URLs du Jour

2017-05-17

■ If you squint up your eyes a bit, you can see relevance to recent headlines in Proverbs 26:20

Without wood a fire goes out;
    without a gossip a quarrel dies down.

Pardon the Getty illustration; it's sexist, ageist, and probably problematic in other ways I can't discern.

■ My Google LFOD alert was triggered by a letter to the Concord Monitor, a shockingly sensible response to the recent legislative "investigations" into online comments by state reps Sherry Frost and Robert Fisher. (Briefly, Fisher, a Republican, is accused of being a troglodyte misogynist; Frost, a Democrat, is accused of being a potty-mouthed man-hater.) Letter-writer Jon Meyer states, simply: Legislature should not act as the thought police.

This is wrong. The New Hampshire Legislature should not be in the business of investigating or judging the social media of state representatives, particularly when that expression is not part of their legislative duties. The Legislature is not the thought police.

At the intersection of free speech and live free or die is the right to express oneself, even if the opinions are extreme or offensive, feminist or anti-feminist. And that right is not lost by being elected as a legislator.

Ah, bingo. Let Fisher's and Frost's respective constituents decide whether they should be in the legislature.

■ At College Fix, Daniel Payne demands: Enough with the hate crime hoaxes.

But it is on college campuses that the hate crime hoax seems to find the most purchase. By now we are familiar with the cycle: a racist note or a hateful flier or a KKK hood or something else is discovered on campus, invariably by a student who also happens to be an outspoken progressive activist on campus. Word spreads; the college administration pledges to get to the bottom of things; students assemble, march, often issue a set of demands, vow to extinguish the (racist/sexist/ableist/transphobic) climate on campus. Soon enough somebody starts asking questions, and within a few days or even a few hours the entire hoax falls apart. Then everything calms down until the next offensive thing is discovered.

Administrators should stop acting like scared puppies every time activists cite conveniently anonymous incidents as leverage for their stupid demands. E. g.:

Some University of New Hampshire students say the school has failed to address currents of racism on campus and are demanding that it double the number of students and faculty of color, offer diversity training for all staff and amend the student conduct code to expel students who post “racially insensitive” content.

Required reading for anyone spouting that last bit of nonsense: Eugene Volokh.

■ At the Niskansen Center, Jacob T. Levy suggests we not take The Shortcut to Serfdom. I assume readers will get the Hayek reference.

A deceptive, ruthless, nationalist executive, unconstrained by either traditional rules of law or by parliamentary or legislative oversight, choosing particular firms and industries for favor and disfavor, seeking to undo the international system of trade: this is very much the shape of the rising populist and nationalist authoritarianism in the world, from Turkey to Hungary to the United States. Hayek’s warning is that the good intentions of the democratic left can lead to bad results like that. To embrace those results for the sake of keeping the democratic left at bay is to dishonor the warning, not to heed it. This is true even if the lawless nationalist authoritarian promises a few pro-market victories on policies or personnel: some deregulation here, a tax cut there, a couple of undersecretaries.

Shortcut to reading Levy: I don't think that Hayek would have liked Trump; you shouldn't either.

■ KDW@NR offers helpful advice: How to Read the Newspaper.

What is happening right now is not salubrious skepticism but a kind of mass hysteria, millions of heads plunging with struthioniform insistence into the same sand, as though insisting that reality is something other than what it is, or merely averting our gaze, would somehow alter the truth. Something has changed radically with remarkable speed. Not long ago, when I would inform someone that they had passed along an Internet hoax or erroneous claim (writers on public affairs spend a fair amount of their correspondence thus engaged) the response would be a sheepish “oops.” About once a week, someone will inform me that Hillary Rodham Clinton was disbarred for misconduct (she wasn’t) or that Barack Obama’s mother-in-law is receiving a six-figure federal pension for having babysat his children (she isn’t) or some other such nonsense, and then cry “fake news!” when corrected. The irony is that they have fallen for fake news, and retreat into “fake news!” when their gullibility is shown.

Yes, he said "struthioniform". He went there.

(OK, I looked it up. And I'll probably steal it over the coming months.)

■ At Reason, Christian "five consecutive consonants in my last name" Britschgi bemoans: Washington Post Ed. Board Says Life Insurance Regulations Would Cut Down on Child Homicides. The WaPo went for the scary headline, and Britschgi asks: really? Numerous examples are offered, but:

The Post fails to mention that each of the crimes they describe involves the fraudulent bypassing of regulations already on the books. Murderers, in the business of fraud and deception, are more than likely to be undeterred by additional regulation.

The WaPo's argument has—I guess this isn't surprising—a lot of parallels to the gun debate; both seem to be based in the ever-naïve faith that magic regulations will stop evil people from committing evil acts.