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Culture War Roundup for the week of February 6, 2023

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NYT implies racism is responsible for Black babies dying in childbirth (contrary to the very evidence they present)

Years back there was a popular news item that black babies were more likely to die in delivery than white babies. Intelligent minds disagreed on the cause, and the NYT blamed racism. There was a good discussion in it on the_motte. Newly published research now shows that the wealthiest black women also have high infant mortality rates, which does not trend down as income trends up as it does for whites. More strikingly, and not mentioned in the article but obvious in the graph, the poorest Hispanics have 25% less than the infant mortality of whites, and the poorest Asians have 50% the infant mortality of whites. (Theirs, too, trends down by income).

That’s an extraordinary piece of information: our poorest immigrant populations have wildly low infant mortality rates. Rationally, we should conclude that multigenerational Americans are struggling hard, both white and black. That should be the focus of the article. It’s not. But my takeaway is that the immigrant populations are healthier or (in the case of Hispanics) having younger babies. The idea that racist hospital workers or general ambient racism is selectively allowing black people to die and immigrant babies to thrive is obviously ridiculous when there is no accompanied evidence. Any hypothetical racist structure would harm the recent Chinese and Honduran as much as the African American except for most picky of racists.

There are two possible reasons for the plight of black mothers. The first is that their behaviors are bad. There is some evidence that black behaviors are worse on average, in particular that even the wealthiest black families have higher crime and obesity rates than expected. But it may also be that intelligent black women are being swooped up by corporations at a higher rate, and if they are marrying black men (or becoming single mothers) then they may be the breadwinner of the family. The added stress of being a working mother may lead to the increased infant mortality rate which is not found among white mothers.

Comments below describe some concrete ways you could actually do it, but this quote really stood out to me:

“It’s not race, it’s racism,” said Tiffany L. Green, an economist focused on public health and obstetrics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The data are quite clear that this isn’t about biology. This is about the environments where we live, where we work, where we play, where we sleep.”

If that's the case, then why is the NYT simply refusing to describe or cite any of those data which controlled for biological factors? Instead, every piece of data the NYT shows is controlling for SES or particular hospital. This is absurd to the point of literally being evidence for the opposite of their quote. Controlling for SES probably mostly correlates with things like "the environments where we live, where we work, where we play, where we sleep". Controlling for particular hospital likely eliminates much room for outright racism in medical treatment. (It is stupidly unlikely that every hospital, or even a large majority, considering the political make-up of their employees, are just blatantly racist. If you look at specific hospitals and some are just atrocious on this score, while others do mostly fine, you can maybe go look to see if there is some racism there, but if everyone basically has similar gaps, it seems implausible.)

They're not even trying to bring data which shows the thing they're claiming it shows. (Obvious disclaimer that a genuine attempt to do this very well may show that racism is a likely explanation. I'm only claiming that this isn't even a genuine attempt.)

Based on the research I did when my wife was pregnant, I came away with the understanding that both this overall fact and the specific causes were fairly well known: gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.

Gestational diabetes is not suspected to be directly racially linked, rather the suspected pathway is black -> (pre-pregnancy obesity, during-pregnancy weight gain) -> gestational diabetes.

Preeclampsia is less understood, but is known to be highly correlated to sickle cell and is theorized to be influenced by sickle cell's recessive form as well. Fibroids (main cause: low vitamin D which has the literal biochemical cause of more melanin -> less vitamin D) are also suspected to play a role.

In any case, if we wanted to actually measure racism as opposed to blame everything for it, the simple way to do so would be to look at the underlying rates of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Treatment after getting these conditions is susceptible to racism but actually getting the conditions is not. So high rates of (preeclampsia death / # of people with preeclampsia) might be evidence of racism, but (# of people with preeclampsia / # of pregnancies) would be evidence of bad genetic luck.

Newly published research now shows that the wealthiest black women also have high infant mortality rates, which does not trend down as income trends up as it does for whites

I still fail to understand why social scientists and government researchers treat "white" as the default in a state with the demographics of California.

More strikingly, and not mentioned in the article but obvious in the graph, the poorest Hispanics have 25% less than the infant mortality of whites, and the poorest Asians have 50% the infant mortality of whites. (Theirs, too, trends down by income).

These type of graphs without confidence internals are useless. The odd increase in infant mortality among white mothers going from 10% to 20% income rank suggests low amounts of data.

Any hypothetical racist structure would harm the recent Chinese and Honduran as much as the African American except for most picky of racists.

I see no reason to assume that. It's entirely possible that California is a land where whites, Hispanics and Asians live in harmony oppressing blacks. Not saying it is true, but probably more realistic than the 35% white population somehow oppressing everyone else.

But it may also be that intelligent black women are being swooped up by corporations at a higher rate, and if they are marrying black men

Would be interesting to study this. FWIW, I'd be surprised if the majority of higher income Black women in CA aren't outmarrying.

Here is a possibility: "Induced abortion by vacuum aspiration is associated with an increased risk of first-trimester miscarriage in the subsequent pregnancy.". Furthermore, "women with previous history of two or three induced abortions were at risk of preterm birth, very preterm birth and low birth weight babies in the subsequent pregnancies. The risk of caesarean was found to be increased in women with previous two or three spontaneous abortions exposing the women to the morbidity associated with the C-section."

African American women are more likely to have multiple abortions.

If both these are true, I don't know what else we'd expect. It also might explain why richer African American women have worse outcomes - do wealthier African Americans have more abortions than poorer African American women?

Blacks score lower on virtually all metrics of health, economic wellbeing, achievement etc. except for entertainment industry and sports. Much like how the g-factor correlates unrelated skills, the h-factor, for health, shows blacks doing poorly on a wide range of health metrics. I think the only health outcome in which blacks do better is lower rates of some cancer. Conversely, some Asian ethnicities have much higher incidence of some cancers, like stomach or esophageal. It's not all bad: higher bone density for blacks means lower injury risk due to falls.

They do better at not killing themselves though, or perhaps that's another way of saying that whites and native Americans do worse. I suppose there's an age-related factor in that blacks make up a smaller proportion of the old men who do this, yet I suspect it's more of a political/hbd matter than a purely demographic one.

Sure, but the question is why.

Doesn't seem universally true on absolute metrics. Virtually all black Barbados has a life expectancy 4 years higher than California blacks -even though CA has a far higher development level overall.

A good question is why in Britain women of African descent have much higher maternal mortality rates despite having income levels that are basically at parity with White British women while Pakistani & Bangladeshi women who are much poorer have similar levels of maternal mortality compared to White British women.

Don't people with higher levels of sub-saharan African ancestry have shorter pregnancies on average than individuals with lower levels? Could this not be the main explanation? AFAIK pre-term births are quite strongly correlated with infant mortality.

Edit: Just from the abstract, Blacks have shorter pregnancies and a higher rate of pre-term births.

But weirdly have lower pre-term mortality? The paper specifically states that black infant mortality surpasses whites only after 37 weeks of gestation. Weird.

Yeah, that part seems weird and I’m wondering if there’s some funky statistics going on.

Seems to me the most likely answer is that the ideal term for blacks is shorter than that for whites. I think that's what that paper is getting at, too.

Sterilize any other group to prevent them having children, it’s genocide. Refuse to sterilize trans people, and they call it genocide. …Not because genes won’t be passed on, but because presumably they’ll commit suicide. but the pithy observation stands for a different reason.

Today I learned two new words:

  • memocide: the deliberate and/or systematic elimination of an idea (a memetic unit).

  • memorcide: the elimination of a people’s history or the memory of a people, often a part of ethnic cleansing.

The culture war is a memocidal total war between modernism (the gaining and use of objective knowledge, the rights of individuals, the identification and shunning of bias, and the creation of a unified narrative) and postmodernism (the rejection of objectivity, universalism, and individualism).

The culture war has seen the weaponization of narratives, knowledge, pseudo-knowledge, anti-knowledge, bias, anti-bias, and pseudo-bias. (The latter includes objective observations about statistics which resemble bias.) This is one of the reasons Alex Jones called his show InfoWars.

Is this just about driving trans people to suicide, though? I'm not sure this is the only, or the most important aspect of the argument. Would encouraging desistance in FtM teens, assuming that it does not increase their suicidality (or indeed brings it down in the long run), still kinda count as a genocide? I'd expect that most activists will bite the bullet and say it does. What about a drug or other intervention that'd prevent children from being born trans (assuming this is a thing) – would that be moral, seeing as the condition of transgenderism predicts such a massive hit to quality of life? No, and I believe there's no research being done in this direction precisely because it'd be associated with genocidal intent.

Speaking of genocide and body modification of children... This reminded me that Jews sometimes argue that various things are akin to Holocaust: notably, assimilation – and, more to the point, the ban on male circumcision.

Other senior rabbis also invoked the Holocaust, with Rabbi Barel Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia, speaking about threats to shechita (ritual slaughter) and bril milah (male circumcision) saying: “In the Holocaust they killed us by force, through murder, but they understand (now) that it didn’t work… Today they try to murder our souls.”

ADL uses a more diplomatic phrasing:

We recently submitted a letter to the Icelandic parliament in strong opposition to the proposed bill to ban and criminalize circumcision of young boys. We emphasized the central role of circumcision in Judaism and stated that a ban on the practice would unduly restrict religious freedom. We also noted our concern that Iceland would be celebrated by anti-Semitic extremists as a state which is legislating to prevent a Jewish community from existing within its borders.

(Curiously, the counterargument also mirrors the transition debate «Its a human rights violation. Only the consenting adult owner of the genitals may rightly decide»).

The logic is sound enough, if circular: as per the definition of Raphael Lemkin, the word «genocide» is

...intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups. Genocide is directed against the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group.

The annihilation is often assumed to ultimately take physical form, with all those stratagems being mere groundwork – as a case in point, consider Uighur genocide, which atomized Westerners mainly identify with purported fertility suppression and mass sterilization, as opposed to attacks on Uighur culture and ethnoreligious assabiyah. The thing is, Lemkin's definition doesn't work like that! The terminal goal, the annihilation of a group, is not the same as the extermination of its members::

Ethnocide is the destruction of culture while keeping the people. [...] In 1944, in Lemkin’s book, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, “genocide” appeared in print for the first time, and “ethnocide” appeared in the footnotes as an equivalent substitute. Lemkin envisioned that genocide and ethnocide would be interchangeable because the targets for this previously undefined murder (cide) and terror were both a people (genos) with a specific culture, nation, and ethnicity (ethnos).

