Feb 23 2017

Natural News Delisted from Google

natural-news-pseudoscienceIt appears that Google has removed all Natural News content from their indexing. This means that Natural News pages will not appear in organic Google searches.

This is big news for skeptics, but it is also complicated and sure to spark vigorous discussion.

For those who may not know, Mike Adams, who runs Natural News, is a crank conspiracy theorist supreme. He hawks snake oil on his site that he markets partly by spreading the worst medical misinformation on the net. He also routinely personally attacks his critics. He has launched a smear-campaign against my colleague, David Gorski, for example.

A few years ago Adams put up a post in which he listed people who support the science of GMOs to the public, comparing them to Nazis and arguing that it would be ethical (even a moral obligation) to kill them. So he essentially made a kill-list for his conspiracy-addled followers. Mine was one of the names on that list, as were other journalists and science-communicators.

In short Adams is a dangerous loon spreading misinformation and harmful conspiracy theories in order to sell snake oil, and will smear and threaten those who call him out. He is an active menace to the health of the public.

Adams is a good example of the dark underbelly of social media. It makes it possible to build a massive empire out of click-bait and sensationalism.

Despite this, there are two ways you can look at Google’s actions. The first is that Google is a private company selling a product. That product is information – curated search results to help users find information on the vast web. Google is free to use whatever methods they deem optimal to provide the best product to their customers.

There are many criteria that Google can choose to use to determine which results will best serve the needs and desires of their customers. Popularity is not the only criterion. Google became the search-engine giant because they figured out ways to provide not just the popular sites, but the best sites, with quality information matching what the user was looking for.

It is also important to note that there is an entire industry of search engine optimization (SEO) which seeks to game Google’s algorithms, to get websites higher in search results. (Much of SEO is standard and works with search companies, but there is a dark side that goes beyond this to game the system.) SEO is essentially about decreasing the value of Google’s product by forcing a relatively lower quality site higher into the search results by exploiting what is known about Google’s engine.

Google has every right to take whatever steps they deem necessary to preserve the value of their product by frustrating SEO attempts, and by choosing the characteristics of websites that will be favored in their searches. Again, their is nothing special about popularity that says it should be the sole or dominant criterion. Sometimes that may mean manually making decisions and altering search results.

Natural News is an objectively low quality site from the perspective of the academic and scientific quality of the information it provides. If someone is searching for medical information, Google may determine that they will best serve their customers by providing legitimate medical information from trusted sources, rather than popular misinformation. They can also value academic sources over commercial sources.

Google has yet to explain its decision, and even if it was a deliberate decision (it probably was). There are many technical reasons why they would have delisted Natural News. Perhaps the site was aggressively using questionable SEO and the most effective countermeasure was to simply delist the entire domain. They may simply have felt that it was the most effective way to improve the quality of Google searches for medical information.

The other perspective views Google more like a utility. While they are not a government site (and therefore no first amendment issues), Google is by far the most popular portal to the web, which is now an invaluable general resource. Private utility companies are regulated by the government (or in some countries even nationalized) because they provide an essential service to the public. If Google is viewed as an essential utility, you can argue that they should not discriminate in this way.

There is also the slippery slope argument. If Google uses their own assessment of quality to delist entire domains from their organic searches, ideological bias can slip into their quality assessments. Some would rather deal with low quality sites coming up in their searches rather than have Google scrub the searches for them, and therefore be subject to the ideological biases of a private company not subject to any oversight.

While I might agree with their decision regarding Natural News, I might not agree with decisions they make in the future. The company itself might be subject to a take-over by someone with an ideological agenda.

Of course this is no different than any media company.

Where do I come down on this issue? I am a bit conflicted. I can see the arguments on both sides. I do not see any absolute rights here, and take a mostly risk vs benefit approach.

In general I favor legitimate attempts at quality control for information, and am not persuaded by arguments of censorship when the real goal is quality. But I also recognize then when you are dealing with a company and service as large as Google, you have to be especially careful that quality control does not slip into ideological bias. We have to then ask – what are the checks and balances?

Transparency is one check that can be extremely effective. Google, however, as a private company in a competitive market tends to be rather opaque regarding its algorithms. Its algorithms are a legitimate corporate secret, carefully guarded.

Still, with big decisions like this, a frank explanation would be nice. It is also possible that the courts may get involved, which tends to create transparency through discovery. That is not an ideal solution, because it favors those with money.

Google does appear to be experimenting with various methods to maintain the quality of its product in the current world of fake news, misinformation, and false equivalency. I applaud them for recognizing the problem and being willing to take dramatic steps to improve them. I don’t think we have arrived at the optimal solution, but we can get there if we are willing to experiment, and be open and transparent about the results.

Update: Official word from Google:

  • “We don’t comment on individual sites, but if we find that a site violates one or more of our Webmaster Guidelines we may take manual action against it. For webmasters who have questions about their own sites, our Webmaster team provides support through platforms such as the Webmaster Forums. Once a site has remedied the problem, the webmaster can submit the site for reconsideration.”

It seems that Natural News violated a webmaster guideline and manual action was taken against it.

126 responses so far

126 Responses to “Natural News Delisted from Google”

  1. bendon 23 Feb 2017 at 9:14 am

    I just googled “natural news” and got the home page. Does this mean that it has been reindexed?

  2. MaryMon 23 Feb 2017 at 9:21 am

    We were chatting about this on the twitterz last night. I’m glad he’s gone–he’s a real harm to public health with Zika nonsense and plenty of others over the years. If your house was spewing raw sewage to your street, the city has the right to come and make you stop that. I don’t see this as any different from a public health perspective.

    But I was amused that his noise still got out without Google. Everybody knew about it in short order. And in the skeptic community it’s seems we’re conflicted. But I don’t remember everybody’s dismay when reddit banned r/altright recently.

    We were also talking about that ban some years ago on pro-anorexia sites. That’s been long enough now, there must be some studies of that outcome?

    I’ve been saying that the scicomm we do is all well and good. But that I think we need to do more to target the main nonsense peddlers and discredit them. But many of the professional scicomm folks just want us to share our values and sing kumbayah to the readers. I wanted to see more efforts aimed and reducing the sewage flow. This is better than I even imagined–I hope it’s real. And it’s an experiment worth doing.

  3. mumadaddon 23 Feb 2017 at 9:36 am

    bend — are you sure you’re looking at the correct site, and not natural.news? That’s the top result from here in the UK.

  4. DGAon 23 Feb 2017 at 9:50 am

    I imagine that, in the long run, Google could develop a procedure that objectively rates the overall truthfulness and quality of the information provided on a page and incorporates that into their quality rankings, so that the human factor of rating a site like Natural News is removed. Perhaps there is some element of an algorithmic procedure at work here; I don’t know and haven’t seen any indication of how Google came to this action. Perhaps in the coming days some other highly dubious sites will begin to leave Google’s search rankings: Breitbart, Infowars, Rebel Media here in Canada, come to mind.

  5. bendon 23 Feb 2017 at 9:55 am

    Right. Thanks. Natural.news.

  6. SmilesbyPayeton 23 Feb 2017 at 10:28 am

    Steve, I appreciate the overall article, but I do have to point out one GLARING error, which is this:

    “SEO is essentially about decreasing the value of Google’s product by forcing a relatively lower quality site higher into the search results by exploiting what is known about Google’s engine.”

    This is pretty much totally incorrect, UNLESS you want to specify and say that “black hat SEO is essentially….”

    SEO, or search engine optimization, is a set of actions and guidelines that I guarantee you also follow on this website, and well you should, because Google itself provides a large set of those guidelines to help webmasters large and small get their websites correct. While Google keeps their algorithms highly secret to minimize the risk of their system being gamed, experts have also figured out a lot of the factors in the algorithms through extensive testing, so even more actions can be taken to optimize a website for search.

    Sorry, I know that’s not the point of the article, but I do believe you should correct that statement to specifically state something like: “SEO is the normal process that webmasters use to optimize websites for Google Search; people who attempt to game the system with underhanded techniques are called “black hat SEOs” and Google regularly makes updates to minimize their effects.”

  7. pdeboeron 23 Feb 2017 at 10:51 am

    I can confirm naturalnews is delisted in Canada as well.

  8. Steven Novellaon 23 Feb 2017 at 11:27 am

    Smiles – thanks for the input. I don’t think, however, that there is such a clean separation of SEO and “black hat SEO.” I agree that there are normal SEO operations that most websites use to ensure they are competing on equal ground for search engines (like using proper tags and categories). However, everyone who does SEO also tries to game the system to increase their rankings in web searches.

    I run multiple websites and I am contacted at least weekly by offers to do just that. I have also spoken to people at Google who see themselves essentially in competition with SEO – their job is to frustrate any attempt to affect search results by SEO. They want to promote the best sites, while you want to promote your site. They are often at cross-purposes.

    That is why I said “essentially” instead of “entirely,” because there are very basic SEO tasks that are taken for granted. But the essence of SEO is to game the system.

  9. DanDanNoodleson 23 Feb 2017 at 11:43 am

    I don’t think, however, that there is such a clean separation of SEO and “black hat SEO.”

    In particular, Mike Adams is guilty of the latter; in fact, I would say that this is Adams’ only genuine area of expertise (he started out designing webpages). Adams owns many, many domains and cross-links between them relentlessly to drive up their appearance of prominence.

  10. Rogue Medicon 23 Feb 2017 at 12:19 pm

    This is one of the problems with a lack of critical judgment among the public.

    We have people like Mike Adams, Michael Egnor, and Bernie Madoff, who promote the idea that their name adds credibility to their lies.

    A motto of Madoff was, The owner’s name is on the door. This is supposed to suggest that the owner has some integrity, but these three are only appealing to logical fallacies.

    Egnor, and others, criticize me for using a pseudonym, as if that somehow makes the information I provide unreliable, even though I provide links to the material I cite.

    Unfortunately, many people for for the scams of people who use their reputation as a suggestion that they are honest (all three have demonstrated that they are dishonest) and that they know more than everyone else (all three have demonstrated that they don’t understand what they sell).

    Perhaps Google needs some sort of peer review search. PubMed does this better than Google Scholar.

    .

  11. David Twitchon 23 Feb 2017 at 12:33 pm

    I’ll be even more impressed when they delist Mercola and Dr. Axe, both of which in some ways are even more dangerous because they are carry the aura of authority since they involve actual medical doctors…as they convince people to reject real cancer cures and embrace quack ones. Both are cess pools of misinformation that people searching for help are likely to find at the top of the search results.

  12. BBBlueon 23 Feb 2017 at 12:36 pm

    MaryM

    But I don’t remember everybody’s dismay when reddit banned r/altright recently.

    The left tends to be the least self-critical when denying an opponent the opportunity to express their opinion. Breaking windows and burning stuff to silence someone you disagree with is okay, but don’t mess with someone they consider an ally.

  13. Rogue Medicon 23 Feb 2017 at 1:30 pm

    BBBlue,

    All ideologies have people who are in favor of censorship.

    What is wrong with wanting valid information to be given equal footing?

    If Mike Adams, or Michael Egnor, or Bernie Madoff has anything to support their claims, they should be able to publish that.

    How much harm should they be allowed to cause by manipulation of SEO?

    Why are you defending dishonesty?

    .

  14. Craig Payneon 23 Feb 2017 at 2:27 pm

    I have it on good authority that Natural News was penalized by Google for a “sneaky mobile redirect” that broke their terms and conditions. This happens to a lot of sites. All Mike Adams has to do is fix it and file a reconsideration request to Google and it is all fixed. I will come back and post a link to a story on this when its posted.

    It will be interesting to see if he does that, as it will not play into his conspiracy narrative.

  15. BBBlueon 23 Feb 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Rogue Medic- Pointing out hypocrisy is not the same thing as defending dishonesty. My comment was within the context of MaryM’s observation about reddit. Based on my observations as an avid redditor, the majority of commenters there are left of center, and it was no surprise that the demise of r/altright was met with barely a whimper.

    Among recent events, nothing has been more ironic to me than the demonstration against and silencing of Milo Yiannopoulos at Berkeley, home of the Free Speech Movement. (Remember, that was before his recent comments about young boys.) The current Left, what used to be the Far Left, has become a political faction intent on “managing” free speech, which means eliminating it.

    Not to drift too far away from the topic at hand, killing r/altright was an affront to free speech that should have been troubling to more people, including redditors on the left. In my opinion, delisting Natural News was warranted on factual grounds, and my first reaction is that I am glad they did, but there is a little tiny piece of paranoia in the back of my mind that wonders if Mike Adam’s increasing ardor as a Trump supporter was a contributing factor.

    Maybe Google will become the quintessential benevolent dictator and always make sober, wise decisions in this regard that skeptics can endorse and only crank conspiracy theorists will complain about, but should the current proclivity of the Left to silence opposition through coercion and violence creep into the equation, perhaps it would have been better to do nothing. We will see.

  16. Rogue Medicon 23 Feb 2017 at 3:04 pm

    BBBlue,

    The current right, which Goldwater told us is doomed,* has been having another of its own Yiannopoulosgates.

