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Wankers. Sorry, but I was just unable to find a more appropriate way of summing up my response to the students in that WSJ article. However, I was amused by the presumption tucked away at the heart of this demand: Create a professor of color lecture series; bring a professor of color once a month in order to expose the Dartmouth community to a wide range of ideas No doubt at all in my mind that the protesting students would extend a warm and hearty welcome to the persons, ideas and views expressed by, I don't know,this economist say, or this Nobel prize-winning writer or this writer and educator or perhaps this world-leading neurosurgeon or indeed this former senior member of the US government – all of whom might qualify as a PoC professor under the terms of the protestors' demand and each of whom would, I think, make for suitable speakers (a fact that would of course still be true in the complete absence of any considerations for genetic or cultural inheritance). It's almost a commonplace, but I still think it's worth noting the irony that those at the far fringe of identity politics, – i.e. those who go far beyond demanding equality before the law regardless of one's race, gender, sexuality etc. – are themselves basically race-obsessed racists. Often profoundly so. That's not a lazy or idle claim. Anyone who has seen the open vitriol* that has, at various times, been poured on each of the people I just linked to will know that such speakers are attacked at least as often for their race, class, etc. by professed anti-racists and antifascists as they are for more reasonable targets, i.e. the actual ideas and politics they espouse. *None of this namby-pamby 'is-it-or-isn't-it' structurally formulated 'microagression' bullshit for such apostates; no, no quite openly racially-themed invective and verbal stoning does just fine. Having an expectation that people born into certain circumstances are somehow 'inauthentic', 'traitors' or some kind of 'government stooge' is not refined to Dartmouth undergraduates. Here's Owen Jones, in his own words, from the BBC's Moral Maze discussion on Class: Owen Jones: Yep, I think in fact I don't think you've even invited anyone who's not middle class this evening which is, er, slightly unfortunate turn of events on the part of the BBC […] Claire Fox: It was an interesting point you made about– We should have had a working class person on. I mean, is there not a danger that this just does become some kind of, er, identity politics game? Owen Jones: I think there's a danger but I think it's always good to have people, I mean if you're going to have a debate about class with four guests, then have somebody who can talk from experience. I don't think it's about identity. It's just lived experience is important […] I think, y'know, a big crisis in British politics is a lack of working class representation. I mean it comes back to the point I just made really. Having people able to speak for themselves in an organized way […] having an organized movement that can represent the interests of working people in the broadest possible sense Although Jones talks about allowing people to speak for themselves, I feel fairly sure that what he heavily implies here is that an 'authentic' working class opinion would be one that naturally matches his own political views, whereas the voices of people such as (Lord) Alan Sugar, Theo Paphitis or Duncan Bannatyne (all working class men who have gone on to become millionaires and media celebrities in the UK) or the voices of those working class people who aspire to be like such entrepreneurs would presumably be 'inauthentic' in Jones's view – meaning that their views are not representative of the 'real' working class issues and concerns (as defined by Guardian journalist Owen Jones).