So, Jews are a people, a national/ethnic group. Denying them the practice of infant genital mutilation that they – for reasons other people, me included, may find frivolous or inane – steadfastly assert is crucial for belonging to their group, can be construed as an attack on the group's continued existence, at least within the borders of the polity; thus, genocide. Trans people argue that denying children the body-modifying practice that is crucial for becoming a full-fledged trans person is genocide. The parallel is clear to me. Now the problem is, who are trans people as a group?

They are not an ethnos nor a genos, but a community built around an identity which is downstream of a differentiating trait.

We've heard similar rhetoric with regard to deaf people, bearers of other disabilities (the geneticist Kevin Bird, a disabled person himself, speaks very cogently on the matter of how defining disabilities to be undesirable is a eugenicist framework) – and of course abortion of fetuses with Down's is a genocide too. The whole eugenics-genocide rhetoric is obviously cribbed from racial rhetoric which is, in turn, heavily inspired by reflections on Holocaust after WWII; it's all the same words, and sometimes even the same activists.

We can discuss this as a postmodernist issue, as a memetic process, as a problem of hyperindividualism, but eh... Contra @Tanista, I think this is not toxic individualism but precisely misapplied tribalism, tribalism of people who have only found community through the commonality of their alienation.

In principle, the innate human drive toward tribalist behavior is a potent tool for coordinating collective negotiation in individualist societies, and this is the bulk of what we call politics. In practice, collective identities can hold their bearers hostage and demand investment in their own proliferation; unlike some run-of-the-mill meme like an ideology, this is a very specific mechanic – it cuts to the core of human social instinct, of helping those most similar to yourself (and, the intuition goes, more related) in the competition with alien groups. A trans person who weaponizes the genocide rhetoric is defending not only their own right to exist, but rights of the Trans Tribe as a whole - both its extant members and its historical perpetuation... Which unfortunately has to be outsourced to other tribes on the pesky biological side of things.

Perhaps neologisms would fit these observations? In the vein of “parthenogenesis”:

  • Memogenic: created from memes/the mind

  • Identigenic: created from an identity/similarity - the prefix is literally sameness

  • Laliagenic: created by talking

  • Genogenic or cisgenic: created by genes/created normally

  • Memoethnic, identiethnic, genoethnic, etc.: a people/tribe created suchly

  • Identicide: killing an identity / killing a sameness.

I suspect, were we to start using these, identigenic and genogenic would be the winning memes, along with identicide. Transgender people would be, from a gender essentialist POV, part of a memogenic pseudoethnos. There would be genogenic Jews, identigenic Jews, and pistiethnic Jews (faith-originating) comprising a meta-tribe.

Memocide sounds like a word someone made up so they can claim that anyone who corrects their BS is "literally Hitler".

Because from the definition as written, striking geocentrism out of the textbooks is a flavour of genocide.

The culture war is a memocidal total war between modernism (the gaining and use of objective knowledge, the rights of individuals, the identification and shunning of bias, and the creation of a unified narrative) and postmodernism (the rejection of objectivity, universalism, and individualism).

I can see this argument for say...all of the various group rights being snuck into liberalism (e.g. affirmative action)

I don't see how the trans issue specifically is about the rejection of individualism

If anything, it is individualism run amok, totally unbounded by anything.

The progression seems to be:

  1. You should be free from government tyranny and able to decide your own life.

  2. You should be free from social restrictions when making choices about your life

  3. You should be free even from biology and basic evolutionary inheritances. It is not enough to take what you want, you must be able to choose what you are, and damn society if it stands in your way. And, in fact, society has a responsibility to play into your delusional belief in your infinite malleability.

This seems to me like "toxic individualism" - individualism taken to an insane degree.

Forcing individuals to accept outside group cultural norms out of some moral imperative seems very communal, not individualistic. We should note that almost all of the debate about trans issues are their ideological normalization in society. If this were an individualist issue, you would expect one side to be against their very existence. I've never seen a serious proposal to ban them from wearing their preferred clothes, or from taking hormones (with the exception of children) Almost all the debate is over forcing people to take part in their image of themselves.

99% of transgender"ism" is all the things trans people actually do - gender dysphoria, hormones and surgery, dressing and acting and speaking and looking like a girl. 1% of it is "forcing conservatives to use the right pronouns". that may be the part you're objecting to, but that doesn't make transgenderism communal.

gender dysphoria, hormones and surgery, dressing and acting and speaking and looking like a girl

Well, hormones and surgery are required to be subsidized by insurance plans. Where I live it's illegal to perform conversion therapy, which has been interpreted to mean trying to dissuade trans people from being trans. And public schools are conspiring to make teenagers trans against the wishes of their parents, and often without their knowledge.

That's communal, and it's way more than 1%. I don't think you're very honest here.

I'm not sure if I wasn't clear, but that 1% (which definitely extends far beyond just forcing the use of pronouns and includes conforming to all sorts of norma) is basically the whole political disagreement. As I said,

I've never seen a serious proposal to ban them from wearing their preferred clothes, or from taking hormones (with the exception of children)

If this were an individualist issue, you would expect one side to be against their very existence.

Why would I expect that? Or do you mean the anti-individualist side?

Yes, the anti-individualist argument would be against allowing them to take hormones, dress up, etc. I'm not aware of any significant cohort who wants to do that in North America.

I think there's some of both "toxic individualism" and rejection of individualism going on, and I'm not entirely sure what to make of it. As you write, it's easy to see it as individualism run amok, heightening one's own arbitrary choice of identity, unbounded from physical or social reality, as the one standard to force everyone to submit to. At the same time, so much of the political agitating seems to be based around erasing individualism, by grouping all trans people together as one community with shared interests. For instance, trans murder rates are often invoked, which rely heavily on the murder rate of transwoman prostitutes, using it to justify policies for the ostensible benefit of wealthy transmen and transwomen. Or the aggressive grouping of LGBTQ+etc. as one bloc, where everyone in that group, down to the individual person, shares something in common with everyone else in that group for being oppressed sexual minorities in the hegemonic heteropatriarchy.

Should be noted that Finland recently passed trans self-id (limited to adults) and the specific issue that started the whole process was the trans demand to stop requiring sterilization for the legal confirmation of new gender.

Did they at least put in something that'd stop sociopath sex pests from getting self-id and abusing it ? Because they will.

There's a coordinated push to pass these self-ID laws throughout Europe at the moment. None of them have any such safeguards.

Gender identity is absurd but self-ID takes the biscuit. I believe that disabled people exist and are due some rectification from society - mobility impaired people get preferred parking spaces, there is ramp access to buildings.

however all of this is useless to the disabled if anybody could self ID as disabled. Clearly bad actors will identify as disabled if we did this, and take over the assigned spaces.

Everybody would understand what would happen there, so why does a significant proportion of the population not understand what would happen with trans self ID.

A Black Professor Trapped in Anti-Racist Hell

Very interesting longform article about how a professor had a summer seminar for high school students taken over by his radical TA, in a course focusing primarily on anti-blackness - this despite Dr. Vincent Lloyd's confused self description:

I am a black professor, I directed my university’s black-studies program, I lead anti-racism and transformative-justice workshops, and I have published books on anti-black racism and prison abolition. I live in a predominantly black neighborhood of Philadelphia, my daughter went to an Afrocentric school, and I am on the board of our local black cultural organization.

What's striking about this is how miserable it seems to have made everyone involved:

Furthermore, in the 2022 community, afternoons and evenings would no longer be spent having fun and doing homework. Two college-age students called “factotums” (led by one I will call “Keisha”) were assigned to create anti-racism workshops to fill the afternoons. There were workshops on white supremacy, on privilege, on African independence movements, on the thought and activism of Angela Davis, and more, all of which followed an initial, day-long workshop on “transformative justice.” Students described the workshops as emotionally draining, forcing the high schoolers to confront tough issues and to be challenged in ways they had never been challenged before.

From the initial “transformative-justice” workshop, students learned to snap their fingers when they agreed with what a classmate was saying. This practice immediately entered the seminar and was weaponized. One student would try out a controversial (or just unusual) view. Silence. Then another student would repeat a piece of anti-racist dogma, and the room would be filled with the click-clack of snapping fingers.

hilariously, two of the asian students ended up being 'expelled' from the program, for reasons that were not shared with the professor.

During our discussion of incarceration, an Asian-American student cited federal inmate demographics: About 60 percent of those incarcerated are white. The black students said they were harmed. They had learned, in one of their workshops, that objective facts are a tool of white supremacy. Outside of the seminar, I was told, the black students had to devote a great deal of time to making right the harm that was inflicted on them by hearing prison statistics that were not about blacks. A few days later, the Asian-American student was expelled from the program.

Finally, about halfway through the seminar, the TA led a struggle session where all the students accused the professor of doing a lot of anti black harm to them, and then they all did their own thing without his involvement.

I emailed the students and Keisha with this decision, and with an offer to read and respond to any written work the students produced—and I never heard back. No one sent written work. None indicated a desire to attend a meeting where I would be a “guest speaker.” The students had almost two weeks left. With the seminar canceled, did they go home? Did they tell their parents? Did Keisha lecture to them all day? I don’t know. I had extricated myself from the abusive relationship, but nine students remained captive.

They had learned, in one of their workshops, that objective facts are a tool of white supremacy.

The woke are more correct than the mainstream!

If you take a look at the objective facts, they tend to delegitimize woke narratives and vibes. I say delegitimize because you can't disprove a feeling. The nature of feelings is that they do not need a factual basis. I could cite links but the article says it itself:

Outside of the seminar, I was told, the black students had to devote a great deal of time to making right the harm that was inflicted on them by hearing prison statistics that were not about blacks.

