site banner

Culture War Roundup for the week of March 4, 2024

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:

  • Shaming.

  • Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.

  • Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.

  • Recruiting for a cause.

  • Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.

In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:

  • Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.

  • Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.

  • Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.

  • Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.

On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.

6
Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

Disincentivizing low-level antisocial behavior

There's a recent reddit post about someone, who contextually sounds like a woman in her 20s or 30s, living in an apartment complex and paying for a reserved parking spot. According to her, some guy has repeated parked his car in her spot, and she finally wrote a polite note and tucked under the wipers asking him to not park in the reserved spot. Minutes later, when she's inside her unit, the guy comes to her door and beats and kicks on it, and then leaves a note that says don't touch his car.

I'm sure billions such peccadillos take place every day around the world. I'd guess 95+% of these don't amount to anything consequential, and only result in hurt feelings, and that in turn explains to a large extent why they keep on happening, because it's unserious enough to amount to any consequences. People respond to incentives, and if you don't disincentivize peccadillos, well, they keep multiplying.

In this specific case, the reddit thread mostly has people suggesting she call the apartment complex to tow the car next time this happens, and to file a complaint so there is a record of potential violence and intimidation. Another upvoted comment says to put up a camera near her car so she'd know if he retaliates, maybe by keying her car or something.

Here's the thing, all this sounds like a major headache for the poor woman. It sounds like a major headache for a man who has a life he values, too. Most apartment complex reserved spots merely mean convenience, and if yours is stolen, you can just park in an unreserved spot and walk a few more feet. Inconvenient, and perhaps infuriating, but if the alternative is stressing over an angry man beating on your door or keying your car, I mean, is it really rational to stand your ground? If she were my daughter, I think my system-level advice would be to try to escape that environment entirely, which might mean moving to a safer city/town, or paying more to go to a higher end apartment complex, etc.

There was a post high up on reddit featuring a clip from Jack Reacher season 2's opening, where a man deduces that a woman in front of him at the ATM is being held hostage by a carjacker. For extra morality simplification in case the audience is thinking too hard, her kid is in the car too. The hero then walks over, smashes the window, and beats the shit out of the carjacker. Very cathartic, and the reddit post is titled as something like this is every guy's fantasy.

Well, this is very dramatic, but I'd rather wish more lower-level heroics took place. Instead of beating up a carjacker to save a child, can we have a hero who beats on the door of the reserved parking spot thief and leave a note that says to never intimidate the poor woman ever again?

My point is this: society has systems in place to disincentivize felonies, and to a lesser extent, misdemeanors. We don't end up with too many serial killers because it's so egregious. We suffer misdemeanors, especially in blue cities, because it's tolerable. We breathe in peccadillos because no one can be bothered to do anything about it. And that seems incredibly inefficient and unjust.

Because it's almost never worth it to be the hero to enforce low level rule breakers. Ah, some "teens" are acting obnoxious on public transit? What are you gonna do, speak up? What if they stab you? What if some activist records you, edits the video to make you seem suspect, and gets you fired? In what universe can the rational incentives ever be right for an individual who's not a superhero to intervene? The problem is that once everyone acts rationally, the low level rule breakers take over public spaces, and everyone is worse off. And the victims won't be the upper class or middle class intellectuals, but working class women, children, seniors, and any man who doesn't want to escalate at every turn, and also can't afford to pay to leave the failed environment.

The formal legal system is useless here. The guy's sticky note on the poor woman doesn't directly threaten violence. But she's now strongly disincentivized to escalate because there is an implication of retaliation. All the guy has to do is to come across as a little unhinged, and a little willing to throw his life away, and every rational man or woman backs off, and rightly so. This strategy works brilliantly in a society that's just safe enough--if the apartment is known to have multiple unhinged individuals, each unhinged individual may think twice about beating on the wrong door. But if everyone else is a law abiding citizen, well, it's free real estate!

How are you supposed to prosecute this? Cops and DAs have bigger fish to fry, and most apartment complexes aren't typically managed by brilliant problem solvers who go out of their way to attend to residents' needs. All I can do is to send thoughts and prayers to the poor lady.

I can think of three divergent environments that manage this problem.

  1. Chinese surveillance / social credit state. Use technology and broad public support to directly manage against low level offenses.
  2. Japanese homogeneity. Stop outsiders and troublemakers from entering society. Then in this cohesive society, everyone pitches in to punish low level offenses without the additional complication of being accused of discrimination.
  3. Semi-failed state where the stakes are high for low level offenders themselves. Some guy parks in your spot? Shoot up his car windows. No legal consequence will come because that's considered a misdemeanor here. Perhaps things escalate, but perhaps not, but at least he won't park in your spot again.

Surely a rich society has a fourth option?

Society already offers a solution if the woman lives in a castle doctrine state to the problem of someone trying to beat down a door - she simply has to exercise it.

I think there's a difference between kicking a door out of anger to get someone's attention - what this guy did - and actually trying to break it down? I don't think the former is a situation allowing for self-defense shootings today, and it probably isn't something you want escalating to homicide, especially since some of the people evaluating when to shoot under the new standard will be the kind of person who would kick that door in the first place.

I might be wrong, but as I recall the castle doctrine doesn't typically apply beyond the threshold A man in the common hallway might be beyond it.

YMMV, IANAL, please don't take legal advice from the internet.

if the woman lives in a castle doctrine state

Sounds like a big if. An lot of people don't live in castle doctrine states. And while on a societal level this could be fixed by adding this to more states, that's not super realistic for an individual person in this situation. An individual solution would be to move to a castle doctrine state, but that has some pretty high costs depending on how their social circles, family, and careers are structured.

Another valid solution is state sanctioned "beating the shit out of bad human beings until there is no more shitty behaviour left in them". This is surprisingly effective at getting those who are immune to reason to see sense. Operant conditioning works just as well on humans as it does on lower animals.

Six lashes for his rude behaviour followed by a solemn promise that he's going to get another sixty lashes if anything untoward was to happen to the woman afterwards would set him straight very quickly.

sixty lashes

You wanna kill him or what? You know the lashes are in the range of like 5-12 ish.

You don't give the sixty lashes all in one row. Six lashes every Friday until the sentence is discharged, and he is kept in prison until that happens.

I can see this working against most offenses. But sure are we that the bottom deciles of undesirables won't just take the beatings as a badge of honor?

Also, this still requires the state to know about the offenses, necessitating cameras everywhere, even if privacy-respecting like scott's raikoth. OP's "Chinese surveillance / social credit state. Use technology and broad public support to directly manage against low level offenses.". And when you have that technology, it seems easier to manage said offenses with 'denial of access to services', rather than direct punishment, and I'm not sure punishment is even more effective for most cases.

Besides the lashing part, this solution requires fairly significant efforts at distinguishing (at reasonable accuracy) who is the bad human being in each instance. Given that the rules are not very complicated, it becomes a lot of factual investigation into tiresome details. Did he really park there? Is she just made he dumped her friend harshly? Did he really "bang and yell" or did he politely explain that he was in a rush.

Easy to adjudicate in a single instance, but really banal at scale. And even worse, whoever you empower to do this dumb job will themselves be tempted (or at the very least, power attracts the corrupt). Who's gonna enforce against them.

I guess this just slides down to solution (1) and just make it easy and legible for all by pulling the cameras of all the parking lots and hallways.

Unironically normalize beating up thieves and pickpockets. In India (and your corner of this shitty subcontinent), the cops won't give a shit if you turn in a robber with a few broken bones. Saves them the trouble. Ensures justice is swiftly and efficiently delivered. It's fun for the whole neighborhood.

Hence why, despite being so goddamn poor, we don't have the same level of flagrant antisocial or low level criminal behavior as some more colorful parts of the West.

Corporal punishment should be brought back anyway. I'd rather take a dozen lashes than a month in jail, and it dissuades criminals with low time preferences better, while being less expensive for the taxpayer.

Remind me, how common are acid attacks in that corner? Because that type of antisocial assault is something the subcontinent is infamous for. Not interested in starting the "if I'm getting beat up by the townies anyway, let's give them a real reason for it" ball rolling.

how common are acid attacks in that corner

Extremely rare. Just becuase the west points to them whenever they happen and uses them as a sign of how they are "oh so much better and safer" than us doesn't mean they happen with any regular frequency.

Would it surprise you if I were to say my home city is safer for women to walk around alone at night than London?

I do not know anyone who has been acid attacked, or anyone who knows anyone who has been acid attacked.

It's not that they don't happen, but it's a rarity and found more in honor-cultureish parts of the country than something you need to wear alkaline sunscreen to guard against.

In other words, a non-issue to the average Indian, no matter how it might get signal boosted.

Hence why, despite being so goddamn poor, we don't have the same level of flagrant antisocial or low level criminal behavior as some more colorful parts of the West.

Reddit could have fooled me. The way they portray it, it's like an episode of Star Trek and the gang is visiting that world with the rape gangs.

India is a normal country. Like it's obviously Third World, but it's not like middle class and UMC people get chased down by rape gangs and gored by cattle.

I wouldn't even call it unsafe. The rate of violent crime is probably nothing to worry about, and the troubles faced by Western visitors are the same kind as anyone considered an easy mark by poor and avaricious locals.

The country has problems, but Jesus Christ it's not that bad haha. The primary problems are poverty, corruption, a conservative society, and general dirtiness, but it's not unsafe by any sensible standard, even for women.

I guess I'm kinda shocked -- won't people with a grudge (for whatever other reason) beat people up and accuse them of theft? After all, anyone can take their victim to the cops and say whatever.

Hasn't happened where I've seen it.

There's certainly a bit of common sense and due diligence involved, hopefully there are witnesses, the stolen item is found on the thief's person, they're caught red handed and so on.

The stolen item is just ... an item. Anyone can produce a backpack and say that guy stole it and my friend here saw them.

Maybe let me ask the other Popperian question -- if it happened, how would you tell? Surely if most of the time it's truly a miscreant (undoubtedly so) then you'd be (correctly) far less likely to believe it when someone says they were mistakenly or maliciously accused.

That is to say, you may have seen it and not noticed.

The stolen item is just ... an item. Anyone can produce a backpack and say that guy stole it and my friend here saw them.

A backpack seems like an almost uniquely bad example. You just separate the parties and ask each a few questions about its contents and it's easy to figure out which one it belongs to.

