racism, and naked hate”, is that not just standard stuff on social media? Any tweet that goes viral for better or worse will get it.

You reap what you sow. Her shitty behavior prompted a shitty response.

I couldn't care less about how strict the rule is, highlighting your disagreement with it by shitting on the little guy isn't a good look.

Thanks for this, it's this reason why I find it hard to believe people's summaries as they rarely tell the complete picture, and that itself is dangerous.

In this case, the original post didn't pass the sniff test to me. If I tweeted:

"Hey $operator, the person manning the gate at the station at James Street this morning was really rude, yelling at people and telling them to f-off"

I can't see any situation where the skin color of that person would come into it, so how would it be possible to get someone fired "because they're black" when that information isn't even made available.

While I agree with your logic, I am open to the point of view that some people would preferentially report someone’s behavior depending on the race of the person involved.

Perhaps a black employee is more likely to get a complaint about rudeness. If so, the race wasn’t made available but still changed the interaction.

I'm sure that's the case, and it will be up to the managers to be aware of unconcious bias on these types of reports and judge them respectively, but that's not going to raise a storm on twitter about a single person complaining about bad behaviour, or link that single complaint to an evidenced based dismissal later down the line.

It not okay to libelously lie about people like this. Please stop.


The author and her family received death threats over this. She briefly left the US for her own safety, and was harassed and bullied “to the brink of suicide.” Flippant dismissal of the Internet hate mob is all well and good until it comes for you.

The Metro employee faced no disciplinary action.


I don't want to dismiss what she experienced and how upsetting it must have been, but "she received death threats" covers a lot of ground.

Apparently lots of people make internet death threats all the time. Every single case like this mentions death threats. I don't think these death threats are in general credible. Clearly at least some of them are made by people who just join in with and escalate online arguments for amusement. I assume at least some of them are made by people hoping to 'discredit the other side'.

I fail to see how the author's plight at the hands of the internet mob makes the situation less nuanced.

Flippant dismissal of facts isn't going to help things get better either.


For the record, I’m not saying she should have been harassed. I’m not even arguing she should have lost work or had her book distributor who didn’t have a contract with her say they didn’t want to distribute her book. I find the outcome fitting given the circumstances, but I’m not rallying for that outcome. What I am arguing is that framing her as a victim of cancel ignores a much bigger part of the story and as dguaragalia says, dismissing the facts and eschewing the nuance for optimum outrage is extremely unhelpful.

Thanks for formulating this in much more understandable terms than my comment!

No, this is upside down.

The entire point of the situation is that the nuances are not hugely relevant in the big picture.

Moreover, the nuances are never catered to in cancel culture anyhow.

Nothing remotely significant happened in this situation that should have involved anything other than maybe some stern retorts on the medium she started on i.e. Twitter.

The commenter thinking that 'this was a good outcome' gives us a great example of the vindictive pettiness and overreaction of cancel culture.

You don't lose your job and livelihood for a possibly distasteful public remark, probably taken out of context.

It's actually a pretty great example of the stupidity of cancel culture.

> Nothing remotely significant happened in this situation that should have involved anything other than maybe some stern retorts on the medium she started on i.e. Twitter.

Somehow you miss the other side of this: her interaction on her train ride didn't deserve to be more significant than the average unpleasant experienced 10 times a week by anyone living in a city. She actively tried to make it bigger, then it got blown out of proportion by people like her, who blow shit out of proportion.

Maybe we should all start taking responsibility for our actions, instead of screaming 'cancel culture' whenever they catch up to us.

Yes, except that an apology was all that was necessary.

Claims of racism in the national press are ridiculous.

In case somebody else were wondering, I looked it up:

PoC authors in this context refers to "Persons of Color"-authors.

In hindsight it is probably clear from the context - but I didn't immediately get it. :)

I feel you, as an European engineer far away from such matters, PoC means "proof of concept" to me :)

I had no idea what it meant and actually guessed it was some kind of slur (in line with PoS) until I learnt recently.

Weird term. Doesn't work unabbreviated as an adjective, an adjectival formation ('coloured') is long out of politically-correct favour (at least it is in the UK), and why, is 'of colour' different/better/at all a good description of someone anyway?

I'm, er, 'without colour', so it's hardly for me to object, but I couldn't comfortably use it. Fortunately (or I suppose that's why it 'feels' off to me) nobody ('of colour' or not) here seems to.

Or maybe it's just a lesson in tone etc. being harder to convey on the internet - for ages I thought 'MeToo' was against the alleged victims, as in 'oh yeah yeah me too, I'm Brian and so's my wife'.

It’s a socially constructed term that was popularized in 2010 or so to figure out a way to lump Black, Latino, and Asian people together. It almost never makes any sense talk about all of those different groups as one (“Latino” and “Asian” are by themselves over-broad categories) but that’s where we are.

I get that there is a need to differentiate, for the purpose of discussion, traditionally privileged white people from, well, literally everyone else. Any label using a negative prefix like "non-white" or "un-privileged" is not desirable because it suggests a lack of something. But it seems to me like we should be able to do a lot better than a rephrasing of a term associated with the Jim Crow era.