I also think this is an example of the slippery slope principle in action. We have someone who's in favor of basically all the progressive ideas, in favor of prison abolition and so on. Yet they're still getting suppressed by their subordinates for not being PC enough, or feeling like they're suppressed. If you're looking at a movement, one should observe the trend rather than just positions at any given point.

I am surprised that the author of this article is surprised, since there's a lot of critical theorist writing that dovetails well with what is happening in these anti-racist workshops.

For context, I've been reading a bunch of critical theorist scholarship recently. While it's been aggravating because much of it has been written in intentionally long-winded and obfuscatory language and almost all of it describes an underlying belief system so inherently objectionable that I'm convinced exposure to it is inevitably going to damage people's sanity, I've found it's been useful in understanding what this particular cohort of ideologues believe. It's become abundantly clear that the beliefs espoused in these workshops don't start and end with some radical, offended grievance-obsessed students, this insanity exists at the very core of Critical Social Justice ideology.

For example, this:

During our discussion of incarceration, an Asian-American student cited federal inmate demographics: About 60 percent of those incarcerated are white. The black students said they were harmed. They had learned, in one of their workshops, that objective facts are a tool of white supremacy.

This is an idea that has cropped up multiple times. I'm sure everyone here already knows about the infamous infographic that labels "objective, rational linear thinking" as a quality of "whiteness" and "white culture". This is, however, not new: the seed of this idea can be traced back very far in critical race scholarship. For example, here's an article by John Calmore called "Critical Race Theory, Archie Shepp, and Fire Music: Securing an Authentic Intellectual Life in a Multicultural World", which came out in the early 1990s. It was so influential it got included in a compilation book called "Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement" by critical race theorist par excellence Kimberlé Crenshaw. I first found it cited in this video and initially struggled to find the text online so I could read it, but eventually managed to download the full text from this admittedly seedy-looking file upload site.

In the article, Calmore declares: "As a form of oppositional scholarship, critical race theory challenges the universality of white experience/judgment as the authoritative standard that binds people of color and normatively measures, directs, controls, and regulates the terms of proper thought, expression, presentment, and behavior." So you can see here the expression of the idea that the standards that white people create in their societies are the standards that people of colour are bound to follow, and CRT stands in opposition to this because adapting to these standards supposedly renders people of colour inauthentic. "Hence, a major theme of critical race theory reflects the colored intellectual's persistent battle to avoid being rendered inauthentic by the pressures of adapting to the white world and to take instead an oppositional stance by relying on one's true existential life, which is rooted in a world of color even though not stuck there."

With that covered, Calmore begins attacking the expectation of objectivity and neutrality in scholarship as one of these dictates and pressures that supposedly prevent Black folx and other people of colour from being authentic, and what he instead endorses is an approach characterised by the production of intentionally biased scholarship personal expression: "As a reflection of authenticity, critical race scholarship also rejects the traditional dictates that implore one to write and study as a detached observer whose work is purportedly objective, neutral, and balanced. In the classic sense of “professing,” critical race scholars advocate and defend positions. Fran Olsen points out that traditional scholarship's appearance of balance presupposes a status quo baseline that hinders both understanding and social change. Critical race theory tends, in response, toward very personal expression that allows our experiences and lessons, learned as people of color, to convey the knowledge that we possess in a way that is empowering to us and, it is hoped, ultimately empowering to those on whose behalf we act. Those of us who profess critical race theory are, in simplest terms, trying to be true to ourselves."

And here's the author disparaging neutrality in legal discourse. "When people of color deemphasize an individuality that tries to transcend color—when we attempt, in other words, to express valid generalizations generated out of race consciousness—we challenge the underlying inadequacy of dominant legal discourse, that which Kimberlé Crenshaw has labeled “perspectivelessness.” This position of perspectivelessness holds that legal analysis is possible without taking into account various conflicts of individual values, experiences, and world views. According to Crenshaw, by stripping away the analysis of any particular cultural, political, or class characteristic, this perspectivelessness is presented as the objective, neutral legal discourse, with a corollary of “color blindness,” used to reduce conflict and devalue the relevance of our particular perspectives."

The text then launches into an incessant, repetitive lament about how black intellectuals supposedly often uncritically bend to the pressures of dominant white academia and white culture, and eventually at the end advocates that "As African Americans in dominant white society, we must guard against institutional co-optation that socializes us away from our own identities and value systems."

In other words, the critical theorist view is that these academic and scholarly virtues we're familiar with have no value in and of themselves, they are only considered to have value by white academia (this is also true for other aspects of "dominant white American culture"). Critical race theorists think this is racist, they think that "Black thought" or the deprioritisation of objectivity and other such values in favour of Black experience and Black racial consciousness is equally good (or in fact better), but that it is denigrated and devalued simply because of White society. And when coloured scholars and intellectuals endorse and practice "white virtues", they consider them to be people who have lost their racial identity and who are just inauthentically capitulating to the pressures that White society places on them. So being a person of colour doesn't save you from criticism.

The Telluride professor seems bewildered by Keisha, but really all she was doing in her workshops was teaching them ideological tenets that have long existed in critical race theory. As James Lindsay notes in his criticism of critical theory, objectivity is thought of in critical theorist circles as a "myth that’s used to marginalize other ways of knowing and uphold dominant systems of power." The reason why these students reacted to the citation of incarceration statistics in that way is because they think this is an invocation of (white!) objectivity to silence and devalue Black voices and Black subjective experience, and is thus problematic. It's entirely consistent with the worldview and is a fantastic example of the mind-rot that critical theory cultivates in the minds of its believers.

I believe this article falls under the "I never thought the leopards would eat my face, said the person who voted for the Face-Eating Leopards Party" umbrella. This man is reaping the harvest of all the "I am no stranger to anti-racism workshops: I have participated in many of them, and I have facilitated them myself" seeds he and others have sown. He allowed this 'Keisha' to set the tone from the start, instead of imposing his authority as the teacher in charge. He stood back to let it all be student-led and then he was surprised when this happened?

What is going on here is the older generation being smacked in the face with their own irrelevance. The twenty-year old Keishas, the graduates of courses he and his ilk have taught for years, are the ones now shoving their way forward to be leaders and influences. Did he step in to do anything when the white and Asian students were being bullied into silence? Not that I can discern from the article. And then, having sown the dragon's teeth, he is astonished and amazed when the crop springs out of the ground to attack him.

Seems more like “I never thought leopards would eat my face, says a face-eating leopard.”

I am a black professor, I directed my university’s black-studies program, I lead anti-racism and transformative-justice workshops, and I have published books on anti-black racism and prison abolition. I live in a predominantly black neighborhood of Philadelphia, my daughter went to an Afrocentric school, and I am on the board of our local black cultural organization.

On the sunny first day of seminar, I sat at the end of a pair of picnic tables with nervous, excited 17-year-olds. Twelve high-school students had been chosen by the Telluride Association through a rigorous application process—the acceptance rate is reportedly around 3 percent—to spend six weeks together taking a college-level course, all expenses paid.

These people live in such a bubble even by 'blue tribe' standards. He preaches inclusion yet the program has a a 3% acceptance rate. There is so much material abundance and prosperity that elites have to invent scarcity. Being a professional victim confers more status than inclusive equality and is easier than having to actually accomplish something useful.

He preaches inclusion yet the program has a a 3% acceptance rate.

I don't think that's a bad thing at all. What percent of highschool students do you really think would get a lot of value from a summer sociology seminar series? And larger class sizes make teaching harder to, it's a lot easier to try to bring 3 shy students in a class of 12 out of their shells than 20 shy students in a class of 80.

And it's not like the actual knowledge is particularly restricted. Tons of lectures are available on YouTube. It's just the time of experienced of teachers that's limited, which is still a scarce resource even today.

It's just another form of invented scarcity.

And it's not like the actual knowledge is particularly restricted.

That is the whole point of inventing scarcity. Because knowledge is so abundant that status is one of the few things that resists the trend of commodification seen everywhere else in life, whether it's knowledge or luxury goods.

So do you think the non-profit Telluride Society should just accept every student that applies for a summer class, and end up with class sizes in the hundreds? Or pay for 30x as many teachers to keep class sizes the same?

one possibility could be to make it an online seminar

I am a black professor, I directed my university’s black-studies program, I lead anti-racism and transformative-justice workshops, and I have published books on anti-black racism and prison abolition. I live in a predominantly black neighborhood of Philadelphia, my daughter went to an Afrocentric school, and I am on the board of our local black cultural organization.

It is kind of hilarious how badly this statement would come off if you substituted prettymuch any other ethnicity or word for Black.

Really? I'm pretty sure you can do swap in "Jewish" or "Muslim" and the only thing that might be dicey would be "Afrocentric". Possibly true for Latino as well. Definitely acceptable for "Native American" or "First Nations" or "indigenous people". Possibly feasible for various Asian ethnicities.

Come to think of it, I think you'd only get in trouble for saying that you're from a white neighborhood, focus on eliminating anti-white racism, sent your kids to a Eurocentric school, and participate in organizations that further the goals of white Americans.

"Muslim" is a religious group, not an ethnicity. People often use "Jewish" and "Ashkenazi" interchangably, but strictly speaking the former is a religion strongly associated with a collection of distinct ethnic groups (Ashkenazi, Sephardic etc.) rather than an ethnicity in its own right.

What he fails to recognise is that 'Keisha' is a smart cookie who knows how the grift is operated and is grabbing all the attention and importance that she can. She's only a graduate herself, so if she wants to climb the slippery pole of academic promotion, she has to do exactly this kind of thing: shove the old guard out of the way and position herself as the face of anti-Blackness on campus. If it's a choice between our professor and the Keishas, the college administration will side with the Keishas because they can't afford the bad publicity that the Keishas know how to engender, exactly what kind of online mobs to whip up:

A recent graduate of an Ivy League university, mentored by a television-celebrity black intellectual, Keisha introduced herself as a black woman who grew up poor and “housing vulnerable,” whose grandmother’s limbs had been broken by white supremacists, and who had just spent four years of college teaching in prisons and advocating for prison abolition.

She's clearly ambitious, knows how to position herself, is making the right kind of networking connections (the TV celebrity) and our professor here has no clue what is going on.

