URLs du Jour

2020-10-16

[Amazon Link]

  • Haven't heard much from Bari Weiss since she was bullied out of the New York Times. But she has a recent article at Tablet; she's speaking to her fellow Jews, but everyone needs to hear it: Stop Being Shocked.

    I share with the majority of American Jews’ disgust toward Trump and Trumpism, which has normalized bigotry and cruelty in ways that have crippled American society. That truth doesn’t detract from another: There is another danger, this one from the left. And unlike Trump, this one has attained cultural dominance, capturing America's elites and our most powerful institutions. In the event of a Biden victory, it is hard to imagine it meeting resistance. So let me make my purpose perfectly clear: I am here to ring the alarm. I’m here to say: Do not be shocked anymore. Stop saying, can you believe. It’s time to accept reality, if we want to have any hope of fixing it.

    I'll make the usual implicit read-the-whole-thing recommendation: really, read the whole thing.

    My own litmus test for cultural dominance: the "Racial Justice Resources" page from the University Near Here. It is dominated by Critical Race theorists with (as near as I can tell) not a single advocate of old-fashioned liberal values.


  • Another example of how "cultural dominance" means that alternate views get squelched: Amazon Cancels Shelby Steele (WSJ, probably paywalled).

    As a documentary, “What Killed Michael Brown?” has everything going for it. Its subject is timely, about the pre-George Floyd killing of Michael Brown by a police officer that set off riots in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014.

    It’s written and narrated by Shelby Steele, the prominent African-American scholar at the Hoover Institution, and directed by his filmmaker son, Eli Steele. Its subject—race relations—is a major fault line in this year’s presidential election, one reason the Steeles scheduled their film for release on Oct. 16. Our columnist Jason Rileywrote about the film on Wednesday.

    One problem: “What Killed Michael Brown?” doesn’t fit the dominant narrative of white police officers killing young black men because of systemic racism. As a result, says the younger Mr. Steele, Amazon rejected it for its streaming service. “We were canceled, plain and simple.”

    The film's website is here.


  • At National Review, Charles C. W. Cooke notes another symptom of Bari's thesis: The Censors Will Never Give Up.

    In the New York Times, Emily Bazelon reminds us once again that an enormous number of journalists, law professors, and other academics simply cannot be trusted to defend the First Amendment — and, in fact, that they spend an increasing amount of time coming up with what they believe are new arguments for censorship. In a key paragraph, Bazelon writes that:

    It’s an article of faith in the United States that more speech is better and that the government should regulate it as little as possible. But increasingly, scholars of constitutional law, as well as social scientists, are beginning to question the way we have come to think about the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. They think our formulations are simplistic — and especially inadequate for our era.

    In addition:

    These scholars argue something that may seem unsettling to Americans: that perhaps our way of thinking about free speech is not the best way. At the very least, we should understand that it isn’t the only way. Other democracies, in Europe and elsewhere, have taken a different approach. Despite more regulations on speech, these countries remain democratic

    There is nothing novel about the arguments presented in Bazelon’s piece. Indeed, they are exactly the same arguments that have always been made by people who would like to be more powerful than they are. And we are by no means obligated to buy into her euphemisms. When Bazelon writes that “democracies, in Europe and elsewhere, have taken a different approach,” or that the “principle of free speech has a different shape and meaning in Europe,” she means that governments in Europe use violence to prevent people from saying things that they don’t want them to say. When she refers to “regulations on speech” she means “censorship enforced by the police.” When she observes that “some liberals have lost patience with rehashing debates about ideas they find toxic,” she means that those people have abandoned freedom of expression both legally and culturally, and, having privately decided what is true and what is false, have decided to ruin the lives of anyone who dissents. When she proposes that “our formulations are simplistic,” she means that people cannot be trusted with the unalienable liberties they inherited, so experts must step into the breach. When she waxes lyrical about the mid-20th century arrangement, during which “broadcasters were held to a standard of public trusteeship, in which the right to use the airwaves came with a mandate to provide for democratic discourse,” she means that she would like the government to decide which broadcasts counted as a “public service” and that the public would be better off if given a “choice” between three different versions of the same thing. When she suggests “our way of thinking about free speech is not the best way” she means that we should tear up the First Amendment. She can put it how she likes; the answer is No.

    That's an unusually long excerpt. Hope Charles forgives me.


  • A brief ray of sunshine from Cato, its updated version of Freedom in the 50 States. I'll just embed their map:

    That's us, number two in the nation, right behind Florida! But we could be doing so much better. Skipping to the bad news:

    New Hampshire’s regulatory outlook is not so sunny. Its primary sin is exclusionary zoning. It is generally agreed that the Granite State is one of the four worst states in the country for residential building restrictions. Part of the problem might be the absence of a regulatory taking law. However, the eminent domain law is strong. On labor-market freedom, New Hampshire is below average primarily because of the absence of a right-to-work law and of any exceptions to the workers’ compensation mandate. New Hampshire has no state-level minimum wage. Health insurance mandates are low, but the state mandates direct access to specialists, hobbling managed care. A telecommunications deregulation bill was passed in 2011–12, but the state has not yet adopted statewide video franchising. The state is above average on occupational freedom solely because the health professions enjoy broad scope of practice; the extent of licensing grew significantly during the 2000s—and more recently in 2016—and the state is now worse than average on most indicators of licensing extent. Insurance freedom is generally better than average, except for some rate classification prohibitions. The hospital certificate-of-need law was abolished in 2011–12, but that only became effective in 2016. Household goods movers are still licensed. There are no price-gouging or sales-below-cost laws. New Hampshire is one of the least cronyist states. The state’s civil liability system is far above the national average; punitive damages were abolished long ago.

    Hopefully, we'll get more libertarian-leaning legislators in November.


  • [Amazon Link]
    But not too libertarian, as the left-statists keep warning us: a review (which rang our Google LFOD News Alert) in the New Republic of a book I've mentioned before: A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear. It's about the attempted takeover of Grafton, NH. I haven't read it yet, but I will, Amazon link on your right: The Town That Went Feral.

    “In a country known for fussy states with streaks of independence,” [author] Hongoltz-Hetling observes, “New Hampshire is among the fussiest and the streakiest.” New Hampshire is, after all, the Live Free or Die state, imposing neither an income nor a sales tax, and boasting, among other things, the highest per capita rate of machine gun ownership. In the case of Grafton, the history of Living Free—so to speak—has deep roots. The town’s Colonial-era settlers started out by ignoring “centuries of traditional Abenaki law by purchasing land from founding father John Hancock and other speculators.” Next, they ran off Royalist law enforcement, come to collect lumber for the king, and soon discovered their most enduring pursuit: the avoidance of taxes. As early as 1777, Grafton’s citizens were asking their government to be spared taxes and, when they were not, just stopped paying them.

    Grafton is a mere 80 miles, mostly up US Route 4, from us. I must have been through there at least a couple of times when I visited the Dartmouth area. Didn't notice all the tommy guns though.


  • And here's News You Probably Can't Use from (arguably) the best Federal Government agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology: NIST Pair of Aluminum Atomic Clocks Reveal Einstein's Relativity at a Personal Scale.

    Scientists have known for decades that time passes faster at higher elevations—a curious aspect of Einstein's theories of relativity that previously has been measured by comparing clocks on the Earth's surface and a high-flying rocket.

    Now, physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have measured this effect at a more down-to-earth scale of 33 centimeters, or about 1 foot, demonstrating, for instance, that you age faster when you stand a couple of steps higher on a staircase.

    Described in the Sept. 24 issue of Science,* the difference is much too small for humans to perceive directly—adding up to approximately 90 billionths of a second over a 79-year lifetime—but may provide practical applications in geophysics and other fields.

    I was going to make a small joke about why you should stay at low elevations so you'll live longer. But, yeah, physics major here, I know it doesn't work like that.


Last Modified 2020-10-16 2:21 PM EST