Categories
Identity Politics Race Reading and Thinking

“Britain’s strictest headmistress’ demonstrates power of traditional principles and high expectations in one state school

See,

1) Daniel Hannan, “Britain’s strictest headmistress’ is transforming lives by defying the educational blob; With her traditional principles and high expectations, Katharine Birbalsingh is helping to lift kids out of poverty, The Telegraph, May 21, 2022 (5:00pm);

2) Sally Weale, “UK’s ‘strictest headmistress’ fears schools will stop teaching Shakespeare; Katharine Birbalsingh says move to decolonise English curriculum could mean Shakespeare replaced with black and female authors,” The Telegraph, May 22, 2022 (19.24 BST).

Hannan calls attention to a documentary on ITV on Sunday night (May 22), “Britain’s Strictest Headmistress”, which tells the story of Katharine Birbalsingh.

Birbalsingh did not start out as a traditionalist. At Oxford, she joined the Socialist Workers Party.

When she began her teaching career, she went in with all the usual assumptions: schools were underfunded, the biggest obstacle facing non-white kids was structural racism. But she found that her classroom experiences could not sustain those pre-conceptions. The real problem, she came to realise, lay in the attitude of the people who oversaw our schools.

Instead of imparting knowledge, teachers were overseeing child-led discussions. Instead of promoting confidence, they were encouraging victimhood. Instead of upholding the canon, they were seeking out obscure texts on grounds of identity politics. Instead of expecting high standards, they were indulging pupils from under-privileged backgrounds, and thus unintentionally condemning them.

Birbalsingh dreamed of a different kind of school, which she founded in 2014. In 2019, the school’s students had some of the highest scores in the country on national tests.

What is Michaela’s secret? A set of principles that could be made to work in any school: gratitude must be taught; phones banned; competition encouraged; learning teacher-led; national cohesion promoted; high standards expected; adult authority upheld.

The students are from ethnic and national minorities. But they are given the benefits of discipline, high expectations, and exposure to the classics. The results impressed Daniel Hannan, who cites a few examples:

As they walk into lunch, the kids belt out verses that they have memorised – Kipling’s If, Henley’s Invictus, passages from Shakespeare. This is the only time they make a noise inside; there is usually no talking in the corridors – which means no misbehaviour and no bullying.

Over lunch, they are given a topic to talk about. Afterwards, they express their appreciation for someone – a teacher for helping them, another student for making them feel welcome, their mother for always having their uniform ready.

Gratitude is a happier emotion than grievance, and perhaps the most striking feature of Michaela is how cheerful its children are….

Hannan and the documentary make a strong case for using Birbalsingh’s and Michaela’s approach to educating students, in any school.

This may be one way to form and preserve eighteenth century minds.

The Spirit of Voltaire

Categories
Identity Politics Race racial equality of opportunity racial equity of results Reading and Thinking Religion

Has “diversity” become the new religion?

Douglas Murray has written an interesting column arguing that in the U.K., at least, “diversity” has become the new religion, replacing the older one, Christianity, which he prefers.

See,

Douglas Murray,”Diversity is the new national religion. Woe betide any agnostics; The unnatural hush around Sir David Amess’s murder proves that there are some issues we can simply no longer discuss,” The Telegraph, April 16, 2022 (5:32pm).

Murray, the author of a forthcoming book entitled The War on the West (to be released April 28), writes,

All ages and cultures have their religions. Today Christians around the world celebrate the story of the risen Christ. But whether you are a believing Christian, a cultural Christian or a believer in something or nothing else entirely, one thing should be obvious by now: the Christian tradition no longer dominates British public life. You may celebrate that fact or deplore it, but as all the census and church attendance data shows, it is the case.

It does not follow, however, that ours is an irreligious age. On the contrary our society is deeply religious. It is simply religious about concepts that are different – though often descended from – our earlier belief system. For instance the modern British state’s prioritisation of “tolerance” and “difference” is an inheritance from a Christian ideal. Not least the ideal of equality in the eyes of God.

(O)ur society is forced by diktat at every level of public service to bow to the gods of diversity, inclusion and equity. Apply for any public appointment in this country and you will have to demonstrate a commitment to these principles. You will have to explain what you have done to further these religious precepts.