Keisha's not a smart cookie, at least long term, because she'll get the same treatment only worse and faster. She'll have ten years of running the show, possibly less, and then lose control when she is ousted by a more nominally oppressed group, probably queer black transgenders, or a more radical counter-oppressive group who accept her premise that "the harm is urgent" and "can't be fixed" with civil discussion and so turn towards fedposting IRL.

She sees the grift but ignores the consequences of its iterations: a Cornell Autonomous Zone. And if by some miracle such a zone succeeded in establishing its sovereignty they would be faced with the perennial problems that face all territories of how to a) govern and b) relate to neighbouring territories. Of course there's more than two thousand years of existing scholarship on those matters, and institutions that exist to both study and apply their lessons, but that baby washes in the bathwater of inequity.

Keisha's not a smart cookie, at least long term, because she'll get the same treatment only worse and faster.

Oh I'm sure she knows that, which is why she's putting in the groundwork now to take over running these kind of white liberal guilt workshops, eventually build up enough of a 'name' for herself that she can pivot into the world of TV intellectual (like her mentor in the story, that the professor is hilariously sniffy about), and be gone from academia by the time the leopards come for her face.

Next year it won't be Professor Lloyd invited to host a seminar for Telluride; Keisha has won that round. And why was it important to win? He explains it himself in the piece:

The Telluride Association maintains a low profile, even in higher-education circles, but it has played an important role in shaping the US elite. Its alumni are ideologically diverse: queer theorist Eve Sedgewick and postcolonial theorist Gayatri Spivak (its first female member), Georgia politician Stacey Abrams and journalist Walter Isaacson, neoconservatives Paul Wolfowitz and Francis Fukuyama (who served on Telluride’s board). Launched by mining entrepreneur L.L. Nunn in 1911, a few years before he founded Deep Springs College, Telluride aims to cultivate democratic communities among high-school and college students. It runs houses near Cornell and the University of Michigan, where students receive scholarships, govern themselves, and incorporate intellectual life and service work into their residential communities. In 1954, Telluride started its high-school summer program.

And the deep pockets are not immune to giving in on the grounds of white liberal guilt:

In the wake of the George Floyd protests, a group of black Telluride alumni pressured the association to examine the racism that, they claimed, was baked into the organizational culture. “We have all experienced anti-blackness within the association and through its programs,” their open letter said. The result was a redesign of the summer seminars: Telluride would now offer only “Critical Black Studies” and “Anti-Oppressive Studies” seminars. The former would “seek to focus more specifically on the needs and interests of black students.”

So now that Keisha has got her foot in the door and claimed her first trophy with Professor Lloyd's head mounted on her wall of anti-black violence, she can settle down to that prime opportunity of networking and getting prestigious names on her CV to build her career in the professional grievance studies grift. Lloyd can write all he likes about his past credits, but Keisha is the new generation elbowing him out of the way.

I directed my university’s black-studies program, I lead anti-racism and transformative-justice workshops, and I have published books on anti-black racism and prison abolition.

That just made him a good target for Keisha to displace and take over from him.

Keisha speaks for me: She says everything I think better than I ever could

This sounds suspiciously like ‘Everything chairman Mao says is true. One of his words will overcome 10,000 of ours.’ And realistically she appears to be brainwashing teenagers(this step is not difficult) into making a power grab for her. It is a notable feature of wokeness that there is functionally no way to push back against this: Keisha might be an observable bad actor, but she is also a well credentialed black woman with appropriate ideological views, and telluride is so open minded it’s brain fell out and got replaced by woke.

That's exactly what is going on: bully and harass the non-black students about their privilege and their guilt for being complicit in systemic racism, where the only way to be spared is to agree with everything Keisha says and to support her no matter what. That way, she'll pick a different victim to bring down (like the two students she got kicked out of the seminar). Terrorise them into fear of saying even a single wrong word so that a slip-up means being hounded as a villain, and they'll soon learn to shut up and not dare say anything but "Keisha is right, what Keisha says goes".

Do you want Voldemorts? Because that’s how you get Voldemorts.

Radicalization is dangerous, and it’s less worrying than it should be because America has little history of radical militias publicly swelling their ranks and taking over areas like Boko Haram or ISIS. There is a chance we’re about to see the collapse of civil peace. If California actually puts reparations in a bill and brings it to a vote, either way things will go badly. If voted down, I predict Beverly Hills will burn.

I doubt it. The 2020 riots happened because of 1) a very prominent set of videos with extremely poor optics relating to a specific issue(police use of force) 2) a large set of relatively violent people with obvious reasons to care about this issue and 3) outside support from organized left wing interests who turned it into a self reinforcing cycle by offering things like looting as a reward for showing up and fighting.

I would not expect that the median member of the underclass(who did the actual rioting) particularly thinks of reparations as a hill to die on, and I wouldn't expect voting down reparations to have the same terrible optics as George Floyd or Jacob Blake. Writers for Vox are not the same thing as violent underclass teens and poor youth don't particularly listen to Vox writers.

I mean, I understand why a certain breed of out of touch leftist thinks of underclass youth as being at the beck and call of antifa, but these people also think that the median accused murderer was peacefully composing slam poetry about the inner power of black women. I don't understand why right wingers seem to think the same thing; the crips and bloods are happy to coordinate with antifa to stage protests that demand changes to police use of force rules, but that doesn't make them reliable allies to lefty direct action. They're not showing up to defend homeless encampments from being cleared out or to protect drag shows from protestors or to protest in favor of abortion, all things that antifa generally favors and regularly protests about.

Your #3 should be #1, and your #1 should be #3, because that is the order in which the causality flows.

It’s not intended to be in any particular order.

If voted down, I predict Beverly Hills will burn.

No, Beverly Hills will be protected. But the little streets will burn, and the ordinary guy - black, white or brown - trying to run a business or work a normal job will be the one to suffer.

Do you want Voldemorts? Because that’s how you get Voldemorts.

Sure, why not? Gives you an enemy to rally against an an excuse to implement even harsher measures.

If California actually puts reparations in a bill and brings it to a vote, either way things will go badly. If voted down, I predict Beverly Hills will burn.

So it burns, and we get a new vote. State capacity today in the First World is far too great for whatever minor civil disturbance comes up to actually change anything; they're basically the equivalent of cattle prods to get the proles to in the correct direction. If the vote goes the other way, either nowhere burns and the white people just suck it up, or they get crushed by the state.

I have some thoughts on these passages (bolding mine):

In their “transformative-justice” workshop, my students learned to name “harms.” This language, and the framework it expresses, come out of the prison-abolition movement. Instead of matching crimes with punishments, abolitionists encourage us to think about harms and how they can be made right, often through inviting a broader community to discern the impact of harms, the reasons they came about, and paths forward. In the language of the anti-racism workshop, a harm becomes anything that makes you feel not quite right. For a 17-year-old at a highly selective, all-expenses-paid summer program, newly empowered with the language of harm, there are relatively few sites at which to use this framework. My seminar became the site at which to try out—and weaponize—this language.


Keisha is uniquely talented at performing her role, but she isn’t the author of the play. Pushing anti-racism to its limits, what we reach isn’t just hollow doctrine, but abuse: Pathological relationships that cut us off from the world, from the give-and-take of reasons and feelings unfolding over time that makes up life in the world. We see this crystal clear in the paradoxes that I encountered: The experience was supposed to be organized around a “transformative justice,” rather than a punitive model, yet the community managed to expel two of its members. Students continually voiced their desire to find practical actions to help change the world, but after four weeks, they had learned to say that anti-blackness is so foundational, the world could never change. The students wanted freedom, for themselves and for all, but they started to say that the only route to freedom is indoctrination: having me tell them what to think.

This and the ending bit about "believers in democracy, fugitives from democracy" got me thinking: for all the benefits of democracy, it must have safeguards and limits. Imprisonment and policing are bad, but the only remaining alternative to punishing social transgression is mob rule, and I imagine that even a purely-black community that does not police or imprison its members will eventually turn to lynching or exile. Maybe this is how it will be in the world that modern anti-racists want to bring forth--maybe this is how it should be, to put on the Neoreactionary hat for a bit. But this can't possibly make for anywhere nice to live.

I have little sympathy for the professor because he was too complacent; he didn't bother imposing his authority (under the guise of letting it all be student-led learning and democratic and whatnot) because he never imagined a real challenge to it. He has been a male Keisha in his time, running anti-racism workshops and getting used to being deferred to (especially by white liberals) as the authority on what it is all about:

I am a black professor, I directed my university’s black-studies program, I lead anti-racism and transformative-justice workshops, and I have published books on anti-black racism and prison abolition.

...In 2014, I taught “Race and the Limits of Law” for Telluride’s Ithaca location. ...(W)ith excitement at the prospect of revisiting thorny questions about race after the national conversation had changed so much because of Black Lives Matter I reached out to Telluride to explore teaching the seminar again. (Telluride seminars are co-taught; my seminar was taught with my wife, a lawyer and indigenous-studies professor.)

...In this, Telluride continued a pattern of tracking liberal values as they evolved. It offered courses on race since the 1950s, and the Ithaca house was known as “the most liberal living unit on campus” in the 1970s because of its relatively early acceptance of Jewish, black, and female students. In 1993, at the height of US multiculturalism, Telluride began offering a new stream of seminars focusing on race and difference and aimed at underrepresented students.

So he's been happily going along teaching about the evils of whiteness (even if he didn't phrase it or even think of it like that). Then the new generation of sharper, greedier Keishas come along, he's a big fat prime target, and he has no idea that he's being marked to be brought down and replaced. So he lets Keisha play her little games and take over under his nose, rather than stepping in and smacking her down about over-reaching her authority, then he's shocked when the mob turns on him.

the only remaining alternative to punishing social transgression is mob rule, [...] even a purely-black community that does not police or imprison its members will eventually turn to lynching or exile.

Yes, exactly, that's why I find the concept of police abolition/defunding the police so frightening. It doesn't mean that suddenly there are no cops, it means that suddenly everyone is a cop.

As we saw in CHAZ/CHOP in which self-appointed community protectors executed a pair of unarmed black teens.

There is some set of valid complaints against the police, juries and judges. But then there's no having any of those things at all.

*Jack Nicholson Nodding*

The Trad-Right would like to take this moment to say "we told you so". Hobbes, Smith, Burke, Et Al were right all along about how pursuing emancipation for emancipation's sake would only end one way.

Edit to add: I did not see @raggedy_anthem's reply until after I had posted

This is the bit that lost me all sympathy, if I had any, for him:

I had extricated myself from the abusive relationship, but nine students remained captive. Belief in democracy had authorized abuse, and there was no way out.

So once the heat gets turned up, forget all the stuff about his students unique talents and gently guiding discussion and building community, when the heat was turned up he bailed and left a bunch of 17 year olds to fend for themselves under someone who was a little tin god in her mid to late 20s, who had proven that she could take the scalp of an established professor. Do we think those kids finished up the remainder of the seminar as anything but terrified and brainwashed into compliance? And the one adult who should have been looking out for them and standing up for them with the administration against Keisha just went home for the remainder of the summer so he wouldn't be inconvenienced any more. And to write a piece about he was the victim here.

He deserves whatever happens next, for his cowardice. Of course there was a way out, but it would have cost him to fight for it - so he capitulated. He's all right, to hell with the rest of you, Jack.

Remember that it's not about what we deserve. I can sympathize with a coward even while finding cowardice contemptable. Judgment is a hell of a drug.

I had extricated myself from the abusive relationship, but [others] remained captive.

This is exactly how I feel about my pet victim group. But when one is up against the reigning ideology of your society, you mostly have to keep your mouth shut. Very few people have the courage to be heroes, and most people who do have that kind of courage just get destroyed when they make a move.

it means that suddenly everyone is a cop.

no , it's worse than that. Deputizing law-abiding gun owners would help lower crime. It means a complete inversion: the criminals have power

Depends on if we're talking anarcho-tyranny where the laws are only applied on the pro-social, or genuine commitment to police abolition. If it's the latter, I made a post on TheSchism about that a while back:

There is no progressive utopia where the man who rapes my tween daughter gets rehabilitated with kind, gentle counseling, because I would have hunted him down and Blood Eagled him on livestream. Oh no, I've been sentenced to kind, gentle counseling. I decline to acknowledge my wrongdoing by attending. Are you going to send the social workers to not arrest me?

In the real world, I would not do so because I fear and respect the government's monopoly on retribution. Even if I were enraged by the outcome of the trial, I would have to weigh vengeance against the consequences for violating that monopoly.

A world with no police and no prisons is not one free of brutality. It's not even free of brutality against criminals! It would instead be a world where thieves are savagely beaten by enthusiastically vicious mall cops, rapists are castrated, and there is a vigorous subculture focused on videos of pedophiles being tortured to death.

I've argued elsewhere that no serious proponent of police abolition actually wants anything like 'no lawkeepers period, love-ins only'. At the risk of weakmanning: they just percieve (not inaccurately) that the current monopoly on force is held by a hostile/indifferent tribe, and they would like it to be held by their own tribe.

Normally the short route to this goal is some form of independence movement, but for various reasons that's a nonstarter at the moment, and liberal-white outgroup bias opens up the nontraditional route of minority coup. But, as we saw, said outgroup bias didn't extend quite so far as some hoped.

Realistically, this gets expressed as police abolitionism because the blue tribe doesn't have anyone who actually wants to be a cop. Well, probably like three. In the whole country. Given the choice between "no enforcement of the law" and "enforcement of the law by people who resent us and aren't motivated to do it the way we want", they choose "no enforcement" because they honestly haven't considered that if a strongly worded letter isn't backed by force, people can just fucking call your bluff and will.

And, of course, that doesn't account for the vast majority of blue tribers who don't actually want to abolish the police.

Agreed and I think that this is actually one of the major gaps in inference between the tribes. Is the law there to protect the public, or is it there to protect the criminal from the public? Notions like "burden of proof" and "innocent until proven guilty" are valuable pro-social norms to have, but they are also entirely unworkable in a world without police. As I used to argue back on SSC "democracy in it's purest form is a lynch mob, and that is why I will never consider myself a democrat".

there is a vigorous subculture focused on videos of pedophiles

Suspected pedophiles at that. Rationalists rightly complain about bad reasoning by juries, but vigilante gangs are probably even worse, and much better armed.

I once spoke to a guy who was a cleaner in the West, but who came from a Taliban-heavy part of Pakistan. As well as being very smart and friendly, they were a repository of horrific stories about coming from a place that (we agreed) was very similar to Medieval Europe. Once, he came back from the West and he was going to see his family. He was travelling on a train at night, when several men with handguns sat down with him and started questioning him: "Why are you wearing Western clothes?" "Why do you look so rich?" "Are you an unbeliever?"

Eventually, they started questioning him about specific parts of the Qur'an. Only his madrassa education, which had involved otherwise useless mechanical memorization of particular passages (without attention to the meaning) saved him from being taken to a dark spot by these men and killed, with no hope that they would ever be even punished for their actions by the local "police".

He also once came across a (probably) dead body in the street at night. Rather than report the killing or see if the man was still alive, he ran away as fast as he could. Why? If he was the person who found the body, then the man's family would consider him as a suspect, and possibly come after him/his family. So the body presumably rotted in the summer heat until a policeman or a member of the man's family saw it.

Indeed, the taliban’s willingness to put rigid adherence to sharia above tribal blood feuds is, in Afghanistan, a key selling point.

Medieval Europe built Notre Dame. They were incomparably more cultured and civilized than anywhere controlled by the Taliban.

The Ghaznavids built interesting and impressive structures at around the same time.

Afghanistan's problem today is that it's state is probably poorer now than it was then. Trade routes that made Medieval Afghanistan potentially wealthy have dried up. Also, monumental architecture has kind of gone out of fashion everywhere.

Yes, but it was also a very violent time with a lot of family feuding and vigilante "justice".

His entire career, indeed his entire life is built around the anti-racist grift. I cannot even articulate how little sympathy I have for it finally inconveniencing him. If you push for your struggle sessions, everyone should dearly hope that you are one day forced to stand as the enemy. In my preferred world, his ridiculous jobs wouldn't exist at all, but I'll settle for the grievance-based institutions he's helped build turning against him.

I think this is a bit extreme of a reaction. Yes, he certainly would fall within the academic left, but reading this, it seems like he definitely cared about the traditional pursuit of academic understanding and dialectic:

The seminar assumes that each student has innate intelligence, even as we come from different backgrounds, have different amounts and sorts of knowledge, and different skills. We can each be formed best if we take advantage of our differing insights to push each other, over time, again and again. When this practice is occasioned by carefully curated texts—not exclusively “great books,” but texts that challenge each other and us as they probe issues of essential importance—a seminar succeeds.

A seminar takes time. The first day, you will be frustrated. The second and the third day, you will be frustrated. Even on the last day, you will be frustrated, though ideally now in a different way. Each intervention in a seminar is incomplete, and gets things wrong. Each subsequent intervention is also incomplete, and also gets things wrong. But there are plenty of insights and surprises, for each participant looks at a text with different eyes.

It is tempting to add: Such is life. Such is democratic life. We each have different, partial knowledge. We each get things wrong, over and over. At our best, we enter the fray by listening to each other and complementing and challenging the insights of our fellows. In the process, over years, decades, we are oriented toward justice and truth.

If the seminar is slow food, the anti-racist workshop put on by college-age students is a sugar rush. All the hashtags are there, condensed, packaged, and delivered from a place of authority. The worst sort of anti-racist workshop simply offers a new language for participants to echo—to retweet out loud.

But then, perhaps there is something unspoken, unrealized here; that the "slow food" of academic discourse will inevitably be pushed aside for the "junk food" of dogma, some how, some way. Maybe if Lloyd had shut down those who were attempting to shut down others, maybe if he'd put his foot down more, then just maybe he could have salvaged his own course from epistemic closure.

So perhaps the ideas he followed would inevitably lead him to this, because there aren't enough principles to restrain them from the logical conclusion, but it does at least seem like things could have been better.

Maybe if Lloyd had shut down those who were attempting to shut down others, maybe if he'd put his foot down more, then just maybe he could have salvaged his own course from epistemic closure.

But he didn't do that, because he didn't think of himself as The Man. He's built a career on lecturing about The Man but doesn't think of himself as an authority figure; he drops hints all through about really wanting the seminar to be a fun place because he had a good time at the last seminar a few years back. He's like the parent who wants to be a best friend instead of a parent, no wonder Keisha filled the power vacuum:

Occasionally, in one-on-one meetings, I could still kid around with them, or hear them chat among themselves about the mundane details of teenage life.

He let Keisha get away with murder because he didn't want to be the bad guy imposing his authority like a grown-up. And so she cut the ground out from under him, while he was hoping for a nice chatty lunch and fun time with the kids:

As I was beginning the seminar, sitting on the grass in my backyard, Keisha interrupted: “I think you should start with a lecture offering context for this reading and telling us the main points.” ...She then announced that she would take the students back to their house without eating the lunch I had waiting for them.

I can't feel sorry for the guy, either he has the backbone of a jellyfish to let his 'teaching assistant' dictate to him what the content of his lectures should be, or he was there for a lazy, well-paid summer break where he wouldn't have to do any real work except sit around chatting with the kids and if the organisation gave him a 'teaching assistant' who wanted to do all the work, sure, let her.

Maybe if Lloyd had shut down those who were attempting to shut down others, maybe if he'd put his foot down more, then just maybe he could have salvaged his own course from epistemic closure.

It's exactly what he should have done, and he didn't. Keisha was only supposed to be a teaching assistant. He sat back and let her dictate more and more of what would be covered, what could be covered, and if the students would even listen to him, without attempting to take back control or get the administration to rein her in. He let her bully and intimidate and silence students, and kick two students out. And then she led the mob that came for him, and he was shocked, shocked!

Right, but in practice, his academic understanding and dialectic amounted to devising ever more sophisticated methods of waging culture war, in ever sharper methods of criticism, and all with a clear ideological outcome in mind - the production of political activists to go and spread the bad news. It's hard to imagine the same thing occurring in a programming course. These kids weren't dumb. They were carefully and rigorously selected - no doubt for their ideological discipline, their ability to internalize antiracist rhetoric, and their willingness to challenge and rebel against traditional authority. They were then armed with the finest rhetorical weapons modern society affords, and taught they were not allowed to defend themselves against them. Of interest is that the professor himself has no defense against them either, beyond a weak appeal to his own anti-racist credentials.

These kids weren't dumb. They were carefully and rigorously selected - no doubt for their ideological discipline, their ability to internalize antiracist rhetoric, and their willingness to challenge and rebel against traditional authority.

They were also a bunch of impressionable 17 year olds feeling flattered that they had been selected for Real Grown-up College seminar. Since the professor seems to have done damn-all, by his own account, to protect them, they were ripe for being bullied into compliance with a loud, aggressive young adult (but still older than them and with the authority of being a teaching assistant) like Keisha while Lloyd just sat around in the background wringing his hands:

Eventually, two of the Asian-American students would be expelled from the program for reasons that, Keisha said, couldn’t be shared with me.

Right then is when he should have slapped her down about "I'm the professor contracted to teach this seminar, not you, and I need to know why my class is being expelled without my knowledge or consent", but he let it all go until too late and the leadership of course would not back him up:

Telluride is governed and largely run by program alumni who volunteer their time to further the goals of the association. The volunteer overseeing the summer programs explained to me that there were internal divisions within the loose, sprawling Telluride world over the direction of the summer programs, with some corners of that world zealously pursuing a singular focus on anti-blackness and other corners hoping to continue seminars as they had been conducted in the past. They realized this summer was bumpy not just in our seminar, but across the program. Because Telluride wanted to respect the democratic self-governance of the student community, the leadership didn’t feel comfortable intervening.

Adults with their own careers and lives were too scared to stand up to this virago, why would a small group of kids who were strangers to the place be able to do so?

He helpfully provided an example of how things are supposed to work:

During the first week of the 2014 iteration of the seminar, focused on slavery, a Chinese-American student pointed to a moment in our text where white slave owners were providing food for the enslaved and suggested this showed there were two sides to the issue of slavery. Before I formulated a way to turn his intervention into a stepping-stone toward more sophisticated discussion, two students spoke up with other evidence from the text suggesting that slavery is a moral abomination unworthy of “both sides” discussion. By the end of the seminar, the initial student, who seemed like he might have a wavering moral compass, expressed a newfound commitment to justice

Now was that a discussion, or was it badgering ? He didn‘t seem to be fond of the ‚both sides‘ method then.

I had extricated myself from the abusive relationship, but nine students remained captive. Belief in democracy had authorized abuse, and there was no way out.

He‘s an abused spouse by the end. There‘s that language of harm that seemingly came out of nowhere from the mouths of his students. Poor guy doesn‘t have the tools to explain what happened to him, let alone articulate why his students might be wrong. He seems pretty light skinned, and he‘s not even a woman or queer. He clearly was less on the side of blacks than Keisha was. Ergo, he is the oppressor in that relationship, and that's all she wrote.

He's a damn coward. He spouts all the nice line about what the seminar is supposed to achieve and how the students are supposed to use their talents and experience and be guided (not led or taught, mind you) to the proper conclusions.

And then the new generation of grifter starts holding his feet to the fire, and he abandons the kids (they're 17 is all) to the thought police while he goes home to cry about how he's the victim here. If he had any spine, he would have fought for them. No, when it looked like his cosy sinecure of being a Telluride lecturer would actually require him to do something, he folded as Keisha wanted.

I'm even beginning to doubt his story; I find myself suspecting that he was quite happy to let Keisha do all the heavy lifting in organising the course while he joked around with the kids, told them stories, and did the Wise Elder bit. Just this time it turned out that this Keisha had an agenda of her own, not the plan he wanted her to follow.

Into the Spider-Verse was my favorite movie of 2018. I only found out this year that one of the film's directors was someone whose values are antithetical to everything I believe and as harmful to me as ideas can be. I knew he wasn't returning to direct the sequel, so I thought that meant I could go see it without feeling shame, but I just found out (again, surprisingly late) that he's an Executive Producer on it. This likely means he gets a share of the box office gross, though I don't know how big that share would be.

This presents an e̶t̶h̶i̶c̶a̶l̶ psychological dilemma that feels as though it's ethical for me. This is one of the few movies where seeing it in the theater is very important to me, and I do feel that I'd be missing out by seeing it on my tiny laptop screen several months after release. However, I would feel emasculated if I gave this person any more money than I already have. Is there a way I can have my cake and eat it too here?

I know it's unlikely that anyone here has a better idea "than stop giving a crap about what filmmakers believe," but I'm asking anyway, just in case. There's nobody else on the internet where I'd expect people to be sympathetic to my problem in a way that's more than superficial. Left-wing spaces (as I've experienced them) would say "you should only care about political violence and life ruination if you're the kind of person we'd be using it against," and right-wing spaces (as I've experienced them) would say "these tactics are actually good and we should use them against left-wingers when we're in power" after making fun of me for liking children's movies. I do not mean to imply all left-dominated or right-dominated spaces are like the ones I describe, but that's my expectation of them based on experience, and it's always demoralizing to get those kinds of reactions, so I don't want to go seek them out.

If you like Spiderman movies, the early 2000s version are somewhat less woke.

They have a whole range of memes in the style of Ben Garrison parodies deemed 'raimiposting' arising due to this one somewhat 'homophobic' scene.

The issue is not so much your money going to your political opponents (you're not really their enemy yet if you're a liberal and they're nazi-hunting), but the damage that they do to you.

The leftist propaganda machine is not hurting for money, the goal is to weaken Western minds.

I don't think that you care that much about the issue.

Even people that are committed to fringe ideologies are not backed to the wall yet, in the West. Getting banned from Twitter or other social media is one thing. Getting jailed for protesting an election is another thing.

But even then I'm not aware of anybody affiliated to the Jan 6 political prisoners committing violence or terrorism, yet.

When things start popping up and you are directly financing woke firing squads or Waco-style bombings, then yes, it will be more of a moral concern.

Now your main concern is wasting precious time that could be better spent figuring out which side you're on, as there will be no liberalism in the future we're heading toward.

Every artist, musician, writer etc. believes things you don't agree with. If you only consume media by people who share all of your opinions, you will not be consuming any media at all.

I find Varg Vikernes's worldview more offensive than that of just about any woke person's, but is that going to stop me listening to his music? No.

I take 0 issue with someone having different opinions and values. They can support abortion, LGBT, BLM, be militant atheists for all I care.

I do however draw the line when they publicly admit that they believe I'm the worst person ever for literally existing, that my race, culture, religion and society are the roots of all evil and oppression and comparable to Nazis. That's when it stops being an opinion, and turns into vile character assassination. My moral worth and that of everyone in my community is in the negatives, apparently. Unless said person is making some kind of a breakthrough in something significant, it would be very hard for me to look drudge past so much drek for some occasional entertainment.

Just go, you don’t need our permission.

However, I would feel emasculated if I gave this person any more money than I already have. Is there a way I can have my cake and eat it too here?

The real emasculation going on here is the very act of taking this decision seriously. Out of the Chad and the Virgin, who do you think would do that?

Aside from this and with the Hogwarts Legacy awareness campaign going on, I'm also reminded of two incidents when Chinese censorship collided with American entertainment corporations. The first was the Blitzchung controversy, when Blizzard acted out against a Hearthstone player who talked about the Hong Kong protests during an official stream. The second was when Chinese corporations withdrew their sponsorships for the NBA because the NBA didn't "sufficiently" punish someone in the NBA who tweeted support for the Hong Kong protesters. The NBA chose to accept the withdrawals and stand behind the free speech of the tweet.

Despite one action being pro-China and the other being anti, I think both decisions were correct under the principle that it's good for us to have "sanctuaries". There should be times and spaces where we can consciously ignore conflicts to do something enriching together, as a reminder of common humanity. Even if both sides return to war, even if they have incompatible values, we at least remember the cost of casualties.

Sports have a tradition of being such a sanctuary, and I feel like signal boosting a conflict-heavy cause during these spectator events is a violation of that. Signal boosting outside of the events, outside of the sacred spacetime, falls under the judgement of free speech principles in that context (or your equivalent principle). Public discussion spaces like The Motte pursue a similar sanctuary ideal, and that pursuit is likely more important than the sports sanctuary.

Should art be a sanctuary? I'm not confident enough to say that all "art" is eligible for sanctuary. Editorial cartoons and documentaries are closer to the conflict and are probably part of the culture war battlefield. But identifying art that's eligible for sanctuary is more of an I-know-it-when-I-see-it affair. Is it largely apolitical (distant from the hot points of conflict)? Is it well crafted? Is it heartfelt? Is it self-expression? Is it honest? At some point, yes, consuming, sharing, and discussing that art has the same function of connecting us through human commonalities, even as we're divided by our just as human differences.

Do you have similar reservations about products that include children mining cobalt sonewhere in the supply chain?

You make a good point. This is a totally psychological phenomenon based on the perception that I, personally, am being threatened by Peter Ramsey, whereas I am not a child living in the third world. Looking at it like that, I'm being petty selfish.

Not op, but children mining cobalt are not an existential threat to the west. Concern for them is purely charitable, and while I’d have no objections to a plan to re-colonise Africa, sterilise a good chunk of the adult population and take the kids out of the mines and put them in glorious well fed summer camps; in the current world boycotting mining companies… is pointless.

in the current world boycotting mining companies… is pointless.

And boycotting movies for right-wing causes isn't? You must strongly overestimate the number of people who have the "political will" to actually go through with that compared to me.

I actually agree with you entirely on the implausibility of success via conservative boycotts; I was addressing the implied discrepancy in degrees of concern. 1st, there's the domestic and personal versus foreign angle, then there is a secondary discrepancy in what success looks like. Were boycotts to succeed on the politics front, I think the world would be improved (this almost certainly won't happen). Given the state of much of Africa, I'm not sure boycotts would deliver the goal of improving life quality for the affected people, even if they worked. Those children in the mines, might be better off than in the alternative. Sorry for the lack of clarity.

