Yascha Mounk and Emily Yoffe sit down to discuss the hallmarks of cancelation, why intent matters, and how we can recover our capacity to converse freely.
The fact is the very beginning of the piece is answered by the very end of the piece: Democracy requires free reasonable speech, but the flaw of democracy is when reason is outlawed democracy easily descends into the tyranny of the majority. Trumpism retains power because of the extraordinary foolishness of the left. Trump, well aware of the disdain the majority of Americans have for the burgeoning new ivy league gentry class, successfully attacked Title IX in May of 2020. Now men have a voice to defend themselves again, and money pours into Trumpist political coffers. BUT, as if shooting themselves in one foot is not enough the left censors Dr. Seuss, and fires Donald McNeil. The left seems to have become a sort of centipede of self-shot feet. I worry about this because, though I never imagined Trump could win his first election, I now do worry Trumpism will win the next one, or worse, much worse, a disciplined anti-democracy Trumpist autocrat will win. For Plato Democracy is the worst form of government because its excesses lead inevitably to despotism. Only education of the voting masses can stop that inexorable descent. The left, in it's rush to outlaw bad words is simultaneously outlawing reasonable discourse, clearing a golden path for America's first true despot.
I found Persuasion by following Emily Yoffe - I was also reading her utterly reasonable advise at Slate and then appreciated her pushing back on absolutist approach to dealing with sexual assaults on campus. I have a son and a daughter - and I'm worried for them both. I worry about my daughter, because bad things do happen, even if it's not as common as presumed. I know my son will never assault anyone, but I worry it may not be enough to avoid false accusations.
I enjoyed this conversation. One thing did strike me as contradictory - "We have this new medium (social media) and that should imply some new etiquette will arise to handle it, but where is the new etiquette?" vs. "Oh no, look at this new oppressive etiquette, I hate it." That is to say, I think all of the wokeness enforcement maybe IS the new etiquette brought about by social media (like it or not).
I used to be pro-woke and now I'm more on the other side, but both sides of the argument rattle around in my head. And, sadly I guess, I'm not willing to take any of it on. When I have opinions that my more woke friends will disapprove of (or consider to be violent, or to indicate that I want certain types of people to die, or whatever), I just don't express them anymore. I've never been a "silent majority" type, at all, but I guess that's where I'm at now.
Another great conversation. I continue to be impressed by the quality of our board members. I found the last third most interesting as that’s where they discuss “Intent Matters.” In this part, Yoffe presents an analysis of how Title IX is implemented on campus in sexual assault cases which I found quite surprising and very insightful (at 51:00).
In the NYT today we read Biden plans to roll back Title IX reforms made in 2020; so men can no longer defend themselves. This will just about guarantee Republican victories in upcoming elections. When the voices of the accused are cancelled you effectively throw out the Bill of Rights.
The problem isn't that there's more attention to trauma; that's a good thing. What does create perverse incentives is the idea that if you keep the wound open you get to proclaim yourself a moral authority who everyone has to defer to, and if you healed you'd have to give up that power.
Note also that a politics based on feeling victimized is neither something new (Confederate Lost Cause nostalgia) nor something where the "woke" are the worst offenders (the authoritarian populists that Yascha focuses on).
I dont understand why there isnt alternatives to this springing up as well. I get how it can overtake a University, but why ALL? Why isnt there a Enlightenment U, that says, fuck censorship. If you are triggered easily, dont come here. If you cant discuss Dred Scott, this isn't your University. The same with corporations. The wokeness is understandable to a certain degree, the absence of alternatives is what I find most shocking.