If The NY Times Doesn't Publish My OpEd On Why James Bennet Is An Incompetent Dweeb, It Must Hate Free Speech

from the this-is-not-how-any-of-this-works dept

Buckle up, because this one is going to be quite the long road trip, and I hope you won’t rush to the comments without joining me on the entire journey first. But if you want a sense of where we’re heading, here’s the route map: the New York Times published an insane warmongering Senator’s push to turn our own soldiers on protesting Americans, people (including many Times journalists) complained, the Times tried to defend the decision, and then admitted “mistakes were made,” and a bunch of very silly people who pretend to be “serious thinkers” whined nonsensically about free speech and the “unwillingness to listen to opposing ideas,” all while refusing to listen to opposing ideas. And all of it’s nonsense: because editorial discretion is not a free speech issue and calling out a terrible paean to fascism is not an unwillingness to listen to “opposing ideas.”

Off we go.

If you’ve been paying attention to the world of media in the past few days, you’ve probably already seen some of the loud and raucous debate. On Wednesday, the Times made the incredibly bad decision to publish the truly awful op-ed from Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, suggesting that President Trump should send the US military to invade US cities, because, while the vast majority of protests around the nation have been peaceful (other than all those disrupted by police violence), there have been a few cases of some people breaking windows, setting fires, and stealing goods. There seems to be little evidence that this is as widespread a problem as the President and his supporters make it out to be, but in an effort to control the narrative, they’re claiming that there’s widespread violence and attacks overshadowing protests.

Cotton’s op-ed is bad. Just to take one bit of it, this paragraph is utter hogwash:

One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers. But local law enforcement in some cities desperately needs backup, while delusional politicians in other cities refuse to do what?s necessary to uphold the rule of law.

This is a “the beatings will continue until morale improves” approach. It doesn’t work. It’s never worked. It will only make things much, much worse, and put many more lives in danger. It is based on a combination of false statements (regarding the extent of “riots”), a misunderstanding of why people are expressing their anger in this way, and huge confusion about how people are likely to react to even scarier militarized soldiers and weaponry arriving on city streets. The people are protesting the very concept that they are an enemy, and sending in our own military is not only scary and authoritarian, it simply reinforces the message that they are protesting against.

An overwhelming show of force is the problem. Doubling down on that doubles the problem.

Leaving that aside for the moment, what’s been much more fascinating is the response to the publication. Many people pointed out that it was simply ridiculous for the New York Times to run this op-ed. After many people on Twitter raised questions about why the Times would publish such dreck on its opinion pages, a bunch of Times journalists themselves decided to speak up and call out their bosses for allowing the op-ed to run. Many pointed out that the op-ed itself put Times staffers in danger.

It’s worth noting that the Times is one of the newspapers that has a set of very stupid social media policies that forbid journalists and staff from making any comment “that undercuts The Times’ journalistic reputation.” That means speaking out in this manner may actually threaten their jobs as well. As the complaints grew louder, James Bennet, who runs the frequently awful opinion section of the paper, first defended the decision to publish the op-ed on Twitter with a painfully weak and predictable argument along the lines of “we want to show both sides of the debate.” He then posted a somewhat better and more thoughtful explanation in the Times itself (seriously, I’d recommend reading that over his terrible Twitter thread). He’s still wrong, but his argument is much better articulated.

Of course, later in the day after an apparently vocal discussion inside the newspaper (more on that in a moment), the Times admitted that the Cotton op-ed did not meet its editorial standards, and should have received a more thorough review. Incredibly, that piece says James Bennet claims he never read the op-ed before it was published:

James Bennet, the editor in charge of the opinion section, said in a meeting with staff members late in the day that he had not read the essay before it was published. Shortly afterward, The Times issued a statement saying the essay fell short of the newspaper?s standards.

