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Don’t Apologize: If the mob comes for you, stand up for yourself (persuasion.community)
164 points by jseliger 2 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 120 comments

I don’t want to step into this particular minefield (nor should any progressive, really) but I thought this tiny part of the argument was unusually bad reasoning:

> To give such a forceful statement on the nation’s most-watched late-night talk show, it’s fair to assume that Moreno must have understood the “colorism” debate and given her position serious consideration.

Who honestly believes that people on Steven Colbert are giving serious thought and consideration to their responses in the interview? It actually seems more likely that she went on Colbert to promote her show and tell some jokes, got blindsided with a controversial question and gave an answer she regretted (the statement was not at all “forceful” and seemed much more about her personal affection for Lin-Miranda than any serious political motivation). In any case it is not “fair to assume” that interviewees on late night shows are especially prepared - Steven Colbert is not Meet the Press!

Stuff like this is why the newsletter trend is kinda worrying: smart people need editors, otherwise they will write transparently stupid things.

Yes, the interviewees are prepped before the show starts. This is pretty well known.

I think you might have missed the word "especially" before "prepared" in the post you're replying to. The language is also a bit ambiguous (see below).

It's well known that guest are (usually) prepared (by the show!) in the sense that they at the very least have a general idea of the major points of conversation, but having a full list of all the exact questions, etc. is quite a bit rarer (AFAIK, at least).

Regardless, the parent poster could also have meant that the guests themselves(!) do very little preparation with the information they get from the show. The amount of preparation by the guest would probably depend heavily on the agent, the contentiousness of the questions that they know about, how high the stakes are (e.g. first ever interview on Colbert for an up-and-comer?), etc. etc.


I’m not planning to publish my comments in a newsletter and ask people to pay me for it. So I am really not sure what the point of your remark is - unless, of course, this is a childish attempt at an insult.


Not sure what value this is bringing to the conversation, everyone says/writes stupid things sometimes.

Winston Marshall had to leave Mumford and Sons to be able to stand up for himself. For anyone willing to throw away a life's worth of investment into their career in order to speak their mind, that's a good piece of advice. For everyone else, apologize.

Or better yet, avoid getting into hot water. I have found HN to be a great barometer for what's "acceptable" and what isn't. Recently, I learned a valuable lesson - I shared an accurate statement about FB's targeting precision, which I am pretty sure nobody would have objected to. But as soon as I tied it to their financial results, it instantly offended one person and others felt they had to jump in as well.

Lesson learned: the fact that Facebook is printing money is such a thorn in the eye for many people that the minute it's brought up in an unrelated context, it will 1) derail the conversation, 2) get people to disagree with what would have otherwise been a straight forward argument, and 3) get people to vilify you.

So now that we know about this thorn, we can not just avoid it in future conversations, but we can also leverage it to our benefit. For instance, all you have to say is: "Man, I wish we could somehow get Facebook banned. Here's how effective their targeting is..." - and voila, everyone is agreeing with you!

Long story short - don't piss against the wind.

Winston Marshall had to leave Mumford and Sons to be able to stand up for himself. For anyone willing to throw away a life's worth of investment into their career in order to speak their mind, that's a good piece of advice. For everyone else, apologize.

That is horrible advice.

It is the goal of conditioning of any autocratic state. You censor yourself so the state / party / activists dont even have to act to ensure that dissidence and subversion does not occur.


>""It is not just the right of the person who speaks to be heard, it is the right of everyone in the audience to listen and to hear, and every time you silence somebody you make yourself a prisoner of your own action because you deny yourself the right to hear something. In other words, your own right to hear and be exposed is as much involved in all these cases as is the right of the other to voice his or her view.

Indeed as John Stuart Mill said: if all of society were agreed on the truth and beauty and value of one proposition, all except one person it would be most important, in fact it would become even more important, that that one heretic be heard because we would still benefit from his perhaps outrageous or appalling view."

-Christopher Hitchens

I found the same thing happened for something totally innocent and unrelated. Someone commented they were watching SG1. I said that I'm also doing that, but that I have to torrent it because Netflix took it down again. Also, that the episodes had been actually improved by AI effectively increasing the resolution, really impressive stuff.

But was that last part what everyone talked about? Of course not, the part that causes the dumb and frustrating was about netlifx taking it down. Maybe had maybe a hundred replies all saying I'm being "entitled" for simply saying "netflix took it down again". People say HN doesn't have a hivemind like Reddit but it 100% does.

The really interesting part was ignored, in favour of shitting on someone over netflix???

> For everyone else, apologize.

The sharks are circling, maybe if I give them some blood they'll leave me alone.

It really looks to me like someone disagreed with you and you took it very personally.

You jumped to claiming “offense” first.

I think you should reread your thread in a few days when you’ve cooled off.

It's always good advice to reread things later. But please know that I would never take anything on the internet personally. I am grateful for the insight that came out of that conversation, and see it as one of the benefits of actively participating on HN.

IMHO people take all the garbage written online too seriously and personal at times. It's mostly all just opinions and random rants. People's opinions do change at times. It's just not very visible to anyone.

I was done after he actively defended Andy Ngo. I was very much prepared to support this article, but it starts out with comparisons to Maoist China with the most self serving example of that regime's actions, and keep going further. J.K Rowling refuses to let the mob 'get her down'. Should Harvey Weinstein have bravely rallied against 'cancel culture'? If cancel culture is such a thing to be feared, why is Amazon Prime still working?

It's a very typical kind of piece that starts with a self-evident, humble truism, i.e. "If you don't have anything to apologize for don't, if you do, apologize", and a Hamilton example to kind of obfuscate the tone and then the actual message comes when you bring in Andy Ngo and the 'far-left'.

Even the beginning is silly. Bringing up the cultural revolution followed by "obviously I don't intend to compare anything to the cultural revolution". Okay, then what's the point? It's how all of these articles work.

> Bringing up the cultural revolution followed by "obviously I don't intend to compare anything to the cultural revolution". Okay, then what's the point?

He does not say that.


This is the paragraph that Barrin92 is trying to missrepresent.

> Let me be clear: The horror of Mao’s China was singular. I am not making a comparison to the death and destruction it caused or to the severity of the punishment that the mobs imposed. Instead, I am drawing a parallel (one that various journalists and commentators, including the pseudonymous Chinese-American academic, Xiao Li, have made before) to an instinct—the inclination to humiliate and terrorize

Please explain what Andy Ngo did that nobody should be able to have a different opinion of him without you dismissing him?

JK Rowling is a billionaire who doesn’t need much in the way of connections anymore, but she is certainly constantly attacked and abused, and has lost many opportunities for standing up for what she believes in. That you don’t care about it and think that amazon still sells her books doesn’t mean a woke mob didn’t attempt to cancel her doesn’t make that true, just means you aren’t paying attention.

Comparing either of those two to Harvey Weinstein is the real dishonesty done here.

Anybody is free to have an opinion on Andy Ngo but calling him, with complete credulity, someone who "became noteworthy by documenting the excesses of the far left" without mentioning his vocal and widespread reporting in favor of white supremacy, with the Proud Boys being the most prominent example, doesn't make me think the author is being genuine. If the article had a more nuanced view as opposed to pushing a point along the lines of 'never give up, never surrender', I expect I'd be far more open to its message and reasoning.

"...in favor of white supremacy, with the Proud Boys being the most prominent example..."

I don't have much background on the Proud Boys. I saw an article about one of their leaders pleading guilty to destruction of property or something recently, and I didn't think he was white. So I'm a little confused about this. I would have thought a white supremacist group wouldn't accept him, not to mention it seems odd that someone would join a group to their detriment.

Why downvote without a reply? I was asking about information related to this.

Because you asked an inconvenient question that challenges some people's narrative. It shouldn't be surprise to you that not everyone on HN starts with the question "is it true" or "is it a fact", such as did Andy's report on BLM violence true?

How is a gay asian man a white supremacist? Please give your sources. That's a bit of a bold claim, especially without providing evidence.

Andy Ngo is a gay Asian man. Any claims of support of white supremacy seem like those calling Ben Shapiro a nazi - ridiculous on their face and guilt by association that doesn’t stand any test of logic beyond grossly painting someone with bad words because they don’t want him to be able to speak credibly.

Perhaps the people who aren’t genuine are those who make opposition to antifa the same thing as ‘favour of white supremacy’.

I don’t think we’re going to come to an agreement.

That's just weird, does being of jewish heritage make you incapable of being a nazi? There's certainly a ton of polish and slavic nazis. What does Andy being a gay Asian man have anything to do with the claims of him being a white supremacist?

I’ll just leave this here.

- https://krebsonsecurity.com/2020/11/body-found-in-canada-ide...

- https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Miller_(political_ad...

It’s totally a possibility for someone to be a “minority” or Jewish and also a white supremacist, anti-immigrant, or far-rightist.

No, what’s weird is calling a religious Jew and a gay Asian man a nazi/white supremacist. It’s ridiculous on its face. They’d have to believe in the righteousness of their own destruction, something neither had espoused.

It would be necessary to show strong evidence of it, which hasn’t happened, or else it’s just someone lying about them to discredit them, and doing so in a way that is utterly ridiculous.

In this case it appears to be a ridiculous claim with no evidence behind it - just a lot of bold lies from bold liars who are seemingly obtuse in the self interest of their ongoing smear campaign against a gay minority man.

They don't have to believe in their own destruction. There are several minority youtubers who are ver successful who support the far-right for their own benefit, to gain support and notoriety to support their grift. And the far-right loves tokenizing these minorities to 'prove' they aren't racist.

A lack of evidence(especially for something as unprovable as a specific individuals personal beliefs) doesn't prove a lie any more than it proves a truth. You seem extremely convinced that these claims are false, enough to insult people who disagree, despite the fact that you don't have any proof of your position either.

I don't know the specifics of Ngo, but at best I can assume you're being disingenuous or intentionally misleading based on the kind of logic you're using to find your conclusions here

>There are several minority youtubers who are ver successful who support the far-right

You seem to be conflating the far-right with white supremacy. There might be some overlap, but they are not synonymous.

Saying Ngo is "far-right"? Sure, I guess. Saying he's a "white supremacist" is a stretch.

You don't seem to consider the possibility that they genuinely agree with these "far" right wing views, nor that those people's support of those ideas is indeed genuine evidence that the ideas aren't racist. Instead you work backwards from your ideological certainty that the "far right" is all about racism, therefore any evidence that it's not must be some kind of subtle deception.

Insofar as “Asian” is considered “not white”, it would seem that it would be counter to an asian person’s self interest to advocate for white supremacy.

Of course, whether light-skinned Asians are considered “white” is a question of an arbitrary social convention which differs not only between groups of people, but also the contexts in which the question is considered. (The concept of “white people” is a mistake, which ideally will be made obsolete.)

Also, even if it was clearly against their self interest and they knew it, that wouldn’t strictly speaking logically preclude it.

But, if people expect that advocating for white supremacist stuff is usually motivated by something like self-interest, one generally expects it to be, for the most part, (excepting the rare exceptional individuals who have rather unusual motivations) to be people who would be considered “white”.

(Though, if someone is “white passing”, in the sense that people might initially consider them to be “white” if judging only by appearance, but might change one’s mind if informed of their ancestry, then such a person might have less incentive to avoid white supremacist stuff than someone who very few people would ever consider “white”.)

Does this answer your question?

Tokenism is not a defense against someone promoting hateful ideology.

I didn’t know about these accusations against him. Can you provide citations?

Please provide some proof that he reported lies. Just merely reporting about matters - even matters you don't like exposed and want swept under the carpet - is not a reason for character assassination.

And, of course, you have some proof to back this up and prove you're not regurgitating Twitter-mindthink?

1) Ngo is not white. I read his book and saw nothing there about "white supremacy". [edit] Ok, except maybe a biased take on Arbery murder in particular. Which doesn't really have much to do with anything systemic, or with most of the rest of the book. He's very clearly a classical liberal, either conservative-leaning or considering the right to be the lesser of two evils.

2) Proud Boys leader (until recently) was Black. Proud Boys are far-right, sure, but you really should stop calling everything you disagree with "white supremacist".

3) Ngo, as far as I can tell, merely used Proud Boys as a "resource" for his own safety and/or under "enemy of my enemy is my friend". As someone born in a socialist country, I cannot really blame him - far-right is evil, sure, but far-left is at least as evil, and I would argue more evil.

4) In any case, the statement "noteworthy by documenting the excesses of the far left" is true. The only framework under which one would need to mention that "but he also offended woke sensibilities in an unrelated/tangentially related matter" is the woke cult, the one that the author (and Ngo) do not belong to. For most of us, it is sufficient to let an arbitrary fact, or an accurate description, stand by itself.

Andy Ngo made his name with this piece of sensationalist propaganda: https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-visit-to-islamic-england-1535...

He's a serial fabulist, raising hundreds of thousands after getting punched in the nose and claiming to have a brain bleed, but jetting cross-country to Boston a day later.

He's also a defendant in civil litigation for his apparent participation in a planned (rather than spontaneous) assault in Portland that led to criminal charges against right-wing agitators up there: https://twitter.com/RespectableLaw/status/116496174509978828...

I watched the link twitter video and he never does what they describe “laughing as they plan the attack”.

It doesn’t sound like he’s a nazi/white supremacist to me.

You are welcome to reject the views of the person writing on Twitter, who is not me. I linked the video to point out that Andy Ngo was present and party to the planning of, preparation for, and movement to a violent group assault. It seems that you acknowledge his presence there.

Ngo chose to omit the fact of his prior knowledge and movement to the location with the Patriot Prayer group from his own coverage of the incident. You'll have to ask him why.

For those who are confused, here is another perspective on the events of that day with additional context. https://www.vice.com/en/article/d3apyv/super-awkward-for-rig...

>I linked the video to point out that Andy Ngo was present and party to the planning of, preparation for, and movement to a violent group assault.

You may not like his viewpoint, or his work, but he's a journalist. He's on the ground covering all kinds of protests and riots.

>It seems that you acknowledge his presence there.

Did you know that there were journalists who interviewed Osama Bin Laden, even after he took credit for bombings that took many American lives. Do you also consider them complicit?

>Ngo chose to omit the fact of his prior knowledge and movement to the location with the Patriot Prayer group from his own coverage of the incident.

Oh, well then, he deserves to be attacked, assaulted and harassed for that omission, right?

There are literally people who talk about killing him on Twitter.

You have certainly defeated several straw men.

> I was done after he actively defended Andy Ngo.

If you really think the author did this, please quote the exact passage where you think they defended Andy Ngo.

I don't think this is great advice.

You can think about the mob coming after you in three groups:

(1) People who aren't listening. Their minds are closed. They are angry or mean or otherwise won't listen no matter what you say. They don't care if you apologize or not.

(2) People with an agenda against you. They are going to keep going after you whether you apologize or not. But they probably actually like it better if you don't -- that inflames the conflict, keeping it going or expanding it. Their agenda is usually served the bigger and longer the conflict lasts. Also, as long as the conflict is going strong, the people from (1) will keep chiming in, but they will lose interest when it dies down.

(3) People who were actually offended or hurt but have an open mind. These are the people you can reach with an apology. These are the people you need to talk to to understand what actually offended or hurt them. You might be able to do even better than an apology and understand where things went wrong. Remember, if you're not a dick, you don't actually want to hurt other people. This is your opportunity to stop doing that. (And if you are a dick, maybe you deserve your internet mob, at least partially?)

So: Talk to people. Apologize sincerely if you can find a way to do it. You won't stop the mob, but you might take some of the energy out of it and you can stop hurting some people.

Number three seems in short supply in recent times.

No matter what you say, someone somewhere will get offended, or think they got offended.

Or you can issue an apology and change nothing. Companies long ago figured out this to be the optimal approach.

Yep, it seems the options are:

- Issue apology and piss off those who agreed with you and those who didn't won't acknowledge the apology

- Don't issue apology and those who agree still agree and those who don't will forget about it/get over it.

You’ve left out the part where apologizing (i.e. appeasing) the mob rewards them with a “win”, reinforcing their behavior.

As a father of a small child, I’ve learned that it’s important not to confer extra attention for acting out, otherwise I am effectively encouraging that behavior. I’ve heard this described as “don’t water weeds”.

The modern mob is nothing more than the collective Id of so many sad, child-like human beings. Don't give in just because it’s easier in the short term. Don’t water the weeds.

Company apologies don't work, they buy time until people stop giving a fuck.

Personal apologies generally don't work if they're anything beyond what is demanded by conversational etiquette, since the people demanding them usually just want an admission of guilt they can hold over you forever as leverage, and anybody who agrees with you will be disappointed.

That works for a company but it won’t work for a person. For a person an apology becomes a tacit admission of guilt and license for further harassment. See Chris Avelone, etc.

What I’ve found is that because of the consequences these days, I can’t express any genuinely held opinions of mine in my social network, besides “The Chiefs will win the Super Bowl” and similar. And because of this, there is no tempering effect on these opinions. I find myself becoming more extremist because I don’t have the moderating effect of the crowd, because I no longer discuss “issues” with my “crowd.”

Have you stopped and maybe talked to someone you respect about these beliefs? When everyone else thinks you are being an asshole sometimes it is because you are. Ive certainly had to face that at times in my life.

Alternately maybe the overwhelming social pressure doesn’t necessarily make an opinion true, just popular, or everyone else who agrees is just as scared to risk their careers etc as he is.

You are free to voice your opinion. Society is free to provide feedback to you on those opinions. If you have an opinion that a sufficient cohort of your peers in society feel is out of bounds for where society is headed or not compatible with the prevailing world view, society will provide corrective consequences/accountability. The system is working as it should.

I always wonder if people who make comments like this are old enough to remember when gay people were considered deviants by most of society.

> "If you have an opinion that a sufficient cohort of your peers in society feel is out of bounds for where society is headed or not compatible with the prevailing world view, society will provide corrective consequences/accountability."

Society used to "provide corrective consequences/accountability" for atheism/agnosticism, advocating for socialism and workers' rights, advocating for the abolition of slavery and equal rights for PoC, advocating for LGBTQ rights, and so forth since all of those were violently opposed by the majority of society. By using the argument, the parent poster and anyone else who uses it implies that they would not only would have been okay with suppressing those rights but also would have enthusiastically supported "consequences" for those rights advocates if they'd been around in the era before those people became protected classes. If this doesn't make it obvious why that argument has zero validity, nothing will.

What's more the "it's A-OK for society to beat you up for going against the majority" argument is an argument born of _conservatism_, since it literally argues for preserving the status quo. It's stunning to hear people supposedly on the left repeating it.

Oh, like these corrective consequences/accountability?


"The system is working as it should."

The Scarlet Letter worked well in other words. Maybe we should bring back public stonings, pillory, witch burning and other social credit feedback mechanism. An asshole free utopia awaits!

> You are free to voice your opinion.

I think GP’s comment is precisely that they aren’t free to voice opinion.

The challenge is that .001% of society is expressing opinions on that. And that tiny number of people making noise is interpreted as society, since most of society doesn’t reeee on Twitter about opinions.

For me, I’m not GP, it’s not worth the hassle and frustrating of navigating whatever is going on, so I don’t express opinions. I’m not free to express opinions.

I see you don’t have any understanding that in previous times, being gay had similar stigmas, which was obviously correct according to you - it was just society providing corrective consequences.

It’s a bit of a trip to hear people who think they are progressive also think mobs harrassing people is ‘corrective consequences’. It’s just mob rule. The actual nazis attacking people in Germany in the 1930s would have been ‘corrective accountability’ according to your theory.

We won’t ever come to an agreement. I think your point of view is repugnant.

I was with you until the nazi thing. I doubt GP would condone actual violence.

The logic is the same - if the logic works to defend nazi actions maybe you need to inspect your logic more closely.

No, as was the entire point of my comment, I cannot talk with anyone I respect about these beliefs. And I do see myself becoming more of an asshole, that is also the entire point of my comment. I think it must have gotten past you.

Do you speak respectfully when you speak to others, and can you respect others while you speak to them?

The problem might be in how you speak, what words and phrasings you choose, rather than the contents of opinions and perspectives.

A study after each conversation, might reveal that each people involved might've had entirely different experiences about the conversation. That would reveal the gap.

Why don't you pick out an unpopular or unprogressive idea, articulate it nicely on Twitter, and see how that goes?

It's just too easy to troll people online these days. No fun anymore when they just do it to themselves anyway.

There's a time and place for all speech. It needs the correct setting, and this is nothing new.

That you can use algorithms to rile up people seems interesting though, for weaponization. That'd be fun!

That's kind of expected though right?

"Cutting off the network of people that moderates my views and is making my views less moderate."

I understand that people can be harsh nowadays, presumably because they often find the views of others particularly harsh and feel a proportional response is necessary, but not wanting to face that isn't an excuse - it essentially amounts to "The criticism that's supposed to keep my views grounded isn't working and my views are getting more extreme, because I don't want to deal with the criticism of my extreme views". And to be fair I'm making it sound simpler than it is, it's a totally human response to avoid sharing those opinions if it has negative consequences. My only point is to remember it's not the crowds fault if you end up with extremist views, it was your decision. We all have to deal with the fact that the crowd doesn't care about our feelings, only their own views, but we do it, and if our differing opinions are important enough to us then we deal with the consequences.

First it was domestic espionage leaks that results in online discourse taking a step back. People became more apprehensive to share their opinions and simply kept them to themselves.

Unfortunately the mob will have a compounding effect in conjunction with the aforementioned reduction in online discourse. Differences in opinions will no longer be acceptable.

Eventually the mob will turn on their own as the radicalization accelerates. I would argue this is a great place for foreign psyops to target the western populous and I'm sure its already being targeted to some extent.

It's easy to say that one should voice their opinion and not retract things. It can be costly though. I've always been one to speak my mind when others won't, but the older I get the more I realize that it is often best to keep your head down and stay quiet. I would likely be further along in my career if I had just learnt to be a 'yes man'.

Life is an asset. The more you invest in it, the more you stand to lose.

Except that torture works. Social and financial coercion works. Perceived threat to loved ones, even just shame by association, works.

Forced apologies and confessions are easy to extract from anybody.

Apologies are pointless. Some dude will say "He's apologizing because he got caught not because he's sorry" and you can't prove otherwise because that's literally unfalsifiable. Then the mob will just jump on that bit. Don't waste your time.

It's a terrible sort of gaslighting. The amount of times I've been told my in-person apologies are insincere is staggering. I don't know if it's flat affect on my part or a reflex ingrained by TV dramas, but I do know it's largely pointless to apologize.

At the end of the day, we're the ones who must live with our own feelings. If I must apologize, I'm going to feel that viscerally, and I'll apologize for my own conscience. Likewise, forgiveness is a favor someone else has to do for themselves to alleviate their own emotions -- it needn't matter to me.

It's not about you. But about what each person in the mob projects out into the world.

When enough people would be insincere themselves, no matter what you say, they just can't believe your sincerity.

Mobs are mindless and project, but are lead by individuals in the mob that are either caught up in it or just lack certain insights into themselves. What makes it chaotic and unpredictable is that the leaders change and eat their own all the time.

At times an apology is appropriate and necessary.

However, when it is not, simply apologizing does nothing for the conversation or furthering any cause. It simply ferments continued abuses. If 'the mob' feels they can apply enough pressure to get you to bend, they will continue.

If you want a very thoughtful take on this topic, look up Lindsey Ellis’ “Mask Off” on YouTube.

The bigger problem isn't people standing up for themselves but others not coming to aid in their defense. Some are too afraid to become the next victim. Others simply don't care enough.

There are two kinds of mass media public apologies. There are the Jeffrey Toobin type apologies where the person apologizing has the support of the institutions and amenable authorities and the apology is a fig leaf for said powerful friends. And there is the other kind where it's some chump getting swarmed on social media and hearing from HR thinking the mob will lay off because he just admitted that he is in fact a witch.

Obviously private apologies between friends and family are an entirely different thing.

> "Mao and his fellow revolutionaries understood the power of mob humiliation and used it to terrorize the country into ideological conformity."

Considering that this article is primarily about the American entertainment and media industry, couldn't the writer have used a historical reference that was closer to home?

Or is it used intentionally, to make it seem like Lin-Manuel Miranda's career snafu is on the same level of historical importance as Mao's purges?

It really depends on what your goals are the right way to engage if you get mobbed.

I operate on two rules of thumb in this space:

1) you have absolutely zero control over the mob. The mob is a force of nature. They will decide you are the most important thing for several hours, and then they will change their minds. Or they won't. Point is, you can't control it.

2) The most important thing is to not be surprised by a mob about yourself. If you're going to get mobbed, may it at least happen because of something you intended to communicate, not because of a flippant thought shouted into the global-cast megaphone that is Twitter.

>To give such a forceful statement on the nation’s most-watched late-night talk show, it’s fair to assume that Moreno must have understood the “colorism” debate and given her position serious consideration. Why, then, was she so quick to flip-flop, retract her statement, and atone? Occam’s Razor would tell us that her apology, like Miranda’s, was simply a capitulation to avoid the internet’s wrath.

I think this is such bad reasoning. This is nothing to do with Occam's razor, this is just the author making random assumptions about what happened without knowing the facts.

In most of the cases that the author talks about, they're literally just bringing their own assumptions about what happened and then deciding someone shouldn't apologize. PJ Vogt wasn't cancelled by a mob, he was cancelled by his colleagues for legitimate complaints they had, and he was absolutely right to reflect on his own behaviour. This article however, just seeks to minimize what happened to one accusation (anti-unioinization) which clearly was not the only problem, and then go "Oh that's not so bad". And he repeats this over and over, people aren't criticizing Andy Ngo for "documenting the worst excesses of the far left".

It's just so weird for a person to repeatedly look at someone apologize for something and say "No, actually I know better, they shouldn't apologize".

I actually think there are cases where the mob is wrong - "Bean Dad" is a great example. But the examples in these cases just seem like such weird right wing hobby horses.

>Today, the mob acts primarily through social media, meaning that the pile-on can come for anybody, at any time, with little to no warning.

It should be stated that this mob is typically comprised of bot accounts. It's not even a real mob. It's just some government or group who wants to peer pressure you with internet good boy points.

Any large enough pile-on, whether real or orchestrated, pulls in real people with nothing better to do than being outraged at things they have little to no insight into. The bots are just there until the attention is self-sustaining.

Sure, that's one possible dynamic. The more I see, the more I believe the empty internet theory though.

Likening modern 'woke' mob outrage on Twitter to Maoist China is the correct analogy. The purpose of being 'cancelled' is not any kind of real social justice. It's the enforcement of an ideological orthodoxy.

Never apologise to the mob. Even a superficial understanding of game theory shows you that you have nothing to gain from the self-flagellation involved in a public apology. Remember, You'll never be forgiven. I've never seen an example where the mob has pursued entirely altruistic goals. It's the witch-trials of the 21st century. Nothing more.

As I repeatedly said, the woke should really learn a bit history. Ignoring facts and promoting intolerance will eventually hurt even the woke. How many innocent people were beheaded by Robespierre? How many reg guards thought they were the reddest of the reddest yet were labeled "counter-revolutionary" or "Five Black Categories"? How many Russians or East Germans thought they were the most loyal to the revolution yet got executed? How many Cubans died of poverty and political persecution? How many Cambodians got killed in the name of cleansing the society? And we think those bloody histories all started with evil intention?

> Likening modern 'woke' mob outrage on Twitter to Maoist China is the correct analogy.

I would personally rather be cancelled on social media, than having my breathing cancelled.

It's should be possible to disagree and criticize without analogies to various atrocities involving mass murder.

Drawing such parallels is a form of cancelling, as it effectively prevents any defense or discourse on the subject.

Whatever "cancelling" that's going around is not all that new.

> I would personally rather be cancelled on social media, than having my breathing cancelled.

Yes, I think all agree with your preference and share it.

But they are both bad, undesirable things.

If I had to choose between assault and murder, I’d rather be assaulted. But I work to reduce assaults AND murders in society.

Drawing parallels between similarly negative things is appropriate to reduce negative things.

> I would personally rather be cancelled on social media, than having my breathing cancelled.

Perhaps you don't fully grasp how communists operate, then.

Maoist struggle sessions in which you were still permitted to breathe preceded your execution by a period of time, sometimes years.

Before Pol Pot sent intellectuals and their families to the killing fields, they were merely fired from their jobs.

Communists may be evil, but they are not stupid. They know that you purge your enemies by boiling the frog slowly enough that the useful idiots defend your actions every questionable step of the way.

weird days. a lot of complainy people conflating government authoritarianism with the activity of private entities/personal citizens. this is mirrored in the right's complaints about private services "censoring" them, as if we are citizen's under their power & protection. similarly a bunch of people lambasting you online being conflated with government/state use of power against you... wild days.

They are absolutely not complaining about private citizens lambasting them online. It's entrenched monopolies in cooperation with the state itself that work to ruin right-wing (and left-wing in the case of TERFs, Deep Greens, etc.) dissidents' lives and deny their ability to speak. For instance, banks are closing their accounts for opposing the status quo. Banking is so strictly regulated, incestuous, and intertwined with the state that innovation is notoriously difficult; and innovation from an explicitly adversarial entity with no institutional support is nearly impossible.

What's more, if one lives in a red state surrounded by people similar to them on the political spectrum, they'll still have their employers harassed to keep them from holding down a job. It's not their peers "cancelling" them; it's a minority of people with wildly different worldviews from wildly different parts of the country. It's not all that different from swatting.

The scale of these problems seems way way way out of line with how concerned people are about it, to me. I simply do not think this is a widescale problem. I think people want to be outraged.

> It's entrenched monopolies

Agreed, huge huge problem here. Anti-trust is way way way way over-due. I also think without Competitive (inter)Compatibility (comcom) rules, it is unlikely to be effective at allowing new things to get going.

> in cooperation with the state

Uhhhh I see zero evidence of this at all. Zilch. Nothing. Nada. Not a single thing.

Where there are witch-trials, there will be those in power who seek to manipulate the mob, for their own personal gains over everyone else's detriment.

modern 'woke' mob outrage

I can't help noticing that the media figures who are most upset about this alleged issue are the exact same people that spent years complaining there was a 'war on Christmas', setting fire to football jerseys, asserting he criminality of public figures with no evidence etc. etc.

Perhaps these physicians of society's ills should heal themselves first.

It’s unfortunate that “woke” has become a talking point because it’s a serious and actual problem. It’s eroding our ability to live together and it’s doing so at an alarming pace.

I hate that everything has to be hijacked for politics in the US.

This is a few years old now, but demonstrates (most clearly in figure 3) that the process of political meiosis began in the mid-1980s. Political scientists are undecided on the driving factors, but the accessibility of cable TV and the internet were probably accelerating factors since they facilitated the emergence of media and social silos.


He's right. Mobs don't do good in the world, no matter if you agree with their position or not.

"Hate can't fight hate, only love can do that"

Somehow we all think we're better at this than MLK was. No matter your beliefs, shame and hate won't help teach a different way.

Tell me more about how Dr. King wouldn't have used collective action as a catalyst for change.

Are you trying to compare MLK's rousing and elegant speeches with the nastiness that gets sent over Twitter by these mobs?

Contemporaries certainly did not consider MLK's actions to be "rousing and elegant". He was cast as a rabble-rouser and a complainer by the establishment and called responsible for property damage done during the civil rights protests.

It is only in retrospect that MLK has been adopted by the establishment as the "good" protestor and his voice has been twisted to support a "colorblindness" that he never supported.

While the mainstream narrative on MLK is grossly distorted, I think the narrative you’re boosting is a trope, and also has distortions. In the mainstream MLK is the most revered American hero, and in truth there were years in which he may have had less popular support than Donald Trump. However, he was not completely without establishment support. The entire establishment did not always cast him as a rabble-rouser and complainer. He was certainly cast as the “good” protestor in the media on several occasions.

He was routinely invited to meet with American leaders (Nixon, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ). Several of these meetings were in the White House. Foreign leaders met with him. He won the Nobel prize. He was on the cover of Time magazine twice. He was an eminent person during his life.

Here’s two newspaper snippets in contradiction with your idea that contemporaries didn’t consider his speeches rousing and elegant.



This newspaper article says “Lyndon Johnson recognized that Martin Luther King possesses a certain mysticism of a crusader who can touch the emotional well springs of people and inspire them to demonstrate in a non-violent way.”


His funeral was attended by at least a dozen dignitaries


I'm just following the OPs line of reasoning.

Dr King would have, and always did use love. Not hate.

Collective action is not hate, and change doesn't require hate. Mobs today act out of anger and hate. And that creates more anger and more hate.

It's hard to love people that you perceive as evil - but wow is it ever powerful when you do. Daryl Davis is such a great example of this as another user pointed out.

I'm pretty sure the mobs in question consider themselves "fair" and "tolerant". It's just framing oneself as the good side that stands against the evil "intolerants" hereby justifying the means in one's eyes.

MLK's approach of "love" (the carrot) also wouldn't have worked without Malcolm X and the Black Panthers' threat of violence (the stick).

This idea is great when you are dealing with people who are earnest but misled, for instance Daryl Davis who has had great success getting people to leave the KKK.

But many actors are not misled, just actively trying to do harm either for the sake of it, or for personal gain or because they are insane. No amount of love is going to get through to people like that. Think Hitler, Trump, Pol Pot, Putin, Marjorie Green, etc

Sometimes you have to fight back

It's really a beautifully simple and true statement. Hate simply cannot fight hate. Maybe some people are not meant to change in this lifetime. But if anything can help them, it's love. I really believe that. There should be consequences to actions if we want to incentive certain behaviors in society. But consequences don't require hate or even anger.

Hitler may not have been destined to change. But what Daryl Davis does is show these people love. And if you've changed the lives of 200 KKK members - believe me, you've seen it all. You'd be hard press to cherry pick only the nice 200 KKK members.

Quite funny to see all posts about love being transformational going ignored. What's the better option? Well-thought out arguments? These people will piss on your discourse and rile up the mob against you with their own sins! They lie and cheat, and get away with too - with corruption and threats. They will opt to burn everything down, and they sometimes can, than submit to justice.

We all know the kind of people. Paradoxially these emotional black holes of human beings seek love and recognition.

The silent acceptance from the populace of such behaviour speaks volumes.

Not much you can do if the mob gets you canceled and fired from your job. Might as well stand up to the bullies in the mob.

Yes a mob is full of bullies who attack someone for being different in some way or have a different opinion. I already got downvoted twice with this message.

A downvote can be to express disagreement - it might be that people think regardless of firing, you should often just ignore the so-called mob. Griping about downvotes will likely attract more.

I use verbal self defense when attacked. Part of my martial arts training.

I figure that the less front you present to an attacker, the less they have to attack. In an argument, say less. In a mob situation, minimise your apology.

Write at length and you're almost guaranteed to present something someone will take issue with. Even if it's not a danger to you physically or to your career, it's likely a waste of your time!

It must not be Aikido you practice then.

Anyway, people will downvote posts that break the HN guidelines (read the link on bottom).

Maybe its hard to have a honest conversation about left wing cancel culture mobs on ultra left wing hacker news.

I definitely expected to see that this was written by DHH.


The shtick that cancel culture and "the twitter mob" don't even exist is falling apart, because insisting there is no war in ba sing se only works until a critical mass sees the evidence for themselves. Your argument is ridiculous and I'm sure you realize this.

Again, I'm sure you know this already, but most people who are cancelled are innocent of any wrongdoing, and very few involve racism. Did you read the article? No one was accused of racism, yet the mob came for them.

Individuals make mistakes, yes. And mobs are clusters of angry individuals. Surely there’s a multiplier on the mistake factor when mobs go after people. Oftentimes they’re angry about one-sided stories or even lies.

> If you face public criticism, you should first seriously contemplate if you have, in fact, done something wrong. If so, go ahead and apologize. Acknowledging mistakes is a sign of maturity and can be healing.

I’m not sure what to make of the back and forth here. Colorism overlooked by older generations, and someone looking back on not supporting unionization and having a value shift, juxtaposed with Maoist shaming to support someone who wrote a book saying antifa (a concept, not a group) is destroying democracy and a musician supporting that person stepping back from the spotlight seems a bit jarring. At first this seems like libertarian pandering, but my most cynical inner voice is saying the writer is a troll trying to get people who hold farther right ideals to get themselves canceled. And I guess the trickle down effect from that milkshake that hit the writer in the face is going to make me buy the book, so maybe that’s the point.

IMO it's possible to be supportive of free speech without (indirectly) supporting fascists and those who pal around with fascists.

My aunt owned an airport bar in an era and place of high mafia activity. There was a racket at the time to extort vending machine profits with protection schemes. When they came to my aunt to offer their protection, she implied that a rival gang had already extorted her, and that they owned/protected her vending machines. This was apparently enough to get them to leave her and her bar alone.

Isn’t this just also participating in mobbing behavior, except this time putting pressure and calling out individuals for the transgression of excessive apology?

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