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Utopia Talk / Politics / A Letter on Justice and Open Debate
Thu Jul 09 12:04:05
Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second. The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty. We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought. More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes. Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal. We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement.

This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time. The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation. The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other. As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences. If we won’t defend the very thing on which our work depends, we shouldn’t expect the public or the state to defend it for us.

Elliot Ackerman
Saladin Ambar, Rutgers University
Martin Amis
Anne Applebaum
Marie Arana, author
Margaret Atwood
John Banville
Mia Bay, historian
Louis Begley, writer
Roger Berkowitz, Bard College
Paul Berman, writer
Sheri Berman, Barnard College
Reginald Dwayne Betts, poet
Neil Blair, agent
David W. Blight, Yale University
Jennifer Finney Boylan, author
David Bromwich
David Brooks, columnist
Ian Buruma, Bard College
Lea Carpenter
Noam Chomsky, MIT (emeritus)
Nicholas A. Christakis, Yale University
Roger Cohen, writer
Ambassador Frances D. Cook, ret.
Drucilla Cornell, Founder, uBuntu Project
Kamel Daoud
Meghan Daum, writer
Gerald Early, Washington University-St. Louis
Jeffrey Eugenides, writer
Dexter Filkins
Federico Finchelstein, The New School
Caitlin Flanagan
Richard T. Ford, Stanford Law School
Kmele Foster
David Frum, journalist
Francis Fukuyama, Stanford University
Atul Gawande, Harvard University
Todd Gitlin, Columbia University
Kim Ghattas
Malcolm Gladwell
Michelle Goldberg, columnist
Rebecca Goldstein, writer
Anthony Grafton, Princeton University
David Greenberg, Rutgers University
Linda Greenhouse
Rinne B. Groff, playwright
Sarah Haider, activist
Jonathan Haidt, NYU-Stern
Roya Hakakian, writer
Shadi Hamid, Brookings Institution
Jeet Heer, The Nation
Katie Herzog, podcast host
Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College
Adam Hochschild, author
Arlie Russell Hochschild, author
Eva Hoffman, writer
Coleman Hughes, writer/Manhattan Institute
Hussein Ibish, Arab Gulf States Institute
Michael Ignatieff
Zaid Jilani, journalist
Bill T. Jones, New York Live Arts
Wendy Kaminer, writer
Matthew Karp, Princeton University
Garry Kasparov, Renew Democracy Initiative
Daniel Kehlmann, writer
Randall Kennedy
Khaled Khalifa, writer
Parag Khanna, author
Laura Kipnis, Northwestern University
Frances Kissling, Center for Health, Ethics, Social Policy
Enrique Krauze, historian
Anthony Kronman, Yale University
Joy Ladin, Yeshiva University
Nicholas Lemann, Columbia University
Mark Lilla, Columbia University
Susie Linfield, New York University
Damon Linker, writer
Dahlia Lithwick, Slate
Steven Lukes, New York University
John R. MacArthur, publisher, writer
Susan Madrak, writer
Phoebe Maltz Bovy, writer
Greil Marcus
Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center
Kati Marton, author
Debra Mashek, scholar
Deirdre McCloskey, University of Illinois at Chicago
John McWhorter, Columbia University
Uday Mehta, City University of New York
Andrew Moravcsik, Princeton University
Yascha Mounk, Persuasion
Samuel Moyn, Yale University
Meera Nanda, writer and teacher
Cary Nelson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Olivia Nuzzi, New York Magazine
Mark Oppenheimer, Yale University
Dael Orlandersmith, writer/performer
George Packer
Nell Irvin Painter, Princeton University (emerita)
Greg Pardlo, Rutgers University – Camden
Orlando Patterson, Harvard University
Steven Pinker, Harvard University
Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Katha Pollitt, writer
Claire Bond Potter, The New School
Taufiq Rahim
Zia Haider Rahman, writer
Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, University of Wisconsin
Jonathan Rauch, Brookings Institution/The Atlantic
Neil Roberts, political theorist
Melvin Rogers, Brown University
Kat Rosenfield, writer
Loretta J. Ross, Smith College
J.K. Rowling
Salman Rushdie, New York University
Karim Sadjadpour, Carnegie Endowment
Daryl Michael Scott, Howard University
Diana Senechal, teacher and writer
Jennifer Senior, columnist
Judith Shulevitz, writer
Jesse Singal, journalist
Anne-Marie Slaughter
Andrew Solomon, writer
Deborah Solomon, critic and biographer
Allison Stanger, Middlebury College
Paul Starr, American Prospect/Princeton University
Wendell Steavenson, writer
Gloria Steinem, writer and activist
Nadine Strossen, New York Law School
Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., Harvard Law School
Kian Tajbakhsh, Columbia University
Zephyr Teachout, Fordham University
Cynthia Tucker, University of South Alabama
Adaner Usmani, Harvard University
Chloe Valdary
Lucía Martínez Valdivia, Reed College
Helen Vendler, Harvard University
Judy B. Walzer
Michael Walzer
Eric K. Washington, historian
Caroline Weber, historian
Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers
Bari Weiss
Sean Wilentz, Princeton University
Garry Wills
Thomas Chatterton Williams, writer
Robert F. Worth, journalist and author
Molly Worthen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Matthew Yglesias
Emily Yoffe, journalist
Cathy Young, journalist
Fareed Zakaria