One person is gonna know everything in and say the other guy stole it. He is going to say this whether or not the other guy actually did steal it.

The other guy said he's never seen the backpack before in his life and never stole it. Of course, he is going to say this whether or not he actually stole it.

I was envisioning a scenario where one person has it and the other says they stole it. But even in a scenario where there isn't a clear current possessor like this, in any such situation I've been even tangentially involved in, laying blame is a distant third on the priority list, behind getting it to the rightful owner and keeping the overall peace.

Frankly you're also overestimating the intelligence and planning of most people who do stuff like stealing backpacks. In my area, frankly, you're more likely to get drug-addled confusion about what's wrong with walking off with someone's backpack and why the fact that they don't own it is even relevant.

More comments

We have strong social networks where reputation matters a lot. If you with minimal proof accuse someone of theft that everyone knows to be a good upstanding citizen who wouldn't do such a thing then you'll be ignored completely, and if you already beat them up and they can make a convincing case they weren't in the wrong you run the risk of getting beat up even harder by those who have an interest in maintaining these social networks (basically everyone, because these networks are all we have protecting us against anarchy). And you get ostracised from polite society too and lose a ton of social standing, which you can argue matters more than losing your entire net worth in a society like ours.

Plus there's the usual social standing differences that have to be taken into account. You can never get away with beating up someone at a higher (or even the same, most of the time) social station than you, even if you really dislike them and they deserve it. E.g. if you are a low level factory worker you'd never be able to beat up a manager at a respectable company on your own, even if they were in the wrong (though why such a manager would be stealing from the house of a factory worker I have no idea, which again gives the manager an alibi and makes me more inclined to take his side if he was so accused). You'd have to build a case against them by banding together with other low level factory workers and getting someone even higher than the manager to notice the injustice and take action.

This does run the risk of the higher classes being able to tyrannize the lower classes willy nilly, which can sometimes be a problem. However on net in a completely free society the lower classes tyrannize the higher classes a lot more than the reverse (by virtue of their greater numbers and generally being shittier human beings) so this state of affairs is good for you even if you are at a middling station: the small additional risk that someone high up with unjustly bring the boot down on you is well worth the very real reduction in the probability you'll have a bad encounter with a low level scumbag, or at least it's worth it to give you the tools to deel with the scumbag. The only people who really lose out in this situation are the true lowlifes (and the very unlucky) but they deserve everything coming to them anyways.

This sounds like the perfect anarcho-tyranny.

Sub-state organization. Possibly sub-legal. Vigilance committees, neighborhood watch but tooled up. You saw this a lot in Hispanic neighborhoods during BLM. The Roof Koreans during the RK riots. You have to organize and strategize to defeat both retaliation and arrest.

The current failure is only of social pride and excessive legalism. People near the edge of the law cling to it all the more. Get realistic, look at your sub-legal options.

Go the other way. Find a group you won't snitch on. Teach each other, train each other, police each other. Street crims ain't shit to three guys who know what they're doing.

You know what? I might have a story for this.

People near the edge of the law cling to it all the more.

Because once you've crossed that edge you can't cross back. You can be a white-collar professional, allowed into the good jobs and (maybe) the good clubs and parties, but to do so you have to scrupulously follow the laws which count (which include those against vigilantism). Break one of them and get caught and you're done -- your professional licenses go up in smoke, you're legally barred from various industries and (for many crimes) any jobs dealing with kids, and where you're not legally barred most companies will bar you anyway. At that point, you'll likely realize that you lack the skills to survive either in the part of the working class which accepts these things, or the precariat. So perhaps some of your former friends will cluck their tongues about the tragedy when they hear about your suicide... but most likely not even that.

The state is typically far more dangerous to those it protects than the rioters. (and I mean that in both senses).

professional licenses

Shouldn't be a thing. You should be prevented from doing a profesion only if you commit a crime to harm a customer directly.

They are a thing though; they're part of how the government keeps control of the professional classes.

And this is why people live in gater communities where they can outsource the "beat up shitty human beings" to security who stop shitty human being from entering inside in the first place, mostly made up of hardened members of the lower classes who're never going to get professional licences etc., so the security guards are fine if they beat up shit tier human beings.

Win win for free trade if you ask me.

I wrote a Dethklok-style song during the pandemic about that trend. It was cathartic to fantasize about burning those kinds of HOAs (and their contracts) to rubble.

The existence of keycard-locked and gated neighborhoods is a strong signal that most of the Americans that can afford them believe their surrounding society deserves low-trust interactions. This, in turn, earns a disgust response from me and others who cannot afford the security you buy.

strong signal that most of the Americans that can afford them believe their surrounding society deserves low-trust interactions

How does this at all possibly follow? The cart is before the horse here. People have bought into these communities because the surrounding communities are already so low-trust enough to force them into protective enclaves.

When was the last time you've heard of people making real decisions based on fiction they've read or seen? Or based on news articles from only one color of the spectrum?

If kids see a cartoon about bullies targeting people with glasses, they're less likely to wear glasses. Adults are nowhere near immune from that kind of false-positive threat modeling. They're just a lot more effective at overreacting. See: post-9/11 reactions to Arabs & Muslims, Japanese internment camps, Pizzagate, parental advisory stickers.

People can and do put the cart before the horse when making decisions on which neighborhoods to move into. It's common, and no amount of 'rational threat analysis' will change that.

People can and do put the cart before the horse when making decisions on which neighborhoods to move into. It's common, and no amount of 'rational threat analysis' will change that.

Can you elaborate on what "putting the cart before the horse" means specifically, in this context? It seems you're claiming that crime and general social dysfunction isn't that big of a deal, and so organized efforts to exclude these things from one's immediate community are misguided, apparently because they only solve the problem for themselves rather than for everyone. Is that the general idea?

...But then here you seem to be claiming that the people doing this are mistaken about how low-trust and dysfunctional the surrounding communities actually are, that they've been propagandized into a fear response that is not warranted by the situation. Is this also accurate?

...But it seems these two points contradict each other. If the security they obtain is illusory, because it's really not that bad, then why does paying more and restricting oneself to gain this illusory "security" earn "a disgust response from me and others who cannot afford the security you buy." If they don't need the security, then you and the others who can't afford it don't need it either, right?

Straightforwardly, and from direct personal experience as well as observed experience of those close to me, low-trust areas are in fact absolutely awful, and the crime and dysfunction they engender makes living a decent life far, far harder than a reasonable person should or will tolerate. The people who take positive action to exclude such crime and dysfunction from their communities are doing what they can with what they have where they are. Those who cannot enjoy such coordination could, if they wished, get the same effect through the powers of the state; not doing so is a decision that a majority of them have made and continue to make, because they consider the steps necessary unacceptable. I see no reason to consider your disgust toward the people who wall themselves off from such dysfunction legitimate in any way.

And reading your comment just makes me even more convinced about the goodness and necessity of having a gated community to live in, far away from those with fantasies like yours. First the lower classes take away the surplus we generate through taxation and spend it on themselves, showing precisely zero gratitude for what we are giving them and then they fantasize about hurting us for using what portion of the fruits of our labour we have left over to create a healthy, functioning society for ourselves.

Nothing we do inside our gated communities precludes you from creating a similar thing for yourself on the outside. It is the bad behaviour of the lower classes which led to the necessity of gated communities in the first place, and now you hate us for doing exactly what you would have probably done were you in our situation... Gated communities don't create low trust societies but rather low trust societies create the need for gated communities in the first place.

We are the ones paying for your continued existence and in return you treat us like this? I've always felt that the higher classes are fundamentally better human beings than the lower classes (and therefore if you were to turn the tables and give the current lower classes stewardship over the resources of society the world would get much worse very quickly because every single vice the common man accuses us of is present in even greater quantities amongst the lower class) but I guess it's good to get some vindication for my belief.

Are we LARPing, or just throwing speeches at each other? 🤣

Consider the following:

  1. The benefit cliffs from tax subsidies are real, and most technician jobs pay in the shadow of them. Competent contributors without a strong social network seem to get the worst of both worlds. Especially if the work is structured to have compulsory overtime to meet legal deadlines, and face-to-face socializing is rarely possible during work hours.

  2. Everyone fantasizes about violence. Some people sublimate it better than others. I appreciate your honest distaste. It's less exhausting to communicate with masks off.

You're welcome to believe we deserve our hell, as I believe you've invented one for us by relying on Internet art and thirdhand stories.

Now, this might not be the thread for it. But are you ready for some productive conversation after we've puffed our chests at each other?

Well, this is very dramatic, but I'd rather wish more lower-level heroics took place. Instead of beating up a carjacker to save a child, can we have a hero who beats on the door of the reserved parking spot thief and leave a note that says to never intimidate the poor woman ever again?

For this to happen, you'd have to stop punishing heroes when they arise. I'm reminded of that case of the guy restraining the addict on the subway who was making everyone uncomfortable. Or the numerous cases of people being prosecuted for self defence against criminals.

Point is, it's not worth it for most people to step in when chances are they'll get a harsher punishment than the criminal they apprehend.

I'm reminded of that case of the guy restraining the addict on the subway who was making everyone uncomfortable.

He killed the homeless guy. I'm sympathetic to the issue of nuisances on subways, but the right solution isn't literally killing them. From the Wikipedia page, it seems like he didn't choke the guy for less than 5 minutes. Depriving the brain of oxygen will start causing permanent damage after 1 minute, and will just about always be lethal by 5 minutes.

This could have been prevented by making it fine and legal to beat the shit out of the nuisance instead of having to restrain him. The guy would still be alive today (well unless he overdosed later, which is a very real possibility) had he gotten the shit beat out of him in that encounter rather than being restrained.

If beating the shit out of nuisances was legal, I'd be rather concerned about the amount of "Oh Officer you don't understand, he was being slightly annoying in a public space, that's why I broke two of his bones and gave him internal bleeding". Sure it's a step up from literal murder, but still very far from any ideal outcome.

I would support police having the option to whip people who commit minor crimes, like Singapore does. But only by a well trained and disciplined police force who can actually determine who deserves it, not any rando who doesn't like the look of a hobo.

As others have touched upon it's not homogeneity that drives Japan's relatively low levels of criminality, it's culture, customs, and habits.

Both the guy and the girl in the described story could be the most Ashkenazi of Jews and the guy would still be an asshole in need of an ass-whooping.