> I get that there is a need to differentiate, for the purpose of discussion, traditionally privileged white people from, well, literally everyone else.

Is there? Asians are wealthier, more educated, more upwardly mobile, less likely to be shot by the police, and live longer, than whites. As an Asian-American man, I can expect to live as long as my Irish-American wife. Latinos, meanwhile, have various disparities resulting from the character and recency of immigration, but have similar economic mobility to whites, and within 1-3 generations achieve economic parity with whites. Cubans, who came to the US as refugees with no money, achieved parity in just one generation. 60% of multiracial people, mostly white-asian and white-hispanic, identify as white, and not multiracial.

Black and Native American people, meanwhile, face persistent economic disparities that are both large and are completely unchanged since the segregation era. Almost all black-white multiracial people identify as Black or multiracial, not as white.

The constructed term "people of color" actually obscures the fundamental dynamics of American society:

1) America is incredibly successful at assimilating immigrants, white or non-white, both socially and economically. The term "people of color" obscures the fact that these groups are basically experiencing the same economic and social trajectory that Germans, Irish, Polish, Italians, etc., experienced over American history.

2) America has been unable to make any progress at eliminating economic disparities for two groups that face unique historical circumstances: Black people, and Native Americans. The term "people of color" obscures the fact that these groups are facing American experiences that are sui generis in American history.

"People of color" is strictly less useful of a term than what preceded it, "underrepresented minority." And it appears that people realize that impracticality, because you've seen the emergence of phrases like "assimilation into whiteness" or "white-adjacent" to describe Asians and economically assimilated Latinos. These are phrases (which are offensive, by the way) coined to remedy a self-inflicted problem: defining who is "privileged" in the country in terms of "whiteness" and not something that actually reflects society.

> why is 'of colour' different/better/at all a good description of someone anyway?

It's different in that it's a different phrase. It's better because it's different; terminology in this area is driven purely by fashion.


When I was in primary school, handicapped was going out of fashion in favour of disabled (wikipedia tells me we were 10-15 years later than the US on that one, culture wasn't so instantly global then). A large part of this was that handicapped had been repurposed as an insult so there was a need for disabled (as happened for the previous terminology for mental disability, also). Of course even "disabled [person/people]" is heading into the "maybe don't use that" territory these days

It's clear why this happens, having difficulties is viewed as undesirable, most people would choose not to have them if they could (I'm aware some people with disabilities have felt it made them who they are and wouldn't change it, but they aren't the people to start using terms in a pejorative manner). As long as there are real negative attitudes against black people and real negative effects on black people, this is likely to be the same for terms used there also.

I feel the only reason person centered language like "people of color" and "person with disabilities" has lasted so long as the acceptable phrasing is simply because the more wordy phrases are harder to turn into a playground insult/drunk jeering/etc.

"Disabled" is being replaced by "differently abled".

That one was used pejoratively pretty much instantly, so never had much momentum, so my understanding is "person with disabilities" is the currently correct term.

I honestly find it tiring to have to always check what I'm saying just in case one of the words I'm using is on a WRL (Word Revocation List) - this basic assumption that if you use one of these words you're using it in a derogatory way...

I don't really have any suggestions about how this could be handled differently, just pointing out this aspect that does end up making me talk less, certainly about touchy subjects, because I'm afraid of being misinterpreted and seen in a bad light.

Edit: It's also especially bad because English isn't my native language so I might use some construct that seems "natural" to me but insulting to a native speaker

Nope! "Person with" was almost instantly rejected because it is insulting to an unremovable aspect of someone's existence, condemning someone as broken and lesser.

Here we have a too-common case of virtue chasers on the "same side" attacking each other because they have slightly different useless solutions to a problem. (The way you to show more respect to different people with differences is to show more respect in actions, not to play word games that the vast majority of affected people with effects don't care about.)

> The way you to show more respect to different people with differences is to show more respect in actions, not to play word games that the vast majority of affected people with effects don't care about.

If anyone cared what the group being described thought about the terminology, no one would ever have tried to say "Latinx".

Like I said above, pure fashion.

Huh, I was basing that on someone I know who recently completed a relevant college degree and is now working in the field of intellectual disabilities - the advice they received, both academic and professional is that "people with disabilities"/person centered language is the approach.

I had a look, the wikipedia page[1] indicates at least in the US that the American Medical Association, United Spinal Association and various federal and state bodies recommend it as best practice, but also points out various groups for deaf and blind people disagree.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People-first_language#Rational...

What's coming into vogue now is "diversability"[1], I guess to take the negative connotation out of "dis-ability", precisely as "differently abled" tried to do. To my mind, they're basically the same but I guess "differently abled" was derided as overly P.C. and became a comical term.

1. https://www.disabled-world.com/definitions/disability-disabl...

I think it has to do with which names have been chosen for people, and which chosen by people.

