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  1. #1
    Never Mind The Bollix
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    The political culture of censoriousness

    Some 150 writers, academics and activists - including authors JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood - have signed an open letter denouncing the "restriction of debate".

    They say they applaud a recent "needed reckoning" on racial justice, but argue it has fuelled stifling of open debate.

    The letter denounces "a vogue for public shaming and ostracism" and "a blinding moral certainty".

    Several signatories have been attacked for comments that caused offence.

    That includes Harry Potter author JK Rowling who was fiercely criticised this month for comments about transgender people.

    A diverse cross-section of figures from across the globe put their names to the letter which was published on Tuesday in Harper's Magazine.

    It includes US intellectual Noam Chomsky, eminent feminist Gloria Steinem, Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov and author Malcolm Gladwell.

    Several have had works banned in some countries, including British novelist Salman Rushdie, who lived in hiding after receiving death threats for his 1988 book Satanic Verses.

    And at least two novels by Syrian writer Khalid Khalifa that criticised Syria's government were banned in his home country.

    Other signatories are prominent historians of race and slavery, including Nell Irvin Painter, who wrote The History of White People and David Blight, who heads Yale University's Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition.

    Many have been in public life for decades, while others are younger including 29-year-old activist Sarah Haider, whose organisation Ex-Muslims of North America aims to normalise religious dissent.
    What does the letter say?

    "The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted," suggests the letter.

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    It also says: "We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters.

    "But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought."

    The letter condemns "disproportionate punishments" meted out to targets of public shaming by institutional leaders conducting "panicked damage control".

    It goes on to warn of fear spreading through arts and media.

    "We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement," it says.

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    It adds: "We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences."
    What are they taking aim at?

    In recent months, a number of figures have been shamed online for making comments considered offensive by some, including on topics of race, gender and sexuality.

    In some cases, employers took action against the individual after sustained and targeted criticism.

    The letter suggests: "Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes."

    In June, the New York Times' opinion editor resigned amid outrage over a piece by a Republican senator calling for military forces to be sent to cities where anti-racism protests had turned violent.

    Opinion contributors to the newspapers David Brooks and Bari Weiss added their names to the letter on Tuesday.

    Last year a US professor who quoted a racial slur from a James Baldwin book in a lecture at New York's New School was cleared on charges of racial discrimination.

    And in January, publisher Flatiron Books cancelled author Jeanine Cummins's tour after her novel American Dirt was strongly condemned for stereotypical descriptions of Mexicans.
    What has the response been?

    There has been a huge online response to the letter, with the Index on Censorship calling it an "important letter on open debate".

    Irish novelist John Boyne tweeted in support, writing "hounding people for perceived moral slip-ups" is the "opposite of free speech".

    One signatory - Matthew Yglesias, co-founder of liberal news analysis website Vox - was rebuked by colleague Emily VanDerWerff, a trans woman, who tweeted that Yglesias signing the letter "makes me feel less safe at Vox".

    But VanDerWerff said she did not want Yglesias to be fired or apologise because it would only convince him he was being "martyred".

    Signatory Jennifer Finney Boylan, a US author and transgender activist, apologised within hours of the letter being published, tweeting "I did not know who else had signed that letter".

    Critics have tweeted past comments by signatories JK Rowling and Noam Chomsky on topics including transgender rights and genocide denial.

    Others argued that those who signed the letter were overreacting.

    "It's hard to take claims like this seriously, especially when it's plain that people are complaining about an unprecedentedly free and open speech environment," tweeted journalist Osita Nwanevu.

    And some suggested that many of the signatories are high-profile figures who benefit from access to institutions that readily publish their work.
    JK Rowling joins 150 public figures warning over free speech - BBC News


    The reality is that celebrities and public figures run huge risks to their careers today, not by offering differing opinions, but by merely failing to voice their complete and unwavering support for politically correct ideas in loud enough voices.

    It is a strange kind of McCarthyesque witch-hunt that pervades western political culture at the moment.

    Ironically it is likely that this oppressive witch-hunt psychology is substantially behind the large silent protest that takes shape in the form of the election of figures like Trump.

    If we are to get some sanity and moderation back into politics the censoriousness and new religious dogma of offence needs to reign itself in.

  2. #2
    The Dentist English Noodles's Avatar
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    The woke SJW set are all smiles and niceties, until you disagree with them, then they are the most intolerant, bigoted, closed minded mob the world has ever known.

    They truly are disgusting, but the silent majority will win through...

  3. #3
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    What these pompous c u n t s neglect to mention is that their waffling "debate" never actually achieves anything, and it's the fact that people are now looking elsewhere and marginalising their essentially worthless opinions that gets their backs up.

    I mean seriously, wtf gives some bint who writes kids books about wizards the authority to criticise the trans community?

    It's essentially none of her fucking business and it's people like her that are the problem with their bigoted views.

    It's not debate, they like their little bit of imagined power.

    So fuck them.

  4. #4
    The Dentist English Noodles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    I mean seriously, wtf gives some bint who writes kids books about wizards the authority to criticise the trans community?
    She was critical of an article's use of the phrase "people who menstruate" instead of "women". She also wrote, "If sex isn't real, there's no same-sex attraction. If sex isn't real, the lived reality of women globally is erased".

    This offended you and the other trans community members? You really are just a fragile bunch...

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by English Noodles View Post
    She was critical of an article's use of the phrase "people who menstruate" instead of "women". She also wrote, "If sex isn't real, there's no same-sex attraction. If sex isn't real, the lived reality of women globally is erased".

    This offended you and the other trans community members? You really are just a fragile bunch...
    I said her opinion is worthless.

    It's not offensive, it's just irrelevant.

  6. #6
    The Dentist English Noodles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    I said her opinion is worthless.
    Maybe women appreciate her making the point as someone who can be heard and not intimidated and silenced by the intolerant Left.

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by English Noodles View Post
    Maybe women appreciate her making the point as someone who can be heard and not intimidated and silenced by the intolerant Left.
    Or maybe she's just dog whistling to people like you and succeeding.

  8. #8
    The Dentist English Noodles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Or maybe she's just dog whistling to people like you and succeeding.
    Oh yes, because she has a different view to yours, she must be.

    I have no issue with you being trans, but you don't need those fanny pads mate, that's just a fact...

  9. #9
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by English Noodles View Post
    Oh yes, because she has a different view to yours, she must be.

    I have no issue with you being trans, but you don't need those fanny pads mate, that's just a fact...
    Please stop projecting, it makes you look silly.

  10. #10
    The Dentist English Noodles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Please stop projecting, it makes you look silly.
    Why do you care?

  11. #11
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by English Noodles View Post
    Why do you care?
    Look don't start being clingy.

  12. #12
    The Dentist English Noodles's Avatar
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    ^You're so demanding.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by English Noodles View Post
    ^You're so demanding.


  14. #14
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    US intellectual Noam Chomsky
    "If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."


    I said her opinion is worthless.

    It's not offensive, it's just irrelevant.

    Fair enough. That's your opinion, and your right to express it. But are you saying she has no right to express hers?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    I said her opinion is worthless.

    It's not offensive, it's just irrelevant.
    And yet she is entitled to it and to express it without people like you getting pms about it.
    For that matter what gives you and other bigots the authority to criticize Rowling for expressing her opinion ?
    This bigoted censorious attitude of yours is exactly what they're talking about.
    If we stop testing right now wed have very few cases, if any. Donald J Trump.

  16. #16
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cujo View Post
    And yet she is entitled to it and to express it without people like you getting pms about it.
    For that matter what gives you and other bigots the authority to criticize Rowling for expressing her opinion ?
    This bigoted censorious attitude of yours is exactly what they're talking about.

    I didn't say she wasn't entitled to her opinion.

    I simply said she and the others attach more importance to it than it deserves.

    Can none of you fuckers read or something?

  17. #17
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    She's not the only one who signed the letter.

  18. #18
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cujo View Post
    She's not the only one who signed the letter.
    Oh FFS read my fucking post.

    I referred to all of them, she's just an example.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    I said her opinion is worthless.

    It's not offensive, it's just irrelevant.
    That's surely not a "censoriousness". After all, we have a "freedom of speech" (unlike the commies...), provided that the speech follows my liking...

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Oh FFS read my fucking post.

    I referred to all of them, she's just an example.
    So do you think Noam Chomsky's opinion is worthless? What's your opinion of the content of the letter?

  21. #21
    Hansum Man! panama hat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Klondyke View Post
    After all, we have a "freedom of speech" (unlike the commies...)
    Who is 'we' comrade?

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    This is very telling of the type of bigots the letter is directed at.
    Signatory Jennifer Finney Boylan, a US author and transgender activist, apologised within hours of the letter being published, tweeting "I did not know who else had signed that letter".

  23. #23
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cujo View Post
    This is very telling of the type of bigots the letter is directed at.
    It's more indicative of the clamour of self-important people to defend their right to talk bollocks.

    So do you think Noam Chomsky's opinion is worthless? What's your opinion of the content of the letter?
    I think Noam Chomsky's opinion is no more valuable than yours or mine.

    As far as the letter is concerned, it seems those who signed are peeved because they can no longer run around having a pop for no reason at whoever they dislike.

    Continuing my example as it's recent, Rowling seems to think she is qualified to offer a medical opinion yet she is not a doctor. Why does she have a chip on her shoulder about the transgender community? How do their rights affect her exactly?

    Why is it wrong to criticise people who are not qualified to give medical opinions when they do so? Is it because they have a lot of twatter followers that gives them some kind of magic credibility?

  24. #24
    Thailand Expat armstrong's Avatar
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    I'm not a doctor either but pretty sure men don't have periods.

  25. #25
    Thailand Expat AntRobertson's Avatar
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    Tend to agree except for I'd certainly give Chomsky's opinion more credence and weight on a topic like linguistics and Rowling's on writing wildly successful books for a young audience. Outside of that yeah not so much.

    Also it's partly their fault for flapping on, partly because social media these days allows greater exposure, but also partly because of the traditional media encourages, solicits and reports on it. Who gives a fuck what Actor A or Sportsperson B thinks about COVID-19 / the state of the economy etc. -- not me, but someone will ask them and then report on it somewhere.

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