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Monday, March 24, 2014

Ever Deeper in Political Correctness

I know most of the readers here also read Instapundit, so you're probably at least vaguely familiar with a recent kerfuffle at UCSB between a small "pro-life" group and a professor:
Dr. Mireille Miller-Young — an associate professor with UCSB’s Feminist Studies Department — approached the demonstration site and exchanged heated words with the group, taking issue with their pro-life proselytizing and use of disturbing photographs. Joan claimed Miller-Young, accompanied by a few of her students, led the gathering crowd in a chant of “Tear down the sign! Tear down the sign!” before grabbing one of the banners and walking with it across campus.
While wrong and probably in violation of the law, acting out on the basis of strong emotion is neither surprising nor can I get too worked up about it since no one was significantly hurt.  What's slightly more surprising and definitely more disconcerting, is that after the heat of the moment passed, Miller-Young still believed herself to be the victim. From the police report:
I asked Miller-Young what crimes she felt the pro-life group had violated. Miller-Young replied that their coming to campus and showing “graphic imagery” was insensitive to the community. I clarified the difference between University policy and law to Miller-Young and asked her again what law had been violated. Miller-Young said that she believed the pro-life group may have violated University policy. Miller-Young said that her actions today were in defense of her students and her own safety. 
Miller-Young said that she felt that this issue was not criminal and expressed a desire to find a resolution outside of the legal system. Miller-Young continued and stated that she had the “moral” right to act in the way she did. 
I asked Miller-Young if she could have behaved differently in this instance. There was a long pause. “I’ve said that I think I did the right thing. But I acknowledge that I probably should not have taken their poster.” Miller-Young also said that she wished that the anti-abortion group had taken down the images when they demanded them to. 
Miller-Young also suggested that the group had violated her rights. I asked Miller-Young what right the group had violated. Miller-Young responded, “My personal right to go to work and not be in harm.”
I guess free speech can be traumatic and "harmful" to others.  And many rallied to Miller-Young's defense.  For example, from the Belmont Club:
Stephanie Gilmore at The Feminist Wire lost no time in supporting Miller-Young, describing what happened to the professor as “domestic terrorism is intended ‘to intimidate or coerce a civilian population’” — meaning Miller-Young —  from feeling safe at her workplace."
Domestic terrorism? Wow. A couple of signs at a small, peaceful rally or bombs and jetliners flown into buildings.  Apparently, much the same.  Afterall, they do say that the pen is mightier than the fuel-laden jumbo jet.

But it turns out that Ms. Gilmore herself then stepped beyond the politically correct pale of the left by proclaiming:
But I stand with Mireille Miller-Young because she stands with women – ALL women – in the face of political intimidation and harassment.
As Heidi Cautrell pointed out in a comment to Ms. Gilmore's article:
“stand with” is abelist toward those who are unable to stand.
I hate to admit it, but I had no idea what "ableism" was prior to following the above thread.  In case you were also equally unenlightened, here is the definition:
a form of discrimination or social prejudice against people with disabilities. It may also be referred to as disability discrimination, physicalism, handicapism, and disability oppression. It is also sometimes known as disablism, although there is some dispute as to whether ableism and disablism are synonymous, and some people within disability rights circles find the latter term’s use inaccurate. Discrimination faced by those who have or are perceived to have a mental disorder is sometimes called mentalism rather than ableism.
By now I am so far into the unknown that I hardly know which way is up. Take any active verb and there's probably someone who can't do it.  If so, perhaps ableism should be called active-verbism?  What a crazy world.  As is often the case, I found much of Belmont Club's commentary on this topic insightful:
“Abelist” is a word from the world of Mireille Miller-Young, Stephanie Gilmore and Heidi Cautrell. If you don’t recognize the word, you might be forgiven. The Left is another country. They do things differently there. Even the words are different. The inhabitants of that strange country routinely refer to objects you might not recognize. They talk about Whiteness Theory, Phallogocentrism, Gynocriticism, and the Écriture féminine as you would WD-40, grass, spare tires or doorknobs.  They are everyday objects of their world though you may never have heard of them. 
If it has never occurred to you that to use the phrase “to stand with” is a mortal insult then you’re not with it. [...]
The inhabitants of the strange country take umbrage for reasons known only to themselves and it’s all that matters. It’s a clash of cultures, a collision between one part of America and another. 
The pro-life demonstrators holding up their poster can be forgiven for thinking they were still in America. After all they had crossed no marked boundaries. So they thought it was alright to peaceably assemble. But in reality they had wandered into the precincts of some strange tribe where such things are not tolerated; a kind of Twilight Zone; a place governed by mysterious customs, prey to obscure taboos and worshipping some monstrous, unnamed  idol. Everything was different there. Thus what followed was predictable. 
When Mireille Miller-Young snatched away the banner from Joan and Thrin Short, she was doing no more than fulfilling her tribal duty, defending her “workplace” against some interloper from Flyover Country, rumored to exist somewhere beyond the borders of the University of California, a place imbued with strange ideas about the First Amendment and the Constitution. [...] 
Neither Mireille Miller-Young nor the Short sisters are bad people judged by the standards of their own cultures. But they are different cultures.  Mireille Miller-Young has a simple desire: not to stop until her tribe conquers all the rest. And in that she is just as ordinary; just as commonplace, just as unimaginative as any tribesperson who ever lived in the long and doleful history of the world.
I disagree with the last sentence though.  I could never be so imaginative to create such a convoluted and crazy world.