sam adams
Thu Jul 09 12:53:05
You know the extreme leftists and sebs have gone batshit when even chomsky is telling them to fuck off.
Thu Jul 09 13:03:03
There is a pretty huge difference between accountability (e.g. Starkey being stripped of his honours and dropped by his publishers for his "damned blacks" interview); and the harassment JK Rowling gets from trans activists for questioning where the boundaries of gender identity should be and defending womens sex based rights.

Those are two different things.

I do find that some trans activists are extremely aggressive in their campaigning in a way that other rights campaigners are not; and there is a fairly high degree of misogyny bubbling under some of the criticism of "TERFS" that was just waiting for a license to get out.
Thu Jul 09 13:11:36
"Matthew Yglesias"

Bad move there, chief:

"Several staffers at Vox have taken to Twitter after journalist Matthew Yglesias signed the open letter decrying "cancel culture."

Yglesias was one of 150 signatories including other liberal writers, professors and activists who came together to defend civil debate in the face of social media callouts that have become ubiquitous in recent years.

However, Vox critic at large Emily VanDerWerff released a letter of her own that she had written to Vox editors voicing her concerns of Yglesias' inclusion in the anti-cancel culture letter.

"As a trans woman who very much values her position at Vox and the support the publication has given her through the emotional and physical turmoil of transition, I was deeply saddened to see Matt Yglesias's signature on the Harper's Weekly letter," VanDerWerff began her letter to the editors. "Matt is, of course, entitled to his own opinion, and I know he is a more nuanced thinker than signing the letter would suggest. He has never been anything but kind to me and has often supported my work publicly, all of which I am extremely grateful for."

"But the letter, signed as it is by several prominent anti-trans voices and containing as many dog whistles towards anti-trans positions as it does, ideally would not have been signed by anybody at Vox, much less one of the most prominent people at our publication."

VanDerWeff told the editors that Yglesias' signature on the letter "makes me feel less safe at Vox" and claimed that it makes her job "slightly more difficult" as since, as she suggests, readers will "equate my positions with his."

"I don't want Matt to be reprimanded or fired or even asked to submit an apology. ... But I do want to make clear that those beliefs cost him nothing," she continued. "I am used to hearing them from people who believe my own lived experiences pale in comparison to their own momentary social media discomfort. I'm sorry to find Matt among those voices."

Another Vox staffer, Aja Romano, similarly condemned "everyone who signed" the letter though she did not name Yglesias by name.

"Today sucked. The Harper's letter is a dehumanizing transphobic whisper network masquerading as reasoned intellectual debate," Romano wrote. "Everyone who signed it has contributed to the real harm that its legion of transphobic signatories have brought to real trans people, especially teens."

She followed on Wednesday, "Yesterday 3 trans Vox writers spoke against the Harper's list, and all of us have now been directly targeted (and harassed as a result) by one of the writers on it. Just us, no other critics of the list. I want to be very clear about who benefits & who doesn't from this 'debate.'"


He'll he walking back his support for this letter within a year for sure.
Thu Jul 09 13:15:36
"Jennifer Finney Boylan, author"

Not anymore!

"Jennifer Finney Boylan 

I did not know who else had signed that letter. I thought I was endorsing a well meaning, if vague, message against internet shaming. I did know Chomsky, Steinem, and Atwood were in, and I thought, good company. The consequences are mine to bear. I am so sorry.

7:32 PM · Jul 7, 2020·Twitter Web App"

Thu Jul 09 13:30:47
At least the NY Times is a fan of the letter though. Here's Fatnsx Fassihi's take on it:

"Farnaz Fassihi
"The Letter" was shaped/spearheaded from conversations by
four privileged white men. Apparently they felt entitled to really weigh in on racism, diversity & inclusion.
That says it all.

12:46 AM · Jul 8, 2020·Twitter Web App"

sam adams
Thu Jul 09 14:10:45
The participation trophy generation transgenders lose their fucking gourds when questioned even slightly.
Thu Jul 09 15:16:40
” Editors are fired for running controversial pieces”

If they write something that is against a paper’s policy – something that goes against everything that the paper stands for, for an example pro-racist or pro-slavery opinions, then why can they not be fired?

”books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity”

If a book is proven to be false or if it contains factual inaccuracies, it probably should be withdrawn. It may depend on what kind of book it is though.