Not always, for example, Native American on reservations use the term Indian to refer to themselves, but outside this is becoming impolite in favour of Native American (including among some but not all Native Americans)[1][2]

See also the "Spastics Society", "National Association for the Advancement of Colored People", modern use of the n-word among black people, the use of "Negro" in "I have a Dream". Plenty of cases where a word in use by the group themselves becomes considered the impolite word.

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh88fVP2FWQ

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_name_controver...

"colored people" is a wonderful illustration of this farce because NAACP kept the name so long that it went from preferred to offensive and almost back to preferred, with "people of color" being the PC term in US (and "people with Foo" becoming dispreferred to "Fooed people" or "Fooed"/"Foo", and "racialized" being the PC term in Canada (which would be horrifically offensive in the US).

I enjoyed the suggestion I found somewhere that the NAACP should replace the problematic term "Colored People" in its name with "African Americans".

What happens if the name you chose for yourself doesn't match the name a Twitter mob chose for you, and they attack people using the name you prefer?

Approximately 97% of "Latinx" people do not identify as "Latinx".

Why is "Point of Sale" a slur? ;-)

The phenomenon is called "purity spiral", and it's absolutely maddening. Here's a good article on it: https://unherd.com/2020/01/cast-out-how-knitting-fell-into-a...

I really like the term purity spiral. It captures it quite well.

Alas, it seems this thread was flagged. Ironic given the content. But I'll continue to share that article about the purity spiral with others, it captures a lot of the things I've seen quite well.

There's no winning in these situations. Sooner or later they will implode into smaller groups and won't have much power. Look at the different Christian sects that came to be over minor theological differences.

The only way to win is not to play.

I very vividly experienced this in a communist society, and later in a religious society. It is always a safe bet to praise G-d or Dear Leader a little more than customary. No one will dare to challenge you. And after a short while this becomes a new average and a minimum requirement.

For a humorous example of this, there's the movie Office Space, and the fight over the number of pieces of flair that Joanna is wearing. She wears 15 pieces of flair, the company required minimum, compared to the boss' favourite, Brian, who wears 37 pieces of flair.

From that story, it doesn’t seem like calling 911 was the problem. It was tweeting about it.

Tweeting was the trigger. Hysteria was the problem.

Something I don't understand is, why don't people simply ignore such harassment and forcibly proceed towards whatever they were doing anyway? Such as publishing those books for example.

Another PoC author got her book dropped and brigaded by abusive harassers on goodreads, for the crime of tweeting a gripe that a subway employee illegally ate food on a subway train.

Elsewhere in the thread it appears this author actually attempted to get this person fired. (Also, is has apparently been legal since 2019.)

It’s more complicated than this. I don’t condone any harassment but not accurately disseminating the information is the same non-nuanced mob behavior that causes the harassment in the first place.

I don't understand this, how did angry activists know that she was the one who phoned 911? Are identities of 911 callers part of some public records disclosure?

She posted about it herself.

Ok, then I have to revise my opinion of this. Live by the blue checkmark, die by the blue checkmark. Social media is a cancer.

This post is misleading and outright false in some respects. From the first article posted:

"By Claire Kirch | May 31, 2020

The civil unrest in the Twin Cities continues to take its toll on Minnesota's literary community—sometimes in unexpected ways. Thursday evening, the night before protesters set fire to two adjoining Minneapolis indie bookstores and destroying them both, the reaction to a St. Paul–based literary agent’s tweet ended up gutting the boutique agency she owns.

Three agents affiliated with Red Sofa Literary tweeted this past weekend that they have resigned in response to owner Dawn Frederick’s tweet, leaving one subsidiary rights executive besides Frederick still employed there. Frederick's official Red Sofa account on Twitter has been removed."

"Frederick, who founded Red Sofa in 2008, is a well-known fixture in Minnesota’s vibrant literary community, serving on the board of directors of the Loft Literary Center and having launched the MN Publishing Tweet Up social group. She also supervises the team of volunteers working in the galley room during the Heartland Fall Forum regional booksellers trade show each year."

So no, this was not during the BLM protests in St. Louis as the date of the article precedes when those began. Furthermore she is a "well-known fixture in Minnesota's vibrant literary community", and has been since 2008, which is something I would have expected someone who "worked in publishing for years" to be aware of.

Throwing her name combined with BLM into search engines like google only returns results after this event, so your assertion of her advocacy is unfounded and not to be believed by the above and what follows.

"Minneapolis attorney Marshall Tanick of the Meyer, Njus, Tanick law firm emailed cease-and-desist letters on Monday to two literary agents and an author on behalf of his client, Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary. The two agents are Beth Phelan of Gallt and Zacker (the email was cc’ed to that agency’s two principals) and Kelly Van Sant, who until two weeks ago worked for Red Sofa. The author is Isabel Sterling, who writes YA novels. SFF author Foz Meadows also received an email, she tweeted, but it contained multiple factual errors and was recalled by its sender."