Likewise surveillance doesn't mean shit if it isn't backed by the will to do something about it, see the current state of the UK.

The missing fourth option on your list is "reject modernity and embrace tradition" not in the silly RETVRN sense peddled by gay-presenting euro-poors who self-identify as perverts on twitter, but in the understanding that maybe grandpa knew something you don't. Maybe all those backwards seeming customs that you chafed at because you're a good little liberal who believes in self-actualization and fighting the power actually serve a critical role. Maybe life is better when you make a conscious effort to say what you mean and mean what you say and refuse to tolerate anything less from those around you. Maybe "suiting up" to leave the house isn't just for you and contra liberal sensibilities, the old man (or woman) who tells the kids to "knock it off", wear a belt, watch thier language, etc... is serving a vital social function.

What if George S Patton was right about everything?

Could you make your comment a little more concrete?

Are you conjecturing the man in this story didn't respect his parents enough, and that that is the fault of liberal policy? Or that his parents didn't teach him self-control, and that is the fault of liberal policy? That this kind of aggravation happened less often in the 1950s because people went to church, and liberal policy is driving people away from Christianity?

Right now the your fourth option is vague, and it is appropriately supported with a vague appeal to some idealized past.

The fourth option is what relatively secular Asian countries have. A strong shame culture with a very explicit and detailed set of expectations on their behavior. You can have that without religion and with a fairly liberal government. They have strong social norms enforced through shaming.

If she were my daughter, I think my system-level advice would be to try to escape that environment entirely, which might mean moving to a safer city/town, or paying more to go to a higher end apartment complex, etc.

That is probably correct individual level advice, but my gut reaction is to let my Cajun side come out and show up in numbers and intimidate him right back.

And that's the thing, obviously- our society strongly disincentivizes honor-culture retaliation moreso than it does the initial offense, which benefits bad actors. If we really wanted we could set a different equilibrium where the law considers provocation a sufficient mitigating factor to reverse the equilibrium. We don't, though. It probably comes at the cost of much higher levels of assault and murder and the like. We could also set a different equilibrium where our society has a much laxer attitude towards police brutality as long as he had it coming, and gentlemen like this(who, after all, didn't commit a serious crime) could get a beating from police instead of getting arrested to be released later with no charges. The black community's collective neuroticism about police brutality probably takes this option off the table, however.

Now obviously you can't try and prosecute every asshole in the world. You have to pick a set of tradeoffs, and the tradeoff our society picked is one where assholes get a lot of leash. In places like much of Africa assholes don't get much protection from the law, because the law gives only minimal protections to anybody. In East Asia the law cracks down on assholes at the expense of the rights of the accused and general privacy rights. I don't see much of a fourth option. Maybe ancaps have a nice theoretical framework, but every time it's been tried organized crime and/or powerful clans brought us back to "places like much of Africa". I guess in theory you can have a very nice clan-based society where the state prevents actual feuds, but it seems like it's A) not very compatible with liberal individualism and B) prone to the same failure modes as that nice theoretical framework.

our society strongly disincentivizes honor-culture retaliation moreso than it does the initial offense, which benefits bad actors

This is by design. The initial offense here just isn't that bad. It can coexist with a society that has OpenAI. The problem with honor culture retaliation is it escalates and it's indifferent / symmetric with respect to who was actually "in the right" from the perspective of society's interest in preserving large-scale systems from interference. Allowing such retaliation if a court later judges you're in the right ... well, everyone thinks they're in the right in the moment.

If we really wanted we could set a different equilibrium where the law considers provocation a sufficient mitigating factor to reverse the equilibrium

The current equilibrium poorly with "you can't punish the underclass for being violent or antisocial because that's bigoted (not just racist, it's more general than that)", but everything mixes badly with that.

Part of the problem is that things in between 'honor-culture retaliation' and 'shutting up and taking it' are highly discouraged both legally and culturally.

I've often thought we should bring back the idea of an outlaw. Literally a person with no legal protections that can be dealt with as the citizenry sees fit. There should be crimes that grant you that status, like rolling coal on a pedestrian in a modded diesel truck, or listening to loud music on public transport on a boombox instead of headphones. If you choose to act outside the law for no reason other than to antagonize your fellow man, the law should not protect you.

Because it's almost never worth it to be the hero to enforce low level rule breakers. Ah, some "teens" are acting obnoxious on public transit? What are you gonna do, speak up? What if they stab you? What if some activist records you, edits the video to make you seem suspect, and gets you fired? In what universe can the rational incentives ever be right for an individual who's not a superhero to intervene? The problem is that once everyone acts rationally, the low level rule breakers take over public spaces, and everyone is worse off.

You touch on the answer just below this, but it's a cousin phenomenon to Rob Henderson's luxury beliefs: social policies that are harmless in high-IQ high-SES bubbles but disastrous when broadcast to wider society. Our elite-set public morality frowns on small rule enforcement. For those with six figure incomes and degrees from top forty universities, chances are you do antisocial things so rarely, and your peers do antisocial things so rarely, that whenever someone confronts someone about a small rule, the confronter is a petty tyrant looking for an excuse to hurt others. The enforcer of small rules becomes a much hated figure — a Mrs. Dubose yelling at children for saying 'hey' rather than 'good afternoon' or a Mr. Neck pulling rank on free-thinking kids he doesn't like, bigot that he is. To the high-IQ high-SES bubble theatre kid who grows up to write popular media, such small-minded harassment is what 'rule enforcement' is.

Shuttled from private school to Harvard to cushy marketing gigs, they never experience the zoo that unregulated low-IQ low-SES spaces become. A few might donate a year to Teach For America, and then tell horror stories to their friends, only to shut up when they sense their 'friends' don't approve of this line of thinking.

A year or two ago there was an execrable ad on TV about a black young woman paying for college by running a beauty salon in a library. She clacks nails on a desk, and the furious, nasty-looking (and, of course, white) librarian hisses SHHHH at her. A reaction shot, if I recall, shows library patrons recoiling in disapproval at this fascist imposition on a girlboss running her business. The librarian is depicted as pure villain.

Break this down. The ad takes place in a library, a space specifically delineated for quiet study. Distraction-free is the rule. The librarian is an authority figure; she has prerogative to enforce rules, and is enforcing one that benefits every library patron except our young entrepreneur. And she's "bad" because... why, exactly? Because she's enforcing small rules. That's it.

High-IQ high-SES bubbles, where members have been filtered for agreeability and conscientiousness since birth, function without the librarian. Other spaces cannot. But the people in those bubbles set the tone at the top, and they teach proper (read: destructive) values of permissiveness to the lower orders. Thus the world we see around us.

High conscientiousness bubbles don't need a low level bossman. Highly religious communities and certain firearms-centered communities do quite well with minimal lower management, despite being broadly average in IQ and SES, because they're high in conscientiousness.

The trouble is we have a major ideological tendency which objects to the concept of conscientiousness and labels it as "whiteness", and other ideological tendencies which think that's ridiculous but do nothing to promote conscientiousness per se.

I think the problem with tolerate the bad behavior is that it pretty much normalizes that behavior. And this guy has been emboldened to act like a bully and intimidate this woman because it has worked numerous time for him in the past and will likely continue to do so in the future. So my answer is that the bad behaviors are stopped by either the apartment complex owners, or the cops enforcing a fine for parking in a reserved spot.

I’m firmly in favor of broken windows approaches to social norms — if you tolerate low level breaking of norms, you’ll eventually get higher levels of norm breaking. And ideally starting young. Don’t let your kids or anyone else’s kids be rude to you, or to be rude to other people. Insist on not only minimal expectations but higher ones. Teach your kids to call adults sir, ma’am, and Mr/Mrs Last Name, and insist on being called that yourself. Don’t let them go out looking sloppy. This is what happened in the high societies of the past. People respected themselves and others because it was something that was drilled into people with a high degree of formality. You can read the etiquette books from privous eras, and while some of it is probably outdated (like having house uniforms for your servants) a lot of it would create the social norms we actually want. A society where it’s drilled into your head to not be late to the movie and not climb over people during the show is likely one where people will respect others enough to not have conversations, chew loudly, or pull out their phones. And a child who learns at five to not touch other people’s stuff and faces a couple of groundings for doing so isn’t going to take people’s stuff or park in their spaces without permission.

What we’ve done instead is create a slovenly slacker culture in which expectations are basically in the toilet. There’s no insistence on any social norms. In 1950, informal was clean blue jeans. In 2024, it’s pajama bottoms. In 1950, no kid would be allowed to talk back to an adult, in 2024, it’s normal to argue with them. And it doesn’t actually shock me that a culture that has very few social norms around showing respect for other people somehow is creating a culture of entitlement in which if you can get it or intimidate others into giving it to you, then you get yours and screw everyone else.

There was a post high up on reddit featuring a clip from Jack Reacher season 2's opening, where a man deduces that a woman in front of him at the ATM is being held hostage by a carjacker. For extra morality simplification in case the audience is thinking too hard, her kid is in the car too. The hero then walks over, smashes the window, and beats the shit out of the carjacker. Very cathartic, and the reddit post is titled as something like this is every guy's fantasy.

My fantasy is keeping myself out of trouble and to avoid injecting myself in such situations so that I can live to die another day. I rather enjoy living and having my body bereft of stab wounds and bullet holes. A random woman certainly wouldn’t reciprocate to provide free protection services if the situations were reversed.

Well, this is very dramatic, but I'd rather wish more lower-level heroics took place. Instead of beating up a carjacker to save a child, can we have a hero who beats on the door of the reserved parking spot thief and leave a note that says to never intimidate the poor woman ever again?

I’m more than down with normalizing vigilantism against antisocial behavior in the spirit of a general “fuck around and find out”edness. It should be open season for motorists to provide mostly peaceful love-taps to groups of “teens” riding their bicycles dangerously in the streets, for storeowners or third-parties to Rooftop Korean-away looting flash mobs like the compound outbreak scene in 28 Weeks Later. In the current state of affairs, this is largely restricted by Who? Whom? concerns, as a certain NYC subway marine found out the hard way.

However, I don’t like the gender-biased nature of it. Women already feel entitled to random men serving as their white-knights, meat-shields, and bodyguards; I’d prefer not to exacerbate that. If women are to be regarded as Strong Independent #GirlBosses with the rights and status of men, they can solve their own problems and fight their own battles. Fists, knives, and bullets hurt men too. I’m not a fan of Schrodinger’s feminism, where women are #GirlBosses one moment and damsels in distress the next, depending on what’s more beneficial and emotionally convenient for them.