Toggle Commented Apr 8, 2014 on Elsewhere (118) at davidthompson
Minnow, It's a distinction without a difference. No, there is a difference – and quite a clear one at that. It is true that some self-deceivers are aware … but very often they are not I concede that most people exhibit idiosyncratic patterns of behavior of which they are largely or completely unaware – but it's for this reason that these are the behaviours that they don't articulate out loud. In your examples, the alcoholic friend and the woman with an abusive partner were both not only articulating their problems but actively engaged in rationalising them. Whether trivializing the problem as the alcoholic does or reinterpreting a partner's negative behavior as 'secret signs' of true love, both people in your examples must be aware that what they are doing is detrimental to themselves because otherwise why would they feel the need to justify it in the first place? If they were genuinely unaware of having a problem, they simply wouldn't even be articulating it to friends and family. … the same is true for political self deceivers, that is people (usually poor people, but sometimes the middle classes too) who continue to support the economic and political structures that are damaging them because they cannot face the possibility that their ideology is t fault, they would prefer to suffer than be disillusioned. So if the first point is wrong, so is your second. I don't mean to be rude, but what you are saying here seems to be more than a little presumptuous. In fact, it is a very clear example of the 'false consciousness'-as-conspiracy-theory I defined in the earlier message. By saying that poor people, but sometimes the middle classes too … would prefer to suffer than be disillusioned, you are effectively writing off large numbers of people as docile sheep, a pusillanimous herd that is incapable of making decisions for itself and needs some nobler and more enlightened minds to make decisions for them. It's hard not to interpret your comment in that way. It is true that significant numbers of people think more about who the winner of the X Factor is going to be more than they do about economic and political structures but … in a way, so what? A lack of engagement with politics isn't necessarily a lack, it could just as well be a choice. This is probably one reason why politicians who constantly bemoan voter apathy are completely blindsided by the strength of feeling from the public that rushes up over particular flash points – they have confused general voter apathy with not caring at all about what happens to the lives of themselves, their family or their community. Such politicians are no doubt shocked because to them 'voter apathy' must be the result of not thinking or behaving as they do - which is more than a little presumptuous. … it isn't far-fetched and quite often it is a necessary concept, … Like most of Marx when looked at coolly rather than from a partisan position, the idea of false consciousness is revealing and challenging. Again, I'm no expert but I understood the modern idea of false consciousness is largely based on Gramsci, not Marx but I'm happy to be corrected on that point. But anyway ... If the concept of false consciousness is necessary then presumably you would need to demonstrate that the concept can be proved empirically – something I think would be very hard if not impossible to do. I've often heard it claimed that advertising 'makes' people do things and want things they don't really want. And sometimes, yes, this appears to be the case - but it's only part of the story because it doesn't explain why it only makes people want certain things but not others (i.e. the argument only looks at successful persuasion through advertising but ignores and therefore fails to explain all the failures) You also say it is revealing and challenging, but just what does it reveal and what (or who) is challenged by it?
Toggle Commented Mar 27, 2014 on Wrapping for Something Vile at davidthompson
Minnow, I'm no psychologist and only vaguely recognize the name Kahneman, but I feel fairly certain – based on the examples of the alcoholic friend and the sister-in-law in an abusive relationship you give – that you have misunderstood what false consciousness actually means. False consciousness, to many Marxist-inspired devotees is an explanation as to why other people, specifically Working Class people, have consistently failed to behave in the way that their Theory dictates that they should have done – i.e. False consciousness is the popular Marxist answer to the question of why the proletariat would apparently rather watch TV, play games with their children or sit in a pub garden with friends instead of rising up and seizing control of the means of production in a revolution of bloody revenge and scorching fire. Rather than revise the hypothesis in light of the results to date – which really as so-called 'scientific' materialists one might expect them to do – the Marxoids have introduced a new hypothesis to explain the inability of the working classes to rise up as expected. Ruling out the possibility that Marx might be wrong, they have concluded that it can only be because the working class's vision of reality has been corrupted by the scheming of the ruling classes and their willing stooges. The latter are presumed to have implanted a false vision of reality into the pliant minds of the proletariat in such a way that the proletariat not only do not recognize their own oppression but willingly participate in it – because this implanted vision ('false consciousness') makes them think that, on the whole, life's OK, there's no point worrying about certain things, Dr Who is exciting and beer tastes nice. Oh and that society is mostly free and fair. So 'consciousness' can only be 'false consciousness' if it has been created by the ruling class to serve their own purposes and then implanted into the minds of the proles. (How on earth more David Icke hasn't replaced Marx as a spiritual leader is beyond me given that kind of X-Files conspiracy theory bulls**t, but anyway …) Your examples, on the other hand, are not of false consciousness but of self-deception. And even then, I'm not even completely convinced. The friend who has insisted that, no, really, the booze helps him work, or drive, or cop does in fact very much know, to a greater or lesser degree, that he is lying to himself as much as to you. He is rationalizing events after the fact. Ditto the sister-in-law. The important point is that both of them choose to believe in something other than what they know to be the case and go on to portray themselves to others as if their deception was reality. It's often a mixture of politeness, meekness and a knowledge that you cannot easily change their behavior (if at all) that most people appear to accept the bulls**t at face value. Theodore Dalrymple/Anthony Daniels has a great example of complicity in one's own self-deception when he describes a conversation he had with a 21 year-old mother of three children who was one of his patients: A single case can be illuminating, especially when it is statistically banal […] My patient […] had knowingly borne children of men of whom no good could be expected. She knew perfectly well the consequences and the meaning of what she was doing, as her reaction to something that I said to her – and say to hundreds of women patients in a similar situation – proved: next time you are thinking of going out with a man, bring him to me for my inspection, and I'll tell you if you can go out with him. This never fails to make the most wretched, the most 'depressed' of women smile broadly or laugh heartily. They know exactly what I mean, and I need not spell it out further. They know that I mean that most of the men they have chosen have evil written all over them, sometimes quite literally in the form of tattoos, saying 'FUCK OFF' or 'MAD DOG'. And they understand that if I can spot the evil instantly, because they know what I would look for, so can they – and therefore they are in large part responsible for their own downfall at the hands of evil men. [From Our Culture: What's Left of It]
Toggle Commented Mar 27, 2014 on Wrapping for Something Vile at davidthompson
This would make a great photo for a placemat.
Toggle Commented Mar 27, 2014 on Snouts at davidthompson
Marxists, on the other hand, are generally preoccupied with how other people should live, and be forced to live. This, from last night's Moral Maze discussion on the BBC, seems appropriate: Melanie Philips: … what interests me is the tremendous snobbery, uh, er, towards the lower middle class, which no one ever talks about. And the lower middle class is looked down on – not because of wealth or, uh, lack of wealth, but because of social attitudes. It's deemed to be sort of narrow, and backward looking and so on. It's the 'Dursleys' of er, of er Harry Potter. Matthew Taylor: This is exactly what Marx argued. The problem with [the] lower middle class is they want to cling onto the coat tails of the middle middle class rather than associate themselves – as they should – with the interests of the working class.
Toggle Commented Mar 27, 2014 on Wrapping for Something Vile at davidthompson
The ideas contained in “Rethinking Mathematics” are based on the principles popularized by Paulo Freire … I hate that guy. Still, to make up for it, this guy on the other hand is quite amusing or at least he is if you can manage to struggle on through to the maths lesson which starts about 01:19. I'm still unclear - and not for the first time with regard to this kind of thing - whether or not this is a spoof or the real thing.
Toggle Commented Mar 24, 2014 on Elsewhere (116) at davidthompson
Some nice transphobia there … n, This isn't Twitter. Assuming you are capable of doing so, you can use more than 140 characters (and you could even include some verbs). You would of course actually need to have some kind of idea to express, some form of argument to put forward, first.
Toggle Commented Mar 21, 2014 on Their Mighty Brains Will Save Us at davidthompson
… and of course the Laptop Amish. I think maybe the value of beets may have taken a tumble - someone should tell the Schrute boys.
Toggle Commented Mar 21, 2014 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson
'Marie' makes it clear that she sees herself as a missionary, so if she were in fact to repudiate her own deeply held values then this would be yet another humiliating injury inflicted on her by these two vicious, evil little c***s. Understandably, she's reluctant to do so, however hollow her claims now sound as a result. For if 'Marie' were to revise her view of the world, then the scum would not only have succeeded in destroying her face physically – 15 stitches is a lot and likely to leave their mark on her for life* – but they will also have succeeded in violating her inner sense of morality, in stripping her ethical understanding of all meaning. While in a wider sense I agree that 'Marie' is ultimately mistaken, I think her position is at least understandable – the mind can only cope with so much reality and seeing as she clearly started out as a strong idealist she has probably had much further to fall and much more to cope with as a result of her experience than most others might. As Dalrymple notes sentimentalists who confuse law with therapy, believ[e] that firmness and cruelty are the same. A year is an absolutely risible sentence for what happened. The attack on her face is worth at the very least three years in my opinion, but the fact that it was premeditated? the fact that this sociopath was guided into the school by another's mobile phone? That is an act of terror, pure and simple, and for that the f*****g scumbag deserves another five to ten years - f**k him if he's 16 - that's his f*****g problem. *As a petite, waif-like blonde, if the scarring remains visible on her face then her encounters with scum like that have likely only just begun: every wife-beating motherf****r on the Paris Metro will start doing a double-take on her, seeing her scarring as evidence that she can be dominated and abused; the scarring - if visible - will be like 'victimhood' written on a neon sign. I take absolutely no pleasure whatsovever in saying that, and I hope very much I'm wrong. I rather fear, though, that I'm likely to be right.
Toggle Commented Mar 19, 2014 on Elsewhere (115) at davidthompson
Parody or in earnest? Parody, or so it seems. Actually, given the general difficulty involved in distinguishing the genuine articles from their satirical imitators I wonder if it wouldn't just be easier to start calling these parodies 'counterfeits' or 'forgeries'?
Toggle Commented Mar 18, 2014 on Elsewhere (115) at davidthompson
[ cough ] Isabella Mackie [ cough ] Ha ha ha! That story was a new one on me! But even just a few moments idle reflection using memory alone makes the British media / media-politics complex read like the dramatis personae from a Game of Media Thrones: Greater houses: House Murdoch: Rupert Murdoch, father to Prudence MacLeod, Lachlan Murdoch, James Murdoch and Elisabeth Murdoch House Dimbleby: David Dimbleby, father to Richard Dimbleby and Johnathan Dimbleby House Snow: Peter Snow, brother to John Snow and father to Dan Snow House Anderson: Steve Anderson elder brother to Jeff Anderson Lesser houses: House Coren: (the late) Alan Coren father to Victoria Coren-Mitchell and Giles Coren House Johnson: Boris Johnson and his sister Rachel Johnson; House Smith: (the late) John Smith (politician), father of Sarah Smith (journalist) House Wyatt: (the late) Woodrow Wyatt, father to Petronella Wyatt House Gogarty: Paul Gogarty, Max Gogarty House Madeley: Richard and Judy Madelely, parents of Chloe Madelely I'm not against a child following their parent into a particular business or profession on principle – in a family run restaurant or whatever, it's entirely their business (in both senses of the word). And, for example, I happen to think Sarah Smith is a dedicated and professional journalist and so in that sense she is the right person for the job she does, even though there is a distinct possibility that at some point in the past, being the daughter of the one-time leader of the Labour Party may have tipped the balance in her favour at some early job interview when she was first starting out in her career. But when jobs in the British media are so highly sought-after by so many young people it does seem to stretch credibility that the lucky few to get through the recruitment process always turn out to be so overwhelmingly related to one another.
Toggle Commented Mar 16, 2014 on Their Mighty Brains Will Save Us at davidthompson
In CiF did anyone else see the response from a Guardian staffer as to why there were 9 women but only 1 man in the line up? The Gen Y takeover editors are trainees here at the Guardian who edged out over 900 other applicants who applied to join our Digital journalism scheme last fall [sic]. We vetted an equal number of men through three stages of recruitment but there you go. There's no pretence that they are trying to do anything other than report on and debate their world, starting from their perspectives. That's why we're sharing their profiles from the off. To which 'Icarusty' points out what ought to have obvious to the staffer but apparently wasn't, by asking: if it's best person for the job at Guardian, i.e. no quotas, then why the widespread approval from the Guardian staff for quotas in the boardroom? On a related point, given how much opprobrium is generally heaped on the current British government because most of them went to the same elite private school, but also given how rife nepotism is in the British media, I wonder just how long it will be before it's discovered that one (or more) of the trainees on the list turns out to be Polly Toynbee's niece or Alan Rusbridger's daughter or whatever?
Toggle Commented Mar 16, 2014 on Their Mighty Brains Will Save Us at davidthompson
I can't work out whether some commenters get it … One of them was definitely me – I'd just put down a chapter of a book about which described how some people believe large companies undercut smaller ones to put them out of business, after which they then put up the prices to unreasonably high levels knowing that consumers will have no option but to choose their product/service. The left will claim that it's a crime that bread sits on shelves while people starve And yes, as a consequence, that was the sense in which I double-took on Ms Browne's meaning. It was a long day. Or I'm thick. You’re welcome to take your pick.
Toggle Commented Mar 14, 2014 on Pith at davidthompson
I saw the message, knew immediately what Ms Browne meant, then did a double-take and realised you can read her sentences both ways: SOCIALISM: Folk lined up waiting for bread [which may or may not still be there in the bakery at the far end of the line, if indeed there was any in the first place] CAPITALISM: Bread lined up waiting for people [then it turns 7 am and they open their doors and the people start coming in for bagels, coffee, croissants etc.]
Toggle Commented Mar 12, 2014 on Pith at davidthompson
It often puzzled me how someone who was by no means an idiot could still cling to the Marxism … even as he poked at its inherent indecency. I find this to be a really interesting question and one that applies (as Bob-B suggested) to quite a lot of people. For me personally, this includes virtually all of my close friends and, over the years, the majority of my work colleagues and certainly all of the British ones. When I first started working with colleagues from the US I genuinely thought one of them was joking when I heard her say that she'd voted for George Bush in the 2000 election. I was even more surprised when it turned out that she was completely serious – they do say travel broadens the mind and that's certainly been true in my life. Even though from high school on I've always been suspicious and/or dismissive of the kind of posturing that goes on with Occupy-style activists / neo-Hippies / aging Soixante-Retards etc. that doesn't mean that I've never had sympathy with the attractions of the Left and some form of Statism, and even now certain aspects of them still appeal to me. I can't speak for Norman Geras and I'm sure that the nostalgia of an elderly gentleman must have played a role in his case as you have suggested, but I would also say that many more moderate, reasonable (and dare I say it) intelligent people on the Left are attracted to Statism because they perceive it to be a logical extension of the Rule of Law. I would hazard a guess that the reasoning goes something like this: the Rule of Law is essential for the protection of individual liberties and for the safeguarding of property rights; as individual liberties and property rights are fundamental to a free and civilized society, the Rule of Law must therefore be fundamental to civilization; that being so, why shouldn't the Rule of Law be extended beyond civilization's essential needs until it also encompasses all the additional needs required to cover every aspect of people's lives that, if left to Fate alone, can deprive them of life or liberty? In other words, this logic says that if Law is essential to a civilized society then having more of it must result in an even more perfect form of civilisation. And by the same token, as there must be a state to enforce that Law, Statism must naturally be the best hope for achieving that most just form of society. The dream and promise of Statism is that the vicissitudes of Fate – illness, unemployment, divorce, bankruptcy, etc. – can be legislated out of existence and beyond all care and concern. (Certainly, the Book of Job would have turned out very differently if there had been a sizeable Welfare state in the Land of Uz!). Laws are also attractive because Lawmaking seems to be a quicker and more efficient way of improving society than simply hanging around and hoping things will get better eventually if left to Chance alone. And as Lawmaking requires Lawmakers, they become attractive to those who would like to some day lay claim to having defied Fate and created Justice on Earth by the sweat of their own brow. Changing the Law basically means changing reality so it is not surprisingly an appealing (if albeit narcissistic) idea. It's also unfortunate that for many on the Left (and not just on the extreme Left), a Free Market is equated with a Game of Chance and all that metaphor implies: i.e. that as in other games of chance, there must be winners and losers; that sometimes losing is a result of bad luck (e.g. an unexpected illness, an accident); that sometimes winning must be a result of graft, deliberate deception, corruption or brute force, etc., etc. From this perspective, anyone saying that they are against Statism is perceived as if they were claiming to be against the Rule of Law, which immediately puts them under suspicion. At best they are likely to be seen as a lackwit or an ingrate who doesn't appreciate just how much they have been privileged by the Rule of Law (and by implication, privileged by the fruits of Statism); or as someone who is either actively trying to circumvent the law; or at worst, as a brazen criminal. News reports of organisations using legal loopholes to pay the bare minimum in tax or even no tax at all only serve to reinforce the message that Free Market = Game of Chance (= the opposite of the Rule of Law) = a Criminal Conspiracy of Crooks and Thieves (= Capitalism) Also unfortunate is the idea that because Statism is seen as the opposite of the Free Market, services provided by a State to an individual are not really perceived as incurring a cost at the point of access which in turn gives the appearance that they do not incur any costs whatsoever (or that the individual cost is so insignificant in comparison to the vast scale a state's resources that its consequences are abstracted). Much of this probably seems astoundingly obvious but I did want to try and at least suggest why, despite considerable evidence showing that all forms of Statism lead to the opposite of what they promise to deliver, Tyranny instead of Liberty for example, various forms of it are nevertheless still hugely popular – even a long way outside Islington dinner parties or Occupy camps in Oakland, CA.
Toggle Commented Mar 10, 2014 on Twenty-Four Words at davidthompson
It is not that hard to pay people a decent wage. David, That is a good example but the transcript is littered with similar nonsense. For example, she cites low wages as one of her supporting points for the welfare system not being a cause of unemployment. Assuming that by this she means that some individuals on benefits might actually find themselves financially worse off by being in work than by being on welfare then there might be some evidence for that claim – however she doesn't seem to be aware that the claim in question is one that undermines the central assertion it is meant to be supporting: that '[i]t is not the welfare system that keeps people out of work'. Another is when she claims that private and independent schools should be forced to accept an intake of 'at least 50%, if not more' of non-fee payers. I can't work out whether or not she understands what the practical consequences of such a move would actually result in. I like to think not. Oh and of course it wouldn't be 'Scotland' but 'Red Scotland'.
Toggle Commented Mar 9, 2014 on Twenty-Four Words at davidthompson
Witness our own beloved Penny Dreadful, a woman rapidly approaching 30, who dresses like a sullen teenager and acts like one, too. During a recent live radio debate on the BBC, Ms Dreadful ended a short discussion on education with the following exchange: Chair: Did you go to, how did you go to school? Were you educated at [sic] private system or state system? Laurie: Oh, I was educated in the private system from the age of 10. So I saw this very much from the inside Chair: OK Laurie: Um, there are a lot of prefects sitting in the front row and you guys still scare me. You still terrify me. We were taken in [to the hall] by the prefects and I was: 'Oooh, God! They're gonna report me!' She's not a professional comedian of course, but even so I'm not sure the joke makes sense for a woman 'rapidly approaching 30'. What's she going to do in five years' time? Still, as I already had some of this transcribed you may also be interested – or not (!)– to ponder some other comments made by Ms Dreadful during the same debate. More of her views on state versus private education: Laurie: Well, it's interesting that we ask this question in Blundells School which I believe is one of the oldest independent schools in the country. And, um, I think that the private school question is not paid attention to enough in terms of perpetuating lack of social mobility and inequality in this country [smatter of applause] Oh, good! I hope that's a pupil clapping [laughs] at least there's some independence of thought here! […] Um, if you look at the intake of, uh, top universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, um, an enormous proportion of the people who go to those top universities still come from private schools um and er of the rest a lot come from the hundred-plus grammar schools which are still in operation. And now, um, some of the solutions that have been mooted include opening up private schools to intake from the state sector. 25% has been a, uh, mooted figure. I think we could go further than that. I think we could go at least 50%, if not more. Force private schools and independent schools to take on non-fee-paying pupils if they want to retain their charitable status. The idea, the fact that institutions which perpetuate social inequality in this country retain a charitable status is an absolute disgrace. And answering an earlier question on the UK's welfare system: Laurie: … It is not the welfare system that keeps people out of work […] the reason people are out of work right now is not because of welfare; it's because of austerity; because jobs in the public sector have been cut and because wages are being kept low [ … ] Chair: You are saying that […] what you need is higher incomes for people at the bottom end. Now, the low-pay commission […] has said that that might work in the public sector, but in the private sector, if you have increased pay at the bottom end you might find that the companies that are paying low rates are doing that because they have to, to be competitive with countries elsewhere […] people would be out of a job if you put the wages up too high. Laurie: Well, um, I don't pretend to be a global economist but personally I am less concerned about us competing with China than I am about us giving people a fair wage. It is not that hard to pay people a decent wage. It's a lot less hard [laughs] it's a lot less difficult than people seem to say to just pay people enough to have a decent standard of living … This is an extract only of course, but for any wondering where the evidence for this last assertion comes from you needn't – there wasn't any. Oh, she also promises that: If Scotland breaks away I will be moving to a Red Scotland the very next day, I already have my bags packed. Those lucky Scots.
Toggle Commented Mar 9, 2014 on Twenty-Four Words at davidthompson
At around 7am this blog received its four millionth visitor. Just sayin’. Woah - very impressive. Congratulations. Also, the giant clockwork robots were awesome.
Toggle Commented Mar 8, 2014 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson
The collective mass of Classic sentences may be about to experience an upsurge with this.
Toggle Commented Mar 6, 2014 on Peak Guardian at davidthompson
Apparently stoicism is no longer considered a virtue. Ha ha ha ha ha ha, oh my good Lord never was a truer word said.
Toggle Commented Mar 6, 2014 on Will This Be in the Exam? at davidthompson
David and esteemed others, thanks for your interesting comments on CiF No other national paper I know of has that kind of censorious zeal … it’s who they are, it’s what they do. WrongThought™ must be purged. Heh. This made me laugh, which is just as well because overall I was really taken aback at my own reaction to being censored – I was actually seething and I'm not sure that can be entirely put down to having had a stressful week at work. It is really aggravating to be find yourself censored in that way on what is essentially a message forum – I can understand and even support deleting puerile comments from Trolls (though even in that case I might think twice about hitting the delete button) – but some of the stuff CiF axes? I'm likely coming late to this particular party, but did you all already know that without even having to sign in, CiF allows any reader to click the 'report' button which allows them to choose from this list of offences: Personal abuse Off topic Legal issue Trolling Hate speech Offensive/Threatening Copyright Spam Other Even more surprising is that the 'reporter' is given the option to remain completely anonymous as supplying an email address is optional (though presumably they must be able to track down the user in other ways, otherwise what would be there to prevent a real troll hitting the report button + Offensive/Threatening on literally every single comment that appears in CiF?) I'm guessing that if I was the unpaid intern moderating this that the quickest thing to do would be to delete any comment that's been reported on the principle that it must be offensive for someone to have been offended. Neither the Telegraph, the Independent or the Daily Mail allow for an option in which someone who is not even signed in can report a comment in order to have it deleted. CiF = Censorship is Free, even if Comment isn't.
Toggle Commented Mar 6, 2014 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson
OT Actually apologies because this is wildly off topic - but for the first time ever I signed up to The Guardian this evening and left a comment there at 06:42 pm this evening and how was it received? This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs. Within 90 minutes of the original posting. In spite of all the many times I've seen others discuss the hair-trigger sensitivity of the Grauniad's moderators on this site, I am nevertheless absolutely astonished that this has happened. I can absolutely assure you there was not one, single thing in the message that I wrote that could even remotely have been construed as having breached any one of the 10 so-called 'Community standards and participation guidelines'. I'm speechless. Heh, literally.
Toggle Commented Feb 28, 2014 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson
I’d say Ms Korn is highly suggestible and her ability to disregard reality is certainly remarkable. she has been thoroughly processed Heh. I once went to an open seminar by a graduate student whose the topic was (ostensibly) the cult of female Saints in early Medieval Spain. At least, that was how it had been described in the notice. What actually happened (you probably won’t be surprised to learn) is that after an indecently brief description of the name of some Spanish saint or other, the young woman student (who I guess must have been in her early 20s) immediately turned to her real subject: the male gaze … I don't really recall much of what she said after hearing that, but as you can well imagine what ensued was something like Lacan (tick) blah blah scopophilia (tick) blah blah Foucault (tick) blah blah panopticon (tick) blah blah etc. What I do recall however, and quite vividly, was the person sat just in front of me. She was a very thin and angular woman, even her glasses had sharp corners, and she was impeccably dressed in black and green. It became immediately obvious that this was the graduate student's supervisor/mentor and there was a kind of severe pride in the steady and nearly expressionless way she stared at her protégé throughout. Rather than what I had expected to see and hear, what I actually ended up being a witness to was something like a child at her 3rd grade piano recital who was terrified of incurring the disapproval of the 'tiger' mother who'd been tutoring her. It was actually quite disheartening to see a student's speech so clearly being strait-jacketed into such narrow dogma. And this did not take place in an iffy polytechnic, but in a seminar room of an almost 700 year-old college in one of the world's top five universities. And it wasn't in the 1970s but some time in 2007 or 2008.
Toggle Commented Feb 23, 2014 on Elsewhere (112) at davidthompson
Exactly the same horseshit we hear from the likes of Korn, of course, but it's been there from the beginning. Yes, there's something deeply ironic about the fact that at the same time as being fixated on a future utopia, many socialist-inspired activists are also arch-conservatives who are wedded to outmoded forms of protest some of which seem to be as quaint as children dancing round a maypole at an English country village fair (and only marginally less effective as an instrument of politics). More often than not, the marches, demonstrations and picketing I've seen look like more like inchoate attempts to create a historical reenactment display – a kind of 19th century industrial factory worker version of the Sealed Knot, but with much less interesting costumes and no apparent awareness that it's all been done before.
Toggle Commented Feb 23, 2014 on Elsewhere (112) at davidthompson
The end product of Ms Korn’s worldview would be an academic environment - and by extension, a culture - in which the statusful term “intellectual” would no longer refer to someone who (ideally) reflects analytically and tests assumptions about this or that; but rather, someone who simply mouths the expected attitudes. Korn wants to replace a centuries-old tradition of inquiry with a secular version of an Imam; a 'community leader' whose achievements are to have imbibed the canonical texts until they can recite them whenever occasion demands to rule on 'correct' behaviour. I suppose that is one consequence of continually being told that progress is a myth (and probably a tool of oppression, though the criteria for the latter is pretty wide). I'm particularly annoyed by the decades-old cliché Korn uses which is: no one ever has “full freedom” in research and publication … No academic question is ever “free” from political realities. There is some truth in this, but the truth that it contains is no more spectacular than saying "Things cost money.", "Water quenches thirst." or "Books are printed on paper." And I have long despised the extension of the logic behind that cliche (which I was confronted with during my own experience of higher education) that goes something like: - Every position is political (including claiming not to have a position). - Therefore not choosing a position means surrendering your mind to the positions others have imposed upon you ('others' always meaning the Institutionally Racist Capitalist Patriarchal Military-Industrial Complex of course). - Therefore the only way to prove that you have freed your mind from the opinions you didn't even know you inherited along with your mother's milk is to choose a Leftist position (because any other choice is mere acquiescence to the desires of the Consumer-Capitlaist Controllers of the World). This is of course not only utter bollocks but quite alarming in its resemblance to the recruitment and programming techniques used by cults.
Toggle Commented Feb 22, 2014 on Elsewhere (112) at davidthompson