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Related: Linda Bellos -remember her?- gets a rude awakening when it turns out that it is indeed quite possible to be hoist by one's own petard: University should be a safe space - should be safe, kind of, physically. But if it's going to be safe in relation to ideas! This is like, this is like some kind of, some kind of fascist world She splutters indignantly as the world she helped create turns out not to be quite as she imagined it would (assuming she had even thought that far ahead, which is doubtful). Yet the warnings, often quite nicely summed up by this well-known quote from A Man for All Seasons (despite Bolt's evident intention to criticise More throughout the play including in this speech), went, still go, unheeded. [W]here would you hide ... ? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast ... and if you cut them down ... d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Elsewhere (250) at davidthompson
Left an envelope behind the collection of pickled egg jars.
Toggle Commented 4 days ago on The Thrill Of Giving at davidthompson
@MC I can see how those riot police felt legally obliged to batter the hell out of the people trying to vote. Thanks for the clever-clever snark there, but please note I was quite clear in stating "The violence committed by the police has been really quite excessive". Governments across the world ignore laws when it suits them. So you're suggesting that Kim Jong-un of the DPRK is a fine example of a functioning government? Great. Also, incidentally, it was the Catalan authorities ignoring the Law that has done much to bring about this violence. This does not excuse the excessive use of force by the police, but it does need to be acknowledged how the police came to be there in such numbers in the first place. Rajoy could have allowed the referendum to take place but made it clear it was not constitutional and no more than a glorified poll. You don't need polling booths for "a glorified poll" nor do you need to invite every voter in the region to take part. I do not believe any nation has the right to deny independence to any part of itself, if a majority of the citizens demand it. I fully agree. The UK gave Scotland the opportunity to vote for independence, Scotland chose to remain part of the Union. This was all achieved without bloodshed. You will note, of course, that Scotland's vote was therefore legal and given a mandate by the UK parliament. Things would have been quite different indeed if it had been discovered that Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond had been siphoning off government funds to use to promote an illegal referendum vote and then - against an express ruling of the courts - proceeded to defy the courts and administer the vote illegally. To see it from your point of view, one would have to consider Spain to be something like the popular rejection of authoritarian one-party Communist state rule by the peoples of Central and East Europeans in 1989/1990 - such a comparison is absurd. Militant Trotskyite Paul Mason has already drawn an explicit comparison between Rajoy and Mubarak of Egypt - as if the government and nation of Spain is comparable to that of Egypt c. 2010-11. The violence should be rightly condemned, but it is farcical to turn this into a story of an anti-democratic Fascist state - the more so when no major news outlet that I have seen so far has filmed let alone interviewed the Catalan citizens counter-demonstrating on the streets waving the Spanish, not the Catalan, flags.
Toggle Commented Oct 2, 2017 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson
When I first saw this Tweet on this blog I smirked, with the sorry state of the contemporary arts in mind: But now, I have just had to step away from Twitter in horror and disgust at the way people on Twitter are portraying the Catalan 'referendum' story. As far as I can see, there are hundreds if not thousands of people wilfully misrepresenting a complex Constitutional issue in childishly simplistic terms of Darth Vader neoliberal storm troopers attempting to crush the plucky socialist rebels of Cataluña. And among those thousands are mainstream media outlets who you would hope would know better. But apparently not. The violence committed by the police has been really quite excessive as far as I can tell from the videos, photos and reports - but then we are talking about a region whose representatives have deliberately flouted the law, misappropriated government funds to print advertising for an illegal referendum and deliberately refused to follow directives from their government to prevent polling booths being set up. Is it conceivable that any other nation would react any differently under the same circumstances? What if Bavarian officials went through with an illegal secessionist Referendum from the rest of Germany, misappropriating government funds to do so? Or if Normandy did the same from the rest of France? Or California from the rest of the US? Or Cornwall from the UK? What I apparently cannot get through to these people - mostly British people that is - who are demanding that Rajoy allow the vote to go ahead is that he cannot let the vote go ahead because it has been ruled unconstitutional. Rajoy is not above the law and he cannot simply look at the protests and say - 'Oh, well, they don't like that law so - the hell with it! Let them have their vote.' Mainstream media keep reporting this as 'Madrid' having 'banned' the vote, thus dumping gasoline on the idea that Madrid is still in the grips of Francoist Fascism putting its boot on the neck of plucky socialist Barcelona and acting undemocratically - which is the most egregious bollocks, quite frankly. The rule of law is as important as the right to vote - probably more so in many ways. However passionately Catalans - certain of them at any rate - wish to be independent, they cannot simply seize it by main force, especially while pretending this is all being done in the name of democracy. Especially as, apparently, 59% of Catalans wish to remain part of Spain - at least according to one poll cited by the Financial Times.