Deviations from the new religious precepts, Murray argues, are harshly punished, in a manner reminiscent of the treatment of earlier blasphemies:

Say anything that appears to go against these precepts of the new faith and you know what will happen. Idiotic obsessions over the rights of small minorities are now fought over as our forebears fought over interpretations of the Eucharist. To watch Labour MPs contorting themselves as they are asked to answer questions like “What is a woman” is to get a glimpse of what it must have been like in previous eras when people were burned at the stake, or avoided being burnt, depending on whether they could use the precise, correct formulation expected of them that year regarding the status of the communion wafer. It is painful to see them struggle. Even more painful that our society seems to demand it. But that is the way with religions. They have their dogmas, and to speak against them is to suffer potentially serious punishment.

The article provides stimulating food for thought and free discussion.

Any difficulty we may have in talking about these issues would seem to support Murray’s argument.

The Spirit of Voltaire

Categories
Data collection and surveillance companies Privacy Reading and Thinking Surveillance state

Anti-trog TLS book review of “The Every” by Dave Eggers shockingly misses the point

See,

Beejay Silcox, “Book of numbers; Dave Eggers’s satire: a data dystopia, TLS, Novemer 19, 2021.

The one thing you can say with high assurance about Beejay Silcox, after reading his review of The Every by Dave Eggrs, is that he is not a “trog”.

Eggers explains (at p. 25):

Trog was a term with subjective connotations.Originally considered a slur against tech skeptics, those same skeptics reclaimed the word and wore it proudly, and soon it was applied by all sides to anything resistant to tech takeover.

The etymology of the term is not explained, but it dies not take a giant leap of genius to see that it is derived from “troglodyte”–which is defined as:

WordReference Random House Learner’s Dictionary of American English © 2022
trog•lo•dyte /ˈtrɑgləˌdaɪt/
n.
1. (Anthropology) person of prehistoric times who lived in a cave.
2. a person of primitive or brutal character.
3, an extremely old-fashioned or conservative person.

Silcox is clearly an anti-trog. It is rather shameful that the renowned Times Literary Supplement would assign an anti-trog to review Eggers’ book. Yet it is absolutely shocking that the editors at TLS allowed a review to be published that completely missed the main point of the book being reviewed, and in fact got it completely backwards.

Silcox in his review wrote the following:

Eggers seems to think algorithms are a way to keep people’s personalities consistent – like a coded electric fence rather than a radicalizing rabbit-hole – and that to vanquish anonymity is somehow to vanquish online cruelty.

On the other hand, Silcox’s review does a magnificent job of driving home how people are skimming on their electronic devices without understanding what they read, how impervious anti-trogs are to criticisms that pierce their paradigm, and how many are utterly incapable of appreciating parody and satire.

TLS owes its readers an apology, and it owes Eggers a serious book review by someone with no obvious bias.

Categories
Reading and Thinking

How JK Rowling got “canceled”

See,

Mick Brown, “JK Rowling should be a national treasure – so why have so many spent a year destroying her? Twenty years after the first Harry Potter film, the most successful author of her generation has been ‘cancelled’ – how did it come to this,” The Telegraph, December 31, 2021 (7:00p).

Categories
Identity Politics Race racial equality of opportunity Reading and Thinking

The dead end of “white guilt”

See,

John McWhorter, “I’m With Condoleezza Rice About White Guilt,” New York Times, October 29, 2021.

As someone who was a strong supporter of Martin Luther King, Jr. and racial equality when that was not a popular position to take, and as an educated person who knows something about other countries and about history, I believe that the whole “white guilt” trap is a false path for African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, or anyone else to pursue.

The “white guilt” trap places the emphasis on victimhood, not the triumph of individual self-achievement. It tries to make white people feel personally guilty for the “sins” of their ancestors, who may have been people who in many ways were good people but who lived in an age in which  social injustices-and not only those related to race–were commonplace, a part of the social structure of the times.

The Greeks and the Romans lived in ages in which slavery was common. The inhabitants of other states which had been defeated on the battlefield, even Greek city-states, were enslaved by others of the same ethnicity in Athens, Rome, and many other places. By current standards, great injustices were committed. Yet should current-day Greeks and Romans feel guilt over the crimes of their ancestors?

More recently, the Germans who lived during the Third Reich under Hitler (1933-1945) committed abominable crimes, including the extermination of the Jews. Are Germans who were children or not yet born during those years guilty of the sins of their fathers and mothers, or ancestors?