I struggled with such decisions too. But then I thought about something. I like to eat sweet things. But I know too much of it would be very bad for my health. I like to drink beer. But I know drinking too much of it would be very bad for my health. So I use this knowledge to keep my body in (relatively) healthy state. I am no saint but I think I know what I should be doing there.

Why shouldn't I do the same with my mind? There is a lot of cultural artifacts that have been created over the last 3000 years of human culture that vastly exceed anything that Wokewood has been producing. In fact, if you bother to look a little, there are many recent cultural artifacts that is at par or better with anything Wokewood is producing - still being created. I have no chance of ever consuming even 1% of these riches - and yet I would strive to consume the products from people that openly hate me? Why?

Surely, non-Wokewood culture doesn't have such powerful PR machine behind them, and you may have to spend a bit of effort to look for something that would speak to you - but wouldn't you be willing to spend this effort, if it is good for your intellectual and moral health? Why consume High Fructose Wokeness that is fed to you by the PR machine if you can easily - and probably cheaper too - have access to much healthier and much richer culture?

That said, I get you may sometimes want to consume some bad stuff, just for the heck of it. Happens to everybody. But a tiny laptop screen is not the only option. You can get a TV the size of a wall relatively cheap. You can befriend somebody who has one. There's a lot of options. If you absolutely feel you must see it in the theater - just do it, and donate 2x of that cost to the morally righteous cause. Just don't make a habit of it - everybody does unhealthy things from time to time, making a habit of it is what you need to watch out for.

It's actually rather difficult for me to interpret anything written before the 20th century. I read A Christmas Carol for the first time recently after becoming familiar with the story through its various adaptations, and while it was written less than 200 years ago, I still feel like there's stuff I missed. I do see your point, though, and I appreciate all of the advice in this post. God bless The Motte, or whatever the secular equivalent is.

I don't think there's the "right" reading for the text anyway. Reading is always a sum of what the author puts into it and what the reader takes from it (same of course with listening, viewing art, etc. I just use reading for simplicity). Great works of history survived because the readers over time were able to relate to them - even if they may not have taken exactly the same thing as the author intended. But that is not possible anyway - the only person who can 100% get what the author meant is the author, and even that is not sure (as people change). Of course you would miss some parts. Do you think you don't miss some parts in the modern works too? You surely do. Same would happen with older works. You can fill it in by getting educated on history, culture, circumstances, etc. - but you should not feel discouraged because you won't ever get it all. Nobody gets it all. But I think the process of getting it is by itself great. You can read Dickens once as a clean slate, and then read some history and critique and approach it again and see different parts and then maybe get back to it in 10 years, as a different person, and have different experience. Or maybe you'd hate it and would rather read something else - that's OK too, the thing is there are so many options!

Be a consequentialist. Donate enough money to a cause you care about to morally cancel out the harm you cause by seeing the movie in a theater.

How indulgent.

Is this a comparison of charity offsets to the late-mediaeval Catholic Church's sale of indulgences?

I fully endorse voting with your money with regard to woke art, but if the movie isn’t ideological (which remains to be seen), why do you care about the producer? I don’t know about film crew ranks, but if the best boy (whatever that is) held values antithetical to yours would you be bothered? What about the key grip (again, whatever that is)? Costume designer? Casting director? Keep moving up the chain until it matters. Why is that the point where a worker’s political beliefs ruin the movie for you?

In the old Christian view of the world, everyone was equally evil and equally deserving of damnation, but I think that worldview allowed for greater nuance in weighing people’s moral worth. You either had to bite the bullet and say that no one had any moral worth, or make pretty fine distinctions, along the lines of “OF COURSE we’re all equally bad, but we kill people in battle, and that other guy kills prisoners.” Nowadays, though, without that blanket condemnation of every human, it’s easy to fall into “but that guy is BAD and I don’t want to help him/pay him/give him a platform/etc.”

My brother in Christ, EVERYONE is bad. Your plumber cheats on his wife, your mechanic watches child porn, your hairdresser spreads rumours, your kid tortures frogs. You give them all money without a second thought. It sucks, but it is the fallen nature of humanity. If the movie is a wokefest, skip it no matter what the producer thinks, but if this specific bad executive producer can executively produce a good movie, why the isolated demand for purity?

On another note, yousaid it was an ethical dilemma, but ethical dilemmas involve competing obligations. You have only one obligation- to not support this guy, but mentioned shame and feeing emasculated. That’s not an ethical dilemma, it’s a psychological one. It sounds (sounds, that’s all), like you’re trying to preserve an ideal of who you are as resisting in some measure the decline of western society. A noble goal, but we’re fretting over a spiderman cartoon, so the battle is lost. They’ve gotten into your head, and whether you see the movie or not, you think watching spider man movies is really important, which is a win for Marvel marketing over the long run. Do not resist the decline, propel the recovery. Step one is to stop watching marvel movies and go out and act on the world. . If you already act, act more.

Oh my god, you've made me realize something. Rightists often talk about white privilege as though it's the rhetoric of original sin, but it ISN'T original sin, because original sin implies nobody is absolved, doesn't it? That we are all born racist/sexist/ableist/etc and we shouldn't cast the first stone?

I have limited exposure to religious people so I don't know if they were less harsh towards their enemies when they were in power. I just assumed that they were, and that any ideological faction that gains power becomes like this, because power corrupts people.

Oh, they still cast a lot of stones back in the day. But nowadays there's a much more pernicious sense of self-righteousness that I think comes from the loss of the idea that everyone is evil/fallen.

I thought of your comment when I saw these heartless cretins celebrate somebody's suicide because he walked around holding a torch and said some offensive things.

Go on tinder, make a date to go see it and say you can't find your wallet. Then if you don't feel right saying to yourself "if she wasn't willing to spend $13 on me she isn't the one" and going about your day, act like you had an epiphany as you leave the cinema and remember you hid your wallet under the driver's seat in your car, go get it and pay for drinks by way of apology.

Personally though, I just wouldn't care. I believe I am strong enough to resist any propaganda they push, and not just because if I wasn't I wouldn't be here chatting with you witches. Beyond that though, I can not express how stupid I think it is to actively construct an echo chamber around yourself. Get knowledge from everywhere, from everything and from everyone. Who gives a fuck who said something or why - once you have consumed it you can put it to use for yourself. Only Nixon could go to China doesn't just apply to politics, everyone's brains work differently, and there are all kinds of connections between different ideas and concepts - every piece of art on the planet is built from the thoughts and ideas of its creator, and without his admiration for antifa this guy wouldn't have made your favourite movie. If you have to go conflict theory about it, take what you value and discard the rest.

Can't see any problem to follow the advice of Prof. Preobrazhensky from the old soviet movie "Heart of a dog":

—And never read soviet newspapers before dinner.

—Hmm… But there are no other newspapers.

—In that case don’t read any at all.

Worth noting that there isn't a contradiction here. It's actually a 1988 movie, thus deep into Perestroika, based on a 1925 book (I recommend it, Bulgakov is good in general, though M&M is overhyped by our equivalent of «art hoes»).

Its publication was initially prohibited in the Soviet Union, but it circulated in samizdat until it was officially released in the country in 1987. It was almost immediately adapted into a movie, which was aired in late 1988 on First Channel of Soviet Television, gained almost universal acclaim and attracted many readers to the original Bulgakov text.

Also worth noting i guess that the movie's main theme is heavily anti-blankslate. Which is kind of funny in the modern day as it gives a certain social layer of russians a cognitive dissonance. They tend to like the movie previously as it's heavily anti-soviet, but now it turns out it goes against certain modern western shibboleth's. A perfect redpilled movie from soviets, huh..

It all becomes even more funny when you learn that the director of the movie, Vladimir Bortko, is a hardcore member of a Russian Communist party for the last 15 years. Speaking about only american politics being complicated.

Why is a marvel movie important to you? If it is just go, your boycott isn't really doing anything.

Right now a lot of leftists are hectoring people for buying or playing Hogwarts Legacy. Do you think they have a legitimate argument, just the wrong target, or do you think they are being silly for demanding ideological and ethical purity in their media consumption?

Realistically, if you are not on the left, most of your media is going to be produced by people who probably hold views you dislike. (Also, realistically, this true for everyone, just moreso for people who aren't leftists.) The only difference here is this guy has been more open and in-your-face about it than most. There are probably lots of people with credits and revenue-sharing on Into the Spider-Verse who are just as left as him or more so.

How much energy do you want to invest in trying not to give money to your political enemies?

I understand why people are bothered by JK Rowling's political views, but from my perspective, she is taking action that we consider welcome in a liberal society: speaking her mind and lobbying for politicians/policies she wants. I would be bothered if Peter Ramsey was donating money to people who want to create hate speech laws in the United States, but I wouldn't be nearly as upset as I am by his vocal support of mob violence and doxing. Mob violence is literally illegal for reasons that you'd think would be obvious to an educated black man. Doxing isn't illegal, but life ruination in response to legally protected speech still comes off as a violation of liberal principles.

I can easily say that I object to Ramsey's encouragement of political violence on meta-level grounds, but when I object to his support of doxing, am I objecting on a meta-level principle, or an object-level one? I don't know. What I do know is that I'm not objecting to boycotting as a strategy, I just don't think Rowling warrants it to the extent that someone who is opposed to liberalism and supportive of criminal violence does. Maybe she still does warrant it. But definitely not as much.

In response to the second paragraph, I mean, it's normal for people to support some kinds of violence in their heart of hearts, but we used to have strong norms against it that prevented people from saying it out loud. The idea that people can say it out loud with no repercussion frightens me.

Actually, neither a lot of leftists nor a lot of transgender people are boycotting Hogwarts Legacy. A small cabal of extremely online transgender activists (is this redundant?) are applying pressure against the game. You might think they failed in their stated goal, but the stated goals of activists are always exaggerated in order to arrive at a better middle ground.

So what did these extremely limited in number activists accomplish? They made “you can support the game and not support Rowling” a popular opinion online, which presupposes the immorality of Rowling, reminding the public of her ill repute. They spooked the game developers, who may have specifically added a transgender character at an important location in the game. The game developers may have also amplified the diversity as a defense against activism against them.

So, for such a small sliver of the population — perhaps 0.1% engaging in anything approximating a boycott — they actually had some influence on popular sentiment.

I disagree. I think by making this their hill to die on and then no one caring they have lost influence on future commercial endeavors the trans movement would disapprove of. Future producers will be a lot less easily frightened by activist underlings when they cannot point to this having tanked the biggest game of the year.

If it surrendered and wasn't tanked, that's not evidence against "failing to surrender gets you tanked".

How much energy do you want to invest in trying not to give money to your political enemies?

I don't look at these things in this light. I don't think it's about political enemies at all. I think it's more so, don't spent time/energy/money on people who think that you're a problem that needs to be solved. It's not because you're rewarding them/encouraging them/providing them ammo. It's because eventually they're going to pull the rug out from under you.

The fact that the trans activists adopt a tactic is very good evidence that it's effective. I have plenty of criticisms of trans activists but ineffectiveness definitely isn't one of them. I also don't think it's an immoral tactic to use: it isn't fraudulent, violent or rude and nobody should be obligated to buy from anyone they don't want to.

I'll usually try to switch from businesses with more extreme leftist positions to less extreme versions when reasonably practical. For example, I switched from Amazon Prime to Walmart Plus and I switched from Gillette razors an electric razor when they ran their "men are trash" commercial a few years ago. I don't think my side has the numbers to make this an extremely effective tactic but it is something at least. I certainly wouldn't blame anyone who just wants to grill for seeing the Marvel movie though.

How much energy do you want to invest in trying not to give money to your political enemies?

Money is investment; attention is energy. Framing avoidance of an entirely opt-in loss of resources (and indeed, their transfer to your enemies) as an expenditure unto itself is nonsensical and confused.

So that's a yes to trans activists being tactically correct if directionally wrong?

I mean, I am not one for saying "No ethical consumption under capitalism" because I am not anti-capitalist, but it's basically true that you cannot completely avoid giving money to people and institutions and causes you oppose. Where each person is going to set their line is different, but personally "I won't consume any media made by people I hate" isn't a compelling proposition to me.

I honestly don't understand your argument.

Yes, trans activists are correct, I'd say strategically more than tactically; cancellations and boycotts work. They haven't succeeded with Rowling yet, but she's a uniquely hard target. In what sense are they directionally wrong? I do not care to lecture my enemies on morals and goals, it's a given that we disagree. In any case, the premise of voting with your wallet and denying the other party your capital is of course sound – and morally legitimate.

it's basically true that you cannot completely avoid giving money to people and institutions and causes you oppose

Strawman (or what's the term). Only God is perfect and complete; you totally can make sure of preferentially supporting people you want to support or at least not giving advantage to the opposite group. The point is not purity spiralling in the manner of religious hardliners with absolute dietary taboos, but changing the battleground in ways you deem preferable. Paying Ramsay is not the same as paying Mel Gibson, although the latter is presumably still a node in the same Hollywood economy. Additionally, boycott sends the message that certain attitudes can be financially detrimental; even if parties which are directly at war are fanatical and don't care much about profits, they depend on many mercantile agents.

Or not. I remember a few years ago some in CWR felt that movie industry might «go woke go broke». Well, this never happened, people keep consuming this trash. Wokes are more principled than conservatives – who, ultimately, would rather pay for their own demonization than be deprived of the experience of watching Marvel kung-fu on a big screen.

Yes, trans activists are correct, I'd say strategically more than tactically; cancellations and boycotts work. They haven't succeeded with Rowling yet, but she's a uniquely hard target. In what sense are they directionally wrong? I do not care to lecture my enemies on morals and goals, it's a given that we disagree. In any case, the premise of voting with your wallet and denying the other party your capital is of course sound – and morally legitimate.

That's the thing though, it's not a given you disagree any more man, that sentence is couched in an entire paragraph of agreeing. Do we have to become them to beat them? Is there really no path to the future which leverages the flourishing of human thought instead of its suppression? If that's the only choice we get - whose jackboot is crushing whose throat? - then fuck the whole enterprise.

You can call it immature, I am definitely immature, but if this is the world we live in, if left vs right is highest order and there is no path to compromise, no path of embracing our better nature instead of our worst, then I don't care what you think. I don't care what anyone thinks, I AM, and I hate.

I don't really have a choice if this is the way of the world. I point blank refuse to be a part of any enterprise which judges my loyalty based on my entertainment preferences. I will be deemed a traitor eventually, because I won't stop to appease anyone. Instead I will reaasume my old labourer nickname - passionfingers - and I will fuck everything I touch until it all falls apart.

I just don't think it's possible to draw a line and go no further. Take this place for example. How is it ok to chat with the enemy - sometimes very jovially even - if it's not ok to consume their media? You say the point is not purity spiralling, but have you ever actually seen anyone perform a purity quarter turn? They're called purity spirals because the spiralling is inevitable once you start. The start is the same as the end, it is someone losing their patience and crossing the line - by starting it you endorse the race to the bottom or revel in hypocrisy.

That said, one last caveat - nobody should be paying for media ever unless it is specifically to thank the creator for a job well done after the fact, or if it's something you have watched being independently built from the ground up. If it was made by a studio or network in the last ten years, it has been designed maliciously to extract value from you with product placement, advertising, propaganda and so on, and paying for that is for simps. Even if you want to see it on the big screen there are a dozen ways to do it without paying for it.

Yes, fine, I agree with them. Theirs are beliefs befitting actors, not consumerist NPCs who fancy themselves connoisseurs of «entertainment».

You say the point is not purity spiralling, but have you ever actually seen anyone perform a purity quarter turn?

You insist on missing the point. Purity is entirely irrelevant. Intent is what matters. The Author isn't dead except when s/he physically is; this postmodernist theory about freedom of interpretation is not an excuse to delude oneself about content, but a utilitarian justification for marauding on the culture war battlefront. It matters who holds the picked up weapon.

You and @Conservautism here both seem to underestimate our inferential distance. From here it looks like I'm not «more right-wing» than him nor less principled and appreciative of Enlightenment values than you. It's just that I am taking essences of things more seriously, and on account of this I have become less enamored with their forms and inessential parts.

In this case, the essence is Ramsay's racial grievance and hatred (the Antifa thing is an isolated puny consequence), and political intention implemented as an indoctrination project delivered via flashy movies about Spiderman; the content that you consume is entirely vacuous in the absence of that core. It's as if you had asked me to marvel as the elegant shape and immaculate engineering of a syringe used to spread AIDS HIV. I will take a gander – sure, industrial design is cool. But I can't get its purpose out of my mind, and unlike Cypher from Matrix, am unwilling to; consequently, this purpose takes almost all the aesthetic charm out of the thing by providing a more authentic frame for perceiving it. Meanwhile, your willingness to suspend the awareness of its intent just to enjoy the shine of its edges a bit longer strikes me as infantile. Like a child playing with a firearm. Moreover: I'd have at least respected it if you were simply more magnanimous and capable of decoupling; but you limit yourself to appreciating the thing outside of its proper context. You only agree to notice noises, shapes, color blots, literally taken plots – the surface, the most trivial, childish part of the art.

To be clear: not all art is political simply because artists have political beliefs. For example, Demoscene is, far as I can tell, overwhelmingly about showing off one's technical chops, good taste and intelligence (because compression is comprehension). A great deal of music is apolitical. Even the most fanatical woke artist can occasionally succumb to the pure childlike creative impulse. And one's politics may have nothing to do with hot topics of the culture war – whatever Rowling «wanted to say with» Harry Potter, it had zero relation to transgenderism; Brandon Sanderson's Mormonism is not substantially informing the magic of his novels. It can be argued that their enemies are trespassing some norm by vilifying their «civilian» work. Okay.

But those AAA movies with conspicuously cast racial archetypes are means to a political end, made by people at least as serious as myself; thus, they are political art. Their features that captivate you are as utilitarian as Ozy's eloquence when she implores of people to not prioritise their kin over other tribes. Just weapons. Or while we're at it: Ozy argues that Serrano's Piss Christ is aesthetically beautiful. But, even if true, that's the incidental part; the essential part is normalizing pissing on Christianity. Any intricate shape in a jar of orange liquid would be equally pretty; the specific choice of a theme tells us that beauty was not the point, and focusing on appearances is missing the point. Likewise with narratives, character casts and moral lessons of high production value Western slop that you defend as your «preference»: the point of that content is who-whom, whose boot goes on whose face. You are lashing out at me, but I'm a mere messenger.

I know that weapons have a way of being beautiful (for that matter, boots too). You see, I've always liked MLRS launchers, this staple of Soviet war doctrine, and Soviet war songs e.g. 1 2 – not favorites, just germane to the topic. One of the most iconic weapons of the war is BM series MLRS nicknamed Katyusha, associated with the war song of the same name; recently I've heard it played by a dude with an accordion on the street and literally teared up. My love for MLRS is not out of any appreciation for their effect on intended targets, mind you; it's just such glorious fireworks, and such elevating music. People who don't speak Russian like it all too sometimes – just check the comments.

But consider such lyrics:

In our hearts is burning the love to the native land,

We go into a deadly battle for the honour of the native country.

Cities are burning, covered in smoke,

In the grey forests is rumbling the cruel god of war.

Artillerymen, Stalin gave the order!

Artillerymen, the Motherland calls us!

From hundreds thousands of batteries,

For the tears of our mothers,

For our Motherland — fire! Fire!

Know, my dear mother, know, my wife or girlfriend,

Know, distant home and my entire family,

That our blizzard of steel is beating and burning the enemy,

That we are bringing freedom into the native land!

How do you figure this Russian song would sound in Ukraine today? Say, in Mariupol? And yet this kind of outcome is the song's intent, the cultivation of unthinking rah-rah patriotism and obedience to the Great Leader. I may keep listening to it - but I won't pay for the ticket to Red Army Choir's concert, if a chance comes by.

Still. It'd be less self-abasing of me to pay for a Red Army concert than it is for white Americans to pay for their black supremacist Hollywood stuff. I am of the same tribe as those Russians, and they're calling to commit murder in my name too – in a certain twisted a