Toggle Commented Oct 1, 2017 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson
OT Oh, dear God - La Mademoiselle horrible, Penny Dreadful, has truly excelled herself - this is likely the most intense cringe I have seen all year.
Toggle Commented Sep 25, 2017 on The Devil Himself at davidthompson
(a) that none of her student readers know anything about Ben Shapiro, and (b) that none of them will bother to check anything she’s said about him Yes - the both of those. And it's one of several reasons why I find it troubling when, in lieu of a rebuttal, certain people will simply resort to slander and libel with the express purpose of shaming anyone out of getting too curious. The warnings are as stark (and effective, both in the real and ironic sense) as something like the forbidden zone from The Planet of the Apes: You know, to ward people off finding out for themselves something that would prove to be more than inconvenient to the narrative those same certain people wish to impose as the one true and irrefutable doctrine. It always amazes me when people employ such a strategy - surely they must realise that making something taboo is in itself an incentive for someone to find out for themselves why it is so taboo? And anyone who does venture into the 'forbidden zone' and finds out what is there is likely to be contemptuous if not downright resentful of any and all previous attempts at keeping them deliberately in the dark. And not only that but the very kind of people who are willing to venture that way tend to be people who are of an independent mind - a fact which in itself can make them quite persuasive to others. Surely almost every hero and heroine ever written of is the one who went beyond the known horizon to find out what was on the other side? And, of course, for any such 'hero' who does venture into that 'forbidden zone' it also immediately calls into question the value of the arguments (or 'arguments') of people such as Scheper-Hughes they may have been brought up with or strenuously educated in - because what kind of politics, what kind of ideology, would need to rely on mumbo jumbo to protect itself other than, well, ... mumbo jumbo?
Toggle Commented Sep 25, 2017 on The Devil Himself at davidthompson
That’s an awful lot of morony ... Just so. I suspect the hand of Yvette Felarca of 'By Any Means Necessary' had an influence in there somewhere - certainly with the seemingly endless repetition of 'Fascism', 'Fascists' and 'White Supremacy'. Incidentally, the original has Taylor (the woman speaking) say ungrammatically: "Millions of people denounce the collaboration of this university" I assumed it was a mistake and tidied it up - I realise of course now that it was almost certainly deliberate and fully intended to leave listeners with the impression that has millions of members signed up to it. On the topic of errors, Scheper-Hughes' original post in CounterPunch must have been dashed off with an indecent amount of haste. Not only is it full of smears, half-truths, and outright libel against Shapiro, but at several points it changes direction completely onto an almost wholly unrelated topic but before you can work out how it relates to anything resembling a coherent idea she has changed direction yet again: Here she is complaining about the apathy of her colleagues and students ("Why aren’t [we] hosting counter events, teach- ins, timed and presented during the controversial atl right line up of fall speakers: Shapiro, Milo, and Coulter’s tirades?"). Then there she is railing against safe spaces ("Feeling bad? feeling sad? We will provide free counseling and tissues."). All of a sudden she launches into an attack on the First Amendment that barely rises above the level of gibberish - for she argues first that "The first amendment is a work in progress" and that therefore "We need strong legal scholars and thinkers and researchers to push against it, to recognize when the rule of law is illegal (as Laura Nader put it)". But this is said without any apparent awareness or concern that there is barely a cigarette paper between what she's calling for and the kind of scandalous abuse of state power normally found in the only the most corrupt of gangster states. Before she's given time for that to sink in or really explain what she means, however, she switches inexplicably to name-dropping some philosophers ("“Words are deeds”, according to Wittgenstein. J. L. Austin (1975) and John R. Searle (1970) wrote books and essays on speech act theory."). To anyone who doesn't know anything about speech act theory, the references are completely meaningless and to anyone who does it's incoherent as it barely covers two lines of the text leaving you to wonder what on Earth - other than name-dropping for the sake of name-dropping - she actually intended by making mention of them in the first place. She then ends with a complete non sequitur involving a demand that she be listened to on the basis of who she is rather than what she has to say: "In short, Hate speech is an act of violence. The First Amendment is ignorant of the vast research on these topics by medical anthropologists, clinical psychologists, and neurological scientists." - What?
