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  • Jul 8th, 2020 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Blech

    Right, my question here is: what is the relief "blech" poster wants? If you want to have freedom to speak without freedom of career-related consequences, that is not a thing in the U.S., and it nearly always affects liberal and progressive people who are fired by conservative or right-wing employers or publications, or adjunct professors let go or not renewed by universities, which are typically very conservative (not politically, but organizationally) in nature.

    So if the statement is: you shouldn't lose your job if you say something that is antithetical to you continuing it in the eyes of your employer (or, your book shouldn't be canceled because your publisher disliked something you said in private or public), what is the policy proposal?

    New law that prevents any firing for anything outside of work that meets a first amendment test, thus extending the first amendment's freedom of speech protections to override commercial judgments? Sort of like a tenured professor at a state college cannot typically be fired for even extreme, but legal/constitutionally defensible speech?

    Or is it just more speech: telling employers to NOT fire someone or re-hire them? In which case, isn't more speech the answer here?

  • Jul 8th, 2020 @ 10:51am

    Harper’s fired its editor over speech among other issues

    I agree almost entirely with what you wrote, Mike, and I've tweeted far too excessively about it.

    But two points worth adding.

    First, many of the people who have signed this letter (a letter to whom, by the way?) have engaged in actual chilling speech, punching down people less powerful, including trying to get freelancers fired from gigs, staff writers removed, and professors censured or fired or contracts not renewed. I am hoping someone creates a definitive list, because it's rather long, and particularly among people who are centrist or right-of-center against liberal and progressive speakers, as well as in particular against anyone who speaks in favor of Palestinians or an independent Palestinian state.

    Second, Harper’s fired James Marcus in 2018 for what he alleges (and, having known James years ago and heard stuff around the edges of this, I believe) is being fired when he objected to the assignment of a story effectively trying to cancel “cancel culture” to Katie Roiphe, which ultimately ran in the publication. It was assigned over his protests and then he was fired. There's a lot more detail about the story, the author (long a contrarian/problematic one of the David Brooks/Bari Weiss school), and the fallout.

    One other point on amplification. Mike notes:

    Then comes the list of examples -- none linked, none with details.

    This is one of the key problems with the essay. Read quickly, it's rather bland, not well written, and has an unclear audience. Who should take action? It's a pretty anodyne poor expression of urging more free speech, but not really, as Mike analyzed. At least two signers have already said they regret signing or that they didn't sign what was published (Boylan this morning).

    However, if you analyze the short list provided, each corresponds to specific well-known incidents, or sometimes covers multiple ones. Buruma and Bennet, for instance, are both editors who were fired—because of their job performance, even though Buruma made it out to be a political hit job. (He ran a cover story that was a non-fact-checked essay by Jian Ghomeshi, who faced several credible accusations of sexual assault over decades, some of which were not upheld in court.) But the owners of the publication, the New York Review of Books, reportedly fired him because of how he managed assigning and running the story over staff objections, and he admitted to Isaac Chotiner later that he really didn't know much about Ghomeshi at all, confirming the judgment. Bennet was fired because he didn't do his job: he reportedly told the NYT publisher he hadn't read (at least the final version) of the Tom Cotton Op-Ed, even as he publicly defended it as if he had.

    The inclusion of transphobic writers who have faced public backlash, with the notable top of marquee billionaire JK Rowling, also muddies what precisely is the speech that they want no consequences for.

    I'd argue if the letter included specific examples, a majority of signers wouldn't have signed it. Malcolm Gladwell very glibly tweeted today that he signed because he disagreed with the opinions of many other signatories. Great reasoning, dude.

  • Nov 15th, 2019 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re:

    I got better.

  • May 17th, 2019 @ 2:02pm

    Re: I was saving something for a moment like this.

    Stephen, that first paragraph is a very fair accounting. I don't know what happened later in his life, but it's a shame that his pursuit of credit for something he didn't invent outstripped that early accomplishment and later work that he could have built out of it. Now, I wrote a hypertext browser from scratch for a screen-based terminal in 1988, and it worked, but you don't hear me claiming I invented the Web. (I didn't think anybody would be interested in such a thing, so I deleted the code at the end of my C programming class! Ahhh!)

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