The Question of German Guilt* throws a bright light on the Question of White Guilt in America. Should a child or a descendent of a war criminal or someone guilty of crimes against humanity ever be considered to be guilty of the crimes of their parents or ancestors?  Or to bear guilt for those crimes?

Is a German today to be viewed as guilty, as responsible, for the sins of Germans who are dead, when they themselves did not take part in the commission of any crimes?

Do we believe in ethnic guilt? That one may be guilty because of the genes one bears?  Of genetic guilt?

Any arguments in favor of such propositions would be preposterous, and also lay the basis for endless ethnic conflict and war.

Those who seek to make whites in America feel guilty for the actions of their forebears, in which they themselves took no part, are prophets of a false path. Following that path, while it may benefit some in the short run (e.g., academic proponents of such theories), will in the end only foster ethnic conflict, and persuade individuals they are victims, instead of focusing on their enormous potential for self-achievement.

Institutions and practices that express current racism should be opposed, and reformed. Programs aimed at helping those particularly disadvantaged by past racism, including racism against Native Indian peoples, should be supported.

But this should be done within a broader framework which does not rely on white guilt for its motivational force.

Social programs to help disadvantaged members of society, including white individuals, should be based on empathy and our shared sense of humanity. In a democracy, they should also be based on the ultimate power of individuals to vote.

Spirit of Voltaire

*See Karl Jaspers, The Question if German Guilt (1947), a translation ofDie Schuldfrage, originally published in German in 1946.

Categories
Reading and Thinking Social media

Average intelligence decreasing; screen use likely culprit

According to a recent article in VEJA, which gathers together the latest studies, the average intelligence of humans is declining. The time wasted on social media and political polarization are among the principle causes of this regression in human intelligence.

In a word, social media and political polarization are making us stupider.

What is to be done?

See,

Ernesto Neves and Caio Saad, “Pesquisas mostram que a inteligência do ser humano está regredindo; O tempo desperdiçado nas redes sociais e a polarização política são alguns dos principais responsáveis pelo recuo, depois de décadas de evolução,” VEJA, o 1, de outubro 2021 (06h00, atualizado às 18h44).

Categories
Reading and Thinking

Cancel Culture and “The New Puritans”

See,

Anne Applebaum, “The New Puritans; Social codes are changing, in many ways for the better. But for those whose behavior doesn’t adapt fast enough to the new norms, judgment can be swift—and merciless,” The Atlantic, August 31, 2021.

Categories
Reading and Thinking

Gov. Cuomo–Democracy and rule of law, or cancel culture: We must choose

UPDATE:

The Report of the Attorney General of New York found that the allegations of sexual misconduct against Gov. Cuomo were substantiated. This led to the beginnings of an impeachment effort in the New York Assembly, which in turn caused Gov. Cuomo to resign.

This was all done in accordance with due process of law. The article below is not a defense of Governor Cuomo’s actions, but rather a defense of the principle of due process of law. The arguments against “cancel culture” remain valid.

As stated in the article,

“If misconduct is found to have occurred, sanctions proportionate to the offense should be considered. In the case of Gov. Cuomo, for example, impeachment, censure, and defeat at the ballot box would be appropriate remedies if he is found to be guilty as charged. Moreover, the individuals making the accusations might sue him, or bring actions against him and his administration under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.”

In the end, the pressures of the “cancel culture” mob were resisted, and due process was followed. That is as it should be.

Reprinted with permission from Absurdarama, March 15, 2021.

The current massive pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo illustrates the dire situation in which our culture and our country find themselves.

We have a Constitution and state constitutions and laws that establish how public officials should be selected, and removed. Under the U.S. and state constitutions, they are to be selected by free elections, for a fixed term of years. Those same constitutions and laws provide for how they may be removed, by impeachment or, in some states like California, by recall referendum.

Ours is not a parliamentary system, as in the United Kingdom, where a prime minister may be removed simply by losing a vote of confidence in, e.g., the House of Commons. Many believe our system is superior because it guarantees greater stability in government.

There is another way an elected leader may be removed from office, and that is if he or she is convicted of a crime and is sentenced to prison.

The current campaign to force Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign may lead to his impeachment, but is not likely to lead to his conviction and imprisonment for a crime.

Instead, he is the latest object of a phenomenon in the United States, and some other places, which seeks to bypass legal and constitutional processes to achieve the immediate objective of a frenzied mob, often made possible or strengthened through the internet and social media. Non-public and dark forces may be behind some of these campaigns.

In the United States, at least three different “mobs” have contributed to what is often termed “cancel culture”, the abuse of power to achieve goals without due process and without following legally-established procedures for determining the truth of allegations, and determining appropriate and proportionate sanctions for crimes or infractions that may be found to have occurred.

Due process and the rule of law allow anyone accused of a crime the right to confront witnesses (certain exceptions in sexual abuse cases may exist in some jurisdictions) and put on his or her witnesses to help ascertain the truth of an allegation, the right of the accused to speak in his or her defense before a lawfully-constituted body, and to enjoy several other rights.

In criminal matters, perhaps the most important defendant’s right is the presumption of innocence, until such time as the defendant may be convicted of an alleged crime.

A second is the constitutional protection against prosecution under any ex post facto laws, that is, one may not be prosecuted for actions or relationships that were not illegal before passage of a subsequent law.

A third protection is provided for, in both civil and criminal matters, through statutes of limitations. In criminal matters, these statutes seek to protect defendants against claims or allegations that are too old for reliable witness testimony to be given. Human memories are notoriously unreliable. These statutes require allegations and charges to be brought before the court while memories of witnesses, both for and against the defendant, are still fresh and not distorted by the passage of time.

These defendant’s rights are all based on the fundamental premise that illegal conduct must be specifically defined, as well as the potential penalties to which a defendant may be condemned if found guilty.

The rising crescendo of demands that Gov. Cuomo resign is directly related to the development of so-called “cancel culture” in the United States.

Do not heed pronouncements such as one heard on TV this morning: “I believe in due process, but Gov. Cuomo should resign, and should have already resigned some time ago.” The contradiction in this statement is so glaring that one is simply amazed by the lack of analytical self-awareness of the speaker.

This “cancel culture” is a mob culture, which appears to be the product of a combination of mob cultures that have developed, usually in conjunction with mobilization efforts facilitated by social media and the internet.

There are at least three components of this mob-action cancel culture.

The first has been the “Me-Too Movement”, whereby men have been denounced and forced to resign on the basis of an accumulation of allegations of “sexual misconduct”. In the process, the critical distinction between predatory sexual conduct–the coercion of a woman by a man to engage in sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct, on the one hand, and sexually inappropriate speech or other conduct (measured by contemporary standards), such as touching or verbal comments, on the other, has frequently been lost.

In particular, elements of what has become known as a sexually hostile workplace (civilly prohibited under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act) have become conflated with actions such as sexual coercion by a superior of a woman under a man’s authority.

There has also been a conflation of the penalties the mob seeks to impose.

The case of Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) is quite instructive on this point. Essentially, he was subjected to extreme pressures to resign by the “Me-Too” Movement, led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), because he engaged in part of a skit both he and the alleged victim had performed before USO audiences on previous occasions. Before becoming a Senator, Franken was a comedian. He obviously was clowning around. Perhaps inappropriately, as the alleged victim was asleep.

Ceding to these pressures, and probably those on his family in particular, Sen. Al Franken resigned. As a result, the Democrats lost one of their best U.S. Senators, who had been caustic in his criticism of Donald Trump.

Garrison Keillor, former host of “Prairie Home Companion” for decades on NPR, and one of America’s most beloved radio personalities, wrote an Op-ed column in the Washington Post defending Franken. The “Me-Too” movement quickly went after him, and Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) promptly fired him, without any semblance of due process. They later tried to obscure this fact, but their efforts didn’t pass “the smell test”. Previous columns in the Post by Keillor had provided devastating critiques of Trump.

A second component of the mob culture has been the development of the anti-racist mob, which has demanded that statues be removed, university schools and buildings be renamed, people be fired, and anything they perceive as racist be immediately changed. The mob aspect is related to the demand for immediate action, outside of legal processes. Recently they succeeded in seuring of the firing of the lead reporter on Covid-19 for the New York Times, who had been with the newspaper since the mid-1970’s.

A third component of the “cancel culture” mob that has come into being has been the development of the censorship mob. This mob, whose origins lie in universities and colleges, gets excised over speech or books that they consider politically incorrect. Recent examples include the decision by the publishers of the Dr. Seuss books to stop publication of six books because they allegedly contained racist stereotypes, such as a drawing of a Chinese man with horizontal brush strokes for the eyes. Amazon has just announced that it will not sell books that deal with reprogramming LGTBQ persons.

What it all amounts to is censorship.

See,

Ryan T. Anderson, “Amazon Won’t Let You Read My Book; An enterprising state attorney general might want to look into why it was withdrawn from sale now,” Wall Street Journal, >March 16, 202 1(6:40 pm ET).

This is not the occasion to examine in greater detail the issues related to the anti- racist mob and the censorship mob phenomena.

Often forgotten when a mob is clamoring for immediate action is the fact that we have a system of constitutions and laws that are set up and designed to resolve such disputes.

Officials are elected for fixed terms. They should not be hounded from office because of a crescendo of allegations which, unexamined in the proper legal setting and proceeding, in essence amount to mob action.

Legal processes should be observed.

The decisions of voters should be respected.

Allegations should be fully vetted by appropriate authorities and institutions.

If misconduct is found to have occurred, sanctions proportionate to the offense should be considered. In the case of Gov. Cuomo, for example, impeachment, censure, and defeat at the ballot box would be appropriate remedies if he is found to be guilty as charged. Moreover, the individuals making the accusations might sue him, or bring actions against him and his administration under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.

Legal procedures have existed in New York for dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct or harassment, or a hostile work environment. These procedures exist not only to protect victims from sexual abuse and harassment, but also to protect those accused of misconduct from having their careers damaged or their lives ruined by accusations that don’t meet the necessary burdens of credibility and proof.

Finally, with respect to Gov. Cuomo, ask yourself, ”Who does this crescendo of allegations and mob demands for Cuomo’s resignation benefit?”

Democratic Senators and Congressmen and New York State Assembly members are showing themselves to be utterly unprincipled, and utterly hypocritical in attacking Republicans for not respecting the rule of law.

The Democrats, and their cancel culture mobs, are serving up a powerful cultural wedge issue for the Republicans to exploit.

The Democrats are showing the world that they can be just as unprincipled and hypocritical as the Republicans. Should they not stop and reflect on this point, before they join the mob?

They are also tearing down one of their own heroes, in the battle to meet the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuomo is a governor who had the courage to step before the cameras and tell New Yorkers, and the nation, the facts about the spread of Covid-19, what New York was doing about it, and what Trump was not doing about it–while Trump told monstrous lies and through sheer incompetence and wrongheadedness, contributed to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Cuomo held these news conferences, day after day, for a hundred days. For many of us, including this writer, his was a rare voice of sanity in a world, led by Trump, which seemed to have gone mad.

So, small-minded and cynical Democrats are now endorsing mob action and circumvention of rule-of-law procedures to not only ascertain the veracity of the allegations against Cuomo–including those concerning nursing home death statistics, but also the nature of the punishment that would be proportionate and appropriate for the alleged infractions, should he be found guilty as charged.

Who does that benefit?

Absurdo
The Moderator of the Abswurd

Reprinted with permission from Absurdarama, March 15, 2021.

The current massive pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo illustrates the dire situation in which our culture and our country find themselves.

We have a Constitution and state constitutions and laws that establish how public officials should be selected, and removed. Under the U.S. and state constitutions, they are to be selected by free elections, for a fixed term of years. Those same constitutions and laws provide for how they may be removed, by impeachment or, in some states like California, by recall referendum.

Ours is not a parliamentary system, as in the United Kingdom, where a prime minister may be removed simply by losing a vote of confidence in, e.g., the House of Commons. Many believe our system is superior because it guarantees greater stability in government.

There is another way an elected leader may be removed from office, and that is if he or she is convicted of a crime and is sentenced to prison.

The current campaign to force Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign may lead to his impeachment, but is not likely to lead to his conviction and imprisonment for a crime.

Instead, he is the latest object of a phenomenon in the United States, and some other places, which seeks to bypass legal and constitutional processes to achieve the immediate objective of a frenzied mob, often made possible or strengthened through the internet and social media. Non-public and dark forces may be behind some of these campaigns.

In the United States, at least three different “mobs” have contributed to what is often termed “cancel culture”, the abuse of power to achieve goals without due process and without following legally-established procedures for determining the truth of allegations, and determining appropriate and proportionate sanctions for crimes or infractions that may be found to have occurred.

Due process and the rule of law allow anyone accused of a crime the right to confront witnesses (certain exceptions in sexual abuse cases may exist in some jurisdictions) and put on his or her witnesses to help ascertain the truth of an allegation, the right of the accused to speak in his or her defense before a lawfully-constituted body, and to enjoy several other rights.

In criminal matters, perhaps the most important defendant’s right is the presumption of innocence, until such time as the defendant may be convicted of an alleged crime.

A second is the constitutional protection against prosecution under any ex post facto laws, that is, one may not be prosecuted for actions or relationships that were not illegal before passage of a subsequent law.

A third protection is provided for, in both civil and criminal matters, through statutes of limitations. In criminal matters, these statutes seek to protect defendants against claims or allegations that are too old for reliable witness testimony to be given. Human memories are notoriously unreliable. These statutes require allegations and charges to be brought before the court while memories of witnesses, both for and against the defendant, are still fresh and not distorted by the passage of time.

These defendant’s rights are all based on the fundamental premise that illegal conduct must be specifically defined, as well as the potential penalties to which a defendant may be condemned if found guilty.

The rising crescendo of demands that Gov. Cuomo resign is directly related to the development of so-called “cancel culture” in the United States.

Do not heed pronouncements such as one heard on TV this morning: “I believe in due process, but Gov. Cuomo should resign, and should have already resigned some time ago.” The contradiction in this statement is so glaring that one is simply amazed by the lack of analytical self-awareness of the speaker.

This “cancel culture” is a mob culture, which appears to be the product of a combination of mob cultures that have developed, usually in conjunction with mobilization efforts facilitated by social media and the internet.

There are at least three components of this mob-action cancel culture.

The first has been the “Me-Too Movement”, whereby men have been denounced and forced to resign on the basis of an accumulation of allegations of “sexual misconduct”. In the process, the critical distinction between predatory sexual conduct–the coercion of a woman by a man to engage in sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct, on the one hand, and sexually inappropriate speech or other conduct (measured by contemporary standards), such as touching or verbal comments, on the other, has frequently been lost.

In particular, elements of what has become known as a sexually hostile workplace (civilly prohibited under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act) have become conflated with actions such as sexual coercion by a superior of a woman under a man’s authority.

There has also been a conflation of the penalties the mob seeks to impose.

The case of Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) is quite instructive on this point. Essentially, he was subjected to extreme pressures to resign by the “Me-Too” Movement, led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), because he engaged in part of a skit both he and the alleged victim had performed before USO audiences on previous occasions. Before becoming a Senator, Franken was a comedian. He obviously was clowning around. Perhaps inappropriately, as the alleged victim was asleep.

Ceding to these pressures, and probably those on his family in particular, Sen. Al Franken resigned. As a result, the Democrats lost one of their best U.S. Senators, who had been caustic in his criticism of Donald Trump.

Garrison Keillor, former host of “Prairie Home Companion” for decades on NPR, and one of America’s most beloved radio personalities, wrote an Op-ed column in the Washington Post defending Franken. The “Me-Too” movement quickly went after him, and Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) promptly fired him, without any semblance of due process. They later tried to obscure this fact, but their efforts didn’t pass “the smell test”. Previous columns in the Post by Keillor had provided devastating critiques of Trump.

A second component of the mob culture has been the development of the anti-racist mob, which has demanded that statues be removed, university schools and buildings be renamed, people be fired, and anything they perceive as racist be immediately changed. The mob aspect is related to the demand for immediate action, outside of legal processes. Recently they succeeded in seuring of the firing of the lead reporter on Covid-19 for the New York Times, who had been with the newspaper since the mid-1970’s.

A third component of the “cancel culture” mob that has come into being has been the development of the censorship mob. This mob, whose origins lie in universities and colleges, gets excised over speech or books that they consider politically incorrect. Recent examples include the decision by the publishers of the Dr. Seuss books to stop publication of six books because they allegedly contained racist stereotypes, such as a drawing of a Chinese man with horizontal brush strokes for the eyes. Amazon has just announced that it will not sell books that deal with reprogramming LGTBQ persons.

What it all amounts to is censorship.

See,

Ryan T. Anderson, “Amazon Won’t Let You Read My Book; An enterprising state attorney general might want to look into why it was withdrawn from sale now,” Wall Street Journal, >March 16, 202 1(6:40 pm ET).

This is not the occasion to examine in greater detail the issues related to the anti- racist mob and the censorship mob phenomena.

Often forgotten when a mob is clamoring for immediate action is the fact that we have a system of constitutions and laws that are set up and designed to resolve such disputes.

Officials are elected for fixed terms. They should not be hounded from office because of a crescendo of allegations which, unexamined in the proper legal setting and proceeding, in essence amount to mob action.

Legal processes should be observed.

The decisions of voters should be respected.

Allegations should be fully vetted by appropriate authorities and institutions.

If misconduct is found to have occurred, sanctions proportionate to the offense should be considered. In the case of Gov. Cuomo, for example, impeachment, censure, and defeat at the ballot box would be appropriate remedies if he is found to be guilty as charged. Moreover, the individuals making the accusations might sue him, or bring actions against him and his administration under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.

Legal procedures have existed in New York for dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct or harassment, or a hostile work environment. These procedures exist not only to protect victims from sexual abuse and harassment, but also to protect those accused of misconduct from having their careers damaged or their lives ruined by accusations that don’t meet the necessary burdens of credibility and proof.

Finally, with respect to Gov. Cuomo, ask yourself, ”Who does this crescendo of allegations and mob demands for Cuomo’s resignation benefit?”

Democratic Senators and Congressmen and New York State Assembly members are showing themselves to be utterly unprincipled, and utterly hypocritical in attacking Republicans for not respecting the rule of law.

The Democrats, and their cancel culture mobs, are serving up a powerful cultural wedge issue for the Republicans to exploit.

The Democrats are showing the world that they can be just as unprincipled and hypocritical as the Republicans. Should they not stop and reflect on this point, before they join the mob?

They are also tearing down one of their own heroes, in the battle to meet the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuomo is a governor who had the courage to step before the cameras and tell New Yorkers, and the nation, the facts about the spread of Covid-19, what New York was doing about it, and what Trump was not doing about it–while Trump told monstrous lies and through sheer incompetence and wrongheadedness, contributed to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Cuomo held these news conferences, day after day, for a hundred days. For many of us, including this writer, his was a rare voice of sanity in a world, led by Trump, which seemed to have gone mad.

So, small-minded and cynical Democrats are now endorsing mob action and circumvention of rule-of-law procedures to not only ascertain the veracity of the allegations against Cuomo–including those concerning nursing home death statistics, but also the nature of the punishment that would be proportionate and appropriate for the alleged infractions, should he be found guilty as charged.

Who does that benefit?

Absurdo
The Moderator of the Abswurd

Categories
Reading and Thinking Social media

Living offline for a year; and the author’s Twitter experience

Aaron Rosenberg lived offline for a year, trying to understand what it was like in order to help him understand the subject of his academic research.

His experience is illuminating, particularly for those of us interested in maintaining the capabilities of our eighteenth century minds.

His approach was extreme, but the experience taught him some important lessons. He has found  that applying them has been more challenging than expected.  See the following account of his experience, which is definitely worth reading.

See,

Charlie Warzel, “He Quit the Internet 2 Months Before the Pandemic; When Aron Rosenberg decided to try living offline for a year, he thought his sabbatical might be painful; It turned out to be easier than his return, New York Times, March 10, 2021 (7:07 a.m. ET).

***

My Own Twitter Experience 

I myself experienced some of the extraordinary pull of Twitter while following in extremely close fashion political developments related to Donald Trump’s attempts to hang on to power after losing the election on November 3, 2021.

The temptation to follow the news almost hour by hour was great, and Twitter was the place where you could follow developments even more closely.  The suspense, and the sense that something important might happen at any minute, kept my nervous system on high alert.

There was one other addictive aspect. By following key people and sometimes getting a notification that your tweet had been liked or retweeted or quoted, it was easy to succumb to the momentary illusion that you were having an impact on the discussion, and consequently on events.

You knew analytically that this was not likely to be the case.  Still, in some bizarre way Twitter was a place where you could react in the moment to news or other tweets, and in the excitement of the moment you could feel that you were having some kind of impact on the discussion.

And “Who knows?”  Regarding some aspects of the story where you had specific, relevant professional knowledge, perhaps you were. You can see my comments on Twitter @Trenchantobserv.

But after January 20, 2021, I was able to withdraw from Twitter, and from my obsessive watching of cable TV news channels. Almost all of the really important news eventually showed up in the New York Times or the Washington Post or other newspapers which I read.

I admit it. I’m a news addict. Maybe like Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Payne or other Eighteenth Century Minds might have been too. What is different is the immediacy. They probably had to wait days or longer to to get their hands on some of the newspapers they read.

I “wasted” hours of my time on my Twitter addiction. But I have learned and am learning from the experience. Maybe it will help me break or at least sharply limit the time I spend reading newspapers online, succumbing to the at times irresistible pull of my news addiction. This is related to being a writer.

To be sure, David McCullough recounts how Theodore Roosevelt, during his years at Harvard, used to read up to 20 newspapers over coffee in the morning.  So at least I don’t suffer from a unique affliction.

On the other hand, I need to remind myself that I am not a freshman at Harvard, or anywhere else, I don’t have a political career ahead of me, and there are many other potential uses of my time.

Aaron Rosenberg’s experience is instructive. When thinking about my Twitter experience, I recall reading somewhere that the average life of a tweet is about 15 minutes.

Spirit of Voltaire

Categories
Reading and Thinking

Cancel culture at the New York Times

“We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent, (emphasis added)” Baquet and Managing Editor Joseph Kahn wrote to staffers Friday.

See,

Elahe Izadi, “Two New York Times journalists at the center of separate controversies leave the company; Science reporter Donald McNeil Jr. leaves after revelations he repeated a racial slur, and audio producer Andy Mills resigns after ‘Caliphate’ fallout,” Washington Post, February 5, 2021 (5:36 p.m. EST).

Izadi writes:

High-profile science reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr.’s departure comes after the Daily Beast reported that he had repeated a racial slur during a 2019 trip to Peru for high school students. The Times also confirmed that McNeil, who has been a key reporter covering the coronavirus pandemic, “had used bad judgment by repeating a racist slur in the context of a conversation about racist language…

Friday’s staff news is the latest example of controversy within the Times newsroom spilling into public view, including the summer resignation of editorial page editor James Bennet — once considered a possible successor to Executive Editor Dean Baquet — after the publication of a controversial op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)…

This week, staffers sent a letter to management saying they were “outraged” that the company’s previous investigation into McNeil’s comments had not resulted in a more severe punishment and that the company needed to do more. Managers signaled agreement.
“We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent,” Baquet and Managing Editor Joseph Kahn wrote to staffers Friday.

See also the story in The Daily Beast:

Maxwell Tani andv Lachlan Cartwright,”The Star NY Times Reporter Accused of Using ‘N-Word,’ Making Other Racist Comments; The paper’s top COVID reporter joined a group of students on a trip to Peru in 2019. Participants alleged he repeatedly made racist comments,” The Daily Beast, January 28, 2021 (3:27 PM EY, Updated 8:48PM ET).

On the elimination of the NYT Public Editor position, see

1) Daniel Victor, “New York Times Will Offer Employee Buyouts and Eliminate Public Editor Role,” New York times, May 31, 2017.

2) Liz Spayd, “The Public Editor Signs Off,” New York Times, June 2, 2017.

On the installation of surveillance cameras in the NYT newsroom, see,

“New York Times adds to apparatus of a totalitarian state,” The Trenchant Observer, June 1, 2019.

The Sulzberger family must replace Dean Bacquet, and root out the “Cancel Culture” in the NYT newsroom

Executive Editor Dean Baquet has allowed a cancel culture to develop in the New York Times newsroom.

He has been supine in surrendering to the “cancel culture” in that newsroom.

He has acquiesced in the installation of a totalitarian system of surveillance monitoring in the newsroom.

Baquet is also responsible for the New York Times lack of coverage and analysis of President Trump’s statement that Russia was right to have invaded Afghanistan.

See,

“International Law after Trump,” The Trenchant Observer, January 10, 2019.

It is time for Executive Editor Dean Baquet to go.

It is time for the camera surveillance system in the newsroom to be removed.

It is time for the “cancel culture” in the newsroom and editorial positions to be rooted out.

Before anyone else is fired summarily, a new Public Editor representing the Readers should conduct a full investigation, and full due process guarantees should be afforded to anyone subject to potential dismissal.

No one should ever be removed for actions or statements made without regard to that person’s intent.

‘Intent” is a requirement for most serious crimes. ‘Strict liability crimes are rare, and usually limited to things like speeding tickets.

Loss of a job at the New York Times is a punishment more serious than those for many felonies. “Intent” should be a necessary element of any “firing offense” at the Times.

How can we trust the editorial judgment of the staff and editors at the New York Times when we know their editors are subject to the pressures of a “cancel culture” mob in the newsroom, and when they have exercised such atrocious judgment as that revealed in the cases cited above?

The Trenchant Observer