?We?ve examined the piece and the process leading up to its publication,? Eileen Murphy, a Times spokeswoman, said in a statement. ?This review made clear that a rushed editorial process led to the publication of an Op-Ed that did not meet our standards. As a result, we?re planning to examine both short-term and long-term changes, to include expanding our fact-checking operation and reducing the number of Op-Eds we publish.?

This is insane on so many levels. I find it unbelievable (in the most literal sense) that no one within the editorial process thought to flag a piece as obviously as incendiary as this one for the top opinion editor to review. It suggests either that Bennet is really, really bad at his job, or the entire NY Times opinion section is a complete joke. Or both. There’s enough evidence to suggest both of those may be the case. Meanwhile, a new report notes that the Cotton op-ed went through three rounds of revisions, which is quite odd for an op-ed piece, and makes the NY Times look so much worse. It means they really spent time thinking about it and still felt it was worth running, and yet Bennet never even bothered to read it? How is that possible.

In the midst of all this, there were a bunch of tweets and accusations thrown around about the internal debate at the NY Times, with one of its many terrible opinion writers, Bari Weiss, writing a huge thread pushing a narrative that there was a “civil war” between the young “woke” journalists and the older traditional “liberal” journalists. The only problem with this is that almost everyone else who was actually involved in the discussion pointed out that Weiss was completely full of shit.

Click through, because that thread goes on and on and on with examples of Times journalists saying that Weiss’ statements appear to be more gaslighting than reality.

But then, of course, you had other “serious people” complaining about the complainers. You had long-time mainstream media “political analyst” Jeff Greenfield pushing a truly ridiculous strawman that complaining about one particular op-ed means you don’t think the Times should have an op-ed page at all.

If that’s the case, I’ll refer to the title of this post. The Times must publish my op-ed on why James Bennet is an incompetent dweeb, or it proves that it’s afraid to take on the difficult-to-hear opinions of the day. Prove me wrong, Jeff Greenfield. Prove me wrong.

And there was ever sanctimonious Andrew Sullivan, who called Times reporters speaking up about their own fears for their own safety “an attempted coup.”

If you’re playing along at home, apparently the rules are that if you’re a white, war-mongering Senator with opinions about turning the US military on our own citizens, everyone must listen because that’s free speech. But if you’re a black reporter who is afraid for the risks you now face, and speaks up about it, that’s an “attempted coup.”

I sense a double standard.

There was also a truly disingenuous focus on the idea that this represented “safetyism” as a way to silence opposition. This was brought up by both Weiss and Randy Barnett, claiming that by playing the “victim” you are somehow “silencing opposition.”

Of course, I have trouble seeing how they’re doing anything differently than the people they’re complaining about. Those complaining about the op-ed are stating their opinions and suggesting that it was silly of the NY Times to publish a garbage op-ed, which might lead to more death and destruction. Barnett and Weiss are now complaining that it was silly of those complaining to publish those complaints. Would it be okay if I accused both of them of resorting to “safetyism” and trying to hide from the opposing viewpoint that “promoting outright fascism is bad”? Or does this only work in one direction?

Unfortunately, this framing is picking up in certain circles, including among people I respect. The folks at Reason, who I tend to agree with much more frequently than not, ran a silly “mock the woke snowflakes” piece, arguing that this is the end result of political correctness run amok.

The woke left’s march through the institutions, from experimental liberal arts campuses to the most hallowed journalistic outlets, has been breathtaking in its speed and scope. It’s a generational war, and the GenXers for whom this stuff doesn’t come natural are learning that they have to become fluent in the new language or end up as pariahs in their own newsrooms. The country’s top editors?Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic, David Remnick at The New Yorker?discover during moments of staff revolt that their old-timey notions about broad public squares and multi-viewpoint conversations are no longer tolerable.

And, of course, Senator Cotton is loving every moment of this nonsense, and gleefully playing up the controversy and using it to attack the Times (which, who knows, may have been his goal all along, or perhaps was just a bonus):



But there’s a huge problem with this nonsense. It has nothing to do with “woke mobs,” “political correctness,” “safetyism,” or an “unwillingness to listen to opposing viewpoints.” Speaking up about your concerns is not “an attempted coup” and opposing the decision to publish a stupidly bad op-ed is not an unwillingness to have op-eds.