If the Reddit woman in her 20s or 30s were instead a small man in his 20s or 30s, hardly would anyone call for a “hero” to step-up on his behalf. Beating on some hot-head’s door may result in it opening for a fist or knife fight. Who knows what might happen to your defeated body if you lose the fight. If you win, it may result in protracted legal, social, and professional troubles, especially if the hot-head is a member of a favored class. It’s also a great way to get yourself shot right through the door. You’d deserve it too for white-knighting, fucking around and finding out, when you’re not a peak human with borderline supernatural powers like Jack Reacher.

If she were my daughter, I think my system-level advice would be to try to escape that environment entirely, which might mean moving to a safer city/town, or paying more to go to a higher end apartment complex, etc.

Yes. To paraphrase Steve Sailer, the tough part of being poor in Western countries is not for lack of essentials or material goods, but rather having to live next to other poor people. And violent, low impulse control, and generally antisocial behavior is far more common among the poor.

In this specific case, the reddit thread mostly has people suggesting she call the apartment complex to tow the car next time this happens, and to file a complaint so there is a record of potential violence and intimidation. Another upvoted comment says to put up a camera near her car so she'd know if he retaliates, maybe by keying her car or something.

If moving is not an option, these are reasonable solutions for a woman (or a man, for that matter).

Chinese surveillance / social credit state. Use technology and broad public support to directly manage against low level offenses.

The cure might be worse than the disease here. The surveillance and social credit system could be readily turned against you in anarcho-tyrannic fashion.

Japanese homogeneity. Stop outsiders and troublemakers from entering society. Then in this cohesive society, everyone pitches in to punish low level offenses without the additional complication of being accused of discrimination.

Without mass deportations (or something more... drastic), the ship has already set sail on this front in the United States and Europe. Eugenics would work, but might take too long depending on what degree of eugenics is deployed, even if it somehow could be.

Semi-failed state where the stakes are high for low level offenders themselves. Some guy parks in your spot? Shoot up his car windows. No legal consequence will come because that's considered a misdemeanor here. Perhaps things escalate, but perhaps not, but at least he won't park in your spot again.

Tempting, but escalating when you’re less crazy and have more to lose than your opponent is a risky venture, to say the least.

Surely a rich society has a fourth option?

Calling for and voting in a manner for politicians, DAs, and the police to just do their jobs. For a Reddit woman in her 20s or 30s, chances are this is a leopard-eating-her-face situation.

I don’t think you need anything that dramatic. You just need to coordinate society such that people who are rude and do disrespectful things are shunned. If he’d lost friends for doing that he wouldn’t be doing it. And as long as it’s tolerated it continues to get worse. My guess is, based on observation, that this isn’t the first time he’s done that. More than likely he’s been pushing on social norms for a long time and not getting any negative results. And if we stop tolerating it, it stops.

You just need to coordinate society such that

"Just"? Pardon me, but you might as well say that to lift mount Everest you just need to push up very hard.

Hmm? My suggestion was to call for and vote for politicans, DAs, and the police to just do their jobs. Hopefully that's not considered that dramatic in ${CurrentYear}, but Cthulhu swims left...

I don’t think anything he did amounts to a crime in most jurisdictions. The DA can’t do anything if it’s not illegal to bang on a door.

Banging on a door for the purpose of threatening the occupant is absolutely a crime in most jurisdictions. (In England and Wales, it is legally an assault).

But even that isn't necessary. The point of banging on the door is to claim escalation dominance by sending a credible signal that if she escalates to calling for a tow he can counter-escalate to a beatdown. The appropriate response by the authorities is to send a cop to the guy's house to politely inform illegal parking guy that actually the Westphalian State has escalation dominance round here and that if he escalates to a beatdown the cops will counter-escalate to a jail term, felony record etc. If that threat is credible, then it doesn't need to be followed up. And if the cops tell the unfortunate lady what they have done, then she now has escalation dominance in the original dispute. This is easy police work that a rookie cop could handle.

In a place with minimally effective policing (which, for example, included 95% of the UK in the nineties and 99% of the UK in the noughties, and in the present non-ghetto neighbourhoods of most Continental European or Australian cities, and all of 1st-world Asia) a threat of a beatdown by one adult neighbour against another is empty. I haven't seen the Reddit post that the OP is referring to, so it isn't clear to me if this was a case of a place where there is no effective policing (far too much of the US because the US is, for reasons that are not clear to me as a Brit, shockingly bad at basic police work) or whether this was a case of a woman scared into submission by an empty threat (in which case someone who knew the local situation should have told her to call the cops).

Who is we?

Sounds like you need a long-term eugenic environment to cost-efficiently correct this. The social matrix that enables this behavior is itself founded on genetics. To fix a country you must fix its people.

I don't believe this. Go to any parking lot no matter how crowded and there will be handicapped parking spots open. You don't need to purge the genepool to fix parking violations. You just need to make the problem legible to the authorities.

A panopticon society might fix the problem everywhere, but if you're talking about just a single implementation of the legibility fix then you're only resolving the surface aspect of the problem. If you simply wish for parking spaces to not get stolen, sure, it would work. If you're viewing the problem as 'bad actors use intimidation and bullying to create unfair, anti-utilitarian outcomes', then implementing the fix in one place will simply squeeze the problem out elsewhere.

Problem here is you can't blame genes as such, not if you mean "low level criminality means poor people who are poor because their genes are bad". The guy with the car is living in the same apartment complex and owns a car, so presumably he's getting the same kind of income in the same general level of job the woman has. He's not an underclass thug, he's someone who has no sense of community or the unwritten rules of society because of - well, what? I think we can take it that the traditional methods of discipline and social ostracization have gone by the board. 'Question authority' means that teachers, pastors, cops, you name it, including now parents, are no longer unquestioningly accepted.

Now it's "if the parking space is open, I take it, I don't care someone else is paying for it, this is me being smart and taking advantage of the rule-following fools. If someone touches my property, I am offended and retaliate, but I have no problem taking other people's things, including their parking spaces".

I honestly don't know the solution, it does seem to me that there's a huge gap between the assumptions under which I (early Gen X) was raised, and the way Millennials/Zoomers were raised. There's a ton of "of course this thing is bad and should not be done" assumptions that are just not in common anymore. Things like "well you don't take someone else's parking space even if it's free" is one such example.

I'd say the eugenics would be more about promoting pro-sociality. I don't think East Asia has as much trouble as the West, let alone other parts of the world, with these kinds of perennial bad actors. The OP specified two approaches that only East Asian countries have so far achieved, Japan's acceptance of insularity and its attendant low immigration and economic stagnation, and China's social credit authoritarian system. Both are quintessentially East Asian systems. You need an East Asian-style populace to even get to the point where such approaches are plausible, as otherwise you are dealing with whacky Westerners and their preferences.

In America there's plenty of underclass thugs who own cars, and he might be sharing that apartment with eg a more functional girlfriend or something. There's also plenty of normal working class people living in shittier apartments than they could technically afford.

The guy with the car is living in the same apartment complex and owns a car, so presumably he's getting the same kind of income in the same general level of job the woman has. He's not an underclass thug, he's someone who has no sense of community or the unwritten rules of society because of - well, what?

It’s not uncommon for the PMC-adjacent, or the PMC to-be, to live alongside the working class (or even the underclass), especially temporarily when they’re young. For example, graduate students with little income or net-worth, or those who work low-paying PMC jobs such as at a non-profit (more common among women than men).

As has been discussed quite a bit here, many working class men can out-earn members of the middle-class or even the lower rungs of the PMC—plumbers, policemen, electricians can very well match or out-earn teachers, librarians, back-office workers in corporations. It’s also not uncommon for working class men to have… spirited… modes of self-expression, albeit at lesser rates and severity than the underclass.

The guy, whether under or working class could also be living with a girlfriend/wife, which might mean greater household income and reduced per capita housing costs relative to the presumably solo-living Reddit woman in her 20s or 30s. He could also be living paycheck to paycheck, while she's able to save money net of living expenses.

Society has a straightforward solution for her - contact your apartment complex, they'll contact a tow company, and the tow company will happily haul the vehicle away and charge him for it. The initial warning was a kindness, his response was aggression, so the appropriate escalation is just following policy and procedure. If she genuinely thinks that the guy in question might beat or murder her, yeah, the intimidation portion of things is going to be a problem that there isn't a straightforward solution to; anti-social lunatics that are willing to throw their lives away over parking spots are indeed a difficult problem. If (and I think this is much more likely) his approach would be lower-level threats, one must bring law enforcement in on it. If something fails to work here, it's simply a lack of enforcement of existing rules. There isn't any need for a new surveillance society, just recording the lunatic banging on your door and threatening you is covered by the existing legal system.

If someone is too intimidated to take the recourse that is available, well, that certainly does suck, but there's only so much society as a whole can do for someone that isn't even willing to outsource their conflict resolution to a third-party.

But the problem is it shouldn't get to the level of "we need a third party to intervene", under a civilised world we should be "oops sorry didn't know it was your space" when he got a polite note (and the initial note should be polite, not aggressive or spouting insults), not "fuck you bitch" unless penalties are imposed.

Good God, the older I get, the more I understand original Obi-Wan Kenobi. And this clip is all that is wrong with current mores. Civility is not pretentiousness, it's living like we are not chimpanzees flinging shit at rival troupes.

If you want to keep your civilized world, you need to at least occasionally deal with those acting in an uncivilized manner. Having them is inevitable, because assholes are everywhere. Whether dealing with them is the modal experience depends on incentives -- if there are strong incentives against acting uncivilized, the assholes will either cool it or get forced out. If instead the "civilized people" decide "don't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff" is the proper way to act, the assholes will run roughshod over them.

To have a civilized world, however sanctions must be enforced. Sub-criminal behaviour should be matched by sub-judicial sanctions. Put a video up of how scared you were, use the camera footage of him keying your car or pounding aggressively on your door, put it on Twitter and tik-tok and the like. In the old days, he would have been sanctioned by the village giving him the cold shoulder, now in a more atomized society social media shaming is the go to. In other words, he should be cancelled. Maybe the management company will evict him when the story goes viral, or he will lose his job. Therefore disincentivizing his behaviour.

Depends if the perpetrator is a member of a left favoured group or not. If he is I think you run an even greater risk that you will be the one who ends up cancelled instead for "perpetuating oppressor dynamics/punching down" etc. etc.

Sure, there are other social dynamics as well, but the idea is still sound. And indeed as Jonathan Majors showed a woman making an accusation against a man can still bear fruit.

Of course we shouldn't, but expecting everyone to be courteous all the time is ridiculous. I also shouldn't have to lock my car, or remove valuables from plain sight, or any number of other things that I do because they are unfortunately necessary. The question here is one of remedy, the implication being that receiving justice is so involved that it's often not worth it for relatively minor inconveniences. Which can be true, since this isn't one of those cases. It's a shame that she has to call the property management company to get somebody to do something about it, but it's a phone call. The initial concern wasn't that the thing was happening but that it was too minor for the police to get involved.

The old Hobbesian/Trad-Right take would be that the sort of people who believe that "expecting everyone to be courteous all the time is ridiculous" create the environment where you need to remove valuables from plain sight because how you approach the little things informs how you approach the big things.

expecting everyone to be courteous all the time is ridiculous

Why? I was born in a house without running water, and my mother taught me not to eat in the streets as that was common and bad manners. Then something changed in society, we dumped all the old rules, and today this is what we've got: 'please don't park in my space' engenders a guy trying to kick your door down.

And all the assumptions that he must be a working-class/underclass thug? Not warranted. Middle-class people can be mannerless sons of bitches too. Don't put it all on the poor, the college boys and girls who grew up to make the new rules are the ones who brought this situation about.

If we lower our expectations to "of course asking people to behave with common courtesy in public all the time is ridiculous", then this is what we get.

I think we might be talking past each other here. I don't mean ridiculous in the sense that it's unreasonable on an individual level, I mean ridiculous in the sense that, on a societal level, expecting a world where there are no assholes is hopelessly naive. It's like the whole defund the police thing; I personally don't like the idea that it's necessary to dedicate so many of my tax dollars to funding an apparatus to protect society from the very worst possible sort of person. But I don't think that defunding the police is a reasonable position on the basis that it's not ridiculous to expect people to behave all the time. Or like the idea during MeToo that instead of teaching women basic precautions we should just teach men no to rape. A nice sentiment, but easier said than done. As a practical matter, it isn't realistic for me to live my life with the expectation that everyone will always be acting courteous and in good faith, because no matter what we try to do, there are always going to be assholes out there.

I certainly don't expect a society with no assholes, but right now I think we've slid all the way into "how dare you accuse me of being an asshole, I'm a minority/a victim/rules are for suckers/other stupid reason for why I shouldn't have to abide by social norms" acceptance of bad behaviour.

We have just had our two referenda, voting on International Women's Day, and the counting was finished yesterday. Once again, the people have let down the government by our backward ignorance. They're ashamed of us before the neighbours, so they are.

(1) Turnout was pretty low, running around 44% for both referenda. Gosh, who could possibly have guessed that the burning issue of the day in the minds of the public was not "outdated sexist language in the Constitution must be replaced by gender-neutral inclusive language?"

(2) The complaining already started about "far-right" and "ultra-conservative" voices, with The Guardian newspaper taking the tone on the backwards priest-ridden Irish. Though I can't blame the Brits for it this time, as it's their Ireland correspondent(s) who are doing it, and they're likely the liberal chattering class types that want oh so desperately to be cosmopolitan and fit in with the peers in London and New York.

Ireland’s referendums: what went wrong, and what happens now?

What went wrong, Rory-boo, is that the people exercised their democratic right of self-determination. Sorry if this embarrasses you at an Islington dinner party, or even a D4 one, but the "right" result does not always mean "the way I wanted it to happen".

Have conservative values reconquered Ireland? No. The liberal tide that swept in the 2015 same-sex referendum and 2018 abortion referendum endures. Surveys showed widespread support for tweaking the constitution. But the yes side botched the campaign, leaving voters confused, uncertain and uninspired. The amendments were difficult to explain and understand. Some liberal lawyers and scholars warned that courts would have to decide what constituted “durable relationships”, creating potential unintended consequences for taxation, citizenship and other issues.

I fucking wish, but no. You can sleep safe in your beds, The Handmaid's Tale is not about to come true (not for want of the liberals/progressives and their fever dreams about it).

(3) But aren't there ultra-right far-conservatives or whatever hopping on this issue?

Yes, and that's down to Leo Varadkar being a smug prick. Sorry for the harsh language, but let me explain.

Andy Heasman, a member of the newly formed Irish People party, which takes a hard-right stance on issues such as immigration, was among the No-No campaigners celebrating at the Castle.

He loudly interrupted Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald’s interview with the media by repeatedly shouting that she was a “traitor to the Irish people”. He later tried to ask Ms McDonald to define “what a woman is”.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Heasman, who was a prominent anti-­vaccine conspiracist during the pandemic, explained how his party organised for six volunteers to travel around 100 towns handing out 25,000 leaflets advocating for a No vote in both referendums.

He said their campaign emphasised the need to “protect mothers in the ­Constitution” and ensure there are “only two genders”.

Where did the likes of these, who are not - let me emphasise - as yet representative of the conservative views in Ireland, get this notion about two genders? Well, good old Leo (our first openly out and gay politician and Taoiseach) couldn't keep his yap shut and run a sensible campaign. He couldn't stick to the line about "sexist outdated language", he had to drop in "non-binary and transgender" as well. Now, I can't find the specific article where that quote was, so feel free to think I'm a mistaken fool. But he kept hammering on about "gender equality" which allowed a crack in the presentation for people to work at.

(4) The government's campaign was stupid, patronising, and didn't deal with the questions being asked. Just vote Yes/Yes like good obedient little puppets, your betters know what you need and want. The two referenda were (a) Family (redefining the definition of the family as more than based on marriage) and (b) Care (also "women's labour in the home", the old language. Now everybody is a carer, regardless of gender, marital status, or wotsit, ain't that grand?

So the government proposed to protect marriage by... removing language about marriage and stretching the definition of what constitutes a family. It's "durable relationships", you see. What's a durable relationship? Ah, um, well - you'll know it when you see it. Do you send out Christmas cards together? Did you go to a wedding as a couple? That's a durable relationship! While Leo (who did most of the talking) tried to include "grandparents taking care of kids, etc." as examples of "the family not based on marriage", most people would have considered those to be recognised as family members anyway. So it's about cohabiting couples, and the big question there is - what is stopping them from getting married? We have divorce, we have same-sex marriage. If you're just living together and have kids, you pretty much have a lot of legal protections and rights anyway. You can see why some jumped on this as anti-immigrant because suppose someone is legally married to two wives abroad and comes here, that's a 'durable relationship' and now that's a family, even if polygamy is still illegal in Ireland. If there's no definition on what is a "durable relationship", then "we've been dating for three weeks" is as good as "we're living together for twelve years".

The second one was on care, and purported to remove the sexist language about the support women in the home give to the common good. Well, the 1937 Constitution may be sexist, but it recognises the reality: the vast majority of caretakers/caregivers are women. Women who go out to work are now doing two jobs, in 'paid' work and at home when taking care of elderly/sick parents, children with needs, etc. The new wording was very inclusive, but it did strongly seem to be shoving responsibility for caretaking onto 'the family' (read: mothers/sisters/daughters/wives) and stepping back from any duty of the State to provide services.

A lot of people voted 'no' on this one because they didn't believe the airy promises that the State would "strive" to support carers.

(5) So what was the result?

As I said, a low turnout, but a thrashing for the government/Yes side. Between both referenda, 29% voted Yes and 71% voted No. To break that down, for the Family referendum, 67.7% voted No, for the Care referendum, 73.9% voted No.

I have to say, I am both surprised (I thought it would go the other way, with the whole liberal feel-good modernisation vibe of the past few years) and gratified. No, people aren't stupid and they don't believe you and they won't be bullied by "but you don't want to be right-wing conservatives, now do you?" type of propaganda.

EDIT: (6) And already the blame game is going on, with fingers being pointed and fault allotted to leakers:

The unpublished advice from Attorney General Rossa Fanning, which was first published by The Ditch website, said proposals which would see the State "strive" to support the provision of care within families would have "real effects" that could be enforced by the courts.

However, it also said there was legal uncertainty over whether the word "strive" would be more forceful than the word currently in the Constitution - "endeavour."

Mr Rossa also advised that it is "difficult to predict with certainty" how the Irish courts would interpret the concept of "durable relationships".

No, really? Changing the wording would mean legal repercussions? See, the government was promising that no no no, courts never involved, family was still based on marriage, everything was tickety-boo. Of course the courts are gonna get involved, the first time somebody wants to claim inheritance rights or maintenance or palimony based on "we were never married, but we were a durable relationship and the Constitution now recognises this as the same as a married couple, gimme my money!"

What people were most concerned over, though, was the whole notion of the role of carers and State support for same. If now the State is only going to "strive" to support people who need help, what does that mean, exactly? Can they claim that they've done their duty but no, sorry, no help for you? Again, courts are going to get involved here.

The Yes campaign by the government really did treat people as being stupid, and now they're trying to blame far-right and ultra-nationalists and bad old religious conservatives for this defeat. Well, they cut the rod for their own backs on this one.

Of course the courts are gonna get involved, the first time somebody wants to claim inheritance rights or maintenance or palimony based on "we were never married, but we were a durable relationship and the Constitution now recognises this as the same as a married couple, gimme my money!

"I don't have a wife girlfriend *durable partner, just a girl who would be very upset if she heard me say that"

and now they're trying to blame far-right and ultra-nationalists and bad old religious conservatives for this defeat. Well, they cut the rod for their own backs on this one.

I suppose it's ultimately better for Ireland to scapegoat them than if the government decides it needs to put more effort into pushing progressivism.

Oh, they've already decided the problem was they didn't push hard enough on the progressive angle. "Wait, is it possible we were fucking idiots about this? No, impossible, it's the stupid electorate who let us down!"

Midway through the campaign, Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns told the Dáil: “The Social Democrats have opted to support both constitutional amendments because we have ultimately been left with a choice between leaving misogynistic language in the Constitution and replacing it with language that is an improvement, but should have gone much further. I acknowledge that there are people who disagree and are hurt by our decision. I wish to tell those people that I am listening.”

Seems like, if the post-mortems are to be believed, Leo was the one pushing for this on International Women's Day so he could have a big symbolic vote validating the progressive agenda. Well he got the results, but not what he wanted.

The usual opinion formers are losing their lives about this, but they can insult the No voters all they want, the fact remains is that their arrogance was unjustified.

The Irish goverment is ridiculously ideological in a left wing direction. Including its reaction to migration issue and the stabbing in Ireland, and its support of hate speech laws, which are hyped to be some of the most extreme and one sided in europe. I doubt it advertised what it was before it got elected. Apparently it is the liberal conservative party of the progressive center. And wiki has it as a center right party!

These kind of "center right" parties end up more culturally leftist than the left. Or at least there isn't any sizable, difference, you are getting the same cultural far left. Nice to see them lose this referendum, but is there any alternative in Ireland which would be a substantial change from this? My impression from my very short "research" is that all major Irish parties are pretty interchangeable, unfortunately.

On another note, I think one of the problems of current democracy is that voters are too inflexible and avoid stopping voting for major parties if they push bad policies, or ones they disagree with. Or go to different parties with similiar agendas, scared of voting outside of what they are used to, or for parties branded as far right.

More referendums and direct democracy would be one way to get better policies which avoid the agency problems between ideological left wing extremists acting an an authoritarian manner where the people's are too party loyalist for their own good, to kick all of them out. The result wouldn't be always in line with the cultural right, but mass migration for example has been quite unpopular in most countries. The same people running a system that demonizes the alternative views, passes hate speech laws, and does as it pleases is not going to allow enough of that, of course. I do sincerely believe it would lead to something closer to a country run by the people, for the people, and better governance than that of ideological far leftist extremists who see opposition to their agenda as completely illegitimate. Even if it is not the ideal governance, it would be an important improvement.

The Irish government seems to care much less about the opinion of its constituants than the median European government, but still, 71% has gotta hurt.

Losing a referendum is always a humiliation because only a fool would call for one they couldn't confidently win, but losing it by that margin? You can't even handwave it away as a fluke like Brexit, this is more than a supermajority of people telling you to go fuck yourself.

You'd think a loss like that would fall the government. Any inkling of that?

You'd think a loss like that would fall the government. Any inkling of that?

There’s a problem in that nearly all of the opposition parties were also campaigning for a Yes vote. Besides a few independents and Aontú (a party with 1 seat) there’s no one in opposition ready to capitalise on this.

Yeah. Similar to the one in Australia recently on the Indigenous voice where the opposition were campaigning around the lines of 'This is not the appropriate way to recognize the Indigenous and may be an overreach' instead of 'Ha! This is an absurdity' direct refutation. Which makes it a bit harder to capitalize on the failure.

The referendum didn't fail because of some ultra catholic silent majority - it comes on the heels of large wins for abortion and gay marriage in referenda. Most people are still good liberals. The fact is that these amendments were half baked from the start.

Next general election scheduled for a year from now. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Next_Irish_general_election

I don't think so. People don't want to pull down the government over this because, frankly, nobody cared about "sexist language in the Constitution" except for the usual activist types. And nobody wants an election with uncertainty when the economy is doing marvellously!/people can't afford rent or buying a house.

But it should be a slap in the face to the government as to the mood of the country. Nobody believes them about "this is for the carers" because with our health service and social support services, we see the reality: there's no money, there's understaffing, there's waiting lists out the door. A fancy amendment that commits them to 'more of the same' is not worth voting 'yes' for.

'Cause life is a game that no one wins

But you deserve a head start the way your life's goin'

So throw in the towel, 'cause your life ain't shit

No take that towel and hang yourself with it

Life's short and hard like a body-building elf

So save the planet and kill yourself

If you're feeling down-and-out with what your life's all about

Lift your head up high and blow your brains out

(Lift your head up high and blow your brains out)

Lift your head up high and blow your brains out

(Lift your head up high and blow your brains out)

Lift your head up high and blow your brains out


Suicide rates and murder among teens and the power of memes.

For those old enough to remember, these will be familiar times. Let me ask the '90s teenagers in the room, what was the dominant feeling of the age?

I would say that it was mostly a decade in which the youth aesthetic was of depression, sullen expressions, heroin chic, and underpinning it all, suicide. Suicide was in the air from the minute Cobain suck-started a shotgun. The music had song titles like “Hey man, nice shot” and “Lift your head up high and blow your brains out”. Subtle stuff. On the black side of the culture, gangsta rap was big. Drugs, murder, drugs, murder, booty. Still lighter than the white side.

Would it surprise anyone if I told you that the '90s were the only improvement in the teen suicide rate since the Depression? Murder rates peaked in '92 and dropped for twenty years.

Let's consider more recent history. The teen culture from 2010 to 2020. I'm not sure how those in it would classify that era, but to me it seemed like a decade of social media, politicization and gender. The Z discovered a giant pool of suicides (the lowest rate in decades) that they could save with hormones and surgery. They were the first generation to tackle racism and really make black lives matter. The aesthetic of the age is chipper, smug, vague, androgynous. Black culture has moved from the ghetto to the antiracism seminar. The result?

Suicide rates rose swiftly throughout the decade among teens, bringing them back into line with the already high rate before the '90s reversed course for twenty years. Murder rates started rising in 2013 and shot up in 2020. Mostly among young black men.

Death has a way of clarifying things, as it's tough to fake.

One cannot go back to the past, but we would do well to consider what sociopolitical norms and policies might have contributed to that massive achievement, and we absolutely must be extremely clear about which ones lead to the reversal. And no, I'm not talking about Lupus and Jimmy Pop.

The 90s were an interesting transitional period and personally I feel like a lot of what we see there was both reactionary and sort of shallow. Falling crime and the end of the Cold War, the End of History, created a world without struggle or conflict (at least for someone living in a western democracy). At the same times the last vestiges of religion in education were being defeated, and there was a clear, but also very boring future lining up before us. We just use science to improve everything and make everything better for forever and all the major problems have been solved or are solvable and we are on the path to solve them.

A brief aside, my best friend in high school would go out in the middle of the night, sneak around in the employees only sections of buildings, try to get onto roofs and such, smoked, did harder drugs, and stole stuff. While he was lower-class SES, he had a 'stable' home life and didn't steal out of 'necessity'. He did it because he was afflicted with a profound sense of ennui. He could see the future laid out before him, and he could not see any purpose or meaning in any of it. The supreme banality of a modern existence.

We were the kids who got asked in 3rd grade what we would do when we were president. We were the kids told to be astronauts and scientists and change the world, and we had finally gotten old enough to realize what a great lie all that was. Of course grunge was popular, and gansta rap spread like wildfire through suburbia. It was the wild desperate thrashing of an animal slowly suffocating under the crushing weight of distributed nihilism. Office Space, to use the modern parlance, was a mood.

Eventually you get to generation Z, enough time on the experiential treadmill and their solution was to just reinterpret what it means to be in danger, what it means to hurt, so they could struggle again, so they could fight against something 'real'.

Another film from 1999 expressed the sentiment well,

But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from

I wasn't a teenager in the 90s but my memory is that it was sunny. The 80s grimdark/power breakfast power shoulders greed is good era was over, now it was Captain Planet, colour-blindness, and we can fix things. Economic issues were generally good, the Berlin Wall had fallen and the Cold War was over, things can only get better. I have a mental image of Hawaiian shirts and bright colours.

Grunge might have been there, but so was rave and the aftermath of late 80s acid house. Dance music took off. Speed and E (the love drug) are the era's drugs of choice.

I'd say that the 1990s were a confusing era since there was a combination of general belief in optimism and progress and "all the big questions have been solved" coupled with a pop culture characterized by Twin Peaks/X-Files/Matrix style ide that this is all just a fake exterior and below it dark and evil things were happening. Musically you had grunge, NiN, Marilyn Manson, nu metal etc. - and the idea that all these were just fake rebellion for suburban kids whose lives were so good they had to create imaginary angst for themselves. Even the rave/dance stuff seemed to attempt to go for the "partying in the face of the apocalypse" vibes, even if it was, in the end, partying for the standard reasons of partying.

Murder rates are now below 90s levels since 2023: https://www.axios.com/2023/12/28/us-murder-violent-crime-rates-drop

Which sociopolitical norms and policies contributed to this massive achievement?

Lead free fuel?

We've had lead free fuel since what, the 80s? That won't explain a drop over the past few years.

Since 2023? You mean the last two months? I stand corrected.

Or did you mean that the recent rise in homicide rates has only taken us back to '97 so far, and we have room to grow before we hit the full '92 again?

It's all in the graph I posted.

2020-2022 had elevated homicide rates and 2023 was practically a normal year. If we're going to talk about the massive failures that led to the 2020-2022 spike then it's only fair to talk about the massive successes that led to 2023.

If we're going to talk about the massive failures that led to the 2020-2022 spike then it's only fair to talk about the massive successes that led to 2023.

That seems reasonable to me. What's your read on the causes of the 2020-2022 spike, and what do you think is bringing the numbers down again?

I think there has been a secular decline in violence since the 90s as OP mentioned. 2020-2022 were crazy years with a lot of unusual factors. I'd primarily blame covid lockdowns for driving people insane. The George Floyd riots played a big role too, but I think the reason they were so much worse than previous protests over similar killings is because of the lockdowns. Now, lockdowns are lifted and I think we are back to the secular decline.

I don't know exactly what factors are driving the secular decline, but I suspect they haven't gone anywhere.

I'd say improved medical care is a big part of it. A gunshot that would have killed you in the 80s now merely leaves you paraplegic.

Then we should consider that as the explanation for the 90s-era decline too.

Aging of the population alone should have resulted in a massive decline in murder rates. Then consider that, unlike the 1990s, everyone has a phone in their pocket to call 9/11 immediately after a shooting. Now add ubiquitous video games, porn, and other entertainment which keeps young men off the streets entirety.

With all that, murder rates should have plummeted to all-time lows.

But they haven't.

To me this, is proof that society is becoming more violent, mostly because the justice system no longer enforces the law as strictly as it used to.

"Society" isn't becoming more violent. You aren't pwning noobs /playing DnD and partaking in the ol' ultraviolence with your mates after recess. It's a specific group of people who are doing the murdering and raping disproportionately.

More violent over what time frame?

This is Britain, not the US, yet we can see a certain effect, crime went up despite all the CCTV, increased wealth and forensics now available to police: https://twitter.com/XiaoVilin99/status/1575943515460468736

https://twitter.com/XiaoVilin99/status/1576248677550940160

Or in the US, it's gone up since 1960 per capita, despite all the wealth, technology, aging and de-leading: https://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

Or in the US, it's gone up since 1960 per capita, despite all the wealth, technology, aging and de-leading: https://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

According to your source, violent crime per capita peaked in 1991 and has since fallen by 50%.

Yes but it's still gone up from 160 to 379. That it peaked at 759 is small consolation. That's from 2019, before the 2020 crime increase too.

If my portfolio goes from 100K to 220K, I'm still fairly happy, even if I peaked at 500K.

Yes but it's still gone up from 160 to 379. That it peaked at 759 is small consolation.

Consolation doesn't enter into it. It's a question of explanation.

That's from 2019, before the 2020 crime increase too.

And before the 2023 crime decrease.

Which sociopolitical norms and policies contributed to this massive achievement?

The return of policing.

I'm not aware of any return of policing. The guy above you also hasn't heard of it.

Death has a way of clarifying things, as it's tough to fake.

This is why I believe that modern psychiatry is fundamentally broken to a much greater degree than even most critics of it are willing to acknowledge. The United States just absolutely pours money into psychiatric "medicine", with spending now soaring into the hundreds of billions of dollars annually. More people are treated, more people are drugged, more people are involved with this system than ever before. When we do this with cancer, we get interminably slow progress, but progress nonetheless. When we do this with psychiatric "medicine" we get more bodies than we've ever had before, because their treatments consistently fail to beat having parents that will say, "go outside and run around till you're tired".

I think the problem is that society in general no longer teaches people how to self regulate. In 1990, there were problems, and there were sad people. But I think the message of the era was much more Stoic, learn to deal with and manage your feelings, fix your own problems, and get on with it. Feelings being front and center strike me as a luxury belief, and one that really only works if you don’t have many problems other than your feelings.

For almost all people outside o& the elite throughout human history, life was hard and was understood to be hard. These were and still are realistic expectations for life for all but the elite. What has trickled down since 1990 are two things. First the idea that you are supposed to be in a state of happy bliss for any sustained amount of time. You are supposed to be fulfilled and happy doing everything. Struggle isn’t a part of the plan. Boredom isn’t a part of the plan. Having things suck wasn’t part of the plan. And second that you should be able to do what you like doing for a living. If you’re born to be an artist, a singer, or a writer, then you should be able to do that instead of a normal job. You should be able to go on vacation when you want or need one. This, unless you’re pretty well off and have a spouse making a substantial amount of money simply isn’t reality. Reality is working even when tired or burned out, perhaps a a difficult job you might not even like, then coming home to kids and chores and cooking. If you’re in the mindset of “I don’t like this, and it’s a great tragedy that I’m not living a thrilling life,” then your expectations are so far above reality that you’re going to be miserable. If you’re then taught by therapy-culture that you should focus on negative feelings, and self-care over those feelings, you’re going to spend you life suffering. This was known all the way back to Epictetus in the West and Buddha in the east. Focusing on things you don’t have and thus suffering for the lack and then focusing on how bad the suffering makes you feel is a good way to make yourself miserable and probably depressed.

[SOCRATES] “Why, when a democratic city athirst for liberty gets bad cupbearers for its leaders and is intoxicated by drinking too deep of that unmixed wine, and then, if its so-called governors are not extremely mild and gentle with it and do not dispense the liberty unstintedly, it chastises them and accuses them of being accursed oligarchs.
“But those who obey the rulers it reviles as willing slaves and men of naught, but it commends and honors in public and private rulers who resemble subjects and subjects who are like rulers. Is it not inevitable that in such a state the spirit of liberty should go to all lengths?
“And this anarchical temper, my friend, must penetrate into private homes and finally enter into the very animals.
“Why, the father habitually tries to resemble the child and is afraid of his sons, and the son likens himself to the father and feels no awe or fear of his parents, so that he may be forsooth a free man. And the resident alien feels himself equal to the citizen and the citizen to him, and the foreigner likewise."
[ADEIMANTUS] “Yes, these things do happen.” [S] “They do, and such other trifles as these. The teacher in such case fears and fawns upon the pupils, and the pupils pay no heed to the teacher or to their overseers either. And in general the young ape their elders and vie with them in speech and action, while the old, accommodating themselves to the young, are full of pleasantry and graciousness, imitating the young for fear they may be thought disagreeable and authoritative.
“And the climax of popular liberty, my friend, is attained in such a city when the purchased slaves, male and female, are no less free than the owners who paid for them. And I almost forgot to mention the spirit of freedom and equal rights in the relation of men to women and women to men.”
[A] “Shall we not, then, in Aeschylean phrase, say 'whatever rises to our lips’?”
[S] “Certainly, so I will. Without experience of it no one would believe how much freer the very beasts subject to men are in such a city than elsewhere. The dogs literally verify the adage and ‘like their mistresses become.’ And likewise the horses and asses are wont to hold on their way with the utmost freedom and dignity, bumping into everyone who meets them and who does not step aside. And so all things everywhere are just bursting with the spirit of liberty.
“And do you note that the sum total of all these items when footed up is that they render the souls of the citizens so sensitive that they chafe at the slightest suggestion of servitude and will not endure it? For you are aware that they finally pay no heed even to the laws written or unwritten, so that forsooth they may have no master anywhere over them."

Here we have Plato, writing around 375 BC, expounding a rather familiar theory. Irreverent youth, doting parents, equality with slaves and foreigners--he presents such entitlement as the failure mode of democracy. When the people grow too accustomed to liberty, he says, they will become soft and rebel at the lightest of impositions.

Do you think 90s America was the first time and place that we plebs got that much liberty?

Not the first time, obviously, but the pattern is quite similar to the decadent pattern that goes along with the decline of other civilizations in the past. The combination of lísiense and luxury create a chaotic weak people who can no longer maintain the high civilization that produced them.

If that were true, the Boomers should have been absolutely demolished. Same for the Victorian English, the Renaissance Italians, the actual Stoics. They all presided over temporary surges of wealth unimaginable to Plato’s generation, and they all held on to power anyway.

I’m saying that pattern is hindsight bias. Elders always have and always will insist that their successors are entitled, irreverent, and possibly effeminate. That doesn’t mean they’re right.

For those old enough to remember, these will be familiar times. Let me ask the '90s teenagers in the room, what was the dominant feeling of the age?

Absurd optimism. Eurodance ruled the airwaves, computers were bringing the future, every economy was growing, the financial crisis of 1997 was but a bump, racism was on the way out, anal sex became mandatory act in porn, blowjobs became mandatory acts in private, pubic hair was gone, gaming was entering its golden age. The worst thing that happened in the 90s was literally Limp Bizkit.

Honestly for the rest of the post - I think that the newly released Bad Therapy - Abigail Shrier answers what is going on. Too much feelings too little real world. Also - from my observations there is an absurd disheartening and nihilism ( and not the fun kind) that moves trough western society youth. Learned helplessness is the norm. And it is combined with so easy going attitude towards deviance that in a way we are living in an anarchy - like people that glue themselves to the roads or defacing art face no consequence.

The worst thing that happened in the 90s was literally Limp Bizkit.

Alright, I get it, you won't be following my Limp/Creed/Nickelback playlist on Spotify. Whatever, that's just like, your opinion, man.

blowjobs became mandatory acts in private,

(nervous Catholic laughter)


Also - from my observations there is an absurd disheartening and nihilism ( and not the fun kind) that moves trough western society youth.

Hard agree - and this is where alarm bells go off for me. Every generation gets to a point in their 30s where they start uttering their first "kids these days!" I saw it when the Gen Z slang began to pop up in mainstream adds. There were literally sentences I could not follow. No cap. Okay, I guess I'm no longer "with it" (cure Grandpa Simpson meme).

Then I started listening to some SuicideBoys and BONES. The messages there are beyond dark. This isn't hardcore gangster rap that glorified ultra violence. As terrible as the values implicit to that are, at least there's some message of group solidarity, competition but possible victory with rivals, and a celebration of demonstrated capability ("me and my homies will murder all of the people who don't like us and then drink alcoholic beverages and consume schedule 1 substances while discussing those incidents of homicide in jovial terms. Also, copulation with curvaceous women is probable") Gen Z dark/emo rap is screaming into the void while simultaneously accepting the inevitability of it all. It isn't learned helplessness, it is unshakable faith in a tangible helplessness [^1]. The description of drug use is worth highlighting; across many genres of music since Rock 'n Roll in the 1960s, drug / alcohol use and abuse has been shorthand for "look at my amazing crazy life." You do have songs here and there about the dangers of that kind of life etc. Grunge takes it to talking about the horrible feedback loop of addiction but also, sometimes, recovery. Gen Z talks about substance abuse a desperate sprint to oblivion. Far from "I love to party!" or "Damn, I wish I could shed this ball and chain" it's pretty much "Get fucked up in a big way as often as possible. Just fucking do it." Suicide by another name.

All of this is set against the backdrop of a society where material conditions have never been better, yet there is constant cultural strife.

It reminds me of some of the documentaries on Norwegian Black Metal in the 90s. There's a couple of former artists and journalists from that scene who said some version of, "Living in Norway in the 90s was so fucking easy that it became meaningless." You can point to secularism, you can point to the removal of the Russian threat, you can point to the start of pan-Europeanism and the homogenization of already incredibly homogeneous societies. The cause is irrelevant, the outcomes are more stark; brief and constrained as it was, Norwegian black metal resulted in real damage, death, and murder (look up the Church Burnings and Varg vs Euronymous).

Panning back to American Gen Z, the elevated suicide rate is component 1 of their brand of nihilism. I wonder if we aren't already seeing component 2: nihilistic murder. The Parkland High School shooter was Gen Z and had a grocery list of nihilistic / degenerate / isolated life circumstances. More culture-war-y, the Covenant School shooter was a Trans Gen Z'er. I think it's undeniable that some portion of the hardcore Trans Cult is essentially nihilist in that they relish denying basic biology as well as using conversation as a panacea for any and all mental health issues.

So, while I am confident that a lot of the Millenial / Gen X anguish over Gen Z is simply "Kids-These-Days"-ism, there is some level of nihilism that will not be assuaged by Hot Topic stickers and baggy jeans. It will express itself through an ultraviolence directed both internally and externally. I'm not sure how to solve that, and I'm not sure there's been a post-WW2 generation anywhere that is this predisposed to lack of respect for human life.

WPATH Files

Hey guys have you heard about the WPATH Files? Well, you did, they were already brought up earlier this week, but unlike our resident doomers, I think they're worthy of a top level thread.

No, this isn't about the Eunuch Archive story breaking containment (although Genevieve Gluck is striking the iron while it's hot). Long story short someone on the inside of WPATH contancted Micheal Schelenberger and released some of their internal discussions. So what's all the hubbub about? At a cursory glance might even look like the WPATH members are urging additional caution. Well, let's take a step back.

To avoid going full-Putin, I'll start at Abigail Shrier's Irreversible Damage. A lot of the arguments presented in the book aren't new, but it's a convenient compilation - transition is serious shit with huge health implications, kids don't know what they hell they're talking about and shouldn't be taken at face value with regards to such a serious decision, past research shows most of would-be trans youth desist after puberty, new research indicates there might be a social contagion component to the recent increase in trans kids, puberty blockers themselves might be pushing kids further down the trans rabbit hole, etc., therefore we should hit the breaks on the whole thing.

A lot of the counter-arguments are also conveniently compiled in critical reviews of the book, or critical responses to positive reviews, for instance:

Within medicine, gender-affirming care for transgender and gender diverse youth is not controversial, outside of a few fringe groups like The American College of Pediatricians (an anti-LGBTQ group that is not to be confused with The American Academy of Pediatrics). There is broad consensus from The American Psychiatric Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The Endocrine Society, The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and The World Professional Association for Transgender Health that gender-affirming medical care is appropriate for transgender youth so long as clinicians follow guidelines set forth by these major medical organizations (e.g., The Endocrine Society Guidelines).

(...)

Furthermore, those studies were of very young prepubertal children. Under the current medical consensus, gender-affirming medical interventions are not offered to prepubertal youth. They are only offered after youth have reached adolescence. Once youth reach adolescence, it’s rare for transgender youth to later decide they are cisgender.

(...)

She notes that only 1.9 percent of adolescents who started pubertal suppression in a large study in The Netherlands did not proceed to gender-affirming hormones (i.e., estrogen or testosterone). This is not because pubertal suppression made them identify more strongly as transgender. Rather, it is a result of the strict guidelines followed in the Netherlands before an adolescent is considered eligible for pubertal suppression: six months of attending a specialized gender clinic and undergoing rigorous assessment.

(...)

Though Shrier is quick to provide anecdotes from teenagers like "Riley" and stories from estranged parents as evidence, she is relatively less interested in the peer-reviewed scientific research that shows the benefits of gender-affirming medical care for transgender adolescents. I've listed several in the references for those interested in reading more.

The message is clear: We know what we're doing. We have strict standards that filter out those that might not benefit from transition. We have scientific consensus and studies, all you have is speculation and anecdotes. It is the departure from this deadpan, "we know what we're doing" discourse, delivered with iron confidence that I commented on earlier this year, and which is a useful lens to look at the WPATH Files through, given that it's one of the explicitly named organizations responsible for setting these supposedly strict standards.

Part of the Files is a video of the "Identity Evolution Workshop" held on Zoom by the WPATH, a significant portion of it is devoted to the question of informed consent:

Dianne Berg: Yeah, I just wanted to piggyback on all of the importance that comes up with the informed consent.

I often see people who, because there's such a backlog of therapists to do some of the mental health therapeutic support, I often see people who have already engaged in some sort of, and this is again with youth, some sort of medical intervention. And so one of the things I do is sitting with the youth and their parents and I say "so tell me more about what you know about that medical intervention", and kind of like what Dan was saying, children and young adolescents... we wouldn't really expect them... It's kind of out of their developmental range sometimes, to understand the extent to which some of these medical interventions are impacting them. And so I think I, I try to do whatever I can to help them understand, as best I can. But what really disturbs me is when the parents can't tell me what they need to know about a medical intervention that apparently they signed off for. And so I think informed consent has to happen very differently for parents.

(these are slightly edited for the removal of awkward speech patterns)

So there's a few ways to look at it charitably. One that comes to mind is "they aren't talking about issues with the current state of gender affirming care, they're describing the sort of problems a clinician will run into, and how to handle them". The problem with that is that they themselves would disagree with that interpretation:

Dianne Berg: I worked in an intersex, or disorders of sex development clinic for a number of years as the psychologist. And I would come in to the session with the parents and usually these were very young kids. (...) and the pediatric endocrinologist came out and said "yeah, they totally get it, they're on board, I don't have any concerns about their understanding". I would go in and I would say "okay, so tell me what you learned from him", and they'd just be like, "we have no idea what he was talking about." Because they, they feel deferential.

(...) And so I think the more we can normalize that it is okay to not get this right away, it is okay to have questions, the more we're going to actually do a real informed consent process. Then what I think has been currently happening and that I think is frankly, not what we need to be doing ethically.

One of the reasons for this state of affairs that they brought up is a simple lack of resources - "backlog of therapists", "20 minute medical appointments" - which is consistent with info that got out of the Tavistock or through whistleblowers like Jaime Reed. The other way to look at it is @gattsuru's "urging additional caution", which they are indeed doing throughout various excerpts of the Files, but if additional caution needs to be urged, because patients, or even their parents, don't understand what they're signing up for, that paints a very different picture than the one that Jack Turban painted in his review. This is a lot less "we know what we're doing" and a lot more "this is all new, and we're still figuring it out", the difference is portrayed in this analogy:

I don't know if other people do, but I really struggle with it, because I kind of want the kids that I work with, whether they're 9 to 13 and looking at puberty suppression or hormones in some ways to be a little pediatric endocrinologist. Like I want them to understand it at that level in an age appropriate way. And I struggle with that on one level because, well, when a kid takes diabetic medication, do they have to understand?

The reason for the discrepancy in the level of understanding that is expected, is acutally later explained by Jamison Green:

Jamison Green: They may be able to get their hormones prescribed through their primary care provider who doesn't really know necessarily everything about trans care. They're basically trying to be supportive and, you know, our health care system leaves us in the lurch all the time. I agree that we don't necessarily need to be able to have... If you have a known condition, like diabetes, you don't have to understand every nuance about what the insulin is going to do to you, in order to give informed consent, because there's so much experience with that. But in this field, this is all new, this is all contentious, and that's where we run into problems, because everyone's afraid.

And I know for a fact, people, even adults, even well educated, older adults, accessing care for the first time, sit down with the person who's going to prescribe their hormones, and they look at an informed consent form that says your hormones are going to do this, this, and this. They don't take any of that in yet because they're so scared that they're not going to get what they need. They're just.. "so show me where to sign".

The issue brought up in the second part of the quote, that patients might not want to read, talk about, or ask questions about their treatment because they're afraid this will result in them not getting it, is brought up later in the conversation, but this is where things go from bad to worse:

Dianne Berg: At least with the kid that I worked with, where we kind of got to, was not wanting to talk about things, because they were at that kind of [non-binary] place. But also that they really thought that if they said anything about this, and really delved into it, it would mean that their options for any of that medical transition that they had always thought they were going to do, would be off the table. And so they were like, I can't, I don't want to explore that the non-binary shift, because if I explore that, that means that I'm never going to be able to get estrogen, and it was kind of like having some education around - no, it doesn't mean that. What it means is we are trying to meet your embodiment goals.

(...)

It's a growing edge for me, so I certainly don't want to misspeak, but my understanding and what I'm trying to kind of incorporate in my clinical practice is, in some ways, moving away from what is your identity and therefore because you have this identity, you're going to want to do these particular medical interventions to change your body. Not having it be as identity driven, because I think that's been the historical basis of how things have operated.

(...)

At least I have had many clients tell me "I did not tell you the truth about a lot of things about my sexuality, because I figured if I told you that, you would gatekeep and assume it was a fetish" , or, you know, some of the terms that we no longer are using. And so I think there is a huge historical context to sexuality being seen as a way that creates barriers to access to care. And I think it's very important that we acknowledge that historical context, and that we work against that historical context, by talking more about positive sexuality and pleasure and that that they can go together and that it's okay, and not create barriers to care, because people have that belief that that's what we're going to do.

Ok, simply put: you can't tell me how you have it all figured out, how you have strict standards that filter out people who might change their mind later, and how rare it is for trans youth to change their identity, and how all the concerns raised are invalid precisely because you have it all figured out so much, only to turn around to talk about patients' shifting identitties, how they were hiding their motivations, or didn't want to ask questions because they were afraid tripping that filter stemming from those supposedly strict standards, and then for your response to be "don't worry about it, we'll give you the treatment no matter what".

This already got quite long, and I already got one or two other angles to approach this topic from, so I think this will become a series*. My general conclusion is: contrary to Jack Turban, and the general pre-2022-ish pro-trans discourse, gender affirming care, especially it's pediatric variant, is not uncontroversial within medicine, it's not The Science, it's an experiment. There is, of course, room for those within medicine, psychiatry and/or psychology, but rule #1 of ethical experimantation is that you tell people they're participating in an experiment. You don't tell them things like "would you rather have a happy daughter, or a dead son", you don't dismiss critics because you don't like their politics, and you don't try to push through bizarre social reforms on the back of The Science that just isn't there.

As always, time will tell if my conclusion is correct, I'm not going to pretend I'm not biased, and it's only natural for someone biased in the other way to come to a different conclusion, especially that a lot of people in these WPATH Files comments and transcripts come off as quite sympathetic. But before signing off, I'll allow myself a bit of speculation: this is either the tip of the iceberg, and/or WPATH members themselves think the organization is no longer credible, as WPATH membership dropped from 4119 to 1590 from January 2023 to 2024. This is after the Files were announced, but way before they were released, but it's hard not to get a "fleeing a sinking ship" impression from it, and in fact such a sudden departure of so many members might even be the cause of the Files being leaked (out of many disgruntled people, some decided to leak stuff), and the effect is yet to come.


*) Hey mods, are we still doing the "Culture War goes into the Culture War Thread" thing? I would really rather have these as standalone posts.

Yup, CW in the CW thread.

We do appreciate the level of effort you’ve put into this breakdown.