URLs du Jour

2018-11-19

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  • At Quillette, Uri Harris writes on The Institutionalization of Social Justice. Uri examines the slow-motion effort of activists to "suppress controversial viewpoints". Examples abound, and they will come as no surprise to folks who have been following the trend. Conclusion:

    But there’s a lot to be concerned about. The extent to which highly progressive universities have become conformist and dogmatic as they have adopted this is troubling. But we can now see why: use of analytic individualization tools to reform people of their privilege combined with a self-governing structure where people internalize the norms of social justice and continually monitor themselves and each other for violations is bound to produce a high level of conformity.

    Yet, even these concerns of conformity and suppression of dissent pale in comparison to what might happen as technology continues to develop. China, which has already instituted a system of social credit combined with wide-ranging surveillance technology, provides a glimpse of this. This could become totalitarian very rapidly, especially as governments continue to work with Google, Facebook, and other technology companies to regulate speech.

    Long, but worth your attention.


  • At the Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein writes an obituary: American Civil Liberties Union, RIP.

    In the late 1960s, the ACLU was a small but powerful liberal organization devoted to a civil libertarian agenda composed primarily of devotion to freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, and the rights of accused criminals. In the early 1970s, the ACLU's membership rose from around 70,000 to almost 300,000. Many new members were attracted by the organization's opposition to the Vietnam War and its high-profile battles with President Nixon, but such members were not committed to the ACLU's broader civil libertarian agenda. However, the organization's defense of the KKK's right to march in Skokie, Illinois, in the late 1970s weeded out some of these fair-weather supporters and attracted some new free speech devotees. But George H. W. Bush's criticisms of the ACLU during the 1988 presidential campaign again attracted many liberal members not especially devoted to civil liberties.

    It has been a slow-motion evolution, but the end result should be sad for actual civil libertarians to behold:

    Meanwhile, yesterday, the Department of Education released a proposed new Title IX regulation that provides for due process rights for accused students that had been prohibited by Obama-era guidance. Shockingly, even to those of us who have followed the ACLU's long, slow decline, the ACLU tweeted in reponse that the proposed regulation "promotes an unfair process, inappropriately favoring the accused." Even longtime ACLU critics are choking on the ACLU, of all organizations, claiming that due proess protections "inappropriately favor the accuse[d]."

    Earlier this year, Joe Lieberman also noted the ACLU's shape-shifting into just "another advocacy group on the left."


  • Power Line's John Hinderaker points out The Ultimate Fake News.

    Fake news is a serious problem in our political life. I’m not referring to a pathetically small number of Facebook ads bought by Russian provocateurs. I’m talking about the fake news that was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee; fabricated by Democratic Party-allied consultants; propagated by the FBI and the CIA; promoted by the broadcast networks, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Associated Press; trumpeted by pretty much every senior elected Democrat; and kept alive by the appalling Robert Mueller. The claim that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to “steal” the 2016 presidential election is the great fake news of our time.

    The results, as revealed by a recent poll: two-thirds of Democrats think that the statement "Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected President" is either "definitely true" or "probably true".

    An assertion for which there is zero evidence. Russia's apparent goal was to "undermine confidence" in voting; but it's clear the MSM has been far more effective than the Russians in progressing to that goal.

    Will they accept any responsibility for this? Don't hold your breath.


  • Pun Salad considers P. J. "no relation to Beto" O'Rourke to be a primary guru, so his take on the midterm election is highly recommended: Demented Politics, Lunatic Markets.

    We have two political parties in America, each worse than the other.

    One party thinks it’s in favor of business and economic growth. It’s not thinking very hard. The GOP has done nothing about the nation’s burgeoning debt and deficit. If Republicans were financial advisers, they’d take a look at your huge credit-card bills, delinquent car loan, and outsized mortgage debt and tell you to quit making loan payments and go on a spending spree.

    You’d say, “But I’ll lose the house!” And Republicans would say, “Heck, we lost the House. So what?”

    The other party is convinced that everything is free. Health care is free. College tuition is free. Parental leave is free. Not that parents need it, since daycare is also free. Democrats should go into a butcher shop and announce that beef is free… and get clocked on the head by a butcher wielding a frozen rib roast. (Except Democrats will ban meat because animals are free, too.)

    Are we in an era where all we can do is stand athwart history, yelling "Stop!"? I'd like to think not, but…


  • This being Pun Salad, we try to keep you abreast of current thought on that humorous genre. At the hoity-toity Paris Review, James Geary writes In Defense of Puns. Everyone knows that the Fall of Mankind was kicked off when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden apple. But… wait a minute, who said it was an apple?

    Apples appeared in 382 because that’s when Pope Damasus I asked Saint Jerome to translate the Old Latin Bible into the simpler Latin Vulgate, which became the definitive edition of the text for the next thousand years. In the Vulgate, the adjectival form of evilmalus, is malum, which also happens to be the word for “apple.” The similarity between malum (“evil”) and malum (“apple”) prompted Saint Jerome to pick that word to describe what Eve and Adam ate, thereby ushering sin into the world.

    The truth is, though, the apple is innocent, and this unjustly maligned fruit’s association with original sin comes down to nothing more than a pun.

    Geary's "defense" of puns only goes so far, however. Puns "about German sausage are generally considered the ." (I bet you can fill in the blank yourself.)


  • And, finally, good news from Slashdot: There Is No Link Between Insomnia and Early Death, Study Finds.

    Which allows me to make the cheap joke: that's great, because I was really losing sleep worrying about that.