This is all free speech, and no one has even remotely attempted to stop anyone’s right to speak their mind. They’ve just been highlighting the difference between discretion and censorship that we’ve been talking about here lately. The New York Times is the New York Times because it has a reputation (for some, good, and for others, bad). But part of that reputation is its editorial discretion. Declining to publish a bad op-ed is not about ignoring “the opposition” or wanting to play the victim and squelch “non-woke” speech, nor is criticizing the Times for its decision to publish it.

It’s calling out bad editorial discretion. Every choice the Times Opinion section makes involves editorial discretion. Not agreeing to publish my op-ed on James Bennet being an incompetent dweeb is editorial discretion. Continuing to publish whatever utter bedbug nonsense its columnists come up with is editorial discretion. People can and should criticize bad editorial discretion, because that encourages better editorial discretion.

But it is simply ridiculous to say that complaining about a single editorial decision suggests an unwillingness to engage, or an unwillingness to hear ideas someone disagrees with. As far as I can tell, no one in this debate has suggested that Tom Cotton not be allowed to speak his militaristic, ahistorical nonsense. He can say what he wants. The question is whether or not it’s appropriate for the New York Times to publish it at all.

This whole silliness hits home deeply for me for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that just last week we launched a new project, the Techdirt Greenhouse, in which we will be hosting many opinions I disagree with strongly (oh, and for what it’s worth, unlike James Bennet, I do read every piece before it goes out). And, over the past two years, as we worked on this effort, I’ve had to explain to many people that part of the idea was to publish smart, thoughtful, nuanced commentary that will involve fundamental differences of opinion and disagreement — but without the crazy takes.

And I’ll admit that there are times in this process that I questioned myself closely: when I say “no crazy takes,” does that mean that I am silencing a certain point of view? Or is it simply a recognition that there are intellectually honest ways to disagree, and intellectually dishonest ways, and I have no desire to be a part of the latter? That, too, is part of editorial discretion.

It is entirely possible to believe in free speech, to believe in hearing all kinds of viewpoints, including those we disagree with and that make us feel uncomfortable, without saying “yes, this publication should post fundamentally terrible, intellectually dishonest support for a truly crazy idea.” That’s not running from things that make people uncomfortable. It’s having the understanding of what’s being discussed in good faith, and what’s dangerous populist nonsense, designed to stir up emotions through dishonest means, rather than a debate of ideas.

So, of course, the Times should not publish my op-ed about how James Bennet is an incompetent dweeb (even though it’s quite good). That’s well within its editorial discretion and (mostly) an editorial position I’d agree with. That does not mean that anyone is uncomfortable with my ideas, or trying to silence me. It’s just that they understand that my (mythical, theoretical) piece is an attempt at absurdist, emotional nonsense — just like Senator Cotton’s piece — and deserves no space in a serious publication.

Filed Under: , , , , , , , ,
Companies: ny times

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “If The NY Times Doesn't Publish My OpEd On Why James Bennet Is An Incompetent Dweeb, It Must Hate Free Speech”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
112 Comments

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

aerinai (profile) says:

Different political cultures respond in different ways.

Extreme Liberal Post
Conservative Response: Rawr Rawr Snowflake
Liberal Response to Conservative: RACIST, FASCIST! HOW DARE FACEBOOK POST THIS!

Extreme Conservative Post
Liberal Response: I don’t like that…
Conservative Response: CENSORSHIP! BIAS! QUIT ATTACKING ME! MOM, FACEBOOK IS BEING MEAN AGAIN!

End of the day, they are both ending up killing the messenger… so… bipartisan agreement? /s

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Different political cultures respond in different ways.

"<REDACTED> Conservative Post"

FTFY.

Last I checked a suggestion that you use the Bill of Rights in lieu of hoarding toilet paper does not rate as a "conservative" comment of any kind. I am, in fact, at somewhat of a loss as to why political moves which in most other parts of the world would be condiered the hallmark of an ultra-autocratic nominally communist dictatorship is, in the US of today, considered "conservative".

Conservative to whom, King George?

P.S. Does anyone know how to strikethrough properly here? the double-tilde doesn’t work, apparently…

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Send in the military! NOW!

The entire team of 57 cops resigned from Buffalo’s ERT in protest of the suspension of the 2 cops that shoved that 75 year old man and put him in the hospital with sever injuries. Clearly they’re all in it together. I say good riddance. I hope they all quit the force along with all the rest of the force so Buffalo can hire cops who aren’t jackbooted thugs.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Send in the military! NOW!

I did say

I hope they all quit the force

Their "protest" of that suspension indicates they’re all in agreement that brutality is perfectly ok. I’m the furthest thing from a bible thumper but here’s where "an eye for an eye" should be put into practice and every single one of them shoved to the ground hard enough to be put in the hospital in serious condition.

Then fire them and revoke any taxpayer contributions to their retirement funds.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Send in the military! NOW!

It’s amusing that these do-gooders seem to think that approaching a phalanx of police in riot gear yelling "move" and commanding that everyone clear the area is somehow not going to lead to getting shoved.

Ol’ busybody gramps should be teaching his grandkids to fish or building ships in a bottle, not rabblerousing on behalf of terroristic mobs smashing business owners with 2x4s, burning cars, and righteously looting booze because of made-up grievances.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Send in the military! NOW!

"Ol’ busybody gramps should be teaching his grandkids to fish or building ships in a bottle…"

Yeah, the nerve of those old coots Jeffersson and Franklin. Calling for the colonists to riot and bankrupt innocent british landowners and merchants by inciting the colonists to rebel…

Old black gramps today would probably be happy to do just teach his grandkids about hobbies. Instead what he needs to tell them is how hopefully not get murdered by a bad cop.

Every one in the US lives in a social contract. The contract is easy – I leave your shit alone, you leave mine alone.

US police have, as a standard, beaten, harrassed, and murdered innocent citizens – in broad daylight. And getting off without a scratch. Drink that in for a minute, then tell me why the targeted demographic should abide by the social contract the other part considers toilet paper.

50 fscking years since MLK and the only thing US black people learned is that nonviolence and following the rules doesn’t work. Nice of you to demand they knuckle down and settle in for another century of beatings until you can be god damned arsed to get around to reigning in the forces you guys tasked to enforce law.

Here’s some news for you, you entitled man-child. When your dog keeps biting people, guess who gets to pay for it?
When that police of yours beats and murders people, who should pay for it?

If your answer to either was "the owner" then you need to sit the fsck down and think about WHY black people are rioting today. It’s your own damn fault for expecting people to accept "getting murdered by cops" to be the status quo.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Quick point on the way twitter can push people more conservative. Since yesterday’s NYTOpEd debacle, J. Bennet has has gained 4k followers (probably more, given those who unfollowed him) and from the looks, many of them either "rational centrists" or M*GA dickheads…

I loathe to call the publishing of that article "fucking up" as its so much more than that- but this shift in audience highlights the danger of how easy it is to rush into the arms of the new crappy people who defend you, and just keep going further and further to the right.

@FilmCritHULK

heymanjm says:

Internal slack at NYT says it was reviewed

From the washington post article covering Sen Cotton’s NYT Op-Ed:

In an internal Slack conversation among Times staffers, Deputy Editorial Page Editor James Dao wrote that several editors saw the essay before it published — “including one on the masthead: me” — and that it was fact-checked. “I did not anticipate it would have this kind of impact on my colleagues. And for that I am sorry.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/media/2020/06/03/new-york-times-tom-cotton/

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

mike, you hit the nail on the head "And, of course, Senator Cotton is loving every moment of this nonsense, and gleefully playing up the controversy and using it to attack the Times (which, who knows, may have been his goal all along, or perhaps was just a bonus)"

he’s up for reelection and has volunteered to be in the Cabinet if Dear Leader is reelected. Cotton is a troll. he’s looking for Dear Leader’s support.

he claims to be a "combat leader" (glad i wasn’t under his command), so he’d be familiar with "pull pin, throw grenade", which is exactly what he did.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Koby (profile) says:

Reputation Crumbles

I see a different approach between modern conservatives and liberals. When conservatives see speech with which they disagree, they criticize it. When liberals see speech with which they disagree, they want the speech removed, and they want assurances that similar speech will be censored in the future.

It is entirely possible to believe in free speech, to believe in hearing all kinds of viewpoints, including those we disagree with and that make us feel uncomfortable, without saying "yes, this publication should post fundamentally terrible, intellectually dishonest support for a truly crazy idea."

If a lot of people agree with that crazy idea, then talk about it. Publish it. Criticize it. Debate it. Bring aboard its top proponent(s) and let them have their best shot. And then give the detractors time to explain how they disagree. This is what the intellectually honest and trusted publications of yesteryear used to do.

Nowadays the fake news is just going to publish only their opinion, but pretend that their way of thinking is the only option. All other viewpoints, no matter how popular or widespread must be "awful" or "crazy", perhaps even "deplorable" and unworthy of discussion. This process is precisely how once esteemed publishers lose credibility. The real reason why tears are being shed is that the NY Times allowed its reputation to crumble within public view.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Reputation Crumbles

"When conservatives see speech with which they disagree, they criticize it. When liberals see speech with which they disagree, they want the speech removed"

You’re not familiar with, say, Breitbart or Stormfront, I see.

"All other viewpoints, no matter how popular or widespread must be "awful" or "crazy", perhaps even "deplorable" and unworthy of discussion."

Not all of them, only the crazy deplorable ones, such as saying that the murder of an unarmed man for the crime of (possibly unknowingly) passing a fake $20 bill is punishable by death without due process and that the murderers should not face justice unless video evidence contradicts the word of the murderers.

"The real reason why tears are being shed is that the NY Times allowed its reputation to crumble within public view."

No, it’s because they allowed a fascist propagandist to push for the murder of American citizens for the crime of opposing the murder of an innocent man without due process. This is not hard to understand if you get the boot leather out of your mouth.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Reputation Crumbles

"One of the many phrases leftists like to bandy about where any sensible person will immediately realize the speaker is an unserious person who can safely be ignored."

…he says, and then proceeds to demolish his own argument with examples like "white privilege" which has been established to exist for about 50 years on straight. Get back to us when cops do not proportionately kill twice as many black people as white people.

"Islamophobia" which is similarly a thing unless for some odd reason panicked fearmongering of medieval proportions should be considered "normal". I could understand if the argument was about the danger of religious extremists in general, given how many christian apocalypse cults the US currently hosts, but singling out Islam specifically…that’s bigotry, in the face of the evidence.

And finally, "cisgender". This deserves special mention because the doubt of this word outright implies that no other gender identity exists. I guess the "book learnt perfessors" at the universities are all just babbling nonsense to you.

Thank you for delivering the evidence that you’re a bigoted dickbag. Not much else to be gathered by what I assume you believed to be a snarky putdown. Let me be the first to inform you that you are not in a racist echo chamber anymore where your every comment will be getting lots of likes as long as you fill it with some boilerplate bigotry.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

When conservatives see speech with which they disagree, they criticize it. When liberals see speech with which they disagree, they want the speech removed, and they want assurances that similar speech will be censored in the future.

