URLs du Jour


  • Oy. And also vey.

    As I type the "interim definition" is:

    Racism occurs when individuals or institutions show more favorable evaluation or treatment of an individual or group based on race or ethnicity.

    As definitions go, it's not great.

    Saying that racism "occurs" is, well, wrong. An -ism is a belief system. It exists apart from actions which "occur".

    Oh, well. Ignoring that confusion: why restrict racist actions to those that only show more race-based favoritism? Shouldn't we include those that show less?

    And why are we dragging ethnicity into this? Don't we have a different word for that, like "ethnocentrism"?

    But what I like about the definition: it pretty much condemns "affirmative action" policies as racist.

    True. But way too honest. Which almost certainly means this definition won't last long at the ADL site.

    For additional amusement, see Jonathan Greenblat, the ADL CEO tapdance around the issue: Getting it Right in Defining Racism.

    He means well. But the subtext is pretty obvious too: "We need to come up with a definition that won't cause too many of our donors to walk away in disgust."

  • Last year's misinformation is today's conventional wisdom. Matt Taibbi on The Lab Leak "Conspiracy Theory".

    After Covid-19 hit America’s shores, a question naturally arose: how did this happen? Most of us assumed the mystery would soon be unraveled, that the society of epidemiological detectives who found everything from the rat that transmitted Lassa Fever to the leak that caused viral outbreaks in Marburg and Frankfurt would nail down the origin of the pandemic.

    It didn’t happen. We were initially told something about bats, a weird animal called a pangolin, and a Chinese “wet market,” but never heard the full story. A combination of the virus originating in an authoritarian state and a sudden seizure of incuriosity among the international press corps led to a strange coverage détente, in which we weren’t told exactly what happened, but we were told all sensible people were sure of what didn’t happen. 27 scientists in The Lancet put it this way in mid-2020: “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”

    Taibbi includes two videos from Matt Orfalea which are either brilliantly hilarious or infuriating, depending on your mood. Here's one:

    But I was assured Joe Rogan was the real problem.

  • Just to be clear, Jonah and Whoopi are not siblings. But Jonah has something to say about her Goldberg Variations.

    I’ve never been a big fan of Goldberg’s (I have different views about the plural category Goldbergs). But I think this episode raises all sorts of larger issues worth discussing. Just in case you missed the controversy, she said a bunch of ignorant things about the Holocaust. I don’t think any of them came from a sinister or antisemitic place. The woman has been saying for decades that she identifies as Jewish (more on that in a moment), which would be a weird thing for an antisemite to do. While antisemites say a lot of ignorant things about Jews, not every ignorant utterance about Jews is necessarily antisemitic. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes historical ignorance is just historical ignorance.

    But what was interesting was how confident Goldberg was in her ignorance—and why she was so confident.

    “I think of race as being something that I can see,” she said to Stephen Colbert, trying to clean up her comments on The View. “So, I see you and I know what race you are.” In other words, by her own admission, Goldberg’s understanding of race and racial history is literally skin deep.

    I’m not interested in coming to her defense, but this is understandable, because that’s how a lot of people talk and think about race today. First, though, some history.

    And we could all use us some history, so click over. Especially revealing: Whoopi's show The View is produced under ABC News.

  • From beyond the grave. Steven Hawyard channels Aaron Wildavsky (1930-1993) on Whoopi Goldberg. Reproducing part of his essay, “The Search for the Oppressed”:

    There can be too much of a good thing. There must be some limit to the proportion of oppressed minorities—for if there were no limits, inflation would run rampant and the value of the commodity would be entirely debased. So, knowing where to look, it is not surprising to discover that there are informal procedures for “de-minoritizing” or “de-oppressing” groups whose inclusion had heretofore been taken for granted. The classic case in out time concerns another group to which I belong: namely, Jews. The current tension between Jews and blacks refers largely to an important event that, because it did not take place at a specific time and was not announced, has escaped attention.

    I refer to the indubitable fact—first—that sometime in the mid-1960s blacks replaced Jews as the nation’s number one oppressed minority and—second—that, toward the end of that decade, white radicals succeeded in having Jews removed from the parlance of left critics of society as “minority,” despite the fact that they constituted no more than 3 percent of the population and were still undoubtedly subject to minor forms of discrimination in banking, business, social life, politics, and elsewhere. It took Christians 1,000 years to go from oppressed minority to inquisitorial majority; those clever Jews seem to have done it practically overnight. Let us investigate this strange case further.

    "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Somebody actually said that.

  • It's a funny old world. Bari Weiss hosts Winston Marshall at her substack: When Artists Become the Censors. After a brief tour of the travails of rock musicians Back in the USSR:

    I’m not suggesting the music scene of the West today, or the creative industries more broadly, resembles this top-down authoritarian dystopia. There was a time when the censoriousness did come from on high: Moral majoritarians on the Christian Right and conservative organizations like the Parents Music Resource Center worked hard through the 1980s and ‘90s to censor artists. In Ice-T’s 1989 song “Freedom of Speech,” he took Tipper Gore, a co-founder of the PMRC and the wife of future Vice President Al Gore, to task:

    “Yo, Tip, what’s the matter? You aint gettin’ no dick?/You’re bitchin’ about rock ’n’ roll - that’s censorship, dumb bitch /The Constitution says we all got a right to speak /Say what we want, Tip - your argument is weak”

    But in 2022, the censors are not in charge of governments. Something resembling a bottom-up authoritarianism has become the norm. Or perhaps one could call it lateral censorship. It’s artists shutting down other artists—or trying to.

    Last week, Canadian-American rock god Neil Young made a clarion call against free speech. Displeased by The Joe Rogan Experience’s Covidian contents, Young demanded that Spotify remove Rogan’s podcast—or remove him. Days later, Young’s music was off the platform, though you can still stream his songs on Apple (ignore their forced Uyghur labor in Xinjiang) and on Amazon (but don’t read about the company’s infamous working conditions in James Bloodworth’s book “Hired.”)

    Keep on rocking in the free world, Neil.

    Well, there I go, endangering Pun Salad's PG-13 rating again.

    Here's something I didn't know: Al and Tipper Gore are still married, despite having separated in 2010, and "dating other people".

  • Can you stand one more thing about Joe and Whoopi? It's not as if there aren't other important things going on. But David Harsanyi has thoughts: Whoopi Goldberg & Joe Rogan: Two Very Different Cancel Cultures

    Though I haven’t seen any prominent conservative call for the firing of Goldberg, these double standards will almost surely harden conservative views on open speech. There will be tit-for-tat pearl-clutching and pressure campaigns, but mostly there will be calls for revenge. You can only expect people to live under two sets of rules and standards for so long. A large chunk of the Left’s time these days is taken up with attempts to undercut open discourse. And not just the bunch of crybabies at Georgetown Law who are trying to get Shapiro fired for clumsily expressing the view of 76 percent of Americans, or “media reporters” at CNN, or Vox explainer dudes who believe free speech is one of the “biggest” threats to “liberalism,” or musicians trying to pressure Spotify to de-platform Rogan; it’s the president and politicians who pressure companies to shut down speech they disapprove of.

    Nor is it only well-known apostates who live in fear of committing speech crimes. A recent Manhattan Institute study found that 45 percent of employees under 30 are scared of losing their jobs because “someone misunderstands something you have said or done, takes it out of context, or posts something from your past online.” This kind of noxious anxiety should not exist in a liberal nation.

    None of this is to say that we shouldn’t be critical of things people say or that every nut has a God-given right to a television show. It does mean that those trying to cancel or chill speech are acting in illiberal ways. Either you believe in free expression as a neutral principle, or you don’t. Those who don’t are usually authoritarian. Though like most authoritarians, they don’t even know they’re the bad guys.

    Yes. Friends, if you haven't read your John Stuart Mill lately, Ian Underwood at Granite Grok has you covered:

    But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

  • Did I mention there were other important things going on besides creeping illiberalism? The Techdirt website can be pretty tedious at times, but occasionally it's very good, like this post from Mark Masnick: Can We At Least Make Sure Antitrust Isn't Deliberately Designed To Make Everyone Worse Off?

    For decades here on Techdirt I've argued that competition is the biggest driver of innovation, and so I'm very interested in policies designed to drive more competition. Historically this has been antitrust policy, but over the past decade or so it feels like antitrust policy has become less and less about competition, and more and more about punishing companies that politicians dislike. We can debate whether or not consumer welfare is the right standard for antitrust -- I think there are people on both sides of that debate who make valid points -- but I have significant concerns about any antitrust policy that seems deliberately designed to make consumers worse off.

    That's why I'm really perplexed by the push recently to push through the “American Innovation and Choice Online Act” from Amy Klobuchar which, for the most part, doesn't seem to be about increasing competition, innovation, or choice. It seems almost entirely punitive in not just punishing the very small number of companies it targets, but rather everyone who uses those platforms.

    In case you had any warm thoughts about the GOP: out of 11 cosponsors of Klobuchar's bill, 6 are Republicans.