48 comments:

Annoying Old Guy said...

I found this

I stand with Mireille Miller-Young because she stands with women – ALL women – in the face of political intimidation and harassment.

because the person whose poster was stolen was a woman, too. Apparently that woman is also on Miller-Young's side against herself.

Clovis e Adri said...

I almost envy a country where the fuss is all about some poster-grabbing catfight.

Gosh, you do have big problems, don't you? :-)

Annoying Old Guy said...

It's an example of a pervasive problem in our society, that of the Puritanical scolds who accept no limits on their behavior because they are Good People. It's not the poster, it is that we have an academia where Miller-Young's attitude is so unexceptionable.

erp said...

aog, I also noticed the protesters were female, but apparently in the lunatic left's lexicon, they aren't "women."

Clovis, poster grabbing is an example of a huge problem, it's not 'the' problem.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

The clash of demonstrators of different tribes is really all that news for you?

You need to watch a soccer game here in Brazil one of these days :-)

Annoying Old Guy said...

No. You think Brazilian soccer fans are accurately described as 'Puritanical scolds'? You must do soccer very differently in Brazil.

Bret said...

Clovis,

One of my facebook friends (actually, the same one who posted about toddler marrying a nice woman someday) posted a picture of someone passionately cheering at a soccer match (or it might've been some other type of sport) with the subtitle of "Too Bad People Aren't This Passionate About Things That Really Matter."

My response was that she should be careful what she wishes for - that sort of passion for things "that matter" has been the basis for uncountably many violent conflicts, wars, genocides, etc. Needless to say, my comment was thoroughly criticized and dismissed. :-)

My concern is not the clash at UCSB at all and hardly the actions of any of the participants (I wrote "nor can I get too worked up about it"). My double-plus concern is the Orwellian reformulating of language which makes it so the various tribes not only disagree, but they can also no longer even communicate with each other without causing offense, that the offense is built into the language itself (for example, "stand with" being offensive).

erp notes that the pro-life rally folk were female, but apparently not women. Of course not. No being who can't speak a language intelligibly is even human, so questions about being a woman are moot. This is one of the purposes of changing and narrowing the language - make it so others can't possibly speak intelligibly. And make it so the available choice of words makes it impossible to communicate forbidden concepts.

Then all will be double-plus good.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
You must do soccer very differently in Brazil.
---
Yes, we do, that's why we are the best at it ;-)

(I hope I do not pay for all that pride three months from now)

BTW, seriously, you can find some pretty annoying soccer fans down here.



Bret,

I disagree: the Orwellian effect requires massive and sufocating adhesion by society, in a way you feel supressed by all sides. The tribe thing going on in this case is different. This is just one more sub-culture phenomena, pretty like hip hop, heavy metal, emo music and so on.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

No. This culture has control of academia and much of the educational system, and is also probably the strongest special interest group in the nation with regard to legislation. You see exactly this sort of thing said by leaders of Congress, or even President Obama ("bitter clingers"). The IRS scandal is enabled by this attitude among the staffers there. They violated regulations, law, and tradition for exactly the same reason as this professor took that poster.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

The "bitter clingers" was about guns, no? You are mixing up things here, guns and PC syndrome are quite different subjects.

Annoying Old Guy said...

No, the "bitter clingers" was about religion as well. And it's not a different subject, it's the same one, the delegitimatizing of those with different political opinions.

But even if you had been right about that, you've left the IRS issue open which seems a bit more serious.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

I went for the quote:

-----
And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
-----
I don't know if you can say that's really about PC or suppression of contrary opinions.

To tell you the truth I think that, if you make too much fuss about that statement, you are pretty much practicing PC drama yourself.

On the IRS case, that's only your little theory.

Peter said...

I have just finished reading this, which I thought was a work of genius and heartily recommend. Sowell captures the roots and nature of intellectual pomposity and self-indulgence beautifully. At one point, he shows brilliantly why conservatives are kept almost permanently off-balance by the left and, by implication, warns of the dangers of trying to emulate them.

Sowell makes the point that conservative values---limited government, private property, low taxation, self-reliance, judicial restraint, marriage and family, sexual privacy and modesty, etc.-- are not what he terms "exaltative" values. They are extremely important, but they do not generally drive people to angry street protests. They do not fire up the imagination of restless, iconoclastic youth. They do not inspire utopian dreams of a ideal world. They are grounded in the mundane reality of the here and now and, to some extent, reflect a complex and conflicted understanding of human nature.

By contrast, leftist intellectuals live in an abstract world of dreams, which leads them to perpetually shop for causes-du-jour, see black-and-white injustice and outrage all around them, warn ceaselessly of catastrophes like the return of fascism or the very destruction of the planet if we do not heed them, cherry pick victims, and self-lionize as modern day St. George's heroically slaying dragons--with generous pension benefits, of course. To see oneself as a victim is a necessary psychological crutch for a lot of people. To see oneself (and, more importantly, to be seen) as a selfless champion of victims, as Miller-Young clearly does, is to drink the nectar of the gods.

This point I think also explains some of the divisions on today's right and even on this blog. My unease with some evolving conservative thinking is the succumbing to the lure of this dreamy mindset and utopian simplicities in place for what our lyin' eyes should see plainly. This can lead to very strange and even offensive notions of virtue (Greed is good!), a quest for victimhood (the intrinsic "tyranny" of things like the EPS or Title 1X), equally extreme and distasteful rhetoric (anti-abortion activism) and a reduction of very complex issues in a complex world to polemical ideological simplicities. Socialism, erp? Really?

erp said...

Yes, Peter really, by my definition. What's your definition? And if not socialism, what do you call it?

Sowell is a gem because he tells the truth in simple understandable ways.

Peter said...

Unlike you postmodernist radicals, erp, I've never believed in my right to make up my own definitions. But if pressed, I'd probably go with an inconsistent, incoherent, confused mess.

Peter said...

Sorry, wrong link.

erp said...

Okay, that's your definition of me, but what's your definition of socialism?

:-)

Peter said...

I asked Mr. Webster that question and here is what he told me:


1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods


2: a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property

b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

erp said...

Then I'd say my definition of socialism agrees with the learned Mr. Webster, especially since IMO crony capitalism as is being practiced in the U.S. today is no less control than the old Soviet model and will result, in the fullness of time, to producing the same "quality" of goods and services as GM and the various attempts at non-fossil fuel energy accumulation has vividly shown to be true.

Bret said...

erp wrote: "...crony capitalism as is being practiced in the U.S. today is no less control than the old Soviet model..."

No less? Not even one itsy-bitsy bit less?

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "I disagree: the Orwellian effect requires massive and sufocating adhesion by society..."

The trend in my lifetime is towards exactly that. Perhaps the trend will be permanently interrupted and/or perhaps were decades or centuries away, but I think, if unabated, that's exactly where we're going.

erp said...

Bret, only less in that it's in the building stage and may not be obvious -- they aren't finished yet. The structure is there. Now Soros will control all the cable companies and control more thoroughly information ...

Nary a word from Harry about antitrust or monopoly about that merger.

Odd that?

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
[On Orwellian worlds] The trend in my lifetime is towards exactly that.
---

I know you are a first derivative kind of guy and trends may worry you, but think about second derivatives too.

One example: the epic abortion debate. Conservatives ever feared a future were people would do abortions as easily as they order pizzas. In fact, they have been getting less frequent and as of late there have been setbacks to the pro-choice camp, even though we may be living in the most liberal times ever.

I touch this one because this is exactly the subject behind Miller-Young's case.

But I think along the same lines in economic terms too. We are living the most Market-oriented times ever seen by mankind, but we can still see people like Erp here denouncing socialism everywhere.

No, people like Miller-Young are not the real long term trend. Like Russia in Crimea, their acts tell more about their declining influence than anything else.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Even if the second derivative of your velocity is negative, you can still go over the cliff.

I would also argue because it's a social phenomenon, the first derivative influences the second - as government grows, it fails more, yet the response to that seems to be "more government".

I also disagree that we live in the Market-oriented times ever seen. I think earlier USA history, or when Britain was a "nation of shopkeepers" it was less socialistic. It would be interesting to see if we have the highest percentage of GDP directly controlled by a central government in the last, say, 1000 years in the West. I suspect it's a historic high, certainly must larger than when peasants tithed.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

Let me be picky: I think you've meant "Even if the second derivative of your position is negative" above.

I won't argue over if US or Britain were an epsilon "less socialistic" a while ago, for I've argued about mankind, which means you should look for the world average. Specific locations will oscillate about the mean, and this one is definitely going only more market-oriented over time.

I believe you are old enough to have witnessed far too many examples attesting my point.

There is just no cliff to go over. You and Erp are addicted to pessimism, I guess it gets only worse with age.

Annoying Old Guy said...

No cliff, eh? You might ask the Venezuelans about that. Or the Argentinians. Maybe the Greeks too?

erp said...

aog, Clovis, like a lot of youngsters, think the world began the day they born. Things have gone so far left during my lifetime, Wilson would be delighted with what he started, but other notable lefties, probably not so much, even FDR might be appalled.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

As I said, it is cyclic. In my very short - as Erp thinks - lifetime, I've seen the Argentinians go over that cliff thrice. They are still breathing, aren't they? Not much of a cliff then.

Ask any Argentinian, and gloom as they may be about their present situation, you'll be hard pressed to find one thinking they are less of a Market-oriented economy than before I was born.

They were more market-oriented in the 90's then now, for sure, but that didn't end well for them either.

They may crash and suffer for a few years more, then they will get back on track at some point like they always did, and in the long term they are going to be just more market-oriented, like everybody else.

Now, to group Greek in the same case as Venezuela tells me you are not doing much of your homework on economics lately.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "We are living the most Market-oriented times ever seen by mankind..."

We are also living in the biggest government of times with governments spending more in total than they've ever spent before.

Power corrupts. Big power corrupts bigly.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

They are still breathing, aren't they?

That's your bar for non-failure - there are survivors? Wow.

You should look back a bit further on Argentina, say the 1850s or so.

to group Greek in the same case as Venezuela tells me you are not doing much of your homework on economics lately

Um, why? I see both as victims of a overly massive, intrusive, and corrupt state that got in place because the citizenry wanted less Market orientation.

I was going to note that you addressed the cliff point only in regard to Argentina, ignoring my other examples, but then I realized - there are people still alive in Greece and Venezuela, so no cliff. I, personally, try to aim just a bit higher on my scale of failed state.

As for erp, you should consider support for government provided health care. That's a big example of how we are less free market now than in the past. Minimum wages, national labor laws, reduced work week, social security, etc., all examples of less free markets over the last century or so. I think your mistake is that you are taking the rhetoric and form of free markets over the reality.

erp said...

aog, you should be in the diplomatic corps.

The propaganda of the past almost 100 years is that all those measures you cite are for the betterment of people's lives instead of the reality that they have boxed us into a smaller and smaller area of opportunities with fewer and fewer choices, so that in the end, as Clovis feels is the ultimate to be desired, we are all still breathing!!!

Now I've really and truly heard it all.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
[Clovis] They are still breathing, aren't they?
That's your bar for non-failure - there are survivors? Wow.
---
When someone talks about cliffs, for sure. Excuse me if I took your analogy too serious.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,


---
Power corrupts. Big power corrupts bigly.
---
I agree. And is there a solution for that? I don't think we have found any up to this day.


AOG,

---
I was going to note that you addressed the cliff point only in regard to Argentina, ignoring my other examples, but then I realized - there are people still alive in Greece and Venezuela, so no cliff. I, personally, try to aim just a bit higher on my scale of failed state.
---
I have nothing to add on Venezuela, you are right it is a failed state in great part due to socialist policies.

A deeper point is that its socialism is, to some extent, consequence of a previous not socialist, but also failed state. In other words, they are failed for a long time now, the present state is only one degree worse than before.

But on Greece, I don't agree with your view: "I see both as victims of a overly massive, intrusive, and corrupt state that got in place because the citizenry wanted less Market orientation." They have a heavy state, but what you need to ask yourself is why did they fail when very similar states nearby didn't. The answer has nothing to do with socialism.


---
Minimum wages, national labor laws, reduced work week, social security, etc., all examples of less free markets over the last century or so. I think your mistake is that you are taking the rhetoric and form of free markets over the reality.
---
Please, notice I've used the word "Market-oriented", not the term "free market" which I know implies other things that are not necessarily in the same package.

Taking that in account, you may rethink the rebuke you gave me in that paragraph.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

I don't know if you are mocking me or you really mean your last comment.

Assuming the later, I can only point to you what Bret has already pointed out before: the present welfare state do provide a better life for a majority of people than they would have in abscence of it. There is no denying of that.

You may, as Bret does, argue over what will provide better in the very long term. But to discard that "betterment of people's lives" as mere propaganda is quite a misguided argument.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "Bret has already pointed out before: the present welfare state do provide a better life for a majority of people than they would have in absence of it..."

Hmmmm. That's not striking me as something I'd write, at least not that exactly. I wonder what I actually wrote (and meant)? Is there a specific quote of mine that you paraphrased?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

If you mean something other than "free market" by "Market oriented", then your original point is meaningless and irrelevant, because as far as I can tell the rest of us were talking about free markets vs. collectivism. As for my rebuke, I would say your statement here validates my "form over substance" rebuke.

I stand by my assessment of Greece - I think socialism had everything to do with its failure. Greece was significantly more socialist than its neighbors so it failed first (unless you want to count Yugoslavia or Albania, but I don't think those do much for your case).

the present welfare state do provide a better life for a majority of people than they would have in abscence of it. There is no denying of that.

I deny it.

erp said...

Actually I am denying just that and as yet no one has defined "better life" to my satisfaction. A much worse life with more 'colored beads and fire water' is what they have now IMO.

The very situation lefties decry when attributed to Native American treatment by the settlers -- correctly in my estimation.

It's quite amusing when the left's little prejudices are so illogical and contradictory. Unfortunately for their victims, it's far from a joke.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

Take your post "Who? And When?", 26/Aug/2013, it opens with:

"At any given moment in time, I have no doubt that some number of poor individuals are better off with the big government welfare state."

I do remember a comment you made (probably to Erp) in latter posts more along the line of I've written above, but I can't find it. The search routine for blogspot is not very useful.

erp said...

Clovis, I believe you are remembering Peter's comments which more generally agree with you on this issue and who still owes me a definition of "better off."

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
f you mean something other than "free market" by "Market oriented", then your original point is meaningless and irrelevant, because as far as I can tell the rest of us were talking about free markets vs. collectivism.
---
Well, thanks for pointing out my irrelevance.

Let me explain to you how I see that, from my irrelevant perspective: your polarization between free markets and collectivism is preposterous. It is not a binary set, it is more like a continuum, with many degrees from one to the other.

The balance of history is that most of the world has been advancing degrees towards the free market, walking away from collectivism. It is true that they are far away yet from free market ideals (thanks God!), but a great deal of people more relevant than myself would agree the direction has not been the contrary one.


---
I stand by my assessment of Greece - I think socialism had everything to do with its failure. Greece was significantly more socialist than its neighbors so it failed first.
---
Sure you do.

Spain and Portugal were just as socialist, right? Sweden and Norway, on the other hand, are certainly beacons of free markets, so it all completely explains the present situation of Europe. Right?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG & Erp,

A side comment: I find it utterly funny how you enjoy dramatically "denying" things, even in italics, without bothering to give a hint of argument for that.

After all that talk about "logorealism", it turns out you enjoy practing your "power of the words" thing too, AOG.

Let me practice my shrimp powers then: you must feel pretty powerless sometimes to have such a need for pompous proclamations like that.

erp said...

Clovis, I learned to write in a more formal way than is in use today. What currently passes for English prose would have sent the nuns who taught me into a swoon.

While you might find it pretentious, I try to stick the old ways of punctuation which includes quotation marks, italics, etc.

We disagree on the issue in question, yet I haven't felt the need to call you names or declare that if you don't do what think would make life better for others, you would chant, "let them die" or are a racist ...

See the difference?

I stated earlier that everything you think you know is wrong and nothing you've said since has caused me to change my mind.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote that I wrote: "I have no doubt that some number..."

Sure, but "some number" is quite a bit different from "a majority." There's always winners and losers at each policy fork in the road.

I'm still wondering what else I wrote, but you're right, blogger is really crappy for searching comments.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
I stated earlier that everything you think you know is wrong
---
And that's another pompous phrase you like to throw at me. Although you may not call me names all the time (only some times), loot at this derision of my person: just *everything* I know is wrong. Wow. As much as I disagree with much of your worldview, you did not find me giving you such a pompous line.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

I apologize if I distorted in any way your view.

Part of the trouble is geographical bias. Mind that, in the reality I live in, to say something benefits "the poor" is akin to say it benefits a majority. Of course, this is not your local reality by far.

erp said...

Clovis, I believe the information from which you base your opinions is wrong because your sources are all left wing academics and media.

I am not calling you a liar as you did me, nor am I saying you want people to die as you said you thought I did, nor am I calling you a racist as you said I was ...

I listed specific reasons which I won't repeat here for why I believe people are not better off in today's handout society, you OTOH have not given any reason why you think the opposite.

Saying there's no denying it, isn't a reason.

Bret said...

Clovis,

LOL, I hadn't considered the concept that "poor" could be interpreted as "majority." I'm always trying to improve my communications so that's quite helpful. We americans do live pretty sheltered lives. Your perspective adds a lot to these discussions.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

thanks for pointing out my irrelevance

No, I didn't.

Spain and Portugal were just as socialist, right?

No. They are not even neighbors of Greece.

Further, Sweden and Norway became rich via free markets, slid in to socialism, and are now reversing course. I've provided links on precisely this point multiple times in the recent past. And certainly compared to Greece, both Norway and Sweden look like beacons of market economies. After all, someone was just claiming "it's a continuum"...

enjoy dramatically "denying" things, even in italics, without bothering to give a hint of argument for that

What more evidence do you need that your assertion, "there is no denying of that", is false? Paraphrasing Samuel Johnson, I refuted it thus.

You also fail to grasp what I mean by "logo-realism" if you think that is an example of it.

As for evidence in the more general discussion of the benefits of the welfare state, I provided as much evidence for my statement as you did for yours.