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Posted by: soarwng ( )
Date: June 11, 2021 01:12AM

Food for thought and reflection:

http://paulgraham.com/conformism.html

Why do the independent-minded need to be protected, though? Because they have all the new ideas. To be a successful scientist, for example, it's not enough just to be right. You have to be right when everyone else is wrong. Conventional-minded people can't do that. For similar reasons, all successful startup CEOs are not merely independent-minded, but aggressively so. So it's no coincidence that societies prosper only to the extent that they have customs for keeping the conventional-minded at bay. [3]

In the last few years, many of us have noticed that the customs protecting free inquiry have been weakened. Some say we're overreacting — that they haven't been weakened very much, or that they've been weakened in the service of a greater good. The latter I'll dispose of immediately. When the conventional-minded get the upper hand, they always say it's in the service of a greater good. It just happens to be a different, incompatible greater good each time.

As for the former worry, that the independent-minded are being oversensitive, and that free inquiry hasn't been shut down that much, you can't judge that unless you are yourself independent-minded. You can't know how much of the space of ideas is being lopped off unless you have them, and only the independent-minded have the ones at the edges. Precisely because of this, they tend to be very sensitive to changes in how freely one can explore ideas. They're the canaries in this coalmine.

The conventional-minded say, as they always do, that they don't want to shut down the discussion of all ideas, just the bad ones.

You'd think it would be obvious just from that sentence what a dangerous game they're playing. But I'll spell it out. There are two reasons why we need to be able to discuss even "bad" ideas.

The first is that any process for deciding which ideas to ban is bound to make mistakes. All the more so because no one intelligent wants to undertake that kind of work, so it ends up being done by the stupid. And when a process makes a lot of mistakes, you need to leave a margin for error. Which in this case means you need to ban fewer ideas than you'd like to. But that's hard for the aggressively conventional-minded to do, partly because they enjoy seeing people punished, as they have since they were children, and partly because they compete with one another. Enforcers of orthodoxy can't allow a borderline idea to exist, because that gives other enforcers an opportunity to one-up them in the moral purity department, and perhaps even to turn enforcer upon them. So instead of getting the margin for error we need, we get the opposite: a race to the bottom in which any idea that seems at all bannable ends up being banned. [4]

The second reason it's dangerous to ban the discussion of ideas is that ideas are more closely related than they look. Which means if you restrict the discussion of some topics, it doesn't only affect those topics. The restrictions propagate back into any topic that yields implications in the forbidden ones. And that is not an edge case. The best ideas do exactly that: they have consequences in fields far removed from their origins. Having ideas in a world where some ideas are banned is like playing soccer on a pitch that has a minefield in one corner. You don't just play the same game you would have, but on a different shaped pitch. You play a much more subdued game even on the ground that's safe.

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: June 11, 2021 02:58AM

A third reason is it amplifies the platform of the banned. Case in point, Alex Jones. “Help, help, I’m being repressed!”. You talk about a messiah complex. In a case like that, do you let the crazy flow like wine or do you repress it like the Mormons do human sexuality?

This ties into the thread about the psychologist who fantasized about killing white people. As was pointed out, the audience was other psychologists familiar with fantasy role play as therapy. To an outsider, that could be alarming. Like when I would hear screaming coming from the next door office in a complex where I worked. Turns out that office was rented by a professional psychologist who uses primal scream therapy. So these things are nuanced. You really have to compare notes.

These movements to restrict speech are what created Trump. How is doubling down going to give a different result? Especially when the companies doing the banning are the same ones who hate Trump the most. It’s going to backfire. The Democratic party’s disenfranchisement of its core constituency is paving the way for the next Trump.

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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: June 11, 2021 08:28AM

babyloncansuckit Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> This ties into the thread about the psychologist
> who fantasized about killing white people. As was
> pointed out, the audience was other psychologists
> familiar with fantasy role play as therapy. To an
> outsider, that could be alarming. Like when I
> would hear screaming coming from the next door
> office in a complex where I worked. Turns out that
> office was rented by a professional psychologist
> who uses primal scream therapy. So these things
> are nuanced. You really have to compare notes.

This is far too generous. For one, the audience, as far as I was able to tell, consisted mainly of students. The Washington Post article that you may have received this “observe the context” opinion from, for all its apparent reasonableness, was just as silly as the hyperbolic glee coming from the right wing newspapers.



> The Democratic
> party’s disenfranchisement of its core
> constituency is paving the way for the next Trump.

Couldn’t agree more, but the Dem Party and its media arm have no problem with losing. Its function is to *disable* what you perceive as its “core constituency”, if by that you mean the working and middle classes generally.

Watching part of this core constituency closely, and the Indy media that covers their struggles, it’s quite apparent that they viscerally hate the Dem Party and feel deeply burned, first by Bernie and then by the Squad and the so-called Justice Democrats. They rip Ds not because they love and support Rs, as the idiocy of horseshoe/red-brown morons like to contend. No, they rip Ds because *Ds* love and support Rs. It takes a Clinton to fulfill Reagan’s agenda just as it took Obama to ratify and expand Bush’s agenda.

In other words, Carlin’s actually, it’s big club and we ain’t in it.

That club loves seeing us go after each other over abortion, religion, guns, racism, sexism, trans in sports, anything, literally anything. What they don’t want, and will do all possible to avoid, is to see us band together against them. Class warfare is the thing most needed and the thing most feared by the elites. (I fear the the Occupy movement was the lost moment that could have made a difference.)

The only campaign promise 46 means to fulfill is the promise he made at The Carlyle in New York, that “nothing would fundamentally change”*. Beware the bullshitters trying to shape 46 as another FDR.

And just as you say, this makes the next Trump inevitable. The problem, and as always with American politics this means a problem for the world, is that the next Trump will be competent. (God save us from a Tom Cotton type, please.) And since the neo-cons have all migrated back to their Party of origin, the Dems and their media arm will be fully on board.

* https://www.salon.com/2019/06/19/joe-biden-to-rich-donors-nothing-would-fundamentally-change-if-hes-elected/

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Posted by: Dr. No ( )
Date: June 11, 2021 09:36AM

soon as decide to live in a (lol) "civilized" society. Right?

Living alone in the wild is complete freedom (to even starve) but as soon as there is one other, some mutually-agreed-to-rules-of-behavior need delineated. Right?

Age old question where in society to draw this freedom/conformity line. That's the whole rub.

Legislators (theoretically) go about deciding if there should be a line; and if so, where to draw it.
Enforcement (working actually for the state) go about enforcing the line.
Lawyers go about arguing which side of the line you were on - which is why by the end of their schooling lawyers tend to be rather concrete and have poor tolerance for uncertainty (which is the actual condition of most of life)

One marker of authoritarianism: creative independent thinkers, born of non-conformity and so dangerous, are the first to be gulaged. (Or expelled)
A rough gauge of authoritarianism is therefore: how much conformity (to sometimes silly rules) is demanded.

Where would you place TSCC on this scale

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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: June 11, 2021 09:43AM

soarwng Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> The conventional-minded say, as they always do,
> that they don't want to shut down the discussion
> of all ideas, just the bad ones.

Right. They’re not against free speech, they are just against harmful speech, or offensive speech, or incorrect speech or…what they will.

But at bottom Chomsky will always be right on this: if you aren’t for the free speech you disagree with you aren’t for free speech:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-oV42OMQoE



I agree full heartedly with Khilanani's request for Yale to release her talk to the general public. Yale is acting cowardly.

It’s important to weigh her actual talk, and her post hoc contextualizing on TikTok, against what has happened to teachers reading Mark Twain aloud at St. John’s or MLK’s famous letter from the Birmingham Jail aloud at UCLA or the journalists who have been fired for quoting, etc etc etc,

It’s a needed conversation, but it has to be done openly and fairly. No one should hold their breath on that openly and fairly, here on RfM or anywhere else. Alas.

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Posted by: Dr. No ( )
Date: June 11, 2021 10:30AM

Human Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> But at bottom Chomsky will always be right on
> this: if you aren’t for the free speech you
> disagree with you aren’t for free speech:
===============================

Authoritarian-mindeds are always the most exorcised about what someone else says.
Tendency for egalitarians when confronted with nonsense is amusement.

In that two-person hypothetical, the authoritarian says: Hey I make all the rules. Cool?
And this is what is threatened by mere speech

Arrivederchi, eh?

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Posted by: Done & Done ( )
Date: June 11, 2021 11:06AM

Some interesting concepts and phrases there, but . ..