Toggle Commented Sep 24, 2017 on The Devil Himself at davidthompson
vain and stupefied creatures like this Incoming! From about 3'54" I wanna say this press conference is a sham! This has never been about free speech. This has been about a Fascist assault on the American University in the service of a Fascist regime in power ... a White Supremacist regime. It's about normalising Fascism on campus ... [The Free Speech Movement] is a movement about people standing up against White Supremacy not inviting White Supremacists to the hall! ... [R]olling out the red carpet to normalise and collaborate with Fascism in this country. And Still they're going to sue the university. This just shows you can't appease Fascism. You cannot placate these Fascists ... We have to rise up! Millions of people! denounce the collaboration of this university. calls on people to be out on the steps ... 10 am tomorrow ... And we call on people across this country to drive the Fascist Trump-Pence regime out of power - in the name of humanity.
Toggle Commented Sep 24, 2017 on The Devil Himself at davidthompson
From the AJ+ reportlet on Reedies Against Racism: … protesters say the course only gives one side of the story. So they posted alternative readings, focusing on racism in ancient Greece and Rome. One of the alternative readings is from a transcript of an Angela Davis speech on the subject of her 1969 clash with administrators at UCLA over “her affiliations with the communist party”. The other is Benjamin Isaac’s 2004 book, The Invention of Racism in Classical Iniquity. I’m no expert on this and in any case haven’t read the book (and so am happy to be corrected by someone who is and/or who has), but the introduction of that book here does not exactly inspire confidence: LESS THAN A CENTURY AGO nobody would write or wish to read a book about racism. Indeed nobody was aware that such a thing existed, for the word does not appear in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) of 1910. The term racialism has been around a little longer: It first appeared in print in 1907. Does this mean that racism did not exist before the twentieth century? In fact there is a consensus that it originated in the nineteenth century and has its intellectual roots in that century, although some scholars give it a somewhat longer history. While the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) does indeed date the use of racism and racialism back to the beginning of the 20th Century, the word race used to express pretty much if not exactly the same concept is a good deal older – as the very same dictionary points out: 1572 I. B. Let. to R. C. sig. B.i The Englishe race ouerrunne and daily spoiled. 1612 R. COVERTE True Rep. Englishman 39 He is a white man and of the Race of the Tartares. Isaacs’ introduction continues: In this book I shall argue that early forms of racism, to be called proto-racism, were common in the Graeco-Roman world. My second point in this connection is that those early forms served as prototype for modern racism which developed in the eighteenth century. That sounds an awful lot like … well, actually, not just sounds like, but is a key claim from Karl Popper’s 1945 The Open Society and its Enemies. And yet, surprisingly, Isaac’s book contains just a single reference to Popper – and even that is given in a footnote which itself is referring to someone criticising Popper. Again, I’m no expert, but the fact that he doesn't mention Popper directly at all does little to inspire confidence. What’s further aggravating is that the current system as it exists would allow for those RAR students to introduce those readings into their course assignments. In fact, unless I’ve misunderstood the purpose of higher education, those RAR students would be positively encouraged to seek out independent research on the topic – wouldn’t they? In any event, I see absolutely no justification for their histrionics (pun intended).
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2017 on Young Minds, Fresh Ideas at davidthompson
Crumbs of comfort, I know. Here is another at least (my italics): To explore the critical issue of the First Amendment on college campuses, during the second half of August I conducted a national survey of 1,500 current undergraduate students at U.S. four-year colleges and universities. Given that Saturday 12 August saw the violence in Charlottesville – including the murder of Heather Heyer and the attempted murder of over many more by James Alex Fields Jr – then the timing of the survey “during the second half of August” was surely overwhelmingly likely to prejudice the views of respondents to a question such as 'Does the First Amendment protect “hate speech”?' the utter disregard for everyone else, both staff and fellow students; and the expectation that they should be praised Interesting exchange here on the Reedies Against Racism Tumblr page between an anonymous student who complains that “Your protests are distracting me from learning the material that I paid to come here to college to learn” and Alex Boyd of RAR. I confess to a touch of scepticism regarding the graffiti photographed under update 11/12 from the same Tumblr page here (need to scroll down a bit to see it). The handwriting is so remarkably similar in all photos that it suggests the work of a single individual – which hardly supports the notion that “Anti blackness, racism, antisemitism, classism, ableism, homophobia, and cultural appropriation are still rampant” at the college.
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2017 on Young Minds, Fresh Ideas at davidthompson
these people are supposedly our cognitive elite, attending a supposedly prestigious institution of higher learning I can't help wondering whether it's precisely an awareness of the very same point that leads, ironically, at least some of those students into a far less rigorous questioning (if any at all) of the arguments presented to them. A point made quite succinctly - and somewhat acerbically - here. Of course, when questioning certain orthodoxy may lead not only to poor grades from the tutor, but also being made a pariah of by one's peers, the path of least resistance becomes clear.
Toggle Commented Sep 18, 2017 on Screaming Into A Mirror at davidthompson
I'm in Berlin and I need my hair cut. Preferably by someone with tattoos or piercings who will transform my head into a queer bat signal. "I'm in MacDonald's in London and I need my burger and fries pronto. Preferably without these labouring classes with their lack of education cluttering up the place ..." ... may possibly have been what was going through artist Hetty Douglas's mind - and should have stayed there. The New Statesman, an organ which features Miss Dreadful as "a contributing editor", responds with a lack of irony as notable as it is unsurprising.
Toggle Commented Sep 9, 2017 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson
You don’t have a fucking culture! ... We're fucking white! We don't have a goddam fucking culture!" Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, St Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Smith, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Sartre, Frege, Schopenhauer, Russell, Wittgenstein ... Fra Angelico, Donatello, Raphael, Bellini, Durer, Goya, El Greco, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Turner, Picasso, Braques, Nolan, ... Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Goethe, Cervantes, Lorca, Molliere, Shelley, Keats, Byron, Hughes, Plath, Harrison, Austen, Bronte, Dickens, Hugo, Zola ... It wasn't necessary to make that point, I know. And, probably, I spelt a few of the names wrong, but, please, "We're fucking white! We don't have a goddam fucking culture!". What an oaf.
Toggle Commented Sep 2, 2017 on They Come To Teach Us (2) at davidthompson
Paul Mason ... Paul Mason stop. Paul Mason what are you doing.
Toggle Commented Aug 22, 2017 on Nothing If Not Thorough at davidthompson
You want woke? This isn't just woke. This is woke - with bells on.
Toggle Commented Aug 20, 2017 on Excruciatingly Woke at davidthompson
From the Urban Dictionary: Troll One who posts a deliberately provocative message ... with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument No wonder journalists and politicians of a certain stripe detest trolls - the latter are guerrilla amateurs doing gratis - and often much more effectively - than the would be professionals: Sally Kohn - and just look at the things included in that damn pyramid that she counts as "Covert White Supremacy (socially acceptable)". One of them is "Assuming good intentions are enough"; another, somewhat bizarrely, is "Self-appointed white ally". It is not at all coincidental that Kohn happens to be plugging a new book with that Tweet. Jess Phillips MP - also not at all coincidentally plugging a new book. Laurie Penny - yet again, and not at all coincidentally, plugging a book.* *To be fair, as is well-known, she writes everything at such a hyperbolic pitch it is often hard to tell whether Penny writes this way because she's a troll in all but name or simply because she's talentless.
