URLs du Jour

2022-04-26

  • Free at last! Mr. Ramirez comments toonishly:

    [Free at Last]

    We'll see. Could be interesting.


  • There's plenty of room for improvement. Charles C. W. Cooke has ideas about that: How Elon Musk Can Improve Twitter.

    If Musk is to succeed in this endeavor, he ought to take three immediate steps to improve the platform. First, he should replace Twitter’s vague guidelines with a long list of more specific rules. I know, I know — that sounds paradoxical. Usually, I am of the view that the fewer the rules, the better the outcome for liberty. But, in this case, I suspect that the opposite is true. “Don’t Be Evil” might be a good policy for a society that agrees upon the nature of “evil,” but, in one that does not, it is next to useless. As a result, Musk ought to insist on a larger set of narrower limits — “You may not threaten to kill another user” — and to assiduously avoid any of the broader concepts that have been captured and corrupted by the DEI-types that are ruining the American workplace. Twitter should not promise to protect “dignity,” or to avoid “harm,” or to uphold “equality.” It should not vow to keep people “safe,” or to outlaw “hatred,” or to combat “misinformation.” Hell, given the absurd hierarchies of immutable characteristics that progressivism has imposed, it should not base any rules on race, gender, or religion, either. Instead, it should focus on the specifics. “You may not publish another user’s physical address” is a good rule. “You may not use Twitter in the commission of a crime, as determined by a court” is a good rule. If certain words are to be verboten, Musk should list them. Sure, a Terms & Conditions page with 500 items on it would be a touch unwieldy, but it would ultimately be less of a problem than having five intrinsically vague statements that accord carte blanche to the spoiled children of Oberlin.

    That's one step. The second: "fire pretty much everyone who has ever been involved in Twitter’s content moderation." ("But I was just following orders!")

    The third: "dramatically increase transparency." Twitter's failure on this part bothered me the most, even as a spectator. Twitter's moderation/suspension/banning policies seemed more like the Star Chamber at times. These rules need to be hashed out in the open.


  • That's entertainment! Liz Wolfe notes the screams of the wicked witches: Elon Musk Buys Twitter, Twitter's Biggest Egos Melt Down.

    Over the last week, SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk arranged $46.5 billion in financing to follow through on his unsolicited offer to Twitter's board to buy the social media site from them. This afternoon, the board accepted Musk's offer to buy the company for $54.20 a share.

    Long a Twitter power user/troll/loudmouth, Musk bought a 9.2 percent stake in the company last month, becoming the largest shareholder, before deciding he'd rather have the whole thing.

    Cue hysteria! Musk haters have taken to the site to declare that Donald Trump will now probably win the 2024 election, that Musk's bid is really about white power, that Section 230 must be reformed, and that, yes, Musk's new policies will be lethal. (Perhaps the death toll will be even larger than net neutrality's!)

    About that "Trump will now probably win the 2024 election" assertion: well, first, I hope not. But second: you really have to wonder about the folks who profess to "love democracy", but worry that voters are such idiots that Trump's (hypothetical) tweets will sway their votes.


  • DHS delenda est. J.D. Tuccille observes: The Department of Homeland Security Is Broken and Dangerous.

    Founded 20 years ago in the panic-stricken days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was originally tasked with guarding the borders and preventing similar future assaults from abroad. Since then, the agency's focus has shifted to enemies closer to home in the form of Americans the government has tagged as potential threats. That's unfortunate, because throughout its brief existence, DHS has demonstrated poor judgment, worse respect for individual liberties, and an impressive inability to implement necessary reforms of the sort that watchdogs now recommend.

    The shift from chasing external threats to looking for those found inside the country is no surprise to anybody familiar with DHS's political sensitivities. Just as Republicans fret over immigrants, Democrats worry about radicals under the bed. Donald Trump's loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election meant DHS announcements stopped talking about border walls in favor of warning about "domestic violent extremists" motivated by the "online proliferation of false or misleading narratives." But it's still the same plodding bureaucracy with lots of resources and only a modicum of decency.

    Makes you kind of nostalgic for the McCarthy era.


  • "We don't want your stinkin' feminist kind, 'round here," drawled the Harvard student. Caroline Downey reports the latest from Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Disinvites Feminist Philosopher over Transgender Views.

    A feminist philosopher was disinvited from speaking at Harvard University for penning academic literature that pushed back on some demands of the transgender movement.

    Dr. Devin Buckley had prepared a highly specialized talk on British romanticism “that had nothing to do with gender or feminism,” she told National Review, until coordinator Erin Saladin of the college’s English Department unearthed some of her scholarship on the Internet. She discovered that Buckley is a board member of Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), a radical feminist organization that has been outspoken about maintaining sex segregation in women-exclusive spaces to protect vulnerable females. Because of this involvement, Saladin determined that Buckley was a guest for whom the department could not provide a platform.

    The WoLF site has the disinvitation letter (from an anonymous Harvard facule) and Devin Buckley's eloquent response. From the latter:

    […] I had no intention of bringing up gender or feminism at a talk on the relevance of Plotinian Neo-Platonism and Vedic Philosophy to transcendent ontologies of early nineteenth century British poets.

    I'm tempted to say: so much the worse for your audience.


  • We could all use it. Daniel B. Klein suggests we need A Better Understanding of Justice.

    “There is simply no such thing as ‘social’ justice,” writes Jordan Peterson. “Whatever those who rely on this cliched phrase are aiming at has nothing whatsoever to do with justice. Justice is meted out at the level of the suffering individual.” Indeed, if the term “social justice” rightly suggests a larger idea of justice beyond simply leaving others in peace, it offers an unhelpful explanation of what that larger idea might entail. Instead of seeking to divine the meaning of “social justice,” a better course would be to consider Adam Smith’s three-layered concept of justice.

    In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith distinguishes between commutative justice, or not messing with other people’s stuff; distributive justice, or making a becoming use of what is one’s own; and estimative justice, or estimating objects properly. When a claim not to have our possessions messed with is made against government, it is called liberty. Yet even classical liberals can sense that justice extends further. What, after all, justifies commutative justice or liberty but some larger principles?

    Klein makes some fine distinctions, all the better to avoid what he terms "sloppier thinking". I'm currently reading a pretty good (so far) book, Unequivocal Justice by Christopher Freiman. Putting adjectives in front of "justice" gives me qualms—maybe we should just use different words entirely, without trying to piggyback on whatever good feelings readers get from "justice".