"UPDATE: On Thursday afternoon, Laura Zats, a principal of Headwater Literary Management in Minneapolis announced that she received a letter from Frederick's lawyer, threatening legal action against the agent for re-tweeting tweets by others alleging that Frederick is racist. Zats is a former employee of Red Sofa Literary, who left it last year ago to found her own agency. She has joined Phelan, Van Sant, and Sterling in their GoFundMe campaign soliciting funds in case of a lawsuit. The campaign has raised almost $15,000 to date.

Several authors have announced that they are severing their relationships with Red Sofa Literary, including Margot Atwell, the head of publishing for Kickstarter. She tweeted Thursday afternoon that she has terminated her relationship with Frederick "due to the choice she made to call the police during the protests against George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, and her subsequent decision to threaten legal action against her critics."


So Frederick decides to start suing people, which results in agents/authors not targeted in lawsuits to cut ties with her in part due to her legal efforts.

Had she stuck with the apology she released a few days after the tweet, instead of doubling down and even throwing lawsuits around, things would have likely been far better for her. Or even not publicly announcing she was calling the police during protests against police behavior.

In other words she's not the blameless martyr you make her out to be.

And finally cancelling is just a propaganda term on the political right to escape the negative consequences of their actions. This is evidenced by it not being applied when, say the (Dixie) Chicks criticized President Bush and had their careers largely ended. It's also not applied when the 'cancelling' is apolitical, such as a restaurateur who alienates their customers/community (think Cafe Hon from Kitchen Nightmares).

EDIT: Less than 2 minutes after this was posted it was down voted and flagged.


"On April 8, 1933, the Main Office for Press and Propaganda of the German Student Union (DSt) proclaimed a nationwide "Action against the Un-German Spirit", which was to climax in a literary purge or "cleansing" ("Säuberung") by fire."

The term "cancel culture" is extremely ironic. The implication of the term is that people should not be "cancelled" for expressing their views. And yet, backing out of a book deal, for example, is an expression of a view.

In practice, the term is used to de-legitimize some opinions, while upholding others.

The term "cancel culture" is cancel culture.

This is a bad take, the wrong side of "paradox of tolerance".

Firing/boycotting someone for doing nothing wrong, not even for something "offensive", but just for appearing to have some observable qualities vaguely similar to people who do offensive things, is unjustifiable.

It blew me away when the ok symbol somehow became a white supremacist symbol.

I couldn't believe people would actually allow white supremacists to have so much power over them that they'd circumvent such a benign symbol.

If my meme history is correct, the okay symbol was created as a troll on 4chan, and the media took the bait

You are correct. It was the beginning of the modern ‘clown world’ movement in memery.

That's unfortunate, I know it had consequences for atleast 1 person who didn't understand the implications (I'm thinking of the driver who got recorded making the symbol).

Same thing with white milk.

>Firing/boycotting someone for doing nothing wrong, not even for something "offensive"

Just an observation: You are "cancelling" the opinions of those who do the "cancelling." In terms of the OP, you may or may not agree with the opinion of the person who did the firing, but it was based on someone being offended. Whether or not that offense was justified, or a good enough reason to fire someone, is a different question.

I don't mind down-votes, but I would prefer critical discourse.

Just a reminder that Newsweek ceased publication back in 2013, and the rights to its brand were purchased by an odd Christian sect, somewhat along the lines of The Washington Times and the Reunification Church. The new "Newsweek" capitalizes on the brand reputation of the old one, but has no connections to it; a good thing to do with Newsweek pieces is to check the byline and look up what their background is.

Honest question - it's obvious how you identify politically by all your posts here, but what has your comment got to do with the story?

If it's a false story, say it. If it's not - what exactly are you saying with your comment?

I know it sounds like he’s “poisoning the well,” but this comment answered the question I had in my head. I thought the source was left-leaning but the article had a conservative voice.

It’s important to know who’s writing: The article is not an objective list of facts. They did not reach to the publication for comment. Some nuances might have been ironed out. This is true regardless of the political side talking.

why it is not an objective list of facts? To me it sounds quite objective, it answers all five W, exposes the facts chronologically and it even showed compromise to show the side of the company firing:

> Newsweek reached out to the agency and to Oefelein for comment and will update this article with any response.

Instead, your comment to me sounds likme an apology to the ad hominem fallacy.

IMO the problem here is that they've taken a couple of tweets and profile links and ballooned it to a ten paragraph "summary" when a single link to the tweet in question would've served better.

When an article about a tweet doesn't bother to embed the tweet, it's probably a good indication that the article itself doesn't really add anything to the topic. Firsthand accounts from _either_ of the parties here would've been significantly more valuable to us as readers.

> I know it sounds like he’s “poisoning the well,” but this comment answered the question I had in my head. I thought the source was left-leaning but the article had a conservative voice.

Comment contradicts what is in wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsweek#2018_investigation_an...

Maybe ask for sources before using some random post making unverified claims as confirmation for your own biases.

The summary in Wikipedia may be correct but it is worth remembering that Wikipedia itself is hideously biased to the left at times in its coverage of political issues.

I've generally taken that not to be down to malevolence but probably just down to the fact those drawn to editing it are most likely of a similar political hue to those from academia.

When you are in the wrong lane, everybody is going against you?

Has it struck you that maybe the world is actually that way and that they prefer to be that way. Just because it isn't your way doesn't mean that you dismiss the rest of the world.

I'm a man of the left, which is partly why I find these issues so shameful.

So you'll need to clarify how I'm "in the wrong lane".

Honest question: Could you point to some examples of Wikipedia's "hideous" left-wing bias? Not trying to catch you out, I've just personally always been surprised by how neutral Wikipedia's political articles tend to be when I've read them, and I'd like to challenge my own perception here.

Not left-wing bias but rather US democrat bias see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Biden%E2%80%93Ukraine_con...

> I've just personally always been surprised by how neutral Wikipedia's political articles tend to be when I've read them

My experience so far is that they manage to polarize even articles unrelated to politics, I think that it is partially caused by the toxicity of the community.

Thanks for that; a very thorough overview I hadn't read and it saves me going through wikipedia to find some examples for the (reasonable) request in response to my previous comment.

I should point out that there are plenty of editors who lean left that make genuine attempts to keep it out of their editing and are as frustrated as me about those who don't; I genuinely suspect it is an editor-demographics numbers thing that causes the imbalance as much as anything, as previously stated.

What's the Occam's Razor of "everyone smart enough to be in advanced learning seems to have the same political bias", do you think?

Anecdotal, but many of the stupidest, most blinkered people I've ever met are those with "advanced learning".

There was an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that addressed this something along the lines of, "the smarter you are, the easier it is to talk yourself into doublethink".

They are all drinking from the same self-righteous well of "morality". The fact that they consider themselves "advanced" also seems to translate that they are also "correct" in all matters, regardless of their expertise.

I'm pretty sure the simplest explanation doesn't involve so many double quotes.

He's implying, correctly, that Newsweek is not a trustworthy or even-handed source, and that the ownership now is very likely to push stories in directions by leaving out information, or emphasizing red herrings, in order to drive an agenda.

Note that I am confident about the first clause in your summary and less confident about the second. What I'm sure of is that "Newsweek" was purchased as a skeevy ploy to acquire the journalistic reputation of Newsweek (without acquiring or investing in any of the infrastructure that created that reputation). Lots of sources claim Newsweek, in a manner similar to the Epoch Times, also has a pronounced partisan lean; I'm less sure of that, but more sure that when you look at the bylines of "Newsweek" stories, you often find content mill writers.

That stories from "Newsweek" are routinely submitted here and often voted onto the front page, despite "Newsweek" being essentially an SEO scam.

That we only seem to be reading this terrible story in Newsweek (despite the facts being there to see) suggests then that "SEO scams" are doing a better job than mainstream journalists in some cases.

I suppose that depends on whether you think the job of journalists is to report news, or to generate clicks.

How is somebody being fired for this reason not news?

Are the facts in the story false?

The claim is probably "they're likely false, please exercise caution"

I have no idea if they're false. It's a phoned-in article about a series of tweets. I wrote a comment about "Newsweek", not about the particulars of the post. "Newsweek" is essentially an SEO scam, is the point I'm making, the same way we'd point it out if a scraped blog post was blogspam.

Public service at its finest in the modern world, little thanks for the perseverance it can take to drive it through. Kudos.

Purchasing a brand is hardly a scam. You might not like who bought it but it's quite common to buy brands.

To be honest I have no idea who Newsweek were or are and if they stopped being the original group 7-8 years ago it hardly seems like you could maintain any brand loyalty if you were eroding it with wrong doing over that whole time.

If you buy a brand and quietly change what it stands for, I'd say it is scammy. Consumers to think they're getting one thing, but you give them another.

To be honest I have no idea who Newsweek were or are

These things seem germane to the discussion, though.

Not at all. The OP was maintaining because the brand changed hands that it was somehow a scam, that feels quite disingenuous.

Newsweek was a bastion of print media for decades in the US. It would be similar to someone turning the BBC into a Christian news organization.

The organization that took over Newsweek did it with the intention to improve their own credibility by banking on the name, while removing all the people and processes that built that credibility in the first place. If it’s not an outright scam it’s certainly approaching it.

that feels

How would you assess the accuracy of that feeling without knowing or finding out about the facts being discussed? You're saying 'I know nothing about this at all but that isn't germane because the OP is giving me a disingenuous vibe'. It's a curiously strident, stridently incurious position.

Consider the anti-tracking browser extensions that gain enough popularity they get bought by ad tracking companies. Is that also legitimate?

Sure it is if it's a legal transaction, I'm really not sure why it's so difficult to understand.

The problem here is that many of you are projecting your own brand of morals on these deals, and many people may not share that perspective.

FWIW, I recently learned that Wikipedia has list of perennial sources. The entry for Newsweek 2013-present says "not reliable".


Maybe aggregators like HN can leverage this list, like a pre-filter for the moderators.

> Honest question - it's obvious how you identify politically by all your posts here, but what has your comment got to do with the story?

If it's a false story, say it. If it's not - what exactly are you saying with your comment?

It seems like this should go without saying, but some news outlets have a better reputation for accuracy than others, and a story can be "true" in a technical sense while still being designed to further some agenda by omitting important context or facts.

I'd submit that understanding the biases and incentives of a publication are prerequisites to taking any of their content seriously. This is true of any outlet. This doesn't mean you discard outright their content, but you may view it through a more skeptical lens and seek out additional corroboration.

If it's a false story, say it. If it's not - what exactly are you saying with your comment?

I find a warning that a single story might be false much less useful than a comment pointing out that the reputation of the source is no longer to be trusted.

His intent was to discredit and disqualify the source and to turn attention away from what is being debated.

> If it's a false story, say it. If it's not - what exactly are you saying with your comment?

Right now it's not entirely clear what all the facts are. Perhaps she really was just fired for having an account, or perhaps she posted some things that were less-than-savoury. I think the chance that a Conservative publication would do any diligence at getting at the facts of the matter is essentially zero.

A few years ago a Conservative publication had an article that they had "proof" that Conservative accounts were banned more frequently on Twitter, based on "analysis" of the data. It took me a bit of effort to find the data, and it included shining examples of Conservatism such as the American Nazi Party. Yes, literally, the American fucking Nazi Party. It included a list of a whole bunch of other similarly minded people; I wrote down a list here: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Quillette#Banning_Neo-Nazis_is...

This is a very marked example, but there have been many examples where all nuance or details were left out because it was more convenient.

This is the kind of playing field we're dealing with.

Now, I'm not saying that you should trust other publications blindly – trusting anything blindly would be foolish – but trust is not binary, and generally speaking I would trust other sources more on this topic. A Conservative publication on topics like these without details are, unfortunately, not proof of anything right now and carry very little trust.

So, do I know it's a false story? No. Do I know it's a true story? Also no. Essentially a story like this is useless outside of being a lead for further investigation.

Thank your for explaining it so clearly.

> Honest question - it's obvious how you identify politically by all your posts here, but what has your comment got to do with the story?

It is the literal meaning of "virtue signalling".

Because the left-leaning orthodoxy of the moment is that you should under no circumstances read or watch any conservative media.

What is conservative media at this point? What even-handed voices are . . . left?

Do you have any evidence the "left wing" is in any more of an echo chamber than the right wing? Is this just personal observation or do you have something more to point to?

It’s not any more of an echo chamber, but in my experience it’s easier these days to hold heterodox opinions on the right. (Partly because over the last couple of decades the right has become more heterodox while the left has become more ideologically uniform.)

That's a thing you can only say if you've never watched a DSA person talk to a non-DSA person.

I guess, but we just had a huge violent assault on the center of US government from the right, attempting to main and threaten to kill members of their own right-wing power circle for not helping too illegally overturn an election.

You're trying to paint half the population based on the reprehensible behavior of a few thousand. Are all Democrats culpable for the Antifa/BLM riots?

You can just read the many, many articles on cancel-culture and de-platforming that have emerged in the last few years which is all a part of the same thing and overwhelmingly a problem from the left.

Presumably the right-wing are just as capable (and historically have been the aggressor often), but the left have mastered it as a form recently.

So, this is a different argument from the one you were making before. You first post is about ingestion of media. This one is about production. This is a very different claim, but still requires evidence beyond stating that there is some. Can you help me out and provide some?

I don't know which post about media ingestion you are referring to, you possibly have me confused with another poster or you'll need to link to it for clarification.

As for providing some evidence of cancel culture and deplatforming, somebody would have to have been living on Mars (or have blinkers) to have missed the odious practices (as evidenced in the OP!) that the terms were invented for, and I'm not sure me spending my time googling and linking examples is going to help in that case.


The moderators of this site specifically ask you not to employ this tactic of trying to summarize people's comment history as a rhetorical weapon.


This is really messed up. I have doubts about what other people say, but I try to reserve judgement about those things. When them make claims that I haven't seen any evidence for, I ask for their evidence so I can understand where they are coming from, but make my own assessment about the truth. I am not badgering anyone, but I refuse to let people make claims without evidence, if it is 1.) it's a statement of fact, not opinion, and 2.) there is no consensus about it's truth from what I have seen or it goes against that consensus. If you don't like that, don't read my comments.

Funny I have a new red flag word, it used to be on the internet when you saw the first reference to someone being a Nazi you knew to start taking a critical look at what the accuser was saying but we have invented so many of them now to try to create one word labels to dismiss other peoples positions, stuff like gaslighting, dog whistling now I have to look for sea lioning. What these all have in common is they try to project negative light on the person they are used against and make the reader view their information negatively. It's absurd to me, that asking for some reference and citation to the subject at hand, now has a label word to dismiss it, out of hand. It's been a while since I have been in higher education, but IIRC citation and references where pretty much the basis of research and publication of ideas.

Literally any term describing a process argument that intends to end a debate will eventually be abused, because message board nerds† love power-ups; in fact, a good many of them, upon learning a new mic-drop argument ("gaslighting!", "begging the question!", "ad hominem!", "tu quoque!") will hide up in the corners waiting for someone to unwittingly reveal a susceptible argument, so they can deploy their new toy on them, like the person who got the super laser-gun thingy in Quake for the first time.

But that only gets you part of the way to understanding. These arguments are & always will be abused. But: just because something is regularly abused doesn't mean there's no validity to it. And of course, pointing out that these arguments are abused is itself a kind of Quake laser cannon argument.

Ultimately, you just have to decide yourself based on context cues whether an argument is valid.

Obviously, I am one myself

I don't disagree with you, just highlighting the frequency of use as of late, and that for me personally the use of them causes me to take a more critical look at what the person utilizing them is actually saying. I personally refrain from using them as I am starting to see them in the light of logical fallacies.

Now on pointing it out, I think a lot of people don't realize they are trying to sway the discourse thru the use of projection rather than logic and reason. I think it is one of those insidious things that just creep in and people don't realize they are doing it. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and think they want to appeal to reason (at lest in life and on HN) and I think many don't see these words work in direct contrast to that, they literally appeal to the mob. I point it out not to gain net fame or quake guns (I will take a pack-o-punch'ed gun in BO Zombies though) but rather I would hope at least one reader of this thread would have the "I never really though about it that way" moments.

I think the number of right wing political violence attacks is larger than the number of left wing political violence attacks and political cancelling a combined.

Possibly you missed then the hundreds (thousands?) of antifa/etc riots and violent attacks in the US this year alone?

I used find GPs comments insightful, particularly with regard to computer security.

Now his comments are predictably and assiduously leftist-political, and rarely on-topic to the article from what I've seen.

> The new "Newsweek" capitalizes on the brand reputation of the old one, but has no connections to it

From an external perspective it seems like the same argument could be made about the tptacek HN account. The posts from years ago which I enjoyed reading are nothing like the posts from recent history. It's like different people wrote them.

I don’t think it’s fair to disparage someone because they don’t share your political views. tptacek hasnt changed extremely; you just never knew.

I’ve been following him on Twitter for years; and I don’t believe he had changed at all - rather HN has had more political stories as the tech sector grew.

The irony is that my friends on the left say the same thing about me (it's a rough time to be a "liberal" and not a "leftist", even though we apparently managed to take control of all the levers of power and should be reveling in our ascendancy).

Anyways, this is yet another reason to flag political stories on Hacker News! It blows to lose the ability to enjoy someone else's writing because you learn too much about their politics.

I know you have been on the site a little longer than I have, but I have always assumed we where of around the same genesis of digital nomads that arrived here in the second wave. Which leads me to have made some assumptions about over the years when I read your post. If they are correct, then we hold the many of the same liberal views, the next wave of HN'ers see the world very different from what the majority on the site did in the second wave of newcomers. It's not the same liberalism and I completely understand what you are saying about your friends on the left thinking the same thing. People on the right think I am a hippy people on the left think I am ready to start goose stepping and I just want everyone to be happy and live in peace, without the government mandating it.

In fact I have reason to believe tptacek have mellowed a bit since I first joined HN under another name a decade or so ago.

According to Wikipedia, it was bought by IBT Media in 2013, then spun-off as an independent entity in 2018 that I assume is owned by the same people as IBT.

I found claims that IBT's other notable property, the International Business Times (which I haven't heard of), has been a content farm, but I only glossed over it.

I can't seem to find Newsweek on the Median Bias chart, but it's ranked similarly to CNN.



My take is it's mostly accurate, but I wouldn't use it as a primary source.

See, the best trick for pushing propaganda isn't fabricating stories, but choosing carefully what stories you publish and which ones you don't.

The perfect example of that is Breitbart's infamous 'black crime' tag: Breitbart didn't need to invent stories, they'd just go and pick up out of the bunch of criminal prosecutions happening every single day in a country with >300 million inhabitants. But by choosing to focus on crimes committed by black people - and conveniently leaving out similar crimes committed by your average white criminal - it reaffirmed on their readers their 'intuition' that black people are clearly more inclined to commit crime.

So, you should always consider who is publishing a story and why.

It's true, although obviously it applies to the both sides. In fact, BLM protests were caused by exactly the same mechanism you're describing - liberal media was creating false narratives about police brutality towards black people.

"Transgender murder epidemic" is an even better example, it was completely made up by the media. Look up the numbers and compare them with the general population.

The difference is that the criminal justice system is supposed to address every single case. Any individual case of a public prosecutor refusing to prosecute a murderer (because they're also employed as a cop) is an injustice at the scale of the entire jurisdiction. Statistics on the race of the victims aren't actually necessary to get outraged. So your argument, at best, applies to the political framing of the subject rather than the core issue.

Nope, and nope. Neither is true, and both are propaganda.

Sorry that goes against the every-day experience of black people in the USA; one of the reasons so many people got on the streets.

For many people, the idea that black people don't commit crimes at a higher rate than others goes against their every-day experience in the USA.

Maybe your response is ironic: I genuinely can't tell. But clearly "my every-day experience justifies my actions regardless of the facts about (my view)" is not a fair rebuttal, because anyone can make that claim about anything.


For starters:

[1] https://www.nyclu.org/en/stop-and-frisk-data

[2] https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2018/10/12/policing/

And [1] is in ostensibly "liberal" New York city.

Thanks for the warning. I don't care about what Newsweek writes, but I mistakenly believed that International Business Times is a legitimate publication and have used it in citations before, from now on I'll start avoiding it as much as possible. Just checked on Wikipedia, IBT has been flagged as unreliable since 2019.


That's weird to hear. Newsweek in Poland is one of the most liberal and progressive magazines.

I’m old fashioned. I judge articles not on whether they are published by “an odd Christian sect”, but how accurate and well-sourced they are. But hey, I’m a Boomer.

Zero sources provided. There's a link that looks like it should go to the twitter post, but is a list of Newsweek stories about twitter. And the posts are apparently now private. So what did you judge this article on?

I judge this particular article as poorly sourced for the same reason you do. I do not judge the article for the religion of the publisher. I never read Newsweek. I thought it was long gone. But now that I know it’s there, I shall continue to judge its merits based on what they publish, not what the supposed political beliefs of the owner or staff happen to be.

Really? You seemed pretty willing to defend a Christian (cult?) publisher by completely ignoring the faults of the article to attack criticism based on their religion. Knowing if a publisher has a clear incentive can help determine how accurate and well-sourced their claim is.

You seem to be hallucinating. I cannot find anything I said defending the publisher. Perhaps you were responding to another post.

I have upvoted both of your posts that seem to be responding to me, because I much prefer a downvote and discourse to being down voted without comment.

Your position was "I judge things by how accurate and well sourced the claim was, and this claim of dodgy ownership is irrelevant." I can't see it as anything but a defense based on religious/political affiliation.

Also, the important posts would be on Parler or Gab.

You can do that. I'm just pointing out that people have a conception of what Newsweek is that doesn't match what it currently is. It's worth knowing about.

You are also bothering to mention the religion of the owner, adding the (in this context) pejorative adjective "odd" and possibly more.

I mean, they are Christians and they are odd. Should he not be allowed to say this?

Absolutely allowed.

It does however feel weird in the same way that "odd female something", "odd muslim something", "odd socialist something", "odd atheist something".

Leaving out details that are not relevant is IMO smart because it helps the reader to avoid prematurely making up their mind because of irrelevant details.

So my take is tptacek should be allowed to write it and we should be allowed to point it out.

And one more thing: my respect for tptacek has been growing even if we clash from time to time in various settings.

For the record, I am also a Christian, and I suppose to an outsider Catholicism probably looks very odd indeed, what with the feet and the noses and the gall bladders in the jars in the cathedrals and whatnot. But David Jang's "The Community" is odd in a different way --- in a more "Reunification Church" kind of way. Maybe mentally replace "odd" with "idiosyncratic" or "noteworthy". It was late when I wrote that, and I was a bit into my cups.

The word I was originally going to use was the one articles about the new "Newsweek" use: "cult". But that didn't seem quite right either.

How do you know what people are thinking?

The magic of conversation

This seems unnecessarily antagonistic.

What’s a better way to ask?

This is known as 'sealioning'.


tptacek may have a conception of what people are thinking which doesn't match what they currently think.

Pretty sure "old fashioned" people still judge the claims of people and organisations based on their past history.

> Just a reminder that Newsweek ceased publication back in 2013, and the rights to its brand were purchased by an odd Christian sect, somewhat along the lines of The Washington Times and the Reunification Church.



Seems like this comment is false if wikipedia is to believed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsweek#2018_investigation_an...

> The Manhattan District Attorney's office raided Newsweek's headquarters in Lower Manhattan on January 18, 2018, and seized 18 computer servers as part of an investigation related to the company's finances.[64] IBT, which owned Newsweek, had been under scrutiny for its ties to David Jang,[64] a South Korean pastor and the leader of a Christian sect called "the Community".[65]

Would not be surprising really, given what the comment is intended to do.

Waiting for that citation.

The very article you posted backs up the claim in the very first paragraph.

No it does not. This is the first paragraph:

> The Manhattan District Attorney's office raided Newsweek's headquarters in Lower Manhattan on January 18, 2018, and seized 18 computer servers as part of an investigation related to the company's finances.[64] IBT, which owned Newsweek, had been under scrutiny for its ties to David Jang,[64] a South Korean pastor and the leader of a Christian sect called "the Community".[65]

At no point does it say IBT is an "odd Christian sect". At no point does it say they were purchased by an "odd Christian sect". Having ties to != owned by. But you know this.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact