Friday, June 11, 2021

Science Fiction that's critical and diverse... and critical of the truly diverse!

First, before moving on to other science fiction news & insights... the 2021 Nebula Awards are announced.

Best Novel: Network Effect, Martha Wells (Tor.com)

Best Novella: Ring Shout, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com)

Best Novelette: “Two Truths and a Lie”, Sarah Pinsker (Tor.com

Best Short Story: “Open House on Haunted Hill”, John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots)  

The Andre Norton Nebula Award for middle grade & young adult fiction - A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, T. Kingfisher (Argyll) 

Congratulations to all!

 

== Still (supposed to be) a realm of ideas! ==


Academics in Science Fiction literature! McFarland is one of the top publishers of erudite studies and tomes on the great, exploratory genre with the courage to ask "what-if things might be different?" Here's their latest catalogue of books on SF in its wide variety of forms. And yes, the titles have somewhat higher cover prices, so? Not per page or per idea! And especially my own item in their catalogue: VIVID TOMORROWS: Science Fiction and Hollywood.

Therein you'll get ideas and "huh!" moments so numerous they are pennies-per! Some will change how you view the genre, the films, the books that helped to make you who you are!

Honoring their release of all six refreshed uplift novels, Open Road's site publishes here the new introduction I wrote for the updated Startide Rising... offering insights into the whole Uplift Universe. My original Uplift Trilogy, has recently been re-released on Kindle


The Martian Dispatches -- a story collection focuses narrowly upon the processes of developing and building the first settlement on Mars, including overcoming initial problems getting life started there in self-supporting ways.


Huh. I've seen Toho films that romanticize the super-battleship Yamato - e.g. turning it into a star cruiser saving the Earth - but this one seems... unusual. In The Great War of Archimedes, Admiral Yamamoto hires a young mathematician to show that the Yamato design makes no sense! Of course we know the effort fails. Yamato and Musashi are built... and calamitously prove futile. Though we also know Yamamoto remained supreme daimyo of the IJN. So what's the point? Not having seen the film... (here's the trailer)... I'd guess the implication is "Yamamoto would have won the war, if only Yamato had NOT been built!" A variation, indeed! Yet, still, a what-if that Yamamoto himself would surely reject, if he were here.

 

== Finally... about “cancel”... ==

One fellow reminded me how he defended me at a convention, where fools attacked me for 'having no black characters in The Postman." 

Um? Do you ever (often!) wish you had been there in person to demand a CASH WAGER from an ignoramus? 

"No black characters" in The Postman? Except that the ex-soldier Phil Bokuto, Gordon's crucial friend and hero, is all over the 2nd half of the book and saves the world. I mean sure, except for that. Oh, and Mrs. Horton... and...

And except for the fact that it is a Southern Oregon Native American tribe who I portray finally saving America from a plague of "holnist" gun-nut militias who brought ruin on the nation.


Oh, but let's deal with this crap, here and now. My first protagonist of ANY kind, in my first-ever story/novel, Sundiver, written in 1977, was half African and half Native American


And jet-black Emerson D'Anite in Startide Rising is also one of the heroes of Brightness Reef and Infinity's Shore. And then there are admiring stories told about Native American traditions in Sundiver and Startide


And Robert Oneagle, the central heroic human in The Uplift War... And when were those written? Back when Ursula LeGuin was barely starting to switch from ortho male to female or 'other' leads? In fact, find any SF author, of any kind, who has a better record at 'otherness', so early - both in time and in their career - except of course for Chip Delaney. Maybe Brunner. Yeah, Alice Sheldon. All right, I can think of others. But Top-ten-percent-R-Us.


Except for all that, of course they're right... not. 


And one of you reminded me of my Maori characters and scenes and portrayal of Gaia-worship and many types of eco-activism, in Earth...


...and gay/bi characters and numerous empowered "spectrum" neurodivergent folks in Existence... (with a glowing blurb from Temple Grandin)... and sympathy for folks with brain damage portrayed in seven different novels....


.... and the very concept of a future with chimp and dolphins sitting on our highest councils and contributing ultimate diversity to Earth civilization... and then there's Gillian Baskin... and you won't find anyone more active vs. the world oligarchic putsch...


A bit prickly and defensive, Brin? 

Yeah. Okay. Sorry. 


But the damned, lying-cowardly gossip never stops and pressure builds up. (Give a listen to the pertinent and way-cool hip hop song “Rumors” by Timex Social Club!)  And always, always, always they backstab behind your back, never confronting you face-to face. 


Let's be clear on one thing. Gossip is the most despicable evil that "good" people engage in, regularly, without imagining they are committing an evil act, and often drenched in the drug high of sanctimony.


Again, sorry. But no.

135 comments:

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

"No black characters" in The Postman? Except that the ex-soldier Phil Bokuto, Gordon's crucial friend and hero, is all over the 2nd half of the book and saves the world


And he wasn't just a generic character who "happened to be black" either. The fact that he was a black man was important to a revealing little exchange between the Holnist General Macklin and his subordinate (Shawn? I think). The lieutenant makes some crack about Bokuto's race for which Macklin chides him, something like, "Now, now. Nathan Holn was no racist, and we aren't either." But while the subordinate outwardly accedes to the wishes of his superior, you could tell his heart was elsewhere.

I found that vignette to be keen in its observation of real life.

Larry Hart said...

On Bill Maher's show tonight, he talked about "progressophobia", a term he claimed Steven Pinker coined to describe "a brain disorder which strikes liberals and makes them incapable of recognizing progress."

Not a new observation for anyone who has spent time here.

The punch line:

"It's like situational blindness, only the thing that you can't see is that your dorm in 2021 is better than the south before the Civil War."

David Brin said...

This is a fascinating and tragic story. I’m amazed it hasn’t been covered more extensively. Xi is doing the Putin/MBS thing.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/georgecalhoun/2021/06/07/the-sad-end-of-jack-ma-inc/?sh=67e47b05123a

David Brin said...

To be fair, Costner/Helgeland captured the spirit of all that in their flick.

Robert said...

That Martian Dispatches book looks interesting, but the web site is screwy.

The ebook is $5, plus $5 for shipping (!!!) and there's a $25 minimum order. Don't think they'll make many sales that way. Maybe you could offer them some professional expert advice on selling books?

duncan cairncross said...

I read the Jack Ma thing

It's called "Trust Busting" when a single company becomes powerful enough to massively distort the market

The USA used to do that type of thing

When you are in charge of the aquarium and a single shark gets too big its what you SHOULD be doing

A tragedy is when somebody has too little to eat
A Billionaire having only a few hundred billions in his name is NOT a tragedy

There is an argument for having rich people who will do things that the corporate mind will not do

But as far as I can see the only one who is actually doing that is Musk

Daniel Duffy said...

If we got rid of woke cancel culture Trump would lose half his support.

Many of his rank and rile are folks who are afraid to tell a joke or make a witty remark for fear of being hauled in front of HR or even fired.

 Ashley said...

I assume you're aware of the "I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter" furore was absolutely mind boggling insane.

David Ivory said...

I'd also add Dr Brin wrote about a planet populated almost entirely by women, except for a few token males kept around for 'entertainment'. Read 1993's Glory Season. Even the discontent at the way society treated those males was a plot point. Great commentary on all the Golden Age SF I've read where the reverse held true.

Larry Hart said...

Apropos nothing--just for the humor value:

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2021/Pres/Maps/Jun12.html#item-1

...
And now, a story about an open job search that (Z) was privy to (not at his own institution, but at another). This search narrowed things down to the usual three candidates, who all came to campus for the usual two-day process, including the dinner at the end. The restaurant of choice for this particular department was a nice Italian place. The first candidate of three had been just fine throughout the whole process, and he ordered lasagna. After completing his meal—or, at least, the parts that could be eaten with fork and knife—he proceeded to pick up his plate and, in full view of his potential future colleagues, licked it clean.

The second candidate came to campus, and he was fine throughout the process, until dinner time. After some generic repartee, the department members who were at the dinner asked if the candidate had any questions they might answer. "Just one," he said. "Does the university have any rules against professors dating their students?" Oof. He might as well have worn a sign that said, "Sexual harassment lawsuit coming shortly."

That left just one finalist. He also made it through the two days without much problem, and he too made it through dinner, until question and answer time. In his case, his question was: "How are the negroes on campus? Are they troublesome at all?" He was not speaking with irony. And this was in 1998, by the way, not 1958.

A few days after the third candidate had his visit and dinner, the hiring committee met to decide which candidate would receive their backing. "Well, folks," said the chair of the committee. "I guess we're hiring the plate-licker."

David Brin said...

The Ma tkedown is not "trust-busting" if it does not restore competitiveness to the system. In this case it removed a potential competitor in the arena of PRC power. Like the breakup of AT&T did not bust monopolies but created local/regional monopolies that still robbed the public.

In Glory Season males are still necessaryfor reproduction according to some science of the time that has become a bit doubtful in the years since... that sperm activated genes are needed to make a placenta, even if the fetus is a clone of the mother.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

Yes, I also didn't think "except for a few token males kept around for 'entertainment'." was an accurate description of Glory Season.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

In Glory Season males are still necessaryfor reproduction...


I liked the idea of men and women being "in heat" at different times of year, necessitating each gender to make deals with the other to get the job done. However, I question the detail of winter being the time that women felt the urge. I'm perhaps too influenced by, "And the girls who were contrary with the boys in January / Aren't nearly so contrary anymore."

Pappenheimer said...

(apologies if this is a double post)

Re: the Great War of Archimedes

I'd never heard of movie or studio, so I did a bit of intertubing -

"Director Takashi Yamazaki previously made “The Eternal Zero,” a controversial Japanese WWII movie about kamikaze pilots. Sympathetic to the young men who sacrificed their lives on suicide missions, some Japanese commentators were shocked to see a film that did not condemn their country’s war effort."

Pretty sure I know where this guy's head is at. I too feel sad for the brave boys whose guts splattered across USN decks. Heck, one of my college professors was in line to "volunteer" for the Special Attack Units, even though he was ethnically Korean. But to ignore the men who sent them out....

There's an anime called Gate which has the modern JDF invading and curb-stomping a fantasy kingdom - which, to be fair, strikes first - and is right in line with this resurgent militarism. Not that this is the only country dipping its toe in the fascist pool.

David Brin said...

Best aesthetics of any human culture, ever... and crazier than a Quat Nunkery.

Slim Moldie said...

Daniel Duffy,

"If we got rid of woke cancel culture Trump would lose half his support."

Wait, so if we cancel, cancel culture...

BTW (I think? I might understand/empathize with your sentiment as the casual woke talk thoroughly annoys me) but realize that by appropriating those terms you are perhaps unwittingly amplifying calculated and malevolent divisiveness. The definition of woke also might shock you: [being] "alert to injustice in society, especially racism."

Possibly it would be more effective to simply to define people's behavior with more terms as the meaning of that word appears to have been rendered into gibberish in the tug-of-war.

On cancel culture, check out the header of this Substack culture post from Seth Abramson's Proof:

"Trumpist Insurrectionists Have Now Created a Systematized Mechanism for "Cancelling" People and Groups—and It's the Most Comprehensive Cancel Culture America Has Ever Seen. The number of brands explicitly targeted for cancellation by Patriot.Win is staggering, representing a cultist/militant rejection of both the American free-market system and American democracy itself."

And here's the list of the red "cancellation" badge recipients:

Skim through this list: Amazon, American Airlines, American Express, Angie’s List, Apple, AT&T, Bank of America, Bed Bath & Beyond, Cash App, Chase Bank, Coca-Cola, Coinbase,Cisco, Costco, Dell, DeltaAirlines, DigitalOcean, Discord, Disney, Etsy, Facebook, FactCheck.org, Fox News, GoDaddy, GoFundMe, Goodyear, Google, Grubhub, HEB, Indiegogo, Instagram, Kickstarter, Kohls,Lehigh University, Levi Strauss, Mailchimp, Marriott, Mastercard, Medium, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, NordicTrack, Okta, PapaJohn’s, Patreon, Patagonia, PayPal, Pinterest, Poshmark, Ravelry, Reddit, Robert Gordon University,Salesforce,San Francisco Public Schools (SFUSD),Sephora, Shopify, Slack, Snapchat, Southwest Airlines, Squarespace, Streamable,
Stripe,T-Mobile, TikTok,Twilio,Twitch, Twitter, Under Armour, United Airlines, Vari,
Vimeo, Visa,Wagner College,Walmart, Wayfair, Webflow, WhatsAp, Wikipedia, WordPres, Y Combinator, YouTube, Zendesk


Sigh, I'd much rather discuss good SF

David Brin said...

While I agree that the far-cultist-left does more harm than good, supplying Fox with nightly grist to maintain MAGAs' delusional sense they are under seige... I do not go anywhere near as far as Daniel. They do share our goals, after all. Mostly.

I offered many tactics in Polemical Judo, http://www.davidbrin.com/polemicaljudo.html
That might help make the distinction:

"You rightists gave your entire movement over to your monsters. You are in no position to lecture us that, yes, we have some fringes who can get a bit unpleasant or dogmatic, though far, far less than your own loons and crooks, who you have given the keys. The vast, vast majority of Democrats are the only fact-oriented and even-tempered and positive-sum faction left in American political life. Deal with us now. Or let the oligarchy push the middle class into a corner where radicals will get their ears and rapt attention."

scidata said...

Looking at that cancellation list, it seems clear that they have in fact declared war on the transistor.

Pappenheimer said...


Agree with David above.

So far as I know, Democrats have no actual political electees who unironically spread information about (((space lasers))), dispute evolution, or advocate not wearing masks or getting inoculated during a pandemic which is most certainly not over yet. We DO have Joe Manchin, who is...above replacement level for whatever collisexual lunatic Republicans would elect in his place. (Please not that colli- is meant to refer to coal, not dogs.)

Slim, how did BOA, Marriott and Goodyear get on the RWNJ cancel list? We're not talking leftist organizations here...these are dens of ultracapitalism*

* TM applied for

BTW, I haven't seen any vommenting on this blog for a while. What happened?

duncan cairncross said...

The Case against Jack Ma was that his huge company was directly distorting the market by selecting the companies that it would work with

If that was true that is EXACTLY what "Trust Busting" was intended to prevent

Robert said...

Many of his rank and rile are folks who are afraid to tell a joke or make a witty remark for fear of being hauled in front of HR or even fired.

The Trump supporters up here (yes, we have then in Canada) are upset about "woke culture" because it means they aren't free to bully and demean people as much as they want to.

I read a book a couple of years ago by a Google researcher who looked at Google searches and correlated them (at the county level) with Trump votes. The biggest correlation he found was the more searches for "good n****r joke", the higher the vote for Trump.

So yeah, "afraid to tell a joke" seems to correlate to "no longer allowed to bully and demean minorities".

Interview here:
https://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/6/13/15768622/facebook-google-racism-social-media-seth-everybody-lies

An election before the same searches were inversely correlated to Obama support:
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/06/can-google-predict-the-impact-of-racism-on-a-presidential-election/258322/

Robert said...

I assume you're aware of the "I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter" furore was absolutely mind boggling insane.

Peter Watts' take is here:
https://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=9892

Hadn't read the story before I read his blog entry, read it because of that.

David Brin said...

Again, Manchin made Schumer Majority Leader and Dems = all committee chairs with subpoena powers. That, alone, is huge.

I haven't given up the hope that he is choreographing with Biden. He now has cred to denounce McConnell when he chooses.

I am SO often wrong about hopes like that one.

Larry Hart said...

Pappenheimer:

Slim, how did BOA, Marriott and Goodyear get on the RWNJ cancel list? We're not talking leftist organizations here...these are dens of ultracapitalism


They probably made public announcements condemning some confederate law or something of that sort. Something cultural rather than an economic practice. I'm sure Salesforce is on the list because they have floats in Pride Parades. Many of the others probably as well.

Right-wingers forget that they started cancel culture--they just don't think it's fair when they are the recipients. In the McCarthy era, it was expected that entertainers suspected of communist leanings would be cancelled, and any company who might dare to sponsor a show with such a writer or actor would be boycotted. See the Woody Allen movie The Front for a depiction. And right-wing cancel culture is not just a relic of that bygone era. The Dixie Chicks were a recent example, and Colin Kaepernick an even recent-er one.

Whenever right-wingers complain about liberals, they're usually miffed about trademark infringement. "You're not allowed to do that! That's our thing."

Geez, I was going to say that the obvious way to stay off the list was to have a company name that begins with "Q". But then I also notice that no "J" company is represented either. Thought I could resort to the observation Batman made when Pinky Pinkston left him a distress message in a bowl of alphabet soup--"And not a J, Q, or Z in the bunch!"--but "Zendesk" spoiled that one too. Phooey.

Anonymous said...

Hey, don't forget Arthur C. Clarke's Imperial Earth >

Larry Hart said...


Hey, don't forget Arthur C. Clarke's Imperial Earth


Not sure what that comment was in reference to--black characters, maybe?--but in any case, I second the recommendation.

The fact that Duncan is black--and that the author didn't let that slip until you're well into the book--might seem gratuitous, but in fact the final scene of the novel doesn't work without that detail. In fact, I totally missed the significance on my first read.

Daniel Duffy said...

Robert, you all need to remember that things have vastly improved over the last few decades in terms bullying, racism homophobia etc. be acceptable.

I don't often agree with Bill Maher, but he nails it with this segment on progressophobia:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fB9KVYAdYwg

We are winning.

They are losing.

Jon S. said...

"Many of his rank and rile are folks who are afraid to tell a joke or make a witty remark for fear of being hauled in front of HR or even fired."

Because their "jokes" and "witty remarks" tend to be along the lines of some former coworkers of my wife's at a Key Bank call-center, who referred to her among themselves as "the Gorilla in the Mist".

Nobody's getting fired for being funny. Not enough are fired for being openly racist, sexist, and/or homophobic.

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

We are winning


With all due respect, if this is what winning looks like, Trump might have had it right that we'll be sick of winning.

Jon S:

Nobody's getting fired for being funny. Not enough are fired for being openly racist, sexist, and/or homophobic.


After way too long, it finally occurred to me what all the fuss is about concerning how PC ruins the ability to joke at the expense of others. It's similar to the right-wing's notion of "religious freedom" meaning freedom of their religion to persecute others, and it jibes with my observation that when they accuse us of some slight, it's usually about projection.

What they are insisting upon is that America be made a "safe space" for white Christianist men.

Robert said...

Daniel, my point is that the "jokes and witty remarks" are actually bullying — usually racist and/or sexist bullying. Calling it a joke doesn't make it funny.

So, yeah, many of Trump's supporters are afraid of being hauled in front of HR or fired, but it's not because they're witty — it's because they're racist bastards who don't understand why someone might find a "n****r joke" offensive.

Cari Burstein said...

Can't speak to the others, but Goodyear I remember the drama about last year. It was something relating to their workplace training that went viral about banning MAGA hats. Trump started pushing for them to be cancelled because of it. Quick Google search turned up this:
https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/19/politics/trump-goodyear-cancel-culture/index.html

Camargo said...

Same old "Destroy anyone that doesn't belong to our tribe" BS that never ended.
Nazis vs Soviets culture war.

Daniel Duffy said...

Rob

You have perfectly good people now watching every word they say, words usually said without an ounce of bad intent.

And allowance should be made especially for people who have absorbed a lifetime of acculturation.

As for minor offenses, my generation had a saying; "F**k 'em if they can't take a joke".

As for my Dad's generation they were too busy beating Hitler and surviving the Great Depression to even comprehend this discussion.

Yep, what was done at the bank was unforgiveable, but your cure is worse than the disease.

The real cure to bad speech isn't censorship, it's more and better speech.

Short of incitement to riot and shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, all speech (even hate speech) is sacred. Free speech is an absolute good no matter what is said.

The ACLU used to believe that and I am appalled at their recent surrender to cultural pressure.

The first amendment exists to protect all speech from "I have a Dream" to "Mein Kampf".

As a practical matter, if you want Trump back in 2024, then keep doing what you are doing.

As for those who claim we are not winning, may I point out to you all both gay marriage and inter-racial marriage - both of which were illegal even short time ago. And both groups were subject to severe legal penalties - jail time for the first and Jim Crow for the latter.

Those living in the real world outside our dorm safe spaces are seeing real progress and victory after victory.

Larry Hart said...

Cari Bunstein:

Goodyear I remember the drama about last year. It was something relating to their workplace training that went viral about banning MAGA hats.


Ah, yes. The usual Republican whining that a ban on political expression of any kind in the workplace is an unfair ban on their politics. Similar to the complaint about the Obama IRS giving extra scrutiny to Tea Party organizations because what they were really doing was scrutinizing all political-sounding groups claiming an exemption which was intended for non-political groups.

The fact that the IRS catches right-wing groups cheating more than others is because right-wing groups cheat more than any others. Likewise, I'm sure that MAGAts violated the company's "no politics" rule more than any others and dared anyone to defy them.

matthew said...

Free Speech does not protect a person from their HR Department. The right to free speech means the *government* cannot regulate your speech. It does not apply to private companies.


My former employer asked me to fire anyone with an Obama bumper sticker on their car for being "pro-union" and that's legal in Oregon. Free speech in the workplace is dictated by company policy. If a company is firing employees for making racist jokes then the company has decided to do so, not the government.

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

Yep, what was done at the bank was unforgiveable, but your cure is worse than the disease.

The real cure to bad speech isn't censorship, it's more and better speech.

Short of incitement to riot and shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, all speech (even hate speech) is sacred. Free speech is an absolute good no matter what is said.
...

The first amendment exists to protect all speech from "I have a Dream" to "Mein Kampf".


I actually agree with the sentiment. But I think the situation Jon S was describing was not applicable. Bullying a co-worker has at least something in common with "fire in a crowded theater" more than "publishing a book supporting an objectionable philosophy". It's not as if a colleague being denigrated as a gorilla is combatted by allowing someone else to assert that she is not in fact a gorilla. They already know that.


As a practical matter, if you want Trump back in 2024, then keep doing what you are doing.


Unfortunately, you are probably right on that.

I also think that you could say the same thing about just about anything right-wingers whine about. "If you want Trump back in 2024, keep insisting that police shouldn't kill unarmed black men." "If you want Trump back in 2024, keep denying that the 2020 election was stolen."


As for those who claim we are not winning, may I point out to you all both gay marriage and inter-racial marriage - both of which were illegal even short time ago. And both groups were subject to severe legal penalties - jail time for the first and Jim Crow for the latter.

Those living in the real world outside our dorm safe spaces are seeing real progress and victory after victory.


You are correct about cultural issues. But at the same time, we seem to be steadily losing our democracy as Republicans hold onto state houses and thereby pass laws restricting the vote and allowing themselves to summarily overturn future outcomes. I do worry that the wins will be short-lived as Republicans feel their oats. Look at it this way--you could have said the same thing about how much we were winning when "Black Wall Street" was doing so well in 1921. I'm worried about what happened next.

Robert said...

It's your country, you know it better than I do. I will note that freedom of speech is not considered an absolute right outside of America, just as the rest of the world doesn't insist on owning guns.

What bank?


I've spent my career watching every word. Not because of laws, but because I'm aware that simple words can have outsized effects.


My grandfather served in both world wars (fought in Ypres, the Somme, Palestine…), and was a single parent during the depression. He didn't see derogatory jokes as being funny.

In my experience, people who say "eff-em if they can't take a joke" generally don't respond well to jokes aimed at them or things/people they care about. They get really offended and lash out.


Most of my family and friends are not "white". That matters less than it did a generation ago, but more than it did before 2016. So, yeah, progress, but there's still a substantial chunk of the population that would bring back the 'good old days' if they could.


Concerning Republicans, I remember the line in Lest Darkness Fall where the Orthodox chap is complaining that the Orthodox are persecuted, because they are no longer allowed to persecute other sects…

Daniel Duffy said...

matthew, lynch mobs are private non-governmental organizations as well.

Being non-governmental may make it legal but doesn't make it right.

Because if you ban "Mein Kampf" today, you'll ban "I Have a Dream" tomorrow.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

In my experience, people who say "eff-em if they can't take a joke" generally don't respond well to jokes aimed at them or things/people they care about. They get really offended and lash out.


Exactly what I meant when I said that the right demands that America be made a "safe space" for them.

Daniel Duffy said...

Larry for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. True in both physics and politics. Every advance by marginalized people provokes a backlash by the dominant demographic. Progress is always 2 steps forward and 1 step back.

But the progress is real.

Larry Hart said...

I thought so.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/14/opinion/bitcoin-cryptocurrency-flaws.html

As it grew in popularity, Bitcoin became cumbersome, slow, and expensive to use. It takes about 10 minutes to validate most transactions using the cryptocurrency and the transaction fee has been at a median of about $20 this year. Bitcoin’s unstable value has also made it an unviable medium of exchange. It is as though your $10 bill could buy you a beer on one day and a bottle of fine wine on another.

Jon S. said...

The "cure" to making "jokes" about a black woman in the US being a jungle animal is not "more and better speech"; you can't cure bigotry by just letting it slide. It must be opposed, not ignored.

Do you imagine the progress we've made happened purely because of "more and better speech"? If we'd left it up to that, Stonewall would never have happened and merely being gay would have remained illegal. Loving v. Virginia would never have happened, and there'd still be seventeen states (at least) that my family could never visit for fear of arrest and/or lynching. Open discrimination against gays and interracial marriage had to be openly opposed, in the courts and in HR policies, before it could even begin to diminish. (You might remember back when Maher talked about how bad it was that he couldn't publicly use the word "faggot", in the '90s...)

Larry Hart said...

At least someone is finally noticing.

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2021/Pres/Maps/Jun14.html#item-4

...
This behavior has left many state-level Democrats incredulous at Manchin's statement that he will support voting rights only if Republicans do, too. Arizona's secretary of state, Katie Hobbs (D), told Brownstein that Arizona Republicans have completely shut Democrats out of the legislative process. Similarly, The Democratic whip in the Iowa House told him: "I don't see anywhere where Republicans are inviting Democrats along, or inviting Democrats to the table. Why are some Democrats saying 'I won't do this unless it's bipartisan?'" So it looks like bipartisanship is a one-way street. When Republicans have the power to go it alone, they do it without bipartisanship, but when Democrats have the power, they are expected to take into consideration what Republicans want.
...

Daniel Duffy said...

Jon you can't cure bigotry period.

Attempts to force a change of heart by punitive measures will only serve to reinforce the bigotry.

Not only is your approach a danger to free speech it will blow up in your face.

Der Oger said...

@ Daniel Duffy:
Because if you ban "Mein Kampf" today, you'll ban "I Have a Dream" tomorrow.

Sorry, but that is nonsense. That particular book had been banned for 70+ years after WWII in my country (being allowed back in a modified, commented version a few years ago). And while the "militant democracy" doctrine of ours has and has had it's lows, overall, it has been successful.

Also, consider this: The very minimum a democratic state with human rights enshrined must guarantee to his citizens is that he can, by large, live without fear for his life, property, physical or mental health, and dignity. Certain expressions of free speech exclude that, and are used to intimidate, demonize, inflame, defame, suppress, divide and incite ONLY. Also, these symbols and speeches aim at the removal of democracy itself, so any citizen who tolerates it makes himself guilty of that, too.

You wanna know how Trump can be reelected?
If his and his fellow Gopper prior actions remain unopposed, and decent people stay uninformed, embittered, intimidated, divided, and at home on the next elections.

David Brin said...

I have an unusual take on freedom of speech. While it is vital, I value it because of what it DOES. It is the principal means by which we get the most important invention of the Enlightenment Experiment -- reciprocal criticism, error-discovery and accountability. THOSE are the things that changed 6000 years of utterly-gruesomely stoopid feudalism-governance into the greatest period of human success, by far. And yes, it is very hard to imagine any way to get those things OTHER than free speech. And yet --

-- And yet it does offer a metric by which one can envision some kinds of constraints. Particular "speech" that incites harm, and/or has been proved false and not-useful criticism beyond some 'five sigma' of certainty. And yes, that would include Mein Kampff.

But that's a dangerous path because humans rationalize... as the far left is now rationalizing many cases of speech control. Not just via social suasion (their privilege and I am (in many cases) swayed! But via law. Which is much more dubious.

Daniel Duffy said...

Jon,

In addition to Bill Maher, you'll need top ban Lenny Bruce, Edie Murphy, Dave Chapelle and a host of other comedians for the same offense.

Then you can go out and burn a few books.

I'm sure you will feel better afterwards.

Daniel Duffy said...

Der Oger,

Free speech exists for only one reason - to protect speech we hate and hateful speech.

Once we all go down your path, there will be no place to stop on that slippery slope.

"if there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate." - Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

scidata said...

@Larry Hart re: Bitcoin

Although I didn't read Prasad's (paywalled) piece in the NYT, the quick glimpse I got showed that the major complaints were about BTC's wobbly infrastructure. Paul Krugman trashed it years ago because it was a clear example of Adam Smith's "dead stock", a much more tragic flaw.

Daniel Duffy said...

Use of slurs can be considered "fighting words" and thus not considered to be protected free speech but only in very narrow circumstances.

In Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942) the Supremes defined fighting words:

“Fighting words” constitute a type of punishable incitement: when speakers intentionally incite imminent violence against themselves (in contrast with third parties), which is likely to happen immediately. In the fighting words situation the speaker hurls insulting language directly at another person, intending to instigate that person’s imminent violent reaction against the speaker himself/herself, and that violence is likely to occur immediately."

In Snyder v. Phelps (2011), it was argued that three criteria were necessary: immediacy, proximity, and instinctive (a reaction of the target, per Justice Ginsburg). Even "outrageous" and "hurtful speech" such as: “God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11,” “America is Doomed,” “Don’t Pray for the USA,” “Thank God for IEDs,” “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “Pope in Hell,” “Priests Rape Boys,” “God Hates Fags,” "Fags Doom Nations," “You’re Going to Hell,” and “God Hates You” is considered public debate, particularly when conducted on public land, and must enjoy "special" 1st Amendment protection. Lone dissenting Justice Samuel Alito likened the protests of the Westboro Baptist Church members to fighting words and of a personal character, and thus not protected speech. The majority disagreed and stated that the protesters' speech was not personal but public, and that local laws which can shield funeral attendees from protesters are adequate for protecting those in times of emotional distress.

Sorry if you find the use of certain words upsetting, but it remains free speech short of a direct and threatening use at you as an individual it remains protected free speech.

No matter how disgusting or heinous.

Dennis M Davidson said...

@Jon S.
Well said. Just to emphasize your point. You are calling for 'opposition' to verbal bigotry and homophobia. You are not calling for speech to be banned or cancelled. As you well know, to be effective in opposition it's helpful to be flexible in tactics and strategies. Humor can be devastating whether delivered by one person or through street activism. I've seen this used to good effect in person and in Congressional hearings. Even silence, when seen as a deliberate judgement, can be powerful. I recall seeing a video of a student demo at UC Davis. Hundreds of student stood silent and stared as the Chancellor (the target of their demo) walked through the crowd to her car.

Daniel Duffy said...

My take on freedom of speech is that it is sacred unto itself.

duncan cairncross said...

Free Speech

What does the First Amendment say about free speech?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Congress shall make no law respecting abridging the freedom of speech,

That sound like a great idea - but by the law of “Unintended Consequences” has resulted in a system where the “voice of the people” is simply overridden by the “voice of the rich”

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/perspectives-on-politics/article/testing-theories-of-american-politics-elites-interest-groups-and-average-citizens/62327F513959D0A304D4893B382B992B

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

Most other countries LIMIT political speech to avoid that situation - with different levels of success!

As an example here (NZ) there are strict limits on political spending especially as we get to the elections

Unfortunately the USA is painted into a corner - the Government is NOT PERMITTED to prevent the rich and corporations from drowning the citizens out

A “Great Idea” - which has had the opposite effect

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

My take on freedom of speech is that it is sacred unto itself.


My take on things that are sacred unto themselves is that they inevitably become harmful idolatry. Once you can no longer ask, "Is this really working as planned or advertised?" and go into "It doesn't matter what the effects are, the thing is its own justification," you get the NRA and "Citizens United".

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

The majority disagreed and stated that the protesters' speech was not personal but public, and that local laws which can shield funeral attendees from protesters are adequate for protecting those in times of emotional distress.


I'm not up on the details of how close the Westborough protesters were to the funeral site, or how loud they were. I'm willing to say that if they kept a distance and the volume was low, they had a right to protest outside the grounds. But knowing the type, I have a feeling they were blasting their hate speech loud enough to interfere with the funeral. And as I've argued before, if you're standing outside my house at three in the morning with a loudspeaker, keeping my family from sleeping, I have a right to have you forcibly removed. It has nothing to do with the content of your ideas--it's all about the assault you are perpetrating. Even if you were shouting "Hamilton is the greatest musical ever!", I'd still have your ass arrested.

Furthermore, once it's legal to run down protesters with a car, blowing through those Westborough assholes would be even more fun than running down anti-abortion protesters.

* * *

Remember that the right-wing used to despise the First Amendment because it protected criticism of the status quo and the authorities. Now that they're all about criticizing the status quo and the "deep state", they suddenly love Freedom of Speech. But only for themselves, not for Colin Kaepernick or Black Lives Matter.

Just as they love the Second Amendment as long as it applies to themselves and not black people. Or "stand your ground" laws as long as the white guy is the one who kills the black guy.

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:

A “Great Idea” - which has had the opposite effect


Kind of like letting the Confederate states rejoin to the country.

Larry Hart said...

Dennis M Davidson:

Well said. Just to emphasize your point. You are calling for 'opposition' to verbal bigotry and homophobia. You are not calling for speech to be banned or cancelled.


Republicans don't like anyone else exercising Freedom of Speech. Remember George HW Bush was insulting Mike Dukakis when he called him a "card-carrying member of the ACLU."

But they whine like babies that their own Freedom is being infringed if someone disagrees with them, or looks at them funny, or terminates a relationship as a reaction to their speech. They think the Constitution is supposed to protect them from all that.

David Brin said...

Daniel Duffy: My take on freedom of speech is that it is sacred unto itself.

There are too paths to hell:
1- letting a pure good or right get deluted with exceptions, down a slippery slope...

2- Defending that purity with such uncritically predictable passion that enemies figure out how to use your reflex against you.

Both are happening.

Daniel Duffy said...

Dr. Brin, there are some things which can't be compromised.

Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts - CS Lewis

scidata said...

Actually, there is a third path to hell. Holding science and magic as equals, thinking oneself clever enough to tickle the dragon and get away with it (or Icarus if you prefer even older stories). This is the 'solution' to a double-bind dilemma that utterly destroys some top thinkers, as we've previously discussed. No need for slippery slopes or enemies.

TCB said...

I often hear people say " The road to hell is paved with good intentions." This is a lie.

Reality: There are MANY roads. Some, paved with good intentions, do indeed lead to hell.

But ALL roads paved with bad intentions lead to hell. Jesus wept on a cracker, you'd think that would be obvious.

I think it was Nat Hentoff, in a book titled Free Speech For Me, But Not For Thee, who concluded that, as mentioned above, the answer to censorship was "more and better speech." But that book is almost thirty years old and Hersh, it seems did not understand how truth could be censored not by silence but by being drowned out in a klaxon of relentless lies. Facebook was years in the future then, and so were most modern right wing 'news' media. More speech has NOT proven to be better speech, mainly because it is bought speech.

...fascists have a lot of money, you see...

And that is why, as Der Oger notes, militant democracy must censor certain extremes of falsehood and hate speech. The Popper paradox of tolerance shows us that there is a line to be drawn, beyond which we must not tolerate intolerance or suffer the result. I say we have mistaken that line. We drew it too far away. We have tolerated Fox Propaganda, and Limbaugh-esque Propaganda, and Facebook Oligarchic Propaganda. And only now, at the eleventh hour, a few of us begin to realize that these organs of intolerance were too dangerous to tolerate. (Most of us, alas, are still hard asleep).

Incidentally, you would know that our leaders understood the problem if the Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces, currently Joe Biden, ordered all military units to stop showing pro-insurrection propaganda outlets like Fox 'News' in ready rooms and other common areas.

Daniel Duffy said...

duncan, the 1st amendment and the rest of the constitution mean what the Supreme Court says they mean.

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

Dr. Brin, there are some things which can't be compromised.


A restriction on shouting "fire!" in a crowded theater, while cliched, is a compromise. So is the "fighting words" doctrine. If your position on freedom of speech is as absolute as you assert, then you shouldn't allow for those exceptions either, but you haven't indicated that you have a problem with them. You seem to be saying, "We've already carved out all of the legitimate exceptions to the rule. Any suggestion that others may be applicable is a compromise which is not tolerable."

How disappointingly conservative.

Some forms of speech are rightly forbidden, usually because they are not so much speech as forms of assault. My previous example stands--blasting amplified sound in a residential neighborhood at 3:00am (regardless of the content of the "speech"). A military commander giving his subordinates an illegal order to commit violence should not be a protected form of free speech. And I stand with Jon S in arguing that just because you direct fighting words to someone weaker than you who can't directly hit back doesn't make them less fighting words.

Daniel Duffy said...

Dr Brin, suppose someone got the idea that your uplift concept involved cruelty to animals (animal experimentation, no informed consent, etc.- weirder protests have happened) and they protest outside your office, ban you from sf conventions and other speaking gigs. What would be your response?

Jon S. said...

Daniel, your point is, I think, understood. It is also sadly mistaken.

1: I never called for anyone to be "banned". However, the idea that someone is immune from repercussions for their hateful speech merely encourages them to engage in it further. As a case in point, I present the last five years here in the US.

2: One may not be able to "cure" bigotry in an individual, because sometimes people are wedded to incorrect ideas they learned in their youth. It can, however, be cured in society - over time, and by not tolerating its public exposure. Sure, the local KKK is free to march, assuming they can get a permit and do so legally - and the rest of us are free to publicly heckle and denounce them.

"Free speech" is not an absolute right, not in the sense of, say, the right to pursue happiness (note that said right doesn't include procuring happiness, just pursuing it). As has been pointed out, the First Amendment merely says that the US government can't declare certain topics off-limits. This does not mean that we should let absolutely everyone say whatever hateful thing crosses their mind at any moment and then just let that lie there without opposition.

Remember that the beginning of the end of the Galactic Republic in the Star Wars saga came when the Jedi began entertaining thoughts like Only a Sith deals in absolutes - which, clearly, is an absolute. Holding any ideal as higher than human beings in all circumstances is one of those famed "good intentions" with which the road to Hell is paved.

David Brin said...

Daniel asks: "Dr Brin, suppose someone got the idea that your uplift concept involved cruelty to animals (animal experimentation, no informed consent, etc.- weirder protests have happened) and they protest outside your office, ban you from sf conventions and other speaking gigs. What would be your response?"

My response? all of that... except the picketing, is exactly what has happened. Gossip harpies have backstab attributed to me stances I never held and that are diametrically opposite to my beliefs and life's work. Their free speech right? Sure. But what about my right to expose their lies to refutation?

Daniel Duffy said...

Larry

You seem to be saying, "We've already carved out all of the legitimate exceptions to the rule. Any suggestion that others may be applicable is a compromise which is not tolerable."

That is exactly what I'm saying les we find ourselves on that slippery slop to hell all the while certain of our righteousness

Robert said...

“Fighting words” constitute a type of punishable incitement: when speakers intentionally incite imminent violence against themselves (in contrast with third parties), which is likely to happen immediately. In the fighting words situation the speaker hurls insulting language directly at another person, intending to instigate that person’s imminent violent reaction against the speaker himself/herself, and that violence is likely to occur immediately."

Which conjures up a mental image of a bunch of guys at a bar with lots of aggro squaring up to each other.

But, just as animal cruelty campaigners are willing to spray-paint an old lady's coat but not the jacket of a biker, the majority of racial slurs are used in circumstances where 'immediate violence' is impossible — except maybe going to HR.

It sounds like you are arguing that the ex-football player using racial slurs on my niece at work should be allowed to continue without consequence. He's double her weight — and if she hits him first she gets charged with assault and fired, as well as risking getting hospitalized. So are they fighting words she can't respond to without severe personal personal injury, or protected political speech? What if he is loudly saying them to a friend within earshot?

Maybe you can't cure bigotry, but you can protect innocent people from the bigots.


Because if you ban "Mein Kampf" today, you'll ban "I Have a Dream" tomorrow.

Slippery slope arguments? Used to stop progress (which you seem to support) all the time. Let one black family move into the neighbourhood, and next thing you know we're living in a crime-filled ghetto. Let a woman who was raped get an abortion, and next thing you know we're euthanizing grandma.


Is that really only argument in favour of allowing bigots to harass my niece with no repercussions?


You have perfectly good people now watching every word they say

Ah, yes, there are very fine people on both sides…

I'm reminded of Watts Corollary:

Edmund Burke once said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. I think that begs a question.

If you do nothing, what makes you any fucking good?

Treebeard said...

ALL major media is propaganda; it’s all oligarchic, funded by elites interested in molding opinions and promoting agendas. There’s no “people’s media” purely interested in abstractions like “the facts” or “the will of the people” (if you believe there is, I have an abstraction called "waterfront property in Nebraska" that I can sell you for real cheap—bitcoin preferred).

Our host sometimes talks about using American media as propaganda to transform world culture more to his liking; the Chinese Communist Party, the Christian Broadcasting Network and the owners of Fox News are trying to do something similar. The only difference I see is that “progressives” are a little more adept at appealing to grandiose abstractions and puffing themselves up as moral superiors and world-saviors. Because you see, they’re the Good Guys, engaged in a benevolent effort to uplift benighted peoples who haven’t become as Enlightened as them. Some are so sure of this that they even want to remake animals in their own image. The fact that in neither the human nor non-human cases did anyone consent to their program hardly phases them. The arrogant and messianic are gonna arrogate and messianize; it’s what they do.

David Brin said...

Well-spoken, Treebeard. Though well-spoken drivel. The "media" you despise as homogeneously corrupt propaganda consists of a couple of million professionals who grew up imbibing the same Suspicion of Authority propaganda that YOU suckled all your youth. They think of themselves as just as suspicious of elites as you do...

...MORE so, since you ignore the blatant cabal of world oligarchs - mafiosi, casino moguls, saudi princes, inheritance brats and "ex" KGB agents whose media rails against all fact-users. THEM you trust. Two millions diverse pros who are motivated by SOA and curiosity and a dedication to transparency? No! Not them!!!

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

'You seem to be saying, "We've already carved out all of the legitimate exceptions to the rule. Any suggestion that others may be applicable is a compromise which is not tolerable."'

That is exactly what I'm saying les we find ourselves on that slippery slop to hell all the while certain of our righteousness


But in your certain righteousness, you missed the point I was trying to make. Which is that some necessary and time-tested exceptions have already been carved out of the Absolute Freedom of Speech. The fighting words doctrine and the "fire in a crowded theater" thing didn't put us on any kind of slippery slope.

Conservatives are generally the ones who argue that all necessary social changes that have already been made are fine (if not actually ordained by God Himself), but any proposed changes from the time I personally became aware of the rules are the work of the Devil. It's kinda weird to hear you arguing essentially their position. But then all that about slippery slopes to Hell sound much like Dave Sim, whose every decision has to rest upon "Which choice will consign my soul to a ghastly ten million years trying to escape the inside of the sun?"

Treebeard said...

I actually don't trust any of them, but I'm most familiar with the liberal propaganda that I grew up on and which saturates this society. It's the most sophisticated and slippery so it requires the best defenses. If you can handle the shape-shifting T-1000, the comparatively primitive T-800 is no problem. But for such a supposedly diverse group of free-thinkers, I find "liberal media" amazingly homogenous and narrow (or I did back when I still watched it). I guess when you're on the side of Truth and Goodness that's to be expected. LOL.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

Our host sometimes talks about using American media as propaganda to transform world culture more to his liking; the Chinese Communist Party, the Christian Broadcasting Network and the owners of Fox News are trying to do something similar. The only difference I see is that “progressives” are a little more adept at appealing to grandiose abstractions and puffing themselves up as moral superiors and world-saviors.


Much of our propaganda--certainly our most successful kind--consists of letting others see the way we live (and the ideals we want to live up to) and letting them judge for themselves that they want to be like us, or want to be part of us. Millions do, and it is not without their consent. In fact, the opposite thing.

Trolls may enjoy Russian propaganda, but no one is swayed by it that they'd rather live in Moscow. Oh, many of you claim that they'd prefer to live there, but I notice none of you actually make the move.

David Brin said...

"I find "liberal media" amazingly homogenous and narrow"

Yes, of course you do. That both feeds your ego and allows you to shrug off any need to expand or compare your range of inputs.

Again - tho you'll ignore it - the oligarchic media which IS uniform propaganda you feel no resentment toward. But a vast and diverse profession filled with curious people in ACTIVE COMPETITION against each other, them you ignaor as homogeneous.

Having said that... yes, there are memes that "reform in domineering ways. If you are talking about political correctness re: diversity (not policy) then okay, it can get tiresome. But being "forced" to shift my pronouns a bit is small potatoes next to a cabal aiming to end all freedom, justice, accountability and progress, forever.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

I find "liberal media" amazingly homogenous and narrow (or I did back when I still watched it).


The so-called liberal media introduced us to Glenn Beck (CNN) and still has Joe Scarborough (MSNBC). OTOH, if you want to see "amazingly homogenous and narrow", try looking at Sinclair or OAN or NewsMax some time. Or remember the 2016 Republican primary debates when all 13 or so candidates had to trip over themselves saying how much they were exactly like all of the others.

Your problem isn't that right-wing media is not homogenous, but that you prefer their homogeneity to that of the fact-based media (which have been much more "corporate" than "liberal" since the 1980s).

Alfred Differ said...

Regarding carve-outs to freedom of speech, I'll point out the existence of a time dimension to the solution. What was once acceptable/unacceptable can and has changed.

These things evolve and we should respect that.

One evolution underway right now (vigorously!) is the blurring of distinctions separating speech, press, and assembly rights. In a digitally connected world, there isn't much difference between speaking, assembling, and publishing. Our carve-outs for each must adapt if we care to remain free.

Alfred Differ said...

Also... at some risk of belaboring an obvious point...

It isn't the Supreme Court who decides what 'Freedom of Speech' means. We do. All the SCOTUS does is interpret what was written about it.

This goes to the heart of what it means to live in a Common Law society. WE make the law and occasionally does some of it get written in the form of legislation and regulation.

These discussions of meaning are critically necessary to defining what our rights actually are... because we define them. What we've written into the Bill of Rights is limitations on government concerning certain ones they may NOT try to take away or limit too much.

Amendment #9 might not carry much legal weight in the Court, but it makes the point. It was crafted to establish who RETAINS real power in our system. It is an expression of modern-day SOA.

Duncan Ocel said...

Treebeard sounds more like a leftist libertarian than a rightist one. There are some good arguments out there to tear down the oligarchy wherever possible (I'm sure OGH would conditionally agree). Too much state power or too much corporate power can both be fatal to liberal democracy and flat-fair competition.

David Brin said...

Duncan, sorry, no way. "Oligarchy" is a general term that the feudalists and confederates know to be 'bad,' so they hurl it at their perceived enemies of the left. But the 'oligarchs' they mean are eith guys like Soros/Buffet/Gates, who publicly call for limits on their own caste... or else every single knowledge/fact-using profession. He'll never aim ire at the actual oligarchs conspirinmg to turn their own sons into inheritance gods.

Flat fair competition is the last thing they actually want, since that was what the Gfreatest Generation engendered with the Rooseveltean social contrtact, and the righ has spent EXACTLY 40 years tearing down.

A.F. Rey said...

I don't understand.

If all forms of speech should be protected, why shouldn't "You're a bigot because of what you said and should be fired right now!" not be protected?

Or should words be completely disassociated from meaning and action to be protected? ;)

duncan cairncross said...

Free Speech

Today we have the American model - from the First Amendment - where YOUR Government cannot protect you from the other power centers

And we have the models used in most of the other advanced democracies where the Government of the People IS permitted to throttle everybody's speech in order to prevent the powerful from drowning out the rest

Personally I vastly prefer the Non American model - and as far as slippery slopes is concerned we do not seem to be slipping down that slope while the USA is making out like a skier

Your Founding Fathers expected you to do a make over of your constitution every generation or so - its a damn shame that did not happen - The US Constitution is a creditable Mk1 - if you were now on a Mk5 then we would be copying you rather than looking at the USA as an example of "what NOT to do"

David Brin said...

Duncvan our allies are free to carp at many faults and much of it deserved. But the USA has stood for an entire human lifespan between you and a very cold wind. And it's only been the best time for humanity ever.

Also... there arer two Americas. Always have been.

Civil War Phases - CONTRARY BRIN - http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/09/phases-of-american-civil-war.html

Alfred Differ said...

We've intentionally stripped our government of certain powers to protect us... so others cannot so easily abuse those powers when their jerks are in a legislative majority or executive offices.

It is really OUR responsibility to protect ourselves.

(I say that a lot lately and not just to remind people that police officers don't really work for them. They work for the system we set up for arresting law breakers.)

Daniel Duffy said...

When the man who created Hamilton is accused of racism you know that the "woke" nut cases have taken over the asylum:

https://www.theroot.com/im-listening-lin-manuel-miranda-releases-statement-ami-1847099996

Larry Hart said...

@Daniel Duffy,

Anyone can accuse anyone of anything on Twitter. Just because one nut-job accuses Lin Manuel Miranda of racism doesn't mean "progressives" as a whole are doing so. Yet, the right takes every such opportunity to hang such ridiculousness around our next, as if Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi is making the accusation.

I'm kind of suspicious of this quote...

“As a Black woman of Cuban descent specifically from New York City, it would be remiss of me to not acknowledge the fact that most of your principal actors were light-skinned or white-passing Latinx people,” Léon pointedly asked.

...because from all I've heard, actual Latinos prefer not to use the term "Latinx". In fact, if I wanted to really be a dick about it, I could tweet back that she's being culturally insensitive (and therefore racist herself) to the desires of the Latino and Latina community.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

We've intentionally stripped our government of certain powers to protect us... so others cannot so easily abuse those powers when their jerks are in a legislative majority or executive offices.


Which only works when the conceit is accepted that the law applies to all. Once it is accepted that the law exists to protect but not bind Republicans and to bind but not protect liberals, then their jerks can do whatever they want, in or out of a legislative majority.

And I'm afraid we're almost there, if not there already.


It is really OUR responsibility to protect ourselves.


When it the course of human events...

matthew said...

Normally I would not link to The Intercept, since they have a very checkered past regarding anti-American bias and Russian propaganda. BUT... here is reporting on leaked audio of Joe Manchin explaining to his billionaire PAC-backers what he needs in order to continue being their bulwark against progressive policies.

https://theintercept.com/2021/06/16/joe-manchin-leaked-billionaire-donors-no-labels/

tl;dr
Manchin is walking a very fine line here between pleasing his PAC allies and supporting the Democratic party. He is telling them to get him some GOP support stat(!) or he will not hold the line for much more. It walks right up to extortion / blackmail. I would bet $$$$ that he approved the leak himself to take off the heat from the left and put even more pressure on the GOP. He's trying to play both sides off each other. This will be studied in PoliSci circles for a long long time, assuming the GOP doesn't end America first.

Here is his list of "essential" voting rights legislation that he mentions as well:

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/20892337-manchin-compromise?responsive=1&title=1

Der Oger said...

@Larry Hart:
When it the course of human events...

I just thought today: If your civil war turns hot, and the MAGA side wins, we are all fucked. If your side wins, we are fucked, too, since Europe/Canada/Australia/New Zealand will have to take in all those refugees who really already have proven that they are incompatible with modern, liberal democracies.

Maybe we should talk with Iceland and Greenland/Denmark to start building refugee centers there...

David Brin said...

der Oger, confeds all know when the UNion wins it will be all "Malice toward none and charity for all." They think that makes us weak. They always think that.

Cripes, Matthew, I pray Manchin is that smart and agile and good. Even half would be great. A quarter even.

Der Oger said...

BTW, some additional remarks:

How effectively the first amendment is respected by various organs of the state has been seen last summer when the right to peacefully assemble and petition for a redress of their grievances. It was answered with tear gas and rubber bullets, as well with the employment of abduction tactics more known from the South Americas of the 60s and 70s. This extends even to the free press part of the 1st adm., since reporters were directly targeted by police forces.

I'd love to hear if that actions had a consequence affirming that the First amendment is still a viable thing, and not just a fig leaf for the ultra-right to continue their hate-speech and license to invade government buildings, and the whole discussion of the defense of this thing is moot. It either exists and is respected for all citizens, or it is not, and then it is unjust, and must be abolished or altered or those who violated these rules persecuted as common criminals.(Thus, my policy would be to ruthlessly comb through the federal law enforcement agencies and do it in a fashion that future generations of officers and agents think twice when they are ordered to violate other citizen's constitutional rights.)

Next thing is, that there is already a growing list of banned and challenged books in the US. How much do those who promote these challenges and bans actually are in harmony with the 1st adm.?

Finally, most countries who have "limited free speech" do so with varying shades of grey.

Look at this old woman, for example. The judges fined her in the first few trials, but she did not change her behavior, so they lost the patience with her and let her serve time.
Oh, yeah, and the Böhmermann Affair.

der Oger, confeds all know when the UNion wins it will be all "Malice toward none and charity for all." They think that makes us weak. They always think that.

Yes, but who else takes in the Trump Clan, Tucker Carlson, and all those other senior Goppers? Russia perhaps. Maybe Hungary and Poland too. But that would mean they could enter all other EU countries ... No, we must quadruple Frontex money now, to push back all refugee boats to Canada. :-)

scidata said...

If Homer Hickam has a few minutes, Manchin would listen to him. That might tip Manchin slightly, which might tip the Senate, which might tip America, which might put the world firmly on the road to the stars. No bloodshed, Second Foundation style.

Acacia H. said...

I've come to a realization about Manchin. He is not pretending to be a Democrat or the like. He is an old school Democrat. And he is refusing to help out the others in his party until he gets something he wants - something specific for West Virginia. And it doesn't really matter what it is. He is an old-school politician when you gave something in order to get legislation passed.

Notice that once Pork Barrel Legislation became a dirty word, we slowly saw an increase in Partisanship. There is no longer an advantage to working with the other side. So the two parties remain with battle lines drawn and only an overwhelming advantage means that one side can get things done.

I hate to say it but... maybe what's needed to bring Democrats and Republicans back to the negotiation table is to start offering politicians specific "pork barrel" legislative incentives to encourage their cooperation. Once this happens you will see party loyalty becoming a thing of the past because Senators want to get reelected. If a Senator can say "I had legislation passed that brought us several thousand jobs and helped fund several state projects" you will see those Senators willing to "reach across the aisle" and work with the other party.

Sometimes "politics as usual" is the only way to get things done... and is better than the alternative - an increasingly hostile partisan divide where cooperation is a dirty word.

Acacia

matthew said...

I really hope that Manchin is as smart as he thinks he is and as good as he wants us to believe. This leak could be a hopeful sign of maneuvering to give the Dems what they need while maintaining his WV bonafides, IMO. Or he's just dancing around to get the highest price. Or both. The Dems should pay him if it is within reason.

I try to keep in mind that the Democratic caucus in Congress is at least as broad in viewpoint as the whole of mainstream US politics was before 9/11. All of the normal negotiation and compromise what used to be US politics is now contained within one party, while the other one is openly calling for the end of democracy. Now, it's just a question of internal negotiation since the other side will oppose *anything* that might be a success.

Now, Sinema? I think she's an out and out quisling. But I'm always willing to be proved wrong.

We'll see.
Call your Senator.



Robert said...

If a Senator can say "I had legislation passed that brought us several thousand jobs and helped fund several state projects" you will see those Senators willing to "reach across the aisle" and work with the other party.

I've ended up on a couple of Republican mailing lists. The Illinois chap is claiming credit for measures passed that he actually voted against, and his voters seem to support him. A few years ago he was blaming the Democrats for the negative consequences of measures that he voted for, and his voters supported him then.

I'm not certain that pork barrel legislation would help when so many polarized voters already know that anything good is because of their party, and anything bad because of the other one.

Alfred Differ said...

Der Oger,

If our Civil War turns hot, you won't have to worry much about refugees. Canada and Mexico will. Mostly Canada due to the very long, very un-defendable border.

People WILL move out of battle's way, but not as many as some would think. To get hot enough for the military to split, a very large fraction of us would have to be completely pissed off... which means we'd probably join in the fight.

But yah... you'd all be fucked anyway. There are worse things to do than use nukes and we are the one nation that used those horror weapons.

I sincerely doubt it will turn hot anytime soon, though. We've been here before in terms of anger. Happens about ever two generations. Take a deep breath and try to save the world while we occupy ourselves in a tradition older than our nation.*


* This goes WAY back to colonization waves to North America. It wasn't one group of people who came over to the British colonies. There were at least three blocs and often they couldn't stand each other. That doesn't even count the French, Native, and enslaved African populations.

Robert said...

Happens about ever two generations.

cf. Michael Flynn's article on psychohistory?

http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/modelhistory.php

We see that the U.S. has “emitted” riots/slave revolts at the rate of λ = 0.29 riots/year for the last 170 years. This average is “built into" the U.S. cultural system. Peaks occur every other generation. The regularity of these peaks indicates a second structural cause. (Of course, it's easier to blame the riots on the rioters. But that's like blaming the thunderstorm on the thunder!)

The persistence of the pattern shows that Emancipation did not fundamentally alter the position of blacks in American society; and (unless the Civil Rights Movement did change the system) that we can expect the next peak around 2010 A. D.

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger (redux) :

since Europe/Canada/Australia/New Zealand will have to take in all those refugees who really already have proven that they are incompatible with modern, liberal democracies.


At the present time, I don't think any of those countries will accept Americans as immigrants, so why would that change when the class of prospective refugees becomes less compatible with their values?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Take a deep breath and try to save the world


I say that often to my nineteen-year-old daughter.

When I first became politically aware in the late 60s/early 70s, I was proud of my generation. To mangle a Michelle Obama line, I've never been less proud of us than I am now.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.newsweek.com/trump-says-jewish-people-dont-love-israel-enough-amid-complaint-about-lack-support-1601576

Throughout his presidency, Trump portrayed himself as a loyal supporter of Israel and bolstered his administration's work in fostering pacts between Israel and Gulf states. While the hope was that his actions would drive support with Jewish voters, his alignment with Israel wasn't enough to sway Jewish voters to support Republicans.

In an interview with Ami Magazine, an international publication that's geared toward the Orthodox Jewish community, Trump said he was "surprised" about the lack of Jewish votes he received.

"I did the Heights, I did Jerusalem, and I did Iran—the Iran Deal was a disaster, right?" Trump said. "Jewish people who live in the United States don't love Israel enough."
...

What the former occupant of the White House meant to say was that American Jews don't love fascism enough. Gee, who knew?

Seriously? It's a surprise that Jews don't support a party which has actual armband-wearing Nazis among its officeholders, or a president who asserts that there are good people on both sides of a white supremacist* march?

(* Such people don't generally consider Jews to be "white". )

Larry Hart said...

Ok, yay and all that Obamacare survived another attack in the supreme court. But they ruled on standing, not on whether the reduction of the penalty for not buying insurance to zero invalidates the whole law, so I still find this incomprehensible:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/17/us/obamacare-supreme-court.html

A federal judge in Texas ruled that the entire law was invalid, but he postponed the effects of his ruling until the case could be appealed. In 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, agreed that the mandate was unconstitutional but declined to rule on the fate of the remainder of the health law, asking the lower court to reconsider the question in more detail.


If the judge "agreed that the mandate was unconstitutional", then why does removing the unconstitutional mandate create a problem rather than solving one.

Isn't the individual mandate the reason why conservatives hate Obamacare? If the individual mandate is no more, then what's their freakin' problem?

They could maybe argue that the law will implode upon itself without the mandate, and there are good economic reasons for believing so. But that's a reason to let it fail on its own, not to declare it unconstitutional. And like bees proving that they can fly after all, the ACA seems to defy that bit of economics logic by continuing to thrive.

Is this another case of nonsense being regurgitated as accepted wisdom, like Supply Side theory, or the idea that the filibuster encourages bipartisanism? Otherwise, I don't get the conservative argument. Unless it is "You idiot! 'Our own damn plan' was never meant to actually work."

David Brin said...

LH the goppers just want the whole matter of Obamacare to go away. Now way too popular.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

the goppers just want the whole matter of Obamacare to go away.


If you mean they want the ACA itself to go away, you've already noted that their voters don't agree.

If you mean that they wish the issue would fade from the public eye, then maybe they shouldn't keep reminding their voters which party wants those voters to go broke and die.

Larry Hart said...

Justice Breyer apparently sees what I'm talking about. What gets me is that this isn't so self-evident as to go without saying.


The states argued that the revised mandate would cause more people to take advantage of state-sponsored insurance programs. Justice Breyer rejected that theory.

“The state plaintiffs have failed to show,” he wrote, “that the challenged minimum essential coverage provision, without any prospect of penalty, will harm them by leading more individuals to enroll in these programs.”

“Neither logic nor intuition suggests that the presence of the minimum essential coverage requirement would lead an individual to enroll in one of those programs that its absence would lead them to ignore,” Justice Breyer wrote. “A penalty might have led some inertia-bound individuals to enroll. But without a penalty, what incentive could the provision provide?”

Alfred Differ said...

Robert,

Yah. I think things might be stretching a bit. That's why I count in generations instead of years. We are living longer and delaying family starts enough to notice.

I know this flirts with utter nonsense, but I see something of a cultural pendulum in play. One generations is pissed and their children over-react in favor of conservative order. Their children get pissed at the lack of progress. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Der Oger said...

Seriously? It's a surprise that Jews don't support a party which has actual armband-wearing Nazis among its officeholders, or a president who asserts that there are good people on both sides of a white supremacist* march?

A couple of years ago, maybe 2016, I waded trough the battlefield that is facebook. What infuriated me was that actual rightwingers, if not neonazis, cheered Israel for "keeping Arabs out".

I contacted the Israeli embassy to learn about their stance of the appropriation of Israeli symbols for that purposes. They responded: "Sorry, we don't involve ourselves in German interior politics. Shalom."

That's when I minted "Arabs/Afghans (refugees) are the new Jews."

Other than that, I use Israel as a defense of the 5% hurdle in representative democracies. 8 Parties needed to get rid of Bibi? Really?

Der Oger said...


At the present time, I don't think any of those countries will accept Americans as immigrants, so why would that change when the class of prospective refugees becomes less compatible with their values?

I'll speak for Western Europe only, and only generally. Americans are well accepted. They have far less hurdles to immigrate, both culturally and legally, than, say, someone from Africa or Asia. If I speak for my own region, it does not count were you are from, but if you can deliver and work. Loudmouths are usually despised and ridiculed.

My prior comments were satirical in our own direction, too - I am quite unsatsisfied by our own immigration policies, which I deem hypocritical and lacking of responsibility. Especially if we are talking about Denmark, Hungary and Poland; but we aren't saints in Germany, either. And Frontex is exactly that kind of para-parlamentarian, money-hungry, non-transparent law enforcement agency i'd like to be killed in childbed.

Der Oger said...

@Alfred Differ:
Take a deep breath and try to save the world while we occupy ourselves in a tradition older than our nation.

We cannot save the world without you. Or the Russians or the Chinese or anyone else. We can save it only together.

This goes WAY back to colonization waves to North America. It wasn't one group of people who came over to the British colonies. There were at least three blocs and often they couldn't stand each other. That doesn't even count the French, Native, and enslaved African populations.

Just for curiosity: Along British confessional lines? Anglicans, other Protestants, Catholics? Or other divides?

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

A couple of years ago, maybe 2016, I waded trough the battlefield that is facebook. What infuriated me was that actual rightwingers, if not neonazis, cheered Israel for "keeping Arabs out".


American rank and file rightwingers--the ones who vote along those lines--must be awfully confused who they're supposed to root for when it's Jews against Arabs. They cheer the Jews for being mean to Arabs, but at the end of the day...well, they still can't stand Jews.

A novel I recently read called The Ship of Fools suggested that a standard German reply to a charge of anti-Semitism in the early 1930s was, "I'm not anti-Semitic. [comedic beat] I like Arabs a lot. [drum roll] " How times have changed.


I am quite unsatsisfied by our own immigration policies, which I deem hypocritical and lacking of responsibility. Especially if we are talking about Denmark, Hungary and Poland; but we aren't saints in Germany, either.


My wife and I visited northern Europe in 1998, when you still needed a passport to travel between countries. The German border guard apparently shared your disdain for Denmark, which hadn't bothered to stamp our passports when we flew into Copenhagen.

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

Anglicans, other Protestants, Catholics? Or other divides?


Massachusetts and environs were founded by Puritans. I'm not clear what the dominant factions were in Virginia, but I'm pretty sure they weren't Puritans. Pennsylvania and New York were originally Dutch, and I'm foggy on the history of how they became British colonies.

I'm sure there are others as well. In American schools, we kinda learn that the Pilgrims landed in 1620 and then there was a revolution in 1776, without really noticing that there are over 150 years in between.*

* Except for the 1692 Salem witch trials.

Alfred Differ said...

Der Oger,

Along British confessional lines?

Not really, though it might have started that way.
Also... sorta.

It's more along the lines of who was on the losing side of British politics and war. For example, Puritans showed up before the English civil war. During the war they were in charge (sorta) over there, so the southern colonies picked up people who were more aligned with royalists. Don't ignore the 'Religious Society of Friends' that we call Quakers today. Settled Penn's colony.

After that when Scotland was getting absorbed, pretty much everyone who lived near that border got raped and pillaged by both sides. We picked up a lot from them and none of the existing colonies tolerated them for long. Huge numbers of them wound up in Appalachia.

The English civil war was a cultural mess teeming underneath the Anglican/Catholic divide. Scotland was even messier with its Protestant/Catholic divide and the tribal folks who lived in the Highlands.

After all that, of course, came large numbers of Lutherans, but not from British regions. Heh.

It REALLY is a wonder that we don't go at each other's throats over here. Occasionally we get upset, burn a few city blocks, and riot for a few years, but then we calm down a bit.

We cannot save the world without you.

Which 'you' are you talking about?

Most of what America does isn't done by our federal government. It is done by individuals who use their money as they see fit. NGO support. Direct action. You name it. MOST of what we do comes from rank-n-file action. *

* For example, Ukraine. Democracy movement had NGO support from Americans who despised Obama, but thought it was the right thing to do. Had a hell of an impact on Putin's Russia. Obama (President at the time) and Clinton (Secretary of State at the time) are common blame targets, but they probably did a lot less than many believe. At least initially.

Tony Fisk said...

@Larry said:
"If you mean that they wish the issue would fade from the public eye, then maybe they shouldn't keep reminding their voters which party wants those voters to go broke and die."

It gives the 'base' its bread and circuses.

David Brin said...

In case you missed your chance yesterday, today only... 'The Uplift War' is highlighted ($1.99) on eBookDaily.com.
Deal URL: https://ebookdaily.com/bargain-kindle-books/2021-06-17/B091Y4Z8BM

And soon, similar deals for Startide Rising and the entire Uplift Storm Trilogy!

Larry Hart said...

Sad, but probably true...

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/18/opinion/juneteenth-emancipation-walmart.html

And in the long run, I see something even more sinister. The myth of the American Empire, as a city upon a hill or a site of moral clarity or justice, is dying, and those in power know it. They know that the old stories America told itself about itself no longer ring true to most of us, if they ever rang true at all. So they mine those communities they’ve excluded, in search of that very rare mineral, authenticity.

Robert said...

Massachusetts and environs were founded by Puritans. I'm not clear what the dominant factions were in Virginia, but I'm pretty sure they weren't Puritans. Pennsylvania and New York were originally Dutch, and I'm foggy on the history of how they became British colonies.

This might be of interest to you, then:
https://colinwoodard.com/books/american-nations/

David Brin said...

Robert, Maryland was a refuge for British Catholics during one of the eras when THEY were the persecuted, back home. And Rhode Island was established by Roger WIlliams specifically in order for there to be a place of absolute religious freedom.

David Brin said...

And Georgia was a dumping ground for felons, till the revolution when they shifted to Australia.

====

LarryHart, the demolition of USA's moral high ground - now aided by the most indignantly self-righteous generation of youths since the Boomers - is THE top priority of our enemies. It's a calamity. Not because we don't need top re-evaluate and re-examine faults and crimes, but because that moral high ground is a top strategic asset in our fight to champion a future when moral matters count.

The spectacular stupity of ignoring the CONTEXT of 6000 years of brutal empires may be the straw that kills the Enlightenment.

Robert said...

David, are you saying Woodard's book is wrong? It's on my 'to read' pile, but hasn't reached the top yet. Skimmed it before picking it up and it seemed to cover what Larry said he didn't know much about, which is why I was recommending it.

American colonial history isn't something I know more than snippets about, which is why I want to learn more. Just started Zinn's A People's History of the United States, but haven't read more than the introduction yet. (Also have the documentary, purchased years ago but not yet watched.)

David Brin said...

Robert I am not saying America wasn't founded on blood and injustice. Re-examining all that is each generation's job. But ignoring the fact that previous generations DID do that and each step is a grinding too-slow, but unprecedented step by cavemen toward light is disgustingly ungrateful to those past heroes on whose shoulders we stand.

Robert said...

David, are you mixing me up with someone else? I haven't commented much on American colonial history because I don't know that much about it — just passed along a couple of books that seemed relevant.

Der Oger said...

@ Larry Hart
My wife and I visited northern Europe in 1998, when you still needed a passport to travel between countries. The German border guard apparently shared your disdain for Denmark, which hadn't bothered to stamp our passports when we flew into Copenhagen.

My disdain started when Denmark entered the Iraq coalition and we stayed out (one of the better ideas of the Schröder administration), and Danes refused to cater to German tourists for not entering the invasion force, because it was (in our view) an unjustified war of aggression. You see the irony here?

Skip forward to the 2010s. The Iraq became the clusterfuck it was, ISIS formed there, Syrian civil war started, ISIS took over the North of Iraq and a large chunk of Syria. Millions fled, and guess which nations said "No, thank you" the loudest? Some of exact those countries who supported the war.

The Social Democratic Party of Denmark tries to overtake the far right on this matter, making it harder and harder for immigrants each year. While I don't would flex our muscles because of hurt feelings and out of historical reasons, it is still my taxpayer Euro that finances these governments, including Orbans Hungary. Sometimes I wish Berlin would take a harder stance, drawing red lines and such.

Oh, and watch the France presidential elections next year. We could be all in for a bad awakening.

David Brin said...

"David, are you mixing me up with someone else?" I often do that. One house rule: don't be too hard on DB when he does that!

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

My disdain started when Denmark entered the Iraq coalition and we stayed out (one of the better ideas of the Schröder administration), and Danes refused to cater to German tourists for not entering the invasion force, because it was (in our view) an unjustified war of aggression. You see the irony here?


I sure do. During that time, the Bush Administration was very insulting to countries like France and Germany who didn't support the war against Iraq. Some of the higher-ups in the administration openly disdained Germany for being too pacifistic.

My thought was, "Are you freakin' kidding me? You should be down on your knees thanking the Good Lord that you live in a time when Germany can be seen as too pacifistic!"

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. Not only did Germany stay out of that, but Germany and France agreed on something like that. It was an historically delicious moment.


Der Oger,

Yah. It turned into quite the CF. Coulda been worse though with his sons in charge later. One of them was a real monster that made daddy look tame.


I'll keep my opinions regarding Danish relationships to a minimum. Y'all have a history with each other that goes SO far back I can't begin to fathom the depths of the cultural harms done.

gregory byshenk said...

Some content tangentially related to some of the above discussion.

A friend recently shared a link to a Wired article: How Some Americans Are Breaking Out of Political Echo Chambers, about "a small but growing number of Americans who are trying to break out of information silos. They are searching for sites like AllSides; the Flip Side, which summarizes conservative and liberal news on one policy issue each day; and Ground News, which shows how various stories are covered by left, center, and right-leaning outlets."

It all sounds very good if one reads only the Wired article. But one needs to dig a bit deeper to find that all is not what it appears to be on the surface. Indeed, this appears to be an attempt by the right to weaponize a desire for fairness, along with an attempt to further shift the Overton Window.

If we look at these sites that aim to help break out of one's bubble, what we find is:

For Allsides
Their founders are John Gable, who "was a professional political campaigner and executive director in the 1980s working for the Republican National Committee" and Scott McDonald, a technologist with no political affiliation listed.
Managing Editor Henry Brechter "was one of 52 early-career journalists to be selected for the groundbreaking Media and Journalism Fellowship launched by the Poynter Institute in conjunction with the Charles Koch Institute." Beth Hicks, the "Politics Guru, Editor" highlights on her own LinkedIn - before her position at AllSides - that she is a "Christian Author", apparently in the 'Christian Right' mold.
And their "Media Bias Chart" Media Bias Chart lists (among others) CNN and NYT as "left", ABC, CBS, Bloomberg, and The Economist as "lean left", Fox News, The Epoch Times, NewsMax, and the WSJ as "lean right", and The Daily Caller, OAN, and CBN as "right".

For the Flipside
The editors are Jihan, "A staunch conservative" who "feels that in these divisive times it is more important than ever to defend the virtues of traditional values" and Annafi who "campaign[ed] for Democratic candidates in New Hampshire".
Board members are Allison, who "writes on right-of-center politics/policy. She is the author of Bleeding Heart Conservatives: Why It's Good To Be Right and a Contributing Writer at the Manhattan Institute", and Angela, "the founder of Function Labs, a growth marketing agency and creative collaborative in New York City."
The overwhelming majority of "contributors" seem to be conservative, with a smattering of moderates; on the site there is no contributor listed who is plainly left of center.

Ground News
They provide no information about their editors, but list support from Journalists, "across the spectrum". On the "left" you find CNN and the NYT; in the "center" the WSJ and VOA, and on the "right" Breitbart and NewsMax.

I don't really know more about these organizations than the above (that I discovered with about 15 minutes of research), but even this much strongly suggests that they are "trojan horse" organizations, attempting to make right-wing inroads among people who would not otherwise listen to the echoes from the far-right chamber. Pretty much all of those driving these organizations are right to far-right, with a smattering of moderate or apolitical types thrown in. There seems to be no one who could reasonably be considered "left wing" involved, even by the ridiculously weak standards of the USA, and their political "sprectrum" seems to run from the center to the (loony) far right (again, even by US standards).

Cari Burstein said...

I'm not familiar with Ground News, but I have been reading the Flipside regularly for over a year now. If they're trying to weaponize fairness to drag people to the conservative side, they're doing a pretty bad job of it. I do find it interesting to read some of the conservative links, but they generally don't make conservative arguments seem all that compelling, just helps to have some context as to what the right is actually talking about. I do find more coverage of far right news in their stories than far left, but I suspect that's more a factor of the far right having become fairly dominant in the discourse on the right, and the far left not having as much sway in the discourse on the left.

Allsides seems definitely to have more of a bent towards the right. I do sometimes go there because I find it interesting to see the differences in what news is being covered at all by the left and the right.

I feel like a big driver for the demand of these organizations is probably actually the people on the right who are starting to feel abandoned by their own party and people frustrated with all parties. This is why you tend to see a lot more of the coverage of the middle and not the edges.

Tony Fisk said...

I am not entirely surprised to hear that people looking for alternatives to right wing echo chambers aren't flocking to places like the Guardian and Mother Jones.

Robert said...

their political "sprectrum" seems to run from the center to the (loony) far right (again, even by US standards)

By Canadian standards, the US spectrum runs from right-wing to batshit-right-wing. Democrats and Republicans would both be part of the Conservative Party (except the Marjory Green types that would find the Conservatives too left-wing and would join the People's Party*).


*Yes, our far-right uses a name reminiscent of left-wing authoritarian states. Which indicates either a lack of knowledge of history, or an admission that authoritarian control is more important than the political philosophy.

David Brin said...

This mythology that the US democrats are "right wing" is such bugger bonkers baloney.

Der Oger said...

This mythology that the US democrats are "right wing" is such bugger bonkers baloney.

Well...

But we shifted more into the right-authoritarian corner, too. Especially the Greens have mutated somewhat.

duncan cairncross said...

This mythology that the US democrats are "right wing" is such bugger bonkers baloney.

Really?
From what I can see they would fit into our "National Party" without any movement - in fact our right wing National Party would support a lot of things that would NOT be supported by a lot of the Dems
Like a National Health System

Before BoJo and BREXIT the British Conservative party would also have been if anything to the left of the Dems

Robert said...

This mythology that the US democrats are "right wing" is such bugger bonkers baloney.

Seriously?

From an outside perspective America's political spectrum is skewed to the right. The Democrat's policy/behaviour (including under Obama) maps mostly to that of our Conservative Party, which up here is considered on the right of the political spectrum. And by French standards the Canadian political spectrum is pretty narrow!

https://qz.com/1748903/how-2020-us-democratic-candidates-compare-to-global-politicians/

Your 'socialist' Bernie Sanders is to the right of the British Labour Party (who have moved considerably to the right in my generation).

Zepp Jamieson said...

Democrats are right of centre by European standards. In the American Overton window, they are moderate to left-of-centre. Sanders is about as close as you can get to an actual leftist.
Poll after poll shows the American people are to the left of their elected representatives. The Democrats finally did notice that and have moved leftward since Obama.
Doc, you're lucky I wasn't there when that clown berated Postman for lack of racial inclusivity. I would have noted that Huckleberry Finn had black characters, and did that meet his standards of inclusivity? Not implying that you would depict black characters the way Clemens did; I would just be annoyed at the application of political demographics to works written over a generation ago and in different times.

Tim H. said...

"bugger bonkers baloney"? "Right wing" might be a fair term for a lot of Democrats, given that the GOP seems to be around the bend from right wing, and accelerating.

David Brin said...

Yep. you all share this particular Kool Aid. "From an outside perspective America's political spectrum is skewed to the right."

Yes, I know that's your 'perspective." Proving that smarmy sanctimonious over simplification is coomon even on the side of the good guys in this struggle.

Has the US political system been sabotaged so we cannot get simple, common sense legislation passed? To keep guns out of the hands of psychopaths and to get basic national health? Sure. But the notion that this sabotage is "right vs. left" in any comprehensible meaning of the word is myopic-blind. This is about One wing of oligarchy - gathered worldwide, knowing it can rile up a POPULIST sickness in parts of the middle class that has far more to do with hatred of modernity and of knowledge elites than anything classically "left-right."

And the anti-modernity wing of the US psyche goes back to 1778 and earlier. It is the confederate side of America...

Civil War Phases - CONTRARY BRIN - http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/09/phases-of-american-civil-war.html

...and the REST of Americans... a MAJORITY ... is as modernist and problem solving and decent-minded as ANY bunch of Europeans and more creative.

Dig it the Democratic Party is NOT A POLITICAL PARTY. It is the US Parliament, containing ALL sane elements and positions from 'eft' to moderate 'right.' It negotiates reasonable reforms, then must confront a House of Lords and populist Nazis - the GOP/confederacy - that has gone completely treasonous and insane and has only one agenda, to make our system non-functional.

When you look at it that way, it all makes sense and the Overton Window malarkey turns into a useful tool.

David Brin said...

onward!