Pax Dickinson: Thought Crime, Public Shaming and Thick Liberty in the Internet Age

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Clark

Clark is an anarchocapitalist, a reader, and a man of mystery. He's not a neoreactionary, but he is Nrx-curious 'til graduation. All he wants for Christmas is for everyone involved in the police state to get a fair trial and a free hanging. Follow him at @clarkhat

676 Responses

  1. Nicholas Weaver says:

    The problem is the firing is justified.

    Ken summarized it well from an employment law standpoint: a couple of those tweets are god's gift (and free BMW) to any employment lawyer suing Mr Dickenson's employer. With such potential liability, how can you have Mr Dickenson in a supervisory position?

  2. Somehow this bumps Ken's post highlighting the ripple effects of fear on our freedom?

    Shouldn't this be on /pol/ or at least /soc/? At least then we also get pictures of tits to go with the flamebait.

  3. I do wonder why Mr. Dickinson, when he decided to be deliberately provocative on the internet, thought it would be a good idea to be deliberately provocative under his real name.

  4. Chad Miller says:

    Re: The Adria Richards thing – She was also fired. I find it in mildly poor taste to leave that out.

    Also, this has nothing to do with the article, but middle-clicking links on this site now opens the URL in my current tab, and in Firefox this even applies to right clicking. This is a recent change and really annoying.

  5. Astra says:

    After reading Ken's post last night and some of your comments on it, I found myself thinking of Ward Churchill as a similar case on the other side. I read the report on Churchill's research activities. There is no doubt that he engaged in egregious research misconduct. However, some of the things he had done had been noted earlier and CU swept them under the rug until his "little Eichmanns" comment made them impossible to ignore. Was he fired for unpopular speech or gross plagiarism and fraud? Both, really, just as Pax was fired for obnoxious tweets and the stupidity of implying that he would engage in illegal discrimination in his job (the unicorn tweet, which you don't discuss here, was the true firing offense IMO).

    I dislike attempts to shut down the engaging exchange of opinions but free speech is not a get out of jail free card for other legal or professional violations.

  6. Al says:

    C-level officers rarely engage in performance art for a good reason. That he didn't make his feed private the moment he took the job is an example of incredibly incredibly poor decision making, probably something you don't want your C-level people to be bad at.

    Either that or he just wanted to be fired as part of another performance piece, I suppose.

  7. Craig says:

    Very thoughtful. Thank you. I had not heard of Pax Dickinson other than from Ken's post about him, so the additional information is helpful.

    I'm not sure I really accept any political philosophy that has yet been devised; in particular, while I distrust government, I also distrust many individuals, which makes it hard to accept anarcho-anything. It is easy to come up with a plan for society that will work if everyone is intelligent enough to understand the principles behind the plan, and everyone sincerely agrees that the plan is the right one, and everyone takes very seriously the need to adapt their lifestyles to the plan, and everyone has enough self-knowledge and emotional balance to really follow through on that. However, not a single one of those things is actually possible, and even if they were, the result would be a depressingly uniform society that imposed its own orthodoxy on the world, just as Communism and Capitalism have attempted to do. No social schematic can tolerate rejection of its own core principles, so an absolute intolerance for certain forms of dissent (and therefore certain thoughts) is implicit in ANY utopian model. And yes, anarcho-anything is as much a utopian model as Communism.

  8. Al says:

    @Chad Miller

    The middle click thing isn't just me then? I thought I borked some setting in Chrome or my mouse driver.

  9. pillsy says:

    I gave a hypothetical example earlier of a restaurant patron making racists statements about a hypothetical child of mine. I admit that I'd try to shut him up. My reasons for doing so would be to (a) spare my child the pain of hearing it, (b) show my child that one can choose one's social environment, (c) try to teach the person that his opinions are his own, but others will resist their expression in social environments – especially when children are present.

    OK, but why would that be different if the speaker is there in a restaurant with you, rather than using Twitter to broadcast their view to (at least potentially) many more people? It's not that there are no differences, it's just that the differences don't seem relevant to the question of whether someone ought to shut the fuck up.

  10. James Pollock says:

    "The phrase "needs to shut up" is particularly grating.
    No one, in my opinion, needs to shut up."

    I think there's (at least) two categories of situations where "needs to shut up" surfaces. One (the one that I think Clark is referencing) is when the listener is of opposing opinion and doesn't want to hear the speaker's opinion any more.

    The second, however, is when the listener and the speaker share the same opinion, but the speaker is doing an extremely poor job of advancing it. I don't think this category is objectionable, or if it is, in the same way.

  11. Jim Salter says:

    What Nicholas said. Pax got fired because he wasn't merely unprofessional, he was fucking toxic and certainly should have known as much. Worse, he wasn't JUST saying those things when he happened to be the CTO at BI, he was saying those things on a twitter account with BI slapped all over it, including pics of himself in BI logo'ed clothing and outright statements of his CTO-ness.

    I would also have to recommend that anybody who wants to say things like "Jesus got raped by a pack of niggers" do so in a venue that allows more than 140 characters of expression, so it's possible for somebody who DOESN'T know him intimately to know whether he's being sarcastic or just being completely reprehensible.

    Speaking as neutrally as possible, I came across him from the valleywag article, and read through as much of his actual Twitter account as I could stomach. I didn't get the slightest indication that he was being "ironic". Your article – which is considerably longer than 140 characters at a time – is the first tiny breath of that that I've seen; particularly given that other senior BI people had come out to say "I blocked him"… and nothing else.

    Again, I'm not arguing that you're wrong about Pax being a good dude. I'm arguing that, "good dude" or "bad bro" aside, Pax did INCREDIBLY stupid things, and in the end, the price he's paying is for rampant stupidity. He very publicly made himself completely toxic to both BI's brand and to their ability to defend themselves from any number of potential litigation scenarios; he had to go.

  12. Katie says:

    …and, once again, it couldn't be about him threatening physical violence on twitter? CTOs just can't go around asking to fight people.

  13. Jim Salter says:

    @Al, @Chad Miller – I too am having problems with the middle click thing – I get both the link in a new tab AND the link in the current tab. (Chrome, Ubuntu Linux)

  14. D says:

    Are we okay with "stupid shaming?" I'd think the hard-nosed libertarian would want this sort of mechanism operating.

  15. Jonathan says:

    Clark,

    I think I agree with most of the principles you are asserting here, but I don't think they cleanly apply to Pax's case.

    Frankly, I'm not sure what choice Business Insider had but to fire him once they became aware of his tweets. I don't think it had much to do with 'the mob' or anything like that. He exposed them to significant liability, a liability that would endure as long as his employment. C

  16. Jose Fish Taco says:

    Personally, I can't forgive this Pax jackass for causing Clark to write 3500 words in his defense.

    Let it go already.

  17. Katie says:

    Ah, I see you responded to me on the other thread. I should have checked first.

    Um, no I follow Anil Dash and he seemed surprised to be asked to go fight someone. I don't assume anyone is violent, but he obviously wasn't in on any "joke" and it looked like someone challenging someone to a fight. Still does.

    If Anil Dash had responded in kind, as if they jokingly talk about this sort of thing all the time, I wouldn't have even noticed. Plenty of the people I follow say jokingly weird things and I am capable of telling the difference, thanks. ;) Perhaps you just don't know me well enough to know I'm capable of ascertaining emotion behind people's text-based communications. Some people are bad at it. I've had about 30 years practice, thanks.

    Shorter Clark:
    "I've never met you and I have no reason to believe you're incapable of understanding text, but you disagree with me, so I will assume you are part of X group who react Y way to people who who disagree with them."

  18. Clark says:

    @Jonathan

    Clark,

    I think I agree with most of the principles you are asserting here, but I don't think they cleanly apply to Pax's case.

    Cleanly? Oh, no, certainly not.

    Pax's case is complicated, and the people who are saying that he got fired because he created a legal liability for his employer are dead-on accurate.

    I'm not saying that Pax is an innocent victim here. I'm saying two things:

    1) he's not nearly as bad as the hate-storm would have you believe

    2) real life can be complicated

  19. You and Ken both make me think deeply about issues that you describe under the rubrics of freedom of speech and/or liberty. I tend to think of them as applications of the Golden Rule: your freedom to swing your arm ends (or should end) just shy of you striking my nose, and vice versa. Sounds simple… but it isn't. At risk of speaking for anyone other than myself, I think many among your audience come here specifically because you make us think. So thanks!

  20. James Pollock says:

    On the question of shaming:

    One area that I think, and I think most people would agree, that shaming is appropriate is in cases of hypocrisy. People who put out an image of what they are, but do not actually make the sacrifices that that image would entail, deserve to be shamed for that. (So, one of Michele Obama's causes is proper nutrition for schoolchildren; if her own-school-age children are not getting proper nutrition, it's appropriate to criticize that even though making fun of fat kids is generally mean.)
    That COULD account for some of the perceived difference in treatment for conservative vs. liberal with regard to shaming. Making fun Rush for being fat isn't making fun of Rush for being fat, but for failing to live up to his publicly-espoused doctrines of personal responsibility; Making fun of unwed motherhood amongst the Palin children is not making fun of unwed motherhood, but rather criticism of the theory that universal abstinence is an appropriate expectation.
    It could also work for criticism of leftist figures by conservatives; I'll leave this topic for the conservatives to fill in with their own examples.

  21. Ken White says:

    I disagree with parts of this, but I think it is a very thoughtful, important post. I will try to give it some of the attention it deserves later.

    My quick and easy question is this: how, practically, do you conduct yourself, if you want to live the way you suggest here?

    It's one thing to say "if you're writing an article pointing out somebody's dickery, calling their employer to ask for comment is a contemptible move." Whether or not one agrees with that premise, at least it is a reasonably clear line.

    What's far less clear is how, under this concept, we go about talking about things and events and people. You're absolutely not calling for government or official or crowd censorship, but you're calling for what some people might call "self-censorship," but I would prefer to call "a personal code of conduct concerning speech."

    But how would that code work? If I think that Pax Dickinson is an asshole, to what extent — under this code — should I refrain from saying so? Should I refrain depending on how much of an audience I have? Should I refrain depending upon how many other people are saying it at the same time?

  22. Kilroy says:

    Didn't realize Clark was part of the manosphere, but not entirely surprised. What name do you use on Vox Day's page?

  23. Clark says:

    @Jose Fish Taco

    Personally, I can't forgive this Pax jackass for causing Clark to write 3500 words in his defense.

    Let it go already.

    I think you meant to say "Clark needs to shut up about Pax".

    Suggestion: get your own blog. I promise I will never log in as an administrator there and post on topics you dislike.

  24. Clark says:

    @Kilroy

    Didn't realize Clark was part of the manosphere, but not entirely surprised. What name do you use on Vox Day's page?

    So I say that Pax isn't all bad, and I'm immediately part of the Evil Group?

    Nice sense of nuance you've got there.

  25. RogerX says:

    "No one, in my opinion, needs to shut up.
    …but not everyone agrees.
    I find that self-described progressives are particularly bad at this."

    Yes. This. Very well-put. This is a great exploration of a lot of the nuance that is lost by the blanket "my side vs your side" discussion on speech we've seen lately on teh intarwebs. Good show.

  26. Kilroy says:

    I didn't say evil. But the attack on Scalzi kind of makes your connection obvious.

  27. Clark says:

    @Ken White

    a very thoughtful, important post.

    Thank you, Ken.

    My quick and easy question is this: how, practically, do you conduct yourself, if you want to live the way you suggest here?

    First, I'm not sure that I'm suggesting any particular way to live. In general I hate it when people say "X is complicated", for any X. It tends to be shorthand for "there's a really simple obvious solution, but I don't want to do it."

    That said, I find myself seriously thinking that the questions of
    anonymity, reputation, dissenting speech, social norms, etc. are
    complicated in the 21st century. I call out the fact that we're
    evolved for small group living. Modernity has appeared in a few places over time, but has really only been normal for ~300 years, and boils down to anonymity (Megan McArdle has good thoughts on this topic).

    With vast and persistent search engines, that one aspect of the modern age is ending. Or, rather, has already ended.

    I don't have answers yet; I'm still trying to form the questions.

    What's far less clear is how, under this concept, we go about talking about things and events and people. You're absolutely not calling for government or official or crowd censorship, but you're calling for what some people might call "self-censorship," but I would prefer to call "a personal code of conduct concerning speech."

    I'm not sure I am calling for that, although it's entirely reasonable for you to take that away.

    You've done a good job of quickly reaching the – well, perhaps not "flaw", but at least "open issue" – at the heart of my thoughts on this topic.

    I'll think on it some more.

  28. Clark says:

    @Kilroy

    I didn't say evil. But the attack on Scalzi kind of makes your connection obvious.

    I note that science fiction authors Mike Williamson (who writes ancap SF), Larry Correia (who writes military SF) have weighed in on Scalzi.

    I suggest that your sharpen your phrasing a bit. May I suggest that you quiz anyone who dislikes Scalzi's fiction with a preformed test. Maybe something like "Are you now or have you ever been a reader of a black listed blog?"

    That'll help you fine the thought criminals more quickly than your current ad hoc process.

  29. Al says:

    Here's the thing, though. What's the cost of providing Pax and everyone else that "thick liberty?" Pax's pretend misogyny, racism or whatever may have cost him his job but there's plenty of real misogyny, racism and whatever that cost people their jobs every day. If real malice is ignored for the sake of "provocative free-thinking" discussion is it really worth it?

  30. jb says:

    As others have said, it's not Pax's horrible opinions that are relevant, it's his expressing them in a way that explicitly ties them to his employer. While racist, misogynist douchebags who are good at their jobs should remain employed and, if they are good enough, even promoted, he is a racist, misogynist douchebag who has been shown to also be bad at his job, and people who are bad at their jobs and then fired deserve no sympathy.

  31. Brian E says:

    Deploying the concept of "thick liberty" only to defend the privileged shows that you've got a long way to go before understanding left-anarchism, IMO. Would crypto-fascists be entitled to the same standard of human dignity as all other humans in leftanarchitopia? Sure. Is this a hill that's worth dying on today? Not remotely. Sad to say, but even an offensive twat like Pax will have no trouble finding a job in the tech industry today, unlike the "unicorns" he mocks.

  32. Kilroy says:

    I didn't like Redshirts either. But to bring in a random attack in an article that has nothing to do with the topic is a bit much.

  33. cb says:

    It seems like the intent some of his 'performance art' is to shame the targets. What's good for the goose…

  34. CJK Fossman says:

    @Clark

    Well done.

  35. JT says:

    Satire always runs the risk of people missing the joke. But I've also met plenty of self-proclaimed satirists who a) have a poor sense of humor, and b) always hold the "just kidding" card in the back pocket in case someone gets offended.

    Just sayin'.

  36. When it comes to people like this Pax person, as well as Clark himself, all that comes to mind is this quote –

    "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."

    Maya Angelou

  37. cb says:

    –No one, in my opinion, needs to shut up.

    But isn't the point of your article that this sort of speech is flawed, and so should stop?

  38. Chris Mikaitis says:

    Just started reading this blog about a week ago, and must say that I am quite impressed. While I don't agree with everything in this post, it is very well described and has given me a lot to think about. Great job.

  39. Clark says:

    @Kilroy

    I didn't like Redshirts either. But to bring in a random attack in an article that has nothing to do with the topic is a bit much.

    It wasn't a random attack; it was part of a list that included

    * a 15 year old girl being shamed with a picture of a sex act
    * Star Wars Kid
    * Rebecca Black

    * Charles Carreon
    * John Scalzi
    * Pax Dickinson

    I was carefully balancing three adult victims of online bullyign with three child victims of online bullying.

    …that I've happened to think of in the last day or two.

    I suppose if I was really a secret member of the Big Evil Manosphere, like you think I am, I'd tell you to "stop white-knighting for Scalzi; he's never going to put out for you anyway".

    But I'm not. So I'll just say: dude? seriously?

  40. Ewan Macdonald says:

    It seems like the intent some of his 'performance art' is to shame the targets. What's good for the goose…

    Yep! Funny how 3,500 words of self-righteous bloviation about thick liberty only come to the fore when it's a dudebro in the firing line.

  41. Sam says:

    I'd suggest that shaming people in very large, very modern social settings is a superstimulus.

    So the response to his tweets is the superstimulus? I get that the argument is Natash Tiku instigated the superstimulus by tapping into the shaming ritual; but doesn't Pax, or any other tweeter, that makes these messages accessible to the masses (necessary for the 'super') play a role in creating the environment necessary for this response? And if that's the case wouldn't the proper evolutionary response be to limit these messages to people with whom one could have constructive debate?

  42. Katie says:

    cb — No, I don't think he's saying that. More speech could be just interacting with Pax, or telling your friend you think he's a jerk, or posting on your blog stats about how many women coders there are, or any number of things. He just saying something to the effect of "Do we want to live in a world where everything you ever say is taken out of context and sent to your boss in a public fashion". Not telling people to shut up, but maybe to show a little restraint or discretion instead of instant worldwide witch hunts.

    I think. I mean, clearly I'm bad at interpreting text for whatever reason. :P

  43. Clark says:

    @Withinthismind

    When it comes to … Clark himself, all that comes to mind is this quote –

    "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."

    Really? You can read a 3,000 word blog post with a dozen links to other articles and the only thing that comes to mind is a Maya Angelou quote?

    That's sad.

  44. Clark says:

    @cb

    –No one, in my opinion, needs to shut up.

    But isn't the point of your article that this sort of speech is flawed, and so should stop?

    No.

  45. George William Herbert says:

    Out of curiosity, why do you think or argue what happened to Vox was significantly different from what happened to Pax here?

    (Not accusing you of Evil group membership, but you clearly object to something about it, and we're on a related topic…)

  46. James Pollock says:

    "But the attack on Scalzi kind of makes your connection obvious."

    Hmmm. I agree with those positions of Scalzi's that I am aware of, but strongly disliked his condescending tone in presenting them, thereby creating a feedback loop in which I'm uninterested in learning what other positions he advances.

    Further, I'm only familiar with one of his books, the reboot of "Little Fuzzy", which I found to be both unnecessary and not at all an improvement on Piper's original.

    What connections have I?

  47. Jim Salter says:

    I was carefully balancing three adult victims of online bullyign with three child victims of online bullying.

    :blink: Really? Did I miss something?

    I likeScalzi's novels – a lot (well, with the exception of Redshirts, Redshirts sucked donkey balls) – and for the most part agree with, well, the most part of his editorial stances.

    Even so, I'd call him more of the online bully than the online victim – he does a LOT of, er, "bro-shaming". Haven't really seen him getting the shitty end of the stick. But maybe I really DID miss something; I don't really make an effort to follow him online, just sort of end up there every now and then when there's some kind of hubbub.

  48. Ryan says:

    In general, one of the better-constructed Clark posts recently and one which I *almost* find myself agreeing with. He raises good points – the social response to norms breaking today often far outweighs the proportionality of the offence. I think not of the examples Clark gives, but the far more tricky ground of phenomena such as "cyberbullying." In many cases, victims are doing nothing more than making an unfortunate mistake – a mistake they may pay for with life-altering mental illness or suicide when the social response due to mass media eclipses anything previously known to human society. The speed with which a picture can fly out to hundreds, thousands, or potentially even millions of people is terrifying. I think Clark does raise valid concerns about proportionality.

    However, I'm going to be nitpicky for a moment and – despite Clark's acknowledgement – call out the Godwin and quasi-Godwin.

    @Clark:

    While invocation of Godwin's law is truly descriptive and not an indication of rhetorical flaw, it is commonly used because it is a great indicator of intellectual laziness. Invoking the Nazis is tired, far overdone, and rarely relevant in anything but a tangential way (even your Jews in Germany in the 30s argument, while one of the better invocations of Nazis you've done recently, is not watertight; there was a great deal more going on there than the influence of mass information).

    Where I object to your frequent Godwin's – in your posts, in your comments – is because you are an eloquent and convincing writer who seems to get lazy from time to time and therefore invokes Nazi Germany as an example when it is about as subtle and nuanced as using a battering ram to politely ask your neighbour to please move his truck from in front of your driveway. Your are a better writer and debater than that, and that is one of the main reasons why people call you on this. Godwin'ing your own argument is lazy, unconvincing, and indicative of a failure to properly research examples and immediately leap to the most hyperbolic example possible. So I plead with you: for the love of Pete, stop it! =)

  49. Jim Salter says:

    @James Pollock:

    Hmmm. I agree with those positions of Scalzi's that I am aware of, but strongly disliked his condescending tone in presenting them, thereby creating a feedback loop in which I'm uninterested in learning what other positions he advances.

    YES. That. Thank you, kind sir.

    (BTW – I wasn't overly impressed with his Jack Holloway reboot either; I'd suggest you try his Old Man's War series or his recent serial novel if you want a better Scalzi read.)

  50. Tom says:

    Did anyone else find this section of Clark's article to be, well, somewhat hard to reconcile with Clark's other views:
    "Progressives dislike slut shaming, body shaming, childlessness shaming, atheist shaming, and so on. I suggest that people need to either expand their concern about shaming to victims that they don't particularly agree with, or they need to admit that their concern is really special pleading: "I don't want my people or my activities shamed, but I'm all down with shaming The Other's people and activities." That second choice is a legitimate position, but they lose a fair bit of moral high ground – there's not much gravitas in saying that it's wrong to slut-shame progressive women but it's morally good to do it to the Palins of the world, or that it's wrong to fat-shame Bill Clinton but OK to do it to Rush Limbaugh, etc."

    The notion is that either shaming is the thing that is at issue, the thing which is wrong, or what's wrong is people in my group being shamed. But there seems to be a very natural notion of right and wrong which can be applied here – Progressives think that shaming people for things which either aren't their choice, or aren't (in an important sense, if not in no sense) wrong, is unacceptable, but that shaming people for doing something which is morally wrong is acceptable. This seems to be the default position. When Progressives decry slut-shaming, it is because of the longstanding, ongoing, and profoundly negative effects of the patriarchy on women both in aggregate and individually, not because it's wrong to shame people who deserve it!

  51. Sam says:

    @Clark

    Love that you had a tl;dr for a section…and then wrote a bunch more. It's the little things that get me through the day.

  52. Tom says:

    Oh, and @Chad Miller and @Al – a very annoying change indeed.

  53. Eric Mesa says:

    Clark – I like that you and Ken can sometimes disagree on topics. You both write so well – meaning you back up your points with examples – and with only one side of a story (a lot of the stuff you guys talk about doesn't end up on my other feeds) it can be pretty easy to just accept the point of view you're bringing up. As an example, I'm pretty well versed in the the three God religions (with more experience with Christianity than the other two) so if someone brings up something about religion I can take that statement and match it against what I have in my head. If I agree, then it's done. If I disagree it's time to see if the writer writes a compelling reason for changing my mind. But for the stuff you guys write about there's nothing to compare against in my head.

    So your post today was a nice tempering on Ken's which was pretty easy to agree with since Pax Dickinson seems like a jerk based on his tweets. However, I would like to draw what I see as two weaknesses to your examples that seem to weaken its opposition to Ken's.

    First Charles Carreon. You mention that his association with the Oatmeal thing is the first thing that appears when his name is googled and that is unfair. After all, it may have economic consequences for him. I would submit, however, that this is entirely Carreon's fault. He continuously escalated the situation with the Oatmeal guy. Additionally, he did not act professionally in his escalation. He acted like a kid that hasn't learned that if someone calls you a "weenie" and you aren't a "weenie" that you can just ignore him and wait for the "adults" to handle it. In this case – he was bringing forth a lawsuit and could have waited for that to happen. Basically – as a professional, be a bigger man than a dude who draws cartoons.

    When I first heard about the lawsuit I thought it was an interesting test of where the line is drawn on fair use since the other website had blatantly used Oatmeal comics. However, as time went on, it just became all about Carreon and his inability to deal with criticism. It just got ridiculous.

    The second point is about Pax. I noticed that in the comments that were already posted when I started writing this one that you agreed with the thing about him being a lawsuit liability. As you noted, he's a complicated person that doesn't fit in perfectly with what you were trying to say. It's why you left him behind when you got to the Jewish section. However, the "irony" or "satire" thing rings a bit hollow. Here's how to do it correctly, I think. http://www.avclub.com/articles/patton-oswalt-won-twitter-over-the-weekend-with-a,101788/ If you look at the second half of any of Oswalt's tweets, it's offensive. But it's pretty easy to look at the one Right Before it and see what he's trying to do. (You need to scroll about a quarter of the way through to see both tweets next to each other) However, I see WAY too often that when someone says something -ist (racist, sexist, etc) that they hide behind the veil of satire. Finally, whether or not it was satire and whether or not he was a liability for lawsuits, he made a dumb decision given the position he had at this company. His job is not comedian. If John Stewart were fired for satire, it'd be weird. He's a CTO. As a C-level dude he represents his company. People nowadays hold companies responsible for what their C-level dudes do. Given that satire is meant to be biting and whether it's -ist or satire is in the eye of the beholder, it was essentially career suicide to make those posts.

    It's like if I posted that I found my job boring. Companies need motivated workers and they need to attract motivated workers. I think it'd be right for them to fire me. On the other hand if I tweeted, I am bored TODAY, I think it would be unfair to fire me. Everyone teeters from excitement to boredom on a daily basis.

  54. Clark:

    "That'll help you find the thought criminals more quickly than your current ad hoc process."

    Pax:

    "Hey guess who has two thumbs and is today's Emmanuel Goldstein?"

    Such beautiful symmetries!

  55. Erwin says:

    My take is that a reasonably principled stance would be participating in social shaming up to, roughly, the level of the offense. A nasty tweet gets a nasty tweet in return. A nasty blog would earn a nasty blog. So, writing newspaper articles or blogs about a nasty tweet would be disproportionate and I'd generally think a bit less of people piling on in that fashion.

    My take is that economic shaming is not appropriate and that _acquiescing_ to economic shaming is highly inappropriate. That said, realistically, some public behaviors result in legal exposure and may be sufficiently problematic to justify firing. Those behaviors should generally be discussed prior to hiring someone.

    –Erwin

  56. Dirkmaster says:

    Excellent article, Clark. I think I liked it better than anything I've read by you to date. Made me think, and that's always a good thing.

    I have one observation that I hope is cogent. You said that you'd call out the racist who attacked your child in public, but not online. While that is fair, I think that for many less introspective people, calling out in meatspace and calling out online are not seen at that different. You are right that they are, for the searchability and longevity if nothing else. But as you also correctly pointed out, we are sorta wired to do it, and to be rewarded internally when we do. I am not convinced that it's piling on. I think its just everyone wanting their little smack.

    Consequently, I think that the issue really is that our new social mediums are MUCH bigger and more permanent than the old ones (and our brains!). We will need to evolve ourselves, modify our social mores, or make the web less functional. Not sure if any of those are viable options.

  57. Dan says:

    I thin Ken and Clark's posts aren't as contradictory as they are complementary. Ken is arguing from the standpoint of what the law and taboos in our society are, and Clark is arguing from a standpoint of what they should be in his opinion of an ideal world. The only contradiction is if you posit that the present is currently an ideal case of everybody's liberty being protected equally.

    I was once given the sage advice "Never do anything the cops can't ignore." The cops can ignore your driving 5 miles an hour over the limit, they can't ignore 50. If two teenagers want to meet in a clearing in the woods to beat the snot out of each other over who stepped on whose shoes first, generally the cops can ignore this, too, untill it becomes apparent that more than fists were used. In the 1970s, most cops felt that they could ignore somone who had had one too amny and got behind the wheel, now that is no longer the case.

    While this is a malleable standard, it seems to me to apply here. As long as the outrageous tweets were not being directly identified with his employer, Pax's behavior could be ignored by his bosses. as soon as the connection between Pax, his tweets, and the magazine were publicized, his bosses could no longer ignore them, and they had really no choice but to fire him to remove a tremendous source of potential liability. Whether or not that liability should exist is a moot point at this time.

  58. Clark says:

    @Dirkmaster

    Excellent article, Clark.

    Thank you!

    You said that you'd call out the racist who attacked your child in public, but not online.

    No. I'd shame a racist in a restaurant, I'd debate him (or block him) online.

    While that is fair, I think that for many less introspective people, calling out in meatspace and calling out online are not seen at that different.

    Sometimes they are, sometimes they're not.

    If 12 people shame a racist in a restaurant that's not much different than 12 people shaming a racist on twitter.

    …but if Gawker shames the racist, and for the rest of his life the top Google hit on his name is "Racist Guy In a Restaurant Needs to Shut Up!", that's something different.

    we are sorta wired to do it, and to be rewarded internally when we do. I am not convinced that it's piling on. I think its just everyone wanting their little smack.

    Agreed.

    Consequently, I think that the issue really is that our new social mediums are MUCH bigger and more permanent than the old ones (and our brains!).

    Agreed.

    We will need to evolve ourselves, modify our social mores, or make the web less functional. Not sure if any of those are viable options.

    Nor am I.

    It's a tricky issue and I don't have an answer.

  59. Eric Mesa says:

    @Dirkmaster – Your last paragraph got me thinking. How awesome would it be if the permanence/semi-permanence of shaming would lead to people not being such jerks?

  60. David says:

    It is further my assertion that one provocative free-thinking Pax Dickinson is worth a thousand …

    This might be so if there were any depth to the provocation. I can't help but feel that his attempts to shock or provoke are a lot like the attempts of frosh art students who think they're being fresh and edgy.

    By turning to the profane, the extreme, the startling, they think they're cruising with sophistication through épater la bourgeoisie territory. In truth, they're unwittingly aping Duchamp and their mechanism for inducing change lags by more than a century.

    The heart of the matter is whether the social backlash is disproportionate to the perceived offense when we take into account its redeeming value. Clark sees a lot of redeeming value in what faux(?)-bro offers; I don't.

  61. Clark says:

    @Erwin

    My take is that a reasonably principled stance would be participating in social shaming up to, roughly, the level of the offense.

    Certainly that sounds like a good first approximation.

    some public behaviors result in legal exposure and may be sufficiently problematic to justify firing. Those behaviors should generally be discussed prior to hiring someone.

    Agreed on both points.

  62. Clark says:

    @Eric Mesa

    @Dirkmaster – Your last paragraph got me thinking. How awesome would it be if the permanence/semi-permanence of shaming would lead to people not being such jerks?

    Are we defining "jerk" as "shocking to conventional mores and norms" ?

    Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

    How awesome would it be if these people were shamed into conforming?

  63. James Pollock says:

    " That said, realistically, some public behaviors result in legal exposure and may be sufficiently problematic to justify firing. Those behaviors should generally be discussed prior to hiring someone."

    There's two things at play. One is the number of people calling for someone to lose their job. Another is whether or not the employer feels any need to act on those calls. The first is well-covered thus far, so I'll focus on the second.

    I think the employer should be free, at any time, to evaluate the value of the employee against the cost of that employee, and if, in their sole judgment, the costs exceed the value, to end their relationship (absent contractual obligations otherwise). I would HOPE that the employer would provide a proportionate response when available (warnings that specific behaviors or actions are endangering the employment relationship, opportunity to correct. I think that most businesses would see the value in taking this approach (it's cheaper than hiring/training a replacement, usually, where it succeeds.)
    If there was an error on the employer's side, it was not putting sufficient pressure on this guy earlier to either tone down or anonymize his online persona; however, they had neither legal nor moral requirement to do so, nor to give him now an opportunity to rehabilitate his employment relationship.

    As for discussing the behaviors that justify firing someone before hiring them, all they need is "you can be fired if we think the cost of keeping you is higher than the value you provide to the company, regardless what form those costs take."

  64. Amanda says:

    The idea of proportional shaming is an interesting one, and I think very helpful in the case of the programmers making jokes at the conference. There, the infraction was a private one that got blown up into extremely public shaming.

    But in the other cases (Charles Carreon, Pax), the speech deserving shaming was very public. Is there a way to effectively speak up and say "that's not okay" other than to make the shaming equally public? That's the principle underlying public statements by employers when their employees screw up royally causing a public relations nightmare vs. a private scolding when no one knows about it, right?

  65. Jack says:

    Clark, I found Kilroy's comments pretty kneejerky, but I am curious as to what your issues are with Scalzi, because it does appear that you went out of your way to criticize him in two successive posts, and not merely to list him as a victim of bullying. So what's up with that?
    Also, this was a great post. I tried to imagine how you would come at this subject after your warning order yesterday, but this was well outside of what I expected.

  66. JT says:

    If Pax is intending to be some sort of Andy Kaufmann protégé, well, mission accomplished. If not, what an a-hole.

  67. eddie says:

    So I say that Pax isn't all bad, and I'm immediately part of the Evil Group?

    Dividing the world into Us vs. Them, and reinforcing that divide at every opportunity, is one of the standard tactics that They use.

  68. naught_for_naught says:

    I don't see a problem here, only the free market of ideas at work. Dickson just happens to be selling something that most people don't want. His employer fired him for developing a crappy personal brand that would tarnish the company's image.

    Being a good libertarian should mean, at a minimum, embracing the fundamental rights of the owner to hire and fire at will. You don't get a mulligan when the market turns against your brand, just because its you.

  69. Analee says:

    Given this new "behind the scenes" (for lack of a better phrase) look at Mr. Dickson, I retract my comments that he was a douchecanoe. I don't think he should be permanently blacklisted from his chosen field, but if his comments about minimum wage were NOT parody, mayhaps he should be made to work for minimum wage for a year to show him exactly how difficult it can be.

    I say that because it seems to me that there's a misconception that minimum wage workers are just too lazy to get jobs in their field that needs to change. In 2008, after getting an associate's degree in computer networking, the only job I could get was a minimum wage seasonal position at RadioShack after sending out over 100 applications, and I would need multiple limbs to count the number of my fellow degree-holders that I know personally who have had the same experience.

    I personally think that everyone, myself included, shouldn't shut up, but perhaps putting a bit more thought into what we say on certain topics to make our answers more discourse and less inane finger-pointing/unnecessary shaming might be necessary.

  70. Bjorn says:

    Clark,

    I think there's often a disproportionality between misconduct and consequence when the misconduct is something that's rarely caught and/or punished. If we're to look at punishment as a deterrent, preventing others from deciding to engage in the misconduct, that's a necessary condition. (If the probability of getting caught is 1/x, and the payoff of the misconduct is y, the penalty needs to be greater than x*y.)

    I'm not saying I necessarily subscribe to that as a coherent principle of justice, especially since the data indicate that when you apply that principle to criminal justice, increasing penalties doesn't decrease crime. But I do think it's somewhat close to how people intuitively or subconsciously believe punishment should work.

    So, when you take an issue like discrimination against women in tech, which many people believe is (a) a pervasive problem, and (b) one whose perpetrators rarely face consequences, a very big punishment is indicated because 1/x is very, very small.

    Please note that I'm not interested in making a case about the discrimination against women in tech here; that's rather beside the point. I'm just pointing out that, if you believe propositions (a) and (b), it's fairly rational (or at least consistent with a pretty mainstream view of justice and punishment) to inflict the harshest possible social consequences on Pax Dickinson if you believe he's a big part of the problem.

  71. Colin says:

    So, I am genuinely curious as to what the goal of mass shaming someone is.

    Perhaps this is merely a rhetorical statement, but I'll assume that you're genuine when you state it.

    I think that the goal of "mass shaming" has very little to do with the person being shamed. It really isn't about them. They are just the convenient vehicle that the group uses to demonstrate to all, the horrible consequences of goring their sacred cow.

    In essence, the goal of mass shaming is simply to make an example of the target, and thereby deter others from repeating the social sin. Regardless of whether or not it's an acceptable practice, it does seem to be quite effective.

  72. James Pollock says:

    "Are we defining "jerk" as "shocking to conventional mores and norms" ?"

    I'd be more likely to insert some adverb such as "unnecessarily" or "gratuitously" the definition.

  73. Analee says:

    Bah. I meant "Dickinson." Let's all shame my fingers for not spelling his name correctly in an otherwise coherent response!

  74. MaudeLL says:

    Another precision about the Adria Richards kerfuffle: she publicly backed the guy who lost his job as soon as it happened. She offered her help if there was anything she could do. She was clearly not supporting his firing (and as has been pointed out, she lost her job too). I don't particularly support her technique to point out sexism, but I count that as part of free speech as well.

    As far as shaming goes, I disagree with Clark's point. In my experience, shaming can be an excellent technique to make people reflect on their actions. It does't happened on the spot though, it takes time. It has happened to me so many times, it's embarrassing. Many people have shamed me, and with hindsight, I can say it made me reflect on some of my views that were on dubious grounds.

    While my views are closer to Ken's post, I do think Clark's point is thought provoking. I am still trying to build my own coherent view of free speech involving the least hurdles possible, and quite often the combination of private power (Gawker or Business Insider), Internet mobs and ideological thinking lead to results not unlike that of government intervention. I am weary of people crying Stalinism whenever there are negative consequences to speech, but there are grey areas.

  75. Chris says:

    So, I am genuinely curious as to what the goal of mass shaming someone is.

    Is the idea that the shamed person will genuinely change his opinion because he's been made the object of ridicule?

    In general (not just on the internet, but in small group social situations) the idea of shaming is that the shamed person will change their behavior.

    This, in part, is why the Charles Carreon blew up to the degree it did. If Carreon had quit after the first letter to Innman, he might be known as a lawyer who sent a stupid C&D letter (hardly the end of the world, there are lots of lawyers whose stupid C&D letters are preserved for all time on the internet). What turned this into something truly spectacular is that he continued (and indeed, escalated) his behavior in the face of 'internet shaming'.

  76. eddie says:

    I think that the goal of "mass shaming" has very little to do with the person being shamed. It really isn't about them. They are just the convenient vehicle that the group uses to demonstrate to all, the horrible consequences of goring their sacred cow. In essence, the goal of mass shaming is simply to make an example of the target, and thereby deter others from repeating the social sin.

    This is the best thing I've read on this site in two days. And I'm not ashamed to say that I'm only posting in order to say that.

  77. David says:

    This is why the stocks and pillories were in the public square….

  78. Chris says:
    Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

    How awesome would it be if these people were shamed into conforming?

    Isn't part of the reason we admire such folks that they persevered in the face of social pressure to conform?

  79. Clark says:

    @Chris

    Here’s to the crazy ones.

    How awesome would it be if these people were shamed into conforming?

    Isn't part of the reason we admire such folks that they persevered in the face of social pressure to conform?

    Tap your sarcasm detector ; I think it's stuck.

  80. Ken White says:

    On the goals of public shaming:

    When conducted on behalf of a traditionally downtrodden group, the goal might be "fuck you, haters, you can't treat us like shit without social consequences any more."

    So, for instance, twenty years ago you could say pretty awful things about gays with relatively few people inflicting relatively mild social consequences on you. Now you can't. I suspect many gays see that as a good development.

  81. bralex says:

    I have an ill-formed conception that a lot of the stuff going on today is people wanting to soften or escape the consequences of bad decisions, and the responses to that desire. Someone that chooses to share their thoughts or opinions exposes themselves to ridicule, praise, etc. as has already been noted. Someone that chooses to have sex expo…uh…no, lets say has to accept the potential consequences like pregnancy, disease, etc. Someone that chooses to drop out of school or fail to acquire marketable skills has chosen the consequences. The hardest of hardnosed responses is to shrug and say "sucks to be you", while the softest of kindhearted replies would be to talk about second chances, welfare support, living wages, etc. Veering too far to one side or the other seems dangerous to a society, whether the issue is free speech or punishment vs. rehabilitation or forms of governance or immigration reform.

  82. Mitch says:

    I stand by my fundamental response: When you work for a media company, act as if you have respect for the rest of humanity, even if you have to act. Part of the reason that Pax fell so quickly is that he worked for Business Insider, which trades on the daily flow of internet memes. BI decided (accurately, in my view) that it was easier to replace Pax than to replace the readers/surfers who would avoid BI for its continued employment of Pax.

  83. Chris says:

    I feel bad for the chubby Star Wars kid and the millions of youtube hits. I am deeply uncomfortable with making fun of Rebecca Black for her song and video "Friday".

    These two examples seem a bit out of place in this article. They aren't really of a piece with Pax Dickinson or Charles Carreon. The Star Wars Kid and "Friday" are more "point and laugh" while Pax and Carreon are "bring out the torches and pitchforks". I think these are two separate phenomena.

    Now they are arguably related: both are situations where small group behaviors are enormously amplified and made permanent by the internet. However, I think the dynamics of the two are different and conflating them may obscure more than it reveals.

  84. Erwin says:

    @Amanda
    I'd argue that if you post a public, eg, tweet, that public shaming at a similar level is perfectly appropriate. (And, y'know, 'at the same level' is a pretty vague standard.)

    @James
    I'd argue that, while employers should be free to follow a simple cost/benefit analysis, strictly following that formula is immoral in this instance. The problem is that thick liberty is a public good in that it promotes communication and should be shielded to the extent possible. Which basically translates into…as long as a person hasn't made themselves a complete liability with out-of-the-office speech, I won't fire them for being publicly shamed.

    @Bjorn
    I'd tend to temper that notion with the concept of utility – wherein, eg, losing your job may be much worse than a 10% pay cut – so extreme disproportionality remains immoral. I'd also argue that even proportional consequences – when multiplied by the number of people on the internet – are sufficiently disproportionate that additional escalation is unnecessary.

    –Erwin

  85. Marconi Darwin says:

    Clark, I have two questions.

    1. What do you see as a significant difference between what Gawker/Nitash Tiku did to Pax Dickinson, and what NRO/Mark Steyn did (does?) to Michael Mann?

    2. If the remedy to offensive speech is more (offensive?) speech, then where did the anti-Pax crowd go wrong? Some loudmouth on radio says something shocking. Shocked people complain. Loudmouth loses his sponsors. If shocked people are not allowed to do that, what is the remedy to loudmouth's speech, other than turning the radio off?

  86. Chris says:

    Tap your sarcasm detector ; I think it's stuck.

    tap. tap. tap.

    Nope, working fine. I think the problem's on your end.

  87. Eric Mesa says:

    @Clark

    Are we defining "jerk" as "shocking to conventional mores and norms" ?

    I mean jerks in the most agreeable sense. Someone who shoves you for no reason. Who calls you an asshole because why not. Someone who says that any one race is less than any other race. You know, jerks.

    Anyway, I'm not saying the jerks need to be shut up. I'm saying it'd be awesome if online became like real life in this sense. You wouldn't call someone an asshole to their face, unprovoked unless you were certain you could win if he decked you in the face. Online people seem to not face consequences and act like jerks. I just want people who would be polite in person to be polite online. Some people will be jerks in person and online. Both have consequences. Learn that. If you can deal with it, then cool. If you can't then you can't.

    I doubt it'll lead to the freaks not advancing society as your quote claims. Look at Lenny Bruce. He actually got arrested for his jokes. He kept right on telling them. Society changed.

  88. Katie says:

    Ken — honestly, I'd prefer if people say out loud what they think, instead of keeping it inside for fear of being shamed. I grant that maybe that's the best way to change the world, so perhaps it in a good thing. But in the short term, if my boss thinks women are crappy coders, I'd rather know it and do something about it (such as find a better manager!) than sit around and wonder why I never get a raise, promotion, or get assigned to whatever the fun project is.

    That's why I hung around with the boys in school. They'd tell you what they thought to your face. No guessing, no whispering behind your back…

  89. Marconi Darwin says:

    Oh, I forgot this: Excellent thought provoking article, Clark. I found it better than Ken's yesterday which I find myself agreeing with more.

  90. alexa-blue says:

    For many misfits and nonconformists, it would be more awesome for them to be shamed into conforming (shaming into real insight might be better, but I'm not sure that's a thing). For many others, it would be less awesome. I enjoyed this post, and the discussion.

  91. azazel1024 says:

    I guess where I come down is I do think that any and all view points are valid. I don't believe that however, you should necessarily be able to go through life without possibly suffering consequences for unpopular view points. I also think those consequences should be well moderated.

    I believe that as a society, the rights of an individual should be paramount, but not, generally, to the overall detriment of society as a whole or even a minority portion of society.

    So, I disagree whole heartedly on the Gov't not being able to force association in commerce (just for a double negative). You don't happen to like me, fine. You don't happen to like an entire class of people…sorry, you lost me. Just like I don't think a photographer, resort, bus company, etc should be able to say "sorry, we don't offer our services to _____" (insert name of religous, ethnic, racial, socioeconomic class, etc group). So I believe completely that the photographer was in the wrong for not being willing to photograph the gay couples wedding in question. I also think it would be wrong if the gay couple ran a catering company and refused to cater Catholic weddings because they disagreed with the stance of the Catholic Church on gay marriage. It is, in my belief, determental to society to allow this.

    Just like I agree that the Gov't should be able to tell you what you can and can't do with your private property (build an 8 story mansion in the middle of a historic 3-story brownstone neighborhood), within limits.

    I also don't believe in disproportionate social consequences. Pax, whether he thought he was (or was) pithy, etc, etc in his various comments posed an issue for his employer. Ken pointed out why, I happen to agree with Ken that as an employer, Pax's comments were an issue. I don't think it was disproportionate for his employer to fire him over them. I think it was somewhat disproportionate to "try to bring him down".

    I still think he was and is a douche. I don't think he should be unemployable. I do think it is his fault that if he can't "act appropriate" in public if no one wants to fire him. Maybe it was just a different upbrining (a very liberal one, mind you)…but I don't believe you should just say any old thing that pops in to your head in public.

    As you mentioned, the 20th and 21st centuries and their technology takes public shaming to a whole new level. People need to keep that in mind though, or they may find out (whether it is right or wrong) that their speech and actions have consequences all out of proportion to what they might have expected to find happen 200 years ago. That is my way of saying, if you are going to be make crude jokes, whether you truely believe them or not, or actually be a true believer idiot (as in believing your jokes, not simply finding stereotypes, offensive satire, etc funny) that you should keep that in private. Or if you can't keep that in private, you keep it among your core friends and when keeping it among your core friends, you should keep it off of social media.

    Tell your offensive Mel Gibson joke to your friends, in person. Lest it escape in to the wild and people rightly or wrongly view you as an unmitigated ass. If you are dumb enough or don't care of the consequences, by all means, air it in the public eye, just know that the social consequences might be out of all proportion to the social crime commited.

    Then again, sometimes they aren't out of proportion, and rarely do I take glee in it (but, I am human and occasionally I do. Often it is only when "the mighty" have fallen. Generally cases of a person putting themselves on a very high moral pedestal only to come crashing down when they show by their actions or words that they are nothing but a sham of what they pretended to be. That and for cases like Charles Carreon and Prenda who I think are loathsome individuals who at the very least abuse our legal system and possibly are outright criminals, or at least conduct themselves as such).

  92. rabbitscribe says:

    I don't know how relevant this is, but meh. So, I appreciate the parody very much. Gibson is odious, and I wish we lived in a world where Pax's point of view was widely accepted. But we don't.

    AT ALL.

    If it came to light that I'd published those words under my own name, I'd expect to be immediately terminated. That's true of my boss, and my boss's boss, and my boss's boss's boss. Past that, people might have enough pull to keep their jobs- maybe. I'm frankly amazed that this is news. Is my Fortune Fifty organization really that far out of the mainstream?

  93. KR says:

    I would have written basically the same criticism of John Scalzi that Clark did (minus the "never written a good novel" part since I enjoyed both the Old Man's War series and The Android's Dream), but I have absolutely no clue what this "manosphere" nonsense is that I "obviously" would have a connection to.

  94. Dan Weber says:

    I share much of Clark's uneasiness, although not about Pax.

    This shmoe is an officer of the company, and officers have to maintain a public image. If Tim Cook said that iPhones suck the board would can him in an instant. Military generals have similar problems.

    Those people, however, are compensated more for being more under the public eye.

    So many of the arguments used on the other thread would be perfectly usable against, say, a Walgreen's manager who gets someone on the Internet angry at him. He didn't sign up for that. The differences between that the angry guy getting an Internet mob whipped up against the manager's employer versus that angry guy filing bogus legal letters against his employer seems small to me from a philosophical level, although I appreciate there are legal differences.

    I worry that people eager to avoid thinking hard about the ethics of the mob against Pax because Pax deserved it (not my words or theirs) will avoid thinking hard about the mob against the next guy who ends up in the crosshairs, and human emotions never run higher than when we are about to kick the shit out of someone on the other side who is really asking for it, man.

    I have no bright-line answers, and there won't be any, because we are discussing the ugly messy world of humans.

  95. TM says:

    This, in part, is why the Charles Carreon blew up to the degree it did. If Carreon had quit after the first letter to Innman, he might be known as a lawyer who sent a stupid C&D letter (hardly the end of the world, there are lots of lawyers whose stupid C&D letters are preserved for all time on the internet). What turned this into something truly spectacular is that he continued (and indeed, escalated) his behavior in the face of 'internet shaming'.

    I think you might have hit on a key difference between meatspace and internet shaming. Meatspace shaming invokes changes because you hurt people you care about, internet shaming tries to invoke changes because you hurt yourself. Let me sum up:

    Generally speaking, meatspace shaming is performed by people local to you (royal you, referring to the person being shamed), both physically and socially. This has the effect of humanizing those you have offended and connecting with the other human emotions and attachments you have to alter behavior. For example, you say something offensive about women and the people around you (at least some of whom include your friends) go "WTF?". If you know these people on a personal level, you generally don't want to make them upset. Not (primarily) because of consequences to you, but because you care about these people and their happiness is important to you.

    In comparison, internet shaming is all strangers, with little or no connection to you, who have no real knowledge of you except perhaps second or even third hand accounts of your crimes (which may or may not have additional context). I think it's a fairly natural reaction of people to dismiss the opinions of strangers who "don't know" (after all we see it all the time, for example the dismissal of Clark here as one of the he-man woman haters club). Combine that natural inclination with the feeling of being attacked and attacked by all sides (and throw in the fact that internet communication is horrible for having sensitive discussions) and you get a situation where the internet shaming fails to alter the behavior and instead leads to escalation.

  96. Lizard says:

    …but if Gawker shames the racist, and for the rest of his life the top Google hit on his name is "Racist Guy In a Restaurant Needs to Shut Up!", that's something different.

    An old joke, with a thousand variations. This is the first one I happened to google up:
    The Setting: An old-timer in a bar in Scotland:

    "Lad, look out there in the field. Do ya see that fence? Look how well
    it's built. I built that fence by stone with me own hands. Took me four months. But do they call me McGreggor the fence builder? No.

    "Look at this bar. Do ya see how smooth and just right it is? I planed
    that surface down by me own achin'back. I carved that wood with me own hard labour for eight days. But do they call me McGreggor the builder?

    No.

    The old man points out the window. "Eh, Laddy, look out to sea. Do ya see that pier that stretches out as far as the eye can see? I built that pier with the sweat off me brow. I nailed it board by board. But do they call me McGreggor the pier builder? No.

    "But you fuck one pig…

  97. RogerX says:

    @Al: "Here's the thing, though. What's the cost of providing Pax and everyone else that "thick liberty?" Pax's pretend misogyny, racism or whatever may have cost him his job but there's plenty of real misogyny, racism and whatever that cost people their jobs every day. If real malice is ignored for the sake of "provocative free-thinking" discussion is it really worth it?"

    To bit-flip that though: Are you suggesting that there is speech that just outright should not be made because it is malicious? That's completely to Clark's point, and the whole basis of the freedom of speech in general, as nobody who has "good speech" typically has to worry about losing the freedom to speak it. The marketplace of ideas demands that bad ideas are aired and made to be publicly found lacking so that we can progress; to hell with the feelings of those against whom the original malice was intended. Respecting people who need protected means we understand what they're being protected from… yes, that's difficult, but the alternative is horrifying. I imagine the worst case scenario of anti-speech tyranny from every dystopian SciFi I have ever read.

  98. James Pollock says:

    "I'd argue that, while employers should be free to follow a simple cost/benefit analysis, strictly following that formula is immoral in this instance."

    My argument is premised on the fact that I'm reluctant to substitute my judgment for others' (which is a corollary to my main philosophy, which is "butt out of my business"). Then I'll fall back on my legal education and apply a "reasonable man" standard. Could a reasonable man have determined that employing this person was no longer in their best interest?

    For comparison, I'll offer a comparison to a termination I do think was wrong, NBC's handling of Conan O'Brien.
    First, they enticed him to stay on "Late Night" by promising him the "Tonight Show". Then, they enticed him to move himself, his family, and his staff from NYC to LA. Then they fatally sabotaged his show via poor programming choices. Then they terminated him. Several elements make this an egregious offense while the present case is not: Although NBC could point to declining ratings numbers for the Tonight show under Conan's aegis, those declining numbers had FAR more to do with what NBC was doing at 10 than what Conan was doing at 11:30. Second, they strung him along for several years, then discarded him. Together, these point to the fault of the breakdown in the employment relationship lying with NBC, and not with Conan.

  99. BPFH says:

    @Al, @Chad, @Jim: It's not happening for me in Firefox on Windows 7, but then I also use the NoScript add-on. NoScript reports Popehat loading javascript from 9 different domains (including its own, and from wordpress.com and wp.com, which are entirely understandable given that Popehat is a WordPress-based blog). It's possible that a change in the script that one of those sites is serving prompted this.

  100. cb says:

    —How awesome would it be if these people were shamed into conforming?

    Can't find anyone saying anything remotely like that.

  101. Erwin says:

    @James
    This case, in particular, doesn't seem egregious, as the guy's behavior made him enough of a legal liability that firing him would be perfectly reasonable.

    Firing the programmers who were shamed for telling each other sexist jokes…seems more egregious.

    In the case of Conan, that sounds more like combined incompetence from both parties than egregious behavior. NBC made mistakes, and didn't follow through on promises, but the reality is that employers can't or won't always follow through. Conan apparently made the mistake of trusting his employers instead of negotiating terms wherein he would be well off if they didn't follow through.

    –Erwin

  102. Katie says:

    Without having actually heard the jokes they were telling, how can anyone say if they were sexist? AFAIK, there is no record of what they said. I've shared dongle and fork jokes, myself. It's not as if they were presenting and started in on innuendo.

  103. Zak N. says:

    @Clark: response to your discomfort with trying to get other people to shut up.

    I'd argue that a major purpose of speech is to get other people to shut up. A clear example of this is in the scientific literature. People are not allowed to express entire ranges of opinions in the scientific literature. The whole point of publishing papers is to attempt to reduce the total number of opinions people are allowed to express.

    For example, if you write a paper trying to defend the concept that global warming is not anthropogenic you will have a hard time finding a publisher willing to touch it. You would both need compelling evidence AND and strong argument that explains why everybody else got it wrong. That is a very small idea space. Every new paper reduces the theoretically possible idea space that is consistent with all data known.

    So science advances by shutting people up.

    Debates are similar, if less rigorous. In advancing a particular viewpoint you are also attempting to make opposing viewpoints less tenable. Another way of recasting that is that you are trying to shut your opponent up. In a good debate you agree to shut up if you find your opponent's arguments compelling.

    In the least controlled social settings you don't have the assurance that the other guy will listen. Or that you have the time and energy necessary to formulate a cogent argument. Then the most expedient method to reach the end goal of speech (getting your opponent to shut up) is often to shame or give simple soundbites.

    Social movements often rest on making certain opinions and behaviors so closely linked to pariah status that people do express them. Some examples include 'closeted' gays whom do not feel socially comfortable expressing their homosexuality and raging bigots who feel 'oppressed' by modern culture calling them raging bigots. In both cases people are made to shut up, but I'd argue that in one case this is a bad thing and the other it is a good thing. This mostly shows that speech is a tool which should be used responsibly.

    Once you think about speech as a goal oriented pursuit, then people who pine to reach the goal without the effort are simply guilty of laziness rather than intellectual incoherence. "I wish Palin would just shut up" is like "I want to loose twenty pounds, but not have to work for it".

  104. JeffM says:

    I'd be more sympathetic if what was being discussed could remotely be construed as rational argument. What, however, is being punished is language deliberately inviting emotional responses, not reasoned ones.

    Furthermore, I think people have lost sight of Ken's point that individuals have a right of association. I may not want to associate with people who, in my own unfettered opinion, say vulgar, provocative, and stupid things. (This has nothing to do with legal or commercial risks.) I'd fire someone who said such things privately because I would not want that person around. This discussion of "thick liberty" implies that A gets to say what he wants without fear of consequences but B does not get to say with whom he wants to associate. That's "thick liberty" for A's speech, but no liberty at all for B's associations. In fact, it makes me wonder whether this dichotomy between "thick" and "thin" liberty is anything more than a rhetorical dodge.

    Finally, in this particular case, it was foreseeable that the speech in question was likely to affect adversely third parties, namely his employer and fellow employees. (Now I am bringing in the legal and commercial risks.) Their best chance to extricate themselves from adverse consequences that they were innocent of provoking was to exercise, publicly and promptly, their right of non-association.

  105. Zak N. says:

    Typo Above: "Social movements often rest on making certain opinions and behaviors so closely linked to pariah status that people do not express them."

  106. Dave Ruddell says:

    Not the point of the post at all, but this caught my eye:

    I think that John Scalzi is a nasty individual who has never written a good novel, lies about his website traffic statistics…

    Got a cite for that (about the traffic stats)? This is not snark; I tried some Google-fu, but could not find anything about it.

  107. paolaccio says:

    More than a bit confusing… you start out talking about how Pax "tweets with a faux-brogrammer alter ego" but spend the rest of the piece talking about "Pax's opinions as if they weren't, um, faux?

    Which is it? You seem to be making a case that engaging hateful comments in the public sphere is a societal good, which is fine as far as it goes. But if he's a "performance artist" who "slyly reference[s] existing memes," it kind of moots the free-speech thing here.

    Andrew "Dice" Clay had his nursery rhymes, Louis CK has his "of course… but maybe" shtick. There's no real outcry about them because they are comedians playing roles. Are you saying that's what Pax is doing? And if so, why not defend him on that basis?

  108. Jesse from Tulsa says:

    The guy went for the last slice of pizza. His friends chastised him and instead of stopping, he loved the attention and ate it anyway. With the next pizza he didn't just eat the last slice – he licked the entire thing. Eventually his friends got mad and went beyond chastising. That's what the group is going to do. Besides…

    Speech has consequences.

    That is actually the entire point of speech. The consequence may be amusement. It may be that vital information is relayed. it may be to warn your fellow cavemen that you set the forest on fire – and running is the consequence.

    When you make your speech public you are inviting greater consequences. When you go out of your way to make your speech available to the masses (i.e., posting it on Twitter) – those consequences are to be expected. Unsurprisingly the masses are often the catalyst for those consequences. When you communicate to the masses, you are communicating to a mob.

    Sometimes the consequence is mass approval and commercial gain. Sometimes it is unintelligible banter. Sometimes when you play with the mob – they turn on you and want your head.

    Mr. Pax is clearly intelligent. He is witty. He also tried to speak to the mob for his own amusement by posting clever, but patently offensive speech. Mr. Pax probably knew the potential consequence of offending the mob. What he miscalculated is what influence the mob might have on other people. As a profiled executive of a large company – the company is likely to respond to the mob. And they did.

    The lesson his social group should learn: don't post patently offensive things on your twitter feed or large corporations will fire you from your high profile position.

    That lesson is also called common sense.

  109. stillnotking says:

    On the subject of our primate heritage: It's worth noting empirically that we are much "tamer" than, say, chimpanzees, or 14th-century Germans. Pax Dickinson may have lost his job, but he didn't get driven out of the band to starve to death, or burned at the stake, merely for being unpopular. So the contention that the internet age poses a uniquely consequential set of social challenges seems a little bit overblown. I'd argue that we are living in the most social-consequence-free era of human history.

    On the other hand, you're indisputably talking about some very deeply-rooted elements of our psychology. We don't need an immediate reason to want to shame people we dislike, any more than we need such a reason to feel horny, or angry, or loyal. (All of these responses can be successfully evoked by television characters, whose behavior we can't possibly influence!) As a general coping strategy in a species that has always been its own biggest competitor, the utility of turning other people against one's personal enemies is self-evident, and will remain so as long as "human nature" still deserves the name.

  110. Clark says:

    @stillnotking

    we are much "tamer" than, say, chimpanzees, or 14th-century Germans… So the contention that the internet age poses a uniquely consequential set of social challenges seems a little bit overblown.

    Note my comment a few hours ago:

    I find myself seriously thinking that the questions of anonymity, reputation, dissenting speech, social norms, etc. are complicated in the 21st century. I call out the fact that we're evolved for small group living. Modernity has appeared in a few places over time, but has really only been normal for ~300 years, and boils down to anonymity (Megan McArdle has good thoughts on this topic).

    With vast and persistent search engines, that one aspect of the modern age is ending. Or, rather, has already ended.

    I note that your example of the year 1400 perfectly supports the point I was making.

  111. Clark says:

    @paolaccio:

    More than a bit confusing… you start out talking about how Pax "tweets with a faux-brogrammer alter ego" but spend the rest of the piece talking about "Pax's opinions as if they weren't, um, faux?

    For the record, I find gratuitious use of ellipses, unclosed quotes, and the interjection "um" tend to detract from the presentation of a comment.

    Moving on:

    Pax mocks brogrammers the same way he mocks Mel Gibson. You just have to realize what he's doing. In this tweet, for example

    https://twitter.com/paxdickinson/statuses/98141292839702528

    Do you think that he normally types at a computer while wearing sun-glasses, with his collar popped like that, and a douchy duck-kiss face?

    I suppose that if he'd taken the pains to find a Member's Only jacket in some retro vintage clothes store, that might have made the parody more obvious.

  112. Former Insider says:

    Psst. Hey, over here. Some insider information for you on this story. Pax's Twitter account is chock full of things that are blatantly offensive or overtly contrarian. He's using much of it to be funny, sarcastic, or just plain trollish. To a certain degree that's all well and good. Except we're not talking about a humorist here. Pax != Patton Oswalt. With a comedian, you know to take what you find with a certain grain of salt. It's part of their job to be funny and offensive. Not so much with a CTO, as others have stated.

    But there is one point that you won't be reading about in any of these articles, and that is that, to a certain degree, the Twitter account reflects who Pax is as a person. That is not to say that he actually believes the things he's tweeting – I've pointed out that much of it is sarcasm. But the arrogant, abrasive loudmouth that he is on Twitter? That's the real Pax. He's not afraid of making abrasive comments to his coworkers, letting them know his always contrarian views on any issue at hand. A lot of this 'brogrammer' attitude is excused in tech as status quo – but when you're a manager and responsible for taking care of the employees in your care, treating them fairly and keeping them free of harassment? My question is not "Why was he fired?" but only "What took them so long?". I can guarantee you that this is not the first time management at BI has seen/read his Twitter account and not the first time they've spoken about it. This was just the _last_ time they spoke about it…

  113. Ken White says:

    ax mocks brogrammers the same way he mocks Mel Gibson. You just have to realize what he's doing.

    How do you tell when he's being satirical or not?

    For instance: the tweet about women's suffrage being incompatible with freedom. Trolling, satirical, devil's advocate, or sincere?

    What about the one about his finger getting tired from blocking tweets about feminism in tech?

    (I guess those ones bothered him. I understand that. Some people don't want to see things they disagree with on Twitter.)

  114. scott says:

    "For the record, I find gratuitious use of ellipses, unclosed quotes, and the interjection "um" tend to detract from the presentation of a comment."

    Thank you. This is the kind of comment that adds incalculably to the value of a debate, and if only this blog supported upvoting I'd click "good comment" five or six times

  115. Clark says:

    @Zak N.

    a major purpose of speech is to get other people to shut up. A clear example of this is in the scientific literature…

    The whole point of publishing papers is to attempt to reduce the total number of opinions people are allowed to express.

    Wow.

    No wonder the science establishment has such a good name recently.

    For example, if you write a paper trying to defend the concept that global warming is not anthropogenic you will have a hard time finding a publisher willing to touch it.

    Which is particularly amusing given that we know that not all of global warming is anthropogenic…but, yes, I agree with you.

    You would both need compelling evidence AND and strong argument that explains why everybody else got it wrong.

    …and access to taxpayer funded data that certain climate change scientists are refusing to release…

    So science advances by shutting people up.

    Funny. I thought it was supposed to work by convincing them.

    In the least controlled social settings you don't have the assurance that the other guy will listen. Or that you have the time and energy necessary to formulate a cogent argument. Then the most expedient method to reach the end goal of speech (getting your opponent to shut up) is often to shame or give simple soundbites.

    From what little I know of you (this comment) I find you a thoroughly unlikeable – and even malevolent – person.

    Once you think about speech as a goal oriented pursuit, then people who pine to reach the goal without the effort are simply guilty of laziness rather than intellectual incoherence. "I wish Palin would just shut up" is like "I want to loose twenty pounds, but not have to work for it".

    I repeat: Wow.

  116. paolaccio says:

    Well, for the record, I find style trolling and a refusal to engage a commenter's question a little sad and defensive. But I suspect you don't care much about my opinion, which is something I suppose I will learn to live with.

    So back to the question I raised:

    I don't know whether Pax is a "performance artist" any more than I imagine you do after an exchange of two whole emails, but that's beside the point. Why defend his tweets as "opinions" if they are mockery? Why call him a "performance artist" if he is expressing genuine opinions?

  117. Clark says:

    Thank you. This is the kind of comment that adds incalculably to the value of a debate, a

    Zing! Well played – you got me.

    That said, I'd say that my comment was a bit different, in two ways:

    1) I was actually giving actionable feedback on how to get taken seriously
    2) I went on to spent the majority of my comment engaging with the details of the argument.

    But, yes, zing.

  118. cb says:

    –Which is particularly amusing given that we know that not all of global warming is anthropogenic…but, yes, I agree with you.

    Which we, of course, know because scientists have established that. Some would have you believe that scientists are trying to hide such data

  119. Clark says:

    @paolaccio

    Well, for the record, I find style trolling and a refusal to engage a commenter's question a little sad and defensive.

    Refusing to engage?

    I gave you 1 sentence of style feedback and 3 sentences and one URL answering your question. A 4:1 ratio of content versus please-Jesus-stop-making-that-annoying-sound-with-the-chalkboard is more than fair, I think.

  120. Ken White says:

    I just want to point out that the MLA Style Guide says you shouldn't start with "um" unless you end with "sigh."

  121. Rick H. says:

    Thanks for a great read. This is one of Clark's best articles yet. Very thought-provoking, even though he doesn't posit a clear solution to what I agree is a problem. Sometimes there isn't one.

    The Yudkowsky quote seemed very appropriate when reading through the comments. The pleasure of mob shaming can be addictive, and it brings out a heavy defense when you threaten that superstimulus. Some people are reacting as if someone's trying to steal their favorite candy bar.

  122. ChicagoTom says:

    I'm not saying that Pax is an innocent victim here. I'm saying two things:

    1) he's not nearly as bad as the hate-storm would have you believe

    2) real life can be complicated

    And if he wasn't part of your tribe, I doubt you'd be rushing to defend him so hard, nor would you be giving charitable interpretation of his actions. If he was some dirty fucking liberal you'd be piling on.

  123. Ken White says:

    Clark's been linked by Lawyers, Guns & Money which, to its credit, didn't call for Clark to be beaten to death or have his head on a stick or jailed for terrorism. Baby steps!

  124. jackn says:

    @Zak N.

    People are not allowed to express entire ranges of opinions in the scientific literature.

    So true, its a shame that scientists insist that opinions are backed by experimentation and logic. They won't let anyone play that doesn't follow their "Scientific Method."

  125. Eric Mesa says:

    @Jesse from Tulsa

    The lesson his social group should learn: don’t post patently offensive things on your twitter feed or large corporations will fire you from your high profile position.

    That lesson is also called common sense.

    I think you just made me realize two important things about this vs what Clark is trying to say. 1) Nobody took what Pax said and put it on twitter, he put it there himself 2) This wasn't an accidental moment of misogyny. Everyone makes mistakes because we've been raised in a certain culture. I might say some saying that is racist, but I don't know it's racist because everyone said it growing up and it was in Looney Tunes and all that. But it'd be an accident. Pax has a litany of tweets to pull from. He knows what he's doing and he has to deal with the consequences. If he'd just made one bad tweet, I think he'd have WAY less of a chance of economic consequences.

  126. paolaccio says:

    Where did you answer my question? You defended the idea that Pax is a performance artist, which was not my question. You may note that I repeated the question in my second comment, after noting, explicitly, that Pax being a performance artist or not was "beside the point." But you refused to engage it a second time.

    Is this thing on?

  127. stillnotking says:

    Hmm. I honestly can't tell if we agree or not.

    My take on this:

    1) Yes, it's easier to shame people in the age of Twitter, but…
    2) That doesn't matter, because shaming people doesn't mean all that much anymore (Rebecca Black and William Hung profited enormously from it!), and…
    3) Any effort to stop human beings from shaming one another could charitably be described as "quixotic".

  128. Clark says:

    @ChicagoTom:

    if he wasn't part of your tribe, I doubt you'd be rushing to defend him so hard

    Absolutely true. I plead guilty to being an imperfect human being.

    I've pled to this before:

    http://www.popehat.com/2012/12/28/wherein-a-right-libertarian-sticks-a-toe-in-left-libertarianism-and-finds-that-the-water-is-fine/

    I find that a lot of the cultural baggage of the left is still deeply distasteful to me: if I met a white kid in dreadlocks named "Starfinder" who wanted to know if I had any weed he could borrow while he told about how "The Man" is responsible for the fact that his ska band still hasn't recorded their first album, I'd be have a greater desire to borrow a cop's truncheon to beat him with than I would have to invite him over to my house for coffee.

    …and I'm sure I'll please to it again.

    nor would you be giving charitable interpretation of his actions. If he was some dirty fucking liberal you'd be piling on.

    Do you have any evidence to support your allegation that that's what I'd do?

  129. Clark says:

    @paolaccio

    Where did you answer my question? You defended the idea that Pax is a performance artist, which was not my question. You may note that I repeated the question in my second comment,

    Chill out. It's been almost eleventy seconds now and I've answered four other comments.

  130. Clark says:

    @Rick H.

    Thanks for a great read. This is one of Clark's best articles yet. Very thought-provoking

    You're too kind; thank you.

    even though he doesn't posit a clear solution to what I agree is a problem. Sometimes there isn't one.

    I don't see one myself, but I want to think more about it.

  131. naught_for_naught says:
  132. Clark says:

    @Ken White:

    Clark's been linked by Lawyers, Guns & Money which, to its credit, didn't call for Clark to be beaten to death or have his head on a stick or jailed for terrorism. Baby steps!

    The comments there serve as a hilarious example of everything I've talked about in this thread.

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2013/09/pax-dickishness-fauxbrogrammer

    @Shakezula: Aaaah! In my head that person’s voice is the same frequency as a dentist’s drill.

    @sharculese: I’m hearing Comic Book Guy.

    etc.

    A blog post title that mocks Pax's last name, three attempts at shaming me… and zero actual arguments.

  133. paolaccio says:

    That was in response to your "I answered your question" comment, which was ostensibly a response to my second comment.

    I am not rushing you or "un-chill." I was noting that you hadn't yet responded to the question in my first comment, and we're now three comments/responses in.

    Eagerly, but calmly – in a most "chill" manner – awaiting your thoughts on the subject, I remain,

    Yr servant,
    paolaccio

  134. Clark says:

    @paolaccio:

    More than a bit confusing… you start out talking about how Pax "tweets with a faux-brogrammer alter ego" but spend the rest of the piece talking about "Pax's opinions as if they weren't, um, faux?

    This is the point I responded to earlier. I thought that because it ended with a question mark it was a question (that's seriously not style trolling – but if you're going to get pissy about because I addressed your statements but not your questions you're going to have to take some of the blame here).

    You seem to be making a case that engaging hateful comments in the public sphere is a societal good

    I reject your assertion that Pax's statements are, in general, "hateful". Hell, I reject the very framework of the concept.

    if he's a "performance artist" who "slyly reference[s] existing memes," it kind of moots the free-speech thing here.

    I don't see that.

    Andrew "Dice" Clay had his nursery rhymes, Louis CK has his "of course… but maybe" shtick. There's no real outcry about them because they are comedians playing roles. Are you saying that's what Pax is doing?

    No.

    And if so, why not defend him on that basis?

    Because this wasn't a post primarilly about Pax; it was a post about speech, government, society, the internet, the loss of anonymity, flash mobs of shamers, and the modern era.

  135. naught_for_naught says:

    malformed query string in previous link I think. Let me try it one more time:

  136. ChicagoTom says:

    It is further my assertion that one provocative free-thinking Pax Dickinson is worth a thousand shaming conformist Nitash Tikus less than one Piss Christ.

    FTFY

  137. Ken White says:

    Clark:

    You missed:

    He’s a fucking privileged white guy fapping away.

    Well, I'm persuaded.

  138. Fasolt says:

    @Ken. Can't resist this.

  139. Clark says:

    @Eric Mesa:

    1) Nobody took what Pax said and put it on twitter, he put it there himself

    Indeed; which is what makes this a perfect trigger for a discussion of what makes for acceptable public discourse.

    2) This wasn't an accidental moment of misogyny.

    What a perfect time to talk about definitions:

    https://twitter.com/paxdickinson/statuses/377139293136756736

    Everyone makes mistakes because we've been raised in a certain culture.

    I don't think Pax made any mistakes. He said exactly what he wanted to say, and he dealt gracefully with the explosion that he knew would eventually arrive.

  140. Anonymous Coward says:

    He's no performance artist. He's just a loudmouth jackass. He doesn't NEED to shut up… but he probably should.

    No matter what I think of (that even larger jackass) Mel Gibson, I know better than to post something like that publicly.

  141. Nick T says:

    I suggest that people need to either expand their concern about shaming to victims that they don't particularly agree with, or they need to admit that their concern is really special pleading: "I don't want my people or my activities shamed, but I'm all down with shaming The Other's people and activities." That second choice is a legitimate position, but they lose a fair bit of moral high ground – there's not much gravitas in saying that it's wrong to slut-shame progressive women but it's morally good to do it to the Palins of the world, or that it's wrong to fat-shame Bill Clinton but OK to do it to Rush Limbaugh, etc.

    I see an intermediate position which seems very common among more principled progressives: it's bad to shame harmless things even if The Other does them, but it's good to shame harmful things including harmful speech, and it happens that "harmful speech" and "political speech I'm opposed to" are heavily overlapping categories.

  142. Clark says:

    @Ken White

    Clark:

    You missed:

    He’s a fucking privileged white guy fapping away.

    Well, I'm persuaded.

    There are new ones every minute. E.g.:

    @LeeEsq: I’m really constantly amazed at the inability of people not to know when to shut up.

  143. David says:

    James,

    Where you are incorrect concerning Rush et al is in the following: Rush's weight is nobody's problem or concern except his. If he was simultaneously taking government money for healthcare I would agree with you. But he isn't. So if he wants to talk about personal responsibility his weight isn't relevant in any manner. Do you understand?

  144. paolaccio says:

    I am really not sure how I pissed in your cornflakes here. I found the shift from "he's just a performance artist" to "it's his opinion" confusing and said why. You immediately going personal with snark about my ellipses and my "pissiness" is regrettable, but hey, it's the internet, and I hope you note that I didn't respond in kind.

    In terms of "hateful," I suppose that was lazy word choice on my part, but I don't see a lot of light between that and your description of "stuff that, at a quick glance, is patently offensive…and, after deeper examination, is also frequently offensive." If it helps, replace "hateful" with "offensive" and my question remains.

    And in terms of the difference between a performance artist and a person tweeting his own comments: I'd defend Louis CK's comments, for example, in a very different way than I would someone seriously saying maybe slavery wasn't a big deal. If the distinction isn't clear to you, we can drop it here.

  145. Fasolt says:

    P.S. My post refers to Ken's previous comment with the "jealous people just want to sleep with white women angle" link, btw.

  146. Grifter says:

    I think the rise of the internet is not a "superstimulant", but rather a return to the regular stimulant. It used to be that you didn't say stupid things in public that would get you shunned, because you would be ostracized. Then our society got "big enough" to accomodate everyone. This is, to a certain extent, good. However, it caused a certain degree of depersonalization–we didn't know the people we interacted with as well as we might have. Now, with the rise of the internet and social media, we can see people for who they are, as we might in a small town.

    Someone says stupid or offensive things…should their livelihood go away? Is it a bad thing if it does? Well, I don't think Pax is going to die from his ostracizing. Worst case, he leaves tech entirely. But bad decisions have far reaching consequences all the time. Touch a hot stove, burn your hand. Step in front of a car, you die. And say things under your real name that you know will be inflammatory, risk ostracization.

    This is why privacy is important, but it's also why I don't have sympathy when grown-ass people make poor decisions. He could have tweeted anonymously: he chose not to.

    It is possible to rehabilitate yourself from a mistake, it just takes work on your part. Actions have consequences which must be dealt with.

    Should Carreon's name come up with his debacle for the rest of his life? Unless he does something else bigger, I see no problem with it. What he does must overshadow his error.

    I'm reminded of an old joke:

    "A man walks into a bar.

    He sees a sad middle-aged man pounding down the brews.

    "What's wrong?" he asks.

    "Well, bucko, I'll tellya," the man says.

    "My name is Angus. Everyone calls me "Angus, the—" well, you see that bridge out there?"

    "I sure do"

    " 'S a goood Bridge. Built it with me bare hands I did. But do they call me "Angus, the Bridge Builder"? No!"

    "That's rough," the newcomer says.

    "And that roof! Over on the school there," Angus pointed down the lane. " 'S a good roof, took me a month, made it with me bare hands. But do they call me "Angus the Roof Maker"?"

    "I'm guessing they don't?"

    "No, they do not," Angus says, and downs another gulp, emptying his glass.

    "That's rough," the newcomer says. The bartender brings Angus a new beer.

    "An' that dock out there! I built it one piece o' wood at a time, took me a year, I built it with me bare hands. Still, they don't call me "Angus the Pier Builder"!"

    Angus gulps his new beer down, emptying half in one swig. "But you fuck ONE Sheep . . .!!!!"

  147. Clark says:

    @paolaccio

    I am really not sure how I pissed in your cornflakes here.

    OK, fair enough. Let's chalk it up to a misunderstanding, assume that we're both debating in good faith…and then go out and get chocolates together some time. ;-)

    In terms of "hateful," I suppose that was lazy word choice on my part, but I don't see a lot of light between that and your description of "stuff that, at a quick glance, is patently offensive…and, after deeper examination, is also frequently offensive." If it helps, replace "hateful" with "offensive" and my question remains.

    OK, dandy. The problem I have with "hateful", by the way, is that it's quite similar to the word "hate" as in "hate speech", which I see as an attempt by one political wing to mark certain topics and opinions as beyond the pale for acceptable discourse.

    (I'm not a big fan of pushing much of anything beyond the line of "what people are allowed to talk about". …which is sort of the point of this entire post!)

    So, anyway, I saw your use of the word as a bit of begging the question…which it was not intended to be.

    So. Let's use the word "offensive".

    And in terms of the difference between a performance artist and a person tweeting his own comments: I'd defend Louis CK's comments, for example,

    I've never seen the man, so I don't have context.

    in a very different way than I would someone seriously saying maybe slavery wasn't a big deal. If the distinction isn't clear to you, we can drop it here.

    Is this something Pax said? Can you point me to it so that I can see the exact words and the context?

    For the record, I don't – crisply speaking – see Pax as purely a performance artist, speaking words that he does not believe. I see him as a provocateur, saying things that he does believe, often in witty / cryptic / shocking terms.

    I find that I agree with some of his shocking ideas and disagree with others.

  148. JeffM says:

    Because this wasn't a post primarilly about Pax; it was a post about speech, government, society, the internet, the loss of anonymity, flash mobs of shamers, and the modern era.

    When you hang an argument off a specific incident, you have to expect people to judge the argument with some degree of reference to that incident. The implied premise of your argument seems to be that this dude somehow did not deserve what he got and that, consequently, we should all be in a pother about the distinction between "thick liberty" and "thin liberty." In my opinion, the guy got exactly what he deserved. As I said above, in the context of this example, your distinction between "thick" and "thin" liberty merely looks like a rhetorical dodge to argue for consequence-free speech even if it restricts the liberty of others. If you provided an example that clearly showed how thicker liberty for one did not entail thinner liberty for one or more others, maybe I'd devote some thought to the distinction.

  149. Clark says:

    @Grifter

    I think the rise of the internet is not a "superstimulant", but rather a return to the regular stimulant.

    Yes. See my reference to Megan McArdle, anonymity in the big city, and the period 1700-2000 AD.

    Worst case, [ Pax ] leaves tech entirely. But bad decisions have far reaching consequences all the time. Touch a hot stove, burn your hand.

    Yes. I agree that that is how things work. That's a positive statement. But what's your normative take on it?

    This is why privacy is important, but it's also why I don't have sympathy when grown-ass people make poor decisions. He could have tweeted anonymously: he chose not to.

    I've got sympathy without being the least bit surprised.

    I'm reminded of an old joke:

    "A man walks into a bar.

    I'm reminded of an
    old comment.

    …well, not that old. Lizard only made it 90 minutes before you did. ;-)

  150. paolaccio says:

    The Louis CK bit goes

    Of course slavery is the worst thing that ever happened. Every time it has happened – black people in America, Jews in Egypt, every time a whole race of people has been enslaved – it’s a horrible thing. But maybe every incredible human achievement in history was done with slaves. Every single thing where you go, ‘How did they build those pyramids?’ They just threw human death and suffering at them until they were finished… There is no end to what you can do when you don’t give a fuck about particular people.”

    http://youtu.be/bkjmzEEQUlE

    So someone saying that with a straight face would be rightly held up as, shall we say, offensive. Louis CK, on the other hand, gets an HBO special.

    That is the context in which I was interpreting "performance artist." I think I get your "provocateur" gloss on it, which makes a lot more sense in the contest of your "opinions" comments.

  151. Clark says:

    @JeffM

    Because this wasn't a post primarilly about Pax; it was a post about speech, government, society, the internet, the loss of anonymity, flash mobs of shamers, and the modern era.

    When you hang an argument off a specific incident, you have to expect people to judge the argument with some degree of reference to that incident.

    Sure.

    But a commenter asked me why I wrote a 3,500 word post about all sorts of things rather than some shorter argument about comments-as-comedy that he thought would be better.

    I explained: because I wanted to do thing A and not thing B.

    The implied premise of your argument seems to be that this dude somehow did not deserve what he got

    I don't think the post had one premise; it was essaying several ideas.

    In my opinion, the guy got exactly what he deserved.

    Noted.

    As I said above, in the context of this example, your distinction between "thick" and "thin" liberty merely looks like a rhetorical dodge to argue for consequence-free speech even if it restricts the liberty of others.

    I'm not much for rhetorical dodges; I usually argue exactly what I mean.

    Of course, one thing we've established here is that you think that when people argue exactly what they mean, if what they mean is something uncomfortable or odd, then they deserve to get punished and lose their jobs.

    If you provided an example that clearly showed how thicker liberty for one did not entail thinner liberty for one or more others, maybe I'd devote some thought to the distinction.

    That is the very core problem that I see with the concept of thick liberty, and why I am not a left anarchist.

  152. Marconi Darwin says:

    The whole point of publishing papers is to attempt to reduce the total number of opinions people are allowed to express.

    For example, if you write a paper trying to defend the concept that global warming is not anthropogenic you will have a hard time finding a publisher willing to touch it.

    So science advances by shutting people up.

    Seriously? Too bad we cannot call Galileo as a witness.

    Who knows, neutrinos really travel faster than light, and would be established if only publishers would publish papers that shows that.

    You would both need compelling evidence AND and strong argument that explains why everybody else got it wrong. That is a very small idea space. Every new paper reduces the theoretically possible idea space that is consistent with all data known.

    Theories would be more prevalent if only they did not have such a high threshold for acceptance. Peter Higgs had to wait, what, half a century? Who knows what'll happen to those string theorists.

  153. dtsund says:

    Zak N.:

    >I'd argue that a major purpose of speech is to get other people to shut up. A clear example of this is in the scientific literature. People are not allowed to express entire ranges of opinions in the scientific literature. The whole point of publishing papers is to attempt to reduce the total number of opinions people are allowed to express.

    I'd like you to take a look at the history of 20th century physics, and the laundry list of heterodox theories it painlessly absorbed from the theory of relativity onward, and repeat that comment with a straight face.

  154. Grifter says:

    @Clark: D'oh! This is what I get for not being thorough…

    Normatively: No, I have no problem with it. That's part of why privacy and anonymity exist, and why also the free market of ideas does.

    I have sympathy for those who should not be expected to suffer consequences for poor decisions if at all possible: children, the handicapped, those who have undertaken to maintain their privacy. But Pax had the ability and the knowledge to avoid these consequences, he just lacked the will to do so. If he now reaps the consequences of his actions, he does not have much of my sympathies.

    I know I have opinions that would make me suffer consequences–this is why I rarely, if ever, identify my online self with my real self. I have no interest in being outed as an atheist in my job, for example, because I know it may affect how I am treated, despite the fact that my job is in no way related to theology. I enjoy the continuum of identity that I get by using the same SN, and if I ever became a pariah at a place where my identity had remained consistent, I would probably leave rather than create a new one, but I have taken steps to ensure that I've protected ONE aspect of my life from ANOTHER.

  155. Nick T says:

    Is the idea that the shamed person will falsely change his opinion because he's been made the object of ridicule? Quite possible – corporate CEOs do it all the time, kissing up to groups and causes that they don't really care about. I'm not sure why someone would want this.

    If they think the expression of the opinion is harmful — because it's wrong, or because the expression gives power to bad things unrelated to the idea itself (e.g. one might claim that talking about racial IQ differences makes people more racist even though it rationally shouldn't), or because the expression itself hurts people (e.g. one might claim that talking about racial IQ differences tends to harm minorities) — wanting this makes perfect sense. These kinds of harms are real, although one might think them a poor justification for silencing, or even too dangerous to take into account in general.

    (Disclaimer: The legitimacy of a concern does not contradict the hypothesis that it functions as a rationalization for social power-seeking.)

  156. Lizard says:

    TL;DR: "It's arbitrary. Deal with it."

    How awesome would it be if these people were shamed into conforming?

    Well, if they want to change the world in a way I think the world should be changed (perhaps I always thought that, perhaps they convinced me by exposing me to ideas no one else had dared voice in public before), it would be a terrible, awful, bad, no-good thing if they were shamed into conforming, and I'd try to find the courage to add my voice against those trying to shame them.

    If they want to change the world in a way I think the world should not be changed (which means they've failed to make a convincing case for their point of view, which could mean it's wrong, or they're bad communicators, or I'm just too stupid to see the wisdom of their words), it would be a wonderful, good, pleasant thing if they were shamed into conforming, or at least sufficiently marginalized that I would not feel compelled to keep adding my voice to the chorus against them. A lot depends, of course, on exactly how much I oppose them and how much harm I see as coming from their change. No matter what, I would oppose any use of government force to silence them — that's an absolute line nothing's convinced me to cross. Other than that? There's plenty of ideas I am happy to see vanish from the realm of things you can say and still be considered a marginally tolerable human being. And, yes, I'm well aware many of the ideas I hold to are, in other people's opinions, in that category.

    Since it seems that no matter how many times I write this, or a variant on it, people seem incapable of understanding it, like there's a massive SEP field around my posts, let me try to be direct and use no weasel words:

    I will participate in and encourage social pressure against people who express or support ideas I, personally, subjectively, and possibly irrationally, consider evil, immoral, rude, or wrong. I will oppose, and protest, social pressure against who express or support ideas I, personally, subjectively, and possibly irrationally, consider good, moral, ethical, or simply neutral.

    I believe the metric by which I decide into which category a person or idea falls is one that is based on values I support and how I weight those values. I do not consider "I support boycotting X, but I oppose boycotting Y" to be hypocritical. I would consider myself hypocritical if it was convincingly pointed out that my principles should lead me to a different conclusion about X or Y than I espouse — in which case, I will re-examine either my conclusion or my principles, because one of them is flawed.

    I reject any argument to the effect that it's never right to impose social values by non-violent, non-governmental, means, or to define taboo behaviors, because there is no such thing as a "society" without those things. (Indeed, it often seems that the more a faction or philosophy defines itself by its support for "diversity" and its opposition to "norms", the more litmus tests, loyalty oaths, and vicious inter-factional wars there tend to be. Why not just be honest and say you're trying to replace one set of boundaries with another set?, but I digress.) I can and will dispute exactly what those boundaries and taboos should be, and I will pass moral judgment and take appropriate action against those who violate my ideas of what is taboo, and I will support those who are being pressured to conform to someone else's ideas of what is taboo, if I do not think it should be. (IOW: I will shame, mock, and condemn those who seek to advance, say, the idea that "women should be wives and mothers and they can't be happy outside of these roles". I will not feel any great guilt or pity if the targets of such mockery complain I've hurt their feelings. I will, likewise, sympathize with and support those women who have been the targets of such attacks because they expressed the idea that women should not be constrained in their roles. I agree with one and disagree with the other, and that's pretty much the extent of the justification. Why am I more emotionally moved by a single friend's bad day than by a report that 1,000 people have been murdered in some civil war far away, if all human life, philosophically, has equal value? Some people are in my monkeysphere, some aren't. Pax is in your monkeysphere, not mine. To you, he's a person. To me, he's a random stranger espousing views I condemn. In the marketplace of ideas, his views are competing with mine. I want them off the shelves. I can't demand the marketplace stop selling them (legally or ethically), but I can participate in marketing campaigns to associate negative, undesirable, traits with those ideas, to encourage consumers of ideas to buy something else. You're doing the same thing, right here, right now, and I support your right to do so. You're running an ad campaign saying "All the COOL people support pax! Only lame-o pro-censorship advocates don't. You don't want to be a square, do you?" Who will win? Which product will sell more? Is it immoral or unethical that the anti-Pax "ad campaign" has a more powerful, better staffed, ad agency behind it? If so, how would you change that? Good advertising doesn't always mean a good idea. Not only is there no right not to be criticized, there's no right to have your product in the marketplace of ideas be given equal shelf space, promotion, or special 2-for-1 deals if you buy today. (Would I be as cavalier if I were supporting a "losing" product in the marketplace? In terms of accepting the reality of the world, yes. In terms of fighting to alter "my" product's success, no. It's my choice or pleasure or hobby to promote the ideas I like best, and to make fun of those ideas I like least. It's the job of those with opposite views to do the same for theirs. Right up until the point where "Uncle" Sam decides to announce he's going to "protect" the marketplace of ideas from any "accidents", but only if they stop selling certain products that Sam, he don't like, it's all the same. At that point, the game changes, and I stop caring about what the ideas under debate are, or who espouses them. When "Uncle" Sam shows up, everyone has a common enemy.

    There is no innate moral code written into the fabric of the universe, inherent in human nature, or handed down by any gods. This is something I've had a long, painful, time accepting, because I want there to be. It makes it a lot easier if I can say, "I'm morally correct, and I can prove it!" I can't. I assert, further, that no one CAN. I have a moral code that draws from multiple sources and which conforms, broadly, to the dominant moral code of Western liberal democracies. I recognize this is as much a product of my conditioning as it is of objective analysis of the universe. I also don't care, because there is no human being whose conclusions are not shaped by the way their brain was wired before birth and by the environment in which they were raised.

    My decisions and values are, to the extent I can determine, rational conclusions drawn from essentially arbitrary premises. I've chosen some things to value over others, for reasons I may never fully understand, as each level of self-questioning simply reveals another "why?" that ultimately leads to "Damned if I know." I have come to accept that other people have begun with differing sets of arbitrary values, have weighed them differently, and have worked out different algorithms for applying them. I support my values and my conclusions, and oppose theirs. One of the values I support is that violence is only acceptable as a response to violence or plausible threats of the same, never to ideas. I can give you a ton of reasons why I believe this — but each of those reasons boils down to "Because this supports another thing I value", and the reason for that value is "because this supports another thing I value", and it's turtles all the way down. It's possible to convince me to change how I weight values, or which values I should support at all, but doing so will still be rearranging a structure that is essentially free floating in moral space.

    It occurs to me: Most visualizations of human value systems use some sort of metaphor of pillars, or pyramids, or what not, resting on some sort of solid ground labeled "Universal Law" or "The Word Of God" or something like that. In reality, our moral, ethical, and social structures are more like collections of tinkertoys floating in a void. We disconnect one strut and connect it to another. We add more collections of parts. We disassemble bits and cast them off. We pick up bits we find, here and there, and try to make them fit. But there's no base. There's no true foundation — just connections between nodes, some multiply reinforced, some fragile and easily severed. You can race around and around and inside the structure and explore the fringes, but you can't find a top or a bottom. (Some may disagree with this. That's nice.)

  157. eddie says:

    The annoying thing about this comment thread, to me, is that so many people have said something along the lines of:

    He had it coming, what was he thinking, making controversial tweets while working as a highly-placed executive in a large company, that was so stupid, of course he should have been fired for being so stupid

    As opposed to discussing:

    Nitasha Tiku, Valleywag, and everyone else who piled on afterwards were completely right / completely wrong to have stirred up reactions and attracted attention to Pax's controversial tweets with the explicit purpose of getting him fired because they didn't like what those controversial tweets said

    Because, you know, that happened. And is what Clark is posting about. And is at the center of Clark's unsolved conundrum.

    For my part, I think they were completely wrong and demonstrated the worst of humankind by their actions.

  158. Lizard says:

    So true, its a shame that scientists insist that opinions are backed by experimentation and logic. They won't let anyone play that doesn't follow their "Scientific Method."

    Bunch of big ol' meanie pants, that's what they are! :)

  159. Grifter says:

    @eddie:

    Why, though? Why are they wrong for expressing their opinion? This wasn't picketing, this was "Hey, you guys employ an asshole". Why is that "the worst of humankind"?

    Hyperbole kills billions every day.

  160. Zak N. says:

    @Clark

    From what little I know of you (this comment) I find you a thoroughly unlikeable – and even malevolent – person.

    I get that sometimes, but am I wrong? In your last response you mostly expressed astonishment at my framing, but you didn't advance a reason that my view is incorrect. You just tried to shame me into shutting up about it.

    Which is particularly amusing given that we know that not all of global warming is anthropogenic

    Do we now? I'm current with the warming literature, and anthropogenic effects are the dominant contribution to the recent warming trend.

    Full disclosure: I'm a research scientist. Climate research is tangential to my field (I make semiconductor materials for solar cells and photochemistry), but I read the primary literature fairly regularly. If you think that global warming isn't happening or is mostly not caused by people feel free to advance what you think are good arguments. I'll bet they are actually the same set of terrible arguments floating about the internet about this topic.

    and access to taxpayer funded data that certain climate change scientists are refusing to release

    This is not true. All the datasets and even the analysis source code are public.

    Funny. I thought it was supposed to work by convincing them.

    Lets say I have a bad idea. You convince me that it is a bad idea, I will no longer express the bad idea. You have, in essence, shut me up. It was just consensual.

  161. Ken White says:

    @eddie:

    For my part, I think they were completely wrong and demonstrated the worst of humankind by their actions.

    Okay.

    Let me ask you this.

    You're a writer for a blog. Your blog covers the tech industry. Your blog often covers bad or douchey or amusing behavior in the tech industry. Of late, your blog often covers the controversial topic of how women are treated in the tech industry and how execs in the tech industry view women.

    You come across Pax's twitter feed (which, by the way, used to identify his employment).

    You see his comments about unicorns and women's suffrage and blocking feminists on Twitter and so forth.

    What should you do?

    I understand that you think you shouldn't call his employer for comment. Let's spot you that one and assume you don't do that.

    Should you self-censor, and not write about it?

  162. Al says:

    @eddie

    Is it that they didn't like the controversial tweets or that they didn't like that a CTO of a fairly well known company was giving the impression that he didn't like to have a workforce with an average testicle count below 2.0?

    Anyway, I think we're getting away from the central question that this thread has brought up time and time again which is, what the hell did you do to the middle click?

  163. Chad Miller says:

    I didn't want to go into further detail on the Adria Richards thing, but I just realized something: if this article is really about speech and consequence as opposed to an attack on the PC Police, the correct analog to Pax Dickinson in the Adria Richards story is not the guys who made the jokes, but Richards herself.

    To back that statement up, here's the narrative based on stuff I can source back to the parties involved and not random commenters. I'm deliberately avoiding any value judgments here.

    -A couple guys make some kind of off-color puns involving "forking" and "dongles" at a programming conference (Pycon)

    -Richards finds this objectionable, takes a picture of them and publicly tweets it

    -The guys running the conference pull the two guys aside who agree with the accusation and apologize. No further action is taken.

    -Pycon updates their policies to clarify that, hey, maybe that kind of complaint shouldn't be public

    -Adria makes a blog post about the whole thing which I never saw and is now gone and wasn't cached. I have no idea what it said.

    -The company employing the two guys fires one of them. (That they only fired one and not the other suggests that there were other factors, but I'm speculating)

    -Word gets out that guy was fired.

    -Sendgrid, Richards' employer, originally supported her completely but changed its mind when enough death threats and DDoS attacks came in to make them realize that she probably couldn't do her job any more (which was essentially PR).

    So as far as I can tell, regardless of the merits of her initial complaint there was no sustained attack by Richards or her supporters here. Instead there was a screwup that resulted in a firing that may have been disproportionate, but we can't say for sure because that's between the guy and Playhaven. There was, on the other hand, a sustained attack that eventually pressured Richards' employer into firing her. I'd be happy to look at any evidence that there was some giant feminist stink before the Sendgrid developer's firing, but as far as I can tell the story didn't really blow up until the MRAs had a martyr.

  164. eddie says:

    So someone saying that with a straight face would be rightly held up as, shall we say, offensive.

    They would?

    Jesus, what a bunch of pussies our society has become.

    Or maybe it's just you.

    I can hope.

  165. Lizard says:

    Perhaps we're ignoring the "jealous people just want to sleep with white women" angle to all this.

    Ken, could you warn that reading any paragraph of that mind-sapping twaddle does 1d6 SAN loss? As retribution for linking to that, I promise, if I win the lottery, you will get ponies. Lots and lots of ponies.

  166. En Passant says:

    Clark wrote in OP:

    So, I am genuinely curious as to what the goal of mass shaming someone is.

    I'm inclined to think that "mass" human actions do not ultimately have a coherent goal. The events generally have a result, but not necessarily a particular goal. The person or persons who intentionally or inadvertently set the mass action in motion may have had a goal, but that goal may or may not correspond to the results of the mass action event.

    To clarify by imperfect analogy — one might set off an avalanche unintentionally or intentionally. One might have intended to simply walk across an unstable surface, and failed. One might have intended to initiate the avalanche for benign reasons, such as to rid a slope of unstable snow; or for malign reasons, to wreck something downslope.

    But only the instigator(s), intentional or not, had a purpose. The avalanche is just a collection of objects, each moving and interacting according to the laws of Newtonian mechanics. They do not have goals, individually or collectively.

    With massive human events, whether "mass shaming", economic bubbles, dance crazes, crusades or wars, the instigators may have had goals, but the ensuing human events take on a life of their own. The individual participants act upon idiosyncratic motivations, which may contradict those of other participants. Those motivations are the result of whatever laws govern human perceptions and behaviors, which are much more murky than the laws of classical mechanics.

    Instigators often have no control of the mass human events beyond whatever control they may have exercised in instigating them. One classical description and partial analysis of the phenomenon is Charles Mackay's 1841 Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. It's available in full online, and it's an excellent read.

  167. JeffM says:

    I'm not much for rhetorical dodges; I usually argue exactly what I mean.

    Of course, one thing we've established here is that you think that when people argue exactly what they mean, if what they mean is something uncomfortable or odd, then they deserve to get punished and lose their jobs.

    Well that is a rhetorical dodge in itself. I defy you to point to anything that I have said that supports the idea that sincere argument deserves punishment because it is sincere. or the idea that odd ideas deserve punishment because they are odd. You just ascribed those positions to me to argue against a strawman.

    I do not want to repeat my initial post. To summarize, his speech was deemed offensive by some, and it invited potentially adverse consequences to others, who had not invited those consequences upon themselves. They exercised their freedom of association to can the clown. Moreover, even had there been no risk of adverse consequences to others, they still may not have wished to be associated with an intentionally offensive dolt. You at least seem to be arguing that their freedom to associate is inferior to his freedom to speak.

  168. jackn says:

    With massive human events, whether "mass shaming", economic bubbles, dance crazes, crusades or wars, the instigators may have had goals, but the ensuing human events take on a life of their own. The individual participants act upon idiosyncratic motivations, which may contradict those of other participants. Those motivations are the result of whatever laws govern human perceptions and behaviors, which are much more murky than the laws of classical mechanics.

    One motivation is just for 'fun!'

  169. ChicagoTom says:

    I'd argue that a major purpose of speech is to get other people to shut up

    I'd argue that the purpose of speech is the persuade those who are either undecided, or are persuadable, or don't have strongly held views to support to your line of thinking.

    When I come across what I find to be absurd/hateful/ignorants shit on the web (and there's plenty of it to go around) I repost it on social media to point out to others who absurd it is. Why? Because I'd like to persuade others to see it my way or to solicit feedback about how/why they disagree. There's also a lot of people out there who aren't that aware or don't believe that some of the ass-hattery that goes on exists. It's nice to life the veil of ignorance of others (and myself too…thats why I like seeing others highlighting stuff on social media — to inform me of things I am missing or unaware of)

    In fact I don't want anyone to shut up. People like Pax should keep talking. He should double down and dig in. In fact I would hate to live in a world where assholes kept quiet. How else are they to get hoisted by their own petard?? The rope that Pax is hanging from is his own.

    Now some have argued proportionality of response etc. I find those arguments unconvincing. As I said in Ken's thread about this subject: if he was posting under a pseudonym and someone dug around and outed him or if he posted things to a private email list, or if his twitter feed/facebook page was private and someone started publicizing it, I would be quite bothered by that.

    But this guy posted inflammatory things purposely, in a very public forum that he knew was out there for the world to read. For what reason??? I can't say for sure, but I can speculate that part of it was to point to the responses and point out how absurd they are or to try and get a rise out of people and see if they react like raging lunatics and to mock them.

    Pardon me if the proportionality argument rings hollow when someone purposely incites a crowd and then the crowd turns on him. He played with fire. He got burned. Some people argue he didnt deserve 3rd degree burns. My response is : when you play with fire, you don't know how badly you might get burned. Maybe you should find something else to play with?

  170. ChicagoTom says:

    It's nice to life the veil of ignorance of others

    That should read lift the veil.

  171. CdG says:

    Thanks for the read, quite thoughtprovoking.

    I'd like to add a couple of thoughts to your reasoning:

    First, in the traditional setting for social shaming, there is a feedback mechanism at work. Calling the pizzaslicegrabber a pig when it's uncalled for or disproportionate will result in shame being directed to the shamer. The shamer is likely to realize this himself when the former pizzaslicegrabber now does not dare to take any slice of pizza anymore. This occurs because the social circle is the same for the shamer and the shamee and the effects of the shaming are observed by all.

    In the online world, this feedback mechanism is hardly existent. Shamers are not confronted with the actual effects of the shaming. The extent to which shame and anguish is (or is not) being felt by the shamee is hidden from sight.

    Second: this detachment between shamer and shamee might also be the basis for the question you pose:

    Since there is such a distance between shamer and shamee, the goal is not likely to be sought in changing the attitude of the shamee, but rather in the self-fulfillment of the shamer. One of the reasons you might want to confront your racist patron in the restaurant is that you may want to feel like you have taken a stand. You might even long for admiration of your company for standing up to him. The latter motive becomes stronger when 'your tribe' is a different social group than 'his tribe'.

    Third. I think that everyone who says that people should shut up, should just shut up!

  172. Aelfric says:

    Having reasd the OP and comments, and understanding it to be a "meditation" for lack of a better word on Clark's part, I guess I am lost as to what the final prescription is? Self censor? Try to shame in a more atomized fashion? I don't believe Clark is saying we simply turn our heads, but I am not clear exactly what response he recommends. Perhaps I've missed it, but I'd be interested to hear.

  173. paolaccio says:

    Jesus, what a bunch of pussies our society has become.

    Or maybe it's just you.

    It's just me. Yup. Total wuss. Seriously defending the exploitation and degradation of humans bothers me.

    Also spiders.

  174. eddie says:

    It comes down to civility.

    Civil discourse tolerates the opinions of others and does not seek to punish them for their opinions, nor their words.

    I appreciate Lizard's view, and sympathize with it to some degree. But we have to recognize that these are the words of a warrior engaged in all-out war:

    I will participate in and encourage social pressure against people who express or support ideas I, personally, subjectively, and possibly irrationally, consider evil, immoral, rude, or wrong. I will oppose, and protest, social pressure against who express or support ideas I, personally, subjectively, and possibly irrationally, consider good, moral, ethical, or simply neutral.

    There are some things I would go to war over. I can't say right now that I would never adopt Lizard's mindset. In fact, I said almost the same thing a few months back when Clark posted about gays.

    But maybe warfare isn't the right approach. Maybe not always. Maybe not even except in the worst extremes, where you know without a doubt that you are right and your enemies are wrong and the stakes are so high that no quarter can be given, no pause taken.

    Maybe we should try civility more often.

  175. Clark says:

    @Aelfric

    Having reasd the OP and comments, and understanding it to be a "meditation" for lack of a better word on Clark's part, I guess I am lost as to what the final prescription is?

    I have yet to reach a conclusion; I just wanted to share some of my thoughts to date.

  176. Mike says:

    I'd like to tick back over to the Scalzi thing for a moment, because I think your comment that he has the instincts of a censor is grossly unfair. Say what you like about his attitude or book quality (although I don't see the relevance of those, particularly the latter) or his ability to take criticism (which seems to me to be with humor and grace, e.g., http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/08/26/to-the-dudebro-who-thinks-hes-insulting-me-by-calling-me-a-feminist/). But saying he has the instincts of a censor suggests to me you're getting information only from his critics and not looking at what he's written.

    He "censors" comments on his site carefully, but unless I've been reading this site all wrong, Ken would be the first to tell you that this isn't anything near censorship or a call for it — it's controlling behavior in one's own house. On the other hand, he's very strident in his advocacy against true — i.e., government — censorship. From five minutes of Googling his site:

    Defending a Holocaust denialist: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2006/02/22/free-speech-for-everyone-even-the-dickheads/

    Defending Fred Phelps (Westboro Baptist Church):
    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2006/03/24/fred-phelps-and-free-speech/

    On Kirk Cameron: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/03/07/speech-and-kirk-cameron/ (This one could have been taken straight from Ken: "Well, Kirk Cameron, here’s the thing. You are correct when you say you should be able to express your moral views on social issues, and as a staunch defender of the First Amendment, I will defend to the death your right to say whatever ridiculous, ignorant and bigoted thing that has been fermenting in that cracked clay pot you call a brain pan. But the First Amendment also means that when you say such things, other people have the a right to mock you and the silly, stupid words that have dribbled out of your skull through that word hole above your chin. If you call someone 'unnatural,' they might call you an 'asshole.' That’s the deal."

    On teenagers: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2005/03/01/just-a-thought/

    And so on and so forth.

    Anyway, thanks for the thoughtful post. I do disagree with it (as with most of your offerings, being a left-wing non-anarchist), but those disagreements are pretty well covered above.

  177. David says:

    Anyway, I think we're getting away from the central question that this thread has brought up time and time again which is, what the hell did you do to the middle click?

    Yeah.

    Note how the middleclick works as expected in some posts and for some links, but not for others.

    It's not on-site|off-site. It's not based on medium/mime-type. No target is specified.

    Googling suggests that it's a Chrome/Firefox bug. There's even a Chrome extension to work around it for now.

  178. ChicagoTom says:

    Try to shame in a more atomized fashion? I don't believe Clark is saying we simply turn our heads, but I am not clear exactly what response he recommends. Perhaps I've missed it, but I'd be interested to hear.

    What I got out of it was. "When the ox is mine, I object to it being gored."

  179. Ken White says:

    @eddie:

    Maybe we should try civility more often.

    Perhaps.

    But that raises the question of (1) what is civility, and (2) what do you do when others remain uncivil.

    With respect to (1), I would still enjoy an answer about what you think the blogger should have done.

  180. eddie says:

    You're a writer for a blog. Your blog covers the tech industry. Your blog often covers bad or douchey or amusing behavior in the tech industry.

    What should you do?

    Get a job in the real world?

    I'm not especially interested in the ethical dilemmas faced daily by gossip columnists and muckrakers.

  181. cb says:

    –Nitasha Tiku, Valleywag, and everyone else who piled on afterwards were completely right / completely wrong to have stirred up reactions and attracted attention to Pax's controversial tweets with the explicit purpose of getting him fired because they didn't like what those controversial tweets said

    –Because, you know, that happened.

    No, I saw lots of reaction by people who weren't explicitly trying to get him fired. I don't think you could even make a strong case that all of them were implicitly trying to do so.

    Even if you could, the notion that they are either entirely right or entirely wrong is absurd

  182. ChicagoTom says:

    Civil discourse tolerates the opinions of others and does not seek to punish them for their opinions, nor their words.

    And what about when you are responding to someone whose initial discourse is un-civil to begin with??

    When someone is purposely being inflammatory, they aren't entitled to civil responses in return. I'm not going to have a civil sensible debate with the person who starts out saying things like "People in Chicago are all a bunch of brain dead savages and parasites." Am I (being from Chicago) expected to reply with a deeply thoughtful response about how great our cultural attractions are and how wonderful our lakefront is and how lovely the people I encounter every day are? Or am I justified in telling that person to blow it out his ass — because i deemed this person as someone who isn't interested in having a meaningful/thoughtful discussion? (Obviously, I could just ignore them too, but I don't have to — that's my prerogative if I choose to engage or not)

  183. eddie says:

    (Yes, I'm ducking the question. Sorry. I'll try something more substantive later.)

    As for (2) – WWJD, no?

  184. ChicagoTom says:

    From the same poster, presented without comment:

    Maybe we should try civility more often.

    Get a job in the real world?

    I'm not especially interested in the ethical dilemmas faced daily by gossip columnists and muckrakers.

  185. cb says:

    From the same person:

    -Jesus, what a bunch of pussies our society has become. Or maybe it's just you.

    &

    -Maybe we should try civility more often.

  186. Clark says:

    @ChicagoTom

    When someone is purposely being inflammatory, they aren't entitled to civil responses in return.

    "Entitled"?

    No. Perhaps not.

    But, on the other hand, perhaps our behavior should be gauged by the standard we wish to live up to, and not our desire to dish out just deserts to others.

  187. ChicagoTom says:

    @cb : Great minds, etc! ;-)

  188. eddie says:

    Civility doesn't mean politeness. You dumbfucks.

  189. ChicagoTom says:

    No. Perhaps not.

    Perhaps??? Even there you hedge?? Really? If someone is being purposely inflammatory they are absolutely NOT entitled to a civil reply.

    But, on the other hand, perhaps our behavior should be gauged by the standard we wish to live up to, and not our desire to dish out fair deserts to others.

    Perhaps.

    Perhaps people also deserve a taste of their own medicine — for their own good and for the good of others around them

  190. El Nino says:

    I take issue with the idea that this — "She was clearly hoping to get him fired, and she got her wish." can be inferred from this — "We've contacted Business Insider founder, editor, and CEO Henry Blodget, who recently received a $5 million funding round led by Jeff Bezos to see how he feels about Dickinson representing his brand." That's a fairly straightforward statement; she contacted the company's CEO for a statement about his CTO's public statements (which were clearly identified with the company, as BI was all over Pax's Twitter account). If that statement had been followed with "in the hope of getting him fired," then you could state that she was "clearly hoping to get him fired." But as stated, it's a major stretch to make the inference that she hoped to get him fired. Think of it this way… Pax protested that people interpreted his invitation to have Anil Dash call him an asshole to his face as a threat of violence; he insisted quite stridently that it wasn't. If you're willing to grant him the benefit of the doubt on that, then inferring that Nitash hoped to get Pax fired is way off base.

  191. jackn says:

    Get a job in the real world?
    I'm not especially interested in the ethical dilemmas faced daily by gossip columnists and muckrakers

    If gossip columnists and muckrakers were a protected class, you might be facing the shaming at this point. Your logic seems a little scattered, but maybe you are a performance artist?

  192. ChicagoTom says:

    Civility doesn't mean politeness. You dumbfucks.

    Apparently it means whatever you want it to mean at any given point.

    From Merriam-Webster : polite, reasonable, and respectful behavior

  193. Ken White says:

    (Yes, I'm ducking the question. Sorry. I'll try something more substantive later.)

    Actually, never mind, thank you.

  194. paolaccio says:

    Civility doesn't mean politeness. You dumbfucks.

    Emily Post said that, I think.

  195. cb says:

    -Civility doesn't mean politeness

    Sorry, but it does.

    For what it's worth, whatever civility means in your super secret dictionary appears fairly useless

  196. Clark says:

    @ChicagoTom

    No. Perhaps not.

    Perhaps??? Even there you hedge??

    That wasn't a hedge. It was the rhetorical device of understatement.

    If someone is being purposely inflammatory they are absolutely NOT entitled to a civil reply.

    Did you read what I wrote?

    Second question: did you comprehend it? I'm pretty sure that the answer is "no". I explicitly made the point that what they are "entitled to" is not the metric that I think is best.

    Saying "but they're not entitled to it" in a louder voice is not a rebuttal. It's not even engaging in the debate.

  197. Clark says:

    @El Nino

    I take issue with the idea that this

    She was clearly hoping to get him fired, and she got her wish."

    can be inferred from this

    "We've contacted Business Insider founder, editor, and CEO Henry Blodget, who recently received a $5 million funding round led by Jeff Bezos to see how he feels about Dickinson representing his brand."

    Well, then, we disagree. It's stunningly obvious to me that the sentence has the semantic content of "Henry Blodget and Jeff Bezos are on notice; they either fire Dickinson (and I get a scalp to nail to my journalistic wall) or they are endorsing this speech".

    That's a fairly straightforward statement

    LOL. I agree; it is. It's a fairly straightforward example of subtext and implication.

    it's a major stretch to make the inference that she hoped to get him fired.

    We strongly disagree on this.

  198. Clark says:

    @paolaccio

    Civility doesn't mean politeness. You dumbfucks.

    Emily Post said that, I think.

    LOL. Genius.

  199. Lizard says:

    There are some things I would go to war over. I can't say right now that I would never adopt Lizard's mindset. In fact, I said almost the same thing a few months back when Clark posted about gays.

    Seems no matter how many words I write, it's not enough. :)

    For the most part, my "participation" in assorted internet kerfluffles consists of:
    Friend: Dude, look at this asshat!
    Me: Yeah, he's an asshat, all right.

    Please note, BTW, I haven't actually participated in any action against Pax. I haven't tweeted anyone, written to his bosses, done anything except post on Popehat discussing morality, ethics, and philosophy. I don't feel any great moral outrage about what happened to him, so I'm not going to jump in and condemn those who feel great moral outrage about his posts. I will also snicker quite a bit at those who feel compelled to perform some serious logical gymnastics to say he didn't MEAN what his words actually SAID, you just have to apply the double-secret reverse hipster code and then you'll see!

    To make my stance more clear, here's something I wrote on FB a few days ago:
    " Default human behavior to one another should be polite neutrality. We are becoming a global community. We can't all share the same beliefs, values, and morals, and we will never all *like* each other, but can at least treat each other with a minimal degree of formal respect and acknowledgment of a common humanity, if nothing else. (Yeah, it would be nice if we all loved each other, or liked each other, but it ain't gonna happen. Period. The problem with unattainable standards is that if you tell someone they're not a decent human being unless they're perfect, they're likely to stop even trying to meet a standard they know they can't attain, and just go for the bottom, as it's easier. "Let the crime fit the punishment." Standards we can actually live up to, in the real world, give us less excuse to stop trying. Because, seriously, if simply treating everyone (until, as an individual, they've given you a damn good reason not to) with a minimal degree of civility — not friendship, not love, not agreement, but simple *civility* — is too much to ask of someone as a precondition for being considered a member of society, then just give me the NORAD launch codes. It's time to give some other species a shot as the sapience thing.)"

    Now, writing this, I was speaking extremely generically. It's how we should all deal with each other in the absence of specific information about a given person and their actions, values, and ideas. It's the baseline. We don't assume someone's an axe murderer until we see them holding a bloody axe.

    I try (I fail, but I still try) to keep my tone and demeanor civil or, at worst, diffidently sarcastic. It takes stupidity above and beyond the call of duty to get me into a frothing rage, these days — at least and still post it after I'm done frothing. I've got quite an archive of stuff I decided not to post, and often, it was the right decision to not post it. (And why was it the right decision? Because the social consequences of letting people see the screaming, spitting, maniac in my mind are too severe. Because I expect people to do unto me as I do unto them, and I try — again, "try", not always "succeed" — to keep my tone measured and to focus on ideas.)

    Certainly, I have referred to Pax using less-than-flattering words. That's based on my evaluation of what he's said. His own words have shifted him, in my personal estimation, away from the baseline of polite civility. He seems to have failed to meet even that extremely low bar of "Don't be a dick." Continuing to treat someone politely when their actions violate the broadest consensus of what might be called decent human behavior shifts that consensus in a way I oppose. If you don't say "Dude, not cool.", it remains cool. Might this turn out to be an error on my part? Might I have made an error of judgment? It's certainly possible, but so far, no one's really made a credible defense of his positions or argued that he deserves respect, just maybe that he didn't deserve to be fired. Ultimately, that latter decision was made by his employer, who was in a much better position than I am to judge the value he contributed to the company.

  200. El Nino says:

    @Clark.

    So then you would agree that Pax threatened Anil with violence?

  201. Erwin says:

    @Ken
    I think I'd self-censor slightly and wait a bit, until the furor had died down. The harm to the guy would be less – and any substantive points would still remain. But, I have to admit I'd be partially motivated by just avoiding the initial surge of bromments.

    Regarding the scientific method, yes, when a theory becomes widely accepted, there is a point where public shaming, insults, and personal and professional ostracism are used against propagators of thoroughly discredited theories. The threshold is usually fairly high and these techniques are mostly applied towards scientists who are perceived to push theories out of political leanings. (climate change skeptics*) There's some justification for this, as non-scientists with an axe to grind tend to pick the one paper that fits their politics and run with it while ignoring the other 100 papers that confirm exactly the opposite results. I'm sort of fine with this, as a minimum level of professionalism is a requirement to be a scientist. (basically, you don't get to bias your study design to try to show that smoking doesn't cause lung cancer to get a tobacco grant)

    Prior to that, predictive theories tend to be propagated by an attention effect – wherein theories that predict actual experimental data are highly cited, tested, and discussed.

    –Erwin
    *Y'know, the debate over whether or not human-driven climate change is occurring is unfortunate. The body of evidence does, on balance, indicate that it is occurring. It distracts from the real issue, which is determining how important that change is and how to deal with it. The reality (as far as I can tell) is that, until coal is in wide-spread use, the total temperature shift is likely to be sufficiently modest that people who don't live in coastal areas are unlikely to suffer…and comparable to recent variations in solar output. There are risks…but…blah…a nasty influenza varient could wipe out half the world next tuesday…so I wouldn't put global warming at the top of anyone's agenda.

    That said, some of the estimates for climactic effects after the oil runs out are kind of scary. (In the…out of range for carbon sequestration and in the significant portions of the globe becoming uninhabitable range.) The workaround proposed by DOE involved blocking out sunlight with many giant mirrors – which works fine – unless there's a global technology issue, at which point mean temperatures shift by something like 10+ Celsius (BAD THING). But, that's more a matter for energy policy (more nuclear, please) than conservation and occurs over the next 70-100 years.

    And, that policy debate is tricky. People in the equatorial region will suffer significantly from global warming at some point. People closer to the poles are likely to benefit more than anything else, although climate models are tricky. IE, as a Russian or a Canadian, I could probably make a good argument for switching to coal immediately for electricity generation. Imagine turning Siberia into farmland…

  202. Ken White says:

    Clark:

    LOL. I agree; it is. It's a fairly straightforward example of subtext and implication.

    Yes! That's what I've been saying all along. It's . . . oh wait. You weren't talking about Pax.

  203. Ken White says:

    Also: I was all ready to get jealous because Clark brought friends to play from LGM. But look, I get friends too!

    @Popehat You don't know what social consequences mean. http://www.rooshvforum.com/thread-27956-post-531470.html#pid531470 … #doublespeak #thoughtcrime #standwithpax #popehatisafag

  204. Clark says:

    @El Nino

    @Clark.

    So then you would agree that Pax threatened Anil with violence?

    I've said two or three times above that I do not.

  205. What seems to be happening here is that a bully suffered consequences for his bullying, and some people are objecting to that because apparently, preventing a bully from bullying is bullying?

    Pax is a bully. He was engaging in discriminatory, jerkwad behavior. Why is it so hard to wrap minds around the fact that people have the right not to want to associate with people who are abusive? There are plenty of professionals out there on the job market, so why shouldn't the folks who act unprofessionally get fired?

    Pax made his bed. Now he gets to nap in it.

    I mean, seriously, the correlation to the golden rule is if you treat people like shit you lose the right to complain when some shit gets thrown back at you.

  206. –I've said two or three times above that I do not.—

    So what did he 'intend' by his remark?

  207. cb says:

    –It's a fairly straightforward example of subtext and implication.

    Many people thought the same of Pax, and you seemed aghast that they didn't interpret through your filter.

  208. El Nino says:

    @Clark

    And is it stunningly obvious to you that when Pax said this to Anil — "@anildash really, dude? You know we work in the same building right? Would you like to come call me an asshole to my face tomorrow?" — it had the semantic content of "Anil Dash, you're on on notice. Either you come call me an asshole to my face and get your ass kicked by me, or the whole world will think you're afraid of me?" Because Pax Dickinson would certainly disagree with you.

  209. brad says:

    I think the taxonomy of mass shaming in the article was a bit incomplete and blurred.

    There's a distinction to be drawn between bringing attention to communications that were consciously aimed at a mass audience to begin with (Pax on Twitter, John Scalzi) on the one hand and those that are plucked from obscurity (Star Wars kid, dongle guys).

    There's also an entire other class of incidents where power dynamics within a small group make it impossible to achieve any sort of justice, and mass shaming, while perhaps too blunt an instrument, is the only choice. I'm thinking here of the Steubenville, Ohio sexual assaults or the judge in Montana who decided that a statutory rape is no big deal.

  210. —Really? You can read a 3,000 word blog post with a dozen links to other articles and the only thing that comes to mind is a Maya Angelou quote?

    That's sad.—

    Way to miss the point entirely.

  211. —Are we defining "jerk" as "shocking to conventional mores and norms" —

    No, because we aren't stupid. In this particular case, we are defining jerk as engaging in abusive, discriminatory, bullying behavior by an entitled jackass who needs a good kick in the ass.

  212. ChicagoTom says:

    Did you read what I wrote?

    Second question: did you comprehend it? I'm pretty sure that the answer is "no". I explicitly made the point that what they are "entitled to" is not the metric that I think is best.

    I read what you wrote. Perhaps I misunderstood, but I took your statement of "No. Perhaps not." as meaning is possible that they aren't entitled — which means it's possible they are entitled. Which is why I accused you of hedging. Your rhetorical prowess is perhaps to cunning for little old me. Words have meanings, and sometimes (like when someone says "perhaps" in response to someone making an assertion) i take it literally rather than figuratively.

    Then i read the rest of your comment as you saying that maybe we should all follow the golden rule (Do unto others…). And I addressed your suggestion with one of my own. Maybe you missed it?

    Look Clark, I get it. he's part of your tribe. You like the guy. So you cant bring yourself to condemn him and you will twist yourself in knots to give him latitude you would never give someone who isn't part of your tribe. That's fair — lots of people do it.

    But please get off your high horse and stop implying that others have a responsibility to be the bigger person when faced with ass-hattery. It just makes your tribe look thin-skinned people who can dish it out but can't take it.

  213. Clark says:

    @Withinthismind

    —Really? You can read a 3,000 word blog post with a dozen links to other articles and the only thing that comes to mind is a Maya Angelou quote?

    That's sad.—

    Way to miss the point entirely.

    I didn't miss the point. I just thought that it was trite, vacuous, and uncreative.

    Or, to say it more pithily: "it was a Maya Angelou quote".

  214. Alex says:

    Clark,

    For starters, thanks for writing your post – while I disagree with quite a bit of it, the issues you raise seem important.

    It seems to me that you could dig a bit deeper on the divergent sorts of social consequences that are likely to follow when using different media.

    For example, if I hold a highly unpopular view and express it while chatting with friends in a bar, I can expect run-of-the-mill shaming, which as you note will usually peter out quickly. Even in the worst case scenario, I can find a new group of friends, and my livelihood is unlikely to be affected.

    By contrast, if I am appearing on national television and express that same view, the social consequences will be much longer-lasting and more pervasive. Consequently, I will bear this in mind and think much more carefully before expressing those views if I know I am on television.

    N.B. whether I'm being ironic or not, I can recognise that my comments will inevitably be misinterpreted when on television since most of my audience doesn't know me, which might additionally weigh against making those comments at that time.

    I would argue (and given your post it seems you'd agree) that the Internet is much more akin to appearing on national television than chatting with friends in a bar. We've had these sorts of media (television, radio, newspapers, books) for a while, so I don't buy the novelty argument. At most, we may have initially miscategorised the Internet, perhaps through wishful thinking.

    I'd suggest that Pax and others like him know (or at the very least ought to know) this aspect of the Internet by now – it's hardly a new feature. This would apply doubly when you're a) using your real name and b) using a medium that clearly links you to your employer.

    Would we on balance be better off if the Internet was as transient as a discussion in a bar? Perhaps, but it's something of a moot point, since that isn't what we've got.

  215. El Nino says:

    Your standard of implication and subtext seem to be rather fluid, depending on who's doing the talking. Performance artists with faux-brogrammer alter egos are plain-spoken heroes, but bloggers who cite their public statements are scheming purveyors of implied, subtextual threats. It's hard to take all those words above seriously if that's your position.

  216. Ken White says:

    Also I am now crushed with feelings of guilt that by making fun of the #popehatisafag guy I may not be acting civilly.

  217. Clark says:

    @Alex

    Clark,

    For starters, thanks for writing your post – while I disagree with quite a bit of it, the issues you raise seem important.

    Thank you.

    It seems to me that you could dig a bit deeper on the divergent sorts of social consequences that are likely to follow when using different media.

    I saw cartoonist Scott McCloud speak once at MIT around 1995, when the web was a relatively new thing. Someone from the Media Lab asked him "Have you ever thought about releasing your book as a website, where you could continuously update it?"

    Scott replied "Yes. I've also thought about walking across North America."

    Which is to say, betwen writing this post and following up with the comments I've used up most of a day…and come under fire (mostly not here, but at LGM) for writing so much.

    So, yes, the topic you outline is a fascinating one, and I'd like to read more about it. I don't have my own thoughts on that topic worked out, nor do I have the time right now to do it justice.

    I would argue (and given your post it seems you'd agree) that the
    Internet is much more akin to appearing on national television than
    chatting with friends in a bar.

    Indeed!

    …and yet, there's a beguiling social quality to it that makes it feel like the bar. You have 500 twitter followers, you tweet an off-color joke, you get a few groans, two people unfollow you, two others follow you. This is how small social crowds behave.

    And yet the persistance and broadcast nature of the web means that one day you can wake up to find things that you said "in the bar", "to your friends"
    on the front page of six huge websites and your boss calling you to fire you.

    We've had these sorts of media (television, radio, newspapers, books) for a while, so I don't buy the novelty argument.

    Twitter does not pick you up in a limousine, prep you in the green room, and put industrial lights on you before the cameras go live. The cameras are always running.

    I'd suggest that Pax and others like him know (or at the very least ought to know) this aspect of the Internet by now – it's hardly a new feature.

    Indeed. But we're getting back to the positive vs normative debate.

    This would apply doubly when you're a) using your real name

    So should we protect our ability to buy groceries by hiding our real names?

    I've created several real world friendships off of online discussions, and using my real name (back when I did) was instrumental in that.

  218. eddie says:

    Civility means not fighting. Not trying to "win" at all costs. Not aiming for ulterior goals such as whipping up one's partisans or ridiculing one's opponents (as opposed to ridiculing their arguments). Not deliberately playing upon the audience's irrational biases in order to win them to your side when rational discussion will fail to do so.

    Not trying to ruin someone's life because they disagree with you.

    Understanding and accepting that not everyone will agree with you, and that's okay.

    Giving one's interlocutors the benefit of the doubt. Assuming the best of their arguments and words and intentions.

    Gossip columnists and muckrakers and partisans cannot, will not, do this; their livelihood depends on doing the very opposite.

    Civil discourse can be spirited; rude, obscene. It can be erudite, and couch its repartee with wit to make Oscar Wilde envious. It can be crude and let you know in no fucking uncertain terms that your ideas are fucking stupid and here's fucking why. What civil discourse can't be is dismissive of one's adversaries – only of their arguments.

    In short – civility is about conflicts of ideas, not conflicts of people.

    We could use more of that.

  219. Clark,

    What, ultimately, is the difference between your friend and Fred Phelps?

  220. paolaccio says:

    What civil discourse can't be is dismissive of one's adversaries

    You dumbfucks

  221. Chad Miller says:

    We've had these sorts of media (television, radio, newspapers, books) for a while, so I don't buy the novelty argument.

    Content producers used to be a distant minority, and popularity used to be directly proportional to the amount of editorial control involved. The Internet isn't "that sort of media".

  222. Clark says:

    @El Nino

    Your standard of implication and subtext seem to be rather fluid, depending on who's doing the talking. Performance artists with faux-brogrammer alter egos are plain-spoken heroes,

    Actually, I was subtlely making the opposite point: Pax's tweet using the n-word was featured prominently in all of the online discussion, and I showed how it was only by understanding the context of the release of Mel Gibson's tapes earlier in the day, and in knowing that Pax does not drop the n-word that one could make proper sense of his tweet.

    I think most human communication has subtlely and needs context to interpret: Pax's and Nitash Tiku's – in the former, we need to know something about Pax, in the latter we need to know something about journalists and journalism.

  223. —For my part, I think they were completely wrong and demonstrated the worst of humankind by their actions.—

    Why are their actions objectionable when compared to his?

  224. ChicagoTom says:

    @eddie: Well if we are just making up our own definitions of words now, "civility" also means "don't be a dick out of the gate"

    I believe your last post could be summed thusly: Civility for thee, but not for me.

  225. Clark says:

    @Withinthismind

    Clark,

    What, ultimately, is the difference between your friend and Fred Phelps?

    I don't think Fred Phelps has any Unix chops.

    Seriously, though, this is your question?

    #not_even_worth_engaging_with

  226. Chris says:

    If Pax was not a "performance artist" he made comments publicly that we're blatantly illegal regarding the suitability of women to work in his organization. His company was not unaware of it, since several people have said they blocked him so they didn't have to hear his sexist nasty ways. If HR or upper management really was unaware, they are incompatent and should be removed (its a new organization, sureky they have heard of this twitter thing.) So the organization tolerated and sheltered it, making a place where a woman programmer couldn't work comfortably, or possibly at all. and they only fired him when the Internet complained. Which makes Business Insider the douchebags.
    Or Pax was a performance artist and semi-professional provacateaur who then was hung out to dry by his employer; who, as a publisher, should value the importance of free speech, which means they are also, in this scenario, the douchebags.
    I can get my news elsewhere, and will.
    If Pax is the Pax in scenario a, I believe he should be unemployable unless he learns to create an enviroment where all talent can succeed despite gender or race. Not to punish him, but to make sure the workplace is a place where people can work.
    If Pax is the Pax of the second scenario, he should label his account as satiracle, like other twitter accounts do, and perhaps he can protect his commentary to the degree where he can defend his job.
    Thank you for your thoughtful insights. I hope you will aim that analytic skills at BI.

  227. Clark says:

    @eddie:

    In short – civility is about conflicts of ideas, not conflicts of people.

    We could use more of that.

    I don't have my OED handy, so I can't speak to whether this is the correct definition…but I'll say that it's the correct idea. I like arguments about ideas. I dislike shaming, name-calling, and Zak N.'s odious idea that progress is defined as "shaming people into shutting up".

  228. Ken White says:

    I can't imagine Fred Phelps spends much concern over hair product.

  229. ChicagoTom says:

    What, ultimately, is the difference between your friend and Fred Phelps?

    Phelps isn't a libertarian

  230. —I didn't miss the point. I just thought that it was trite, vacuous, and uncreative.—

    Easier to call names than to address the point, I suppose.

    Pax acted like an asshole. Why the outcry when folks point out that he acted like an asshole?

    He told everyone who he was. Why is he upset that they believed him?

  231. El Nino says:

    @eddie
    "Giving one's interlocutors the benefit of the doubt. Assuming the best of their arguments and words and intentions." It's difficult to accept this notion of civility from someone who referred to a blogger whose actions he didn't like as "the worst of humankind." Do you agree with Clark that Nitash's query of Blodgett was an implied, subtextual threat? 'Cause that doesn't really strike me as "giving one's interlocutors the benefit of the doubt" or "assuming the best of their arguments and words and intentions." But I guess she doesn't count, because she's a muckraker.

  232. —I don't think Fred Phelps has any Unix chops.

    Seriously, though, this is your question?—

    Still deliberately missing the point, I see. Not at all surprised.

    Like Phelps, your buddy publicly said shitty things to get a rise/reaction out of people. Now, much the way Phelps does, your buddy is all upset because he was called to account and had to suffer consequences. Two of a kind.

  233. Ken White says:

    I agree that an openness to talking about ideas is a good thing.

    feminism in tech remains the champion topic for my block list. my finger is getting tired.

  234. Clark says:

    @Ken White

    I can't imagine Fred Phelps spends much concern over hair product.

    Yeah, but they both know how to rock a popped collar.

  235. Michael K. says:

    I've scrolled all the way down here from way up top to respond to Comment #1 without even reading through. So if someone else has pointed this out in the past 190 comments, just tell me I need to shut up.

    @Nicholas Weaver

    The problem is the firing is justified.

    Ken summarized it well from an employment law standpoint: a couple of those tweets are god's gift (and free BMW) to any employment lawyer suing Mr Dickenson's employer. With such potential liability, how can you have Mr Dickenson in a supervisory position?

    The problem with the problem is that Clark (who, I hope, will correct me if I'm wrong) wishes that the employment law justification for the firing didn't exist.

    Of course, he wants Business Insider to be able to fire Pax because he wants employer to be able to fire employee for any reason or no reason. But he also believes that employer should be able not to hire non-employee in the first place for any reason or no reason.

    So if a young female programmer: (a) doesn't get a job, or loses a job, or finds their job intolerable; (b) says to the court, "I didn't get/lost/hate my job because my boss hates women"; and (c) shows the court Pax's Twitter feed, my sense is that Clark would rather the court say, "Yes, Pax thinks women make inferior programmers, and probably didn't hire/fired/railroaded you because of that bias. You have no recourse. NEXT CASE, PLEASE!"

  236. — I dislike shaming, name-calling, and Zak N.'s odious idea that progress is defined as "shaming people into shutting up".—

    Right. So I should totally invite my grandfather to my nephew's next birthday party and make said grandfather has a microphone so he can again call an 8 year old a 'little niglet bastard'. Because such behavior shouldn't be shamed at all, nor banished from civil society. Because telling racist bigots to stop shitting in your living room is meanness and..we should all be ashamed…and shut up with the criticisms…and…

    wait…what was the point Clark was trying to make again?

    His whole post was an attempt to shame and shut up the folks criticizing his buddy.

  237. —So if a young female programmer: (a) doesn't get a job, or loses a job, or finds their job intolerable; (b) says to the court, "I didn't get/lost/hate my job because my boss hates women"; and (c) shows the court Pax's Twitter feed, my sense is that Clark would rather the court say, "Yes, Pax thinks women make inferior programmers, and probably didn't hire/fired/railroaded you because of that bias. You have no recourse. NEXT CASE, PLEASE!"—

    Pretty much. Clark is showing us who he is. I'm inclined to believe him.

  238. Cat G says:

    The wrongs that can be done in the name of enforcing the unwritten and malleable social contract amongst a group of individual animals are legion.

    Shaming, shunning, and other things can do good things (protect others, protect rights, provide strong negative stimulus towards correcting behavior towards social norms) and they can do bad things (enforce conformity, destroy individual lives, destroy rights, and cause intense and prolonged suffering).

    Living within a social construct, we must accept that, as in physics, any action will have a reaction. And that anything said will have consequences, and that no matter the context or intent of what was said, those consequences may be based on imperfect communication, perceptions that disagree with the originator, and also the combined groupthink of the cohort enforcing those consequences.

    It should be relevant that, regardless of the legality of any statement, possible consequences should be taken into account as well as parsing speech for how it may be percieved. If someone is trying to make a point, it behooves them to make it in such a way that is understandable and not easily misconstrued. Before making a statement, the potential ramifications and repercussions of statements should be weighed carefully. (Although, it can be carefully and quickly – not every statement carries the same burden of risk. "Triple mocha vente please" carries minimal risk. "B*tch, get me some god-damned coffee!" however carries significant risk and a lot of connotative freight – it requires some thought as to where, how, and why it is being said.)
    Twitter is a horrible medium for any significant discussion. Attempting to parody behavior there is all to easily misunderstood as serious, and such a risk should factor into any internal discussion of an individual proposing to do so.

    Critical thinking and awareness of medium are things that Pax might have missed – he should have been fully aware that this kind of thing can happen. Should it happen? Maybe. That's one of the reasons I giggle inside whenever I hear about how civilized humanity is – we're as civilized as a steel fist in a velvet glove.

    TL;dr – manners are important. People like it better if you tell them horrible things in the sweetest possible way.

    P.S. – This is one of the reasons why I utilize a "handle" rather than my real name – although based on google searches, my handle is too unique and my real name is far more anonymous. Internet. Sheesh.

  239. Clark says:

    @Withinthismind

    I don't think Fred Phelps has any Unix chops.

    Seriously, though, this is your question?

    Still deliberately missing the point, I see. Not at all surprised.

    Not missing it at all.

    Please note that I have been asked – and have responded to – questions by perhaps 100 people in this thread.

    Your comments, forgive me, strike me as particularly poorly thought out and are not worth engaging with.

    Like Phelps, your buddy publicly said shitty things to get a rise/reaction out of people. Now, much the way Phelps does, your buddy is all upset because he was called to account and had to suffer consequences. Two of a kind.

    Excellent and subtle point. Perhaps you'll find someone who wants to discuss it with you.

  240. SirWired says:

    As many others have said, part of a CTO's job is, as an officer of the company, to represent the company they work for. He was supposed to be a CTO, not a politically provocative comedian. When you explicitly link your online speech to your employer, this applies even more. BI, apart from the legal problems, made a perfectly acceptable decision when they decided they did not want him to represent their brand any longer; it's no different from a company terminating a celebrity endorsement deal when said celebrity does something odious, if legal.

    And it's not as if somebody dug up some juvenile letter to the editor written while he was a college frosh or something… this was continuing, fairly current speech that the majority of the readers and advertisers of a media property are not really going to want to be associated with.

    If Pax had been some random front-line programmer? Well, we don't expect front-line programmers to actually represent the views of their employers, especially if they leave the name of their employer out of their speech. We could have a rather fun debate on the ethics of attempting a high-profile shaming of a low-profile person. My employer (a giganto company of which the entire civilized world has heard of) has explicit guidelines about off-job speech: as long as I leave my employer's name out of my speech, I can knock myself out. They'll say "none of our damn business" if somebody were to discover my employer, as long as my speech doesn't say "As an employee of GigantoCorp, I think [insert something horrible here]"

    And I'm not buying that Pax is unemployable. He'll just have to find an employer (or job) that either does not care what the internet thinks and/or one that does not find him disagreeable. (Assuming of course he makes the appropriate explanation for the comments that made him a legal liability.)

    Lastly, I have a hard time getting worked up about a click-bait headline that states: "so and so should just shut up", it does nothing more than imply that the author of the attached article believes the person's speech (correctly or not) to be sufficiently ignorant and/or obnoxious that it adds nothing to the public discourse and/or is simply embarrassing to the speaker. It's hardly an attempt to actually silence somebody, nor would anybody expect it to actually work based solely on a lazily-written headline. ("Oooh, randomwebsite.com says so and so should shut up on their homepage, bring out the pitchforks if they say another word!")

  241. cb says:

    –in the latter we need to know something about journalists and journalism

    In practice this looks amazingly like an attack on the person rather than an argument of ideas

  242. Katie says:

    Hey, wait, what about middle aged or old female programmers… ;)

  243. CJColucci says:

    When I saw Zak N's comment, I was looking forward to a substantive response from Clark. I was deeply disappointed. I'll check back later to see if Zak wants to try to make a real discussion out of it, but I'm afraid this is yet another of those all-too-frequent comments in which Clark demonstrates that his differences with some of his interlocutors aren't intellectual at all, but go to basic differences in wiring.

  244. El Nino says:

    @Clark

    So context is entirely based on yourpersonal knowledge, filters, and perceptions? For Pax, the context is that he doesn't drop the n-word (despite his having dropped the n-word without offering any context, like a link to an item about the Mel Gibson tapes being released). For Nitash, it's that journalists are out for scalps.

  245. Michael K. says:

    @Withthisinmind

    Pretty much. Clark is showing us who he is. I'm inclined to believe him.

    Please understand: I didn't post that analysis to cast aspersions on Clark, but to see if I understand his thinking. I can completely understand a desire to accept that employers, business owners, etc. have the liberty to hire, fire, serve, etc. whoever they please, regardless of the "public accommodation" laws. My personal feeling lies somewhere between the pure libertarian view and the current, prevailing environment of "once you're in business, your choices are what we tell you they are."

    I find group-based hiring preferences to be distasteful, but less distasteful than telling employers how to hire and fire.

  246. Dion starfire says:

    The most annoying thing about this: the standwithpax hashtag. I spent several minutes cheering them as I read the tweets with no context just ('I standwithpax because we need to stop the whiners'), until I realized they were talking about this dickhead and NOT about the recent Penny Arcade foofooraw (their dickwolves strip and later saying "men have penises"(sic)).

    Of course, thinking about it, the two situations are kind of similar so I'm probably being a bit of a hypocrite.

    However PA has been doing that style of comedy for a decade and act like, well, normal people, when talking (or writing) as themselves. This guy's being a douche, as himself, with no effort to convey that he's joking (since that'd just make his comments really lame jokes).

  247. eddie says:

    It's difficult to accept this notion of civility from someone who referred to a blogger whose actions he didn't like as "the worst of humankind."

    That may have been a bit of hyperbole. I felt like killing a few billion people.

    Do you agree with Clark that Nitash's query of Blodgett was an implied, subtextual threat?

    I do.

    'Cause that doesn't really strike me as "giving one's interlocutors the benefit of the doubt" or "assuming the best of their arguments and words and intentions."

    You make a good point. I mean, it seems very, very obvious to me, but these past two days have been full of other people taking as obvious things which I am certain they are mistaken about. I should give her more credit.

    What do you think she was trying to accomplish with the article, and with her inquiry to Blodget?

    But I guess she doesn't count, because she's a muckraker.

    No, everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. You're right; I'll give it to her. Maybe she's not even a muckraker; honestly, I don't know anything about her except that she wrote that particular article. But my past (albeit limited) experiences with the Gawker empire have left me very, very skeptical of anything else I see posted there.

  248. El Nino says:

    @Clark

    An aside, thanks for hanging in, as you're certainly taking fire. I appreciate the thoughtful responses.

  249. Darryl says:

    "misogyny" is defined as hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women. So, Pax's self-interested attempt to limit the definition to merely hatred, and then arguing from his deliberately wrong definition, is nothing more than someone trying to be slick to avoid the social repercussions of his speech.

  250. ChicagoTom says:

    So context is entirely based on yourpersonal knowledge, filters, and perceptions?

    @El Nino:

    You do realize that at this point he isn't really arguing in good faith. He has different sets of standards for those in his tribe than those that aren't.

    I mean his whole post could be summed up as : "yeah he may have offended lots and lots of people and was justifiable perceived as being a dick by lots of people. But it's cool. I know him. He's a good guy. Lets just lay off him. It's not cool to go after someone who is asking for it by being as inflammatory as possible — you guys are just being a bunch of jerks and meanies looking to claim the scalp of a good guy."

  251. Brock says:

    @ Clark

    I have a problem with your framing of this incident as a free speech vs censorship issue. How has Pax been censored? The offensive content in question came via his tweets. As of this moment, his twitter account is still active. He has not been silenced.

    Did he lose his job? Sure, but his job was not his method of speech. He lost his job, not his twitter.

    Notably, given Pax's privilege and the state of tech right now, he will have no problem securing employment, unlike those whom he mocks.

  252. Clark says:

    @Michael K.

    Clark wishes that the employment law justification for the firing didn't exist.

    Of course, he wants Business Insider to be able to fire Pax because he wants employer to be able to fire employee for any reason or no reason.

    Yes.

    But he also believes that employer should be able not to hire non-employee in the first place for any reason or no reason.

    Yes.

    So if a young female programmer: doesn't get a job … Clark would
    rather the court say … "You have no recourse. NEXT CASE, PLEASE!"

    With the caveat that I don't think that monopoly government-run courts should exist: yes.

    But, of course, in anarchotopia, she might not bother to apply to any firm that isn't certified by the Equal Rights Certification Society / the LGBT Certification group / the NAACP Equal Hiring Group etc., all of which monitor the company with fake interviewers.

    …and a firm might feel the need to tell Pax to shut the hell up – or leave – because there's no way in hell that the firm would get any of those certifications with him making noise on twitter.

    Or perhaps a firm wouldn't tell Pax to shut up, because the corporate founder doesn't really want the LGBT seal of good hiring. In which case they'd miss out on half or more of the potential candidates.

  253. Rick H. says:

    El Nino,

    "Say it to my face" is a phrase with a long, illustrious history. Sure, it can be a precursor to physical aggression. It can also be a challenge to interpersonal ethics, as in, "why, if you know me, would you not address me directly so I can explain myself, instead of immediately slandering me to a bunch of strangers?"

    It's a form of "shaming" discourse. It's "Don't be an intellectual coward." Political candidates do it when they challenge a weaselly opponent to debate. I have told people to "Say it to my face," and I'm a physical weakling who hates confrontation.

    Not sure why you'd keep harping on the least charitable interpretation of his words, except that you don't like the guy.

  254. Clark says:

    @Withinthismind

    Clark is showing us who he is. I'm inclined to believe him.

    You keep repeating that mantra as if I'm supposed to care about your opinion or be shamed into having other opinions.

  255. Alex says:

    …and yet, there's a beguiling social quality to it that makes it feel like the bar. You have 500 twitter followers, you tweet an off-color joke, you get a few groans, two people unfollow you, two others follow you. This is how small social crowds behave.

    Agreed, we just need to learn that the apparent social quality masks some of its deeper features.

    Twitter does not pick you up in a limousine, prep you in the green room, and put industrial lights on you before the cameras go live. The cameras are always running.

    Again, I agree that this is a pertinent difference, but the upshot is simply that we ought to either not use Twitter/Facebook etc. (and find our conversations offline) or accept that they require a high degree of care when being used precisely because they're so beguiling.

    There's a further issue which you briefly raise and which I find much more problematic, of how we deal with situations where an individual's comments/actions have been put into online fora without their knowledge or consent. That doesn't arise here though, and shouldn't be conflated with Pax's situation.

    Content producers used to be a distant minority, and popularity used to be directly proportional to the amount of editorial control involved. The Internet isn't "that sort of media".

    You're right, there are big differences, and those are well worth discussing. The point I was trying to convey is that the Internet is both public and effectively permanent, and in that regard is much like those other media.

  256. Clark says:

    @Brock

    @ Clark, I have a problem with your framing of this incident as a free speech vs censorship issue.

    Brock,

    You're clearly responding to some blog post – I'm just confused because it sure doesn't seem like you're responding to mine.

    Can you quote a sentence or paragraph where you think I'm saying anything like that?

  257. Clark says:

    @Alex

    we just need to learn that the apparent social quality [ of the internet ] masks some of its deeper features.

    Agreed. Or, rather, we have to come to some accomodation. Maybe it's "just learning" that everything is archived and broadcast. Or maybe it's a technological change, so that tweets made "in the bar" can't leak to the greater world so easily.

    the upshot is simply that we ought to either not use Twitter/Facebook etc. (and find our conversations offline) or accept that they require a high degree of care when being used precisely because they're so beguiling.

    You might be right as to the eventual solution, but I reject this formulation as a false dilemma – there may be a third way. Not that I know what it is.

  258. Clark says:

    @Rick H.

    El Nino,

    "Say it to my face" is a phrase with a long, illustrious history. Sure, it can be a precursor to physical aggression. It can also be a challenge to interpersonal ethics, as in, "why, if you know me, would you not address me directly so I can explain myself, instead of immediately slandering me to a bunch of strangers?"

    100% agreed. Well said.

  259. deskmerc says:

    @clark "I don't have answers yet; I'm still trying to form the questions."

    That, that right there. You aren't alone in this philosophical search, but alas, that has been a losing battle for humanity ever since we put down the spear and started scratching in the dirt. By the time you formulate your premise, the conditions might have already changed, and the change happens so much faster these days. (This is not a criticism of your views, just my own cynical nature)

  260. Clark says:

    @ChicagoTom

    @El Nino:

    You do realize that at this point he isn't really arguing in good faith. He has different sets of standards for those in his tribe than those that aren't.

    Evidence for this assertion of my bad faith please?

  261. Clark says:

    @El Nino

    @Clark, I appreciate the thoughtful responses.

    Thank you!

    An aside, thanks for hanging in, as you're certainly taking fire.

    I'm Irish; I like to fight. :)

  262. El Nino says:

    @ChicagoTom

    Besides reading Ken's post about this from yesterday, and some of the comments on that (including Clark's), this is my first foray into Popehat, so I'm unfamiliar with exactly who's in what tribe (although I could probably venture an educated guess). Despite the snark finding its way into my responses, and the fact that I disagree with many of his conclusions, I don't want to assume that Clark is arguing in bad faith. I'm trying to point out what I think are weaknesses and inconsistencies in his positions. As I said, I think his standards are fluid, and I think that undermines his overall argument, which has validity. This probably sounds sanctimonious, and I'm not trying to come off that way… I don't often comment on things, but I've found this thread engaging and fairly civil, and would like to see it go on.

  263. El Nino says:

    @Eddie.

    Thanks for the thoughtful and introspective response. Not ignoring it, just thinking.

  264. Cat G says:

    @Clark
    You keep repeating that mantra as if I'm supposed to care about your opinion or be shamed into having other opinions.

    Of course he does. Your disagreement with the herd means you should have already conformed or been expelled. That you have not is presenting some cognitive dissonance.

  265. Darryl says:

    @Clark–Of course, in anarchotopia without any courts, the women who feel offended by Pax (or anyone else I suppose) could simply take action, right? Do you believe in the type of anarchotopia like Nozick described, where groups of people voluntarily come together to defend themselves? Or more libertarianish, where there would be cops, etc., just limited? If you come together to defend yourselves, can't you justifiably extend that "protection" to protection against other than physical violence? "Imminent" threats? Threats to "our group's interests"? Pretty soon, your anarchotopia starts to sound quite a bit like government. And you get the slippery slope down to "protection against anyone who says anything bad about any of us", right?

  266. Cat G says:

    @Clark
    Re: El Nino's statement on the illustrious history of "Say it to my face"

    You're ignoring the context of both the statement and the "performer" – Pax was not representing himself to be a thoughtful participant in discussion, but rather a raging dudebro. As a generalization (which to be fair is rather unfair) the raging dudebro normally uses those words just prior to engaging in fisticuffs. This usage is far more common than the other noted, and the common portrayal of such usually ends in one of two ways – the aforementioned fisticuffs, or a humorous release of tension when both sides step back and more rationally enter discussions (or drop the subject entirely). In this particular case, it followed the formula directly into the second resolution.

    And I hope both participants enjoy their cocoa and discussion.

  267. Lizard says:

    You keep repeating that mantra as if I'm supposed to care about your opinion or be shamed into having other opinions.

    Well, yes. That's the intent. It's being carried out very poorly. No matter how wretched an ad campaign is, or how much you utterly despise the product being offered and would never purchase it under any circumstances, the *intent* of the campaign is to get you to buy the product.

  268. Clark says:

    @cb

    It's a fairly straightforward example of subtext and implication.

    Many people thought the same of Pax, and you seemed aghast that they didn't interpret through your filter.

    I'm not remotely aghast that people didn't interpet Pax correctly. Pax liked to shock, and he played with fire. It was only to be expected that the large majority of the people reading his post would be apalled at some of what he said.

    When I came across the n-word tweet yesterday I was shocked. He'd said that?!?!? Only later did I remember the context, dig it up, and realize that I had seen the tweet earlier and understood it correctly the first time around.

    There's a debate that's only been touched on once or twice here in the comments, and that's "should Pax be surprised that it ended like this?". My answer: "No. And, to his credit, he's not."

  269. Joe Blow says:

    For the people cheering Pax's firing… keep in mind, you're next.

    Censorship is a bit like the old Lay's potato chip ad: bad you can't silence just one.

    It starts with the people who are patently offensive, and then moves to the people who are offensive, but satirical and who have a point. Then it moves to the people who have a point.

    You're next.

  270. Clark says:

    @Lizard:

    You keep repeating that mantra as if I'm supposed to care about your opinion or be shamed into having other opinions.

    No matter how wretched an ad campaign is, or how much you utterly despise the product being offered and would never purchase it under any circumstances, the *intent* of the campaign is to get you to buy the product.

    LOL. You're right, of course.

    But…

    But…

    The idea that I could be shamed into polite society is hilarious.

  271. Clark says:

    @Joe Blow

    For the people cheering Pax's firing… keep in mind, you're next.

    Indeed.

    Mechanism and policy are two different things.

    Create an NSA that can spy on anyone, and Party A controls it today but Party B will control it tomorrow.

    Create a social norm that people can be fired for their ideas, and when the pendulum swings…

  272. jackn says:

    Censorship is a bit like the old Lay's potato chip ad: bad you can't silence just one

    Somebody got censored? I missed that.

  273. Clark says:

    @Darryl

    Of course, in anarchotopia without any courts…

    I think that anarchotopia will have courts – lots of them.

    Do you believe in the type of anarchotopia like Nozick described, where groups of people voluntarily come together to defend themselves? Or more libertarianish, where there would be cops, etc., just limited?

    By "believe in", do you mean "prefer", or do you mean "think that one is legitimate and one is not" ?

    Pretty soon, your anarchotopia starts to sound quite a bit like government.

    Indeed. We're in anarchotopia now. It's just that there are 207 very large criminal gangs.

    And you get the slippery slope down to "protection against anyone who says anything bad about any of us", right?

    Indeed. See my previous sentence.

  274. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    Not going to address the Pax Dickinson stuff. Basically because, well, I don't wanna.

    That said, I found the meditations on mass shaming, superstimuli, and Dunbar's number fascinating. I especially was snagged by this question –
    From Clark:
    "So, I am genuinely curious as to what the goal of mass shaming someone is."

    It seemed to be anthropomorphizing social forces (the mass, the mob, TheAmericanPeople, etc.) by proposing such a mass could have motive or plan. Later in the comments, I saw En Passant address this very well:

    From En Passant:
    "I'm inclined to think that "mass" human actions do not ultimately have a coherent goal. The events generally have a result, but not necessarily a particular goal. The person or persons who intentionally or inadvertently set the mass action in motion may have had a goal, but that goal may or may not correspond to the results of the mass action event."

    …along with the rest of that comment, En Passant described my initial reaction to Clark's post to a T. (and I have been meaning to check out that book for a while now)
    So far, so much non contribution by me.

    The question then became – influenced by the concepts of superstimulus and Dunbar's number – what effect does the "mass" element of speech have on the individuals making up and reacting to that mass? In the spirit of meditation on the subject I would propose two possibly useful frameworks for looking at this mass effect.
    (no, Commander Shepard not you, go sit down)

    Superstimulus:
    I think it's fair to say that the presence of others acts as a basic ingrained stimulus in humanity. Insofar as modern society and current electronic communications can bring the presence of others to an individual with *much* greater frequency and concentration, that stimulus is greatly increased. Is it possible then, that fight or flight responses would increase in intensity as a result of the increased incoming stimulus? (fight or flight used for simplicity)

    Maybe the prospect of addressing hundreds (thousands, millions) instead of a more commonplace/comfortable-to-the-primate tens leads to an amped up version of "normal" human response to other humans. Perhaps the reaction is "fight" – could a proposed superstimulus of others lead to overreaction? I dunno, but it could explain the intensity of vitriol – over seemingly small matters – you see on Youtube and similar comment sections. Alternatively, could an overstimulated "flight" response lead to a greater submission to the mob as a place of safety? Again dunno, but it might illuminate some echo-chamber us V them demonization seen all over then internet.

    But *do* we feel those electronic multitudes as real others? Do they actually provide a stimulus? Maybe not.

    Dunbar's Number:
    Maybe we can only hold in our brains a certain number of other people at a time (say, 128) as human. If so, maybe the multitudes of the electronic horde evoke not a superstimulus for reaction to an other, but a different form of stimulus entirely.

    Using my own gut reactions to a massive *physical* mob as a starting point, I would propose this stimulus may mimic that provided by the proverbially feared unknown. Whether hive mind, monster blob, or rampaging herd a person could react to the mass simply as alien presence. Granted this could lead to simple fight or flight again, but with less human empathy or sympathy. To an outsider, a "massive" enough exchange might then appear increasingly bizarre and mystifying as an exchange between two humans. Sounds pretty familiar to me from places all over the internet.

    My point? Don't really have one. I found this post and its comments thought provoking, so I wanted to send back some of what was provoked as thanks.

    No good deed goes unpunished, as they say.

  275. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    A man who is loudly declaiming the merits of British Rule in an IRA pub DESPERATELY needs to shut up…and running for the exit would also be a very good idea. Other than analogous situations, though, I agree that "need to shut up" is an offensive construct. Of course, it is generally targeted at people whom the speaker believes to be offensive, so there's a species of parity.

    Just a small thought on a large and thought-provoking post.

  276. ChicagoTom says:

    "Say it to my face" is a phrase with a long, illustrious history. Sure, it can be a precursor to physical aggression. It can also be a challenge to interpersonal ethics, as in, "why, if you know me, would you not address me directly so I can explain myself, instead of immediately slandering me to a bunch of strangers?"

    So now we are going to pretend that "you wouldn't say it to my face" aren't fighting words…or at the very least an ad-hom that is implying that the speaker is a coward?

    And these same people try and say, with a straight face no less, that a reporter/blogger/whatever calling a company asking for comment about one of their officers controversial public twitter feed OBVIOUSLY just wants that officers scalp.

    I'm sorry, but these are not good faith arguments.

    Or people have a really uncanny ability to compartmentalize.

  277. El Nino says:

    @Rick H.

    "Not sure why you'd keep harping on the least charitable interpretation of his words, except that you don't like the guy." Ding ding. Couldn't you say exactly the same thing about Clark's interpretation of Nitash's query to Blodgett? That he's harping on the least charitable interpretation of her words (that it was an implied threat) because he doesn't like her?

    I don't think Clark doesn't like Nitash — I think he doesn't like what she signifies to him (a muckraking journalist out for scalps). Believe it or not, I don't take Pax's statement to Dash as a definitive threat. I'm "harping on it" because I think it highlights Clark's fluid standards of subtext and implication. As you indicate, it can be a precursor to physical aggression — so it wouldn't be outside the bounds of reality for someone to take it as such. Just as easily, it wouldn't be outside the bounds of reality for them to take it as an attempt at "discourse shaming." Either is possible, and Dash certainly seems to have settled on the latter. I contrast this with Clark's insistence that Nitash's query to Blodgett is a "stunningly obvious" threat and "straightforward example of subtext and implication," rather than a journalistic query.

    As to Pax, I don't know him, so neither like nor dislike him. I find his public conduct unwise; I think it's foolish and a dodge to be provocative and then act surprised when others are provoked.

  278. Clark,

    First, let me say that when you eventually go to war with Ken, you can count me as one of your partisans.

    Second, I'd like to develop your thread on shaming a little. You are insightful, I think, to discuss shaming as it may have been throughout the vast majority of human history and compare it to how we go about these things today.

    I would contend that today's shaming is nothing more than tribal signaling. While I may risk beating a dead horse, this is why the troll knives come out on Popehat. I think this is why more marginal folks might turn to a Vox Day. Because when Ken posts links to Return of the King or whatever Tolkien-centric manosphere blog he dislikes, he is simply signaling his cultural bona fides. Like you said in another post, all of our knees jerk. And so you end up with long blog posts expressing utterly non-controversial opinions, such as, don't discriminate against gays or women, and you get all manner of action in the comments. Because you're raising a Left flag, that's all. On the right, you get similar things with Islam. Lefties might recoil at Mark Steyn, frex, mentioning honor killings, etc. This is not because lefties condone honor killings; it's because criticism of such has become part of the "right."

    In short, I think almost everyone agrees, broadly, about what language is and is not polite. But we choose our targets based on our cultural baggage and tribal signifiers.

    What does it mean when Ken says, "Perhaps we're ignoring the "jealous people just want to sleep with white women" angle to all this?"

    What does it mean when Ken calls commenter tarrou "MRA trash?"

    What does it mean when Ken suggests people who aren't on board with feminism are afraid of "vagina dentata nightmares?" And why is Ken OK with labeling his intellectual [term used loosely] opponents with this kind of baldly sexual slur, when a similar insult ("Man, that bitch just needs to get laid") would (rightly!) be decried as crass or inappropriate?

    To me, it means we're still engaged in the same old Team vs. Team, Tribe vs. Tribe crap that most of us profess to reject with our various flavors of libertarianism. In this commenting community, as with others, there are simply "-isms." People aren't labeled heretics, or traitors, but they're dirtied by association with an -ism. Because anyone who dabbles in -isms is by definition outside the realm of polite discourse, we are therefore free to ostracize, etc. etc.

    Anyway, I've rambled long enough, but if you've read this far let me give you one more thought.

    What if, instead of going to government remedy as the first resort, we speak in terms of voluntarism? I would love to live in a place where everyone is kind and considerate. But, given the choice of living in a land of sometimes-assholes, and living in a land where people are regulated into kindness and consideration, I will choose the former every time.

    This, incidentally, is why left-libertarianism is a mirage. We all want a respectful society, but L/L fusionists want to use the state to coerce one.

  279. Jon H says:

    Clark wrote: "Well, then, we disagree. It's stunningly obvious to me that the sentence has the semantic content of "Henry Blodget and Jeff Bezos are on notice; they either fire Dickinson (and I get a scalp to nail to my journalistic wall) or they are endorsing this speech""

    If, hypothetically, an editor at Valleywag's sister-site Jalopnik were found to be taking money from an automaker in return for favorable coverage, I would expect BI to contact CEO Nick Denton for comment. The result might well also be in the editor being fired, but that's a side effect. Journalists ask for comment. It's what they do.

    It's even considered bad form to report on something *without* seeking responses from various stakeholders in the story.

  280. notsont says:

    Create a social norm that people can be fired for their ideas, and when the pendulum swings…

    What idea was anyone fired for here? I keep hearing that people should not be punished for expressing their ideas, and I agree, I just can't find what idea was being argued for or against by Pax that he was fired for.

  281. El Nino says:

    "Create a social norm that people can be fired for their ideas, and when the pendulum swings… "

    Sorry Clark, but Pax wasn't fired for his ideas, he was fired for his behavior. http://www.businessinsider.com/our-new-twitter-facebook-policy-what-do-you-think-2012-1

  282. Ken White says:

    @Not Claude Aikins:

    Among the differences between the two of us is that I don't assume I know what's in your head. Even if you echo tropes from one "side" or the other, I think you might be talking about them because they are meaningful or interesting to you or you think they are relevant to your point. I don't assume you are signalling anything or anyone. I think you might be someone who means what he says.

    But feel free to continue to believe that you know what's in my head and I only do things for cultural bona fides. That's your right.

    But your argument of "cultural signaling" reminds me quite a bit of the "white knight" insult: you're only arguing that/talking about that/criticizing that/defending that to get laid/gain the admiration of women. It's not a trope I have any particular respect for.

    I could say that you are projecting: that because you are incapable grasping certain viewpoints, you assume that anyone taking those viewpoints must be doing so for base motives. But that would be arguing like you. I don't know what you actually think.

  283. Clark says:

    @notsont

    Create a social norm that people can be fired for their ideas, and when the pendulum swings…

    What idea was anyone fired for here?

    Valid point.

    I retract the comment.

  284. Darryl says:

    @Clark–I think I meant "prefer." You described yourself as a type of anarchist, and I am just trying to understand what type you mean.

  285. JeffM says:

    Create a social norm that people can be fired for their ideas, and when the pendulum swings…

    If I don't like you, I don't have to work with you. If I don't like you and I'm paying you, I can fire you. It's called freedom of association. Furthermore, I may dislike you because of the things that you say. That is called freedom of thought. In some cases, my disliking what you say may even involve my freedom of conscience.

    Apparently, at least freedom of association will be banned in anarchatopia. I shall be forced to employ people whose rantings I find annoying, offensive, or even immoral or that impinge on my ultimate ability to employ anyone. That gives me another very good reason to dislike anarchatopia.

    What your argument seems to come down to is that, in practice, speech should never have adverse consequences, and that, in principle, freedom of speech trumps all other freedoms.

  286. El Nino says:

    @eddie.

    As to what I think Nitash was trying to accomplish with this… that's as difficult for me to answer as what Pax was hoping to accomplish with his Twitter feed. But I guess I'd say they both had incentives to stir shit up — his personal, hers career/money related. WARNING: pure speculation and dime-store psychology to follow.

    From the little I know of him, he seemed to revel in his "faux-brogrammer alter ego" (as Clark described it). Whether it's a complete put-on, a Mr. Hyde act that got the better of Dr. Jekyll, or what he's really like as a person, he apparently derived personal satisfaction, enjoyment, or fulfillment from this alter ego, which gave him incentive to continue it (and perhaps amp it up). From the little I know of Nitash, it seems to be about career advancement, clicks (i.e., money), and ambition (a witch's brew with the Gawker empire providing the cauldron and the flames).

    As to Gawker, I think it's largely toxic, with an ethos and culture mostly informed by Denton's background in English media. Granted, he worked for the FT, but it's still Fleet Street. I often scold myself for reading it.

  287. eddie says:

    Indeed. We're in anarchotopia now.

    I wish more of us ancaps recognized that. It more clearly points towards the important obstacles that lie in our path.

  288. Xenocles says:

    @eddie and Clark-

    The exchange about anarchotopia reminded me a lot of the one between Checkov and Khan about Ceti Alpha V, but I can't adapt it well enough.

  289. AlphaCentauri says:

    If someone is tweeting outrageously offensive posts, they're trying to get attention from as many people as possible. I can't get too bent out of shape when they get a reaction from a large number of people. He got his wish.

  290. Devil's Advocate says:

    One example of a cause where I see the distinction but am utterly unpersuaded is economics: in any world where people have to pay for food, they have thin liberty. They are not truly free to write poetry all day long, because they'll starve. Corporate employers, goes the argument, can leverage this lack of liberty into other compromises of liberty: exploiting people to sell their labor because they're in need.

    (Like I said: I'm unconvinced.)

    My understanding is that controlling essentially all access to the main source of food (i.e. farmland) was the main source of power that feudal lords had, so this is maybe not quite as implausible as you might think.

  291. jdh says:

    Clark,

    Thanks for your post. Also thanks to (the great majority of) the many comments.

    Pax is/was certainly provocative. I'm not surprised or upset he was fired. But he has gained at least one new Twitter follower.

    And nice to see I'm not the only one who finds Scalzi somewhat irritating. I don't think his books are bad – I just don't consider them particularly good.

  292. Lizard says:

    The idea that I could be shamed into polite society is hilarious.

    The idea that I'd click on a banner ad for a fifth rate pay-to-win clickfest "strategy" game because the ad features an inhumanly proportioned woman in skimpy fantasy garb and the tag line "For REAL MEN only!" is hilarious, but I keep getting them served to me. The ads. Not the women. Just to be clear. (I'd say, "If you're going to show me porn-style ads, at least let them be for actual PORN", but since I hardly need advertising to lead me to porn on the net, even that doesn't work.)

  293. Lizard says:

    Censorship is a bit like the old Lay's potato chip ad: bad you can't silence just one.

    "You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means."

    Yes, I used that line on Ken's blog. It's a good line! Why not use it as appropriate?

    I don't think anyone here advocates censorship, period. If someone's advocated censorship in the comments, I missed it. The entire point of this article, and Ken's, is to discuss non-censorious responses to speech, and the various moral, ethical, and practical issues with such responses. There's pretty much a universal agreement, so far,that censorship is never the right answer.

  294. Mike Schilling says:

    His detractors would say that he's crude and insulting, and while there's some truth to that […]

    It's enough to make a liability, which is why he got fired. That's right, he got fired because of his own actions, made completely voluntarily and in public. I thought you guys were about taking responsibility.

  295. I think you skip to the thick-vs-thin way too quickly here. I really like your thoughtful roundup.
    Think about this. Lots of commenters and even Gawker writers were insinuating that they couldn't believe he could still be unemployed and how BI was not sued yet for potentially creating a "hostile working environment" for women and minorities. There is a not-academic, and very real Damocles' sword hanging over people who believe only certain things in the workplace. Many anti-discrimination lawsuits net millions of dollars a year for frivolous reasons. As you know that the onus to prove innocence is on the defendant in these cases.

    I agree that the thick-vs-thin is a debate to have, but I would say this doesn't even pass the thin bar.

  296. Matthew Cline says:

    @eddie:

    What civil discourse can't be is dismissive of one's adversaries – only of their arguments.

    1) Is there any difference between displaying contempt for one's adversaries and dismissing them?

    2) Let's say that John Doe says "All niggers should be shot" and that he means it. It this case, what would count as being dismissive of John Doe?

  297. Libertarians are useless says:

    Stopped reading at "performance artist". Really you libertarians are insufferable.

  298. Ken White says:

    Follow-up question on civility.

    Say a nursery, possibly out of edginess or possibly out of an odd sense of humor, decides to name one variety of flowers "domestic violence flowers" because they are black and blue.

    Say I find this obnoxious. Maybe I know somebody who had the shit knocked out of her by an ex. Maybe I think it's a puerile provocation. Whatever.

    What does civility require?

    May I write about it, or is that uncivil because it threatens economic impact if people boycott? Do I have to consider whether other people have written about it? If other people have written about it, or written too forcefully or critically, or if the wrong people have written about it, should I refrain, even if the subject moves me?

    In writing about someone who thought "domestic violence flowers" is funny, do I need to take particular attention to taste and composure in my criticism, to prevent crossing some line?

    Ought I just be shutting up here — for the good of free speech?

  299. Ken White says:

    @Libertarians are useless: let me guess: came from Lawyers Guns & Money. Thank you for your useful and thoughtful contribution to the discussion.

  300. Clark says:

    @eddie

    We're in anarchotopia now.

    I wish more of us ancaps recognized that. It more clearly points towards the important obstacles that lie in our path.

    Indeed. I'm not sure that there are structures that would prevent us from sliding back into statism…but even if shaking the Etch-a-Sketch really hard only fixes things for 100 years, I'd still do it.

  301. eddie says:

    Is there any difference between displaying contempt for one's adversaries and dismissing them?

    My words were inexact, and poor substitutes for what I believe is the idea behind them. The idea is to engage with ideas, not people. So I would say that displaying contempt for one's adversaries is not what I've (perhaps unwisely) here called "civil discourse".

    Let's say that John Doe says "All niggers should be shot" and that he means it. It this case, what would count as being dismissive of John Doe?

    "John Doe is a vile person."

    Now, that may be true. And in a case like this, going beyond civil discourse may be a good idea. Earlier I likened this approach (based on one of Lizard's comments) to going to war. "All niggers should be shot" may well be an idea worth going to ideological war over. Fortunately, that particular war is pretty firmly won already, and I think we're on safe ground just ignoring the rhetoric of the few John Does left.

    The cases which are less settled in everyone's mind – i.e. the cases which are still controversial, despite how obvious it seems to you that your side is right – are probably the cases where we'll best be served with civility rather than warfare.

  302. notsont says:

    The cases which are less settled in everyone's mind – i.e. the cases which are still controversial, despite how obvious it seems to you that your side is right – are probably the cases where we'll best be served with civility rather than warfare.

    Do you have an example of this?

  303. Michael K. says:

    @Clark

    But, of course, in anarchotopia, she might not bother to apply to any firm that isn't certified by the Equal Rights Certification Society / the LGBT Certification group / the NAACP Equal Hiring Group etc., all of which monitor the company with fake interviewers.

    Ah, so you follow up the "the best response to offending speech is more speech" with "the best response to offending [e.g., exclusionary] free association is more free association."

    I like it.

    Then again, what's the solution to offending ponies? More ponies?

  304. Zak N. says:

    @dtsund

    I'd like you to take a look at the history of 20th century physics, and the laundry list of heterodox theories it painlessly absorbed from the theory of relativity onward, and repeat that comment with a straight face.

    I wont only repeat that comment, I'm going to double down. Let's limit ourselves to quantum mechanics and relativity, because those are the ones I assume you are talking about. The first thing to notice is that, despite the popular notions to the contrary, they did not overturn previous physics. They extended them to explain previously poorly explained data. In fact, one key test for the acceptance of both quantum theory and relativity is that they collapse to classical mechanics at their appropriate limits. Relativity becomes classical for v<<c, and an ensemble of identical fermi particles in a box at 300 K produces the gas laws.

    But that view focuses on what those theories built. Another way of looking at it is that those theories destroyed a host of other possibilities. Luminous aether? Not real. Deterministic physics? Naw, everything is a wave function. Faster than light travel? Not promising. There are an infinite number of ways the world could have been. Science works by ruling out possibilities leaving only the least wrong answer so far.

    And what about the people who hold on to the wrong answers? They don't get to be a part of the conversation. In essence, science shuts them up.

  305. Clark says:

    @Michael

    Ah, so you follow up the "the best response to offending speech is more speech" with "the best response to offending [e.g., exclusionary] free association is more free association."

    I like it.

    Ha; I didn't see the implicit parallelism, but yes, exactly.

    Then again, what's the solution to offending ponies? More ponies?

    OK, you've found one place where the template doesn't work…

  306. Erwin says:

    Dunno. I'd prefer a letter mentioning to the owner that the name was offensive to me. That result seems reasonably proportionate, as opposed to releasing the Popehat kraken.

    Beyond that, it depends on your priorities. Assuming that you're concerned about the welfare of the people and the nursery, exposing them to the bright lights of media scrutiny probably won't be optimal. I'd argue that a tasteless flower choice isn't important enough to publish a blog likely to lead to that sort of harm.

    I might be tempted to publish a blog while omitting the name/identity of the nursery and give the nursery owners a heads up first.

    Now, perhaps I'm prejudiced, but frivolous libel lawsuits seem to deserve much more public shaming.

    Going further, there is a woman I find thoroughly obnoxious, who has privately, and occasionally publicly, abused her husband and family for many years. The topic moves me.

    What does civility or the law require?

    –Erwin

  307. Zak N. says:

    @Clark

    Zak N.'s odious idea that progress is defined as "shaming people into shutting up"

    Yeah, that's not what I said. Progress is destroying bad ideas. Destroying bad ideas means getting people to stop expressing them (i.e. shutting them up). There is a wide spectrum of methodology for doing so. On one end is convincing people, in which case they shut up about the bad idea. On the other end is coercing them with violence, in which case they shut up about the bad idea but you also loose access to their good ideas*. The point is that a major goal of discussions such at this is to find truth, which only makes sense in light of shutting out falsehood.

    *That's just the utilitarian analysis, there are many other ethical principles that support the same result

    When I saw Zak N's comment, I was looking forward to a substantive response from Clark.

    So was I. I wasn't around to push it, but I chose that framing (which I'll admit is inflammatory) specifically to address the concept that deciding an idea/behavior/meme is bad contains the call to suppress that idea. That call to suppress is the root of the expression "I wish _____ would just shut up" as well as "You are wrong, here is why".

  308. eddie says:

    @Ken:

    Say a nursery, possibly out of edginess or possibly out of an odd sense of humor, decides to name one variety of flowers "domestic violence flowers" because they are black and blue.

    I know where I'm getting my next batch of roses from! That's freaking hysterical.

    I guess I like edges or something.

    What does civility require?

    First off, we're not just talking about reaction to speech any more, are we? You and your friends at Jezebel are all butthurt about something that someone is doing, namely selling flowers that they've given offensive names to. Contrast this with a) putting up an essay about why domestic violence is funny (pure speech) and b) selling bongs (pure action, and commercial at that, and even related to contraband).

    I'm not sure it makes a difference in the analysis, but I wanted to point out that your hypothetical is at least a little different than Internet Asshole Being Assholey On The Internet.

    What would be the civil response? Not that I'm an authority, but my sense is that any or all of these would be civil:

    . Being offended
    . Telling the world you're offended, and why, at length and with color if desired
    . Refusing to give them your business, even for plain old roses
    . Telling the world you're not giving them your business
    . Encouraging the world to do the same

    Here are some things I'm less confident would be civil:

    . Reaching out to their vendors, partners, suppliers, customers, and investors and applying social pressure to get them to sever their business ties
    . Encouraging the world to do the same
    . Using rhetoric that targets the business or its people ("Plant Delights is evil!" or "The president of Plant Delights is evil!") rather than it's business practices ("Plant Delights' marketing is offensive!")
    . Using rhetoric that attempts to play on people's emotions to win them over to your boycott ("These flower names are evil!" vs "These flower names are offensive!")
    . Using us-vs-them group pressure tactics to win people over to your boycott ("If you don't boycott them too, you are evil!")

    My thoughts on your specific questions:

    May I write about it, or is that uncivil because it threatens economic impact if people boycott?

    You may write about it, even if it threatens to start a boycott; indeed, even if you explicitly intend to start a boycott.

    Do I have to consider whether other people have written about it?

    No.

    If other people have written about it, or written too forcefully or critically, or if the wrong people have written about it, should I refrain, even if the subject moves me?

    No.

    In writing about someone who thought "domestic violence flowers" is funny, do I need to take particular attention to taste and composure in my criticism, to prevent crossing some line?

    Taste and composure are not an issue. Focusing on ideas and actions rather than people is the line to pay attention to. Ignoring matters of taste and composure may make that more difficult, but you're a pretty talented wordsmith so I wouldn't worry too much.

    Ought I just be shutting up here — for the good of free speech?

    No.

    Hope this sheds some light, and, of course, I welcome your thoughts on my thoughts, as meager as they are.

  309. Myk says:

    Picking up on a point Ken raised: Self-censorship. If the broad thrust is that people should moderate their "output"(verbal or otherwise) to meet social standards, that causes a problem. We see this most clearly in all major media outlets, where there is no editorial censorship because the 'journalists' have learnt to self-censor. Touchpaper issues such as Israel/Palestine, Western aggression and so forth are rarely, if ever, covered with intellectual rigour and honesty because to do so would attract flak, alienate target audiences and anger wealthy advertisers. We end up, then, with a media discourse that fails to educate or inform the public about the truth behind the serious issues of our times – but goes into graphic detail about the most inanely irrelevant stuff such as Miley Cyrus.

    Extending self-censorship to the populace at large would have a deletorious effect; while I may disagree with someone's views, hearing them enables me to consider and occasionally modify my own. If that person self-censors, then I lose that chance. Closing down the marketplace of ideas will rapidly lead to a fractured society.

    Or maybe I just misunderstand your thesis.

  310. Ken White says:

    Using rhetoric that targets the business or its people ("Plant Delights is evil!" or "The president of Plant Delights is evil!") rather than it's business practices ("Plant Delights' marketing is offensive!")
    . Using rhetoric that attempts to play on people's emotions to win them over to your boycott ("These flower names are evil!" vs "These flower names are offensive!")
    . Using us-vs-them group pressure tactics to win people over to your boycott ("If you don't boycott them too, you are evil!")

    See, I'm just concerned that these limitations would prevent me from being a complete asshole, or stop me from belittling them. If I can't do that then I can't . . . wait a second.

    You and your friends at Jezebel are all butthurt about something that someone is doing, namely selling flowers that they've given offensive names to.

    Never mind, looks like I'm good to go.

  311. eddie says:

    Erwin's comment points out another important aspect of civility (thanks!): progressive measures. Start with the small steps – talk to the offender, express your concerns privately, request remediation. Assume good faith. Assume the other party is reasonable. Heck, assume the other party has good reasons for their ideas or actions in the first place and find out what they are! You might be surprised.

    Work your way up to the tac-nukes. Don't go there right out of the gate.

    And, bearing in mind yet another principle of civility, namely proportionality – maybe you don't go there at all, even if it's the only way to "win". Maybe it's okay to lose this one.

  312. Ken White says:

    Picking up on a point Ken raised: Self-censorship.

    I don't have a problem with "self-censorship."

    I have a problem with highly selective and generally unworkable demands that others exercise "self-censorship."

  313. Mikel says:


    But, of course, in anarchotopia, she might not bother to apply to any firm that isn't certified by the Equal Rights Certification Society / the LGBT Certification group / the NAACP Equal Hiring Group etc., all of which monitor the company with fake interviewers.

    Or, perhaps she'll get together with some like-minded people, most notably sympathetic managers of said firm, and eliminate the low-hanging-fruit of an impediment, thus improving her potential work environment, the environment of the community in general (in their opinion), and her chances of gaining equal pay for equal work.

    That can happen in anarchotopia too, right?

  314. Ken White says:

    Erwin's comment points out another important aspect of civility (thanks!): progressive measures. Start with the small steps – talk to the offender, express your concerns privately, request remediation. Assume good faith. Assume the other party is reasonable. Heck, assume the other party has good reasons for their ideas or actions in the first place and find out what they are! You might be surprised.

    I'm imagining the dialogue between Valleywag and Pax with some amusement.

  315. eddie says:

    See, I'm just concerned that these limitations would prevent me from being a complete asshole, or stop me from belittling them.

    Alas, belittling is second-nature to us anonymous blowhards here on the Internet.

    My apologies for the "butthurt" crack. Mind you, you framed this as a hypothetical, so I was only hypothetically belittling… someone.

  316. Ken White says:

    No apologies necessary.

  317. eddie says:

    I have a problem with highly selective and generally unworkable demands that others exercise "self-censorship."

    How do you feel about requests, or suggestions, rather than demands?

  318. Ken White says:

    How do you feel about requests, or suggestions, rather than demands?

    Different quantitatively, not qualitatively.

  319. eddie says:

    I think there's a point on the continuum where a difference in degree becomes a difference in kind.

    "Could you please pass the salt?" is different from GIVE ME THE SALT YOU FUCKING WHORE!!!!

    If you don't see that then I'm never inviting you over for dinner. As lively as it would be.

  320. Matthew Cline says:

    @Eddie:

    Assume good faith. Assume the other party is reasonable. Heck, assume the other party has good reasons for their ideas or actions in the first place and find out what they are! You might be surprised.

    But if we follow your first maxim of ignoring the person and focusing only on what they say, then what is the point in assuming good intent? Unless you're meaning something like "you have to figure out what they said before arguing against it, so don't assume they're speaking literally. They might be speaking ironically/satirically/etc, so hold of judgement on what they actually mean until you've gone to the effort of determining what they meant".

    Also, regarding "assume good faith": lets say someone says something that seems racist. Do you assume that they're being ironic/satirical/etc until proven otherwise?

  321. Clark says:

    @Mikel

    Or, perhaps she'll get together with … sympathetic managers of said firm, and … improve the environment of the community in general

    That can happen in anarchotopia too, right?

    Sure, why not.

    I always smile when people ask me "how would X work in anarchotopia?"

    I can give my own hunches and ideas, but part of the genius of anarchoptopia is that it's not a North Korea, designed by one person – it's an emergent system that harnesses potentially millions or billions of brains.

    Imagine that the Soviet Union won the Cold War in 1960 and the world went fully communist.

    Now, in the year 2013 a utopian free marketer is being asked "If we got rid of the State, how would we know which books to buy from GUM? Would the official list of Best Books of the Year be handed down by a free market authority? Or two, competing ones?"

    Yeah. Maybe. Or maybe there's be Amazon.com reviews, Goodreads.com, discussions on news.ycombinator, book club groups on meetup.com, a thousand experimental book review engines, ten million bloggers each recommending their friends self-published e-books, and a hundred other answers.

  322. Xenocles says:

    "Also, regarding "assume good faith": lets say someone says something that seems racist. Do you assume that they're being ironic/satirical/etc until proven otherwise?"

    I wouldn't say that proof is required for each instance – you might build a character profile by aggregating data and have good reason to believe the worst, but yes. Why not? What do you really lose besides a brief period in which you were treating the other person better than he deserved?

  323. felix says:

    @Ken White

    I just want to point out that the MLA Style Guide says you shouldn't start with "um" unless you end with "sigh."

    Um, I tried to look up the MLA style guide to verify this but apparently they prefer you buy their book rather than perusing it online. Sigh.

  324. Lizard says:

    If the broad thrust is that people should moderate their "output"(verbal or otherwise) to meet social standards, that causes a problem.

    It could lead to rampant politeness, widespread civility, ongoing outbreaks of not being punched in the face, and dangerously low levels of public dickishness. Speaking as a misanthropic curmudgeon whose sole joy and pleasure in life is finding something I can make a snide comment about[1], I concur that these are dire outcomes indeed. I suspect others might disagree about their undesirability.

    [1]You know, like this one.

  325. Lizard says:

    Fortunately, that particular war is pretty firmly won already, and I think we're on safe ground just ignoring the rhetoric of the few John Does left.

    Ah, but you see, ideas can never be killed. You can knock them into GM discretion land where they only recover 1d6 Stun a decade, or something, but you can't actually kill them. So if you see them stirring, even a little bit, you hit them again and keep them knocked out.

    When one of the few "John Does" decides to post such a comment, they are peeking out from their dank burrows, seeing if it's safe to be an asshole again. It's a lot better to call in the metaphorical airstrike as soon as one is sighted, because if you wait, they'll be all over the place and it's just too late.

    If the horse won't stay dead, keep beating it.

    Have I mixed enough metaphors and analogies yet? To quote Zapp Brannigan, "Once we hit the bullseye, the dominos will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate."

  326. wgering says:

    Quick Response (since I don't have time to read 300+ comments at work):

    I'd try to convince the racist that he was wrong (perhaps not very likely) and to convince others that he's wrong (more likely).

    So, I am genuinely curious as to what the goal of mass shaming someone is.

    I think the goal is to, as you say, convince others that [opinion] and/or the people who hold it are; however, I think there are many, many people (especially on the internet) who lack the rhetorical finesse, or who don't want to put in the effort, to do so in a reasonable and level-headed manner (as I would expect from Clark or Ken).

    Intelligent debate is hard; blind outrage and indignation are easy.

  327. wgering says:

    "…convince others that [opinion] and/or the people who hold it are wrong; however…"

    My kingdom for an edit button.

  328. eigenperson says:

    eddie: It seems you don't think we should go to "ideological war" over Doe's "All niggers should be shot," since that war is supposedly over, and we also shouldn't go to ideological war over Dickinson's comments, since they are "still controversial".

    Does that mean you think that the decision to go to ideological war should be based on the popularity of the ideology in question? If so, why?

  329. Sami says:

    I'd like to point out that the reason why "progressives", as you define them, are more likely to give hits on "needs to shut up" is probably because if you look at similar sites on the opposite end of that political spectrum, the rhetoric is generally less of an expressed wish that someone the person finds repugnant stop talking, and more insults devaluing their worth as a human being, and/or the expressed sentiment that the person needs to be physically assaulted or murdered.

    "Needs to shut up" is what you say when you want someone the fuck out of public discourse, but you don't actually want to advocate violence.

    (Alternatively, it's what you say when it's true. In Australia's recent election, the erstwhile Leader of the Opposition made as few public statements as possible for much of the campaign, because even his own party realised that if they were going to win, Tony Abbott needed to shut up, because every time he opened his mouth he reminded Australia in a fresh new way that actually, we've all kind of hated him since he was Health Minister in the 90s.)

  330. notsont says:

    Intelligent debate is hard; blind outrage and indignation are easy.

    Sometimes debate is done. There comes a point when it is time to say "No, that is not OK to say" sometimes there comes a time when someone keeps repeating things that simply are not true and they surely must know it like this…

    …and access to taxpayer funded data that certain climate change scientists are refusing to release…

    that its time to say "Hey, you are not really being honest".

  331. randomscrub says:

    Clark:

    Have you by any chance read John C. Wright's "Golden Age" trilogy? If you like sci-fi, I suspect it would be right up your alley, and large portions of the plot grapple with the issue of societal shaming/shunning/etc. (I just finished re-reading the books, so the parallels to your thoughts jumped out at me. Highly recommend reading it!)

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Golden-Age-Book/dp/0812579844

  332. mythago says:

    Many anti-discrimination lawsuits net millions of dollars a year for frivolous reasons.

    I would say 'citation needed', but you've put so much useful wiggle room into your statement ("many", "frivolous") that it would likely be pointless.

    As you know that the onus to prove innocence is on the defendant in these cases.

    It's more than a bit silly to say things like this on a blog frequented by lawyers. Unless you're talking about a non-US legal system, the burden of proof in a civil lawsuit (that'd be the 'onus') is on the plaintiff. Of course, meeting that burden of proof is probably a lot easier if the plaintiff's lawyer has really helpful answers to questions like "Isn't it true that your CTO has a years-long history of posting negative things about women and minorities?" and "Did you in fact follow your social media policy with regards to Mr. Dickinson's tweets?"

    Ken, are you doing that cross-examination thing where it slowly becomes apparent to all that you're not actually trying to get a disingenuous witness to answer the question, you're merely eliciting shifty answers in order to demonstrate the fact that they are disingenuous? It's genuinely a pleasure to see that well done.

    I don't expect that you are really going to get more than the long-form version of the Orwellian "Some free speech is freer than others" that you've been getting. As I probably don't have to point out, it's because free speech is not so much the principle here as an emotional identification with Pax – the love of 'political incorrectness' because of that rush of you-can't-tell-ME-what-to-do, the thrill of a well-off, highly-advantaged person getting to play the victim, whatever. And so when confronted with the cognitive dissonance between free speech for Pax and free speech for people who disagree with Pax, you get the usual response to cognitive dissonance, which is an attempt to reconcile the two, leading to some truly epic pretzel-logic. But that's what doublethink is.

  333. James Pollock says:

    "I have a problem with highly selective and generally unworkable demands that others exercise "self-censorship.""

    That means "Don't be a jerk" and "please don't be a jerk" are right out. Also "I would like to ask, respectfully, that you reconsider the approach and tone you use."

  334. Grifter says:

    @Clark:

    On an unrelated note, I would like to express my appreciation of your titling, and the capitalization thereof.

  335. HandOfGod137 says:

    @Clark

    Which is particularly amusing given that we know that not all of global warming is anthropogenic…but, yes, I agree with you.

    …and access to taxpayer funded data that certain climate change scientists are refusing to release…

    I know this is a little off-topic, but these comments jumped out at me. Do you have any evidence to support these assertions?

  336. wut says:

    Oh wow, a privileged white man going to bat for another privileged white man for the right to not feel the consequences of saying things which oppress people who aren't them! What a shocker!

  337. Myk says:

    @Ken: Noted and retracted.

  338. Myk says:

    @Lizard: Please don't misconstrue my post as an argument against punching people on the nose; in fact, I have a list of worthy targets should the need arise.

  339. Joe Blow says:

    where is the censorship here?

    Ahh, right. No censorship in the sense of First Amendment / Government Action. Just retaliation for a guy having exercised First Amendment rights. Just like how retaliatory discharge under Title VII isn't really a civil rights violation qua civil rights violation. Just like how a private college speech code doesn't impair free speech rights in any way. Private action – aimed at silencing somebody. No censorship here. Claim withdrawn.

    And these same people try and say, with a straight face no less, that a reporter/blogger/whatever calling a company asking for comment about one of their officers controversial public twitter feed OBVIOUSLY just wants that officers scalp.

    Anil Dash and Nitasha Tiku have billed themselves as engaged in "anti-racist reporting." I think it's OBVIOUS that they wanted his scalp.

    As a legal matter I agree the company is within its legal rights to fire Dickinson. As a professional matter I agree that he exercised really bad judgment. As a public policy matter I think we've established a climate where the mob – and it can be right or left wing these days though it's usually left – picks an object for its Two Minutes Hate, isolates it, and attacks. The object gets destroyed, the mob has enforced conformity with whatever point it is selling, and it moves on congratulating itself for having stood on one moral high ground or another, and the object is left picking up the pieces.

    The rest of us, meanwhile, are on warning that we're subject to the same treatment if we stray out of conformity with the mob politics. In this case, "No offensive humor that may bother women or minorities." What is hilarious about this – in a sad kind of way – is our earnest moral betters aren't smart enough to recognize satire poking fun at racists and sexists when they see it. God forbid they ever saw the uncensored version of Blazing Saddles – they'd run Mel Brooks out of town.

    The bottom line is in approving of this mau-mau-ing (I know, use of the term makes me racist, right?) we're empowering a mob and allowing it to set the standards of what is permissible and impermissible speech under the First Amendment, and the mob itself isn't even bright enough to understand what was being said and that, for the most part, the guy they just destroyed basically agreed with them on substance.

    Gramsci would be proud of us.

  340. Clark says:

    @wut

    Oh wow, a privileged white man going to bat for another privileged white man for the right to not feel the consequences of saying things which oppress people who aren't them! What a shocker!

    I like how you attack the arguer instead of the argument. If only there was a phrase that encapsulated that tactic.

  341. Clark says:

    @Grifter

    @Clark:

    On an unrelated note, I would like to express my appreciation of your titling, and the capitalization thereof.

    Patrick threatened to hurt me if I didn't.

  342. Clark says:

    @randomscrub

    Clark: Have you by any chance read John C. Wright's "Golden Age" trilogy? If you like sci-fi, I suspect it would be right up your alley, and large portions of the plot grapple with the issue of societal shaming/shunning/etc. (I just finished re-reading the books, so the parallels to your thoughts jumped out at me. Highly recommend reading it!)

    I have.

    I find Wright to be a flawed writer – full of ideas, full of crisp thinking, and yet his books are curiously unengaging – I often want to close them and go watch a movie half way through.

    That said, he is vastly underappreciated.

  343. Clark says:

    @Joe Blow

    where is the censorship here?

    Ahh, right. No censorship in the sense of First Amendment / Government Action. Just retaliation for a guy having exercised First Amendment rights.

    It's not technically censorship because the government is not doing it.

    That said, it is a violation of the thick liberty that we might – perhaps – wish for.

  344. Clark says:

    @notsont

    …and access to taxpayer funded data that certain climate change scientists are refusing to release…

    Hey, you are not really being honest

    A fair debater might say "I don't know what you're talking about; can you give me a pointer?".

    To which I'd respond: "sure".

    http://online.wsj.com

    Mr. McIntyre thinks there are more errors but says his audit is limited because he still doesn't know the exact computer code Dr. Mann used to generate the graph. Dr. Mann refuses to release it. "Giving them the algorithm would be giving in to the intimidation tactics that these people are engaged in," he says.

  345. Clark says:

    @Chad Miller

    Re: The Adria Richards thing – She was also fired.

    Ah, really?

    I find it in mildly poor taste to leave that out.

    A more charitable interlocutor might have phrased that "Had you heard that?"

  346. Clark says:

    @Astra

    After reading Ken's post last night and some of your comments on it, I found myself thinking of Ward Churchill as a similar case on the other side.

    Indeed. I'd be interested to see the intersection of the set "people who believe that Ward Churchill was being persecuted for his speech" and "it's great that Pax got fired for being an asshole".

  347. Clark says:

    @George William Herbert

    Out of curiosity, why do you think or argue what happened to Vox was significantly different from what happened to Pax here?

    I think that Pax's firing was entirely legitimate. As CTO he spoke for the company, to some degree. He put the business name in his twitter bio and used his twitter account for some work related purposes. The organization is in the business of making a profit, and tossing Pax to make a profit is reasonable.

    I think that Vox's expulsion was almost entirely illegitimate. As a member of an organization he spoke only for himself. From what I know (I haven't read the SFWA report nor his rebuttal) the organization expelled him not for any pragmatic reasons but to purge the body politic of a thought criminal.

  348. Clark says:

    @Jim Salter

    I like Scalzi's novels

    De gustibus…

    Even so, I'd call him more of the online bully than the online victim – he does a LOT of, er, "bro-shaming".

    Agreed. This gets to the point I was making: he can dish out the scorn, but he can't take it. I respect Vox for leaving dissenting comments in his blog; I have contempt for Scalzi's purge of comments (even non-flaming, even tempered comments) that disagree with him. I think that Scalzi's editing of other people's comments to make them look worse is beyond contempt.

  349. Clark says:

    @Ryan:

    @Clark:

    Invoking the Nazis is tired, far overdone, and rarely relevant in anything but a tangential way.

    Given the state of government run education today, if one wants to make a historical analogy, it's pretty much the only piece of history most people know…and can all agree on which side was good and which was bad.

    Note that I threw a Rwandan genocide reference in there too.

    Godwin'ing your own argument is lazy, unconvincing, and indicative of a failure to properly research examples and immediately leap to the most hyperbolic example possible. So I plead with you: for the love of Pete, stop it! =)

    I think you've got a different connotation to making references to Nazi Germany than I do.

    I'll think about it.

  350. HandOfGod137 says:

    @Clark

    Ah, so you're referring to the algorithm, not the actual dataset (which, like all other climate datasets, is available). And you're also referring to the terminally flawed and partisan analysis by McIntyre. And you're failing to mention the ridiculous attacks and pressure that was being aimed at Mann et al by a chorus of the scientifically-illiterate and paid-for bloggers. Fine.

    So, to be clear, do you buy into the (apparently) common Libertarian delusion of AGW denialism? Or was it just a bit of collateral snark, like the Scalzi comment?

  351. HandOfGod137 says:

    Apologies: bit of a cross post there.

    However, wasn't Beale kicked out for posting racist garbage on an official SFWA twitter feed? He's a toxic idiot at the best of times, but surely an organisation shouldn't have to be seen as condoning racism and sexism by not responding to that?

  352. Ahkbar says:

    @Joe Blow

    I don't understand how billing oneself as "anti-racist reporter" implies any kind of nefarious intentions. It appears that they have decided to narrow their focus of inquiry to those they consider to have performed/spoken/written racist things. The only thing obvious to me is that they wanted to bring more attention to his already somewhat public messages.

    I also feel like you are ascribing intelligence/motives to the "mob" that isn't really there. Each individual have their own personal responsibility to voice or not voice their opinion, and if they are easily swayed by a blog/report to contribute to the so called "two minutes of hate", that is consequence of free speech and personal responsibility.

    The rest of us, as you mentioned, are not doomed to cower in our PC caves and hope that the conformity mob leaves us in peace. We have just as much right to confront their speech with our own, if we so desire. There is no reason that an "anti-anti-racist reporter" can't make their own report detailing the response Mr. Dickinson is getting. There is no reason that people can't respond to that report and voice their opinion in defense of Mr. Dickinson. There is no reason that one mob can't confront another mob in debate and dialogue on this issue.

    In any case, what is the difference between the mob setting the standards of what is permissible as free speech or you setting the standard? I may be mistaken, but it feels like you are setting up a false dilemma.

  353. eddie says:

    "I have a problem with highly selective and generally unworkable demands that others exercise "self-censorship.""

    That means "Don't be a jerk" and "please don't be a jerk" are right out. Also "I would like to ask, respectfully, that you reconsider the approach and tone you use."

    James has neatly put his finger on what has vaguely been bothering me about Ken's most recent comments. Thank you, James.

  354. Clark says:

    @Tom

    Did anyone else find this section of Clark's article to be, well, somewhat hard to reconcile with Clark's other views:

    "Progressives dislike slut shaming, body shaming, childlessness shaming, atheist shaming, and so on."…

    Progressives think that shaming people for things which either aren't their choice, or aren't (in an important sense, if not in no sense) wrong, is unacceptable, but that shaming people for doing something which is morally wrong is acceptable.

    You raise two points:

    1) Progressives think that shaming people for things which either aren't their choice is bad

    2) Progressives think that shaming people for things which aren't morally wrong is bad

    Adressing them in turn:

    1) Note that I am not endorsing any of these acts of shaming; I think that they're all crude and un-Christian. But a pro-shaming right-winger would note that having a large number of sex partners is a choice, being overweight is a choice (one that I am guilty of making), being childless (given the existence of adoption) is a choice, and outing oneself as an atheist is a choice.

    2) You're arguing that the things that progressives dislike shaming people for "aren't wrong" or "in an important sense" "aren't wrong". Which is to say that you're privilegeing left-wing mores and morality over other definitions. Which is fine. But note that I addressed this: people need to either expand their concern about shaming to victims that they don't particularly agree with, or they need to admit that their concern is really special pleading: "I don't want my people or my activities shamed, but I'm all down with shaming The Other's people and activities." That second choice is a legitimate position, but they lose a fair bit of moral high ground – there's not much gravitas in saying that it's wrong to slut-shame progressive women but it's morally good to do it to the Palins of the world, or that it's wrong to fat-shame Bill Clinton but OK to do it to Rush Limbaugh, etc.

    Your response is with in my framework; you're just choosing option 'b'.

    When Progressives decry slut-shaming, it is because of the longstanding, ongoing, and profoundly negative effects of the patriarchy on women both in aggregate and individually, not because it's wrong to shame people who deserve it!

    And when conservatives engage in "slut-shaming" (a progressive term, and one which I reject, by the way), they are noting the profoundly negative effects on people both in aggregate and individually, when family formation is delayed or stopped, when unwanted children are aborted, when existing families are broken up, etc.

    Playing the utilitarian script is not a winning tactic, I'd suggest.

  355. Ahkbar says:

    @James Pollock
    @eddie

    I believe Ken's objection to the proposed limitations on free speech are in context of all free speech in any public platform.

    But I think the comments you quoted from Ken were in the context of moderating his private "living room" (to borrow his analogy).

    If I recall correctly, there was an earlier post about this issue (Public Censorship and Private Speech).

    I understand the premise is that you are free to make any speech you want, but you can't assume to use a private third-party platform to do it.

    So I don't believe Ken is out of line in setting the parameters of content in his private area since you are free to make your opinion known in public or via your own privately held methods.

    Of course, this is assuming you agree with Ken's premise.

  356. Clark says:

    @HandOfGod137

    wasn't Beale kicked out for posting racist garbage on an official SFWA twitter feed? He's a toxic idiot at the best of times, but surely an organisation shouldn't have to be seen as condoning racism and sexism by not responding to that?

    My understanding is incomplete because I haven't read all the relevant documents, but I think that
    that was the triggering event (or, rather, the final triggering event). Specifically, he

    1) posted something to his blog
    2) tweeted about the post
    3) included a hashtag in the post that…
    4) led the SFWA auto-retweet 'bot to retweet it

    and while neither the tweet nor the post were racist, the post was race-baiting.

    The SFWA leadership tried to throw him out over this, but Vox pointed out that the bylaws did not permit it. Since the machinery was already in motion and the SFWA board didn't want to back down, they seized on another pretext: Vox had reposted information from a confidential SFWA discussion board. This is the charge they drummed him out on.

    Problematically for them, Vox had not reposted information from a confidential board; he'd reposted information from a public board that was not under SFWA ownership.

    In the process of expelling Vox the board compiled a dossier and distributed it…and that dossier did repost information from a confidential SFWA board.

    Thus, amusingly, Vox is innocent of the crime for which he was dismissed, and the SFWA board is guilty of the exact same crime.

    It is, frankly, hilarious.

  357. mythago says:

    James and eddie, I think you are either taking Ken's comment out of context or overlooking the important qualifier "highly selective".

  358. Clark says:

    @Ahkbar

    @Joe Blow

    I don't understand how billing oneself as "anti-racist reporter" implies any kind of nefarious intentions.

    Not nefarious intent.

    Just intent.

  359. Dan Weber says:

    Once more I've skipped a bunch more comments. Sorry again.

    I thought about this overnight and realized this guy is in the shock-jock category. His employer hired him specifically because he could and did say outrageous things and get a lot of followers for it. When that turned unpopular, they canned him.

    This is probably okay, but whoever writes the book about Speech And Consequences needs to dedicate at least a whole chapter to the genre of shock-jocks. I can't exactly describe it but there is something disquieting (probably not illegal, but still disquieting) about a company that employs you to get people angry and then fires you when you get people angry.

    (BI even employs Henry Blodget, who I think should be in jail right now, but that's an entirely separate rant.)

  360. mythago says:

    My understanding is incomplete because I haven't read all the relevant documents

    Clark, this disclaimer is really more than a bit disingenuous. It's a plausible-deniability figleaf for the rest of your post, which is a very detailed, specific and opinionated slant on what happened, and written in a way that suggests you most certainly have read 'the relevant documents' in detail – at least, those documents which are 'relevant' to supporting your point of view. It's really not much different than the guy who slaps "Just playing devil's advocate here…" on his opinions so he has a safety hatch if they turn out to be wrong.

    Re shaming, your point #2 moves the goalposts, and confuses differing standards with hypocrisy. A progressive who fat-shames Rush Limbaugh but not Bill Clinton is behaving badly by the standards of progressives, and you could certainly point out her hypocrisy – but that is not so much having "different standards" as selectively following them.

    Your point #1 also assumes that certain things are always by choice, and it assumes that shaming always correctly extrapolates backward from the result (being overweight, say) to the cause (Twinkies). Whether or not one labels oneself a "progressive", this is pretty plainly wrong as a matter of logic. A victim of gang-rape did not "choose" to have a "large"* number of sexual partners. A person who retains fluid or gains mass as a common side-effect of medication which is necessary to their health did not "choose" to be overweight. A person who is infertile and cannot yet afford the adoption process did not "choose" to be childless. Certainly, there are people who choose to sleep around, live on desserts or avoid children, but shaming doesn't look at their motives or intent; it simply assumes them.

    *Setting aside the extremely gendered** nature of slut-shaming, it's a Golden Mean fallacy. What's a "large" number of sex partners defined as, other than "more than I am personally comfortable having"?

    **If it weren't, we wouldn't have the hilarious and mathematically impossible gap between the lifetime average numbers of sexual partners reported by women and men.

  361. mythago says:

    @Dan Weber, by disquieting are you referring to the "We are shocked, shocked to hear racist jokes on this Twitter channel" routine, or to the fact of the firing? If the former, sure; if the latter, isn't that part of the terms of employment? Presumably there is not an actual breach of contract, and so firing an employee who is harming the employer's business is entirely within the agreement between the 'shock jock' (or CTO) and the employer.

    In Dickinson's case, I admittedly have trouble grasping why libertarians are so upset that he resigned/was asked to resign/was fired (which isn't clear). BI had a social media policy that limited employees' free speech, and likely had a very broad 'employee code of conduct'. Dickinson voluntarily agreed to these terms – which expressly include limitations on his free speech – as a term of his employment, and accepted compensation for them. What, therefore, is objectionable about his being held to that agreement?

  362. Clark says:

    @mythago

    My understanding is incomplete because I haven't read all the relevant documents

    Clark, this disclaimer is really more than a bit disingenuous.

    Thank you for your charitable assumption as to my motives.

    It's a plausible-deniability figleaf for the rest of your post, which is a very detailed, specific and opinionated slant

    Because it's based on reading Vox's side of the story in his blog posts, but not his formal rebuttal (which I haven't had time to read) and not the SFWA official report, which I neither have time to read nor have I found (if Vox posted it, I missed it).

    So, yeah, bad on me for having incomplete data and even worse on me for noting that my opinion was based on incomplete data.

    I'm such a deceptive son-of-a-bitch.

    on what happened, and written in a way that suggests you most certainly have read 'the relevant documents' in detail

    I'm struggling to understand what you mean here. I'm the bad guy because (a) I had incomplete information, (b) I said that I had incomplete information, (c) you falsely concluded that – contrary to my explicit words – I had more information than I actually did ?

    Does this make any sense at all to anyone?

    Re shaming, your point #2 moves the goalposts, and confuses differing standards with hypocrisy.

    It most certainly does not move the goal posts.

    In my "OP" (which I've recently learned means "original post" I called out two choices:

    (a) "people need to either expand their concern about shaming to victims that they don't particularly agree with", or
    (b) they need to admit that their concern is really special pleading

    This is exactly how I continued my argument in the comments.

    Your point #1 also assumes that certain things are always by choice

    It doesn't assume it; it states it.

    A victim of gang-rape did not "choose" to have a "large"* number of sexual partners.

    The logical fallacy you're engaging in is appeal to extremes.

    Do you believe that the core of slut-shaming is that women who are gang raped are promiscuous?

    For that matter, do you think that anyone who criticizes promiscuity is criticizing victims of gang rape as being morally loose? I mean, outside of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia?

    *Setting aside the extremely gendered** nature of slut-shaming

    Snort. Oh noz! Gendering!

    it's a Golden Mean fallacy.

    Not at all.

    I don't suggest that if some people have sex with just their spouse and others sleep with 100 people, that 50 partners is appropriate and more is slutty.

  363. Clark says:

    @Sam

    @Clark

    Love that you had a tl;dr for a section…and then wrote a bunch more.

    Sigh.

    It's a sickness.

  364. Clark says:

    @mythago

    In Dickinson's case, I admittedly have trouble grasping why libertarians are so upset that he resigned/was asked to resign/was fired (which isn't clear)

    For the record, I'm not remotely upset that he was fired. I think he was asking for it.

    That doesn't mean that I don't find the whole topic fascinating.

  365. Ray says:

    >> A more charitable interlocutor might have phrased that "Had you heard that?"

    Yeah, suggesting you should know something about the people and situations you so casually reference in your post is something only a meanie would do.

  366. Clark says:

    @Ray

    A more charitable interlocutor might have phrased that "Had you heard that?"

    Yeah, suggesting you should know something about the people and situations you so casually reference in your post is something only a meanie would do.

    I followed the story for the first few days (17 March – 19 March, perhaps?), then it dropped off my radar.

    Apparently she was fired a few days later.

    I formally apologize to you and everyone else for following a breaking story for two days, but not for six. Clearly I am a horrible person and I debate in bad faith.

  367. Ahkbar says:

    @Clark

    Anil Dash and Nitasha Tiku have billed themselves as engaged in "anti-racist reporting." I think it's OBVIOUS that they wanted his scalp.

    I was responding to this claim, which I think implies a negative intent. I am taking the assumption that these individuals actually bill themselves as such.

    Without any further context, I assume that any reporter writes their article with at least the intent for people to read and discuss.

    To clarify, what intent are you saying is there?

  368. Clark says:

    @Ahkbar

    Without any further context, I assume that any reporter writes their article with at least the intent for people to read and discuss.

    To clarify, what intent are you saying is there?

    It is my belief – unprovable, I admit, but based on having know a few people in media and reading about people in media – that it is normal for journalists to

    (a) have strong political opinions
    (b) hope that their journalism results in changes in the real world
    (c) believe that getting "corrupt" members of the "other team" fired counts as good change

    This probably boils down to differing axioms, so I don't think we'll convince each other.

  369. Dan Weber says:

    @mythago, I really can't put my finger on it. A system where employers hire people for an activity and then fire them when they do that specific thing, and workers often clamor for that position — it's just a little unusual somehow.

    @Clark on journalism:

    A colleague starting his journalism career told me that when you asked people in J-school why they went there, historically the answer would be "to find out the facts" or "to tell the world the true story." Up until Watergate. Then the answer became "to change the world." Add that to the list of Nixon's sins.

  370. Ahkbar says:

    @Clark

    At this point, I would agree with (a) & (b) a baseline for journalists. I would hope that any journalist would have the strength of conviction I their personal beliefs and a passion to use their craft to make changes. I would also hope that they would adhere to their professionalism to reign in abuse of their potential power. I realize that this is not always the case, and that it may result in (c). I'm not sure I understand who the "other team" is in this case; just a third-party with a disagreeable opinion/idea?

    If a journalist is behaving more like a character sniper than a reporter, I would submit that we could speak out to bring attention to this and hope that appropriate (to us) consequences can result. I realize this is probably more of a wish than a reality.

  371. Sam says:

    @Clark

    It's a sickness.

    It's cool, I'm in remission but due for a relapse.

  372. cb says:

    –Thank you for your charitable assumption as to my motives

    I can't see that it was any less charitable than your treatment of Tiku.

    It comes across as, as you say, not an objection to shaming so much as special pleading.

  373. cb says:

    –A fair debater might say "I don't know what you're talking about; can you give me a pointer?".

    A fair debater might say "were you aware of this information?" rather than asusming ignorance.

  374. Ken White says:

    Indeed. I'd be interested to see the intersection of the set "people who believe that Ward Churchill was being persecuted for his speech" and "it's great that Pax got fired for being an asshole".

    I suspect that Ward Churchill was disciplined for academic malfeasance of the sort that he likely would have gotten away with if not for outrage over his speech. But "likely would have gotten away with" doesn't mean he was innocent of misconduct; it means such misconduct is likely pervasive and likely ignored in preferred members of faculties.

    That seems to be what the jury concluded in his case.

    If you are interested I've uploaded the Colorado Supreme Court decision here.

  375. eddie says:

    @mythago:

    James and eddie, I think you are either taking Ken's comment out of context or overlooking the important qualifier "highly selective".

    I too noticed that possibility. I'm hoping Ken will let us know himself why we're wrong about what he's saying. The clarity he could provide would be interesting and instructive, no doubt.

    @Ahkbar:

    I believe Ken's objection to the proposed limitations on free speech are in context of all free speech in any public platform. But I think the comments you quoted from Ken were in the context of moderating his private "living room" (to borrow his analogy).

    I think you may be misunderstanding the question at hand. As I see it:

    . Party A says or does something objectionable
    . Party B objects via speech in some way, such as: condemning Party A, boycotting Party A, campaigning against Party A, bringing objections of Party A's speech or conduct to the attention of Party A's business associates and urging them to terminate their relationships with Party A
    . Party A characterizes the speech of Party B in some way which implies that Party B was wrong to use their speech to object in that manner

    Ken appears to me to be saying that, without exception, Party A is wrong to object to Party B's use of speech.

    In Ken's thread about Pax Dickinson, he hewed to the idea that Party A is wrong when they "blur the line" between social consequences (what Party B is doing) and government censorship. The plainest example is when Party A claims that he is being "censored" or that he is being "deprived of his free speech rights", which of course we see Parties A claiming all the freaking time. Other examples include Party A saying that Party B is "a terrorist" or "using violence and intimidation" or (arguably) is conducting "a witch hunt" or "an inquisition" or "a two minute hate".

    In this thread, however, Ken appears to me to be going beyond the notion of Party A conflating social pressure and government censorship. In this thread, Ken seems to be saying that even if Party A just says "Hey, B, that was a real dickish thing to, and you shouldn't have done that" then Party A is trying to constrain Party B's speech, and Ken accordingly thinks that Party A is doing something wrong.

    Thus, the impression that James and I have of Ken's argument:

    I have a problem with highly selective and generally unworkable demands that others exercise "self-censorship."

    That means "Don't be a jerk" and "please don't be a jerk" are right out. Also "I would like to ask, respectfully, that you reconsider the approach and tone you use."

  376. mythago says:

    @Clark, no, that is not "appeal to extremes", as is evident from your own link. Pointing out that "result Y means you chose X" is incorrect – because result Y can happen when X was forced on you, or because you chose Z – is not an "appeal to extremes".

    Outside of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia? Yes, we have reports of people slut-shaming victims of gang rape. Is this news to you? (And while you, personally, may not have a strange view of what constitutes 'promiscuity', that doesn't change the fact that promiscuous, 'large' numbers of partners, etc. are subjective, and yes, applied differently to men and women. I don't follow "Oh noz!" as a meaningful rebuttal, but I'm certainly willing to listen.)

    I have no opinion on whether you are a "deceptive son-of-a-bitch" and certainly didn't use the insulting terms you sarcastically apply to yourself, but when you on the one hand act indignant that anyone might possibly doubt your good faith and fair intent, and on the other rail sarcastically, yes, it does not exactly paint you in the light of a person interested in reasoned, good-faith agreement. As cb says, it does not exactly reassure that "good faith" argument is a principle you hold, as opposed to being a rhetorical excuse with which to fend off disagreement.

    Similarly, as to VD, exaggerated, false 'apologies' are not a good-faith and reasonable response. Prefacing an opinion that is incomplete and based on a limited and one-sided version of events with 'well admittedly I may not have read everything' does not prevent that opinion from being as wrong and misguided as if you'd left off the disclaimer; additionally, it doesn't really inspire confidence that you are interested in a reasoned discussion if your attitude is that you needn't bother to learn the facts because you've made up your mind.

    I'm pleased that we agree on Pax's firing. I just don't understand why so many people who, I would guess, are in favor of libertarian principles object.

  377. Ken White says:

    "I have a problem with highly selective and generally unworkable demands that others exercise "self-censorship.""

    That means "Don't be a jerk" and "please don't be a jerk" are right out. Also "I would like to ask, respectfully, that you reconsider the approach and tone you use."

    I take this to mean you think there is an inconsistency between the standards I set for conduct on my site, and my reaction to the standards people want to set for everywhere.

    To which my response is: of course there is. This is my living room. Well, it's more like the living room of a ramshackle house I share will some college buddies who will never get jobs or get married.

    I will set any ridiculous standards I damn please in my own living room. I don't purport to hold people to them outside of my living room, and it would be silly to complain when others don't comply with standards I can't even articulate with any reasonable particularity.

    For instance, if someone is consistently oddly combative and is recently reliably at the center of any tendentious unpleasantness on my threads, I am likely to say something about it, because it is my living room, and I feel free to police it without articulable standards. I will boot people out for mentioning marmosets if I feel like it, and take the social consequences for doing so. But I won't go around saying that people are at fault for not following an internal sensibility I apply to my own space.

    tl;dt Everybody's here at my arbitrary sufferance, but I don't demand anyone else apply my arbitrary rules.

  378. Clark says:

    @cb

    your treatment of Tiku…

    I didn't think that my assumption that she would consider getting the target of her article (especially a target that she thinks is racist, homophobic, and misogynistic) fired was desirable was a all a leap, or even uncharitable.

    But, yes, you're right. It was an assumption, and I can't prove it. So I'll retract it.

  379. cb says:

    I think the point is that A demands that B self censor, but objects to requests that he self censor.

  380. cb says:

    Ken-Link to the Churchill decision is lacking the 'f' on 'pdf'

  381. Ken White says:

    In this thread, however, Ken appears to me to be going beyond the notion of Party A conflating social pressure and government censorship. In this thread, Ken seems to be saying that even if Party A just says "Hey, B, that was a real dickish thing to, and you shouldn't have done that" then Party A is trying to constrain Party B's speech, and Ken accordingly thinks that Party A is doing something wrong.

    No.

    You and others criticizing people who called out Pax is part of a chain of "more speech."

    If, in the course of that criticism, I think you are being misleading, or helping Pax indulge in victimhood or self-seriousness, I will say so. I'm not saying you should be prevented from saying so. I'm not saying — as you seem to be — that your speech somehow breaks the marketplace of ideas. I'm criticizing your proposed code for what speech is "civil" or principled or right as being unworkable and illogical and biased for first speakers or speakers you like. I'm rejecting your concept of free speech.

    It's true that I think language like "mob" and "witch hunt" and "Goldstein" and "inquisition" subtly or not-subtly contributes to public ignorance of how free speech works, and is often a dishonest argument. I like to criticize that. But I'm not saying your speech breaks free speech.

    To further illustrate the difference: A is a dick, B criticizes A leading to severe social consequences (say, like being fired), C criticizes B for lack of proportionality, D criticized C for misrepresenting free speech concepts.

    I'm D. You're C. I interpret you to be saying that, while B isn't violating A's First Amendment rights, C is violating some sort of socially constructed right we should recognize, or some sort of social code against disproportionate speech. I'm criticizing that as unworkable and incoherent and internally inconsistent, but I'm not saying you're breaking freedom.

  382. Ken White says:

    @cb: Thanks. Fixed the link.

    I think the point is that A demands that B self censor, but objects to requests that he self censor.

    Yes. This is one of the inconsistencies in the "restrained speech" theory that I have been pointing out — it critiques the second speaker differently than the first speaker.

  383. Clark says:

    @mythago

    Outside of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia? Yes, we have reports of people slut-shaming victims of gang rape.

    Is this news to you?

    Yes. Link, please?

    And while you, personally, may not have a strange view of what
    constitutes 'promiscuity', that doesn't change the fact that
    promiscuous, 'large' numbers of partners, etc. are subjective, and
    yes, applied differently to men and women.

    Fine with me.

    Standards of what constitutes a successful career are subjective and are applied differently to men and to women.

    I do not demand strict gender equality.

    Prefacing an opinion that is incomplete and based on a limited and
    one-sided version of events with 'well admittedly I may not have read
    everything' does not prevent that opinion from being as wrong and
    misguided as if you'd left off the disclaimer

    Sure. Prefacing an opion that is bsed on limited data with 'well, admittedly' also does not cure cancer.

    What's your point?

    Who ever said that a preface saying "I may not have all the data" prevents it from being wrong?

    The preface is not intended to generate correct data from thin air; it is meant to allow the readers to understand the context.

    Are you familar with the concept of error bars? This was intended to help the reader calibrate my knowledge.

    additionally, it doesn't really inspire confidence that you are interested in a reasoned discussion if your attitude is that you needn't bother to learn the facts because you've made up your mind.

    Who said that I "needn't bother" learning the facts?

    Commenter @George William Herbert asked me point blank: "Out of curiosity, why do you think or argue what happened to Vox was significantly different from what happened to Pax here?"

    I tried to respond to his question. I was honest about the fact that I didn't know the whole situation.

    If I wrote a post about Vox with out reading the documents, you'd have a post. Given that I responded to a question and explicitly called out my own ignorance you're objection is ludicrous.

    I just don't understand why so many people who, I would guess, are in favor of libertarian principles object.

    "You would guess" ?

    It doesn't really inspire confidence that you are interested in a reasoned discussion if your attitude is that you needn't bother to learn the facts because you've made up your mind

  384. Sam says:

    @Clark

    Outside of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia? Yes, we have reports of people slut-shaming victims of gang rape.

    Is this news to you?

    Yes. Link, please?

    Here's a story from a year or so ago. I'm only familiar because I grew up near the town:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/us/09assault.html

  385. Clark says:

    @Sam

    @Clark

    Link, please?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/us/09assault.html

    I asked for evidence that people say that being the victim of gang rape makes one a slut.

    I see no reference here to the word "slut", "shame", "promiscuous", or anything else.

    So, OK: there was a gang rape. Terrible, and I hope all the rapists are caught and punished.

    …but what does it have to do with my point?

  386. Dion starfire says:

    @Clark
    How would your assertation that "noone (…) needs to shut up" apply to situations where the sentiment is "X needs to shut up before s/he gets him/herself in trouble", "Y needs to shut up before s/he gets me in trouble", or "Z needs to shut up before s/he gets us all (our profession, business unit, department, etc.) in trouble"?

    I'd also like to congratulate you for responding to all the questions and counterarguments. Just trying to follow the exchange requires a couple hours of dedicated reading for me.

    On the other hand, I've got to curse you for nearly giving me a heart attack with your statement:

    Indeed.

    Create an NSA that can spy on anyone, and Party A controls it today but Party B will control it tomorrow.

    Create a social norm that people can be fired for their ideas, and when the pendulum swings…

    I'm scared enough now, the thought of what the Reps would do with this amount of power is terrifying.

  387. Xenocles says:

    @Clark-

    Sam might be talking about these paragraphs, which I suppose could be read to support his angle:

    Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.

    “Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?” said Ms. Harrison, one of a handful of neighbors who would speak on the record. “How can you have an 11-year-old child missing down in the Quarters?”

    I don't think that's a particularly strong example of the phenomenon, but I suppose someone who knows the people involved might know better.

  388. Resolute says:

    On Ken's post, I called Pax out on the fact that as both an officer of a company and one deeply involved in tech, he should have known that his online actions would come back to bite him. At the risk of creating a false dilemma, he either didn't know that his words created liability for his employer, or he didn't care. Either argument means that he should not be in the role he was.

    In the same vein, Nitasha Tiku is obviously not ignorant of tech or the online world, and it is thus more than fair to argue that even if getting Dickinson fired was not her goal, she had to know it was a good possibility. Especially once Twitter got ahold of it and his name, his history, the jokes and Business Insider's name all became interrelated.

    The internet, especially social media, is basically playground anarchism. It polices itself, but often quite poorly and sometimes in extremes. (I loved the argument that online social media shaming acts as a 'superstimulus' – Ken retweeted one of my Pax jokes squee!) However, my sympathy for people who run afoul of the online mob will always be reserved for those who never deserved it – like Amanda Todd and her family. People like Pax? Nope. Shoulda known better, dudebro.

  389. Sam says:

    @Clark

    Here is a better look at the 'shaming' involved (I was trying to stick to source stories, not stories commenting on sources, alas to no avail):

    http://jezebel.com/5780022/media-blows-it-with-pathetic-gang-rape-coverage

  390. Clark says:

    @Xenocles

    “Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?” said Ms. Harrison, one of a handful of neighbors who would speak on the record. “How can you have an 11-year-old child missing down in the Quarters?”

    I think that the folks who decry slut-shaming conflate two things:

    1) people saying "X more often leads to Y than !X does"
    2) the victim is a slut who deserved what she got

    Does walking through a bad neighborhood drunk at 2am in a tight dress result in more rapes than walking through an office park at noon in a business suit does?

    Yes.

    Does a woman who walks through a bad neighborhood drunk at 2am in a tight dress deserve to get raped?

    Certainly not.

    I note that the original "slut walk" (and much of the genesis of the anti-slut-shaming movement) came from exactly this conflation by feminists:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SlutWalk

    On January 24, 2011 Constable Michael Sanguinetti spoke on crime prevention, addressing the issue of campus rape at a York University safety forum at Osgoode Hall Law School.[9][10] He said: "I've been told I'm not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."

    Pragmatic and truthful advice, no?

  391. Clark says:

    @Dion starfire

    @Clark

    How would your assertation that "noone (…) needs to shut up" apply to situations where the sentiment is "X needs to shut up before s/he gets him/herself in trouble", "Y needs to shut up before s/he gets me in trouble", or "Z needs to shut up before s/he gets us all (our profession, business unit, department, etc.) in trouble"?

    I am entirely in favor of pointing out that X leads to Y. Explaining how reality works is never unfashionable (see my previous comment re the difference between true slut shaming and explaining probability to people).

    I'd also like to congratulate you for responding to all the questions and counterarguments.

    Thanks!

    Just trying to follow the exchange requires a couple hours of dedicated reading for me.

    I've wasted a day on this. :-/

    Create an NSA that can spy on anyone, and Party A controls it today but Party B will control it tomorrow.

    the thought of what the Reps would do with this amount of power is terrifying.

    Oh, come now. You don't think there's really a difference between the Elephant Party and the Donkey Party, do you?

  392. Sam says:

    Here's what I was looking for. This is the AP story about the reaction of adults in Cleveland, which no longer exists on the Houston Chronicle website.

    http://evantrowbridge.com/2011/03/13/horridly-repulsive-some-in-texas-town-blaming-young-girl-in-assault-ap-texas-news-chron-com-houston-chronicle/

  393. Ken White says:

    In the same vein, Nitasha Tiku is obviously not ignorant of tech or the online world, and it is thus more than fair to argue that even if getting Dickinson fired was not her goal, she had to know it was a good possibility. Especially once Twitter got ahold of it and his name, his history, the jokes and Business Insider's name all became interrelated.

    I suspect that she knew the likely outcome was him being fired. She may well have intended that. I can understand people who reserve judgment. (I don't understand people who reserve judgment on Pax's intent but are certain of hers, or vice versa.)

    My continuing question is this: she's a journalist who covers sexism in the tech industry. She's confronted with a CTO of Business Insider — an online entity that comments on the tech industry — who notes his status in his Twitter profile, who talks about the subject of sexism in the tech industry in his twitter feed, and who tweets the things he tweets.

    I'm trying to understand what is expected of her from her critics. Say she refrained from asking for comment from Business Insider. This still gets back to them, and he likely still gets fired.

    Is the expectation that she should have written a much longer piece which notes his tweets but offers possibly neutral or positive interpretations of each one she notes? Is the expectation that she refrain from her editorial opinion that his attitude is part of a problem in the tech industry, because you think that editorial conclusion is not fair? (Note that Pax openly criticized "feminism in the tech industry" and complaints of "misogyny" and treatment of this subject in his twitter feed; that's his right, but should an editorial be slower to take a stance on one side or the other?)

    Is the expectation that she should have remonstrated with him personally and privately and asked him to clarify or amend his tweets before writing?

    Is the expectation that she should not have written the piece at all, because the impact is disproportionate?

    I understand that people are not calling for her to be legally censored. But people seem to assert she has violated a moral or ethical or social code, and I still don't believe that code is principled or coherent. I'd like to know what specifically her following the code would look like.

  394. StopEquivocating says:

    There's an enormous difference between telling someone to "shut up" and encouraging someone to tone down rhetoric particularly as it relates to vilification of and shaming individual people.

    It's true that I think language like "mob" and "witch hunt" and "Goldstein" and "inquisition" subtly or not-subtly contributes to public ignorance of how free speech works, and is often a dishonest argument. I like to criticize that. But I'm not saying your speech breaks free speech.

    I admire your attempts to keep that distinction clear but you are nevertheless overly fixated on free speech as the government guarantee and are mostly ignoring the principles behind it.

    If this turns into a society where the only people whose voices can be heard are people strong enough to defend themselves against "social consequences" and "economic consequences" then that free speech will be a sham. The first amendment will be meaningless and in fact will be quite vulnerable to repeal. People will believe "well it's not doing anything anyway" and get rid of it.

    Fuzzy lines are still lines. Just because the difference between speech designed and intended to incite a mob is sometimes hard to distinguish between speech designed to criticize doesn't mean it can never be done. The border between a desert and a savanna is fuzzy and indistinct. If you are standing near the border, it might be hard to tell which is which. But if you see nothing but shifting sands for miles around, it's a pretty good bet you are in the desert and not the savanna.

    Your argument is basically that once we've emerged from the center of the densest rainforest on the planet, everything else is just a chain of "not-rainforest"

  395. Xenocles says:

    @Clark-

    I agree that there's nothing contradictory in believing that a person's imprudence can contribute to his victimization but that imprudence confers no moral responsibility on the victim for the crimes against him. I'm just saying that what was specifically quoted in the article could support that idea or the idea that she had it coming somehow. I would not assume the latter, but a person who knows the people involved might have reason to do so.

  396. cb says:

    –Pragmatic and truthful advice, no?
    Not necessarily. Amongst other issues, who gets to determine what amounts to "dressing like sluts"?

    –…explaining probability to people
    Probability usually involves some sort of measurement, not just assertion. Those inclined to explain probability should also familiarize themselves with Bayes.

    Let's take a look at your example. It involves multiple variables–time, place, sobriety, attire. You can't just look at the increased probability and claim that one factor caused it. Would walking through the office park in the middle of the day in a tight dress increase the chance of rape? would the drunken walk through a bad part of town be a better idea in a business suit?

  397. Ken White says:

    I admire your attempts to keep that distinction clear but you are nevertheless overly fixated on free speech as the government guarantee and are mostly ignoring the principles behind it.

    We're disagreeing about the principles behind it. I'm saying that a theory where the principal requires one side to self-censor to encourage the other side to speak is inherently contradictory and untenable as a theory.

    For instance, I decry laws criminalizing Holocaust denial. I understand it's other countries and other cultures and other histories and other problems but I still think they are a terrible idea that teaches a terrible lesson that misses the point entirely. Nonetheless, I maintain that no coherent or workable theory of free speech "principles" requires anyone to refrain from condemning Holocaust deniers as vigorously as they like. The government should not jail a Holocaust denier. But if nobody wants to talk to a Holocaust denier, that's free speech.

    Sometimes people act as if vigorous free speech protection from government intrusion is easy, obvious, or widely supported. It's not. The experience of other countries shows that and even the American electorate's tenuous support for free speech principles show it. First Amendment law requires the populace to refrain from official sanctions against awful, despicable, harmful, sometimes crushingly painful speech. That's hard. There will always be enormous pressure to snip away little pieces of freedom here and there, issue by issue, evil speaker by evil speaker.

    But if there is pressure, there is also a pressure valve. That pressure valve is the marketplace of ideas — the remedy of more speech. It is a feature, not a bug, for the pressure valve to be as unrestrained and vigorous as the speech causing the pressure. A population told it ought not hit back is a population that is more likely to question whether maybe there should be more laws restricting the first person from hitting.

  398. Owen says:

    Clark:

    "I've been told I'm not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid going outside their home unless they are wearing a full burqa in order not to be victimized."

    Pragmatic and truthful advice, no?

  399. Donavon PfeifferJr says:

    The problem with public shaming it that it is a tribal tool. That is, it works within the tribe for violations of the tribal norms and when the shaming is done in front of other members of the tribe. The online world is now representative of our world at large, where are multiple tribes with strict allegiences. Public shaming is now often a tool of enforcing tribal identity. It is more a shaming of the "other" in the hopes of supporting opinions from others of the same tribe to reinforce one's self worth as a member of the "winning tribe".Thus the need to thus someone else up rather than attempt to weigh their arguments against yours. I believe this tribalism to be the biggest problem facing the US today.It causes people to accept violation's of their tribe's moral code by prominent members of the tribe to avoid having to look at the tribe objectively and possibly find the tribe and therefore, because so much of their own identity is tied to tribe membership, themselves lacking

  400. Clark says:

    @Ken White

    I suspect that she knew the likely outcome was him being fired.

    Same.

    (I don't understand people who reserve judgment on Pax's intent but are certain of hers, or vice versa.)

    I'm fairly certain of both intents: he wanted to be an outrageous brogrammer political voice. She wanted him fired.

    I'm trying to understand what is expected of her from her critics.

    There are two different meanings of expected:

    1) how do we model what we expect to happen?
    2) what do we desire to happen?

    Re #1: I certainly assume a left-of-center journalist will not pull punches. I might have hoped for a bit more nuance (the lack of context for the n-word tweet was bad, but I suspect that she didn't do it intentionally).

    Re #2: I don't really think that the wrong thing happened. I think that step functions (Pax gets no negative feedback at work, right up to the day when he's fired) is a sub-optimal way to run human relationships. I suppose that if I were to lecture anyone, I'd travel back in time a year and lecture BI's management that they need to set up formal policies so that Pax knows what's expected of him: either he segregate his personal twitter from the corporate one by NEVER referencing BI, or he gets reprimanded every time he tweets offensively, and three reprimands in a month equal termination.

    Is the expectation that she should have written a much longer piece which notes his tweets but offers possibly neutral or positive interpretations of each one she notes?

    In the world that we live in I think its wrong and unrealistic to wish away agressive journalism.

    I far prefer Megan McArdle style journalists: long form, balanced, non vindictive…but she's a rarity.

    Is the expectation that she should have remonstrated with him personally and privately and asked him to clarify or amend his tweets before writing?

    I think that's actually quite reasonable, and not outside of journalistic norms.

  401. Clark says:

    @cb

    –Pragmatic and truthful advice, no?

    Not necessarily. Amongst other issues, who gets to determine what amounts to "dressing like sluts"?

    Oh, come now.

    There's no crisp line implied, nor is there a need for one official interpretation.

    If I give someone advice to "dress professionally" for an interview, would you object that I haven't specified how determines exactly how new the suit needs to be and exactly how recent the haircut must be?

    We'd all understand that dressing formally is going to be more likely to end in good results than wearing three day old sweat pans with wing sauce stains on them.

    Probability usually involves some sort of measurement, not just assertion.

    I give you a coin – perhaps fair, perhaps simply loaded. Is it more likely that two flips in a row will turn up all heads, or that three flips in a row will turn up all heads ?

    Inequality is a well known mathematical tool.

    Those inclined to explain probability should also familiarize themselves with Bayes.

    I'm quite familiar with Bayes, having written some code in that area, thank you.

    Let's take a look at your example. It involves multiple variables–time, place, sobriety, attire. You can't just look at the increased probability and claim that one factor caused it. Would walking through the office park in the middle of the day in a tight dress increase the chance of rape? would the drunken walk through a bad part of town be a better idea in a business suit?

    It's fascinating to watch intellectuals work so hard to explain away something that's right in front of their faces.

  402. bw1 says:

    @Chris: "In general (not just on the internet, but in small group social situations) the idea of shaming is that the shamed person will change their behavior. "

    I think this is something Clark didn't cover – shaming has traditionally been used to make people change BEHAVIOR, but now we are seeing people being shamed for their OPINIONS, which they are unlikely to change due to shaming. Shaming actions is productive, but shaming beliefs is not, because it effectively becomes shaming the behavior of expressing those opinions verbally, and thus reduces that behavior, which is then replaced by noverbal, and often violent, expressions of the disfavored opinion. When young children lash out incoherently at that which displeases them, we admonish them to "use your words." Using the new means of communication to shame the expression of nonconforming opinions negates that teaching.

    One other takeaway from Pax's situation is the revelation that a medium like Twitter which limits one to such a short message is probably NOT the best means to express complex and controversial topics in a marginally literate society.

  403. Sam says:

    I think that the folks who decry slut-shaming conflate two things:

    1) people saying "X more often leads to Y than !X does"
    2) the victim is a slut who deserved what she got

    I'd add:

    3) people saying "!X is the girls' responsibility and the boys involved were just reacting to X".

    That's my interpretation of the Cleveland TX incident.

  404. Clark says:

    @Sam

    3) people saying "!X is the girls' responsibility and the boys involved were just reacting to X".

    I've never heard anyone say this…again, outside of Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

    That's my interpretation of the Cleveland TX incident.

    There's a quote in the NYT that seems ripped from it's context in an interview. Then Jezebel rips it from the NYT context and deconstructs it.

    Color me unconvinced.

  405. Clark says:

    @bw1

    I think this is something Clark didn't cover – shaming has traditionally been used to make people change BEHAVIOR, but now we are seeing people being shamed for their OPINIONS, which they are unlikely to change due to shaming. Shaming actions is productive, but shaming beliefs is not, because it effectively becomes shaming the behavior of expressing those opinions verbally, and thus reduces that behavior, which is then replaced by noverbal, and often violent, expressions of the disfavored opinion.

    This is an excellent point, and something that I was groping for but failed to point my finger on.

  406. Owen says:

    Shaming actions is productive, but shaming beliefs is not, because it effectively becomes shaming the behavior of expressing those opinions verbally, and thus reduces that behavior, which is then replaced by noverbal, and often violent, expressions of the disfavored opinion.

    So your position is that we should avoid criticizing opinions because the people who are criticized will then have a higher chance of acting violently? Isn't that just another way of saying, "Let me do what I want, or I'm going to get violent"?

  407. Erwin says:

    @Ken I am probably missing something, but a social norm wherein speech stays at approximately the same level (with single-level escalations for public figures) doesn't seem inherently self-contradictory.

    So, A is a dick – on twitter. B criticizes A – possibly on twitter, possibly on a blog (A is fired). C figures, A had it coming for being a manager being a dick on social media…

    So, A is a dick – in private. B criticizes A – in a blog, and to A's supervisors (A is fired). C criticizes B for disproportionate behavior…

    Last, A is a dick in private, and a politician. B criticizes A – in a blog (A is fired). C figures that public interest means that B was ok…

    –Erwin

  408. TJIC says:

    @bw1:

    One other takeaway from Pax's situation is the revelation that a medium like Twitter which limits one to such a short message is probably NOT the best means to express complex and controversial topics in a marginally literate society.

    Blogs aren't great either.

    #drollness_achievement_unlocked

  409. StopEquivocating says:

    (I don't understand people who reserve judgment on Pax's intent but are certain of hers, or vice versa.)

    One can reserve judgment while still pointing out the most likely possibilities either way based on the available evidence.

  410. Ken White says:

    @bw1:

    I think this is something Clark didn't cover – shaming has traditionally been used to make people change BEHAVIOR, but now we are seeing people being shamed for their OPINIONS, which they are unlikely to change due to shaming. Shaming actions is productive, but shaming beliefs is not, because it effectively becomes shaming the behavior of expressing those opinions verbally, and thus reduces that behavior, which is then replaced by noverbal, and often violent, expressions of the disfavored opinion. When young children lash out incoherently at that which displeases them, we admonish them to "use your words." Using the new means of communication to shame the expression of nonconforming opinions negates that teaching.

    Well, sort of.

    It's imprecise to say this, at least, is a case of shaming someone because of their opinions. It's more accurate to say it is a case of shaming someone for the expression of opinions on a medium designed to publish those opinions to others, in a manner suggesting, by even the most generous interpretation, that the person was doing it to get a reaction.

    So: this is not like me marching up to you, saying "BW DO YOU SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE," and when you are intimidated and say "no," shouting "HEY EVERYONE BW OPPOSES GAY MARRIAGE, LET'S SHAME HIM." Rather, it's more like you chose a medium for public expression and the exchange of ideas, identified yourself and your position, expressed your opinion strongly and (at least sometimes) in a manner calculated to provoke or upset or (to be judgmental) troll, and people shamed you for something you said there.

    So: say I go on social media, open to the public, and say something deliberately provocative. Is it wrong for me to be shamed for it, because it may or may not be my actual opinion?

  411. Sam says:

    Color me unconvinced.

    Fair enough. I could swear I remember some more damning quotes, but that could easily be my faulty memory, revulsion at the case and personal connection to the area.

    I would be interested in your thoughts on the letter from Mrs. Hall: http://givenbreath.com/2013/09/03/fyi-if-youre-a-teenage-girl/

    Not in the comments, of course, but perhaps as source material for your next essay.

  412. Ken White says:

    One can reserve judgment while still pointing out the most likely possibilities either way based on the available evidence.

    Sure. But one should reserve judgment in a similar manner on both sides of a dispute, or it will be noteworthy.

  413. cb says:

    –If I give someone advice to "dress professionally" for an interview, would you object that I haven't specified how determines exactly how new the suit needs to be and exactly how recent the haircut must be?

    A fair debater might deal with what is actually said rather than changing the subject and then railing against a strawman

    –It's fascinating to watch intellectuals work so hard to explain away something that's right in front of their faces.
    I acutally haven't attempted to explain away anything. I just think that someone who puffs himself up as "explaining probability" ought to actually treat the subject properly.

  414. StopEquivocating says:
    I think this is something Clark didn't cover – shaming has traditionally been used to make people change BEHAVIOR, but now we are seeing people being shamed for their OPINIONS, which they are unlikely to change due to shaming. Shaming actions is productive, but shaming beliefs is not, because it effectively becomes shaming the behavior of expressing those opinions verbally, and thus reduces that behavior, which is then replaced by noverbal, and often violent, expressions of the disfavored opinion.

    This is an excellent point, and something that I was groping for but failed to point my finger on.

    I've mentioned this elsewhere before as well, and is partially the reason why, in my comments on Ken's article, I focused on the implications to free expression. In particular, the first criteria I noted was that the target be an individual person, especially their character or their opinions and not their behavior.

    If a company purchases land it intends to deforest, and an activist uses emotional, manipulative language to organize peaceful protests, the consequences of the activst rhetoric have no effect on the company's ability to speak freely, rather it effects their ability to exploit resources on their own property.

  415. earthclanbootstrap says:

    @Clark

    You said,
    "I suppose that if I were to lecture anyone, I'd travel back in time a year and lecture BI's management that they need to set up formal policies so that Pax knows what's expected of him: either he segregate his personal twitter from the corporate one by NEVER referencing BI, or he gets reprimanded every time he tweets offensively, and three reprimands in a month equal termination."

    Courtesy of a comment posted by @El Nino yesterday afternoon:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/our-new-twitter-facebook-policy-what-do-you-think-2012-1

    Please note the date of the article. Do you think that Pax, being the company's CTO was aware of this policy? If not, why?

    Also, I'd like to make an observation. I genuinely feel, based on everything that you have said, that you have been very quick to ascribe motives as pure as the driven snow to Pax and immediately jumped to the most base and nefarious motives for Nitasha. Frankly, it comes across as a bit of a double standard to me. You seem to want to demonize her, and it seems like the only reason you want to do that is because she is part of a tribe that you like to demonize. Do you recognize that there seems like there is some spite involved in your criticism of her and that it undermines what you purport to be a "fair and balanced" (wink wink) meditation on the situation?

  416. Clark says:

    @earthclanbootstrap

    http://www.businessinsider.com/our-new-twitter-facebook-policy-what-do-you-think-2012-1

    Actually, this strikes me as a defective policy, in that:

    * it does not mention that termination is a possibility
    * it does not provide escalating levels of feedback

    Which is not to say that Pax was treated unfairly. I defend the right of his boss to fire him, both as a matter of current law and as a matter of justice. No matter what the policy said, Pax had to know that he was living by the sword and would die by the sword.

    …and I think he did.

    Please note the date of the article. Do you think that Pax, being the company's CTO was aware of this policy? If not, why?

    I'm sure he was aware. Do you see anything in that policy that makes it clear that Pax's tweets are unacceptable?

    Further, the long history of tolerating Pax's tweets (which management must have known about) suggests that they tacitly allowed them.

    I genuinely feel, based on everything that you have said, that you have been very quick to ascribe motives as pure as the driven snow to Pax

    Let me be clear that I do not think that Pax had motives as pure as the driven snow. He was and is arrogant, crass, and enjoyed giving offense.

    The rest of the Internet made those points quite clearly, so I merely focused on some other points.

    You seem to want to demonize [ Nitasha ]

    Nope. She was doing her job. If I was a journalist and could catch a government employee tweeting that Jesus got raped by n-words because he was dressed like a whore, I'd publish it and I'd enjoy it when he got fired.

    Pax is on my team (sort of) and Nitasha is on the opposite team (sort of), so I'm not cheering her on…but I think the only thing I've said that is negative towards her is that I value Pax 1,000 more than I value her.

  417. Clark says:

    @cb

    If I give someone advice to "dress professionally" for an interview, would you object that I haven't specified how determines exactly how new the suit needs to be and exactly how recent the haircut must be?

    A fair debater might deal with what is actually said rather than changing the subject and then railing against a strawman

    If you don't think that an analogy can be part of fair debate, then I think we're at an impasse.

  418. StopEquivocating says:

    Sure. But one should reserve judgment in a similar manner on both sides of a dispute, or it will be noteworthy.

    In my mind, there are multiple sides.

    Pax vs. BI
    Pax vs. Nitasha

    In the story of Pax vs. BI, I accept the possibility that their firing him is "social consequences" of his twitter speech. But the reality is, this story was not allowed to play out to its natural conclusion because Nitasha intervened.

    In the story of Pax vs. Nitasha, the only benefit of doubt I give to Nitasha is that Pax might have done something to her behind the scenes to provoke the attack.

  419. James Pollock says:

    "I take this to mean you think there is an inconsistency between the standards I set for conduct on my site, and my reaction to the standards people want to set for everywhere."

    There is an inconsistency between "I have a problem with X" and "I myself practice X for things which I control", yes.

    This has nothing at all to do with whether or not you are entitled/permitted/authorized to do X (let's assume that we agree you are, incontrovertibly, allowed to do X wherever and whenever you do X.)
    To object to other people doing X, where you do not have control, or to blanket application of X, appears inconsistent.

    I'm going to suggest, at the risk of being wildly incorrect, that you do not, in fact, object to "demands that others exercise "self-censorship."", you admittedly make them yourself. This is right and proper where a power arrangement exists. (Examples: fast-food restaurant manager MAY demand that employees self-censor their statements to customers. Publishers of magazines may demand that writers self-censor their political sentiments. Parents MAY demand that minor children self-censor their statements to adults. In each case, where the power is legitimate, an allowable use of that power is to demand that subordinates self-censor.
    What you object to is a demand to self-censor where no legitimate power exists, for example, if I demanded that YOU self-censor, you would (rightly) tell me to fuck right off, because I have no authority to demand that you do anything, and anything includes self-censorship.
    So, to summarize, I think that what you said and what you do ARE in conflict, and the resolution is that what you said doesn't actually match what you meant to say.
    (Note that the argument outlined above is incomplete; it does not address those cases where legitimate power exists, but it cannot or should not be used to compel self-censorship. It only explores the claim that where no such power exists, no demand to self-censor is appropriate.)

  420. James Pollock says:

    Oops, editing error. Above, in the sentence "This is right and proper where a power arrangement exists.", please read "This MAY BE right and proper where a power arrangement exists." or "This is right and proper where a proper power arrangement exists."

  421. Owen says:

    Clark:

    If you don't think that an analogy can be part of fair debate, then I think we're at an impasse.

    I may respectfully submit that it should be a fair analogy to be a part of fair debate. Yours was indeed an analogy, but I am not certain that it was a fair one. You were comparing (if I may be a bit reductive) a dress code for a job interview with a dress code for avoiding being victimized. The former is a purely voluntary activity, wherein one hopes to be offered a benefit. The latter is an act of violence being visited upon you without your consent, and by all indications entirely contrary to your consent.

    I don't think the one can be fairly offered as an analogized justification in principle for the other.

  422. StopEquivocating says:

    Also:

    Pax vs. The Internet

    Tweeting offensive things can result in internet blowback. Pax is plenty responsible for a good portion of the widespread response. He's not responsible for Nitasha trying to get him fired.

  423. Ken White says:

    @StopEquivocating:

    In the story of Pax vs. BI, I accept the possibility that their firing him is "social consequences" of his twitter speech. But the reality is, this story was not allowed to play out to its natural conclusion because Nitasha intervened.

    In the story of Pax vs. Nitasha, the only benefit of doubt I give to Nitasha is that Pax might have done something to her behind the scenes to provoke the attack.

    Very well. I'll ask you the same question I asked others.

    This journalist covers sexism in the tech industry. She expresses an editorial viewpoint about it. She encounters the CTO of an online publication known in the tech industry that comments on the tech industry. She notes that the CTO uses his own name and cites his employment on his public Twitter profile. She notes that he has commented on the subject she writes about — sexism in the tech industry. She notes the tweets in question.

    What, under your code of conduct, should she do?

  424. cb says:

    –If you don't think that an analogy can be part of fair debate, then I think we're at an impasse.

    Didn't say that. I think analogies are fine. I think you should go back and click on the appeal to extremes link you offered and read over it, though. the problem wasn't your use of analogy, it was that your analogy wasn't very good and was framed to make my argument look ridiculous. It was just a lazy cheap shot

  425. earthclanbootstrap says:

    I will absolutely agree with you that the policy is severely deficient in laying out specific consequences. OTOH, if my company used phrases like,"But don't be surprised when everyone who follows you concludes that, whatever you're focused on, it isn't your work." in a policy document I would damn well know exactly what they were implying and it wouldn't be that I was going to get a time-out in the study hall. Maybe it was incumbent upon him to ask for a clarification?

    Regarding Pax and Nitasha vis-à-vis Sharks vs. Jets, while I understand you tend to wear your political and philosophical allegiances on your sleeve when you write here and take that into account when considering the points you have to make, it just seems to be coming across a tad more… vindictive this time around. I'm not quite sure why and as a result it has made me somewhat less likely to give your arguments weight in this case. It's not the end of the world. And I feel fine.

  426. Ken White says:

    What you object to is a demand to self-censor where no legitimate power exists, for example, if I demanded that YOU self-censor, you would (rightly) tell me to fuck right off, because I have no authority to demand that you do anything, and anything includes self-censorship.

    To the limited extent "legitimate power" means "in my living room," I agree.

    There is an inconsistency between "I have a problem with X" and "I myself practice X for things which I control", yes.

    Only because you've begged the question about what X is.

    I decide what behavior I will tolerate in my living room. My decision is arbitrary and unreviewable. If a disturbed moron wants to blather about how I am statistically likely to abuse my adopted children, I may edit all his comments to rhapsodize about paste. If someone else is very obnoxious next week, they may be so in a way that entertains me. My perception of what constitutes a personal attack I won't tolerate may be difficult for others to reconcile, or may not be reconcilable at all. I do not claim otherwise.

    I do not expect anyone else to apply my standard in their living room.

    What I am criticizing is not anyone setting a standard for their living room. Similarly, if you want to say "I don't respect people who engage in this sort of shaming," I see that as a legitimate exercise of your free speech and freedom of association.

    However, to the extent you start to devise codes of conduct that you expect others to follow in their own living rooms, and assert that the standards are workable and principled, and I believe they are not, I will say so.

    I believe the "no shaming" code of conduct is not workable or principled, and if urged to follow it, I will say so.

  427. Clark says:

    @earthcalnbootstrap

    I understand you tend to wear your political and philosophical allegiances on your sleeve when you write here and take that into account when considering the points you have to make, it just seems to be coming across a tad more… vindictive this time around.

    I find this surprising; I thought I was almost entirely ignoring her in this story.

    If you can point me to something specific I've said I'll review it.

  428. eddie says:

    I take this to mean you think there is an inconsistency between the standards I set for conduct on my site, and my reaction to the standards people want to set for everywhere.

    I don't know about James, but that's not what I meant. I mean, yes, there is an inconsistency, but as you say of course there is and I'm not the least bit concerned about it. I didn't think we were talking about your living room. I'm not sure how the subject even came up, honestly.

    For instance, if someone is consistently oddly combative and is recently reliably at the center of any tendentious unpleasantness on my threads

    Do you mean me?

    I am likely to say something about it

    If you do mean me, I wish you would say something about it, because I certainly don't intend to get your carpet all muddy with my boots.

  429. StopEquivocating says:

    Very well. I'll ask you the same question I asked others.

    This journalist covers sexism in the tech industry. She expresses an editorial viewpoint about it. She encounters the CTO of an online publication known in the tech industry that comments on the tech industry. She notes that the CTO uses his own name and cites his employment on his public Twitter profile. She notes that he has commented on the subject she writes about — sexism in the tech industry. She notes the tweets in question.

    What, under your code of conduct, should she do?

    It's not a code of conduct, except as it relates to upholding the spirit of free expression. So here are three possible options, the last is the one she chose:

    1. She can identify specific acts of discrimination and describe their consequences (optionally/ideally with supporting arguments), and advocate for those actions be changed. From this angle, once establishing the objectionable actions, she is free to use emotional words and manipulative language to her hearts content in order to inspire readers to pressure Pax and BI to change their ways. If Pax chooses to fight, Pax's termination might be a consequence of the activism, and he will have no right to whine about free speech.

    2. She can attack the ideas and content of his speech(crediting him by name) while using restraint with regards to use of manipulative language and avoiding deliberate attempts at coercion. If, at this point, BI decides to fire Pax, he can't complain about free speech (except to BI, but then: private company dude, that's the breaks)

    3. Failing that, she can try to get him fired by using emotional manipulation and deliberately trying to embarrass Business Insider. In this case, BI is still free to fire Pax and Nitasha did nothing illegal. But this time, when Pax points out this was an attack on his free speech, he has a legitimate point.

  430. James Pollock says:

    "Actually, this strikes me as a defective policy, in that:
    * it does not mention that termination is a possibility
    * it does not provide escalating levels of feedback"

    In at-will states, I think it's fair to say that employees should be aware that termination is ALWAYS a possibility. Employers shouldn't HAVE TO say "if you're more trouble than you're worth, we can terminate you", that should be the default, and when employees want that to NOT be the case, they should negotiate language contrariwise. In other words, if the policy doesn't say anything about termination, then all involved should assume that termination is on the table. It should only be considered off the table if the policy says that it will be off the table.

    As for escalating feedback, there is usually a good business reason why this should occur before any termination, but there are (and always will be) cases where it is inappropriate. ("we're going to have to give you a written warning for bringing all those weapons into the office and shooting at everyone you saw. If it happens again, we're going to have to terminate you.")
    No, posting messages on social media is not in the same category as workplace shootings, the point is that you can do something so bad on the first time that it justifies going directly to termination, and you can go from (instances that aren't worth providing feedback for) to (instances that justify termination) in one step.

  431. Ken White says:

    Eddie:

    I don't know about James, but that's not what I meant.

    Then I may have missed what you meant.

    Do you mean me?

    No. I am not aware of you constantly getting into nasty squabbles with people. Of course you may and I've missed it. I usually try to avoid Clark threads.

    (I've emailed the person I am talking about. And I'm not talking about disagreeing with me, or even telling me I am full of shit. I'm talking about being the sort of commenter who, if there is an exchange of personal attacks, reliably being part of it.)

  432. earthclanbootstrap says:

    @Clark

    I think it probably has more to do with her treatment in the subsequent comment chain than the original post itself, but I will freely admit that I am relying upon the rather Colbert-esque truthiness of my gut in regards to that. If I have time (I am, after all, at work staring at a computer screen when I should be working hahaha) I will try to pinpoint exactly what led me to that. Honestly, I found myself a little surprised that I was picking that up from you, which is why I mentioned it.

  433. Clark says:

    @Ken:

    I am not aware of you constantly getting into nasty squabbles with people. Of course you may and I've missed it. I usually try to avoid Clark threads.

    LOL!

  434. James Pollock says:

    "Do you mean me?"
    He means me. I quoted from the email he sent me asking me politely to not be a jerk. At least, not HERE. As, I hasten to add, is entirely his right to do so (as would be, compliance not forthcoming, a banhammer.)

    Hopefully, the BEFORE and AFTER photos are distinguishable.

  435. Clark says:

    @earthclanbootstrap

    I think it probably has more to do with her treatment in the subsequent comment chain than the original post itself, but I will freely admit that I am relying upon the rather Colbert-esque truthiness of my gut in regards to that. If I have time (I am, after all, at work staring at a computer screen when I should be working hahaha) I will try to pinpoint exactly what led me to that. Honestly, I found myself a little surprised that I was picking that up from you, which is why I mentioned it.

    I'd suggest that there's a possibility that you're getting that vibe from someone else, not me…or, perhaps, from default models of what team Purple says about Team yellow.

    I wish the woman no ill. She was doing her job, and she did it reasonably well.

    I dislike the lynch mob that quickly formed after her post, and – to the degree that she whipped up the lynch mob, or enjoyed it, or celebrated the results – I dislike that as well. But she's playing by the rules, such as they.

  436. Clark says:

    @James Pollock

    "Actually, this strikes me as a defective policy, in that:
    * it does not mention that termination is a possibility
    * it does not provide escalating levels of feedback"

    In at-will states, I think it's fair to say that employees should be aware that termination is ALWAYS a possibility.

    As an ancap, I'm all in favor of true at-will employment, not the squishy semi-sorta-version we actually have. Fire someone because they're black, or white, or fat, or thin – it should all be legal.

    I think a should be treated like the firm owner's living room:

    http://www.popehat.com/2013/09/11/pax-dickinson-thought-crime-public-shaming-and-thick-liberty-in-the-internet-age/comment-page-9/#comment-1111198

    I will set any ridiculous standards I damn please in my own living room. I don't purport to hold people to them outside of my living room, and it would be silly to complain when others don't comply with standards I can't even articulate with any reasonable particularity.

    For instance, if someone is consistently oddly combative and is recently reliably at the center of any tendentious unpleasantness on my threads, I am likely to say something about it, because it is my living room, and I feel free to police it without articulable standards. I will boot people out for mentioning marmosets if I feel like it, and take the social consequences for doing so.

    But, anyway, my point is not that BI is in the legal wrong, or that Pax should have known he was at will (he surely did). My point is merely that all firms would do well to

    * give some expectation of crime level with punishment
    * have a series of speed bumps before the cliff edge

  437. Ken White says:

    It's not a code of conduct, except as it relates to upholding the spirit of free expression. So here are three possible options, the last is the one she chose:

    1. She can identify specific acts of discrimination and describe their consequences (optionally/ideally with supporting arguments), and advocate for those actions be changed. From this angle, once establishing the objectionable actions, she is free to use emotional words and manipulative language to her hearts content in order to inspire readers to pressure Pax and BI to change their ways. If Pax chooses to fight, Pax's termination might be a consequence of the activism, and he will have no right to whine about free speech.

    2. She can attack the ideas and content of his speech(crediting him by name) while using restraint with regards to use of manipulative language and avoiding deliberate attempts at coercion. If, at this point, BI decides to fire Pax, he can't complain about free speech (except to BI, but then: private company dude, that's the breaks)

    3. Failing that, she can try to get him fired by using emotional manipulation and deliberately trying to embarrass Business Insider. In this case, BI is still free to fire Pax and Nitasha did nothing illegal. But this time, when Pax points out this was an attack on his free speech, he has a legitimate point.

    Okay.

    I can see being judgmental about speech or not being judgmental about speech. I can see "tone policing" or not "tone policing."

    What I have trouble seeing as respectable or legitimate is having an elaborate set of requirements for B but not for A in a situation where B is talking about A's speech.

    I see this as an irrational elevation of the first speaker over the second speaker.

    Few people seem to doubt that Pax is deliberately provocative. Fine. Take the position "trolls be trollin'. Take the position "tone policing is bullshit." Fine. Take the position "PC is bullshit." Fine.

    What strikes me as completely ridiculous is policing her tone while not policing his. What strikes me as unprincipled and purely about us versus them is complaining about her using "emotional words and manipulative language" when she is responding to someone who, perhaps to manipulate people into an emotional language, likes to say things like "women's suffrage is inconsistent with freedom."

    I think your entire scheme is unworkable and not principled.

  438. Ken White says:

    My point is merely that all firms would do well to

    * give some expectation of crime level with punishment
    * have a series of speed bumps before the cliff edge

    Wearing my advises-companies hat, I agree this is good advice.

    For one thing, even if you fire someone you are free by law to fire for any legal reason, it is trivially easy for them to turn around and assert that your grounds are pretextual and that you actually fired them for a prohibited reason. Speed bumps and clear guidelines have the good effect of (1) documenting that you mean the reasons you eventually fire for and (2) encouraging even-handed application of those reasons to different people.

  439. eddie says:
    In this thread, however, Ken appears to me to be going beyond the notion of Party A conflating social pressure and government censorship. In this thread, Ken seems to be saying that even if Party A just says "Hey, B, that was a real dickish thing to, and you shouldn't have done that" then Party A is trying to constrain Party B's speech, and Ken accordingly thinks that Party A is doing something wrong.

    No.

    Thank you immensely for correcting my mistaken impression.

    I'm criticizing your proposed code for what speech is "civil" or principled or right as being unworkable and illogical and biased for first speakers or speakers you like. I'm rejecting your concept of free speech.

    It's not my concept of free speech. It's my concept of decent speech. Of don't-be-a-dick speech. You and I have the same concept of free speech, which is speech that won't (or shouldn't) get you hauled before a court and/or thrown in jail.

    As for unworkable and illogical: I don't think it's any more so than any other rule embodied by social convention rather than legislation, i.e. not substantially different from, say, politeness or etiquette. These kinds of rules are flexible and subjective and subject to differing interpretation and context-sensitive and culturally-specific and give rise to widely divergent standards as understood by different people.

    That doesn't mean that etiquette doesn't exist or isn't a good thing to strive towards.

    Same thing with don't-be-a-dick discourse. (I'm dropping the word "civil" because it seems to do a terrible job of conveying the sense I'm after).

    I think the point is that A demands that B self censor, but objects to requests that he self censor.

    Yes. This is one of the inconsistencies in the "restrained speech" theory that I have been pointing out — it critiques the second speaker differently than the first speaker.

    I don't see how the concepts I sketchily and poorly conveyed above apply any differently to the two parties. For example: A should vigorously speak his mind but not try to get B fired; B should vigorously speak his mind but not try to get A fired.

    I don't see anything in what I've proposed that would require B to self-censor but not A.

    Can you point out your concerns more specifically?

  440. Milquetoast Shallows says:

    Pragmatic and truthful advice, no?

    The problem with both the advice and the interview analogy is that there is no evidence that dressing provocatively increases a woman's likelihood of being sexually assaulted. (pages 144-145 for the relevant text Sexy Dressing pdf)

  441. Clark says:

    @Ken:

    My point is merely that all firms would do well to

    * give some expectation of crime level with punishment
    * have a series of speed bumps before the cliff edge

    Wearing my advises-companies hat, I agree this is good advice.

    A personal anecdote (with some details changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty)

    I once had an employee. One day I told him to carry a blue box to the loading dock. He got really upset because, he asserted, his job was to carry red boxes to the loading dock, and he considered carrying blue boxes demeaning – and I should do it. His job title, by the way, was "guy who carries boxes of all colors to the loading dock".

    So he threw a packing tape dispenser across the room.

    I fired him.

    He applied for unemployment, which would have cost me thousands of dollars.

    It went to a government appeals hearing before a clerk.

    His argument was that he disliked my politics.

    My argument was that he threw a packing tape dispenser against a wall hard enough that it broke.

    His argument was that that wasn't fair.

    My argument was that he'd read the entire employee manual on his first day and signed a document saying that he'd read it…and on page five, the workplace violence clause says that employees can be fired for threatening behavior.

    His argument was that he thought the manual was "boilerplate". And also, it wasn't fair.

    Slam. Bang. Case closed.

  442. James Pollock says:

    "But, anyway, my point is not that BI is in the legal wrong, or that Pax should have known he was at will (he surely did). My point is merely that all firms would do well to
    * give some expectation of crime level with punishment
    * have a series of speed bumps before the cliff edge"

    If he knew he was at will (he surely did), then the employer gave some expectation of crime leel iwth punishment, did they not? A business may voluntarily surrender its complete authority to make termination decisions (as, for example, often happens as part of union contracts.)
    It's more likely that termination offenses will be minimized if employees know that specific acts are, or may be, termination offenses. That is, fear of termination will influence employee actions away from those things that the employer dislikes. To that extent, the employer should list things that are, or can be, termination offenses in order to reduce the likelihood that those offenses will be committed. But the business should NOT be required to think up every possible thing an employee could do that would be a termination offense, and publish that list, and then be held to that list. ("Well, you didn't tell me that peeing in the office coffeepot was a termination offense, so you can't fire me for it!") This means that there will always be some termination offenses which the employer has not disclosed to the employee(s). If this is true of termination offenses, it is also true of lesser offenses, as well.
    As for speed bumps, there are solid business reasons why these should be adopted (again, reducing egregious actions by cautioning the precursors, and the expense of replacing employees often being higher than the cost of rehabilitating the ones you already have (mostly) trained for the job.) but there are cases where the employer may want to go straight to termination, and should have that option, unless they've negotiated and contracted that right away.
    To stay with the speed bump analogy, speed bumps are good a slowing down people who drive too fast on neighborhood streets, but sometimes it's an emergency and you NEED to drive fast.

  443. earthclanbootstrap says:

    @ Clark

    Was the blue box bigger on the inside? If so, your employee may have had a case, cuz that guy is dangerous and time has shown that it is far safer to steer clear of him.

  444. Grifter says:

    @Clark:

    I'm pretty sure the "Your dress contributes to your likelihood of being raped" argument is rather unsupported by reality, though if you have any evidence to the contrary that would be interesting.

  445. Ampersand says:

    and while neither the tweet nor the post were racist, the post was race-baiting.

    The post was both racist and race-baiting. While attacking a Black author, Nora Jemisin, he wrote:

    Jemisin has it wrong; it is not that I, and others, do not view her as human, (although genetic science presently suggests that we are not equally homo sapiens sapiens), it is that we do not view her as being fully civilized for the obvious reason that she is not.

    Then…

    …self defence laws have been put in place to let whites defend themselves by shooting people, like her, who are savages in attacking white people.

    And then…

    Unlike the white males she excoriates, there is no evidence that a society of NK Jemisins is capable of building an advanced civilization, or even successfully maintaining one without significant external support. Considering that it took my English and German ancestors more than one thousand years to become fully civilised after their first contact with an advanced civilisation, it is illogical to imagine, let alone insist, that Africans have somehow managed to do so in less than half the time with even less direct contact.

    And also…

    Being an educated, but ignorant savage, with no more understanding of what it took to build a new literature by “a bunch of beardy old middle-class middle-American guys” than an illiterate Igbotu tribesman has of how to build a jet engine…

    I can't imagine what your definition of "racism" is if the above-quoted screed doesn't qualify.

    The SFWA leadership tried to throw him out over this, but Vox pointed out that the bylaws did not permit it.

    You can read the by-laws yourself here. The relevant by-law., quoted in full, says:

    Section 10. Expulsion of Member. The officers of the Corporation may, by unanimous vote, expel any member for good and sufficient cause. In the event of such expulsion, the said member’s dues, if paid, shall be refunded on a pro rata basis. If a member so expelled is a life member, the refund shall be the life membership fee paid by the member minus $50 per year elapsed since the life membership was purchased. A member so expelled shall be reinstated upon petition of two-thirds of the active membership. The Corporation shall have no responsibility to circulate the petition.

    So virtually nothing you claimed about Beale's expulsion was correct.

  446. Resolute says:

    @Ken – If you took my post that way, it was not my intent to criticize Nitasha for her story. Merely pointing out that, like Pax, the consequences would or should have been known to her. IMO, questioning whether Dickinson's online presence – regardless of whether it is honest opinion or a performance art persona – is something Business Insider wanted to be associated with was fair game.

  447. Ken White says:

    I don't see how the concepts I sketchily and poorly conveyed above apply any differently to the two parties. For example: A should vigorously speak his mind but not try to get B fired; B should vigorously speak his mind but not try to get A fired.

    Let's leave aside the situations where we both agree it's OK to try to get someone fired for speech. If the lady at the drive-through window greets me with "Jesus, Dr. Manatee, you again?" we will probably agree that it's OK to try to get her fired.

    Then there is a category of speech where me might not agree that it's ok to get someone fired for speech. Possible example: a cop, or judge, talking on a private forum about how Racial Group A is inherently inferior and untrustworthy. [Long discussion omitted]

    Then we get to the problem: I foresee lots of argument about when speech constitutes trying to get someone fired. For instance, I think any article about PAX on any reasonably mainstream site was inevitably going to get him fired, whether they contacted BI for comment or not. My discussion with StopEquivocating illustrates what I mean. Moreover, I suspect that writing practices that writers use when trying to draw eyes — cutting humor, dramatic contrast, editorial opinion-expressing, assertion about relation to context — makes it more likely that the subject of a story will get fired.

    So: on the very limited issue you highlight about not getting people fired, I anticipate further arguments about application.

    Example: if we pulled the call-for-comment from the Pax story, would you still perceive that as trying to get him fired?

  448. Ken White says:

    @Resolute:

    @Ken – If you took my post that way, it was not my intent to criticize Nitasha for her story.

    No, I was just using your observation as a jumping-off-point for the discussion of the issue.

  449. Clark says:

    @Ampersand:

    I can't imagine what your definition of "racism" is if the above-quoted screed doesn't qualify.

    It strikes me as a fully race-baiting post with out stepping over the line into racism.

    …which is what I said.

    You can read the by-laws yourself here.

    Excellent. Thank you.

    So virtually nothing you claimed about Beale's expulsion was correct.

    Good thing I mentioned up front that I hadn't read the relevant documents.

  450. Clark says:

    @Grifter

    I'm pretty sure the "Your dress contributes to your likelihood of being raped" argument is rather unsupported by reality

    I'm always happy when something boils down to a disagreement of fact; that's a (potentially, at least) resolveable debate.

  451. TooManyJens says:

    THANK YOU, Milquetoast Shallows. Dressing in a way that society considers modest doesn't confer any kind of protection against rape. Telling women not to "dress like sluts" is in no way "pragmatic and truthful advice." It's just controlling.

  452. eddie says:

    Slam. Bang. Case closed.

    Warren Meyer congratulates you on your foresight.

  453. Clark says:

    @eddie

    Slam. Bang. Case closed.

    Warren Meyer congratulates you on your foresight.

    Hilariously, right after I posted that comment I clicked over to his blog and saw that post. Talk about timing! But, yes, Warren and I shared coffee once and shared employee (and regulation) horror stories.

  454. Clark says:

    Amanda Hess at Slate just noticed this post.

    I used to enjoy Slate, back when Michael Kinsley was running it. The advent of the XX group complaint / blog marked the most recent step function downward from real journalism into the gutter, so having her link here is a dubious – at best – distinction.

  455. eddie says:

    If the lady at the drive-through window greets me with "Jesus, Dr. Manatee, you again?" we will probably agree that it's OK to try to get her fired.

    Well, yes, of course.

    That's Doctor Manatee, ESQUIRE.

  456. Steve Florman says:

    About a million comments back, Bjorn said:

    ???

    I would concur – but I'd like to point out that sometimes, that consequence is unavoidable and/or natural. It may strike us as "unfair" or disproportionate, but it's as inevitable as gravity.

    For example, plenty of people get away with driving a little drunk – it's probably impossible to quantify, but according to a 2009 article in the WSJ, only one of every 80 to 300 drunken journeys ends in an arrest. But sometimes those trips end in someone – the driver, a passenger, or someone in another vehicle – getting killed. Dying seems like a disproportionate consequence; far better to lose your license, pay a fine, and do a month in the county lockup. But the physics of car crashes are implacable and not subject to plea bargain.

    I submit that, although certain individuals may be restrained by the angels of their better nature, given human nature in general, it would be unrealistic for someone like Pax to hope to avoid the 10-car pileup in a situation like this one.

  457. Steve Florman says:

    OK, go ahead and HTML-shame me.

    Bjorn said "I think there's often a disproportionality between misconduct and consequence when the misconduct is something that's rarely caught and/or punished." The above is my reflection.

  458. eddie says:

    Possible example: a cop, or judge, talking on a private forum about how Racial Group A is inherently inferior and untrustworthy.

    Are trial lawyers a racial group now?

    … 'bout time.

  459. Clark says:

    @eddie

    Are trial lawyers a racial group now?

    Corollary question: is genocide always wrong?

  460. cb says:

    –I'm always happy when something boils down to a disagreement of fact; that's a (potentially, at least) resolveable debate.

    –if you have any evidence to the contrary that would be interesting.

    I'd be interested in the evidence as well. Any?

  461. Clark says:

    @Steve Florman

    OK, go ahead and HTML-shame me.

    Ha!

  462. In a nation of employees, we have as much free speech as our employers decide we have. In a nation of freeholders, which we are unlikely to ever return to, we have free speech, full stop.

  463. Clark says:

    @Steve Florman:

    Bjorn said "I think there's often a disproportionality between misconduct and consequence when the misconduct is something that's rarely caught and/or punished." The above is my reflection.

    Ancap David Friedman covered this in detail in his 1999 book Law's Order.

  464. Clark says:

    @The Sanity Inspector

    In a nation of employees, we have as much free speech as our employers decide we have. In a nation of freeholders, which we are unlikely to ever return to, we have free speech, full stop.

    An excellent point, and it speaks towards a topic that I want to write a massive blog post about some day – it's been percolating for a while now.

  465. Erwin says:

    I would argue that requesting the B respond at a similar level to A is a reasonably principled rule.

    Physically, it is analogous to responding to a shove with a shove, as opposed to shooting them twice and then winding their guts around a pole.

    The self-censorship guidelines for A and B are inherently different because A is starting something, so treating them differently isn't necessarily incoherent.

    –Erwin

  466. James Pollock says:

    "Then there is a category of speech where me might not agree that it's ok to get someone fired for speech."

    Suppose instead we say that it's ALWAYS OK to try to get someone fired for speech. Sometimes we'll get what we wanted (which is OK) and sometimes we won't (which is OK). Suppose we lay the blame for someone getting fired, who shouldn't have been fired, on the person who does the firing, and not on the person or persons who asked that they be fired. In short, bring it. If you ask that I be fired, and my employer values my contribution, it won't matter, and if my employer doesn't value my contribution, then… I have other problems I should have been dealing with.

    Note that, although I use my own name in posting and own the response I generate (good, meh, or bad), I don't drag my employer into it, never mention who they are, and, except for being doxxed by David (in comments of another article) my employer has never been relevant to my participation here, so very likely isn't going to object to what I write.

  467. Ebeth says:

    Clark, I love ya but you make me tired, man.

  468. Ampersand says:

    It strikes me as a fully race-baiting post with out stepping over the line into racism.

    Okay, I thought it was possible you hadn't read the actual post in question.

    But I think your answer naturally leads to a follow-up question: How do you define "racism" versus "race-baiting"?

    Beale is clearly implying (or outright saying) that Black people are "savages," less intelligent and less capable of forming civilization than White people.

    Here's how Wikipedia defines racism:

    Racism is usually defined as views, practices and actions reflecting the belief that humanity is divided into distinct biological groups called races and that members of a certain race share certain attributes which make that group as a whole less desirable, more desirable, inferior, or superior.

    That definition seems reasonable to me, in that it reflects how people commonly use the word. And Beale's attacks on Jemisin certainly qualify as racist, under that definition.

  469. Ken White says:

    @Erwin:

    I would argue that requesting the B respond at a similar level to A is a reasonably principled rule.

    That would mean that a journalist or blogger shouldn't write about a social media post, wouldn't it?

  470. Clark says:

    @Ebeth

    Clark, I love ya but you make me tired, man.

    I have the same reaction to myself.

  471. Lizard says:

    Further, the long history of tolerating Pax's tweets (which management must have known about) suggests that they tacitly allowed them.

    I rather suspect this is part of why there's increasing public calling-out of behavior deemed offensive — because while there's a lot of boilerplate "harassment" or "equality" policies out there, they are often about as useful as a strongly worded letter from the UN. Even from the purest libertarian/an-cap perspective, if a company says "We do not tolerate harassment or discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion, shoe size, or hair color" and they do, in fact, tolerate it — they're committing fraud. Publicizing this fraud is a marketplace response. What's the difference between "This company has an anti-harassment policy they don't enforce." and "This company says they make Kosher hot dogs, but they actually contain pork."?

    A promise by an employer to an employee to not permit a hostile work environment, which that employer then breaks, is no different than a promise by an employer to an employee to pay them 20.00 an hour, and then pay them 5.00 an hour.

    Would one advise an employee in the second situation, "Hey, just work somewhere else!"

    Well, yes, you probably should… BUT… you'd also advise them to demand compensation for being defrauded, plus sufficient punitive damages and public revelations of the company's dirty dealings. That is how regulation works in a libertarian world — by imposing such costs on those who break the rules (in ancap world, the broad consensus of what's proper along with any explicit declarations of policies and procedures a company purports to follow — contracts, not laws, but ancap only works if contracts are enforced, just like every other social order. There's just more competition for the role of enforcer) that they exceed any hope for gain by doing so. That investigating and reporting these breaches falls to private organizations, not the government, is the difference. And, hmm… it occurs to me that sites such as Gawker, Jezebel, and their ilk, are acting in a purely libertarian fashion, as much as my saying so will undoubtedly drive them into paroxysms of rage and denial. The writers and editors and commentators, private individuals motivated by their own sense of justice (and supported by voluntary contributions, ad payments, etc) are taking on the task of investigating, reporting, and promoting violations of corporate policies, and using the fear of lost profits or lawsuits for fraud (claiming anti-discrimination policies not actually enforced) to cause companies to toe the line.

    So, anyone objecting to seeing this in action ought to turn in their copy of "Anarchy, State, and Utopia", hand over their "Who is John Galt?" shirt, and go live on an organic tofu collective farm in Oregon or something. (Likewise, maybe someone should gift copies of Atlas Shrugged to Nitasha and Anil, signed "You're Doing It Right. Keep At It.")

    The libertarian/ancap response to "But what about discrimination?" is and has always been "Shame people who discriminate and drive them from the marketplace — not just the marketplace of ideas, but the marketplace proper. Don't bargain with them, don't sell to them, don't rent to them, don't support them." And that's just what we're seeing here.

    "Should an individual be unable to earn a living because they said the wrong words?", people ask. The libertarian answer, again, has always been: That's up to everyone else around them to decide. If you can argue, "It's OK to allow discrimination based on race, religion, etc., even if this means some people will be unable to earn a decent living, buy a house where they wish, or enter a hospital when they're dying", then, it is impossible to NOT also argue "It's OK to allow discrimination based on someone being a racist, sexist, homophobic, asshat, even if this leads to him getting fired from one cushy job and maybe having a day or two of vacation before someone else hires him as Martyr In Chief."

    This is doubly so when the consequences of discrimination based on collective identity, not individual actions, are downplayed because "Well, people won't do that, because it will be socially unacceptable to be a sexist jerk." Hey, it turns out, it IS socially unacceptable to be a sexist jerk. (Not as socially unacceptable as it should be, but it's moving that way.) And it also turns out, there are growing mechanisms for identifying sexist jerks and letting everyone know who they are… and also seeing who willingly associates with them and enables them. Kind of cool, actually.

    Don't want to be shunned because you're a racist, sexist, homophobic, asshat? DON'T BE ONE. A lot easier that not being black, or gay, or female… so, again, if you want to permit discrimination based on unchosen, irrelevant, collective traits, you fucking well BETTER be prepared to permit discrimination based on chosen, relevant, personal traits.

    As someone whose been writing lib/ancap rants since the late 1980s, it's rather interesting to start seeing some old theories being tested… and rather disappointing, and disgustingly putting me in momentary, shuddering, ideological contact with the Usual Suspects on the Left… at seeing how a lot of the reaction is boiling down to "Well, we never thought women and minorities and other groups would be able to organize effectively so as to actually create and implement a private, non-coercive, system to punish discrimination!"

    To quote a certain someone:"Brother, you asked for it!"

    Hopefully, I won't have to be in the same ideological room with the leftists for long. Ah well, as long as I am, I'll queue up some MP3s from "It's Sister Jenny's Turn To Throw The Bomb". (Like Tom Lehrer said, "While he may have won all the battles, we had all the good songs!")

  472. Darryl says:

    So. . . we got this all figured out, yes?

  473. James Pollock says:

    "go live on an organic tofu collective farm in Oregon or something."
    Good luck with this one. Once you get outside the city limits (ok, the "urban growth boundary"), the political landscape is pretty red.

  474. Matthew Cline says:

    @Ken:

    I will boot people out for mentioning marmosets if I feel like it,

    Marmosets. Marmosets. Marmosets!

  475. Sinij says:

    @Ken

    How do you live? By using consistent pseudonyms. Stating any political or social opinion on the internet, where you don't have any control over audience or proportionality of response is unwise.

    You can easily get "lynched" by right, left, or scientologists (or any other -ists) for stating your opinions. It takes one individual with a platform to manufacture indignation with intention to create difficulties for you.

    How can one state political opinions if you are considered "representing your company" at all times, and if any sufficiently large indignation, no matter how unreasonable, harms business interests and exposes company to a potential liability? With standards like these, free speech is only for independently wealthy.

  476. Lizard says:

    With standards like these, free speech is only for independently wealthy.

    And what is your solution, that does not involve some kind of governmental regulation? (i.e., "You can't be fired just because you work for GreedCo International Conglomerate Incorporated, and spend your off-hours posting long screeds about how the capitalists should be lynched with their own intestines.", or dramatically lowering the standards for libel/slander/defamation/etc?)

    Wouldn't the free speech response, here, be to boycott/shun BI for giving in to pressure, if you think they should not have? They fired Pax because they felt associating with him was bad for business. So, begin an appropriate cultural movement to make "giving in to whiners who just can't take a joke" worse for business than "employing a sexist asshat". You've got the same communications media Gawker, et al, use. You've got access to the same potential audience. If they get more people to buy their message in the marketplace of ideas than you do, whose fault is that?

  477. Lizard says:

    @JamesPollock: Great, shatter my stereotypes. Thanks.

  478. Ampersand says:

    Clark:

    Progressives dislike slut shaming, body shaming, childlessness shaming, atheist shaming, and so on. I suggest that people need to either expand their concern about shaming to victims that they don't particularly agree with, or they need to admit that their concern is really special pleading: "I don't want my people or my activities shamed, but I'm all down with shaming The Other's people and activities." That second choice is a legitimate position, but they lose a fair bit of moral high ground – there's not much gravitas in saying that it's wrong to slut-shame progressive women but it's morally good to do it to the Palins of the world, or that it's wrong to fat-shame Bill Clinton but OK to do it to Rush Limbaugh, etc.

    The problem here is that Progressives are not an undifferentiated mass. There are progressives who object to fat-shaming (including of Rush), and there are progressives who fat-shame Rush. But they are rarely the same progressives.

    There are also many examples of progressives objecting to bigoted attacks on conservatives. (You brought up the example of Sarah Palin; the popular feminist blog Shakesville ran a twenty-nine part series against sexist attacks on Sarah Palin.) Your post implies that progressives don't do this; but I suspect it's more the case that whatever news sources you routinely read don't link to or quote progressives when they do this.

  479. George William Herbert says:

    @eddie
    Are trial lawyers a racial group now?

    Clark:
    Corollary question: is genocide always wrong?

    Sadly, yes.

    International law has much to answer for.

  480. Ken White says:

    How do you live? By using consistent pseudonyms.

    Well, I don't, any more. I have received social consequences as a consequence. Those range from nutbars throwing up multiple unintelligible sites to mess with my Google results to demented freaks drafting murder fantasies about me to, no doubt, some clients deciding not to hire me.

    You can easily get "lynched" by right, left, or scientologists (or any other -ists) for stating your opinions. It takes one individual with a platform to manufacture indignation with intention to create difficulties for you.

    I have two stylistic nitpicks with this. First, "lynched" is the sort of thing I mean when I say people use language intended to de-legitmize response speech by conflating it with violence. Second, "manufacture" is part of a typical rhetorical move to de-legitimize response speech by portraying speakers as not individuals exercising their own speech rights but as a thoughtless mob. "When I speak, I state my opinions, but when other people criticize me, they are a thoughtless mob manipulated by [political group]." Feh on those rhetorical moves.

    How can one state political opinions if you are considered "representing your company" at all times, and if any sufficiently large indignation, no matter how unreasonable, harms business interests and exposes company to a potential liability? With standards like these, free speech is only for independently wealthy.

    Let's note that you are making that point in the context of a discussion of someone who used his own name and was an executive of a company and talked about his company's industry and LISTED HIS FREAKING EMPLOYMENT ON THE MEDIUM HE WAS USING TO TROLL. I mean, Jesus.

    I would say: you speak by accepting the consequences of your actions and words at all times. That may mean using a handle, using only part of your name, NOT LISTING YOUR FREAKING COMPANY IN YOUR PROFILE, considering whether you are engaging in a way that will reasonably be attributed to your company, considering whether you are violating your company's policy, and so forth.

    Otherwise, yes, it might mean accepting that you and Donald Trump have a different capacity to survive social consequences. Donald Trump currently (I haven't checked for bankruptcies this week) has a pile of money. He acts like a relentless douche and can act like a relentless douche because he has a pile of money and is Honey Badger only more unkempt.

    But you don't have a right to be right and able to thumb your nose at social consequences any more than you have a right to be rich and buy your own TV network so you can reach as many people as Donald Trump.

  481. Joe Blow says:

    @ Akhbar: The rest of us, as you mentioned, are not doomed to cower in our PC caves and hope that the conformity mob leaves us in peace. We have just as much right to confront their speech with our own, if we so desire.

    Absolutely. We're free to speak up. Just don't run afoul of the mob.
    I suspect my employer would probably shitcan me for standing up, even on principle, for such a notorious racist and sexist as Pax. (He was actually sort of the opposite and the intrepid reporter apparently doesn't have great reading comprehension, but let's concede her point that Pax is a Very Bad Man).

    So you're right, Akhbar. Nothing at all compels me to keep silent. As long as I'm willing to risk my job – and maybe my house, family & etc – I can speak up and say things, even make jokes, that the anti-racist reporters of the world disagree with.

    By the way, we'd refer to what they are doing as a restraint on free speech, rather than a de jure restraint.

    But you make your point fair enough. If the rule is there should be consequences attached to free speech, then as a political matter, I suppose it's incumbent on me to try to identify the employers of people who express opinions I disagree with, in manners I may find disagreeable or repugnant, and ask them, "What do you think about X, and his association with a particular political opinion or blog comment? I'm investigating this for my blog…"

    Seems to me this would be fair dinkum to turn into my new hobby. It would sure beat expressing my own opinions on the web, and then wondering if I'm one day going to get fired for them.

  482. eddie says:

    "When I speak, I state my opinions, but when other people criticize me, they are a thoughtless mob manipulated by [political group]." Feh on those rhetorical moves.

    You say this as if it could never be true.

  483. Joe Blow says:

    de facto restraint. Dangit. Comment engine needs an "edit" button.

  484. Sinij says:

    @Lizard Government regulation is exactly the right solution. If the law exists that companies are not allowed to do anything about private speech, but at the same time are not responsible for any private speech by its employees, then employees can exercise free speech without fear that it will compromise their future ability to meet personal basic needs.

    I know we will never agree on this, but an ability to fire for anything other than job performance is what created this situation in the first place. Anything else creates Tyranny of The Majority, and as we can see Government need not to be involved.

  485. Matthew Cline says:

    @Eddie:

    "When I speak, I state my opinions, but when other people criticize me, they are a thoughtless mob manipulated by [political group]." Feh on those rhetorical moves.

    You say this as if it could never be true.

    But isn't saying something like that being dismissive of your opponent?

  486. Lizard says:

    So you’re right, Akhbar. Nothing at all compels me to keep silent. As long as I’m willing to risk my job – and maybe my house, family & etc – I can speak up and say things, even make jokes, that the anti-racist reporters of the world disagree with.

    Just curious, at what point in the history of the United States do you feel this started to happen? When, in the past, could one generally make public pronouncements contrary to the prevailing mood, and carry on, free from any backlash from employers, customers, peers, etc?

    It seems to me the degree of permissible backlash for going against the mob has dropped dramatically. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farren_Riots , to pick one of more examples than would be useful to list. Would you rather be fired from your job because you offended the mob — or have the literal mob physically attack you in your home?)

  487. Lizard says:

    Government regulation is exactly the right solution.

    Sorry, but while I recognize all the individual words in that sentence, they don't make any sense to me in the order you've used them. Could you try again?

  488. Erwin says:

    @Ken Quite possibly. For journalists, which bloggers vaguely resemble, there's usually also a consideration of public interest and magnitude of behavior.