”journalists are barred from writing on certain topics”

If journalists wants to write a piece that glorifies Hitler, slavery or racism, then maybe they can look for another paper or magazine who wants to publish it. Just because they are a journalist and because papers and magazine publish texts and opinions does not mean that they will publish anything a journalist wants.

”heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes.”

And people all over the world are sometimes fired because of clumsy mistakes.

My god, whoever wrote this article are such whiners. ”Waaa, we can not do whatever we want! And people criticize our opinions on twitter! Waaa”

”The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation. The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away.”

So let us have a serious and lengthy debate where we can have a serious discussion on whether Hitler was right or not. Or wherever we should reintroduce slavery and euthanize transgenders.
Thu Jul 09 15:23:47
And after the debate maybe we can have a referendum where people can vote fair and democratically on what should be done.
Thu Jul 09 15:38:18
"If they write something that is against a paper’s policy – something that goes against everything that the paper stands for, for an example pro-racist or pro-slavery opinions, then why can they not be fired?"

Do you not understand what the editorial pages are suppose to be? It is a place where dissenting views used to be accepted and usually responded to with at least some semblance of thought.

At one time the editorial pages were a place to freely exchange ideals and thoughts. We need to get back to that.

Instead of firing an editor they could have published a rebuttal. Would have been what a publication purporting to be journalistic in nature would have done.
Thu Jul 09 15:52:20

"Racism, Hitler, genocide, Hitler."

10/10 for your deconstruction. Do you have a PhD in critical theory?
Thu Jul 09 16:01:48
” At one time the editorial pages were a place to freely exchange ideals and thoughts. We need to get back to that”

Yes I suggested it in my post, that there should be a serious debate on whether slavery should be reintroduced or if transgenders should be euthanized and if Hitler was right or not. There should even be a lengthy debate on the horrors of USA. Every paper should debate this on their editorial pages. We must have an open debate where people dare to say things that may sound a bit controversial now. But the more we debate these issues, the more accepted these issues will be, and that is good.
Thu Jul 09 16:13:04
You are a parody Paramount. That should be your new name, Parody.
Thu Jul 09 16:17:24
Paramount wants to censor speech and suck up to China.

WTB wants to literally murder everyone who votes conservative.

How is it that the Iranian transplant is the only one of you Swedish idiots that has even a modicum of respect of Western liberal ideas?
Thu Jul 09 16:17:53
What? You don’t want a free and open debate?
Thu Jul 09 16:23:27
” WTB wants to literally murder everyone who votes conservative”

That is something that could be discussed in an open and free debate on your nation’s editorial pages.
Thu Jul 09 16:48:11
Nobody has actually disagreed with that, I just pointed out that you are satire. Which in the spirit of the letters, regardless of the object of parody, should be allowed. That means your specific "vänsterblivna" type of satire has my full support.
Thu Jul 09 23:30:12
"I do find that some trans activists are extremely aggressive in their campaigning in a way that other rights campaigners are not"

Is anyone really surprised that mentally ill males with hormone disorders show increased aggression, especially through homicidal threats against biological females?
Thu Jul 09 23:53:34
^ the GOP for how many decades?
Fri Jul 10 00:24:55
^thinks its okay for forty-year old dudes wearing makeup to threaten to rape and murder women for wrongthink
Fri Jul 10 04:18:33

Actually it's less the trans people themselves. It's more cis white men and women who seem to enjoy having a licence to attack women.
Fri Jul 10 12:24:10
It's really only MtFs that I've seen opining that TERFs get raped and murdered.

Though undoubtedly "allies" are plenty toxic as well.
Tue Jul 14 17:54:53
Another signatory bites the dust!


Conservative NYT op-ed writer resigns, alleging 'hostile work environment'

By Jonathan Easley - 07/14/20 12:37 PM EDT

A conservative opinion writer at The New York Times published an open letter announcing her resignation on Tuesday, accusing the paper of allowing her to be bullied by colleagues because of her political views.

Bari Weiss, who joined the Times from The Wall Street Journal in April 2017, said she has “been the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views.”

She said Times reporters have called her a Nazi and racist and that the editors have allowed her to be “openly demeaned,” publicly smeared and harassed by colleagues on the paper’s internal messaging system and on social media.

In her letter, Weiss said Times editors and reporters had privately expressed support for her and agreed that she has been the subject of a “new McCarthyism” that does not allow for dissent.

But Weiss said she was resigning because the editors had refused to take action and because no one would defend her in public.

“There are terms for all of this: unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge. I’m no legal expert. But I know that this is wrong,” Weiss wrote.

“I do not understand how you have allowed this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public. And I certainly can’t square how you and other Times leaders have stood by while simultaneously praising me in private for my courage. Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery.”

Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told The Hill that the paper is “committed to fostering an environment of honest, searching and empathetic dialogue between colleagues, one where mutual respect is required of all.”

Weiss has described herself as a left-leaning centrist but she has been a vocal critic of the left.

Weiss was one of 153 mostly liberal public intellectuals who signed an open letter that was published in Harper’s last week warning about what they view as an effort on the left to achieve ideological conformity by imposing limits on speech.

The letter drew attention to ongoing debate in media and academia about whether there should be limits on speech and whether individuals should face consequences for speech that is deemed to be bigoted or dangerous.

Critics of the letter said that publishers must consider whether speech endangers minority groups, particularly at this time of historic civil unrest over systemic racism in the U.S.

Some of the signers of the Harper’s letter pointed to an incident earlier this year when the Times published an op-ed from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) calling on Trump to deploy troops into U.S. cities dealing with protests over the police killing of George Floyd.

The op-ed was met with anger from some reporters in the Times newsroom, who went on Twitter to warn that it endangered the lives of their black colleagues.

In her resignation letter, Weiss said the paper had allowed Twitter to “become its ultimate editor,” which she said had led to an editorial process designed to “satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions.”

Weiss said the Cotton controversy had a chilling effect on editorial writers who are not liberal or those seeking to challenge policy positions on the left.

“If a piece is perceived as likely to inspire backlash internally or on social media, the editor or writer avoids pitching it,” she wrote. “If she feels strongly enough to suggest it, she is quickly steered to safer ground. And if, every now and then, she succeeds in getting a piece published that does not explicitly promote progressive causes, it happens only after every line is carefully massaged, negotiated and caveated.”

Kathleen Kingsbury, the acting editorial page editor, said in a statement that the paper would continue to promote important voices “from across the political spectrum."

“We appreciate the many contributions that Bari made to Times Opinion,” Kingsbury said. “I’m personally committed to ensuring that The Times continues to publish voices, experiences and viewpoints from across the political spectrum in the Opinion report. We see every day how impactful and important that approach is, especially through the outsized influence The Times’s opinion journalism has on the national conversation.”

Weiss cited recent op-eds or reported stories in the Times that she found to be appalling as evidence that the paper will only react to controversies if they are driven by liberal anger toward conservatives.

“It took the paper two days and two jobs to say that the Tom Cotton op-ed 'fell short of our standards.' We attached an editor’s note on a travel story about Jaffa shortly after it was published because it 'failed to touch on important aspects of Jaffa’s makeup and its history.' But there is still none appended to Cheryl Strayed’s fawning interview with the writer Alice Walker, a proud anti-Semite who believes in lizard Illuminati,” Weiss wrote.

“The paper of record is, more and more, the record of those living in a distant galaxy, one whose concerns are profoundly removed from the lives of most people. This is a galaxy in which, to choose just a few recent examples, the Soviet space program is lauded for its 'diversity'; the doxxing of teenagers in the name of justice is condoned; and the worst caste systems in human history includes the United States alongside Nazi Germany."

Weiss warned that the paper risks turning away “centrists, conservatives and others who would not naturally think of The Times as their home,” which she said would foster the kind of insularity that might lead them to miss extraordinary developments, such as President Trump’s shocking 2016 election victory.

“The paper’s failure to anticipate the outcome of the 2016 election meant that it didn’t have a firm grasp of the country it covers,” Weiss wrote.

“The lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.”

Tue Jul 14 17:57:17
At this rate anyone who signed the OP letter is more endangered than a northern white rhino.
Wed Jul 15 01:21:46
”Waaa no one likes my opinions waaaa” – Weiss

Seriously though. She probably could not stand or accept the opinions of her colleagues at NYT so she found a new job at Der Stürmer and that is why she quit NYT.
Wed Jul 15 01:23:08
Weiss is the one who is bullying others with her opinions.
Wed Jul 15 01:57:06
”And if, every now and then, she succeeds in getting a piece published that does not explicitly promote progressive causes, it happens only after every line is carefully massaged, negotiated and caveated.”

It sounds like her problem is that she writes and writes and writes her opinions but the NYT won’t publish all of her opinions because ... hey welcome to reality, da competition is hard – there are HUNDREDS of other opinion writers who are writing and also wants to get published at NYT.

” every line is carefully massaged, negotiated and caveated”

Maybe NYT wants quality and not some stupid shit that will cause a reaction that will give her more likes and followers on twitter.

Take any conservative paper, they won’t publish everything or *anything* either. Waaaaa!

Case closed. Next?
Wed Jul 15 02:09:10
* and not some stupid shit that is designed to cause a reaction on twitter that will give her more likes and followers.
Wed Jul 15 18:45:00
Oh, parody :)
Thu Jul 16 08:14:30

Normally I'd just chalk up that rant to your recent embrace of illiberalism, but given that Weiss is Jewish I'm guessing thats the major factor in your dismissal of her.
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