    I was briefly on reddit, years ago, and did not notice any absence of the people preaching that other Americans should have fewer rights because the hated group has darker skin, or a second X chromosome, or different sexual interests, or . . . .

    Maybe your anecdote is more accurate than mine. Maybe not.

    One of the nice things about these prejudices is that there is no valid evidence to support them – unless you consider the Bible to be valid evidence.

    *Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.
    Barry Goldwater.

    .

  17. Steven Novellaon 23 Feb 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Craig – my contact at Google says the same thing – computer algorithm, not specific decision.

  18. BillyJoe7on 23 Feb 2017 at 3:23 pm

    If google did penalise natural news for a “sneaky mobile redirect” my information is that, if they take action to corect this problem they will be back within a week.

  19. Craig Payneon 23 Feb 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Here is the story from Search Engine Land:
    http://searchengineland.com/natural-news-not-banned-google-fake-news-269998

  20. BBBlueon 23 Feb 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Rogue Medic – How is “The Right can be assholes too” a valid counterargument? Presently, the Left, a political faction credited with founding the Free Speech Movement, is the political faction doing the most in their attempts to silence public discourse. I don’t see nearly the same level of widespread coercion and violence in the Right’s attempts to do so, but I am also not claiming the Right is completely innocent on that point.

    I think most folks recognize that devout Christians are not the most open-minded people on certain issues, but being a devout, uncompromising Christian today is not synonymous with suppressing public speech through coercion and violence; that is what is happening on the left.

    Yes, Trump is a buffoon, but the fact that he is our President is evidence of what is wrong with the Left. Could he have even come close to winning if it were not for the Left’s infatuation with identity politics and their hypocrisy on free speech? I don’t think so.

    Based on their leadership and history, it is not likely that a company like Google will demonstrate intolerance based on religious doctrine or the influence of fringe, right-wing hate groups. I think it is more likely that they will be influenced by the Left, and today’s Left is a threat to free speech.

    As Craig Payne noted, the delisting may come down to a mundane, administrative decision. If that is the case, it may provide even more grist for the conspiracy theory mill. People will claim that is not really the reason for the delisting and Google is not being transparent about their motives. I really wished that Google would have highlighted evidence as to why Mike Adams and his websites are dangerous disseminators of misinformation, and planted a flag on that point before they did the delisting. Perhaps post a list of proposed delistings for those reasons and justify their criteria. Maybe that would broaden the discussion related to the value of science and critical thinking far beyond the skeptic community.

  21. Rogue Medicon 23 Feb 2017 at 4:30 pm

    BBBlue,

    I originally wrote – All ideologies have people who are in favor of censorship.

    You countered with criticism of the left for examples of censorship, as if that somehow contradicted my statement.

    I don’t see nearly the same level of widespread coercion and violence in the Right’s attempts to do so, but I am also not claiming the Right is completely innocent on that point.

    You can maintain your anecdotal impression or you can provide objective evidence.

    If you do provide objective evidence, don’t complain that it is unfair to provide objective evidence to the contrary. I shouldn’t have to explain that, but apparently, I did have to explain that.

    Then, you launch into a polemic to justify why you don’t like the left, as if left wing censorship is worse than right wing censorship, even though both are censorship.

    You used the term irony to criticize the left, but you miss out on the irony of the way your anecdotes expose your agenda. My guys are bad, but it is so much worse, when their guys do it, because . . . .

    I agree with you on one thing, Google should have explained why they were doing what they were doing, but it may be that they take a site offline (search-wise) while they investigate. they may avoid explaining why they are doing what they are doing until after they have identified the problem.

    .

  22. SmilesbyPayeton 23 Feb 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Thank you for the response Steve, and I appreciate what you’re saying. I just think that there are also a huge number of SEO professionals out there who are trying to help high quality content fight against the spammers and others so that their content rises to the top. I know a lot of them. 😀 But I don’t want to make a bigger deal of it, because that isn’t the point of your article.

    Of course, I think it extremely unlikely that Google will announce anything. They virtually never do, unless they’re trying to make a broader point. Can’t remember which big chain it was a few years ago, Google did announce the manual penalty and explained it, but that’s the only specific instance I can recall. And yes, the lack of transparency is an issue. If NN got delisted because of innocuous but long-standing violations of Webmaster standards, that’s one thing, but if they got delisted because they’re just wrong on everything, that’s a much stronger statement.

    I understand the slippery slope argument, but I have to confess……right now, I’m just ecstatic that NN is gone, and that’s all I care about.

  23. MaryMon 23 Feb 2017 at 5:56 pm

    I have seen a piece now that describes Mikey’s bad behavior on mobile devices: http://gizmodo.com/google-blacklists-natural-news-the-webs-leading-author-1792680935

    I still wish it was on demerits. And I still think it would be interesting to see if the nonsense landscape changed.

  24. BBBlueon 23 Feb 2017 at 6:10 pm

    I originally wrote – All ideologies have people who are in favor of censorship.

    How is that relevant to my observations? It is a pointless comment that states the obvious.

    Agreed, my observations are anecdotal, but if you really think that the suppression of free speech and the manifestation of identity politics is not a significant and immediate threat from the Left, then you are simply not paying attention. Witness this silliness from Canada: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-37875695

  25. Rogue Medicon 23 Feb 2017 at 6:28 pm

    BBBlue,

    Agreed, my observations are anecdotal, but if you really think that the suppression of free speech and the manifestation of identity politics is not a significant and immediate threat from the Left, then you are simply not paying attention.

    You seem to need to make this about your ideology being better than every other.

    Fortunately for you, there is no such thing as right wing censorship.

    The current government is not doing anything to prevent government agencies from communicating with the people who pay for their work about the results of their work.

    That is the irony coming back to bite your ideology, but keep suggesting that those leftist elitist intellectuals who gave us the First Amendment are worse than everyone else. The Alien and Sedition Acts were bad, but a passing fad.

    .

  26. BBBlueon 23 Feb 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Rogue Medic – You mean the ideology of a gun-toting, fiscally conservative, socially liberal, pro-choice fan of the New Atheists (Hitch, in particular, who I miss terribly), and person who voted for Hillary for President? Exactly what ideological box do you put that person in?

    I said the current constitution of the Left is a threat to free speech and that the identity politics of the Left are dangerous. You countered with: “All ideologies have people who are in favor of censorship.”

    Say you’re a Patriot fan and I say “Brady is a cheater” and you say “Your team cheats too, and in fact, every team cheats.” That’s supposed to be a cogent argument refuting my claim?

  27. RickKon 23 Feb 2017 at 7:30 pm

    BBBlue

    Does this news from Canada in any way affect your conclusion that censorship is just a liberal phenomenon?
    http://www.thefader.com/2017/01/25/canada-muzzled-scientists-stephen-harper-donald-trump

    As a frequenter of a blog for science enthusiasts, i would expect you to be more upset by governmental censorship of science than some academic fracas over pronouns. But i dont know how much your ideology overwhelms your rationality. Everyone is different.

  28. RickKon 23 Feb 2017 at 7:39 pm

    I withdraw the above comment – i responded without reading the whole thread.

  29. Rogue Medicon 23 Feb 2017 at 7:42 pm

    BBBlue,

    I said the current constitution of the Left is a threat to free speech and that the identity politics of the Left are dangerous.

    That is not what you wrote, but why deal with reality.

    You have repeatedly claimed that the left is so much worse than the right, that we should all attack the left.

    I have been pointing out that you are wrong.

    .

  30. SquareWheelon 23 Feb 2017 at 9:03 pm

    >It is also important to note that there is an entire industry of search engine optimization (SEO) will seeks to game Google’s algorithms, to get websites higher in search results. SEO is essentially about decreasing the value of Google’s product by forcing a relatively lower quality site higher into the search results by exploiting what is known about Google’s engine.

    That’s kind of offensive to SEOs… You’re describing black hat SEO which works to undermine the algorithm, but Google works with and encourages white hat SEO. They’ve written hundreds of articles, developed tools, and have a video series dedicated to teaching and enabling search engine optimization. Please see some of their resources before labeling all SEOs as blackhats.

    Regarding Natural News, if the site was wiped out entirely (not visible from a site: search) then they most likely had a manual penalty applied. This suggests they were caught using spammy backlinks, or other bad behavior. It’s unlikely to be Google taking a position on the issue of skepticism vs pseudo-science. That would present in relevancy results, but not a direct site: query.

    I hate that my first comment on this site is to disagree with you, Mr. Novella. But this one just rubbed me the wrong way. In all other cases I find your articles insightful and interesting.

  31. Sylakon 23 Feb 2017 at 10:02 pm

    Personally, I’m happy with this decision. I get the whole “we have to think carefully about what next”, and Steve points are on the spot, ( I completely agree too) but I don’t care in the case of natural news. If Mike Adams was selling and promoting financial non sense, making him rich and leading people into bankruptcy, nobody would be agitating the “censorship ” flag. He would be convicted as a con artist ( which he is anyway). But because its health, which we all know is really easier to cheat people into thinking that non sense work, we are super afraid of not taking a solid stance. Whatever the really too loose laws about health are, it’s still fraud ( of course we let scammer license themselves) . Convincing people into investing money and time in stuff that do not gain them anything but cost them everything is fraud in my book. He is morality a criminal if not by our weak laws in that regard . Most quack seem to be on a spectrum of beliefs/dishonesty, but to have a spectrum, you need extremes. Maybe people sitting on those extreme are rare, but I’m convinced by now that Adams is fully aware he is conning. You can’t have used the Y2K scare ( which was the most ridiculous scare ever, a high school knowledge of computers, which I had back then, was enough to know it was BS) to sell stuff without being completely dishonest. Him and Jones for me are in the same boat. Mercola, I think he believes little, oz is more a true believer. Adams full-blown case of con artist to me.

  32. daedalus2uon 23 Feb 2017 at 10:16 pm

    “With great power comes great responsibility”.

    Google would be irresponsible to not “filter” information for “quality”. There is considerable thought that the US election was largely determined by fake news, spread through social media. The problems of fake news are serious.

    Google doesn’t need to “ban” fake news, just move it in back of the pages that are real news.

  33. daedalus2uon 23 Feb 2017 at 10:21 pm

    I have been blogging about nitric oxide for some years. Back when I was actively blogging and posting comments, my blog was the first hit for “low nitric oxide”.

    I haven’t posted a new blog post since 2011, and now it is only hit #5. I haven’t been blogging about nitric oxide because I have been commercializing my bacteria and I have been keeping my nitric oxide blogging separate from my commercialization.

  34. hardnoseon 23 Feb 2017 at 10:26 pm

    I am so thankful to google for protecting me from dangerous harmful information. What would I do if I had to think for myself? How could I know what is true or not, without a giant corporation to guide me?

  35. hardnoseon 23 Feb 2017 at 10:28 pm

    “Some would rather deal with low quality sites coming up in their searches rather than have Google scrub the searches for them, and therefore be subject to the ideological biases of a private company not subject to any oversight.”

    SOME would rather? SOME??? Do you honestly think there are people who want their information cleansed of controversy? In THIS COUNTRY??

  36. hardnoseon 23 Feb 2017 at 10:29 pm

    “The company itself might be subject to a take-over by someone with an ideological agenda.”

    Just because google’s ideological agenda is the same as yours, you think it doesn’t have one.

  37. hardnoseon 23 Feb 2017 at 10:30 pm

    IT IS TIME to find another search engine.

  38. BBBlueon 23 Feb 2017 at 10:31 pm

    Rogue Medic-

    I have been pointing out that you are wrong.

    No, you have been misrepresenting what I have said and failing to acknowledge the obvious; that the Left is currently engaged in a particular brand of coercion and violence that suppresses free speech. Do you agree with that or not? Pointing out bad behavior in others is not a valid answer.

  39. hardnoseon 23 Feb 2017 at 10:31 pm

    “There is considerable thought that the US election was largely determined by fake news, spread through social media.”

    Whether it’s real or fake depends on your bias.

  40. Rogue Medicon 23 Feb 2017 at 10:56 pm

    BBBlue,

    No, you have been misrepresenting what I have said and failing to acknowledge the obvious; that the Left is currently engaged in a particular brand of coercion and violence that suppresses free speech. Do you agree with that or not? Pointing out bad behavior in others is not a valid answer.

    No.

    This is not the Left, but a faction, just as the right has factions working to censor people.

    You wrote –

    I think most folks recognize that devout Christians are not the most open-minded people on certain issues, but being a devout, uncompromising Christian today is not synonymous with suppressing public speech through coercion and violence; that is what is happening on the left.

    Since you are claiming that this is unique to the Left, it is appropriate to provide examples that disprove your claims.

    In a bunch of states, in laws not passed by the Left, doctors are required to lie to patients, because the government mandates that a medically false political script be used when communicating with patients.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_abortion_restrictions_in_the_United_States#Physician_scripts

    In Florida, in a law not passed by the Left, doctors were prohibited from discussing gun safety with patients. The most recent judicial review is reported on in the link below.

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/17/515764335/court-strikes-down-florida-law-barring-doctors-from-discussing-guns-with-patient

    .

  41. rezistnzisfutlon 23 Feb 2017 at 11:12 pm

    BBBlue is correct, and while authoritarians exist in virtually every group, currently it is the left that is engaging in the most widespread, coercive, and violent campaign of its suppression. It’s a false equivalency to point out that the right, for example, also has people who are willing to subvert freedom of speech.

    You don’t see the right punching people who are speaking peaceably on a public space. You don’t see the right gathering en masse with the intent of disrupting political rallies of their opposition and silence the speaker. You don’t see the right blocking interstate traffic, pulling people out of cars, and beating the tar out of them. You don’t see the right being stridently vocal, even vitriolic, about their political opposition then doing everything they can to silence their political opposition. It’s no the right who is setting gas stations on fire or throwing burning trashcans into Starbucks stores.

    And if it were just a few isolated incidents, we can write them off and be on our way. What’s worse is that the mainstream media is largely complicit, as is higher education. It’s even gone so far that we have professors at universities not only being openly vocal about their political opinions, but participating themselves and encouraging the subversion of personal freedoms and rights.

    While authoritarians exist in most groups, right now the left is by far the biggest offenders. Like BBB said, it’s a big reason why Trump won, Brexit happened, there is a rise in right wing sentiment in Europe, and the left completely lost Congress.

    I was on the left all my life until recent years when I saw this kind of nonsense, and it’s repellent. It made me question a lot of things. In fact, it was my skepticism that led me out of it and to see that the left is no more concerned with truth, honesty, fairness, or tolerance than the groups they oppose, and it also led me to see that many of the claims they made about the groups they oppose simply weren’t true.

    In recent years, independent pragmatics like myself have observed both sides of the spectrum and have seen a marked difference between how they behave and their rhetoric. Yes, both have their problems, but right now compared to the modern political left, the right appears downright calm, cool-headed, and rational.

  42. rezistnzisfutlon 23 Feb 2017 at 11:19 pm

    As Dr. Novella has pointed out before, a skeptic should be most keenly critical of their own biases and ideology. This is unfortunately a failing in many skeptical groups. It’s a form of arrogance, that since they’re aware of them, that somehow they are immune to them. ALL people have bias and ideology, even skeptics, and that must be recognized first before doing anything about it.

    BBB never said that authoritarianism is unique to the left, it’s just far more prevalent and accepted in the left RIGHT NOW. During the Civil Rights era, the left were the proponents of the very same freedoms that they are now doing their level best to subvert. It’s now the right that has become the counterculture. There are some leftists who recognize this, and if I were one of them I’d be deeply concerned about this rather disturbing trend. Thing is, the leftists who see it and speak up about it are then called racists, misogynists, and conservatives, when they are none of these things – those terms are used flippantly as ad homs in order to impugn their character and not listen to their arguments.

    If you’re unwilling to admit problems within your own party, then it’s going to eat you up. It’s what happened to the religious right and why they are no longer culturally relevant anymore, by and large.

  43. BBBlueon 23 Feb 2017 at 11:25 pm

    Rick – You’re doing the same thing Rogue Medic is doing, attempting to diminish what I have to say by pointing to irrelevant bad behavior in others and then trying to connect me to those other bad actors based on what you assume my ideology to be.

    I think the Left deserves to be singled out on this point because I think their identity politics and suppression of free speech through coercion and violence was a big contributor to Trump’s win. Unless they are called on it and change their ways, it will further empower Trump and his ilk.

    Free speech is not negotiable in any context. I voted for Hillary based on what I actually knew about each candidate; a vote for Trump would have required me to ignore the evidence. Among the things I new about Trump was that he has little appreciation for science and no apparent critical thinking skills, so yes, I am aware of the information you referenced and find it deeply troubling.

    If I had to rank my concerns, I probably would say that the Left’s bad behavior is worse that the Right’s at this exact point in our political history, but only because it makes eight years of Trump more likely than four.

  44. rezistnzisfutlon 23 Feb 2017 at 11:35 pm

    BBB, it’s a tu quoque fallacy they’re committing, dodging the argument by pointing to issues with the arguer, or in this case, the person arguing by proxy. They might even have a point if the right were doing the same thing as the left in equal amounts. And that’s what it comes down to, amounts. The left at this time is doing it FAR more, and they have the media and education on their side to help guide and cover for them.

  45. BBBlueon 23 Feb 2017 at 11:41 pm

    Rogue Medic- I never said suppressing free speech was unique to the Left, and I also said what constitutes today’s Left is what we used to call the Far Left faction. Yes, I am talking about a faction of the Democratic Party, but it is a very large faction that had great influence on the election. Hillary didn’t distance herself from that crowd in any meaningful way, so she was complicit.

  46. BBBlueon 23 Feb 2017 at 11:51 pm

    RickK- Missed your withdrawal. (That sounds kind of weird.) Sorry.

  47. Rogue Medicon 24 Feb 2017 at 12:04 am

    BBBlue,

    Rogue Medic- I never said suppressing free speech was unique to the Left,

    No.

    You claim that the violence and coercion is unique to the Left.

    I provided examples to show that you are wrong.

    .

  48. BBBlueon 24 Feb 2017 at 12:28 am

    Rez- Thanks. I reviewed tu quoque several times, but wasn’t sure.

    I suppose apologists for the Left would say you or I don’t have the empirical evidence to support our claims, but for anyone who has paid attention to current events over the past several years, it would seem hard to conclude otherwise.

    Another argument would be that suppression of free speech by the Right has been more subtle or covert; that it is just as bad or insidious, but just doesn’t make the headlines as often. Even if that were true, it still doesn’t absolve the Left of their bad behavior.

  49. BBBlueon 24 Feb 2017 at 12:35 am

    Rogue Medic-

    You claim that the violence and coercion is unique to the Left.

    Quote me.

  50. Rogue Medicon 24 Feb 2017 at 12:47 am

    BBBlue,

    Quote me.

    I think most folks recognize that devout Christians are not the most open-minded people on certain issues, but being a devout, uncompromising Christian today is not synonymous with suppressing public speech through coercion and violence; that is what is happening on the left.

    .

  51. rezistnzisfutlon 24 Feb 2017 at 12:49 am

    One primary impetus for this blog is to counter conspiracy theories, so if a claim about such a conspiracy is not accompanied by evidence that we can verify on our own, then it’s a conspiracy theory as well. The onus is on them to demonstrate the validity of their claim, if it is indeed that suppression of free speech by the right is so subtle and covert that, what, we don’t notice? That they’re so crafty that we’ll go along with it? We’re supposed to take that on faith? That certainly would seem counter to skepticism to me.

    I’m with you on this one, that suppression of free speech is not just covert, but overt by the left right now, from universities to street mob violence. We simply don’t see the same from the right. While virtually all groups have their share of authoritarians, it’s the left right now that is the greatest proponent of anti-free speech, etc., and the bigger threat.

    When the right puts forth laws or takes violent action to silence others for simply having an opinion they don’t like, I’ll be right alongside shoulder-to-shoulder with leftists to oppose it.

  52. rezistnzisfutlon 24 Feb 2017 at 12:53 am

    RM, no one here ever denied that there are groups on the right that take steps to deny free speech. What we’re saying is that not only are they not nearly to the same degree or ubiquity as we’re seeing on the left, and also that they’re decried even in their own party. The quote you have in no way demonstrates what you seem to be claiming, that it’s equally “as bad” on the right as it is on the left. It’s demonstrably true that at this time in modernity, it is the left that is far the biggest offenders.

    That suppression of free speech exists on the right among a few is not evidence that it is also equally widespread or pernicious.

  53. Rogue Medicon 24 Feb 2017 at 1:09 am

    rezistnzisfutl,

    One primary impetus for this blog is to counter conspiracy theories, so if a claim about such a conspiracy is not accompanied by evidence that we can verify on our own, then it’s a conspiracy theory as well. The onus is on them to demonstrate the validity of their claim, if it is indeed that suppression of free speech by the right is so subtle and covert that, what, we don’t notice? That they’re so crafty that we’ll go along with it? We’re supposed to take that on faith? That certainly would seem counter to skepticism to me.

    I posted this above, yet you claim that no evidence has been provided.

    In a bunch of states, in laws not passed by the Left, doctors are required to lie to patients, because the government mandates that a medically false political script be used when communicating with patients.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_abortion_restrictions_in_the_United_States#Physician_scripts

    In Florida, in a law not passed by the Left, doctors were prohibited from discussing gun safety with patients. The most recent judicial review is reported on in the link below.

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/17/515764335/court-strikes-down-florida-law-barring-doctors-from-discussing-guns-with-patient

    .

  54. TheGorillaon 24 Feb 2017 at 3:19 am

    DAE think the true intolerants are the ones not tolerating intolerance?!!? By exercising their free speech rights of protesting!?!?!

    Seriously though, rztfuntial;akjdr;fa, it takes some serious privilege to be sad about Spencer being punched. Are we just supposed to let hate groups organize peacefully and only step in once they start attacking people? You certainly (I think) wouldn’t be complaining if someone responded to physical violence that way — but speech IS ACTION, and it’s PHYSICAL ACTION. You are literally moving vocal chords or writing letters or etc… what gives this action such special place that even organizing with the intent of genocide cannot be responded to except with pure speech? You can’t just assume something like that. I mean, hell, internet bullying can drive people to suicide.

    There is no shame in shutting down speeches by hatemongering bigots or in exercising “””””authoritarian””””” tactics to get rid of things like Natural News.

  55. mumadaddon 24 Feb 2017 at 4:15 am

    “There is no shame in shutting down speeches by hatemongering bigots or in exercising “””””authoritarian””””” tactics to get rid of things like Natural News.”

    A central point of free speech is that you don’t have a right not to be offended. If Spencer wasn’t trying to incite violence (my understanding is that he wasn’t), then he has a right to exercise his free speech on public ground. He also has a right not to be punched for doing so. But, even if he was trying to incite violence, the appropriate way to ‘shut him down’ is not for a protester to punch him in the face.

    Matt Dillahunty talked about this in a recent interview, and made what I though was a good point. It could be argued that being punched was tactically beneficial for Spencer. He now gets to say, “Look, I was just peacefully exercising my right to free speech and they punched me to shut me down; they had to use violence because they couldn’t deal with my ideas.” Which apparently is more or less what he’s done. It ended up playing into his hands.

  56. SteveAon 24 Feb 2017 at 5:04 am

    Sylak: “Personally, I’m happy with this decision. I get the whole “we have to think carefully about what next”, and Steve points are on the spot, ( I completely agree too) but I don’t care in the case of natural news. If Mike Adams was selling and promoting financial non sense, making him rich and leading people into bankruptcy, nobody would be agitating the “censorship ” flag. He would be convicted as a con artist ( which he is anyway). But because its health, which we all know is really easier to cheat people into thinking that non sense work, we are super afraid of not taking a solid stance. Whatever the really too loose laws about health are, it’s still fraud ( of course we let scammer license themselves) .”

    I’m not so happy. While a nut-job like Adams stays on the right side of the law, which he does (by and large), he should be free to post anything he wants. I would personally criminalise many ‘alt meds’ as being clear examples of medical fraud (homeopathy would be a no-brainer), but until that step is taken I don’t see that Google have any ‘grounds’ for acting against him based on the quality of his content (always remembering that Google is a private organisation that can do whatever it likes with its own tech).

    I’m actually surprised that so many people have assumed that content quality was the reason the site was de-listed. It was always going to be much more likely that Adams breached terms and conditions in some way. And it’s also far more likely that the decision to pull the plug was made by an algorithm, rather than a human being. It will be interesting to see how this paranoid narcissist reacts when he finds out how he offended the small-print.

  57. SteveAon 24 Feb 2017 at 5:05 am

    TheGorilla: “Are we just supposed to let hate groups organize peacefully and only step in once they start attacking people?”

    You’re quite the acrobat. Begging the question while sliding down a slippery slope…

    The answer is ‘Yes’, until it stops being peaceful. Then you call the cops. No-one made you Batman.

  58. Steven Novellaon 24 Feb 2017 at 7:18 am

    There is an update from Google, I put it at the bottom of the article. Apparent NN violated a webmaster rule.

    I also added a caveat about SEO acknowledging that most SEO is standard and acceptable, and only dark SEO tries to actually game the system.

  59. Steven Novellaon 24 Feb 2017 at 7:26 am

    I don’t think that peaceful vs violent is a sufficient distinction. Here is a thought experiment. What if a group of white students decided to set up a semi-permanent protest peacefully indicating that black students were not welcome at their university and citing a long list of horribly racist arguments to support their position? They set up in a common area, but along a path that students must take to get to class. So every day when black students go to class they are faced with horrible racism.

    Would you defend this action because it is peaceful? Would the university be oppressing free speech if they determined that the right of their black students to feel welcome and not be harassed outweighed the rights of students to express their opinions on university property?

    Yes, this is an extreme example. That is the point. If you acknowledge that in this case the university is right to not allow the racist students to peacefully protest, then you acknowledge the basic principles the “left” is basing their position on. Now it is just a matter of negotiating about where to draw the line.

    If you think the university should allow the racist student to protest, then I think you have a very distorted view of the limits of free speech.

    No ethical principle is absolute. When it buts up against other ethical principles you need to thoughtfully resolve conflicts. That means you need to make compromises and draw lines. It’s messy, but that’s the way it is.

  60. SteveAon 24 Feb 2017 at 9:24 am

    “Would you defend this action because it is peaceful?”

    This example relies on a false equivalence between ‘peaceful’ and ‘non-violent’.

    Under UK law, and, I presume, under US law, you don’t need to strike someone to criminally ‘assault’ them. An assault is behaviour that can put you in fear of violence. Hence the phrase ‘assault and battery’: assault is someone on the other side of the road shouting that they’re going to harm you; battery is when they cross the road and lay hands on you (though battery is now a largely obsolete term replaced by the phrase ‘bodily harm’).

    Just because someone is not being physically violent doesn’t mean they are being peaceful.

    If the horrible remarks of the horrible white students are really that horrible, then the black students call the cops, who (in the UK) then make arrests under the ‘Criminal Justice Act (Offences Against the Person)’ and, doubtless, the ‘Racial and Religious Hatred Act’.

    The law has it covered. The lines have been drawn. But if you think there are loopholes in the law, or you don’t think it’s strong enough, you lobby to have it changed. You don’t put on a mask and smash someone else in the head just because you don’t happen to agree with their opinions.

  61. TheGorillaon 24 Feb 2017 at 11:08 am

    Steve it’s really weird to apparently point out a slippery slope and then agree with its relevance sans qualification (the point was line drawing, but you haven’t justified drawing it there; free speech is still only assumed such uniqueness). I’m worried about the actual justification for the distinction — talking about the legality is answering a different question or question begging.

    The law isn’t important either, unless you’re one of those who think ethical and legal are identical. Which would be a very wrong position.

    Dr novella is completely right by demonstrating the legitimacy of the principle.

    And I think there’s some overlook of what an organized hate group looks like and the complicit police role historically. Another thought experiment example: your position would make any non speech resistance to the Nazis setting up the entire death camp framework and policies unjustified — until they activated it. That shouldn’t be a bullet to bite, it should be a clue of a mistake.

    Reread my comment about speech being action. Why should that form of action receive such extreme privilege?

  62. BillyJoe7on 24 Feb 2017 at 1:20 pm

    “BBB, it’s a tu quoque fallacy they’re committing, dodging the argument by pointing to issues with the arguer, or in this case, the person arguing by proxy”

    The same thought occurred to me while reading this exchange: tu quoque by proxy. 🙂

  63. BillyJoe7on 24 Feb 2017 at 1:22 pm

    …have to agree about the left – or ‘the regressive left’ as we put it.

  64. BBBlueon 24 Feb 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Rogue Medic-

    I think most folks recognize that devout Christians are not the most open-minded people on certain issues, but being a devout, uncompromising Christian today is not synonymous with suppressing public speech through coercion and violence; that is what is happening on the left.

    Seriously, you get suppression through coercion and violence is unique to the Left out of that? You’re stretching to preserve an incorrect conclusion. If an unbiased person reads everything I have written, including statements like “I don’t see nearly the same level of widespread coercion and violence in the Right’s attempts to do so, but I am also not claiming the Right is completely innocent on that point,” I don’t think they would come to the conclusion you did.

    Looking at that same point another way: In today’s political climate, if you hear that a public forum has been disrupted by rock-throwing, window-breaking miscreants, it’s almost guaranteed that the offenders are from the Left. Such violent suppression of free speech has become a trademark of the Left, but that is not to say it is only ever practiced by the Left or ever will be. Having said that, I can’t think of single instance in the past couple of years where a major faction on the Right has been reported to throw rocks and break windows in an attempt to shut down public speech, but there are certainly plenty of examples of the Left doing that.

  65. BBBlueon 24 Feb 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Steven-

    I don’t think that peaceful vs violent is a sufficient distinction.

    I agree with that and is why I said I am currently most concerned about suppression from the Left because it makes eight years of Trump more likely than four rather than trying to claim that one type of suppression is more acceptable than another. However, I wonder if the suppression of free speech by the Right is easier to deal with because we have seen most of it before and successfully dealt with it. We have already fought battles against religious zealots and fringe right-wing hate groups, but the current phenomenon of identity politics and intolerance of reasonable speech, especially on college campuses, seems rather new and particularly dangerous to me, in no small measure because such a large part of the Left, at least in the last election cycle, seemed oblivious to the threat it poses.

  66. RCon 24 Feb 2017 at 3:47 pm

    ” In today’s political climate, if you hear that a public forum has been disrupted by rock-throwing, window-breaking miscreants, it’s almost guaranteed that the offenders are from the Left”

    Evidence please.

  67. Steven Novellaon 24 Feb 2017 at 3:49 pm

    SteveA – I don’t agree with your point. You have just dodged my thought experiment by making a straw man out of it.

    What I described was not only peaceful, it was non-violent. The white students are not threatening the black students in any way.

    The question is – can the content of the speech combined with its location and persistence be so offensive (even if it is completely non-violent) that it is reasonable to disallow it?

    There are various ethical principles at play here:

    – The right to free speech and expression
    – The benefits of open and free speech to an academic environment
    – The responsibility of individuals in society to be reasonably thick skinned so as to give other members of their society elbow room to express their ideas, even unpopular and unconventional ideas.
    – The responsibility of society, and by extension the institutions within society, not to oppress or discriminate against subgroups in that society.
    – It is also reasonable to be especially sensitive to minority groups and historically oppressed groups.

    These all have to be balanced. For example, while people can be expected to be reasonably thick-skinned, there are limits beyond which even a perfectly reasonable and sensible person will feel oppressed and will effectively be oppressed by the speech.

    Being told every day that you are not wanted because of your race, you are unworthy, you are subhuman – just to get to class – is more than can be reasonably expected of anyone.

    The cops would never be involved in this, so you are just wrong that existing laws deal with it.

    There are extremes on both sides. I don’t agree with the far left using violence to protest speech they don’t like. but I also don’t agree with ridiculously offensive speech that is designed to oppress, not just express opinions. It is even designed to elicit an extreme reaction out of the other side.

    Free speech does not mean you get to dominate any forum you choose for any purpose you choose.

  68. rezistnzisfutlon 24 Feb 2017 at 10:26 pm

    What see is every bit as provocative speech and rhetoric that is being imagined cautioned against from white supremacist types. Yet seems to be freely acceptable by those who are deemed “oppressed”. Lest we, too, be accused of tu quoque, it is not us who brings up this topic, but instead goes towards the lack of actual balance and equal tolerance for racist, sexist, and any other identity politics speech.

    Right now, the very same speech that is abhorrent from white supremacist groups is deaf when it comes from other groups, why, because they’re oppressed? They’re oppressed, how exactly? Are we supposed to take on faith that they’re oppressed, because of imagined privilege? That’s what we’re being fed every day.

    If we’re going to poo-poo the speech of white supremacists, why are we stopping there? It’s what the rest of us call “the soft bigotry of low expectations”. Even if we were to accept that non-whites are “oppressed”, giving them a free ticket to say or do whatever they want, and they are being given that, sets back race relations and their elevation to equality status to the early 20th century, and it’s not because of the right.

    Putting that aside, yes, so-called “hate groups” have every bit as much right to be aholes as anyone else. Do you really think that it’s because suppression of free speech and “hate speech” laws that attitudes and hearts have changed over time? Or was it better ideas and evidence?

    The problem with “hate speech” policies is that it prevents the airing of bad ideas and the changing of those hearts. And that’s what’s going on right now, and why conservative “hate” groups are gaining momentum.

    No one has the right not to be offended. These days, if a person stood in a university quad and vociferated about white supremacy, they’d be pretty much universally reviled. That’s all fine and good. The problem is, if a black person stood on the same corner and said the same speech, but in reverse, there would be silence. THAT is what we’re getting at here. Yes, they’re being racist and their racism is equally reprehensible as the white supremacist, but for some reason it’s ignored, and this is also demonstrably true.

    The problem here isn’t that right racism and left racism are equally bad, it’s that one is all-around reviled while the other one, well, it’s taboo to even talk about, and it’s taken as truth that it’s true.

  69. chikoppion 24 Feb 2017 at 11:12 pm

    [rezistnzisfutl] Yes, they’re being racist and their racism is equally reprehensible as the white supremacist, but for some reason it’s ignored, and this is also demonstrably true.

    What? What minority group is claiming that Caucasians are subhuman and should be expelled from society? Calling attention to inequality (real or perceived) is not at all equivalent to promoting and advocating for inequality.

  70. rezistnzisfutlon 25 Feb 2017 at 12:47 am

    Plenty. There are numerous non-white race supremacy groups, and some even vetted by the left’s vaunted SPLC. Nation of Yahweh is one, United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors is another example. They are about as extensive and pervasive as white supremacy groups, though from hearing about it you’d think it’s only white groups. Of course, most have never heard of these groups because it’s not advertised in MSM, which is in itself an issue.

    Those are groups that claim that black people as a race are superior to white people. Then there are black nationalists. Malcolm X and Frantz Fanon are well-known for that.

    The problem is, there is little attention, if any, paid attention to racism from non-white groups. What’s worse, many activists make excuses for and forgive the racism perpetrated by them. Whenever any groups is not held to the same standard as any and all other groups, that is a form of racism in itself.

    In fact, there is actual and real institutional racism, starting with Affirmative Action and moving onto quotas, special groups, special privileges, taxpayer funds only received by them, and educational opportunities not given to others.

    No, I’m not a racist nor do I think that one race has any physical or psychological superiority than another. For me, equality comes about at minimum when all people are legally and socially regarded as equal, and held to the same account. If one group is given lower standards because of some arbitrary train they’re born with, then that’s bigotry against them.

  71. chikoppion 25 Feb 2017 at 2:45 am

    I reject your premise. A quick glance at the SPLC website confirms that the groups you mentioned are condemned as decisively as are white supremacy groups. I see no evidence that any supremacy rhetoric is getting a “free pass.” I also don’t believe there is anything approaching parity in numbers. The 2015 SPLC report lists roughly 550 chapters of white supremacy or separatist groups, compared to 180 black counterparts. Though I couldn’t find reliable demographics, I also suspect those 550 chapters of white supremacy groups boast a much larger membership overall.

    I also want to reiterate that minority advocacy groups, such as BLM and the Anti Defamation League, are in no way equivalent to supremacy groups.

    Also, you understand why white supremacy groups receive a disproportionate amount of attention, right? It isn’t just the shear numbers, but also the sordid and very recent history of systemic and violent racism, the pervasive effects of which has spanned generations. Many civil and social institutions were dominated by both casual and active bigotry for decades and those biases still linger in dark and unexamined corners.

    To be fair, I do acknowledge and agree that supremacist and separatist ideology deserves no quarter and no distinction. It should be confronted and condemned no matter the source.

    I think a discussion of affirmative action and similar measures is probably best left to another time or another forum.

  72. rezistnzisfutlon 25 Feb 2017 at 3:26 pm

    https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/nuwaubian-nation-moors

    https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2007/nation-yahweh-mourns-loss-leader-shows-signs-new-life

    Sure, SPLC lists them as white supremacist groups, you go with that. lol

    Anyway, they are commonly known as black supremacy groups. I bring them up to demonstrate that there are non-white supremacy groups out there. In fact, there are many more of all races and ethnicities. So, the notion that only white people can be racist and/or supremacist, or even that it’s mainly them, is absurd and easily debunked.

    BLM and ADL may not be supremacy groups, but they are hate groups with links to terrorist activities, including incitement to riot, incitement to violence against their political opponents, threats, inhibition of freedom of others, and calls to kill police. Furthermore, they are widely accepted and promoted by the media, higher education, and one of the major political parties here in the US. So in that regard, they are a bigger threat because they have acceptance and promotion in large segments of society. On the other hand, white racist groups are pretty much universally reviled by virtually all groups, and have little cultural relevancy anymore. They still exist, yes, but they are truly relegated to the fringe. Even most far right conservative groups denounce and condemn them.

    One of the problems with race relations is the lack of acknowledgement or apology for racism from other groups. Either it’s denied it exists at all, terms are redefined so that the very same actions and rhetoric that would give white people the label “racist” does not apply to them, or it’s just plain excused. For example, the notion of racism only being “prejudice plus power”, and if one were to accept that definition and that only white people are in power, then only white people can be racist. Race issues will never be solved if the same standards of unacceptability for racism is applied equally across the board. There simply is no excuse for it from anyone no matter who they are.

  73. BBBlueon 25 Feb 2017 at 4:27 pm

    RC

    Donald Trump’s Rally in Chicago Canceled After Violent Scuffles (3/11/2016)

    Anti-Trump protests turn violent: Cops clash with 6,000-strong crowd in Oakland and activists block roads in LA amid nationwide demonstrations that saw Madonna and Cher join 7,000 in NYC (11/9/2016)

    Anti-Trump protests, some violent, erupt for 3rd night nationwide (11/11/2016)

    Anti-Trump protesters march for 3rd night; Portland police call it a ‘riot’ (11/11/2016)

    Anti-Trump Protests Turn Desperate, Violent (11/11/2016)

    Anti-Trump protests turn violent, 2 cops hospitalized, more than 200 arrested (1/20/2017)

    Violence flares in Washington during Trump inauguration (1/21/2017)

    Breitbart Editor’s Event Canceled As Protests Turn Violent At UC Berkeley (2/2/2017)

    Sorry, but I was unable to find any recent examples of large numbers of right-wing protesters using violence as a tactic. I am sure there must be some out there, but I stand by by opinion that such violent protests are a trademark of the Left.

    It’s been that way as long as I can remember. I was a little too young to follow the birth of the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley in 1964-65, but it and it’s heroes were still fresh in the minds of my classmates by the time I reached high school and college and I vividly remember watching the protests organized by the Students for a Democratic Society and others at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. I have been an observer of this phenomenon for a long time and it is clear to me, at least, that violent or in-your-face protest is a sort of respected tradition among the Left.

    But again, I am not saying that one type of suppression is more acceptable than another (although suppressing free speech and hurting someone is worse than just suppressing free speech), I am saying the Left (what I used to call the Far-Left) is suppressing free speech and then denying or ignoring it in similar fashion as you seem to be doing by demanding evidence of something I think should be obvious to everyone, something they do at their peril. (Yes, some may consider that to be a “hasty generalization,” but not all generalizations are faulty.)

  74. chikoppion 25 Feb 2017 at 4:33 pm

    [rezistnzisfutl] Sure, SPLC lists them as white supremacist groups, you go with that. lol

    Anyway, they are commonly known as black supremacy groups. I bring them up to demonstrate that there are non-white supremacy groups out there. In fact, there are many more of all races and ethnicities. So, the notion that only white people can be racist and/or supremacist, or even that it’s mainly them, is absurd and easily debunked.

    First, the SPLC lists the ideology of the Nuwaubians as “Black Separatist” and of Nation of Yahweh as “Black Supremecist” in the articles you linked to.

    Second, no one said “only white people can be racist or supremacist.” Your claim is that minority groups are as equivalent a social threat as white supremacy groups.

    BLM and ADL may not be supremacy groups, but they are hate groups with links to terrorist activities, including incitement to riot, incitement to violence against their political opponents, threats, inhibition of freedom of others, and calls to kill police.

    You are dangerously and naively mal-informed. These groups seek equal civil and social standing, not supremacy or separatism.

    I’ve seen the breathless attempts to associate any and every act of lawlessness or random ranting lunatic with the BLM movement. Bullshit. Such acts of individuals are not the actions promoted, endorsed, or condoned by the movement. Civil disobedience is not terrorism.

    For example, the notion of racism only being “prejudice plus power”, and if one were to accept that definition and that only white people are in power, then only white people can be racist. Race issues will never be solved if the same standards of unacceptability for racism is applied equally across the board. There simply is no excuse for it from anyone no matter who they are.

    Who is excusing it?

    You seem to be in the “just shut up and stop talking about it camp,” wherein any minority group who 1) calls out the historical disparities caused by institutional racism or 2) calls out current trends of inequality is either begging “special treatment” or is being “racist against the majority.” How about you start by acknowledging that racism has had and continues to have a disproportionate effect on minorities, that the effects are real, and that it is everyone’s responsibility to oppose them.

  75. mumadaddon 25 Feb 2017 at 5:51 pm

    chikoppi: “How about you start by acknowledging that racism has had and continues to have a disproportionate effect on minorities,”

    Not all minorities; it’s not generically true that non-whites/minorities fare worse economically in the USA:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_groups_in_the_United_States_by_household_income

    I don’t think it’s fair to pin the plight of black Americans on an inherent racism/discrimination at work among non-black citizens. I see the case of black people in America as unique among any minority group pretty much anywhere in the developed world: they are living with the hangover from slavery and, within living memory, institutionally sanctioned segregation. The best parallel I can think of is Apartheid in Africa.

  76. ikewinskion 25 Feb 2017 at 6:35 pm

    There’s a petition on the White House website to “Ban Google’s Blatant Suppression of Free Speech”.

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/petition-ban-googles-blatant-suppression-free-speech

    They want to compel speech under the guise of protecting it.

    If Google had a monopoly on search results, I might feel differently. But they are a business providing information that is supposed to be relevant and decent quality. Once they can be compelled to list a website, they can be compelled to treat it evenly and that would diminish the value of their offering.

  77. BillyJoe7on 25 Feb 2017 at 6:47 pm

    I’m not sure that it is helpful to deny the differences between races, even though, on average, there are more differences within races than between them (some even deny that there is something that can be called race). Some races have advantages and disadvantages in some areas which are at least partly genetically based.

    As an example, Aboriginals comprise about 2.5% of the Australian population, but comprise about 9% of AFL players, and an even higher percentage of top players (those to whom the word “magic” can be applied – if I was asked to recall “magic plays” in AFL football, they would almost all involve aboriginal players, with non-aboringals being almost the exception). Of course, this can be partly explained by aboriginal people finding one of a very limited number of ways to rise above their circumstances, but there is almost certainly a genetic element as well, as well as plausibilty (the evolutionary effects of the different evironments in which their ancestors lived).

    One of the problems with the “regressive left” is Islamophobia and finding it everywhere. Writers are systematically vilified for racism/islamophobia simply for pointing out obvious facts about Islam. And some of the verbal attacks have been every bit as bad as an actual physical attack. I have no problem with exposing the true facts about Islam, provided this is not an attack on muslims themselves, the exception being individual muslim activists who promote the extremes of their dogma such as the killing of homosexuals and apostates. But there are muslims who activate for the adoption of Sharia law by all governments throughout the world turning it into a world caliphate. This is best counteracted by argument – personal attack is un-necessary, un-warranted, and counter-productive.

  78. mumadaddon 25 Feb 2017 at 7:15 pm

    “I don’t think it’s fair to pin the plight of black Americans on an inherent racism/discrimination at work among non-black citizens. I see the case of black people in America as unique among any minority group pretty much anywhere in the developed world: they are living with the hangover from slavery and, within living memory, institutionally sanctioned segregation. The best parallel I can think of is Apartheid in Africa.”

    Urgh, I used a lot of words to say nothing. What I meant was that I don’t think the current inequalities between black and white Americans are attributable to current discrimination against black Americans by white Americans, BUT, they are attributable to past discrimination against blacks by whites. There, that wasn’t so difficult.

  79. rezistnzisfutlon 26 Feb 2017 at 2:40 am

    No, chik, they list them as black supremacist groups. That is their official position. “Black separatist” is an additional label because they believe that their race deserves to be isolated from others. What does your ideology think of that? If a white group did the same, you’d be OK with that, too, and be as forgiving and apologetic? Do you really think people here are so stupid and lazy that they aren’t going to bother clicking on the links to verify whether the articles verify the claims being made of the sources? Posting citations is only the first step in the critical evaluation process, actually reading what has been posted to see if it follows what is claimed the article is backing is one of the most important processes in skeptical evaluation. Those groups I listed are not only listed as Black Supremacist by the ACLU, but are easily labeled as such by anyone who has any knowledge of them. My original statement stands, that non-white supremacist groups exist and therefore white people have no monopoly on race supremacy.

    I not once claimed that BLM and ADL were non-white nationalists or separatists. I said that they are hate groups. Being a hate group isn’t the same as being a separatist.

    Furthermore, just because someone claims to be about equal rights doesn’t mean that they are actually about equal rights. First, the claim that rights aren’t equal has to be established. And IF that claim holds, then they have to demonstrate that their groups is actually fighting for equal rights. BLM and ADL have done no such thing. They rely on the ignorance, laziness, and fatigue of their marks to push their ideology. It’s again demonstrably true that they are pushing a political and economic motive. If black lives were really their concern, they’d be equally critical of the violence in mostly black neighborhoods, and more to the point, why those black neighborhoods exist and why they are so violent. Which leads to the conclusion that they don’t seem to be particularly interested in black lives so much as pursuing political and economic gains.

    There are no “breathless claims” going on here. These are objective observations. When it comes to BLM, everything I listed that they’re linked with is true. They are a violent and terrorist group. We see no condemnation from their leadership for violent acts nor calls for non-violent action, so it’s not unreasonable to conclude that they approve of the actions being taken. There has been plenty of time for them to respond otherwise.

    It’s at best arguable that they’re all about racial or civil equality. How are they different. What, more prone to police involvement? We often hear from regressives that they are “targeted” or some sort, but that’s an argument from ignorance. That is to say, claiming that they are involved with more police altercations is due to racism on the part of the police is the fallacy – it ignores other possibilities, such as maybe they perpetrate more crimes. And that leads to many other questions, but that’s beyond the scope of what is here.

    For one, why should anyone in modernity who had nothing to do with distant history be accountable for it? They had nothing to do with it. The baby in one crib owes the baby in the other crib nothing. For another, what modern inequalities are we talking about? Are we wanting to eat the rich and so forth? Should I be calling for the destruction of the millionaire on the hill over there? Why? Should Oprah have to give up her billions, or did she earn them?

    It’s again objectively clear that there are institutional privileges granted to minorities. That is to say, racial and ethnic minorities enjoy taxpayer funded, legal benefits that others don’t. That comes in the form of welfare benefits, educational payment and opportunities, special support groups, and special protections. Agree or disagree with them, it is fact that those things are coded into law.

    I find it interesting that your profile links to the WP List of Fallacies, but you’re easily employing them. If you’re indeed a skeptic, you’d be filtering your statements through them. I’m not seeing you do that because you’re flinging them freely. Skeptics should be pointing their skepticism inward at all times vigilantly. Not seeing that with your comments.

  80. chikoppion 26 Feb 2017 at 6:19 pm

    [rezistnzisfutl] No, chik, they list them as black supremacist groups. That is their official position. “Black separatist” is an additional label because they believe that their race deserves to be isolated from others.

    That is exactly what I have said, TWICE.

    “A quick glance at the SPLC website confirms that the groups you mentioned are condemned as decisively as are white supremacy groups.”

    “First, the SPLC lists the ideology of the Nuwaubians as “Black Separatist” and of Nation of Yahweh as “Black Supremecist” in the articles you linked to.”

    Maybe you should read more carefully rather than rushing to strawman “my ideology.”

    My original statement stands, that non-white supremacist groups exist and therefore white people have no monopoly on race supremacy.

    And both are condemned by the SPLC and by the ACLU. As they should be. Does that mean racism doesn’t exist or that minority groups don’t have a right and responsibility to advocate against it, up to and including civil disobedience?

    If black lives were really their concern, they’d be equally critical of the violence in mostly black neighborhoods, and more to the point, why those black neighborhoods exist and why they are so violent. Which leads to the conclusion that they don’t seem to be particularly interested in black lives so much as pursuing political and economic gains.

    You don’t get to define their agenda. BLM is a movement against institutional racism, particularly disparities in law enforcement, the justice system, and economic disenfranchisement. Of course they are “interested in pursuing political and economic gains,” as those are the apparatus of inequality they are opposing. It was no different during the civil rights movement.

    There are no “breathless claims” going on here. These are objective observations. When it comes to BLM, everything I listed that they’re linked with is true. They are a violent and terrorist group. We see no condemnation from their leadership for violent acts nor calls for non-violent action, so it’s not unreasonable to conclude that they approve of the actions being taken. There has been plenty of time for them to respond otherwise.

    Name one terrorist act perpetrated or endorsed by BLM. No condemnation of violence?

    http://time.com/4400330/st-paul-protests-philando-castile-black-lives-matter/
    http://blacklivesmatter.com/the-black-lives-matter-network-advocates-for-dignity-justice-and-respect/
    http://dailycaller.com/2016/12/22/black-lives-matter-finally-protests-chicagos-violence/

    It’s at best arguable that they’re all about racial or civil equality. How are they different. What, more prone to police involvement? We often hear from regressives that they are “targeted” or some sort, but that’s an argument from ignorance. That is to say, claiming that they are involved with more police altercations is due to racism on the part of the police is the fallacy – it ignores other possibilities, such as maybe they perpetrate more crimes. And that leads to many other questions, but that’s beyond the scope of what is here.

    Talk about an argument from ignorance. Did you read the DOJ Ferguson report? The DOJ Chicago report? Type “racial inequality in the justice system” into google.

    Why should we care about the lasting damage and inequality caused by a legacy of racism and civil rights abuses? Because we live in a society that values justice and equality for all people. Because we all own that history and should bear the burden of repairing it equally.

    Don’t lecture me about being a skeptic.

  81. Rogue Medicon 26 Feb 2017 at 6:22 pm

    BBBlue,

    Looking at that same point another way: In today’s political climate, if you hear that a public forum has been disrupted by rock-throwing, window-breaking miscreants, it’s almost guaranteed that the offenders are from the Left.

    Likewise, if you see the government preventing people from being able to tell the truth, it is almost guaranteed that the offenders are from the right.

    You have the government on one side, with all of the privileges that come with governmental authority, and some people whining and throwing rocks on the other side.

    You claim that, “I don’t see nearly the same level of widespread coercion and violence in the Right’s attempts to do so,

    A small number of demonstrators vs enough of the electorate to pass laws that cause greater damage than some rocks.

    The privilege of not having to even protest to get laws passed to silence views you don’t like is ignored, and we pretend this privilege does not exist.

    We have come up with various ways of keeping black people from being able to get jobs, then wonder why they don’t play by the rules that are designed to keep them in their place.

    Boxers recognize that taking a punch (while trying not to get hit) can be better than trying to find a conventional job. While we should not excuse violence, we should not make it out to be more than it is.

    To paraphrase von Clausewitz, War Violence is the continuation of politics by other means.

    Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised when people respond violently, when they do not think they have other means available.

    .

  82. BBBlueon 26 Feb 2017 at 11:02 pm

    Rogue Medic-

    Likewise, if you see the government preventing people from being able to tell the truth, it is almost guaranteed that the offenders are from the right.

    You are continuing the same fallacious line of argument as if it will magically become relevant or valid.

    1. During the last election cycle, was the Left guilty of suppressing speech through coercion and violence? That is a yes or no question, “The Right does it too” is not a valid answer.

    2. Assuming you answer #1 correctly: Do you think that Hillary’s tacit endorsement of the Left’s suppression of free speech and identity politics hurt her chances of winning and in fact, led to a Trump win?

    Who is “the government?” Every administration attempts to use whatever legal power they have to silence critics and opposition; that is not a Left or Right thing. The only difference is that when it’s your guys being silenced, whoever your guys are, it’s unacceptable.

    Maybe we should not be surprised when people respond violently, when they do not think they have other means available.

    Wow! Talk about the bigotry of low expectations. So people threw rocks and set stuff on fire to keep Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking because their only chance to be heard was through violent acts. You think people on the Left shouting down Republicans at town hall meetings and dis-inviting conservative speakers from giving talks on college campuses is a rational act because no one can expect Liberals to control themselves when faced with opposing ideas. Fine, don’t allow the Grand Wizard of the KKK to speak and spew racial hatred, but Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Really?

    Steven talked about drawing lines in his reply to SteveA. My point is not that lines should not be drawn, but that the lines drawn which were endorsed by Hillary (probably a political calculation rather than an ethical one) went way too far in suppressing free speech and coddling those who put identity politics ahead of truth and legitimate, reasonable discourse in the public square.

    Americans of all stripes should give extreme deference to the concept of free speech and be willing to accept considerable offense in order to preserve it.

  83. SteveAon 27 Feb 2017 at 7:45 am

    Dr N: “The white students are not threatening the black students in any way.”

    Yet their remarks were ‘horrible’?

    If the remarks were ‘not threatening the black students in any way’ then what is the issue?

    “Being told every day that you are not wanted because of your race, you are unworthy, you are subhuman – just to get to class – is more than can be reasonably expected of anyone.”

    How on earth are you defining ‘threatening’? Do you think being called ‘sub-human’ is not threatening?

    “The cops would never be involved in this, so you are just wrong that existing laws deal with it.”

    WHAT? Are you a law denier now? The example you gave would be a classic case for prosecution in the UK. But, perhaps in the US you can spew whatever invectives you like against people as long as you’re holding a banner…Why don’t you try it and find out.

  84. Kabboron 27 Feb 2017 at 8:17 am

    SteveA,

    Canada and the UK does have laws that limit what people can verbally spew at one another. The US is more of a free-for-all in that regard. If you are not inciting violence or causing a panic, I think you can say whatever you want. I’m not certain, but that is my understanding of it. Look at the Westboro Baptist Church.

  85. SteveAon 27 Feb 2017 at 9:10 am

    Kabbor

    Thanks for the info. That might explain some of the back and forth.

    Though I’m still wondering how you could call someone an unwanted sub-human and not be ‘threatening’ about it.

    Perhaps you could dress up as a Teletubby, or Ronald McDonald. Better still, slip on a leotard and express it through the medium of dance…

    No. That would be terrifying.

  86. Rogue Medicon 27 Feb 2017 at 10:05 am

    BBBlue,

    Wow! Talk about the bigotry of low expectations.

    That is what happens when you feel you have no options.

    You can call it bigotry or you can try to provide options.

    It seems that we are trying to justify broader police powers.

    Americans of all stripes should give extreme deference to the concept of free speech and be willing to accept considerable offense in order to preserve it.

    In a bunch of states, in laws not passed by the Left, doctors are required to lie to patients, because the government mandates that a medically false political script be used when communicating with patients.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_abortion_restrictions_in_the_United_States#Physician_scripts

    In Florida, in a law not passed by the Left, doctors were prohibited from discussing gun safety with patients. The most recent judicial review is reported on in the link below.

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/17/515764335/court-strikes-down-florida-law-barring-doctors-from-discussing-guns-with-patient

    Maybe we just need broader police powers to round up those who do, or say, something we don’t like./

    .

  87. BBBlueon 27 Feb 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Rogue Medic- We are apparently talking past each other. You seem to be defending the Antifa Movement, while I am defending free speech.

  88. Rogue Medicon 27 Feb 2017 at 9:16 pm

    BBBlue?

    Perhaps you don’t recognize suppression of free speech when it comes from the government.

    Ironic.

    .

  89. rezistnzisfutlon 27 Feb 2017 at 10:01 pm

    BBBlue,

    You’re not the one talking past anyone. You had an initial argument, then RM et al. first committed the tu quoque fallacy, then forwarded their own claim that the right is “just as bad”, maybe worse, when it comes to freedom of speech. What you did is stick with them on the fallacy they created and not let them slide on it. So far, I haven’t seen an error on your part. They’ve simply doubled-down on the fallacy and claim without ever addressing your initial argument, and without even demonstrating the claim. The irony is, one of their profiles links to Wikipedia’s List of Fallacies.

    Regarding speech limitation laws, the problem with those like we see on campuses, is that for one, they’re one-sided. For another, laws aren’t what get people to change hearts and minds, and then progress. The last 100 years didn’t progress because of hate laws, but because changes in sentiment driven forward by better arguments. People changed on their own despite any laws. Ideas should have the opportunity to be examined and dissected openly, not suppressed so that no one is allowed to talk about it. Or worse, only certain segments of the population based solely on arbitrary innate phenotypes. And again, that’s been one-sided so far.

  90. Steven Novellaon 27 Feb 2017 at 10:09 pm

    SteveA – the standard in the US is that “threatening” means you are inciting or threatening immediate violence. Implying is not enough. Vague future violence is not enough.

    You can call someone subhuman, etc. and that is just your opinion.

  91. SteveAon 28 Feb 2017 at 4:24 am

    “You can call someone subhuman, etc. and that is just your opinion.”

    Well, if the conversation has devolved to distinctions like this, I’ll stop wasting my time with this thread. I made my points. Agree with them, or not.

  92. Bill Openthalton 28 Feb 2017 at 4:45 am

    The Left (for lack of a better term) has as bad a reputation for suppressing free speech as the Right. Stalin and Mao come to mind (and this is coming from a guy who was (briefly) a fervent communist in his misspent youth — full disclosure: I was also (briefly) a member of Opus Dei).

    I suppose the problem Rogue Medic expresses is that certain religious moral convictions (such as blastocysts having a soul) are seen as “not factual” by folks at his side of the debate. In fact, they assert there is no “debate”, and the opposing side is willfully ignoring clear, unambiguous evidence. I have observed the same inability to understand the opposing party in devout muslims, who simply cannot believe that what is so obviously the word of god to them is laughable to a non-muslim, especially if that non-muslim is an Arab speaker who has read the Qu’ran. They see the work of the devil, and classify the other as evil. After all, the truth is so blindingly obvious one has to be an evil person to know this and still willfully deny it.

  93. Steven Novellaon 28 Feb 2017 at 7:13 am

    SteveA – I think you are dodging an opportunity to examine your logic more closely.

    My original thought experiment involved speech that was horribly offensive, to the point (especially in context) that it would be oppressive to the targets and that people cannot be reasonably expected to just have a thick skin and put up with it, yet does not cross the line into being threatening.

    Your counter point was that there is no such thing. Anything that offensive is by definition threatening, and therefore is dealt with by existing law. I disagree with you both in principle and as an empirical legal matter.

    Since your original point was legal, then the latter is most important. It is demonstrably not a legally actionable threat to insult someone racially and express offensively racist opinions as long as you don’t threaten or incite immediate harm. (at least in the US).

    Therefore there is no existing legal remedy to such speech, and therefore a University might have to take action themselves in order to protect students who are harassed and oppressed by such speech.

    Your point is therefore objectively wrong.

    As an aside, there actually is a legal remedy, but it is not because of being threatened. The students in my example could claim that their civil rights were being violated, and they could sue the university for allowing it to happen.

  94. rezistnzisfutlon 28 Feb 2017 at 8:28 am

    Sorry Dr. Novella, there are a lot of logical leaps there. For one, what is regarded as “offensive” is purely subjective and arbitrary – what one person finds extremely offensive another person doesn’t even register. For another, speech by itself isn’t “oppressive”. How could it be, it doesn’t stop someone from doing something unless they CHOOSE to take it to heart enough to stop themselves.

    Now we get into knee-deep territory. What we commonly see in modernity is racially-charged speech, but aimed at white people. That is the most common rhetoric on campuses these days. It is the rallying cry of “social justice”.

    It is mine and others’ contention that so-called “offensive” speech is not actually viably legally sound, but rather an attempt to silence those with a politically differing opinion. What is demonstrably true is that it’s gone so far as to be without a reasonable doubt that mere dissent of the politically correct and social justice speech is deemed “offensive”.

    Sorry, but no one has the right not to be offended, offense being entirely subjected and impossible to quantify.

    It’s at best arguable that speech and rhetoric are “harassment’. A person following another continuously spewing racist epithets while the other person continues to ask them to stop, that’s difficult to defend. A passing epithet that has no continuance, is that harassment? No, it’s not. Is it harassment when someone with a differing opinion to what is “politically correct” is shouted down and not allowed to speak, can they claim oppression? These days, they can’t.

    There are no simple solutions or clear distinctions, but in my estimations allowing people to speak their minds and ideas be argued is the best way to progress. Suppressing ideas through policy or laws IS authoritarianism and is too open not only to interpretation, but validation to silence political opponents.

    Bad ideas only die on the field of open ideas, not at the hands of oppressors.

  95. Steven Novellaon 28 Feb 2017 at 10:28 am

    rez – I have to disagree on some points, but let me start with what I agree with. Your position is reasonable when it comes to government control of speech. That is what the first amendment prohibits, government censorship, and there is a huge benefit of the doubt given to free speech, with which I completely agree.

    Private institutions can have a different standard, however.

    On to what I disagree with – your premise is that “offensive” is completely subjective and therefore not subject to any regulation. This is not a valid premise. The law allows for subjective judgments, in which case it uses the “typical reasonable person” standard. That is also the standard I applied.

    You could also apply your logic to harassment, and you already see that this is not valid. Harassment is also subjective, but we can make legal judgments based upon the average reasonable personal standard.

    Your second premise is that speech cannot be “oppressive” and this is also wrong. You failed to address my justification, that a reasonably thick-skinned person would find persistent involuntary exposure to the speech mentally oppressive. Saying that they just “choose” to take it to heart is frankly naive. You cannot just turn off your emotional response to speech that is extreme and designed to provoke an emotional response. That is an unreasonable standard.

    You then give supporting examples that significantly differ from my thought experiment, and that essentially represent abuse of the basic principles. Because abuse of a principle is bad does not mean the principle (properly applied) is bad.

    The media tends to focus on extreme examples, so you may have a distorted view of what’s happening in the world. I do agree that your examples are bad and not justified, and I am not defending them. I think we need to allow the elbow room for free speech, and we have a responsibility to be reasonably thick-skinned (as I clearly stated above). I think that we need to make an extreme effort not to suppress political opinions we don’t like by labeling them as oppressive or aggressive.

    The first answer to speech we don’t like is more speech.

    Universities are not the government. They have multiple responsibilities which can be at cross purposes. They should foster an open and stimulating environment for their students. But they should also foster a collegiate and non-violent environment. They can prioritize making all students feel safe and welcome. These also promote the free exchange of ideas.

    Further, they can apply a filter of intellectual quality to any invited speakers. They can decide that a speaker is a crank or a bigot and that the intellectual integrity of their speech is not worth of offering them the university as a venue. There is an implied endorsement from invitation, and speakers absolutely use that in their resume to sell themselves as legitimate.

    The problem comes when such speakers slip through the cracks because the process of inviting speakers (often by student groups) is fairly loose. After the fact it comes to wider attention, and then it is decided that the invitation was inappropriate. The controversy could be avoided if they were never invited in the first place.

    In my opinion the current mess is due to extremists on both sides who are not reasonably applying thoughtful principles.

  96. daedalus2uon 28 Feb 2017 at 10:34 am

    While freedom of speech is important, opposition to hate speech and opposition to intolerance is also important, and is perhaps even more important.

    “This is important because of this simple historically demonstrated fact: racism left unchecked eventually leads to holocaust. By “holocaust” I mean many things, and what actually happens would depend on conditions and circumstances, but generally, registration, incarceration, removal, etc. with the eventual killing of large numbers of individuals associated with a certain racial, ethnic, or religious identity.”

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2016/11/28/this-is-what-racism-looks-like/

    The path of escalation is laid out in Allport’s Scale.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allport's_Scale

    Once you start down the path of escalation, if you are unwilling to go to the next step, then you are lost if your opponent is willing. Unless you are prepared to go as far as genocide, don’t start down the path, because those willing to commit genocide will eventually “win” by committing genocide against you.

  97. BBBlueon 28 Feb 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Rogue Medic-

    Perhaps you don’t recognize suppression of free speech when it comes from the government.

    It’s not that I don’t recognize it, it’s that I wasn’t talking about it. I am talking about A while you insist on talking about B.

    During the 80’s and 90’s, antifa groups made a name for themselves by directly opposing (busting heads) some very nasty and overtly racist groups. I think a lot of people at the time, including me, who did not condone the violence were sympathetic to a degree; it was okay, or at least understandable to confront such vile groups on their own terms.

    More recently, the battlelines are not so clear. Antifa groups and tactics are being employed, not just to combat obvious evils, but also to beat down (mostly figuratively, but not always) opponents over reasonable disagreements and manufactured controversy. That is what I am objecting to and that is what I think contributed to Trump’s win.

    The best recent example of this I can think of is the Southern Poverty Law Center adding people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali to their list of anti-Muslim extremists. While one may not agree with Ayaan, she is a rational, not-even-remotely racist person who makes a cogent argument: Islam is a problem, Jihadism and Islamism are ideas that flow from and are justified by Islamic texts and are not merely a consequence of human agency. The SPLC has a different view and has used antifa tactics in an attempt to convince people that Ayaan is extreme, too hot to handle, and shouldn’t be listened to, which is to say, suppress free speech.

  98. Karl Withakayon 28 Feb 2017 at 1:01 pm

    “Universities are not the government.”

    Private universities are not government, for sure.

    State universities are a different matter, aren’t they?

  99. Kabboron 28 Feb 2017 at 2:25 pm

    “State universities are a different matter, aren’t they?”

    I think whether or not a State University is considered part of the government is kind of a moot point if my understanding is correct. The US government does not limit the freedom of speech *of citizens* beyond the basic safety of its people, but this does not mean that government agencies are free to express anything they desire without consequence. A person can’t issue racist proclamations in the department of defense for example. The department of Commerce is well within it’s right to remove offensive material from it’s web resources. This is normal, and why should universities be any different?

    I would certainly be interested in hearing from someone with more experience in these matters. I’m genuinely curious if things work very different than how imagine they do.

  100. Karl Withakayon 28 Feb 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Well, I was thinking more along the line of what a private university might be allowed to do in regards to censoring student speech (under threat of, say, expulsion) vs what a state university would be allowed to do.

    A private university would probably have more latitude to disallow certain student speech on campus than a state university would.

  101. MaryMon 28 Feb 2017 at 4:10 pm

    He’s baaaaaaaaack.

    http://searchengineland.com/rare-confirmation-google-site-penalty-natural-news-back-googles-index-270239

  102. Rogue Medicon 28 Feb 2017 at 8:20 pm

    BBBlue,

    It’s not that I don’t recognize it, it’s that I wasn’t talking about it. I am talking about A while you insist on talking about B.

    Your original comment was about A being worse than B.

    The left tends to be the least self-critical when denying an opponent the opportunity to express their opinion. Breaking windows and burning stuff to silence someone you disagree with is okay, but don’t mess with someone they consider an ally.

    When you make a comparison, even if it is only implied, you invite analysis of that comparison.

    With a few exceptions, we aren’t literalists, so we do understand what it means to imply, rather than explicitly state something.

    Analysis of a comparison is not the same as claiming that one side is pure goodness and the other side is pure evil.

    I would use at least one superlative, such as least, if I meant to imply either extreme.

    .

  103. Rogue Medicon 28 Feb 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Bill Openthalt,

    I suppose the problem Rogue Medic expresses is that certain religious moral convictions (such as blastocysts having a soul) are seen as “not factual” by folks at his side of the debate.

    Where does this mention anything about the souls of blastocysts?

    Were does this mention any moral problem other than being forced to make demonstrably false statements?

    I understand that Christians may feel that it is acceptable to lie for their interpretation of Jesus.

    Doctors are held to a higher standard.

    This is what Wikipedia states in the section I link to –

    In some states, a doctor who performs an abortion is required to read a prepared script to the patient in order to secure informed consent. These scripts may include medically inaccurate information intended to persuade the patient not to have an abortion, such as the claim that the abortion will increase the risk of breast cancer or of psychological problems, which are not supported by mainstream medical organizations or scientific consensus.[16][20] As of July 2013, 12 states require that women be given information on the ability of a fetus to feel pain.[21] In Planned Parenthood v. Rounds, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a South Dakota law requiring doctors to give patients false or misleading information about the suicide risk in women who have abortions was not unconstitutional.[22]

    I didn’t see anything doctors to make any kind of statement about blastocysts and souls.

    .

  104. Bill Openthalton 01 Mar 2017 at 7:38 am

    Rogue Medic —

    The point I’m trying to make is that the gulf between the bedrock of religion (god, souls, angels, devils, miracles etc.) and science is wider than ever before. When one doesn’t subscribe to a religious worldview, or is pragmatic about the doctrine of one’s religion (something most people do), many of the moral precepts of religion are baseless, or even amoral (cf. the problems many “liberal” folk have with the Catholic doctrine on contraception, marriage or gender equality — urging the pope to fall in line with “modern” principles).

    For many religious people, accepting that their divine laws should be trumped by secular human laws is anathema. Just as much as for secular people, being subjected to religious laws would be anathema. This is the problem you seem to be facing. You can’t understand how people manage to drag up and take seriously those studies (old, discredited or rejected) that support their narrative. Studies that are so utterly nonsensical that the people who aver to believe them must be consciously lying — in other words, they do know their arguments are false, but they use them to further their evil purpose. The truly amazing thing is that the other side is just as convinced you are willfully devious.

    It is the problem this blog wrestles with — why do anti-vaxers ignore rock-solid science? Why does Egnor continue to believe in his Roman Catholic god? Why does hardnose continue to spout his nonsense? Why does BBBlue not see that he is wrong and you are right? Which arguments will finally make them see the light? Why, after all our sterling arguments, don’t they hang their heads in shame and slip back under the rock whence they came? They must be truly stupid (the generous hypothesis), or evil. Because, heaven forbid, you are neither stupid nor evil, and the truth is so glaringly obvious…

  105. BBBlueon 01 Mar 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Rogue Medic- My claim was the Left is the least self-critical when it comes to their own actions in suppressing free speech, and I provided a general example. If you want to refute thatclaim, then provide examples of influential people within the Clinton campaign recognizing that and changing their ways rather than acquiescing to those who were and are fanning the flames. In other words, demonstrate that the Left is self-critical in that regard. I also offered the opinion that the Left’s suppression of free speech is particularly worrisome, not because the particular type of suppression they practice is intrinsically better or worse than any other type of suppression, but because they either justify it or deny they are even doing it.

    Changing the subject and justifying the Left’s suppression of free speech does not refute those claims, it reinforces them.

  106. Rogue Medicon 01 Mar 2017 at 1:17 pm

    BBBlue,

    My claim was the Left is the least self-critical when it comes to their own actions in suppressing free speech, and I provided a general example.

    The least self-critical compared to what?

    I interpreted your statement to be a comparison with, well the obvious comparison. The other side.

    I provided evidence to refute that interpretation.

    If you intended the least self-critical to be a comparison with something else, what would that be?

    .

  107. arnieon 01 Mar 2017 at 1:22 pm

    BBBlue-You have presented no science based evidence with your claim that the the left does more suppressing of free speech, or is less self-critical, or does more worrisome suppression of free speech than the right. You have offered only opinion and cherry picked anecdotes and examples. It is not the burden of Rogue Medic or anyone else to provide evidence contradicting your opinions prior to your providing solid evidence supporting your opinions. The burden is all yours and you have not shouldered it. While I’m sure most of us would defend your right to express your political opinions and to practice cherry-picking, I see nothing in your comments thus far that has constructively contributed to this thread or to the issues Steve N. addressed in this blog post. In fact, I think it’s accurate to say that such political and non-skeptical comments run counter to the primary purpose and spirit of this blog site.

    If you have experienced my comment as an attempt to suppress your free speech, you’ve entirely missed the point.

  108. Rogue Medicon 01 Mar 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Bill Openthalt,

    I understand your point.

    I find endless amusement in the popes acknowledging the reality of evolution and the ethical responsibility of humans to those less fortunate, at the expense of nominal Catholics, such as Michael Egnor.

    The current pope’s statements that all Catholics should work to reverse the contributions of humans to climate change is, likewise, appreciated.

    I suspect that Michael Egnor’s cognitive dissonance allows him to imagine himself as Job, unfairly beset by an otherwise perfect God.

    .

  109. BBBlueon 01 Mar 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Rogue Medic- Exactly how is pointing out the other guy does it too relevant to the concept of being self critical about one’s actions? Because you were missing my point or I did not make my point well enough, I clarified it a number of times by discussing specific examples of what I am talking about, and all you can say is the Right does it too and then go on to defend anti-fascist and anarchist behaviour. I don’t mind being wrong, if I am wrong, but you are debating a different subject.

    You have offered nothing to refute my claim that the Left suppresses reasonable disagreements and free speech by using antifa tactics or that the Left’s suppression of free speech and identity politics helped Trump win. Instead, you attempt to distill the totality of my comments down to something that justifies your changing of the subject in order to criticize the Right or “The government.”

  110. BBBlueon 01 Mar 2017 at 3:05 pm

    arnie- I consider the examples cited regarding Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Milo Yiannopoulos to be factual examples that illustrate my point. I stated that the Left’s suppression of free speech and identity politics is more worrisome to me “at this moment in our political history” because it can lead to eight years of Trump rather than four. That is all related to the concept of free speech and what constitutes reasonable speech, which in turn, is related to Steven’s post as well as others in this thread. I think it would be best if you leave the policing of tone to Steven as you are clearly not up to the task.

  111. arnieon 01 Mar 2017 at 4:26 pm

    BBBlue- Your examples may or may not illustrate your point, but they are cherry picked and do not lend meaningful weight to your unsubstantiated point that the left is more suppressive of free speech than the right. I grant you that you did state that the ‘more worrisome’ part was your “opinion” but not that it was worrisome to you only.

    For the record, there was nothing in my comment that indicated I was trying to ‘police’ Steven’s post. My offering an opinion (I said “I think”) that you were stepping outside the primary purpose and spirit of his blog (in terms of politicizing and critical/skeptical thinking) was simply a concern (certainly not limited to you) I have about the extensive derailing, diverting, and hijacking that often, and apparently, deliberately occurs on the blog. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you are aware that this is a widely shared concern. But I don’t think anyone has attempted to “police” it nor would want to. Of course that task, if it is ever necessary, belongs to Steve and I happen to think he does an excellent and balanced job of managing the blog.

    I stand on my reaction to your biased views about the suppression of free speech. I don’t know who actually suppresses more or less, but I don’t think you have shown convincing evidence nor good critical thinking in your personal judgment on the matter.

  112. Rogue Medicon 01 Mar 2017 at 4:33 pm

    BBBlue,

    Exactly how is pointing out the other guy does it too relevant to the concept of being self critical about one’s actions?

    Once more –

    My claim was the Left is the least self-critical when it comes to their own actions in suppressing free speech, and I provided a general example.

    The least self-critical compared to what?

    I interpreted your statement to be a comparison with, well the obvious comparison.

    When you imply comparison, you should anticipate comments on that comparison.

    If you were to write that either Trump, or Obama is the worst _______, you should anticipate that not everyone will agree.

    The same is true for the use of any other superlative.

    .

  113. rezistnzisfutlon 02 Mar 2017 at 4:06 am

    Dr. Novella, thank you for taking the time to respond. In kind, my agreement to your response is varied.

    Firstly, it’s not government that grants freedom of speech, all it can do is restrict it. Yes, private institutions have the freedom to restrict speech, but that is still restricting freedom of speech – a person has less freedom to express themselves than before. It doesn’t make it wrong, it just is.

    “Offensive” IS completely subjective. It is completely arbitrary and individual at what point speech becomes offensive. The thing is, no one has a right not to be offended. What I said was that what is deemed as “offensive” is not a valid measure of what should be used for regulation. It is a reason why freedom of speech in the US is probably the most free in the world, at least for a developed nation, because it’s constitutionally protected. Blocking freedom of speech is a tool often used by authoritarians.

    While the law may allow for subjective judgments, that is impossible to avoid as all human judgments have a level of subjectivity. The same goes with what is regarded as reasonable. Laws aren’t always reasonable so that’s not really a valid argument as to how a law should be applied. Throughout history, it’s been “typically reasonable” in many societies to own slaves. We all know that just because an idea is popular among people doesn’t meant it’s a good idea.

    There is only one “reasonable” protection against that, which is to minimize state involvement of speech. It’ll never be perfect, but maximizing peoples’ freedom to it is the only protection from any sort of tyranny.

    Harassment is subjective, but is a different situation. Freedom of speech as an individual freedom goes hand-in-hand with freedom of association. People should also be free to dissociate themselves from the speaker. Holding someone a captive audience against their will is antithetical to freedom of speech. The legal definition of harassment is the ONGOING and repeated behavior that is unwelcome and unable to escape. That is different that what is commonly regarded as harassment, which in that case means “speech I don’t like to read or hear”. That as a standard leaves it wide open for abuse.

    Freedom of speech necessarily requires tolerance, if not acceptance, of speech one does not like or may find “offensive”. That is how it is in a free society. I may not like the street preacher screaming that I’m a sinner going to hell, but I learn to not let it get to me. THAT is true empowerment, not to fold under the opinions of others. What is persistent involuntary exposure anyone? That happens all the time. The billboard that has scripture on it, it’s oppressing me because I drive by it every day? Or do I just tune it out? My demand to have it taken down is absurd.

    Yes, the media does often sensationalize. I think I’ve learned to take that with a grain of salt. My examples are what’s commonly occurring right now, and are disturbing trends. So far, nothing has been done about what has gone on at Berkeley, as far as I can tell everyone involved got away with it. Same goes with throwing burning trashcans through business windows or beating Trump supporters to a bloody pulp just for existing. This has happened a lot and it is a common them of the left, NOT the fight, in recent times. I think any reasonable person will see that.

    Taxpayer funded universities ARE government. The only restriction that should be placed on the are to what they are allowed to officially stand for, as well as to verify the physical safety of attendees while on their property. Right now, we’re seeing an entirely one-sided application of these. For one, administrators, and worse, faculty are engaging directly in political activity. This should be highly disturbing to anyone who cares about academia because academia should be maximally apolitical and areligious. That is the only way to preserve objectivity. For another, it should also uphold an open environment of instruction where no idea, even those that are unpopular, should be suppressed. That is the only way those ideas can be examined. You don’t learn by suppression. The problem with your logic here is the claim that right-wing speech necessarily implies violence. From an independent perspective, the only violence I’ve seen so far has been from the left at universities, from Mizzou to Berkeley, just as examples (there are many more). It is possible to expect equal non-violence from all speaking events regardless of their content, and equal response to any violent activity.

    Thing is, these days it’s again one-sided on universities, where you’re allowed to be every bit as vitriolic and opinionated about left-wing politics, but anyone that dissent from that is roundly condemned and suppressed. It’s kind of like having religious symbols on public property, either you allow all forms to be displayed, or none. Favoring one of the other IS unreasonable.

    As long as the assemblage is peaceable and non-violent, no speaker should be disallowed from speaking at public universities. As a college student myself, I heard some downright scary speech from far-left speakers, including the culling of the male population by feminist speakers to the burning of crops by anti-GMO types. Highly violent and what seems to me to be hateful suggestions. Why are those tolerated yet someone like Milo who is NOT a racist or bigot, receive such intolerance?

    The problem in this thread is the claim that both left and right are equally “bad” at their suppression of free speech. No. Right now, the left is the big problem and they’ve done a lot more that is downright fascist in their own right, and no that’s not hyperbolic. What I linked to before weren’t isolated incidents of leftist violence, they have been happening all over and in far greater numbers than anything the right has done in modernity, with the intent of inhibiting our personal freedoms. I find that highly disturbing.

  114. rezistnzisfutlon 02 Mar 2017 at 4:16 am

    arnic, they aren’t cherry-picked, they are representative. That kind of violence and violent restriction of free speech is far more common on the left than the right in current times. That’s the point we’re trying to make.

    The problem with yours and RM’s counter is the claim that the right is just as restrictive to freedom of speech these days. They are not. You didn’t see the right going out in numbers to Clinton rallies to physically assault and accost attendees with the intent to silence them. You don’t see the right blowing airhorns and banging pots and pans at leftist speaking engagements with the intent of preventing the speaker from saying anything. You don’t see the right going to left-wing speaking engagements and snatching a mic out of the hand of the speaker, physically threatening them into silence, then strutting about the stage with little victory dances. You don’t see the right stopping journalists in public spaces like universities and saying “we need some muscle over here” in order to forcibly remove the journalist, from a public space! And from a faculty member no less. You don’t see the right starting riots, setting cars and local gas stations on fires, or physically assaulting a person standing on the street giving an interview because they don’t like what they’re saying. You don’t see the right doing anything to prevent leftist speakers from attending college or public speaking events.

    In the past few years, it’s been nearly entirely one-sided, and if even the suggestion of a rightist doing anything to deny the speech of a political opponent, there would be universal outrage and international medial coverage.

    BBBlue, it’s enough of a reason to oppose the infringement of freedom of speech without giving a reason that the left might appreciate. The infringement of speech by itself is an issue. No one has the right not to be offended, and if the left continues to refuse introspection and self-reflection, then we’re simply going to get more Brexits, Trumps, Republican congresses, and the rise in sympathy for rightist groups.

  115. Bill Openthalton 02 Mar 2017 at 7:17 am

    Rogue Medic —

    I think we can agree that at this moment, those who claim to be/are labelled as “Left/progressives” are more extreme in their behaviour than those who claim to be/are labelled as “Right/conservatives”.

    The simplification of the political spectrum to a Left/Right line doesn’t make reasoned discourse easy. The mental makeup that leads to the use of violence to achieve political goals is independent of the preference for individual values/rights(conservatives) or group values/rights (progressives). It might be argued that people who value group identification over individual identification are less likely to question leaders inciting violence. In other words, even though the people advocating and inciting violence are a small minority everywhere, their followers are more likely to be people more motivated by group values/rights. A mob of libertarians is an obvious oxymoron.

  116. arnieon 02 Mar 2017 at 8:51 am

    rezist-Yes, I do think you and BBB are cherry picking, false-dichotomizing, oversimplifying, and using a lot of anecdotal confirmation bias to support your apparent libertarian ideology. I agree with Bill O that “simplification of the political spectrum to a Left/Right doesn’t make reasoned discourse easy”. In fact, it makes it virtually impossible, especially in written discourse as opposed to verbal, in person, discourse. You give your personal biases away even further by your assertion that if a “rightest” did anything even suggesting the kind of free speech oppression that, to you, appears to be the sole prerogative of “leftists”, there would be “universal outrage and international media coverage”, thus buying into the propaganda that the whole world, and perhaps especially the world-wide media, is heavily prejudiced against “the right” and favors “the left”.

    I don’t think your highly over-simplified, dichotomized and non-nuanced view of these very complex political and social matters reflects much critical-thinking-informed self reflection, the very thing you accuse the far more violently oppressive left (in your view and sweeping assertions) of lacking.

  117. BBBlueon 02 Mar 2017 at 2:48 pm

    arnie-

    In fact, I think it’s accurate to say that such political and non-skeptical comments run counter to the primary purpose and spirit of this blog site.

    Then I suppose you would say the same about Dr. Novella’s own comments regarding ethical principles related to hateful or racist speech. Far removed from empiricism, right? Only remotely connected to his original post, correct?

    Steven has been a more than generous host to those who stray far from original topics, too generous, in my opinion, but that has been his choice and I respect that. However, even if that was not the case, I don’t think a discussion centered on free speech should ever be unwelcome among skeptics as without it, we have nothing.

  118. Rogue Medicon 02 Mar 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Bill Openthalt

    The mental makeup that leads to the use of violence to achieve political goals is independent of the preference for individual values/rights(conservatives) or group values/rights (progressives).

    I do not see support from conservatives for individual rights, but fierce opposition.

    The government is supposed to decide what information an individual can be provided by doctors to patients.

    The government is supposed to decide what methods of birth control is acceptable.

    The government is supposed to stop abortions.

    The government is supposed to prevent people from making decisions about when they die.

    The government is supposed to coerce citizens to participate in the religion of the majority.

    How is that respect for individual rights?

    They only seem to support individual rights, when an individual opposes equal treatment of individuals.

    It might be argued that people who value group identification over individual identification are less likely to question leaders inciting violence. In other words, even though the people advocating and inciting violence are a small minority everywhere, their followers are more likely to be people more motivated by group values/rights.

    This appears to be important in the evolution of religion.

    It doesn’t matter how ridiculous the claim is, the group has to behave as if it is true in order to demonstrate group solidarity.

    This may be the reason Trump tells such ridiculous lies.

    By defending nonsense, you reject objective reality and demonstrate allegiance to the group.

    As with criminal organizations, you are required to commit ever more serious crimes, to give them something to hold over you (although you may not realize this is what is going on initially) in order to become an accepted member of the group.

    The right seems to consistently present their mission as protecting their group from those who are different, while claiming that they are in favor of the individual rights that have to be eliminated to obtain their goals of group cohesion.

    .

  119. BBBlueon 02 Mar 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Rogue Medic-

    I interpreted your statement to be a comparison with, well the obvious comparison.

    From the beginning, I made it clear that I was talking about people on the left who are suppressing free speech by breaking windows and burning stuff along with Democrats like Hillary Clinton who were woefully uncritical of such behavior. I called those people who were guilty of suppressing free speech through coercion and violence the Left and said they are those who I used to call the Far-Left, but it would have been more accurate to say they are anti-fascists and anarchists and their allies.

    One needs no data to prove that anti-fascist and anarchist groups use the suppression of free speech as a tactic, one only needs to understand their history and their current operational philosophy; fascists must be stopped at all costs. Resist! “Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised when people respond violently, when they do not think they have other means available,” is a red flag to me that suggests maybe one’s commitment to free speech is conditional to an unreasonable degree.

    The point I am most passionate about, which is why I keep coming back to it, is what I see as the Left’s or capital “L” Liberal reluctance to call out antifa and anarchist groups and their allies for defining those with reasonable differences as fascists in order to justify suppressing their speech at all costs. It seems to have reached a point where many on the left, not just anti-fascists and anarchists, can’t wait for a reason, however tenuous, to call someone on the Right a fascist or a Nazi. Milo Yiannopoulos is a provocateur and a troll, while I have considered Ayaan Hirsi Ali to be a feminist hero ever since I first heard her speak. However, in my opinion, neither are anywhere close to being fascists or Nazis, and their speech certainly does not justify suppression at all costs.

    You are right, I did not make a compelling case for the Left being the least self-critical, and I think I said as much early on in admitting that my statement was opinion, my evidence anecdotal, and those who I was criticizing were part of a political faction, not everyone on the left. However, there were lots of other questions and claims in the mix; I thought the conversation had moved on, but evidently, you did not.

  120. Rogue Medicon 02 Mar 2017 at 5:21 pm

    BBBlue,

    I thought the conversation had moved on, but evidently, you did not.

    You have kept referring to your comments as not comparing the left to the right.

    You have denied that you were making a comparison and stated that any comparison I made was just an example of claiming that others do it, too.

    I did not make a compelling case for the Left being the least self-critical

    That is what I have been stating. There has been no reason to ignore your claims that no comparison was implied in your comment and move on.

    Now, if you want to compare the relative problems of the left and the right in suppressing free speech, the differences in ability to use we can move on to that.

    The right needs to stop claiming that they, or their gods, are offended as an excuse to silence others.

    Likewise, the left needs to stop claiming that they are offended as an excuse to silence others, especially in the university setting, which is exactly the place these discussions are most important. If they are offended, they should peacefully protest and offer rebuttals in the appropriate settings.

    It was the ACLU that defended the free speech rights of the Nazis to march in Skokie, which even offended The Blues Brothers.

    .

  121. BBBlueon 02 Mar 2017 at 5:40 pm

    rez- You might appreciate Sam Harris’ comments on this subject. I know I did.

    “The left seems capable of doing everything wrong in response to the rise of the so-called Alt-Right and the Trump presidency.”

  122. BBBlueon 03 Mar 2017 at 1:02 am

    rez- I thought I added start time to URL, but just in case, it’s 19:51 in.

  123. rezistnzisfutlon 03 Mar 2017 at 1:47 am

    Thank you!

  124. BBBlueon 03 Mar 2017 at 11:34 am

    Rogue Medic- Sheesh, you just don’t quit do you? I also said that the suppression of free speech and the manifestation of identity politics is a significant and immediate threat from the Left and that the Left’s behavior is the most worrisome to me. We discussed that and several points, not just my original claim, you responded to those different statements, and we traded comments about how you mistakenly thought I was saying that the suppression of free speech was unique to the Left before you presumed to know my ideology and connect me to the Right, which led to the discussion about tu quoque by proxy.

    Eventually, for reasons that don’t make sense to me unless you were just trying to overcome the fallacious arguments you had made and be right about something, you circled all the way back to the beginning and my comment that the Left is the least self-critical. You seemed intent on changing the subject so you could get your jabs in on the Right, just like you did in your last comment, and ignore the fact that the conversation had already moved on.

  125. rezistnzisfutlon 03 Mar 2017 at 4:45 pm

    BBBlue, have you seen this rant? He does a decent job explaining why, and they still don’t get it. Warning, it has some foul language in it.

    https://youtu.be/GLG9g7BcjKs

  126. BBBlueon 03 Mar 2017 at 7:28 pm

    rez- Thanks for that. The only thing I would disagree with is that Trump was ever worth a roll of the dice. How depressing is that? Considering the steaming pile served up by the DNC, Hillary was still what I considered to have been the best option. Are we in the midst of political de-evolution where the most unfit are favored?

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