    Let's assume that it is possible to come to a reasonable approximation of agreement on similar levels. (heh – but – kind of like porn – it is often possible to recognize)

    So, sample tests for appropriateness to call out in a blog:

    1. Truly vile woman (I really can't overstate this…) Shaming her into hermitage or suicide would be a public good. That said, public need to know? no, although she is wealthy enough to have diplomatic connections. egregious public conduct? a bit, but not that much. (has a public habit of addressing n*gg*rs and sp*cs immediately behind their backs, and speaking very loudly about the lesser races and other forms of trash) Probably not civil to blog about her in a recognizable fashion, although I am tempted.
    2. Pax? Egregious public conduct? Yes. CTO of reasonably prominent firm. Public figure? Kind of. Whining about hostile tweets? Yes. Probably civil to blog about him, although I feel a tiny twinge of discomfort.
    3. Two programmers telling each other sexist jokes… Egregious public conduct? No. Public figure? As if. Not civil to put their pictures up on a blog. No hesitation here.
    4. Prominent politician tweets about being Klansman/communist…Public figure…yes, Egregious conduct…Yes. Blogging…yes. Or here.

    –Erwin

  489. Ahkbar says:

    @Joe Blow

    I thought I had addressed this already, but this mob you speak of is not a homogenous singular entity. There could be more than one mob with a different consensus than the one you are trying to avoid.

    What your employer will or won't fire you for is between you and your employer and any legal documents that bind you. If you think its unfair for your employer to fire people for their opinions, then you can vocalize it and spotlight it for all to see.

    You are also free to pursue your stated hobby as you see fit. And if the subjects of your inquiry don't like the consequences of their speech due to your inquiries, they are just as free to point that out in an applicable forum.

    I believe that the freedom to do something is linked with the accountability (or responsibility) of doing it. And it can cut both ways. I've learned from the many posts and comments on this blog that speech is the most ideal example of this.

  490. Owen says:

    Joe Blow:

    So you're right, Akhbar. Nothing at all compels me to keep silent. As long as I'm willing to risk my job – and maybe my house, family & etc

    So your position is that free speech is only really free when it has absolutely no detrimental consequences?

  491. Sinij says:

    @ Lizzard, sorry for the double-response to the same post.
    " You've got access to the same potential audience. If they get more people to buy their message in the marketplace of ideas than you do, whose fault is that? "

    Problem with this approach is that you are trying to recreate "viral" aspect of such shaming. Why Pax? There are thousand assholes like him out there making racist and sexists tweets, but Pax was the one that "won the lottery" and got run over by a viral train of indignation. This can only be partially explained by “marketplace of ideas”.
    You assert that in the marketplace of ideas all ideas are given equal chance to succeed purely based on idea's merits. This, unfortunately, is demonstrably not true. Viral cat videos, fads, various panics and so on are largely without a merit, yet they succeed as ideas. I am willing to bet that more people are aware of Gangnam Style than quadruple-helix DNA. How do you explain this with your "marketplace of ideas" ? While I like libertarian ideas, they paint feel-good picture of humanity, sad reality is that people are not rational actors and are by large are not capable of informed decisions. Human condition is why “marketplace of ideas” model lacks predictive power.

    Why something becomes viral and why some 'social' ideas catch on is not well understood, but it is clear that "merit" is not the only part of the equation. As a result you can’t counteract one viral action with another because of large randomness involved in the process.

  492. eddie says:

    But isn't saying something like that being dismissive of your opponent?

    Yes. And if you are trying to be charitable to your opponents, you would grant them the benefit of the doubt, especially in your public statements.

    It still might be true.

  493. Clark says:

    @Milquetoast Shallows

    The problem with both the advice and the interview analogy is that there is no evidence that dressing provocatively increases a woman's likelihood of being sexually assaulted. (pages 144-145 for the relevant text Sexy Dressing pdf)

    Let me go through the study you cite:

    assessments of women’s attitudes or beliefs based on their dress are not
    necessarily accurate. For example, while people believe that certain items of
    clothing signify more liberal sexual attitudes, one study suggests that in reality,
    few items of clothing actually correlate with such liberal attitudes.132 Thus,
    generally-held perceptions of sexualized dressing may well be out of sync with
    any one individual’s attitudes and behaviors.

    Three points here:

    * people believe that certain items of clothing signify more liberal sexual attitudes
    * a study confirms this
    * generally-held perceptions of sexualized dressing may well be out of sync with any one individual’s attitudes and behaviors.

    Two points of data, one one conclusion that's somewhere on the "meaningless" to "duhh" continuum.

    Continuing:

    a survey of psychiatrists reported that a three-to-one
    majority of those responding “said that attire that the male perceives as inviting
    direct sex attention does, indeed, tend to increase sex crime risk.”133 The styles of
    clothing that psychiatrists thought carried this potential risk included short
    skirts, see-through dresses, short shorts, and bikinis.134 As they concluded, “[t]he
    survey replies show that U.S. psychiatrists in large numbers believe that
    revealing attire is one of the causative or precipitating factors in sex crimes
    against young females.”135 Thus, highly-educated and learned adults believe that
    how a woman dresses has an impact on whether or not she will be a victim of a
    sex crime.

    One point here:

    * highly educated people in a 3:1 ratio think that provocative dress increases risk of rape

    The same general findings hold true for dress and sexual harassment. A
    study involving 200 college students sought to determine whether target dress
    and gender of a perceiver played a part in determining who was likely to be
    sexually harassed.136 “The model when wearing provocative clothing was rated
    significantly higher on likelihood of provoking sexual harassment . . . than when
    wearing nonprovocative clothing.”137 Interestingly, women rated the model
    dressed provocatively highest on the likelihood of provoking sexual
    harassment.138 However, men and women did not differ in their assessment of
    the model wearing nonprovocative clothing.139 This suggests that women are
    more inclined to believe that provocative dress has an impact on who is
    harassed. While this study shows women are more inclined to link provocative
    dress with sexual harassment, it is important to note that both men and women
    perceive this link. The question remains whether this perception is accurate.

    One point here:

    * as the last sentence says: "the question remains whether this perception is accurate." i.e. this study doesn't even speak to the topic.

    While people perceive dress to have an impact on who is assaulted, studies
    of rapists suggest that victim attire is not a significant factor. Instead, rapists
    look for signs of passiveness and submissiveness, which, studies suggest, are
    more likely to coincide with more body-concealing clothing.140

    * "studies of rapists suggest that victim attire is not a significant factor."

    Note, first, that the paper you cite does not say "not a factor", but it instead says "not a significant factor". It's unclear what that means.

    Let's dig deeper.

    The footnote #140 leads us to:

    Lynne Richards, A Theoretical Analysis of Nonverbal Communication and Victim Selection for
    Sexual Assaults, 9 CLOTHING & TEXTILES RES. J. 55, 59–60 (Summer 1991)

    A "theoretical analysis"? That doesn't sound good.

    We can find an abstract of the paper here

    Abstract

    Research has suggested that (a) victims of sexual assault evidence significant passive and submissive personality structures, (b) such submissive affective traits are characteristic of victims prior to their assaults, (c) sexual assault offenders look for visual cues of vulnerability when selecting a victim, (d) females high and low in submissiveness exhibit different clothing and body language behaviors, and (e) males form differing perceptions of females who are high versus low in submissive personality traits. Propositions associated with theories of self enhancement, communication, perception, and impression formation were united to form a more comprehensive theoretical perspective upon nonverbal communication. This perspective, when analyzed against the results of the abovementioned sexual assault research, provided a logical explanation of the victim selection process wherein nonverbal appearance cues (both body adornment and body language) play a paramount role.

    None of which sounds, to me, as if there's any actual crime data being analyzed.

    If anyone can get the full paper, I'd like to read it…but at this point, it seems like the assertion "research says that provocative clothing is uncorrelated with rape" is not only unproven, but that the actual details are suspiciously talked around, with summaries and abstracts dancing around so as to diguise the fact that there's no data to support the theory.

    So, your original assertion was "there's no evidence to support the theory".

    Indeed, it's true that I don't have an academic cite. But there's no evidence against it, and the normal social of debate say that the person or group striving to overturn a few thousand years of cultural common sense have the burden of proof.

  494. cb says:

    –the normal social of debate say that the person or group striving to overturn a few thousand years of cultural common sense have the burden of proof

    I seem to recall the norm being that the person making a positive claim bears responsibility to prove it.

    My experience is that a lot of "common sense" is wrong. I also don't think your claim that this is "a few thousand years worth" isn't very strong.

    I'd also note that you claimed to be "explaining probability", but it aappears now that you are simply transimitting folk wisdom. You ought to avoid the condescending attitude when you have no factual basis for your claims

  495. cb says:

    –with summaries and abstracts dancing around so as to diguise the fact that there's no data to support the theory.

    That's quite an accusation to make without having acutally read the paper. Not only do you make an assumption of what is in the paper, you make an assumption of the motivation of the summary/abstract writers. It's absurd

  496. eddie says:

    @Clark:

    Without any evidence either way, I am inclined to believe that provocative dress does not play a factor in victim selection. I would guess that the main factor is accessibility and opportunity.

    Not that this has much to do with your original post ("OP" as the hip kids say these days).

  497. Clark says:

    @cb

    –with summaries and abstracts dancing around so as to diguise the fact that there's no data to support the theory.

    That's quite an accusation to make without having acutally read the paper. Not only do you make an assumption of what is in the paper, you make an assumption of the motivation of the summary/abstract writers. It's absurd

    You were the one citing the top-level paper. I went and read it.

    Then I went further and read the foot-notes and tracked down one of the antecedent papers.

    The fact is that you cited something that does not support your assertion that the clothing-matters hypothesis is wrong.

    But if you don't like the paper I found (or, apparently, the paper you found after I read it closely), try these:

    http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/3028/is-a-woman-who-dresses-sexually-suggestively-more-likely-to-get-raped

    Q: Is a woman who dresses sexually suggestively more likely to get raped?

    A: This is a touchy issue. I think it is important to note that the
    question of "Is a woman who dresses sexually suggestively more likely
    to get raped, at least in some instances" which is the question being
    asked from "Is a woman who dresses sexually suggestively at all to
    blame if she suffers from rape" which is often the question people
    respond to…

    studies have shown that provocative dress can have an affect on the likelihood of sexual assault, at least in some instances.

    Antecedents of sexual victimization: factors discriminating victims from nonvictims.

    Synovitz LB, Byrne TJ., J Am Coll Health. Jan;46(4):151-8. (1998)

    Partial abstract:

    The variables found to be related to women's being sexually victimized were (a) number of different lifetime sexual partners, (b) provocative dress, and (c) alcohol use. An Examination of Date Rape, Victim Dress, and Perceiver Variables Within the Context of Attribution Theory

    Workman JE, Freeburg EW., Sex Roles, Volume 41, Numbers 3-4, 261-277 (1995)

    This study found in part that the way a woman choose to dress is sometimes taken as a statement about her character including vulnerability, desire and/or willingness to have sex and provocation of males which consequently affects the likelihood of rape, including date rape.

    The effects of clothing and dyad sex composition on perceptions of sexual intent: Do women and men evaluate these cues differently.

    Abbey, A., Cozzarelli, C., McLaughlin, K., & Harnish, R. J. (1987) Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 17, 108–126.

    Partial abstract:

    A laboratory study was conducted in which subjects viewed a photograph of two students in a classroom. As predicted, male subjects rated female targets as more sexy and seductive than did female subjects. Also as predicted, female targets who wore revealing clothing were rated as more sexy and seductive than those wearing nonrevealing clothing. Female targets were rated higher on sexual traits regardless of the gender of their partner. The study went on to infer that provocative dress can lead to an increased chance of date or spousal rape in some situations (primarily spousal and/or date rape).

    The second one doesn't sound all that strong, but the first one does; I'd like to read it.

  498. Lizard says:

    @Sinij: I addressed the fact the market doesn't judge on "merit" (as if this was an objective thing, either of ideas or products) many times in other posts.

    So what?

    Really. I don't see your point. "My ideas probably can't out-compete their ideas, because, viral cat videos, so, the government ought to regulate everybody. There's no way that could *possibly* not work out."

    Whom do you think is more likely to be appointed Director Of The Federal Bureau Of Who Gets To Insult Whom And Not Get In Trouble For It — you or Nitash?

    For that matter, what would the economic consequences be if every single employee who was fired had the right to sue their employer and force them to prove they were fired only for their performance, and not for any other reason at all. How about foul body odor? How about not following the corporate dress code?

    "Oh, but that's different, you have to obey company policy!"

    "Well, cool. Company policy is 'Don't be a sexist jerk in public, even on your own time."

    "Oh, no, THAT'S different, the company can't regulate what you do on your own time."

    "Cool. I think I'll take a part time job on weekends, working for my company's biggest competitor."

    "Oh, that's DIFFERENT, too! This is about speech!"

    "Oh, OK. I think that I'll spend my weekends and evenings talking about how crappy my company's products are and how people shouldn't buy them. If my boss cans me for this, I'll sue."

    "Oh, that's ALSO different!"

    And so on.

    Do you have any coherent argument other than "I want Uncle Sam to let me say mean things about other people, but not to let them say mean things about me?" Wait, sorry. That's not a coherent argument. Do you have any coherent argument, period?

    Is there a difference between "Hey, this employee of yours is an asshat. Fire him." and "Hey, this employee of yours is an asshat. Just letting you know. Also, letting the rest of the world know. How they choose to respond to this knowledge is their business."?

    If not, how do you draw the line?

  499. cb says:

    –You were the one citing the top-level paper.

    No

    —if you don't like the paper I found

    Read more closely. I don't like your assumptions about the paper you found. I find them to be baseless and uncharitable.

    -the first one does; I'd like to read it.

    Agreed. Though I'd note that the description is qualified 'in some instances'. The advice, hoever, comes with no such qualification-it is simply that dressing like a "slut"(which means whatever) raises the risk, period.

  500. Grifter says:

    @Clark:

    That sort of BoP would only work for a policy debate.

    Rather, you're making a positive claim (Dress plays a role in likely victimhood), and the BoP would be on you to support that…what little evidence there is indicates it's a widespread belief with no basis in fact.

    Again, if that's not true, I'd love to see some evidence of it…

  501. Clark says:

    @Grifter

    That sort of BoP would only work for a policy debate.

    …which is what we're having.

    Rather, you're making a positive claim

    The slutwalkers are making the positive claim that it actively does not.

    Again, if that's not true, I'd love to see some evidence of it…

    I've cited evidence above that argues in the favor of my claim.

  502. cb says:

    –I've cited evidence above that argues in the favor of my claim.

    You cited an abstract

    But you also said:

    –there's no evidence against it

    …despite the citation of an abstract that says the opposite.

    Question-does the abstract of a paper you haven't read count as evidence, or doesn't it?

  503. Ken White says:

    I eagerly await Clark finding a way to work gun control and abortion into this thread.

  504. Ken White says:

    @eddie:

    You say this as if it could never be true.

    Of COURSE it could be true in some cases.

    But it's not true every time more than 20 people say "Christ, what an asshole," and I'm weary of it being used as the go-to argument every time someone is ridiculed for obnoxiousness.

  505. Clark says:

    @cb

    –I've cited evidence above that argues in the favor of my claim.

    You cited an abstract

    I don't have much experience in academia, but from what I recall, when you give a reference to paper that's a cite.

    But you also said:

    –there's no evidence against it

    …despite the citation of an abstract that says the opposite.

    Please quote what you think argues against it, because I didn't see anything.

  506. Clark says:

    @Ken White

    I eagerly await Clark finding a way to work gun control and abortion into this thread.

    Actually I was thinking of defending phrenology and/or the Third Reich.

    #gawker_style_link_bait

  507. Ken White says:

    By the way, we'd refer to what they are doing as a [de facto] restraint on free speech, rather than a de jure restraint.

    Eh, sort of. Because you've begged the question on "restraint."

    I guess there is a de facto restraint on all unpopular speech. But I don't think the label has persuasive power.

  508. Sinij says:

    @Lizard

    Your latest post probably caused straw shortage in Elbonia.

    Government regulation (like constitution) is necessary to protect individuals from tyranny of the majority. Do you acknowledge that there is such thing as the tyranny of the majority?

    When you work 9-5, you don't get compensated for activities outside working hours. You sell your time in exchange for monetary reimbursement. Why do you insist that you also must sell your political, religious, or social convictions and opinions on the 24/7 basis?

    When I say "government regulation" what I am really asking for is stricter separation of 'on the clock' to 'off the clock' written into the law. I am not sure how you managed to read "committees for unAmerican insulting" from what I wrote, but I strongly suspect you might be in dire need of a new reading glasses.

    If both employee and employer have a law that firewall separates them outside working hours, then employees won't care what you do during off hours. Ultimately, corporations don't care if you put white robes and burn crosses on the weekend, they only care if it costs them money or produces bad PR. Replacing your still costs them money, so if you can nip liability your off-the-clock actions cause then won't have any reason to censor your speech!

    The reason for this law is that 'on the clock' ends up 24/7. Hysterical mob with pitchforks and torches can be out for you for any reason, if they know they can't get you fired it will go back to ideal speech vs. speech situation. Instead it is speech vs. bandwagon to get fired.

    "By law we can't do anything about it, so don't ask" is a very solid PR answer and the reason I suggested "regulation".

  509. Grifter says:

    @Clark:

    No, we are not. It's a specific format, that doesn't apply here–and we aren't talking policy, we're talking facts.

    This sideline has been "Does X cause Y", where X is "dressing sluttily" and Y is "an increased likelihood of rape".

    Perhaps I missed where you cited anything that indicated this was so? There was lots of talk about how people think it's so, but appealing to that's rather the argumentum ad populum, neh?

  510. Ken White says:

    Pax is currently tweeting extensively about how people are committing journalistic malpractice by writing about him without contacting him.

  511. Clark says:

    @Ken:

    Pax is currently tweeting extensively about how people are committing journalistic malpractice by writing about him without contacting him.

    Not all "defenders" of Pax think that that's his smartest idea ever.

    …or even this week.

    …and that's saying something.

  512. Ken White says:

    People who have very bad weeks sometimes find their judgment clouded.

  513. Clark says:

    @Sinij

    @Lizard

    Your latest post probably caused straw shortage in Elbonia.

    Government regulation (like constitution) is necessary to protect individuals from tyranny of the majority. Do you acknowledge that there is such thing as the tyranny of the majority?

    I acknowledge that "tyranny of the majority" exists.

    I find that phrase clunky and over-long, though.

    …so I use the the word "democracy".

  514. Clark says:

    @Ken White:

    People who have very bad weeks sometimes find their judgment clouded.

    You give the excellent advice to your readers "when dealing with the police, SHUT THE FUCK UP".

    …and yet, we humans are not Ayn Randian calculating machines. We are running on million year old hardware.

    We overeat, we smoke, we talk to the police even after we've been told a thousand times not to.

    …and we sometimes do "crisis management" by ourselves. On twitter.

    Especially, as you point out, when we're under lots of stress.

    < cringe >

  515. Milquetoast Shallows says:

    Backtracking some:

    While people perceive dress to have an impact on who is assaulted, studies of rapists suggest that victim attire is not a significant factor. Instead, rapists look for signs of passiveness and submissiveness, which, studies suggest, are more likely to coincide with more body-concealing clothing.140

    * "studies of rapists suggest that victim attire is not a significant factor."

    Note, first, that the paper you cite does not say "not a factor", but it instead says "not a significant factor". It's unclear what that means.

    I have no doubt that in the general perceptions of both educated men and women provocative clothing is perceived as having an impact on likelihood of assault. And fair enough on the limited.

    I should have quoted the specific passage I found most relevant:

    In a study to test whether males could determine whether women were high or low in passiveness and submissiveness, Richards and her colleagues found that men, using only nonverbal appearance cues, could accurately assess which women were passive and submissive versus those who were dominant and assertive. 141 Clothing was one of the key cues: “Those females high in passivity and submissiveness (i.e., those at greatest risk for victimization) wore noticeably more body-concealing clothing (i.e., high necklines, long pants and sleeves,
    multiple layers).” 142 This suggests that men equate body-concealing clothing with passive and submissive qualities, which are qualities that rapists look for in victims. Thus, those who wore provocative clothes would not be viewed as passive or submissive, and would be less likely to be victims of assault.

    The above in quote citations are all from the same paper discussed below.

    Let's dig deeper.

    The footnote #140 leads us to:

    Lynne Richards, A Theoretical Analysis of Nonverbal Communication and Victim Selection for Sexual Assaults, 9 CLOTHING & TEXTILES RES. J. 55, 59–60 (Summer 1991)

    A "theoretical analysis"? That doesn't sound good.

    We can find an abstract of the paper here

    Abstract

    Research has suggested that (a) victims of sexual assault evidence significant passive and submissive personality structures, (b) such submissive affective traits are characteristic of victims prior to their assaults, (c) sexual assault offenders look for visual cues of vulnerability when selecting a victim, (d) females high and low in submissiveness exhibit different clothing and body language behaviors, and (e) males form differing perceptions of females who are high versus low in submissive personality traits. Propositions associated with theories of self enhancement, communication, perception, and impression formation were united to form a more comprehensive theoretical perspective upon nonverbal communication. This perspective, when analyzed against the results of the abovementioned sexual assault research, provided a logical explanation of the victim selection process wherein nonverbal appearance cues (both body adornment and body language) play a paramount role.

    None of which sounds, to me, as if there's any actual crime data being analyzed.

    If anyone can get the full paper, I'd like to read it…but at this point, it seems like the assertion "research says that provocative clothing is uncorrelated with rape" is not only unproven, but that the actual details are suspiciously talked around, with summaries and abstracts dancing around so as to diguise the fact that there's no data to support the theory.

    I do have access to the full paper and I find the analysis fairly robust if somewhat outdated – many internal cites date to the 1970s.

    The most interesting aspect is that the analysis is based strictly on victim selection within the category of stranger rapes.

    Concrete numbers for stranger rapes vs acquaintance/date/known perpetrator rapes do vary. The most used number I have found is 82% from a Violence Against Women report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 1995:

    …82% of the victims were raped by someone they knew (acquaintance/friend, intimate, relative) and 18% were raped by a stranger.

    How provocative dress would influence the main category of rapes is unclear to me.

  516. Lizard says:

    Since Elbonia has no natural resources but mud, there is ALWAYS a straw shortage there. Please reconsider your metaphors.

    Anyway, your argument that "no one cares what you do on your off hours" is pretty much total bullshit, and it makes me wonder if you've ever HAD a job. Humans are social animals (I'm something of an outlier, because I'm about as social as a giant squid with SAD), and that's why people get together after work, have pictures of spouse and spawn on their desk, talk about the Big Game, and so on. To argue that the government ought to enforce, or even COULD enforce, a rule that the actual personalities of the people who work together should not play into promotion, hiring, dismissal, etc, is pretty much beyond ridiculous. I wish I could say I find this surprising.

    Following your logic, I should be able to punch out at 5:01, go up to my boss, and say "Sir, you're a pustulant bog of odious ooze. The mere sight of you revolts me. It's a small wonder we haven't gone into bankruptcy yet, since you're such a moron you couldn't pour piss out of a boot if I told you the instructions were on the heel. Also, your wife is ugly, and the second your daughter turns 21, I'm going to get her totally drunk and shag the crap out of her right here in the parking lot, where the security cams can see it. Oh, I've almost finished the Smedley project, and I'll send you the report tomorrow." If he fires me… or even if I suspect I'm passed over for promotion or a raise due to my "off the clock" speech… you'd say the government has a right to intervene on my behalf.

    Does it matter if instead of saying it to his face, I record it on YouTube, naming him, and let him know about it?

    Does it matter if I don't let him know about it, but one of my co-workers does?

    Does it matter if neither I nor my coworker lets him know about it, but someone browsing YouTube happens on it and lets him know about it?

    How about if the person browsing YouTube is doing so because he doesn't like me, and has been waiting for me to do something that stupid?

    Does it matter if, instead of insulting him personally, I insult his religion, his ethnicity, or his political views?

    Does it matter if I do *both*? "My boss is a fat, repugnant idiot, like all members of his political party. He also got where he is because of his ethnic group, because we all know that's how all of them get ahead."

    Even if you could, somehow, define laws narrowly enough, what you've just done is shift the burden to hiring. One reason rents are ridiculously high in SF is that, once a tenant is in, it's almost impossible to get them out. You can delay evictions for years without paying a dime if you know how to the work the system. So landlords make you jump through amazing hoops before they'll agree to rent to you. Under your proposed regime, knowing that you can't fire someone no matter what stupid thing he says outside of work, knowing this won't actually stop people from boycotting or protesting you, no matter how tied your hands are, you will do background checks that would make the NSA say "Whoa, dude. Invade privacy much?" before hiring anyone.

    (It also seems you're banning non-compete clauses and a huge amount of other currently-legal terms of employment that absolutely do limit a number of out of work activities and which routinely survive challenges as to their legal validity.)

  517. Lizard says:

    I find that phrase clunky and over-long, though.

    …so I use the the word "democracy".

    Still too long and clunky.

    Try "society".

  518. Clark says:

    @Lizard

    "tyranny of the majority"

    "democracy".

    "society"

    "people" is shorter yet.

  519. Clark says:

    @Lizard

    it makes me wonder if you've ever HAD a job.

    The bums will always lose!

  520. Sam says:
    "tyranny of the majority"

    "democracy".

    "society"

    "people" is shorter yet.

    Well, now that the fonts match it is.

  521. eddie says:

    Pax is currently tweeting extensively about how people are committing journalistic malpractice by writing about him without contacting him.

    Dunno about malpractice, but they're certainly not committing journalism.

  522. eddie says:

    But it's not true every time more than 20 people say "Christ, what an asshole," and I'm weary of it being used as the go-to argument every time someone is ridiculed for obnoxiousness.

    Do you think that that's all that happened in the case at hand?

  523. Ken White says:

    Do you think that that's all that happened in the case at hand?

    You mean, do I think people are being dismissive of folks criticizing/retweeting/ridiculing, on the grounds they are part of a "mob," and therefore their interpretation can be dismissed?

    Yes.

    I credit people who think that Pax isn't bad, or is misunderstood, or that the response to him is disproportionate, arrived at that belief as actual individual human beings capable of thought. I'm unimpressed when some of them dismiss Pax critics as just chunks of a mob.

  524. Stumbled over this the other day when trying to formulate a point…

    "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." 1 Corinthians 10:23.

    I can't articulate a principle (that I like) that would bar either Mr. Dickinson's or Ms. Tiku's speech. It just makes me uncomfortable. Tiku's writing strikes me as less about combating ideas and more about combating the people who espouse them.

    Also, fun to note: this comment thread is approaching infinite length, and there's been zero discussion of the propriety of suggesting Jesus might be raped.

    Possibly loony musing: Imagine a counterfactual, where Pax posted this message in the town square in some Southern hamlet circa 1860.

  525. Sinij says:

    @ Lizard

    I don't think I need to explain to anyone regularly reading this site that protecting freedom of speech is not about protecting idiots from consequences of their idiotic actions, but about defending the right to state unpopular opinions.

    Someone on their private time goes and badmouth company and the boss. They still have to consider defamation.

    How is it any different if employee off the clock, or third party with no financial relationship with the company doing the badmouthing? It is very clear that one has some freedoms curtailed.

    If you are off the clock – you are no longer considered employee of the company as far as any speech is concerned. Can you still get fired for things you say while on the clock? Yes, absolutely.

    We clearly established

  526. eddie says:

    @Ken: That's not what I meant, although that's good to know as well, thanks.

    I meant: "Do you think that all that's happened is that someone has been ridiculed for obnoxiousness?"

    I think the answer is "No." I think that what's happened is that after Ms. Tiku came across Pax she decided that he should be punished, not merely by holding his ideas up to ridicule, nor even by ridiculing him as a person, but by making the real-world consequences to him as severe as she could make them – which in this case meant doing her best to get him fired. Granted, it didn't take much, but I sincerely believe that she acted with the deliberate intent of causing him to lose his job. I also believe that she intended to – and did – inflame her sympathizers and partisans in order to a) make the outrage against Pax all the more publicized and thus more likely to get him fired and b) bring more people over to her cause and make those already there more loyal to it.

    I think using mob rhetoric is entirely warranted here, even if it is otherwise often the first refuge of the merely butthurt.

  527. eddie says:

    Also,

    You mean, do I think people are being dismissive of folks criticizing/retweeting/ridiculing, on the grounds they are part of a "mob," and therefore their interpretation can be dismissed? Yes.

    I have to disagree here as well. I don't think folks – well, at least, not Pax; there could be plenty of others whose reactions I haven't seen and can't speak to – I don't think Pax is using mob rhetoric to dismiss anyone's interpretations.

    Pax has plenty of OTHER reasons he uses to dismiss their interpretations. Starting with: he disagrees with them. He thinks they're wrong. It's a legitimate disagreement; that happens. It could perhaps be resolved through logical and rational discourse, but I don't think either side actually wants that. Which is fine. Not everything has to be a debate.

    Pax's use of the mob rhetoric is not criticizing the mob's OPINIONS, it's criticizing the mob's ACTIONS. Specifically, the ones that are mobbish.

    That's my reading of it, anyway. I can't speak for him, of course, but that's how I see the cards on the table.

  528. Dave Ruddell says:

    Way back in the original post, Clark accused Scalzi of lying about his site stats. He mentions that in his latest post, and his post about his site stats is here:

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/10/13/some-whatever-stats-geekery-for-you/

    Also, Clark mentioned that Scalzi edits people's posts to make them look worse. Other than his brief flirtation with 'kittening', is there any citation for that?

  529. Ray says:

    Thanks for the Archer video Clark! I officially win your comments section.

  530. Lizard says:

    @Sinij: The government already protects your right to state unpopular opinions. With occasional exceptions (usually involving someone being decreed a "terrorist"), it generally won't kill you for what you say. With, likewise, occasional exceptions, it will actually attempt to punish those who might wish to kill you for what you say.

    What you want is for the government to create, out of thin air, the right to state unpopular opinions… and not be rendered unpopular.

    This is pretty much on par with every other request that the government summon its magic horde of unicorns which fart rainbows and alter the laws of physics and human nature by imperial decree and/or majority vote, either of which work about as well.

    I strongly support your right to wrap a Bible, a Koran, and a Torah in the American flag, set the entire thing on fire (in a suitably safe manner, please pay attention, Florida pastors), all while wearing an SS outfit, waving a USSR flag, reading selections from Das Kapital, Mein Kampf, and Atlas Shrugged, with a "Go Redskins!" pennant taped to your chest, and passing out your "Kittens And Puppies Are Yummy!" cookbook to passers-by. I believe, without any sarcasm or insincerity (for once), that anyone who physically assaults you for doing this is in the wrong[1], and that it is the obligation of the government to protect you from anyone who wishes to do so, and that the government may take no action to stop you from doing this or to punish you for doing it, outside of existing, well-defined, and narrow "time, place, and manner" exceptions — in other words, you can't do it on my lawn without my permission.

    I also see no reason to protect you in any way from the obvious and expected *social* reaction this. If your spouse divorces you, your children abandon you, your parents disown you, and your employer fires you, that's neither my concern nor the government's. If every person you've ever known would rather have their fingernails ripped out than admit they were ever your friend, that's neither my concern not the government's. If, upon any form of search on your name, any future business or romantic prospects scream in horror and run from you as quickly as possible, that is neither my concern nor the government's. If you find yourself living under a bridge, begging for pennies, but find you can't get any handouts because the other homeless people all have signs pointing to you, reading "That's him! That's the guy!", that is neither my concern nor the government's.

    It is a concern of mine and the government's only if you are accused of saying things you did not actually say — not if people decide to interpret your accurately-reported comments in a negative way, such as concluding that if you compare "unicorns" to "talented female programmers", you are claiming neither actually exists, as opposed to claiming, uhm, that they're both things you collect statues of, or, erm, some equally "plausible" explanation.

    It is up to *you* to convince people that you should not be held a pariah for stating your opinions. It is up to them to decide how to proceed. You are always free to plead your case for forgiveness, or plead that your opinions are right and valid, or plead that your suffering is out of proportion to your sin, and let each person, according to their own values, decide how to respond.

    (I've got hundreds pages of things I'd written on multiple forums, that I ultimately decided not to post, because I didn't want to deal with the social consequences. Is this cowardice? Yes, it is. See footnote, below.)

    [1]To the extent I could overcome my considerable and innate cowardice, I'd even say I'd come to your physical defense in such a hypothetical situation. Odds are, if the mob surged against you, they'd rip you to bloody gobbets while I was still trying to get up the nerve to say "Uhm… wait… erm… too late. Ooo, gross. Is that a spleen?" I mean, shit, I scream like a little girl when I see a spider. To be more clear, I scream "Beth! Kill it! KILL IT!", and she rolls her eyes and accepts that whatever other virtues I may offer to her as a husband, raw machismo isn't among them. But I digress. For whatever cold comfort it might be, I'd feel very, very, deeply *ashamed* of standing around dithering while the mob ripped you limb from limb. (If there's one thing I've learned from reading progressive sites, you don't have to actually *do* anything about institutional discrimination that benefits you, you just have to *acknowledge* it, and feel bad about it.)

  531. James Pollock says:

    "I am inclined to believe that provocative dress does not play a factor in victim selection. I would guess that the main factor is accessibility and opportunity."

    I would guess that it doesn't matter nearly as much in stranger rapes (although I'd probably hedge and say "no measurable factor" rather than "no factor", I think in acquantance rapes it would be another story. Some fraction of those occur because the perp receives mixed signals (Yes, I know that the societal rule is that a single "no" signal trumps a billion "yes" signals… I am not an acquaintance rapist and I am not intoxicated. While "don't dress slutty might be good advice, "don't be highly intoxicated and alone with another person who is highly intoxicated" is much, much better advice.)

  532. Lizard says:

    So, I ought to stop shooting fish in a barrel, but it's so much *fun*.

    If you run a business, rather than being the employee of one, should the government prevent people from boycotting you based on your speech about non-business matters? What if you're the sole owner/operator, for example, you run a food truck? Should your regular customers be allowed to stop buying food from you after they realize you're posting under the alias "Ki11A11DaJ00z" on YouTube?

    If you are a freelancer, should the government mandate that people hire you for projects, if they would otherwise not do so, due to your speech?

    If you run a Kickstarter or other campaign, should people be prevented by law from trying to dissuade backers from backing you, due to your speech?

    If you are a creator, a musician or an author or suchlike, should the government prevent people from saying "Don't buy this guy's stuff, look at what he said online!"? Or possibly subsidize any lost, hypothetical, earnings, lest the fear of such losses in the future chill your speech today?

    If the answer to these questions is "No", then, I must ask, why does someone working a "9 to 5" job have a right to keep their job no matter what asshole things they say, but someone who earns their living in other means must suffer the slings and arrows of the outraged? Why does a programmer hired as an employee by a corporation have a "right" to have his job protected from backlash, but the same programmer, hired on a contract basis, lack such a right? (At least, once his contract is up. How would you prove that any failure for new offers to materialize is due to displeasure at his off-the-clock speech?)

  533. Unimaginative says:

    @eddie

    I think the answer is "No." I think that what's happened is that after Ms. Tiku came across Pax she decided that he should be punished, not merely by holding his ideas up to ridicule, nor even by ridiculing him as a person, but by making the real-world consequences to him as severe as she could make them

    I can't remember if you already said this, but do you know Ms. Tiku?

    In the other thread, Pax's defenders were insisting that, absent personal knowledge or other evidence, people should be interpreting his actions/words/tweets with extreme charity. You seem to be interpreting Ms. Tiku's actions with extreme uncharity. Why is that?

  534. eddie says:

    I'm glad you asked.

    I thought about this very point, especially considering what I've said in this thread about granting others the benefit of the doubt. But even granting her that benefit, there are three things which strongly suggest to me that my uncharitable assumptions about her actions are correct.

    One: She contacted his employer.

    Two: She didn't contact him.

    Three: From the very first sentence of her piece, she described him as "homophobic, racist, misogynistic" and "vile".

    This is not journalism. This is advocacy. Actually, this is crusading.

    I am mindful of the admonitions I've given out earlier here, and so I still want to hold myself to the standards of condemning ideas and actions, not people, and of assuming the best of one's adversaries. So I readily admit that I may be misconstruing things.

    I will absolutely consider any alternate viewpoints that anyone would like to offer to explain why, even in the face of those three points, Ms. Tiku in fact probably did not intend for Pax to lose his job because he's said things she doesn't like. If you can make a case, I promise I'll evaluate it with as open a mind as I can manage. And if it's reasonable enough, I'll recant my assumption.

    The easiest way to convince me, instantly, would be to point to something where Ms. Tiku says "I didn't intend for him to get fired." If she's said that, I'll take her at face value and immediately apologize.

    But the evidence I've seen so far leaves me comfortable with my initial conclusion. Giving the benefit of the doubt doesn't mean ignoring what you see; it just means realizing that you might not see it all.

  535. Dion starfire says:

    @James Pollock

    "Good luck with this one. Once you get outside the city limits (ok, the "urban growth boundary"), the political landscape is pretty red."

    Either you've never stumbled across Eugene, OR (home of Univ. of Oregon), or it's changed since I lived there. I remember that general area as the hippie capital of the state.
    (/tangent)

    Pax is currently tweeting extensively about how people are committing journalistic malpractice by writing about him without contacting him.

    Is it just me, or does that sound disturbingly similar to the legal threats from censorious thugs (e.g. the dentist Ken blogged about recently)?

    Will Pax maybe find a more lucrative future as one of faux-lawyers that write that drivel (the threat letters, not the blog post about them :P )

  536. James Pollock says:

    "Either you've never stumbled across Eugene, OR (home of Univ. of Oregon), or it's changed since I lived there. I remember that general area as the hippie capital of the state."

    Yeah… INSIDE THE CITY LIMITS. Once you get OUTSIDE the city limits of Eugene, you run into, say, Springfield. Remember how liberal Springfield isn't?

  537. HandOfGod137 says:

    @Dave Ruddell

    I would hazard a guess that the "information" about Scalzi came from that well known internet resource Vox Popoli. Which is a bit like basing your opinion of high-energy physics on Timecube in terms of choosing a reputable source.

  538. Clark says:

    I would hazard a guess that the "information" about Scalzi came from that well known internet resource Vox Popoli. Which is a bit like basing your opinion of high-energy physics on Timecube in terms of choosing a reputable source.

    This is an unfair comparison.

    Vox allows dissenters to leave comments in his blog.

    The TimeCube guy actually went to MIT to debate his point.

    Only Scalzi refuses to engage with his detractors and deletes comments he disagrees with.

  539. Clark says:

    @HandOfGod137

    I would hazard a guess that the "information" about Scalzi came from that well known internet resource Vox Popoli.

    Don't guess about it. I said so up above: I've read some (but not all) of Vox's posts on the topic. I have not read the official charges (although I think Vox posted them) nor have I read Vox's response (which I think he also posted).

  540. Clark says:

    @eddie

    One: She contacted his employer.

    Two: She didn't contact him.

    Three: From the very first sentence of her piece, she described him as "homophobic, racist, misogynistic" and "vile".

    This is not journalism. This is advocacy. Actually, this is crusading.

    We seem to be in a take-no-prisoners culture war for the last 50 years or so, so this is hardly surprising. I don't think she acted outside the norms of her pseudo-profession.

    …but I do think that Eddie is entirely correct. This is crusading more than it is journalism. The NYT, as biased as it is, does contact the people it's reporting on, if it contacts employers it's not in a transparent attempt to get someone fired, and it couches its disapproval in more modest and less inflammatory terms.

  541. TJIC says:

    @Lizard

    If you run a business, rather than being the employee of one, should the government prevent people from boycotting you based on your speech about non-business matters?

    Having run a business which was boycotted because of my personal politics, I say: absolutely not.

    Business owners have the right to use their loud mouths however they want.

    …and customers have the right to use their hard earned dollars however they want.

  542. Dave Ruddell says:

    Time Cube Guy's willingness to debate does not make him a reliable source of information; it makes him a (gloriously deranged) crank who likes extra attention. Similarly, Beale's willingness to have dissenting comments at his blog does not mean any factual statements he makes are more likely to be true.

    Meanwhile, you've made two accusations about Scalzi (regarding his stats and editing of comments) that you have not backed up with evidence. Do you have any?

    (As an aside, I realize that we're far off the topic of this post, so I'm happy to let this die)

  543. HandOfGod137 says:

    @Clark

    Don't guess about it. I said so up above

    Apologies. I had actually read your comment, now you mention it. It was early: the espresso hadn't kicked in.

  544. Clark says:

    @HandOfGod137

    Apologies. … It was early: the espresso hadn't kicked in.

    An entirely acceptable excuse; I use it myself with some regularity. ;-)

  545. Clark says:

    @Dave Ruddell

    Time Cube Guy's willingness to debate does not make him a reliable source of information

    Agreed; I did not argue otherwise.

    Meanwhile, you've made two accusations about Scalzi (regarding his stats and editing of comments) that you have not backed up with evidence. Do you have any?

    Re his comments: he has admitted so himself in his blog posts. I don't have a specific cite, but he's bragged about how he likes changing things to make racist homophobes look like racist homophobes.

    A Google search for site:whatever.scalzi.com edit comment racist homophobe should lead you down the right path.

    Ah, wait, here it is:

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/01/21/the-kitten-setting/

    My friend Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) has a comment policy, in which she reserves the right to take the postings of the most obnoxious trolls in her comment threads and change the words to something else entirely, subverting the message of the troll. The troll usually returns, outraged that his golden prose has been changed; that comment gets changed too. This continues until the troll realizes that there is nothing he can say that won’t get subverted, and eventually the troll runs away.

    I was reminded of this yesterday when, after posting about a racist sexist homophobic dipshit, one of the racist sexist homophobic dipshit’s craven lickspittles popped up in the thread. This particular craven lickspittle is already on my moderation list for being a contentless troll, and I usually end up deleting his posts, but this one seems honor-bound to continue trying to be an asshole on my site, deletions or no. So I tried Jenny’s technique on him.

    A man who is unwilling to debate his detractors is intellectually dishonest. A man who mocks instead of debates, and edits the words of his detractors is beneath contempt.

    Well, OK. Not beneath. Just 110% fully contemptible.

    For site stats, you can Google vox day john scalzi site trafic.

  546. Lizard says:

    We seem to be in a take-no-prisoners culture war for the last 50 years or so,

    Off by at least two orders of magnitude, I'd say. The "Oh, waily, waily, things are worse than e'er they were before!" attitude is bothersome in general, and doubly so when it comes from someone I know has an actual knowledge of history.

    As I pointed out to Sinjin, it used to be, if you published something the masses did not like (Such as "So, negroes. Might they actually be human beings, kind of? Don't want to get too radical here."), you did not face a metaphorical mob calling for your employer to fire you, you faced a literal mob calling for you to be set on fire. The diversity of opinions tolerated in the public sphere today is far greater than it was, as is the ability of people with minority views to reach an audience.

    There was never a golden age when you could say anything you liked, no matter how offensive to the standards of the time, and get no more negative reply than "Well, that's a right silly old idea, you great galoot!" It is hard not to feel there is some connection between at least some people's pious crocodile tears over our suddenly uncivil culture and the fact that their opinions have gone, in a fairly short span of time, from "Well, everyone agrees that…" to "How DARE you say such things!" That equivalent incivility was shown to those holding opposite views in the past slides past them. The "rules" have changed. They confused the opinions of their tribe for the laws of nature, and don't understand what's happened.

    Only Scalzi refuses to engage with his detractors and deletes comments he disagrees with.

    I eat paste.

  547. Ahkbar says:

    @Clark

    Admitting upfront that my knowledge of this situation is limited to what has been discussed in this post.

    Giving Mr. Scalzi the benefit of the doubt that his target was actually a troll with no actual content/discourse (I have no evidence either way), would his actions of deleting or subverting the content be his method of maintaining his "living room"? In other words, increasing the signal to noise ratio?

    I don't mean to imply that his actions cannot be criticized, but I guess what I am trying to ask is this: how are his actions any different than what Ken did to Captain Paste-eater?

    I did not get the impression that you held Ken's actions with 110% contempt. I may be completely wrong about though. Can you clarify please?

  548. Dave Ruddell says:

    Okay, I mentioned this in my original post, the 'kittening' of comments by Scalzi. He did not edit comments to 'make them look worse' as you charged, but instead altered them to sing the praises of kittens. He was not, for example, editing posts to include racial slurs that were not included (which would be contemptable).

  549. Clark says:

    @Ahkbar

    Giving Mr. Scalzi the benefit of the doubt that his target was actually a troll with no actual content/discourse (I have no evidence either way), would his actions of deleting or subverting the content be his method of maintaining his "living room"? In other words, increasing the signal to noise ratio?

    I do not give Scalzi the benefit of the doubt, because I've seen some of the comments that he's deleted before he's deleted them, and I've seen other comments at other blogs by commenters who are banned at his blog.

    Certainly some of the comments he deletes are just spam.

    …but some are good comments that make uncomfortable points, and it's pretty clear to me that he's deleting comments not just if they're rude, but also if they poke holes in his arguments.

    Scalzi prefers to maintain a crowd of sycophants.

  550. Clark says:

    @Ahkbar:

    I don't mean to imply that his actions cannot be criticized, but I guess what I am trying to ask is this: how are his actions any different than what Ken did to Captain Paste-eater?

    I am not remotely a fan of that technique of Ken's.

    But he founded this blog and he runs it his way. I'm honored that I was invited to write here.

  551. Ahkbar says:

    @Clark

    Fair enough, I defer to your knowledge of the situation.

    Thanks for your clarification on the paste response (for lack of a better term).

  552. Ken White says:

    Regarding John Scalzi's moderation approach, my view is similar to FIRE's view of colleges. FIRE goes after public schools that restrict speech (because of the First Amendment) and private schools that promise free speech but restrict it (because of contract principles and false advertising). FIRE explicitly declines to go after schools like Liberty University which make a point of saying they restrict speech, and which don't pretend to offer their students free expression. FIRE points out that's freedom of expression and honest salesmanship.

    I may not moderate like Scalzi does, and his approach to people on his site might be substantially different than mine, but I don't think anyone can say that he claims to offer anything other than what he offers: a heavily moderated forum according to his own tastes and sensibilities about what is polite or on-topic or annoying. No false advertising is involved.

    As for myself, I reserve pasting for repeated defiance of requests to behave, or for egregious personal attacks or exceptionally bizarre offensiveness. When I wrote a post about the insulting things people say to adoptive parents, I thought pasting was warranted when a disturbed person persistently left comments about how adopted children are at higher risk for abuse from adopted parents. Your tastes may differ. Celebrate America! Anyway, I think there have been no more than 2 – 4 instances of pasting. Once I used dachshunds I think. I'm most likely to paste out of amusement as an alternative to flat-out banning when someone repeatedly defies requests to behave. For example, if I made it explicit to someone that I found their presence offense and considered them unwelcome in my living room, and they decided out of some sort of social-processing defect to stay anyway, and the defied my request to stop engaging in a fight in a thread, I might consider pasting them thereafter.

  553. Clark says:

    @Ken White

    Regarding John Scalzi's moderation approach, my view is similar to FIRE's view of colleges. FIRE goes after public schools that restrict speech (because of the First Amendment) and private schools that promise free speech but restrict it (because of contract principles and false advertising).

    I entirely understand that. I do not assert that (a) Scalzi is legally in the wrong to moderate that way, (b) Scalzi is a hypocrite by saying his moderation is X when it's actually Y.

    I may not moderate like Scalzi does, and his approach to people on his site might be substantially different than mine, but I don't think anyone can say that he claims to offer anything other than what he offers: a heavily moderated forum according to his own tastes and sensibilities about what is polite or on-topic or annoying. No false advertising is involved.

    100% agreed. International House of Shitcakes always delivers what they promise on the menu. I don't eat there.

    As for myself, I reserve pasting for repeated defiance of requests to behave, or for egregious personal attacks or exceptionally bizarre offensiveness.

    Fair enough; I have not actually seen any of the comments you've pasted. I mostly dislike the idea because I prefer a bright-line approach; I can differ with you on this with out thinking that any one pasting you've ever done was undeserved.

    Your tastes may differ.

    Indeed. Your pasting is to maintain decorum at a lawn party; Scalzi's is to maintain loyalty in a cult.

    …unwelcome in my living room…

    This is exactly the key issue: you prefer to host people in your living room. I prefer a blood-stained concrete floor with a few bare light bulbs. If this is you first time, you must fight.

    When I'm in your living room, I'll occassionaly note that there are a lot more finger foods and beverages than I'm used to, and the carpeting doesn't have any bloodstains on it.

  554. Ken says:

    "She (Nitash Tikus) was clearly hoping to get him fired, and she got her wish.

    But is she content at just having people fired once, or would she prefer permanent blacklists?"

    The reason Nitash Tikus did what she did is obvious. Power over other human beings. She would want no such lsit, unless she wrote it. "Men (woman too) do not become tyrants to keep out the cold."

  555. Jay says:

    I don't have much to add, or anything to add, except I want to read your post, but first I have to visit Readability because wow, the popehat page layout has certainly jumped the shark.

  556. Erwin says:

    Perhaps I'm an antisocial person, but I'm not just against government power, but also against social power and corporate power and power controlling individuals in general.

    That doesn't mean that I favor making laws to restrict social power, in general, but…sometimes I prefer government regulation to corporate regulation. (Eg., I think government police forces mostly work better than corporate ones.) And, yes, I do prefer standards of manners which minimize the ability to squash people socially for having dissenting opinions.

    That said, there are perfectly legitimate squashings.

    –Erwin

  557. James Pollock says:

    "But is she content at just having people fired once, or would she prefer permanent blacklists?"

    I don't think this is accurate. A blacklist is a permanent ban placed on someone, for something they used to do. (Thus the famous McCarthyite question, "are you now, or have you ever been, a Communist?"

    I think it is more accurate to say that Pax's detractors (most of them) want a ban (not permanent) placed on him for something he continues to do, or intends to continue doing.

    These are not interchangeable. You may or may not think that a bank declining to hire a person formerly convicted of embezzling is OK, but nobody will complain that a bank declining to hire a person currently embezzling is some kind of evil.

  558. Lizard says:

    That said, there are perfectly legitimate squashings.

    By definition, everyone advocating squashing "X" believes theirs is legitimate, and probably others are not. "Manners" or "social conventions" or "standards" or whatever other term one wishes to use are synonyms for "those squashings the majority determines to be legitimate".

    No human society exists, existed, or will exist that doesn't have in-groups and out-groups, acceptable targets and unacceptable targets, varying standards for moral judgment based on ultimately irrational hierarchies of value. Free(ish) societies, such as ours, have ongoing, constant, public debate over how these things should be defined, and systems of law that, as much as possible, try to be objective and not shaped by the popularity of some ideas or persons or groups and the unpopularity of others.

  559. R R Clark says:

    @Clark

    Sorry I'm late. Your reponses have been fantastic. However.

    When I went and read Pax Dickinsons twitter feed my immediate reaction was "this reads like the Facebook feed of my mostly unemployed friend from high school." There's a reason my friend is a "consultant" (without regular clients, natch) and not gainfully employed full time. It's because he never learned to restrain his "sense of humor." He's (yet) a(nother) business major from a good northeast college (top 50 nationwide) who actually is pretty intelligent. But he just won't shut up when he ought to and he makes the "bro" "jokes" all the time.

    Smart companies are aware these people are not directly employable. They're a huge liability, their technical expertise notwithstanding, and simply cannot be "on staff," so they handle them with at will contracts for "consulting."

    Business Insider, for what it's worth, is not a smart company. But they could read between the lines; once Dickinson's tweeting caught attention at the national level, he was so much dead weight. Anil Dash may or may not have intended to get Dickinson fired, that's arguable, but he's as much a douchebag as Dickinson, but he's protected because his speech is protected. That's where the outrage is generated. Dash essentially risks nothing by playing straight off Dickinson's tweets, which really have to be taken as satirical by any rational actor. So you have two douchebags being douchebags, but only one is punishable.

  560. Jay says:

    Okay, now having installed Readability I find your post is dead on the money. Thank you for articulating what I have been thinking for many months.

    I often hear that speech has consequences, and that it's not a free speech issue when social consequences are heaped on disagreeable speakers. I hear that from people that claim to support free speech, and that certainly want what they consider to be diversity in society.

    Can we simultaneously claim to support free speech while encouraging the firings, the massive Internet callouts, or the boycotts of speech we disagree with? It is coherent and logical to claim to desire diversity while encouraging the stomping of faces of the speakers we hate?

  561. HandOfGod137 says:

    @Clark

    Indeed. Your pasting is to maintain decorum at a lawn party; Scalzi's is to maintain loyalty in a cult.

    I really don't see how having a clearly notified deletion/editing policy equates with maintaining "loyalty in a cult". This just comes across as hyperbole as a replacement for genuine argument. And how could it possibly work? Everyone who reads Scalzi's blog knows where to find the Daily KKK if they want to see someone (endlessly) expressing their butthurt with him, so holding comments to a certain standard doesn't enforce any sort of groupthink. I honestly think you're giving far too much weight to what Beale writes.

  562. Lizard says:

    Can we support democracy while refusing to fund the campaigns of candidates we disagree with, knowing this may mean those who agree with those candidates will lack representation if they lose? Likewise, can we call for support for the candidates we like, which implicitly takes votes from the candidates we don't like? When you vote against an incumbent, aren't you voting to fire him? When you vote against a challenger, aren't you voting to keep him from being hired?

    Can we support freedom of religion by only believing in one religion (or no religion at all), and trying to convert people who believe in another religion (or in any religion) to our religion (or to atheism), knowing if completely successful in the conversion process, the others will cease to exist?

    There is a clear, bright, line between force and non-force. There are no such clear, bright, lines, between speech, association, and economic actions.

    In the Dickinson case, is there a difference between his speech being brought to the attention of his boss by a third party, or his boss noticing it, being personally offended, and firing him for that?

    Orson Scott Card has tried to argue that people shouldn't "punish" the thousands of people who worked the Ender's Game movie just to punish him, the writer. (More than a tad bullshit, because all but a tiny handful of those involved have received all the money they're going to get no matter how successful the movie is or isn't.) Is it valid to withhold my money because I don't want any of it going to him? Is it valid if I just don't buy his books? If I encourage other people not to buy his books?

    "Ideas" are not some free-floating class of things, disconnected from some other concept of speech called, I dunno, "non-ideas". "Don't buy this book, the author's a jerk" is an idea. "DO buy this book, the author deserves your support" is an idea. "People should be fired when they embarrass the company the work for" is an idea. "No, they shouldn't be." is an idea.

    You ask: "How can we support diversity and also support calls for boycotts?". I reply, "How can we NOT?" You cannot simultaneously say "All ideas should be expressed!" and "Except for the idea people should be accountable for their ideas!"

    We are free to *reject* calls for boycotts. A company is free to tell someone, "No, we won't fire this guy. Go ahead and rant." You are free to donate money to a cause you actually oppose, in the name of supporting diversity of opinion. You can support platforms that do not stop hosting unpopular bloggers. You can encourage services to narrow the kinds of speech they would consider a violation of their TOS, just as others encourage them to broaden them. You can contact BI's advertisers and tell them what you think of their supporting a company that fires someone for his off-hours speech, just as others have undoubtedly contacted them to tell them the opposite.

    For the umpteenth time: There's no final play. There's no limit on the back-and-forth. It's not a three round point, counterpoint, reply, done, kind of thing. It goes on forever, and there's a lot more than two sides.

    (I do find it interesting, BTW, that the majority of negative comments are about the people who contacted Pax's employer, and NOT about the employer's decision to can him. The outsiders could only *ask*. They couldn't *force* BI to do anything. BI had the power to act, and they chose to act on the suggestions of others — but, oddly, this seems to be a point Pax's defenders are hesitant to really bring to the foreground, or are eager to excuse as something BI "had" to do, because "maybe lawsuits, or something". The poor, poor, company, "forced" to fire a beloved employee just because some random blogger ranted about him. Clearly, it's *her* fault, not theirs.

    Someone a lot further to the left than me (which is, uhm, most people, I'd warrant) might say something like "Those opposed to Pax's firing are probably more comfortable with a business executive having the authority to can an employee at will than they are with a non-white, non-male, blogger having the ability to suggest an employee should be fired, and be *listened* *to*, so they're more willing to criticize the latter, not the former." But I'll leave saying that to the leftists. Not the sort of thing I'd say, at all.

  563. Jay says:

    @Ken White,

    What should a reporter whose beat contains sexism do when she/he encounters Pax's Twitter feed.

    I'd say "report"

    I'd also suggest "report" is not Tweet except for immediate and exigent events (FIRE!) and almost never Retweet.

    I'd think that in J School they might talk about how Twitter is a flawed vehicle and how Journalistic ethics should indicate how they use it and treat it and that "report" almost always requires more than the tweets and paraphrases of a subject.

  564. mike says:

    In a thread as long as this, it's unlikely that anything I say will be new. However, I read a lot of comments and I didn't see anyone bring this up.

    Much of the discussion has been about how you deal with private individuals speaking to each other and the non-government reaction to it. But as many commenters pointed out (albeit mostly in idiotic descriptive responses to a normative issue), one possible motivation for BI firing Pax was that his thoughts potentially exposed BI to liability for discrimination lawsuits. That pressure on BI came from who? Oh yes, the government and its snivel rights laws. So although I would agree that the most interesting (and impossible!) question is how to have true free exchange of ideas between private individuals, that's not the whole story here.

  565. Jay says:

    The lawyers guns and money (and its commenters) approach to this blog post is why I almost never do snark anymore. The Internet has snarked me out and now I see snark and I think passive aggressive, mostly not funny, mostly cheap character assassinations that would never be made in public and used to enforce speech.

    It's also why, @Ken White, I find your notions about bullying intriguing and skew.

    I see blog after blog of the LGM fashion of snarky commenting, followed with the Scalzi moderation of comments followed by the endless amplification of all of this on tumblr on twitter and facebook and now medium and across the tech journal world and I think all of that amounts to speech policing, inappropriate shaming with real life consequences.

    Read what now creates PTSD and various anxiety disorders and place it up against the Internet's Eye of Sauron. Yuck. It's no wonder that people with unpopular opinions uses pseudonyms, it would be irrational not to.

    Also Ken, when Clark raises the problem, in a world of engineers if someone next moved to propose a solution or ask what is the solution, they would probably be admonished that now is not the time to seek out solutions, it is still too early.

    It's time to raise awareness of the problem, observe it, characterize it, test it, and think about it.

    That said, I think Clark's comparison of Internet shaming to slut-shaming is interesting, and would suggest he find some prominent feminists to debate that with, perhaps at Salon, or Jezebel.

    As for me, I don't self-censor, but I also no longer do snark anymore, and I err on the side of hitting cancel rather than submit and just listening to the conversation much of the time as I feel most issues already suffer from too much pile-on and over amplification.

  566. Mike says:

    With respect to Scalzi, it looks like Clark was just uncritically parroting information from Vox Populi without acquiring independent knowledge and thought everyone here was in the same feedback loop.

    Here's what I don't understand — I went to VP and pulled up the latest post on Scalzi. It talks about him as a "gamma male," refers to his "socio-sexual superiors," gratuitously mentions "obese female shoggoths that read his blog," calls him "chief gamma rabbit," and muses on the "socio-sexual hierarchy," all apparently without irony.

    Obviously, this doesn't necessarily make him wrong, but it's hard to believe any reasonably discerning person (as Clark obviously is) could read this and not take everything else this person says with a MASSIVE grain of salt. So please, Clark — take a step back from that particular feedback loop and critically evaluate information you get from such people before relying on it. Unless, I guess, you feel like doing that would threaten your position in the socio-sexual hierarchy.

  567. eddie says:

    The Internet has snarked me out and now I see snark and I think passive aggressive, mostly not funny, mostly cheap character assassinations that would never be made in public and used to enforce speech.

    Popehat is proud to be your source for the finest snark the Internet has to offer.

  568. Clark says:

    @Mike

    With respect to Scalzi, it looks like Clark was just uncritically parroting information from Vox Populi without acquiring independent knowledge and thought everyone here was in the same feedback loop.

    In fact, I read Scalzi's blog for years, long before I ever heard of Vox or knew he had a blog. I've read many of Scalzi's novels and none of Vox's.

    I became disillusioned with Scalzi and only long after that did I discover Vox.

  569. Clark says:

    @Mike:

    Here's what I don't understand — I went to VP and pulled up the latest post on Scalzi. It talks about him as a "gamma male," refers to his "socio-sexual superiors," gratuitously mentions "obese female shoggoths that read his blog," calls him "chief gamma rabbit," and muses on the "socio-sexual hierarchy," all apparently without irony.

    I do not condone name-calling and think that both sides would do better to cut it out.

    Unless, I guess, you feel like doing that would threaten your position in the socio-sexual hierarchy.

    I suppose the proper brogrammer response is "my position? you mean…on top of your mom?"

    Good thing I'm not a brogrammer.

  570. VD says:

    wasn't Beale kicked out for posting racist garbage on an official SFWA twitter feed? He's a toxic idiot at the best of times, but surely an organisation shouldn't have to be seen as condoning racism and sexism by not responding to that?

    This is false. No reason was provided except "this action is necessary to best serve the interests of the organization and its members." In fact, my name was not even released to the public.

    I did not post "racist garbage on an official SFWA twitter feed". Nor was that the complaint. The official SFWA complaint was that I posted a link to an attack on an SFWA member on a Twitter feed that was not the official SFWA Twitter feed, but was considered "an SFWA space".

    In my rebuttal, I provided conclusive evidence of more than 50 SFWA members either linking to an attack or making a direct attack on an SFWA member in an SFWA space, including three members of the current SFWA Board. None of those 50 members have been expelled, to the best of my knowledge.

    The real reason the Board voted to expel me was that both John Scalzi and Patrick Nielsen Hayden refused to renew their SFWA memberships until I was expelled. The Tor authors on the Board, including the President, weren't about to deny the Tor editor and his pet what they demanded.

    But it's far from over, which is why the Board demanded that I take down their official complaint so that the public could not read it. You can read my response to it here: response to SFWA Board report.

  571. VD says:

    Obviously, this doesn't necessarily make him wrong, but it's hard to believe any reasonably discerning person (as Clark obviously is) could read this and not take everything else this person says with a MASSIVE grain of salt.

    By all means, feel free to do so. I try to never say anything I cannot conclusively prove. As it happens, I have absolutely diamond-hard evidence of Mr. Scalzi's web traffic. He lied for nine months, twice claiming "50k daily blog readers" until, after being called out by me, he backed down to a truthful "up to 50k daily blog readers".

    Which is interesting, as he could truthfully say "up to 100k daily blog readers".

    Either number is still misleading, as he has reached those levels on less than 10 occasions in the history of his blog, but would be technically true. In summary, Mr. Scalzi makes a habit of considerably exaggerating his traffic when describing it casually, but provides honest year-end numbers.

    In fact, anyone who had simply been paying attention to the latter would have known that his description of his traffic was completely false. For example, at the end of last year he wrote "The lowest number of views were in February [2012], with 436,000."

    Needless to say, February has a few more than five days in it and readers are a fraction of pageviews. And with his best month in 2012 being only 1.1 million pageviews, (35.5k per day), it should have been obvious to everyone that his description of his traffic as "50k daily blog readers" couldn't possibly be true.

  572. Mike says:

    Clark – fair enough. I don't see where you get thin-skinned or censorious instincts from his blog, but that's just another example of people reading the same words and getting completely different meanings out of them.

    As an apology for my wrong assumption about your information source and olive branch, even though I think you're almost completely wrong about Scalzi, I will agree that Redshirts sucked and I can't see how it was nominated for, much less won, a Hugo.

  573. Steve says:

    @VD I believe you meant "Either number is still misleading, as he has reached those levels on fewer than 10 occasions in the history of his blog."

    How can we take you seriously if you lie about grammar?!?!

  574. Ampersand says:

    @VD:

    I did not post "racist garbage on an official SFWA twitter feed". Nor was that the complaint. The official SFWA complaint was that I posted a link to an attack on an SFWA member on a Twitter feed that was not the official SFWA Twitter feed, but was considered "an SFWA space".

    In my rebuttal, I provided conclusive evidence of more than 50 SFWA members either linking to an attack or making a direct attack on an SFWA member in an SFWA space, including three members of the current SFWA Board. None of those 50 members have been expelled, to the best of my knowledge.

    So were all of those fifty attacks also extended, over-the-top racist attacks on SFWA members? Because if not, bringing them us is irrelevant. The SFWA board can rationally decide to not kick out Joe Example because Joe called someone a "jerk," but still kick you out because you called a black member a "savage" as part of an extended racist screed.

    You seem to be implicitly arguing that all insults are interchangable, but of course that's not the case. Organizations routinely distinguish between the normal everyday frictions that occurs within any large organization, versus frictions that fall outside the bounds of civilized behavior and require a response (such as someone who attacks a Black member at length using racist tropes).

    You freely chose to speak. It's not unjust that you face social consequences for your choice.

  575. VD says:

    So were all of those fifty attacks also extended, over-the-top racist attacks on SFWA members?

    Not all of them. But a few were even racist attacks on my nonexistent white privilege by people who erroneously believed that I am white rather than a Person of Color.

    But that is irrelevant The point is that I was "expelled" by the Board, in direct violation of the governing state law, for behavior less egregious than many of them. There was nothing even remotely objectionable about the tweet itself.

    In fact, the report devoted more pages complaining about comments by my commenters and comments by unrelated people on other blogs than it devoted to either my tweet or my blog post.

    You seem to be implicitly arguing that all insults are interchangable, but of course that's not the case.

    You're missing the point. The mere fact of an attack on a member was cited, not the qualitative aspect of the attack. In fact, the SFWA bent over backward to try to pretend that the content of the attack was irrelevant because the SFWA got rid of its explicit Conduct policy about five years ago.

    You freely chose to speak. It's not unjust that you face social consequences for your choice.

    No, of course not. But, as it happens, it was illegal and unjust for me to face those specific consequences. As it happens, even people totally unsympathetic to me who read the report subsequently emailed me to tell me how absurd they thought it was. That's why the SFWA demanded that I remove access to it.

  576. StopEquivocating says:

    @ Ken White (this thread is exceptionally long I can't follow everything at this point…

    The requirements "strict" not elaborate, they are in place equally for both sides.

    Google "Nitasha Tiku." Look for an obvious attack on her in the search results. See if you can apply my criteria to that post and if any of the rules fail to match see if you can figure out, based on the principles I have expressed, how the rubric might be refined.

    As a bonus, see if you can identify what's different between Pax's tweet history and that blatant attempt to punish someone for their speech.

  577. StopEquivocating says:

    @Lizard

    There was never a golden age when you could say anything you liked

    True, but irrelevant. The question is do you value free speech or not? Why do you value free speech? Are you willing to recognize and point out people who violate that freedom?

  578. Mike says:

    VD – do you have links or screenshots of those "50k readers" comments? I searched on his site for your quote, but hit nothing. Of course, if it's as you say, he could have gone back and edited the misleading posts, in which case I'd like to see a screenshot before accepting your claims (see above re over-sized NaCl grain). Also, during that time, was he hitting, say, an average of 20k readers, or was it an average of 40kish? Because if someone has 35-45 and rounds up to 50, that's rather different from 20-30 and rounding up to 50.

    (Not that it really matters, but as a side note — if two exaggerations in fifteen years of blogging make a person a liar, I've got to be the biggest liar of all time. At least, if I wasn't before, that exaggeration in my previous sentence should do it.)

  579. StopEquivocating says:

    @ Ken White

    Well, I don't, any more. I have received social consequences as a consequence. Those range from nutbars throwing up multiple unintelligible sites to mess with my Google results to demented freaks drafting murder fantasies about me to, no doubt, some clients deciding not to hire me.

    Are the "social consequences" you meantion attempts to silence you? If so, then the "social consequences" are offenses against your freedom of speech, in spirit, however legal, insignificant or easily dealt with they might be.

  580. Ampersand says:

    VD:

    Not all of them. But a few were even racist attacks on my nonexistent white privilege by people who erroneously believed that I am white rather than a Person of Color.

    So you're saying that if someone makes an honest error about your racial background, and talks about white privilege, that's comparable to your racist screed about Jenisin? Well, if so, you're entitled to your opinion; but reasonable people, including the board, have a legal right to disagree with you about that.

    But that is irrelevant The point is that I was "expelled" by the Board, in direct violation of the governing state law, for behavior less egregious than many of them.

    And this brings us to your law suit threats.

    Please be specific: What state law makes it illegal for an organization to expel a member for attacking another member with an extended racist rant?

  581. Lizard says:

    The question is do you value free speech or not? Why do you value free speech? Are you willing to recognize and point out people who violate that freedom?

    In order:
    a)Yes.

    b)Because my default ethical structure begins with the idea of self-ownership. I have the right to speak because no one else has the right to *stop* me from speaking. Beyond that, see my wall-o-text above that discusses how all value systems are basically arbitrary at the root. I choose to value free speech more than I choose to value other things. Others make different choices. The universe doesn't give a frak either way.

    c)I am very willing to recognize and point out those who violate that freedom. Thus far, the only person I've seen in this thread who advocated censorship is Sinjin. Everyone else is discussing logical consequences of "b", because, just as I own myself, everyone else owns *themselves*, and can choose how and when they will associate with me based on what they think of me, or what they think other people may think of them if they choose to associate with me, and so on. I would not want anyone telling me I *had* to support, patronize, aid, work for, or employ, someone whose ideas I found disagreeable. I will not tell anyone else they *must* do this, either. We may all disagree on what ideas are disagreeable, but we can all agree no one should be compelled to support people who express such ideas. You may, for example, find the prior idea disagreeable. As a consequence, you can choose to not do things which might benefit me, such as buying my books. Or, you could choose to demonstrate your moral superiority to me by choosing to benefit me despite disagreeing with me. That's your choice. That's *everyone's* choice.

  582. Ken White says:

    Awaiting the inevitable "what happened to Pax is just like the Red Scare and the blacklist" from someone who has previously written about how McCarthy was right.

  583. James Pollock says:

    "Can we simultaneously claim to support free speech while encouraging the firings, the massive Internet callouts, or the boycotts of speech we disagree with?"
    Yes. "Free speech" and "speech without consequences" remain different subjects. Nobody has ever had a right to the latter.

    "It is coherent and logical to claim to desire diversity while encouraging the stomping of faces of the speakers we hate?"

    Yes. Diversity is good because it allows all different viewpoints to surface. It is not necessary to agree with all of them to recognize that having the points made is desirable, even if they are ultimately rejected.

  584. Dion starfire says:

    I realized last night that this debate is a great example of why shaming works in our society. There's this escape valve of people saying "Whoa! Wait. Aren't we going a little too far with this?"

    As long as we're willing to have that discussion (without turning on the people saying "Wait!", and preferably before permanent damage has been inflicted) things will probably work out alright in the end. As long as people keeping questioning the necessity and severity of the punishment.

  585. James Pollock says:

    "As long as we're willing to have that discussion (without turning on the people saying "Wait!", and preferably before permanent damage has been inflicted) things will probably work out alright in the end."

    I don't think anyone should expect to be able to say "wait!" without being labeled as opposed to whatever it is the crowd thinks it's pursuing. My experience (here, on this particular blog) says that this can happen even before the crowd is moving. A line of argument that I will summarize as "yes, absolutely let's punish the guilty, but also watch out to avoid punishing the innocent, if we can" was seen, or at least reacted to, as "let the guilty do whatever they want!" or "so, you don't think the problem we're trying to fix is real!", no matter how many times this mistaken notion was corrected.

  586. Clark says:

    @Ken White

    Awaiting the inevitable "what happened to Pax is just like the Red Scare and the blacklist" from someone who has previously written about how McCarthy was right.

    You're trying to preemptively shame me into not saying that, aren't you?

  587. Lizard says:

    I don't think anyone should expect to be able to say "wait!" without being labeled as opposed to whatever it is the crowd thinks it's pursuing.

    Doing the right thing is difficult. News at 11.

    It helps to build up a long history of supporting a given principle, no matter who the target is or what's going on. If you only show up to say, "Well, hold on, let's think about this…" when it's your ox being gored, it's a lot harder to deflect criticism that you are, in fact, not concerned about the problem. (And, of course, it's also valid to argue that a problem isn't a problem, or that you oppose solving it, or a million other things. The marketplace of ideas has infinite shelf space, but buyers have finite attention spans, small budgets, and deeply engrained shopping habits.)

  588. LPT says:

    I think your entire article, while bringing up some interesting tangential points, misses THE main point about Pax's public shaming. It is not that he was expressing offensive things against the societal norms- it is that he was expressing exactly what many men/boys in tech think but usually know not to say. I am a woman who worked for 10 years in high tech and often I was the only "girl" on the product team- thus being subjected to the constant joking and snickering that goes on when a misogynistic (and yes, I mean women-hating) and discriminatory culture is allowed to fester and take root. Rooting out Pax's comments and showing that there are major consequences (as in losing a prestigious job) are the only way that we can begin to turn around the culture so that someone like him is clearly violating social norms, instead of upholding and perpetuating them.

  589. Dion starfire says:

    Yes. "Free speech" and "speech without consequences" remain different subjects. Nobody has ever had a right to the latter.

    Actually I think they're mutually exclusive sides to the same subject. I recall a quote from a Terry Pratchett novel that read something like "You can't have true freedom (of x) without freedom to face the consequences (of x)." In other words, consequences are an aspect of freedom, not the opposite of it.

  590. James Pollock says:

    "Doing the right thing is difficult. News at 11."
    Not debating that.

    "It helps to build up a long history of supporting a given principle, no matter who the target is or what's going on."
    No, I don't think that matters to the extremists. If you aren't 100% onboard, then…

    "(And, of course, it's also valid to argue that a problem isn't a problem, or that you oppose solving it, or a million other things. The marketplace of ideas has infinite shelf space, but buyers have finite attention spans, small budgets, and deeply engrained shopping habits.)"
    Yeah, but when you've argued "absolutely this problem needs to be solved", having someone summarize your argument as "so, this isn't a problem, is it? You'd just prefer to leave things as they are?", you have to wonder if you're dealing with reflexive arguments rather than reflective, you know?

  591. Clark says:

    It helps to build up a long history of supporting a given principle, no matter who the target is or what's going on.

    Indeed. Was saying to Mrs. Clark this morning over breakfast "my simple metric for how intellectually serious someone is is whether they defend a principle when it helps the other team or not."

  592. James Pollock says:

    "Actually I think they're mutually exclusive sides to the same subject. I recall a quote from a Terry Pratchett novel that read something like "You can't have true freedom (of x) without freedom to face the consequences (of x)." In other words, consequences are an aspect of freedom, not the opposite of it."

    I prefer St. Heinlein's formulation, "Freedom is the converse of responsibility".

  593. Jay says:

    @eddie

    Popehat is proud to be your source for the finest snark the Internet has to offer.

    It's always the finest snark, regardless of where I read it.

    But it's never the finest snark. It's just snark.

    @Dion starfire

    Actually I think they're mutually exclusive sides to the same subject. I recall a quote from a Terry Pratchett novel that read something like "You can't have true freedom (of x) without freedom to face the consequences (of x)." In other words, consequences are an aspect of freedom, not the opposite of it.

    Yes, populations that have to be afraid of losing their jobs (behavior) if they speak their minds (speech) are certainly free and will almost certainly be encouraged to speak freely and openly, not self-censoring because of "the man" or even "the people".

    Sounds like a notion of freedom that tenured professors enjoy, the wealthy and the very poor as well (hat tip to Kris Kristofferson), and mainly a notion of freedom supported by many corporate boardrooms.

    But for the vast unwashed masses?

    That Terry Pratchett sounds pretty wise to me.

  594. James Pollock says:

    "Yes, populations that have to be afraid of losing their jobs (behavior) if they speak their minds (speech) are certainly free and will almost certainly be encouraged to speak freely and openly, not self-censoring because of "the man" or even "the people"."

    You say this as if self-censoring was a bad thing, and not something that people should do. If only everyone would stop and think "what are the consequences of my saying this", followed by "are those the consequences that I want?" followed by "are those the consequences I SHOULD want?", all before actually saying anything.

  595. Jay says:

    James Pollock, I think most men and women self-censor plenty. I don't believe removing a somewhat rational fear of being fired from a job in the Internet age due to a disagreeable statement is going to result in men and women shooting off their mouths willy nilly.

    I think there will still be plenty of ways for society to socialize these individuals.

    Here, let me impress myself with my google abilities:

    the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. what is called resignation is confirmed desperation Thoreau.

    Alas for those that never sing,
    But die with all their music in them!
    Holmes

    Apparently you add these together and you can get

    Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.

    I've been pleased with the Internet as an effective tool for letting people sing out, and connect with others so as to lead lives without the desperation.

    Disproportionate viral Internet shaming, Internet bullying, Internet campaigns demanding firings, and boycotts over disagreeable speech sounds like a horrible Internet.

  596. mattheww says:

    You speak of "public shaming" as though what happened to Dickinson was a coordinated undertaking by… whom, exactly? And how exactly could or should any of it have gone differently? Without people needing to shut up, which you are explicitly against unless it concerns gay wedding cakes.

    It is a simple fact of the modern era that hundreds of millions of people can all independently focus on a single thing. If that thing is the Bejing Olympics it will withstand it. If that thing is Mel Gibson his career may implode, and if that thing is the KONY guy he may end up whacked out on bath salts running naked through the streets.

    But here's the thing: We (mostly) all know this. If anyone *especially* knew it, it was a freaking "technology officer" at an internet company. It's not arbitrary or capricious what topics, discussed which ways, risk bringing an individual uncontrollable amounts of negative attention. Gazelles know to stay off the plain. We know — or should — not to Twitter the n-word. If we ignore this wisdom and do it anyway, *no one can help us when the sh*t goes gown.* There *is* no one at the controls.

    The results may look like corrosive unsurvivable "public shaming." They are just tens of millions of people registering an appropriate amount of disgust at a reprehensible individual, grouped together to magnified effect by an industry Pax D himself brought into being.

    So again, what is your point?

  597. Jay says:

    @mattheww I am not sure who you are referring to.

    My two cents.

    I think it was justifiable for Dickinson to be fired because he was CTO of a corporation.

    I am more concerned with the two developers making a private joke, overheard, tweeted, gone viral, fired.

    Or the teacher whose private facebook photo of her holding a glass of wine who gets fired when that private facebook photo gets out and is sent to her school board.

    Or the gay teenagers or college students who are outed who may even commit suicide.

    Or all the various young kids and teens that face Internet bullying.

    I am not certain all these people knew how easy it was for their private activities to leak and be used against them in large relentless shaming campaigns.

    Someone else who should have known, Adria Richards, who as a tech evangelist and tweeter with 10,000,000 users abused twitter to shame those two software developers on twitter instead of taking the adult and courageous step of facing them and saying "shh".

    Anyway, I am glad you know.

  598. Jay says:

    I do wonder how many people calling for unrestricted Internet shaming campaigns are slightly aghast at NSA spying, what the NSA might find, and how that information might be used, or abused.

  599. Grifter says:

    @Jay:

    Why, since they're utterly and completely different in every meaningful way?

    @ VD:

    First–VD? Really?
    Second–Why illegal?

  600. TDM says:

    @ Ampersand: I would just like to politely point out that Vox Day, despite his statements, is in fact white, and you can confirm this via Googling him. In the same way that I am white, despite being partially Native American somewhere back in the line (like the majority of white people in the US).

    Just so's you know that there was no "honest error" here, if you intend to continue debating him.

  601. Anony Mouse says:

    My but a lot of commentators have been bringing up privilege lately.

  602. James Pollock says:

    "I've been pleased with the Internet as an effective tool for letting people sing out, and connect with others so as to lead lives without the desperation.
    Disproportionate viral Internet shaming, Internet bullying, Internet campaigns demanding firings, and boycotts over disagreeable speech sounds like a horrible Internet."

    Let's analyze this and attempt the syllogism:
    1. I like X.
    2. X sounds horrible.
    C. I like things that sound horrible?

  603. Clark says:

    @TDM

    I would just like to politely point out that Vox Day, despite his statements, is in fact white, and you can confirm this via Googling him. In the same way that I am white, despite being partially Native American somewhere back in the line (like the majority of white people in the US).

    How many drops are required by your metric?

  604. Clark says:

    @mattheww

    You speak of "public shaming" as though what happened to Dickinson was a coordinated undertaking by… whom, exactly?

    Nitasha Tiku and Anil Dash.

    But it's not primarily top-down; it's emergent behavior.

  605. Ampersand says:

    So, Clark, was the "one-drop" rule racist or just "race-baiting"?

    TDM, thanks. But I don't think it matters to my argument if Beale is white or not.

    Because race is more of a social construction than a biological fact, there are overlapping definitions of racial identity. The same person might be a "person of color" by one metric, but white by another. A century ago, a Jew like me wasn't considered white, but nowadays I am white.

    It's simpler to just take people at their word, generally.

  606. Lizard says:

    I do wonder how many people calling for unrestricted Internet shaming campaigns are slightly aghast at NSA spying,

    If you wonder why people differ in their view of things when done by private actors working with publicly available data, and when done by government agents working with data obtained by force, you may be posting on the wrong website.

  607. Lizard says:

    you have to wonder if you're dealing with reflexive arguments rather than reflective, you know?

    Nah. I don't wonder. "You cannot reason someone out of what they were never reasoned into."

  608. Lizard says:

    A century ago, a Jew like me wasn't considered white, but nowadays I am white.

    From one Red Sea Pedestrian to another — oh, don't worry. There's plenty of people out there who still say you're not. A lot of 'em say things like Dox's quote, appeding "and the Jews out of New York and LA." The Jews are *responsible* for all the immigrants, crime, and non-anglo-saxon culture that's destroyed America, donchaknow?

    (That's why I try to avoid getting into games of More Oppressed Than Thou. I always win. Where's the fun in that?)

  609. AlphaCentauri says:

    you prefer to host people in your living room. I prefer a blood-stained concrete floor with a few bare light bulbs.

    But this also becomes a way of suppressing some people who disagree with you, isn't it? Many people lose patience with reading through 300 caustic comments in order to provide a thoughtful response.

    Many of the people who have started following this blog have said they like the discussion in the comments as much as the posts themselves. I don't know how Ken finds the time to provide the level of moderation necessary to allow a free discussion while using the offer of the paste-spoon as a gentle method of maintaining decorum, but it works.

  610. Lizard says:

    I've been pleased with the Internet as an effective tool for letting people sing out, and connect with others so as to lead lives without the desperation.

    Disproportionate viral Internet shaming, Internet bullying, Internet campaigns demanding firings, and boycotts over disagreeable speech sounds like a horrible Internet.

    Yeah, you know, I hear this syllogism a lot on leftist sites.

    "Free speech is great when it lets us shout down a racist campus speaker and show him we will not be silenced! Yeah! But then people shout at us and that's bullying and intimidation![1]"

    Ox. Gored. Tired of saying it. Probably going to stop commenting now. (See? See what you've done? All of you? You've bored bullied me into silence! Damn you all! Damn you all to HELL!)

    For all the "But what about X? What about Y? What about Z?" Gods, you people really Just Don't Get It. There are no stone tablets handed down by any gods that decree who should be called out, and for what. To quote one of the few religious leaders I respect, Brian Of Nazareth, "You've got to work it out for yourselves!"

    I think it's wrong to fire a teacher for holding a glass of wine. I think it's right to fire a teacher for posting crude comments about his students sexual orientations. I think its wrong to fire a teacher for posting hilarious comments about her students intellectual deficiencies. I think it's wrong that our social rules make firing a teacher who worked in porn the only viable option for the school district.

    All of these are real cases. My opinions on them are subjective, personal, possibly contradictory if I look at them too closely (so I won't). You're free to judge me as flawed for my lack of philosophical rigor, or to praise for my honest self-awareness of my flaws, or both, or neither. You can ask me my opinion on a case and use it to form your own opinion (often following the logic of "If he's for it, I'm agin' it!", or you can ignore me completely.

    Freedom. Scary shit, I know. The social rules very minute to minute as we move from group to group.

    If I — classic nerd, absolutely zip social skills, spent most of grade school and middle school and high school being physically and emotionally bullied because I couldn't learn the rules of how to act like a "normal" person — can figure out how to navigate this new world, *anyone* can. (Tip: They are just that — rules to a game. They're arbitrary and random with no purpose or plan behind them. Don't ask why you can cast spells with no penalty while lying prone, but you can't do a goddamn thing without a redonkulous spellcraft check if you're grappled. (Also, did you know you get a Reflex Save if you're paralyzed or unconscious? Sure, your Dex is 0 so it's at a -5, but still, you GET one! Freaky, huh?) Just accept that those are the rules, and that the GM is wearing the Viking Hat and will not be swayed by your tears. Also be aware the GM changes what system he's using every week. Keep up with the rules, or be prepared to be rolling up a lot of replacement characters. That's how it goes. HAND. HTH.)

    [1]"Because PRIVILEGE!"

  611. Lizard says:

    Many people lose patience with reading through 300 caustic comments in order to provide a thoughtful response.

    I can offer lessons in providing caustic responses. I'm a firm believer, in comment threads (oh, hell, in everything) of "Do unto others as they have done unto you." Start from polite neutrality. If someone shows themselves to be thoughtful, be thoughtful right back. If someone shows themselves to be an asshat, be an asshat right back. If someone uses wit, be wittier. If someone uses facts, find better facts. (If you can't, slink away from the thread, mumbling something about how you don't have time for this. "Declare victory and leave", number one rule of the victorious commentator.) If someone uses incoherent rage, offensive slurs, and I'm-so-clever misspelling, use polite, refined, and genteel sarcasm that has been dried at 450 degrees for 24 hours.

    If your delicate little soul formed of butterflies and snowflakes is torn asunder by reading things you don't agree with, find another hobby.

  612. Jay says:

    Lizard,

    "I do wonder how many people calling for unrestricted Internet shaming campaigns are slightly aghast at NSA spying,

    If you wonder why people differ in their view of things when done by private actors working with publicly available data, and when done by government agents working with data obtained by force, you may be posting on the wrong website."

    Sounds like you don't understand the fundamental nature of facebook, or how it has been an enormous boon to the NSA, CIA, etc.

    But hey, private enterprise, laissez faire, amirite!?

  613. Jay says:

    ""Free speech is great when it lets us shout down a racist campus speaker and show him we will not be silenced! Yeah! But then people shout at us and that's bullying and intimidation!"

    One of us needs to reread my comments that you were commenting on, or point out where I gave any indication of agreement with the first sentence in the paragraph.

    On the otherhand re:

    " Start from polite neutrality. If someone shows themselves to be thoughtful, be thoughtful right back. If someone shows themselves to be an asshat, be an asshat right back. If someone uses wit, be wittier. I"

    Well I started off with polite neutrality, regardless you jumped straight into asshat.

    Whatever, bye, plonk, ignore,

    /from one more Red Sea Pedestrian right back atchya

  614. Lizard says:

    Sounds like you don't understand the fundamental nature of facebook, or how it has been an enormous boon to the NSA, CIA, etc.

    Hey, if the CIA/NSA/KGB/SHIELD/Whoever want to read people's open and public postings on Facebook — or anywhere else, such as Popehat, say — I may find it a little creepy, but I can't claim it's unconstitutional.[1] There's been way too much "I posted something in a public forum, and someone who disagrees with me has called attention to it! That's HARASSMENT!" whining from both the left and the right lately. A pox on both their houses.

    But when said alphabet soup agencies tell FB to give them access to *private* postings, or to information not publicly available, or allow them to use the networks in ways Joe User can't, that crosses what I'd think would be a fairly bright line.

    [1]Meh, sort of. I haven't studied the details of what should be allowed WRT the government reading what you've made available for *everyone* to read. There's been quite a bit of precedent to the effect that what you do in plain sight isn't protected, and that if a cop sees your public Facebook post where you brag about the robbery you just pulled off, that's not a violation of any reasonable expectation of privacy. OTOH, the cops demanding that FB share with them any posts, public or private, that contain the word "robbery" and originate from within their jurisdiction… that would be a clear violation, unless a specific individual is targeted and a warrant has been issued after presenting convincing evidence that the named person is a suspect in a specific crime and that further evidence should be gathered. FBI/NSA/Etc spying, even on public information, is problematic because it allows them to target people they would never otherwise have picked as suspicious. OTOOH, I'm not sure how to write, or enforce a "agents of the government must pretend public information is not public" law, the "la la la I can't hear you" Act of 2013. I'm going to leave hashing this out to Ken & co, who are better qualified than me, and consider their more informed opinions when trying to form mine.

  615. Lizard says:

    Your defintion of "asshat" is way broader than mine. So it goes. This rather does highlight just how low your bar might be for what constitutes a "disproportionate response".

    IAE, in the interests of explanation, I was using an example not of your specific views, but of the more general structure of "I like free speech when it's used in ways I like, but not when it's used in ways I don't like."

    On occasion, the leftists have a point (stopped clock and all that): Individual power can often be countered only by collective power. The power of the Boss cannot be countered by each Worker individually, but as a group, some form of rough equality can be reached, and negotiations become more fair. I support the right of individuals to choose to form groups to serve their common interest, to voluntarily agree to abide by the group's decisions when made in accordance with rules likewise agreed to. I also support the right of people to spontaneously organize around a goal, achieve that goal, and depart. I support the right of people to organize to counter another organization. Etc, etc, etc. I can't find any rational basis to *not* support this.

    I greatly doubt there is anyone, period, who believes that there is a perfect disconnect between ideas and people. Laws that would mandate one pretend there is, when dealing with choices as to personal relationships, could not be fairly enforced and would, instead, end up being far more censorious and biased than the current system of just letting things work out. The "criticism is censorship" meme, expressed here by Alpha Centauri, shows how trivial it is to move from your "I don't like mobs conducting internet shaming" to "I don't like people being sarcastic." If the argument is "Some speech (collective shaming or individual snark) might cause others to be silent", then you ultimately have no speech at all. You might as well argue "Harsh reviews might keep a creator from trying again" (which they well might, and sometimes that's good, and sometimes that's bad).

    Present a meaningful scheme, either legal or social, which allows for the expression of all views, and the expression of *dissent* from those views, without silencing people's songs. After all, if you can sing "Give Peace A Chance", why can't someone else sing "March of Cambreadth"?

  616. AlphaCentauri says:

    The "criticism is censorship" meme, expressed here by Alpha Centauri, shows how trivial it is to move from your "I don't like mobs conducting internet shaming" to "I don't like people being sarcastic."

    I think you're missing my point. I'm not suggesting that Clark is censoring anyone. (Ye gods, talk about misunderstanding my point!) I'm just suggesting that he's not getting the wide-open discussion he thinks he is if a non-random segment of commenters find participating in his discussions to be more trouble than it's worth.

  617. Lizard says:

    @Alpha: OK, I may have misinterpreted you. Being a frequent poster (and recipient of infraction points) on rpg.net, I have been continuously exposed to the "speech is silencing" meme in the form of the usual blather about "hostile environments" and "intimidation", which are shorthand for "Some people will only speak if they can be certain of not being contradicted" and/or "The fear of reading things that they may disagree with is so emotionally distressing that it prevents people from reading at all." Many folks do not apply this only to private forums, which absolutely have the right to have whatever rules they wish, but feel it's a justification for censorship by law as well.

    So, I shall apologize for allowing my past experiences to falsely color my interpretation of your post. Clearly, it was a trigger and evoked such trauma that I was unable to think clearly. You ought to be careful about that. (That was, for the record, sarcasm. My actual triggers are much weirder.)

  618. TDM says:

    @Clark: You are white if society currently defines you as white.

    As race, and 'whiteness', is an utterly, hilariously, unscientific concept (albeit still in cultural effect), it can only ever be based on cultural perception of the present time.

    Therefore, because Vox Day and myself are unambiguously perceived as white and treated as such — we are white.

    My grandparents lived through an interesting form of this; being Irish (and quite old) they weren't fully considered white (or treated as such) until partway through their lives. And, of course, there are historical figures who were considered Native American with the same ancestry that I do (see: Trail of Tears); however, nowadays, they would be white, just as I am, and just as Vox Day is.

    There ARE ambiguities of 'passing' in many cases, but neither myself nor Vox Day fall under those cases (this is easily apparent to any observer re: VD; as for myself, I suppose anecdotal evidence will have to suffice) — though this may not apply to every one of our distant relatives.

    Surely, though, you already knew all of this? Nothing I stated was even remotely difficult to figure out for oneself. Unless your intent was to point out that race is a silly concept (which it is, but still unfortunately has cultural effect). Or something else?

    Apologies, I am something of a new reader, so I can't tell if I'm responding seriously to someone just kidding around or hoping to make a possibly ideological opponent look silly. Especially given that you pulled out Godwin (which doesn't make you wrong, of course, it's just that that's the trend I've observed with that rhetorical device elsewhere on the 'Net).

  619. Anony Mouse says:

    "Telling women not to "dress like sluts" is in no way "pragmatic and truthful advice." It's just controlling."

    They should carry Tommy guns and/or freshly severed head(s). Preferably while wearing Road Warrior-esque garb with bloody little spikes. Odds of being raped will plummet.

    Sadly, odds of being stopped by the police will skyrocket.

  620. Clark says:

    @Anony Mouse

    They should carry Tommy guns and/or freshly severed head(s). Preferably while wearing Road Warrior-esque garb with bloody little spikes. Odds of being raped will plummet.

    Sadly, odds of being stopped by the police will skyrocket.

    LOL!

  621. Ken White says:

    Do people think this is objectionable? I'm not talking about the stupidity and racism depicted, I'm talking about calling out Twitter users for being stupid and racist.

  622. Zazlo says:

    Interesting. I don't think I find it objectionable. This is predicated, however, on what could possibly be an erroneous assumption, though I think I'm right about this: twitter is a fully public forum. Tweets are not hidden or private. If you don't follow an account, you and anyone else can go look at them.

    However, I do think it's unproductive. An underlying assumption to this post is that stupidity and racism are not so good. I don't see how this post does anything about it, though.

    To be clear: I have a pet peeve about this. I know people who are otherwise intelligent, with whom I agree on a great many things; however, they display a kind of stupidity (and emotional immaturity) when they merely mock people for being X (where X is usually, more or less, "being stupid").

    I think the two best things going for humans are emotional maturity and intellectual maturity. I don't like it when people don't have them, especially the former. But, I at least deal with it, and I try to fix that if I can. I don't just point them out to mock them, to ridicule or shame them. I think it's about the worst tactic. When people mock stupidity (or racism or whatever) they're implicitly saying that don't like it. They are implicitly saying "those people should be smarter." And yet they're doing NOTHING to make that person smarter, or less racist, or less whatever. Which, if you, like me, think that people being stupid or immature is a problem, I'd think you'd want to do.

    Ridicule tends only to cause digging-in, defensiveness, martyr type syndromes, etc. It does nothing at best, and entrenches the problem in many instances.

    I think the author of this piece is not very mature. I don't think that deserves mockery, it deserves help. Many of the comments are also immature, though some weren't, and that's good. Maybe it'll have some effect. That'd be nice.

    Objectionable? No. Disappointing and fruitless? Yes. But I guess if people get their kicks preaching to the choir or being the choir – hey, go for it.

  623. Anony Mouse says:

    Calling out stupidity and racism on Twitter is like doing so on Youtube: who cares? Twitter is chock full of idiots and mouth-breathers. Just look at any trending hashtag.

  624. Matthew Cline says:

    Regarding Miss America: I wonder if it's a sign of progress that when people say dumb-ass racist stuff, you have to wonder "does this person really mean what they say, or are they simply a troll"?

  625. NotThisButThat says:

    @Ken White

    I am a big fan of both you and Clark. Having said that I would like to point out that:

    A) Buzzfeed is low quality.

    B) While pointing out bigotry isn't objectionable, doing so on the internet is shooting fish in a barrel.

  626. Zak N. says:

    @Zazlo

    One thing you missed in your analysis is that an internet conversation consists of at minimum three parties, not two: you, the person you are talking to, and the audience. Naming and shaming may not convince the target, but it creates an atmosphere which is hostile to the behavior which is a powerful way to protect the targets of bigoted behavior. In a free society we aren't going to be able to stamp out every last racist opinion, but we can sure make life hard for anybody who behaves like a racist.

    An example is the way the modern world deals with real-life racists. If you express an overtly racist opinion at work it has the direct effect of immediate social ostracism because you're making a hostile work environment. The basic response is 'that's not okay' (and "you're fired") and that threat is enough to stop most closet racists from behaving like a racist at work.

    Another point is that most bigoted behaviors aren't born of careful contemplation and reflection and so are less amenable to rational persuasion. There is no position to debate, no rational point-and-counter-point to play (no, but you see we are all immigrants to this country and so she has just as much a right to be Miss America… wait, you don't care because she's an 'Arab'). The intellectually mature response is to not debate in this case. The emotionally mature thing is to make sure their is a social price to pay for expressing bigoted opinions.

  627. StopEquivocating says:

    Do people think this is objectionable? I'm not talking about the stupidity and racism depicted, I'm talking about calling out Twitter users for being stupid and racist.

    It