Try to find someone who doesn't claim to be independent minded. I would guess you consider yourself that and although some others wouldn't consider you that. All very complicated this labeling thing. So who gets to decide? Who is open and who is shut.

There are 8 Billion people on the planet. Some are "talk to the hand" people. There is nothing you can do. Others are open. Many aren't open though almost all claim to be. I have never met anyone who copped to having a closed mind though they do claim to be right.

Is your post about someone not wanting to listen to you on a subject you wished to engage? That was my take away. Happens to me all the time. Oh well.

Free speech includes saying what you want. If you include lies or slander you may be held accountable. Ad hominem? You can usually get away with that though it may reflect badly on you.
The freedom of speech also comes with the freedom to not engage is one chooses not. Not listening, not reacting, is part of Freedom of Speech I would say.

Rebuttals, parading of facts, and rejection are also part of free speech.

Therefore, if one wishes further conversation with someone who wishes not to engage, then, the former has the option to get really creative, and use a different approach to garner interest. One way to do this is to not label ideas as bad, but rather discuss only the results they may foster. Perhaps the reason the idea came up in the first place.

I quit herding cats quite a while ago. Change is even more difficult to guide into the corral. Problem is some are following the Judas Goat into chutes that lead to the corral. of course they don't consider that a problem. They are headed in that direction cuz they consider the minds the most open of all.

Unlike the Channel and Prada crowd, I keep my labels where no one would ever see them. Better to be a camera than a billboard.

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Posted by: Dr. No ( )
Date: June 11, 2021 11:29AM

This:

Done & Done Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Unlike the Channel and Prada crowd, I keep my
> labels where no one would ever see them. Better
> to be a camera than a billboard.
===============================

"The most deeply thoughtful and wise rarely wear any flag.
After a long hard journey, these tend to be skeptics."

-JTM

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Posted by: Done UY Done ( )
Date: June 11, 2021 11:58AM

Curious as to who JTM is? Or are those the initials of Dr. No?

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Posted by: Dr. No ( )
Date: June 11, 2021 01:03PM

Done UY Done Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Curious as to who JTM is? Or are those the
> initials of Dr. No?
===============================

Desert southwest, high summer.

Trekking days on foot alone away (greatly clears the mind) across an area of wind-caves, rested in the shadow of a wall. Blinding sun. Exhaustion.
After adjusting to shadow, there, a narrow alcove. Passive absent-minded curiosity.
There, at the far end, barely perceptible, came into form something dust-covered: a journal of sorts, leather-bound.

Looks very old. Pages wont to crumble. Not ball point. English, yet indescribably odd, with also sprinkled Latin.
No dates; filled not with events nor happenings; but rather distilled points of thought. Sometimes contradictory. Often acerbic, pithy;
sense of facing the inevitable, but squarely. Without surrender. Without pity.

Only the initials: "JTM"


(Makes no sense to me either, but suddenly have the compulsion to squash my face into a hat and start babbling)

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Posted by: Done & Done ( )
Date: June 11, 2021 01:16PM

That was a beautiful little passage there. You can babble for me anytime. In my book your trek was a perfect day.

I tried to look up a JTM on line thinking it might be a famous philosopher, but what I got was a "James the Mormon" oddly enough, who seems to be a semi-famous rapper.


No doubt JTM and Judic are buds.

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Posted by: G. Salviati ( )
Date: June 11, 2021 02:52PM

When you start with simplistic categories of human nature (e.g. aggressive/nonaggressive; conformist/non-conformist) you are bound to end up with simplistic reasoning. I found nothing in the included link that is either literally true or heuristically valuable. If you want to talk about social policy, it is best to argue facts and values, not psychology. Rational arguments over values might change someone's psychology; but "rational" arguments over psychology rarely change people's values.

The independent minded do not need to be protected! Their ideas stand or fall on their own merits. New ideas are not necessarily good ideas, rational ideas, or even interesting ideas; especially when apparently presented to create offense rather to persuade. And some ideas are so bad they are best ignored, without comment, and without providing a protective platform just to be sure that all ideas can be expressed.

Moreover, your appeal to science is incorrect. Many, many successful (and famous) scientists were rarely "right." Notwithstanding, their mistakes and missteps were intelligent and innovative in their own right and advanced the conversation so that the "right" answer could emerge. Moreover, the innovative scientist who happens to get it right does so only because he or she was influenced by those who got it wrong. In science, wrong answers, when exposed, narrow the field of inquiry and allow the right answer to eventually emerge.

Please don't confuse economic motivations with ideological motivations. One might argue that aggressive, non-conformist, entrepreneurs" keep the conventional "poor" at bay, and by so doing are able to prosper at their expense. On the other hand, a socially entrenched moral convention; of say equalitarianism, should arguably not be kept at bay in order to allow the autocrat his needed foothold.

Every society--most especially a free society--is grounded on the conventional values of its populace. Through a generous (but appropriately limited) allowance of free speech, popular culture can fight back and forth as to where to draw the lines within such values; including the line protecting the value of free speech. The insistence on an ideal of unlimited, across-the-board free speech--where everyone must be heard and have an equal platform--would likely result in the downfall of the very social structure and related institutions that protected it. (The aggressive, charismatic advocate might prevail despite the dangerous and false content of the message.)

Thus, Yale has no obligation to provide a platform for every liberal (or conservative) academic, or "mind-science" professional, that has a radical point of view to share; nuanced or not. Moreover, once it makes the judgment of providing such a platform, the public has no obligation to take the idea seriously; as a legitimate alternative view worthy of consideration. After all, nothing promotes a bad idea like the outrage it stirs--especially when that outrage generates responsive arguments about the necessity of "free speech." Sorry, but I have no interest in preserving the free-speech of either a white supremist, or the prophet of the Nation of Islam (or leftist psychiatrist) who insists that all whites are devils. And the rhetorical notion that suppressing such offensive fringe speech somehow undermines the *value* of free speech generally is just nonsense! All free speech has parameters, which parameters are necessary in order to protect other competing values.

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Posted by: Brother Of Jerry ( )
Date: June 11, 2021 03:12PM

+1

We need both, and conformism more. Without near universal agreement on the meanings of words like and and or, along with a large set of agreed upon rules on how to combine words, communication collapses.

We need a bit of nonconformity, like Finnigan’s Wake, but not too much. That’s why art house theaters are vastly outnumbered by the neighborhood cineplex.

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Posted by: Done & Done ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 10:53AM

Yes. This. Thank you. (And the brilliant use of language doesn't hurt one bit.)

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Posted by: ftcik ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 09:27AM

"The insistence on an ideal of unlimited, across-the-board free speech--where everyone must be heard and have an equal platform--would likely result in the downfall of the very social structure and related institutions that protected it."

This isn't the America I grew up in. When did the values behind the First Amendment not matter to so many?

How did so many liberals become in favor of censorship of political opinions they disagree with?

Did the regimes of Stalin, Hitler, and the millions murdered in gulags in Russia and China and Germany not teach the world the importance of not persecuting intellectuals and dissidents and shipping them off to Siberia because they have opinions that differ from those in power and the majority of the population?

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Posted by: G. Salviati ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 12:00PM

ftcik Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "The insistence on an ideal of unlimited,
> across-the-board free speech--where everyone must
> be heard and have an equal platform--would likely
> result in the downfall of the very social
> structure and related institutions that protected
> it."

As you contemplate this quote; and apply your examples of autocratic dictators, keep in mind that part of the quote you left out: "(The aggressive, charismatic advocate might prevail despite the dangerous and false content of the message.)"

> This isn't the America I grew up in. When did the
> values behind the First Amendment not matter to so
> many?

Why is it that some people insist upon taking constitutional amendments to absurd extremes. Every society must protect itself (and particularly its minorities) from the excesses of freedom. That is just a obvious fact. A free society of necessity must draw a line between the scope of individual freedom, on the one hand, and the rights of others and its own existence, on the other hand. Nobody thinks that is easy; but the biggest mistake a society can make is to assume that NO lines should be drawn; or even being timid about drawing such lines when they are clearly necessary!

For example, when a society sees ideological forces exploiting "free speech" with rhetorically false narratives that undermine democratic principles and the institutions that protect such principles (e.g. the right to vote), "free speech" becomes an ideal that must be and should be restrained. A distinction can easily be made between *legitimate* "censorship" of American extremists and the *illegitimate* censorship of people like the Russian dissident Alexei Navalny. Such distinctions can and should be argued and made without lumping both into a "free speech" narrative demanding unbridled tolerance.

> How did so many liberals become in favor of
> censorship of political opinions they disagree
> with?

RESPONSE: Again, just more nonsense. What political opinions are liberals seeking to censor that you are so offended by? Is it the speech that says whites are superior to blacks; the speech that says the election was rigged and should be overturned; or perhaps the speech that says COVID is a hoax?
>
> Did the regimes of Stalin, Hitler, and the
> millions murdered in gulags in Russia and China
> and Germany not teach the world the importance of
> not persecuting intellectuals and dissidents and
> shipping them off to Siberia because they have
> opinions that differ from those in power and the
> majority of the population?

This is the biggest irony of all your comments. Hitler took power and instigated his anti-democratic, anti-free speech, anti-human rights, and anti-Jewish agendas, by first taking advantage of an institutionalized commitment to free speech that was unwilling to set and enforce boundaries in order to protect itself and its citizens. Let's not go there again!

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Posted by: Brother Of Jerry ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 02:44PM

+1 again. You're on a roll!

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 03:07PM

The notion that conservatives are defenders of free speech is also ridiculous. That may have been true in Edmund Burke's day but it certainly isn't today.

Consider first the degree to which conservatives have "canceled" other cultures like African American and Native American history. When people try to correct the record or perhaps take down a statue to a traitor, the right protests stentoriously that it is wrong to cancel their cancellation of others' history. But their concern is one-sided: none of them are insisting that Eastern Europe replace the statues of Stalin and Lenin that once stood in public squares as they should if they thought that all established history, as opposed to just their own, is sacrosanct.

Second is the right's adoption of phrases like Critical Race theory, wokeness, and cancel culture. Those concepts arose independently but have become labels on conservatives' various trash bins. Call something "woke" and you can throw it away. Call the 1619 Project CRT and your state houses can ban it. Yes, "ban" as in the use of state power to shut down speech.

Third, take a good hard look at what has happened in Washington in recent years. Was it pro-free speech to undermine a free election? Was it libertarian for Trump and Barr to use the DOJ to attack opposition politicians and reporters?

No, conservatives--at least of the Trumpian variety--are no fans of free speech. They just slept at a Holiday Inn last night.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/12/2021 03:08PM by Lot's Wife.

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Posted by: ftcik ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 03:04PM

"For example, when a society sees ideological forces exploiting "free speech" with rhetorically false narratives that undermine democratic principles and the institutions that protect such principles (e.g. the right to vote), "free speech" becomes an ideal that must be and should be restrained. A distinction can easily be made between *legitimate* "censorship" of American extremists and the *illegitimate* censorship of people like the Russian dissident Alexei Navalny. Such distinctions can and should be argued and made without lumping both into a "free speech" narrative demanding unbridled tolerance."

You don't see how easy it could be for one political party to claim that other political parties are undermining democratic principles, and simply begin persecuting any journalists or thought leaders who aren't part of their political party, thus quickly going down the slippery slope into one party rule?

I'm also deeply puzzled why you think Hitler's anti free speech was bad, yet in the same post you vehemently defend shutting down free speech without seeming to realize it.

The whole point of free speech is that, other than the obscene and violent death threats or yelling fire in a theatre etc., you have to let go of your own judgments of what is "proper" speech that is worthy to be spoken in society, because by definition you will tend to think that whatever your political party is, is the only one that should be able to speak, if you start going down the road of trying to shut down other speech by other political parties or groups.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 12:57PM

Controlling what people can know helps control what people will do.

Controlling where people can go also controls what people can do.



Could the Jan. 06 effort to effect the continued reign of a leader have taken place in Moscow or Beijing? Would the aftermath have been the same in either of those two capitols?



A certain small percentage of the American populace will not be affected by the current increase in commodity pricing. Despite whatever jealousy or envy that arises, American values (meaning the love of money) will allow that certain small percentage of Americans to remain safe within their gated communities.

The majority of Americans will allow this because of the hope, no matter how faint, that they or their children will one day join the 'Elite' behind said gates. And too many know that any usurpers who arise to "lead" us in an overthrow of the 'Elite' will themselves end up in those gated haunts.

...As long as anti-bribery statutes continue to be enforced, which is going to be difficult because money is soooooo addicting!

Personally, I think it would only take one generation's assault on the dying cult of 'honesty' to end it and then Mexico could annex us and we wouldn't know the difference.

"Doing the Right Thing" is so wide open to interpretation!! Some people believe that the Freedom to Conform is ghawd-given.

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