Toggle Commented Aug 19, 2017 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson
El sueño de la razón produce monstruos
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2017 on Creating Monsters Is The Easy Part at davidthompson
Where's a PhD when you need one? Do you remember that phrase, "the long, march through the institutions"? Well, rather curiously, the Times describes the author of 'Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism' as "a professor of Russian and East European studies". Yet a Google search for the same person returns her as an ethnographer and professor of Gender and Women's Studies. I suppose the two are not necessarily incompatible, but still that's quite some transformation from one field to another ... In any case, you have to admire her honesty (my italics): Those comrades’ insistence on government intervention may seem heavy-handed ...., but sometimes necessary social change — which soon comes to be seen as the natural order of things — needs an emancipation proclamation from above. No ambiguity there as to the real agenda.
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2017 on Creating Monsters Is The Easy Part at davidthompson
Erotic! Heh. Eastern bloc women did not need to ... have sex ... for money. Indeed, they did not if an account I once read is to be believed - commodities such as bras, soap, and raincoats could all be exchanged for sexual favours at one point with no money changing hands at all ...
Toggle Commented Aug 13, 2017 on Creating Monsters Is The Easy Part at davidthompson
OT This generational divide between daughters and mothers who reached adulthood on either side of 1989 supports the idea that women had more fulfilling lives during the Communist era. [...] In all the Warsaw Pact countries, the imposition of one-party rule precipitated a sweeping overhaul of laws regarding the family. Communists invested major resources in the education and training of women and in guaranteeing their employment. State-run women’s committees sought to re-educate boys to accept girls as full comrades, and they attempted to convince their compatriots that male chauvinism was a remnant of the pre-socialist past. Although gender wage disparities and labor segregation persisted, and although the Communists never fully reformed domestic patriarchy, Communist women enjoyed a degree of self-sufficiency that few Western women could have imagined. Eastern bloc women did not need to marry, or have sex, for money. [ ... ] Those comrades’ insistence on government intervention may seem heavy-handed ...., but sometimes necessary social change — which soon comes to be seen as the natural order of things — needs an emancipation proclamation from above. Remarkable!
Toggle Commented Aug 13, 2017 on Creating Monsters Is The Easy Part at davidthompson
The opening paragraphs of Damore's memo: I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can't have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem. Psychological safety is built on mutual respect and acceptance, but unfortunately our culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber. A calm and measured response - in two parts: Part one and Part two. I feel a little disoriented.
BUGGER! Wrong link! Sorry, this is the link to the debate between Shapiro and Uygur I was referring to.
Toggle Commented Aug 4, 2017 on Friday Ephemeraren’t at davidthompson
Likely many folks here will have seen this already, but I've not noticed it being mentioned so - just in case - and even speaking as someone who is not really down on the NHS - this video of a live debate is just phenomenal. The click bait phrase 'X destroys Y!' is so overused these days (mostly by The Independent it seems) that it is now practically meaningless (even for an expression that didn't exactly start off as profound) ... and yet watching Ben Shapiro repeatedly present actual arguments against Cenk Uygur's frankly embarrassing emotive floundering is really quite something to behold. The phrase 'rips him a new one' just does not do it justice. Long, but certainly worth it.
Toggle Commented Aug 4, 2017 on Friday Ephemeraren’t at davidthompson
OT This dates from May this year, but I've only just come across it now: I am angry. Angry because now even questioning these issues is seen as an act of hate, discrimination, or intolerance. Angry because wanting to have open conversations is now considered hate speech. I am angry that [ ... ] I am now being forced to police my language [...] When I first attempted to ask in conversations and online, [...] I was met with slurs, threats, and even a death threat. [Several prominent speakers] have also faced threats, being fired, being no platformed, and in other ways censored [...] What makes this fascinating, in just oh so many ways, is the original context in which this appeared (the continual references to being angry leave a hint as to what that might be). I fear the opportunity for this writer to self-reflect on other contexts where precisely the same complaints could very easily be applied will be missed - to no one's surprise.
So those hench-lesbians ... they're certainly formidable ...
Toggle Commented Jul 30, 2017 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson