Tuesday, July 7, 2020

This man gets paid to write things.

Brett Stephens is a professional opinion-haver. He gets paid to have opinions and he gets paid to type up those opinions for publication. And he is paid really well for typing up his opinions. And his opinions are published in the number one newspaper in America and syndicated all over the country. This would be the equivalent of me getting paid to play basketball in the NBA. And everyone in the NBA and the TV announcers and the fans all agreeing to pretend that I am a very very good basketball player (which I am NOT).

Carlton Fresh Prince GIF - Carlton FreshPrince Basketball - Discover &  Share GIFs

Anyway, this is Brett Stephens' expert professional opinion about. . . somehting.

Reading Orwell for the Fourth of July

Ah, yes. Orwell. Every dumb guy who wants to have an opinion on politics defaults to having read Orwell and pretending to have understood the message.

As we celebrate freedom, speaking freely is in danger.

Mmmmm, yeah. . .no. No it isn't.

I can already pretty much guess where this is going. "People criticizing me on-line is a level of censorship and oppression not seen since the heyday of the Soviet Union," right?

This Fourth of July, it’s worth taking stock of the state of freedom — and of our attitudes toward it — at home and around the world.
In Russia, Vladimir Putin just won a “plebiscite” ratifying his right to stay in power until the year 2036. In Hong Kong, a new security law came into effect effectively putting an end to the right of peaceful protest. In Poland, a runoff election will decide if the country continues its slide toward illiberalism.

Okay. No argument here.but what has this to do with America and how is it the Democrats' fault?

In the United States, these stories barely make a dent on public consciousness. Conservatives and liberals alike have ceased to care very much about the denial of freedom to others.

What? When the Hell did conservatives ever care about other people's freedom? Other than as something they could use as a pretext to invade or bomb a foreign country or sponsor a coup?

We also have our own problems with freedom.
For once, the main problem isn’t Donald Trump. 

Well, you may have a point. At the moment, the main threat to freedom seems to be coming from local police departments.

Black Lives Matter Wtf GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

For once, the main problem isn’t Donald Trump. The president may be an instinctual fascist, a wannabe autocrat. But, after nearly four years in power, he’s been unmasked as an incompetent one.

Seth Meyers Lol GIF by Late Night with Seth Meyers - Find & Share on GIPHY

Okay, first of all, "unmasked?" Was there anyone other than the MAGA cult who didn't already know Trump was incompetent long before he took office? It took you almost four years to realize that "oh, maybe the guy who ran every business he's ever had into the ground, who can barely string a sentence together and makes everything about himself and his petty grievances doesn't actually know what the fuck he's doing?"

Secondly, you think that makes it okay? You think the fact that the fascist occupying the Oval Office is not very good at being a fascist = nothing to worry about here?

The more serious problem today comes from the left

Cenk Uygur on Twitter: "Of course!!!… "

Of course it does. Of course. I was wondering what was taking you so long to get there.

The more serious problem today comes from the left: from liberal elites who, when tested, lack the courage of their liberal convictions; from so-called progressives whose core convictions were never liberal to begin with; from administrative types at nonprofits and corporations who, with only vague convictions of their own, don’t want to be on the wrong side of a P.R. headache.

Stop, you're going to give me nightmares! Liberals who lack the courage of their convictions? So much scarier than Proud Boys, gun freaks and Boogaloo Bois!

This has been the great cultural story of the last few years. It is typified by incidents such as The New Yorker’s David Remnick thinking it would be a good idea to interview Steve Bannon for the magazine’s annual festival — until a Twitter mob and some members of his own staff decided otherwise.

Okay, honestly, I've read this paragraph about a half-dozen times now and I'm still not sure whether you're saying the problem was that the New Yorker decided to interview a white supremacist fascist or that people on Twitter and some New Yorker staff objected to publishing an interview with a white nationalist.

 Or by The Washington Post devoting 3,000 words to destroying the life of a private person of no particular note because in 2018 she wore blackface, with ironic intent, at a Halloween party. 

Okay, I read the article you linked to and I see that the lady got fired, but the Post article is only reporting that she got fired. They didn't get her fired. She had already been fired long before the article was written. So I'm not sure how you can say that the Washington Post "devot[ed] 3,000 words to ruining [her] life." I mean, it's not like you're some kind of disingenuous shitweasel, are you?

Or by big corporations pulling ads from Facebook while demanding the company do more to censor forms of speech they deem impermissible.

So. . . companies decide that they don't want to advertise on a platform that allows hate speech, and that's a problem because. . . ?

These stories matter because an idea is at risk. That’s the idea that people who cannot speak freely will not be able to think clearly, and that no society can long flourish when contrarians are treated as heretics.

Yeah, but by "contrarians," you mean "Nazis." You mean "prople who spread dangerous medical misinformation." You mean "incels."  The "idea" that you claim is at risk is racism.

If someone says "I think the Senate's proposed bill is a bad idea and someone else says "No, I think it's good," then yes. Both points opf view deserve a hearing. But when one person is saying "Black Lives Matter," and the other is saying "No they don't," there is no legitimate reason to hear out the "contrarion." He's just a racist piece of shit.

That idea, old as Socrates, formerly had powerful institutional defenders, especially in the form of universities, news media, book publishers, free-speech groups and major philanthropies.But those defenders are, on account of one excuse or another, capitulating to people who claim free speech for themselves (but not for others)

Oh my God.

Facepalm GIFs | Tenor

Do we really have to go over this again?
Freedom of speech means that the government can not prevent you from speaking or punish you for your speech. It does not mean that no matter what you say people aren't allowed to criticize you, to call you out, to condemn you. And it doesn't mean that your employer can't decide that you've become an embarassment to the organization and fire you.

. . .  and who demand cringing public apologies from those who have sinned against an ever-more radical ideological standard (while those apologies won’t save them from being fired).

This would be the radical ideological standard of . . . don't say racist, misogynistic or homophobic shit in public and expect to not get any pushback? That honestly doesn't sound that difficult. I'm 53 years old and I'm pretty sure I haven't done that. And I'm just some normal average guy.

As in so much else, George Orwell was here before us. . . 
“What is sinister,” he wrote, “is that the conscious enemies of liberty are those to whom liberty ought to mean most.” He was particularly calling out Western scientists who admired the Soviet Union for its technical prowess and were utterly indifferent to Stalin’s persecution of writers and artists. “They do not see that any attack on intellectual liberty, and on the concept of objective truth, threatens in the long run every department of thought.”

Yeah, that's certainly analagous to the current situation. The Soviets were an authoritarian dictatorship who had the power to restrict writing and speech and brutally punish anyone who violated their strictures. Being sent to the gulag for voicing an opinion is really, when you think about it, the equivalent of being told on Twitter that you've been "cancelled."

So to sum up, Trump - who recently demanded that protestors be given long prison terms, who has encouraged groups of heavily-armed thugs and whire supremacisits and who has threatened to unleash the military on American cities if governors do not heed his calls to utilize the National Guard, is not the problem.

Police who beat, knock down, pepper spray and tear-gas people exercising their First Amendment rights are not the problem.

Gangs of conspiracxy-theory-addled rage-fueled agreived white racists with sub-machine guns are not the problem.

The problem is that sometimes when someone gets racist on Twitter, people get angry and then sometimes that person gets fired. That's the problem. If you can type up some version of this opinion twice a week for the foreseeable future, you too can be a professional opinion-haver and writer. Apparently, that's all there us to it.