Counterpoint: Anti-LGBT religious conservative groups such as “One Million Moms”, which have long pushed for corporations to both censor existing “pro-LGBT” speech (which can include anything as basic as a queer character even existing) and stop producing such speech in the future. If you think “censorship”-by-public-pressure is an “only liberals do it” phenomenon, you’re not looking hard enough for examples from the other side.

If a lot of people agree with that crazy idea, then talk about it. Publish it. Criticize it. Debate it. Bring aboard its top proponent(s) and let them have their best shot. And then give the detractors time to explain how they disagree. This is what the intellectually honest and trusted publications of yesteryear used to do.

Counterpoint: “conversion ‘therapy’ ”.

“Let’s allow a representative of an anti-queer religious group to have space in our newspaper to explain why physically and psychologically torturing gay and transgender people to make them ‘normal’ is a perfectly rational idea to which we should lend our credibility.” In what way should anyone in any editor for any newspaper that is even one millimeter left of center ever do that?

Some ideas don’t deserve the level of credibility that comes with reasoned debate. Support for “conversion ‘therapy’ ” is one of them. White supremacy is another. Such ideas don’t deserve “an honest debate”; they deserve a spot in the dustbin of history. Or do you really believe we should be debating the merits of White supremacy — an ideology with which, to use your words, “a lot of people agree” — in the pages of any credible newspaper or on the air during any credible news program?

Nowadays the fake news is just going to publish only their opinion, but pretend that their way of thinking is the only option.

Does this mean you’re for or against the dismantling of Fox News, Breitbart, and Infowars? ????

This process is precisely how once esteemed publishers lose credibility.

No, publishers lose credibility when they lend it to ideas that don’t deserve it — ideas like, say, “Donald Trump should send the United States military into American cities and use an overwhelming show of force to quash peaceful protests because some violence and destruction happened during such protests”.

The real reason why tears are being shed is that the NY Times allowed its reputation to crumble within public view.

Hey, look, you said something that everyone can agree on. Good for you~! ????

nerdrage (profile) says:

Re: Reputation Crumbles

I didn’t mind the article so much as that the comments section had not been turned on. Cowards. All articles, no matter how innocuous, should have comments sections just to demonstrate that the writer has the courage to take the heat. I mean it’s not like the guy even needs to read the comments! Seems like a very low bar to me.

ECA (profile) says:

Channel selection and Volume control..

Thats all it is.
The Difficulty is when those in the News DONT consider a different approach.

Let the time Think of what would happen if the COPS were at the door, and the military was being called up.
(not counting that the military can NOT be called upon to wage war in the USA against its own Citizens.)

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, this person needs to learn abit about our OWN system.
Some of the things happening in Arkansas is Just as stupid as the rest..
https://katv.com/news/local/79-arrested-after-march-on-arkansas-governors-mansion
https://katv.com/news/local/protests-in-little-rock-took-a-dark-turn-on-sunday-as-police-used-tear-gas-to-clear-crowds

Then we get the adverts, that Totally blow things to the crazy side.
https://earther.gizmodo.com/trumps-antifa-conspiracy-is-a-threat-to-the-climate-mov-1843909113
https://gizmodo.com/white-house-propaganda-video-falsely-claims-domestic-te-1843894044
https://gizmodo.com/trump-regime-plans-to-ban-passenger-flights-from-china-1843880643
https://gizmodo.com/nasa-astronaut-calls-out-propaganda-in-space-themed-t-1843920974

There is so much BS flying around..We might as well turn into a fertilizer company.. our Gov. has corners the worlds market.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Well, that's one way to feel like a chump

Post op-ed by someone advocating using the army against people who are already pissed off at excessive use of force against the public by those in authority, scramble around making laughably bad excuses and flat out lies, all the while the insane warmonger who wrote the op-ed gets to laugh his ass off and mock the paper that he just set up.

Yup, that’s certainly a paper that cares about good reporting practices and not just posting whatever someone punts their way with no care what’s actually in it like good little stooges.

Anon E Mouse says:

Side note

That part about sending the military to deal with things. I am honestly of the opinion that it’s a good option, as the military’s actually trained in rules of engagement, gun safety, and de-escalation techniques. Things many police departments seem to be lacking in. Plus, while opinion of the boys in blue are in the dumpster right now, the camo suit boys haven’t ruined their reputation recently, so people might react more positively to their presence than to the police forces.

This is all assuming the military would operate roughly similarly to how they operate with civilians in other countries. If they instead get orders to use force on american citizens, that’s a whole other ball game and will end very badly.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Side note

The editorial called for an "overwhelming show of force" to back up "outnumbered police" and the commander-in-chief of the military is Donald Trump.

People, as a rule, do not ever "react positively" to soldiers locking down the streets of their hometown.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Especially when both the cops and the military are trained to see the people on the other “side” as an occupying force that need a solid round of “peacekeeping” to “quell” their “uprising”. Applying that kind of thinking to people in a foreign land is one (horrible) thing; applying it to United States citizens within the United States is an entirely different level of bullshit.

Anon E Mouse says:

Re: Re: Side note

First part, yeah, I ain’t touching the editorial. It stinks. Just saying the military’s not inherently bad guys and they’ve got training many cops lack.

Second, if the alternative is that the cops that everyone hates right now doing the same thing, I’d say people would be less pissed at the military. They’re a third party to this civilians vs cops thing. Of course, no lockdown at all would be better than either group doing it.

Then again, my viewpoint is a bit biased. I’m from a country where the military backing up the police during emergencies is standard operating procedure, and we’ve got conscription going on, so most adult males are technically ex-military anyway. This might make it a bit difficult for me to judge what an average american civilian might think of a military intervention.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’d say people would be less pissed at the military.

You underestimate the American people. In numerous cities where cops are quelling protests, the police have become a military force unto themselves — complete with what would be war crimes in a military operation (e.g., the use of teargas and pepper spray). If the American people don’t think highly of cops using quasi-legal military-esque tactics to stifle peaceful protests, sending in the actual military to back those cops up won’t do anything but further piss off Americans.

Anon E Mouse says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

If the military’s there to back up the cops (like the editorial called for) then yeah, you’re probably right. But what if the military’s there to replace the cops, to keep the civilians and cops separate, and stick to that without doing the cop style breaking up protests thing? Could that work in the US? Or are both kinds of uniform bearers seen as different branches of the same tree?

I’m specifically thinking of Buffalo, where the entire Emergency Response Team just resigned in a show of solidarity for a murderer. Would it be feasible to use the military to keep order in the city until a new police force can be established?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I’ll just quote what I said on Twitter about this:

People who say "I don’t like the idea of troops on the streets but if it reduces police assaults, isn’t that a good thing?" are trying to trap you into accepting that you live in a fascist hellscape and the only question left is what flavour you’d prefer. Don’t play their game.

Anon E Mouse says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

It looks like we’ve got some very different opinions on what the military are and what they do. Probably my background getting in the way here, making it hard for me to understand the american viewpoint. I’ll stop posting now, since it’s become pretty obvious this is a topic which I know very little about.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

I can certainly understand how some parts of the world with entirely different political situations might have a different immediate opinion about the presence of soldiers on their streets, but please don’t act like you’re completely unfamiliar with the idea that "soldiers occupying domestic cities and policing the civilian populace is a bad thing"

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

The soldiers answer to their superiors who report to their superiors, on and on up to the president. The president is a narcissistic, power-hungry, idiot of a man-child who hates absolutely anything that doesn’t stroke his ego, such as people protesting against the government. Now, is the military really the correct choice for keeping the peace in America’s cities?

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"Or are both kinds of uniform bearers seen as different branches of the same tree? "

Today they’d both show up in bearcat military vehicles toting military hardware, wearing military helmets etc. How would you tell the difference between the cop driving the tank and the soldier driving the tank? Other than standing in front of it and see whether the driver runs you over, tiananmen-square-style?

That said although the military is better trained at de-escalation and properly trained to moving in hostile environment without setting off massacres, the US has…history…of when it allowed the military to take part in civilian suppression. Go google "Kent state massacre".

As was pointed out to me when I had the same argument, the US, especially the civil rights movement, has not forgotten.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Side note

Then there is the problem of the conflict between military personnel not having to follow illegal orders and the temerity of the Commander in Chief. Which should they do, follow orders or parse whether those orders are legal or not?

One hopes that someone between the Commander in Chief and the trooper on city streets will have something sensible to contribute, like referring orders to the various JAG’s (depending on which service) for a determination. There is tension between the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act (which now carries an interesting disclaimer at the top of that Wikipedia page).

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Side note

"I am honestly of the opinion that it’s a good option, as the military’s actually trained in rules of engagement, gun safety, and de-escalation techniques. Things many police departments seem to be lacking in."

Possibly so…except that the military might have a hard call to tell their commander-in-Chief "No" when he orders them to "Dominate the battlespace" with rockets and tank shells.

Trump wants to be a wartime president after all, and right now US civilians are all he has available to fill with lead if he wants a military victory and a triumphal parade before the election.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

"The reason I recommend Rural America is because Democrats hate Rural America. They want their foofoo theaters and their foofoo cafes and their foofoo nightclubs. Rural America is Red America… I love it out here. Calm, peaceful, serene… Not a single drop of this social justice madness has touched my community."

Signed: Baghdad Bob

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Fmr NFL Player Burgess Owens says:

Cowards and Marxists here on Techdirt

“[Brees] is a good man, and he gives back to his community,” Owens told host Tucker Carlson. “And I’ll say this: what you’re seeing here is exactly why President Trump will be reelected once again, as they were surprised last time. Americans don’t like bullies. They don’t like people who demand that we disrespect our flag and our country. I think what Drew did — he was spot on.”
Owens said he is “disappointed” the quarterback backed down after criticism from the “bullies” and “enemies to our nation.”

“I will call these people out for what they are: they’re bullies, they’re cowards and Marxists. Period,” he stated. “I’m one of those guys that will never, ever acquiesce and apologize for pride in my country, and I’ll say another thing: I will always say ‘All Lives Matter.’ I don’t care what the bullies say.”

Owens continued, “One thing for sure: we need to understand that we are under attack, and it is the evil of trying to destroy our middle class. If you understand that, you understand what this is all about.”

Owens went on to say, “[B]lack elitists are enemies to my race.”

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
nerdrage (profile) says:

turn on the comments sections for all stories

I don’t mind if NYTimes wants to publish some fascist moron’s screed but I noticed they didn’t have the balls to turn on the comments section. From now on, comments sections should be mandatory on all NYTimes stories (like they are here!) If you can’t handle what people are going to say about you, just don’t speak at all.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Ayers says:

Re: turn on the comments sections for all stories

The NY Times? Propoganda? Many levels of clandestine propaganda action can be carried out
which spread the consciousness of action and give people a way to learn.
Spray-painting, rip-offs of corporate files, blood on the murderers. We have
done these types of action ourselves, including stinkbombing a Rockefeller
appearance in N.Y.C. and doing the same to the mouthpieces of the Chile
junta when they travelled in the US alter the murder of Allende. Build a
people’s militia,

—A successful movement needs to keep part of its organization
away from the eyes of the state. This should be part of the practice of every
revolutionary. The survival and continuity of the revolutionary movement,
of the activists and the supporters over a long period of time, depends on
having networks and resources not exposed to computer patterns, electronic
surveillance and infiltration of the repressive apparatus. The continued
existence of underground organizations shows this can be done.

—Building a capacity to survive over time is no substitute for
militancy now in our daily work. An uncompromising, confrontational
approach to political work is the best way to inspire the people, build
organization, and learn to fight.

Welcome to the NYC and LA of tomorrow.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »