sooner or later, they’re going to come for people you do like

Online liberalism, as I’ve said many times, is not actually a series of political beliefs and alliances but instead a set of social cues that are adopted to demonstrate one’s class background– economic class, certainly, but more cultural class, the various linguistic and consumptive signals that assure those around you that you’re the right kind of person and which appear to be the only thing that America’s 20-something progressives really care about anymore.

The dominance of personal branding and cultural signalling over political theory means that liberal attitudes change very rapidly and then congeal into a consensus that is supposedly so obviously correct that it does not need defending. In the past year, liberalism as an elite social phenomenon has abandoned first rights of the accused and second the right to free expression. The Jameis Winston and Woody Allen sexual assault cases saw the rise of resistance to any discussion whatsoever of due process and rights of the accused, and in the way of their culture, online progressives moved quickly to a place where anyone mentioning those rights at all were immediately and angrily denounced, and accused of insufficient resistance to (if not outright support for) rape and rape culture. Similarly, the Brandon Eich situation, and now the Donald Sterling fiasco, have prompted this social cohort to change liberalism such that its traditional staunch defense of free speech rights has become instead an assumed disgust with those who talk about free speech rights at all. On Twitter and Tumblr, the notion that people have the right to hold controversial political opinions is not a cherished precept of the left but tantamount to racism and homophobia. And, as I recently wrote, abandoning these commitments also entails abandoning the traditional liberal argument that rights are meaningless without ability.

So take, for example, this comprehensively awful piece by Salon’s Elias Isquith. It’s a pretty perfect example of cultural and social signals substituting for an actual political position. Isquith’s piece does not contain an argument. I’m not saying it doesn’t contain a good argument; I’m saying it does not contain an argument. It’s a mostly-failed attempt to achieve an arch tone married to the blank, undefended assumption that people defending rights on principle are themselves guilty of whatever people invoking those rights are accused of. It’s no different than insisting that someone who thinks an accused murderer should have rights is an apologist for murder. Not that Isquith quite gins up the courage to make that explicit. I am tempted to say, for example, that he accuses Julian Sanchez of racism, but of course he doesn’t; he merely suggests, implies, and hints that Sanchez is a racist, or a near-racist, or a defender of racism. You know. The mature way.

All of this will be good for Isquith’s career, of course. Salon, though it still publishes some good work, has rapidly devolved into a series of progressive dog whistles, a constant, numbing reassurance for its readership that they are good and smart and conservatives are monstrous. And the willingness to hint that people who disagree with you are existentially immoral is certainly not going to hurt his online popularity any. The question is whether contributing to this progressive impatience with the very idea of rights talk is actually going to help the progressive cause.

What would actually be worthwhile– what would actually work to advance our  country politically– would be for people to actually come out and say what they mean. If you don’t think people accused of rape should have due process rights, you should say so. If you are OK with a society in which only the idle rich have the right to free expression, where people have absolutely no expectation of being able to hold controversial views without risking their employment or their property, say so. But all the hinting and signalling and cultural cues just leave us with no coherent understanding of what rights we actually have left.

Which is troubling, given that undermining rights works both ways. This is going to happen: sooner or later, some CEO or sports team owner or similar is going to get ousted because he or she supports a woman’s right to an abortion, or the cause of Palestinian statehood, or opposes the death penalty. It’s inevitable. I can easily see someone suggesting that, say, Israel is an apartheid state, and watching as the media whips itself into a frenzy. And when that happens, the notion that there is no such thing as a violation of free speech that isn’t the government literally sending men with guns to arrest you will be just as powerful, and powerfully destructive, as it is now. So what will these people say? I don’t have the slightest idea how they will be able to defend the right of people to hold controversial, left-wing political ideas when they have come up with a thousand arguments for why the right to free expression doesn’t apply in any actual existing case. How will Isquith write a piece defending a CEO’s right to oppose Israeli apartheid? A sports owner’s right to do the same? I can’t see how he could– unless it really is just all about teams, and not about principle at all.

Update: Lots of comments, lots of emails, lots of tweets from people who are afraid to actually engage– not one single attempt to explain how you would defend a CEO or sports team owner who was forced out for insufficient loyalty to the state of Israel. Not a single attempt. Not a word.

182 thoughts on “sooner or later, they’re going to come for people you do like

  1. This I agree with. Things should not be made de facto illegal that actually break no laws. That is indeed a very slippery slope. We shouldn’t allow the stoning of merely repellant people.

    1. sometimes what one says or does makes one an asshole. that doesn’t necessarily mean that it makes one a criminal. in fact, that’s rarely what it means. it just means one is an asshole.

    2. sometimes what one says or does makes one an asshole. that doesn’t necessarily mean that it makes one a criminal. in fact, that’s rarely what it means. it just means one is an asshole.

  2. I always admired the aclu’s defense of any party, even the worst, growing up and assumed others of similar persuasion did as well. I wonder if I was mistaken or this has changed.

    1. You were mistaken, even on the ACLU. It’s not for no reason that this joke exists:

      “How does an ACLU lawyer count to ten? One, three, four, five…”

      1. You beat me to it. It’d be nice if they defended all of the Bill of Rights, not just the ones they agree with.

    2. THe ACLU-used to defend free speech regardless of who was their “immediate client”. I remember when they defended the repellent American Nazi’s rights to march in Skokie , Ill, at that time a largely Jewish city.

      Nowdays that would be unthinkable. The ACLU selectively defends those against government actions only when they are on “the right side of history” as their leadership defines it. For example, no ACLU atty represented the photographer or baker in Arizona that fell foul of the dictates of the local civil rights agency when they did not want to do business at a gay wedding. While I don’t agree with the service providers personal positions at all, and, probably would never do business with them, clearly their refusal to service a gay wedding would not have impacted the weddings in the slightest–another service provider would have done so willingly, this is after all not organized Jim Crow in the South, but a (misguided) individual’s beliefs.

      Yet the ACLU remained conspicuously silent in each case allowing the government to bludgeon them into submission-showing their bias

  3. “unless it really is just all about teams, and not about principle at all.”

    Even in this respect–there’s a reason certain principles have been the backbone of liberalism for so long: advocating norms based on them is more likely to disproportionately aid those opposed to the status quo than those seeking to maintain it.

  4. When one of them is denounced in the same manner, you assume it’ll be a problem for them to turn around and accuse their opponents of McCarthyism. But no, it won’t be a problem at all. Self-righteousness and arrogance fit naturally with hypocrisy and self-pity.

  5. If liberals were ever progressives, it wasn’t in a place where I’ve been. “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees.”

  6. Crimes shouldn’t be tried in the court of public opinion. But I think there’s nothing wrong with making it socially unacceptable for people (especially powerful people) to express open and unambiguous bigotry if the argument was made on the grounds that it goes against a just, equal and equitable society.

    But liberals have long abandoned these kinds of arguments. Instead, they’ve adopted the depoliticized position that Donald Sterling’s primary sin was hurting people’s feelings, and this leads to perverse outcomes where more controversial left wing critiques of inequities (like “Israel is an apartheid state”) will also be regarded as hurtful. The political and cultural status quo determines what’s considered hurtful and whose feelings count in what scenarios, so arguments in those terms simply reinforce the status quo.

    In outlets like Salon and others, liberals’ use of these arguments betray their complacency. Their primary commitment is not to the cause of justice, but to reinforcing their position as society’s moral exemplars and that means not taking any risks.

  7. So if you were an NBA owner, you wouldn’t move against Sterling? If you were an NBA player you wouldn’t protest?

    1. Sure I would, in either case, and if I were an NBA owner I would push him out without looking back. And I take some degree of pleasure in seeing Sterling ejected. What bothers me is the way in which Isquith’s piece, and pieces like it, associate merely asking difficult questions about civil liberties as tantamount to insufficient commitment to fighting racism. I mean, he comes right out and says that these questions are inherently a matter of breaking out anti-racist consensus. You cannot possibly have an effective debate about what the limits of our free speech rights are if people are going to immediately label you racist because you defend the right of people to say unpopular, ugly things. I don’t pretend that Donald Sterling has unfettered rights within the confines of the NBA, but I also don’t pretend that there’s some perfect black-and-white division between public and private or fair and unfair restrictions on speech.

      I want to have this conversation if there’s a conversation to be had. But you can’t do that when the progressives involved in this discussion will use literally no other mode of expression than contemptuous superiority, or when they continue to intentionally blur the line between defense of civil liberties and defense of racism.

      1. Freddie, I’m sorry but you’re trying to have it both ways here. You are conflating two distinct (though related) phenomena. Your critique of online liberalism is strong, as always, in terms of how it uses empty signaling and morality plays as its means of social currency.

        BUT, you try to link this to some sort of real change that’s happening in the world, and that’s where the argument falls flat. You say that soon, only the idle rich will have freedom of expression… what? Pretty much all of the people who you are talking about are the idle rich, or at least the rich. My argument is that there is a categorical difference between top management (CEO, team owner, etc.) than a worker whose actual means of subsistence and political efficacy are tied up in the specific job they have. In real life, today, workers are fired, harassed, and silenced into not engaging in free speech. If pro-Israel forces want to try to get a pro-Palestinian CEO out of office, then bring it on. These people are public figures and their tenures in offices should be subjected to political debate and struggle.

        Also, you mischaracterize the Woody Allen situation. The vast majority of progressives and lefties (of course, you can always find exception) were in no way trying to abrogate his rights to due process in a court of law. But how does due process apply to the court of public opinion? We are under no such obligation. If you come back and say, hey the central park accused rapists, then fine, but again, there’s a categorical distinction between powerful people and vulnerable people in our legal system.

        You tend to be a staunch liberal (in the best sense of that word) when it comes to issues of the law and free speech, but that leaves a sticky question: how do we deal with the fact that, in society, right now, the law in its majesty is not anything close to an equal playing field and won’t be anything near it for the forseeable future? I don’t have an answer, but it’s a question that legal liberals need to grapple with.

      2. As much as I find it difficult on a personal level, I would not sanction Sterling for remarks he made in private. Pace Freddie, I think that “Donald Sterling has unfettered rights within the confines of the NBA” as long has his public activities are unobjectionable.

      3. Just to expand a little. Freddie writes that there isn’t a “perfect black-and-white division between public and private or fair and unfair restrictions on speech”.

        Well, maybe not perfect, but I think we can get close. Private activity strikes me as easy to define and, within that sphere, easy to proclaim there should be no repercussions for any speech made there.

        As to public utterances/activities, that’s more complex, based on a number of variables (e.g. Is the speaker inviting a response?) But I would prefer that it be normative that speech be challenged by speech, and not challenged by economic means.

      4. For endless years the Democrats have screamed that the right to burn our flag is protected by the First Amendment. What if someone suddenly fires a person for burning the flag? Takes their business away from them? Bars them for life…..etc? Sterling is a disgusting pig but he still has rights! Rights are not because we agree with someone but because we don’t!

        1. Anna, I don’t see flag burning as a Democrat vs. Republican issue, and it was decided in Texas v. Johnson that it is protected symbolic speech. What I see as relevant to this situation is that burning the American flag is protected and justified. It would generally not generate any news stories or trend on Twitter. Try burning a rainbow flag, or possibly a Gadsden Flag, and see what happens, or what doesn’t.

          The scary nature of what we see happening today is that there would be no court proceedings beyond the court of public opinion. Do you think a small business that burned a rainbow flag would survive? What about a CEO of a corporation? I doubt that burning a “Tea Party” flag would cause anyone to call for someone’s termination or that their business be closed.

          The general consensus is that attacking anything related to homosexuality is beyond the pale, but attacking small government causes is not only justified but encouraged. The protection of ideas is only for those ideas that do not challenge certain dogmas.

    2. Children, this isn’t about free speech. It’s about private property.

      There IS a way for league league to commercially punish Sterling, THEY can remove his property rights.

      You even see Cuban supporting the lifetime ban.

      The issue however was more nuanced. Mark’s real point was “I OWN THIS THING.”

      And sports teams and cake bakers and golf courses and whatever else, the point is the only way to punish someone who owns the business when you don’t like what they are, is to PUNISH THE BUSINESS.

      The government isn’t there to punish them for you.

      Yes, I’m saying Rand Paul was right. Property rights are and must be ABSOLUTE in this regard, being the owner of title etc. is not conditioned on you being what society deems proper.

      Thats didn’t leave us without action against Sterling, but it is a CRUCIAL that the rule of law, the property law, is followed.

      Look, the real issue is this: We are moving towards a gig economy.

      Imagine you are a gay guy and you drive Uber, and you pick up a fare, and he wants to sit and tell his buddies gay jokes, do you REALLY have to bake his cake?

      Imagine you are a rock star, and Republican candidate wants you to come place his money raiser, do you REALY to have to bake him a cake?

      In a gig economy, you aren’t labor, you are the establishment, you are the retailer, the bossman… do you REALLY want to give up the ability to say “take this job and shove it?”

      There is always a legitimate commercial pressure that you can apply to a buyer or seller you don’t like.

      You exit, you shop elsewhere, you sell elsewhere.

      And the quicker you adopt this mindset the quicker we find the the correct way to alter the Sterlings, without ruining the rule of law.

      1. So blacklists are fine and dandy as long as it’s people you dislike getting blacklisted?

        How will you feel when it’s someone you agree with, or yourself, getting blacklisted?

    3. As an owner I would not want to set a precedent of “pushing a guy out” because I didn’t like his opinions or beliefs if only because I would never want that arbitrary decision-making pointed at me using this situation and a pretext to further action. Its wrong to act against a minority with a position that can be perverted and interpreted in a manner to allow that same position against everyone. Especially in the case where no law was broken. What he said was despicable and in bad taste, but it was within his rights to say it.

      If people don’t like they can stop going to Clippers games, and if Players don’t like it, they can stop playing for him. This is how this situation should have been handled IMO.

      1. Your conflating his right to say something with some mythical right to be free of consequence for saying something. Of course people can vote with their feet and stop attending Clipper games. Advertisers had begun to do just that. But letting a franchise destroy itself, has a far greater effect on the non player employees of that franchise than the 80 year old billionaire owner. As since he belongs to a membership that (apparently) has a charter that allows for a member to be kicked out of that group for egresses behavior, he is getting kicked out. As such he will likely realize a billion dollar gain in his original investment. Government punishment for speech-bad. This-not bad.

        1. Another who forgets or overlooks that Sterling was a crime victim here. Clandestinely taping a private conversation is a crime in California. If the NBA moves one step towards taking away the Clips from Sterling, Sterling will end up owning the league in fee simple absolute when he gets done with them in court. Go ahead, make his day.

  8. “sooner or later”

    Already here. For example, the rich and powerful are de facto prevented from uttering anything but full-throated support for the state of Israel; on the rare occasion there is a slip-up a public abasement is required. This is an example of de facto free speech restriction being applied to the powerful to the detriment of a progressive position.

    A bit tangential but related are nonsensical liberal compromise positions such as “civil unions” and “safe, legal, and rare.” I suspect that, deep down, most Dem politicians never gave a damn if gays got married or how many first trimester fetuses get aborted, but they’re afraid to say it in so many words.

    We possibly could have a more progressive or left-leaning politics in this country were it not for de facto speech restrictions on politicians and other powerful people, so the “sooner or later” is already here.

    1. Well, THAT doesn’t square with what I’ve observed. As one who has no strong position on the question of Israel either way, I often throw up my hands and walk away from the question just because BOTH sides bleat nonstop, talk past each other, and in general act like a**holes, when I know well in some cases that with other questions they’re fairly reasonable. There is no shortage of famous people with BIG mouthpieces trumpeting the virtues of Palestine/the Palestinians/the non-Jews in the area of Israel/whatever you want to call them. There is AT LEAST as much noise made by that camp as by the other.

      Most people IRL call me a conservative, and that’s probably true on many issues by contemporary definitions of things. Whatever the case, I see no case on either side of the ledger where a public or private voice has been shouted down in a way that stopped the person from making even more noise.

      I won’t say that it would be a good thing if people availed themselves of their free speech rights less often, but I will say that lack of free speech doesn’t appear to be a problem for anybody I’ve ever seen or known and it’s begun to make me just exercise my right more often to pull OUT of public debate on most issues. Maybe I’m just getting old, but the ruckus that used to delight me is starting to make me want to find a reason to be elsewhere.

      And get off my lawn.

  9. Sophistic defenses of bigotry are the new black. Donald Sterling is your heroic martyr? So brave. The bottom line is simple: It’s a free market and bigotry is now expensive. This is of course a shock to you since you are used to the free ride, but from now you pay.

      1. No I join in your lament for the torture that racists, misogynists, and homophobes have to go through these days. Tsk tsk. Time was, men were men.

        1. “Time was, men were men.”

          A state of being you clearly have very little familiarity with, as your pathetic status-signaling demonstrates.

          The rest of society should not have to suffer for your daddy issues.

    1. I have seen many invocations of the “free market” by people who don’t even know what the term means. This is one.

      Whatever it is you think you need to justify illiberal behavior, what it’s not is the “free market.”

      1. I agree here. The market place will take care of pigs like Sterling ultimately. Apparently the blacks in business with him knew and were OK with his bigotry, at least in order to make money. When that changed he would have been left in the dust. The fact remains that disgusting as he is, he still has the right to a differing, even bigoted, opinion.

        1. It’s not even about that.

          A free market is one where buying and selling decisions take place without coercion. Buying and selling is the market. Nothing else is. Only buying and selling.

          Applying pressure to buying and selling isn’t a free market. It’s coercion. It may be another form of freedom, such as freedom of speech, but what it’s NOT is an example of a free market.

    2. Freddie said, “….the blank, undefended assumption that people defending rights on principle are themselves guilty of whatever people invoking those rights are accused of…” and “…the right to hold controversial political opinions is not a cherished precept of the left but tantamount to racism…”

      Alex M’s response was – yep, that’s exactly the hand I’m playing and I’ll raise you one self-righteous and one pompous.

    3. Is it that important to you to hold in your hands the power to smite the wicked at the cost of liberty and the rule of law?

  10. The Duke lacrosse case– and the recent attempts at rehabilitation of its out of control, unethical prosecutor– is another case where the accusation of rape made left and right “switch teams” about defending due process and the rights of the accused. In that case, prosecutor Nifong and his successor Tracy Cline have definitely been shown to trample on the rights of poorer accused (mostly black, in Durham) in other cases. But while it’s understandable to fret that only because the lacrosse kids were at least middle class (some were wealthier, but mostly upper middle class) that they were able to achieve justice, a lot seem to go further and want to ignore due process or celebrate the idea that someone in the privileged class might be getting railroaded, for some twisted idea of “class justice.”

    1. Indeed, we have an example of that right here in this thread, courtesy of rnelson again, for whom CEOs’ jobs are subject to public approval, and the wealthy deserve no better than drumheads from the court of public opinion. It’s not guilt and innocence that matter anymore, it’s your wallet and demographics.

    2. One of the disturbing trends I’ve noticed amongst online progressives is the blog post that follows the following general contours: privileged white person gets a comparatively light sentence, isn’t that horrible, the piece of shit should be in the clink for 20 years. Rather than, the USA incarcerates at the greatest rate in the known universe, minorities should be getting the same break that privileged white people do. As if they’re tacitly accepting the world’s most brutal carceral regime, so long as it’s equally applied to whites. Drives me crazy.

  11. Color me shocked, a white male blogger and his white male commenters are very concerned about the free speech of racists.

    (am I doing it right??)

    1. Ugh, as a woman, can I grant Freddie a woman chit so he can make his argument free of identity-based critique?

    2. “Color me shocked, a white male blogger and his white male commenters are very concerned about the free speech of racists.”

      Why wouldn’t they be concerned? They came up with the concept of the inalienable right to free speech. You seek to destroy this right, because you hate them, racist.

  12. When something like this happens in physics they say “not even wrong.”

    A generation ago there used to be people called editors who would tell writers “No, fella, this doesn’t work.. Try it again some other day when you’ve had a chance to think about.”

    -dlj.

      1. Guy,

        I don’t see anything ambiguous in my post, so you are seeing something I’ve missed.

        What is the ambiguity you want cleared up, please?

        -dlj.

  13. Plus, they never go after anyone powerful. After Brandon Eich, you’d think they’d go after Mark Zuckerburg given how he’s channeled millions of dollars to anti-gay politicians through Fwd.us. But no.

    1. Who is “they”? Do you have any names? The Left Is Attacking The City!

      1. If your were remotely familiar with the Eich case you would know. I suspect you are just being disingenuous.

  14. “What would actually be worthwhile– what would actually work to advance our country politically– would be for people to actually come out and say what they mean.”

    It seems to me that the consistent refusal to actually come out and say something meaningful serves a very fundamental rhetorical function in most of the arguments that make up botched internet identity politics c. 2014. The basic formula being: paraphrase a real or imagined enemy, then adopt a snarky or knowing tone and imply that your enemy is so far gone off the scale of racism/sexism/homophobia/whatever that you don’t even have to comment on it. You and the readers of your precious blog are way too in-the-know to waste your time on such obvious matters, and the enemy’s crime was so egregious that, what, I don’t have to actually explain all this super-basic stuff to you, do I? And, if maybe some readers just stumbled onto this whole social justice thing, just succumbed to the cheap clickbate polluting their facebook feed, while, what an easy decision for them: take the side of the gross, crass, awkward and drooling and most of all terminally un-hip racists and sexists, or else take the side of the trendy po-mo eye-rollers who are obviously so knowing and hip they don’t even have to tell you. Who doesn’t want to be hip and knowing?

    What exactly differentiates this from the empty postmodern irony that was dead on its feet 10 years ago?

    1. Well said!

      I’m no expert, but I think America is going to get very, very messy soon. I think the talking part of this whole thing is coming to an end.

  15. It really is all about the teams or, at best, about individual cases. There are already innumerable contradictions from within this worldview and that doesn’t give those asserting those contradictory viewpoints pause. If you don’t think about it, there really is no reason not to assert that women have specific and inalienable rights *and* that all rights talk is dubious, enlightenment-era nonsense, and that quashing the free speech of activist groups would be a terrible thing *and* that free speech is a nonsense value that serves the interests of power etc.

  16. What’s sad about this is that, up until that conversation, Sterling had such a great record on race issues. I mean, it would have been one thing if he’d been a slumlord who discriminated against African-Americans.

    1. Shouldn’t you be busy legitimizing America’s war on Islam in the name of teh politics and the need to defend Obama against all criticism, no matter how gentle?

        1. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. When you have literally no other mode of communicating with people than jokey sneering, that’s what you get back in return, and you should.

          1. Actually, while I agree with a number of the points you’ve made in other posts, it is interesting to me that neither the NBA, the NAACP, or the populace at large had any problem with Stirling violating federal law with respect to housing discrimination, but an illegal recording of a personal phone call gets them frothing at the mouth. Of course Stirling’s remarks were reprehensible, but they were private. His public lawbreaking, however, was not.

  17. Freddie,

    I’d love to see you try an experiment. For a set period of time–a few weeks, maybe a month–discipline yourself to critically engaging only the words on the page, with no additional speculation about the motives and psychology behind them. The latter has become a crutch for you. Your work would, I predict, improve considerably. The ban need not last forever–sometimes motives and psychology matter, and can enhance an argument–but once you’ve unlearned to write without this crutch you might be able to re-integrate that kind of angle without such embarrassing overreliance on it.

      1. ….I think you’re a potentially good blogger and writer who has fallen prey to a lazy, bad habit, and I’d like to read the better writer you could be more than the flawed writer you currently are.

    1. Nothing says liberalism like deliberately whipping up a mob to silence a heretic.

      1. That comment, if nothing else, makes it clear that you are full of it. After a long defense of ‘free speech’, you now accuse others of that evil crime.

          1. You get that I can use the phrase “silencing a heretic” in a way that does not mean that I literally think they are trying to silence me, just as I am not literally a heretic, right?

          2. I get it, what I also get is that you think it’s illegitimate for people to disagree with you, but are unwilling to articulate the reasons for it. It’s weaksauce.

          3. When have I ever said that it’s illegitimate for people to disagree with me?

          4. Ah. I hadn’t realized that “deliberately whipping up a mob to silence a heretic” was all jake in your books. Carry on then! Uh, what were we talking about? Something something liberal mau-mauing?

          5. “I get it, what I also get is that you think it’s illegitimate for people to disagree with you, but are unwilling to articulate the reasons for it.”

            Nice pair of overalls on that strawman, loser.

        1. How so, Barry? Explain. The accusation has been made that Balloon Juice and LGM are trying to mobilize an on-line mob in an attempt to overwhelm or drown out someone they disagree with. He responds with “Nothing says liberalism like deliberately whipping up a mob to silence a heretic.” Which is more speech in response to their disagreement with his speech. No where in his response was a request to remove their right to speak, even if they use it in a bullying attempt. He is under no obligation to NOT point that out. You comment shows a remarkable disconnect on how free speech works.

      2. whipping up a mob to silence a heretic.

        I’m not really sure why you write things in public if you think that people disagreeing with you — entirely substantively — is “silencing.”

        Anyway, I hope you won’t be too silenced to write a follow-up post citing some of the mysterious liberals who oppose the due process of law. Or, alternatively, you can cite some liberal political theorists who believe that “plutocrats have an absolute right to keep whatever sinecure they currently occupy irrespective of what they say” is a fundamental principle of the creed.

    2. Balloon Juice has nothing on this article at all, so i don’t know how they are “co-coordinating” anything against it. And LGM actually gave a response, you make it seem like they shrieked “attack”.

      Stop playing the martyr, the blogger himself does that well enough.

      What this blog post leaves out is, we, as liberals and humans are allowed to have opinions about a case. There is nothing that says “Liberals must only every support everybody who has been accused of x”. This has nothing to do with due process.

      Honestly, this is shoddy, shoddy work.

      1. Freddie has been rattling this cage about three times a week for a long time. Doug J and Scott Lemieux all of a sudden notice a day old post at roughly the same time. Mighty suspicious if you ask me. Anyway, as you say, I’m entitled to my opinion and I consider it up to them to prove me wrong. One of the benefits of being in the Correct Tribe.

        1. But if BJ hasn’t posted an article about it, how could they be co-ordinating an attack? What you have is one blogger there, DougJ, making a single comment on this thread.

          Or are you saying he is emailing all posters in secret to get the to attack?

          Get better arguments, the martyr role doesn’t make your position suddenly better.

          1. “But if BJ hasn’t posted an article about it, how could they be co-ordinating”

            Again, I am under no obligation to have a good reason for my statement. Remember? That’s your own position that you articulated above and I’ve decided to adopt it contextually.

  18. If I may comment on your update, repeating what I said upthread, I think we are already there. There is a de facto ban on the rich and powerful saying anything critical of Israel. Kerry let slip a no-no a few days ago and had to perform humiliating public contrition as a result. So yes, other than, “it’s a shame our leaders can’t speak their minds on Israel” it would be interesting to know if liberals think any basic principles apply to this situation.

    1. Can I just address this nonsense.

      1. WHO enforces this supposed “ban”?
      2. HOW do they do it?
      and 3. WHY?

      If you ask yourself those three questions you will begin (just begin, but begin) to develop an understanding of how the political process works and how sane people work within it. You probably won’t answer them successfully, since you seriously believe that there’s a malign or malevolent force preventing our political leaders from truth-speaking on Israel (as opposed to them speaking their actual views, or self-imposing certain constraint because they wish to please persons who disagree with the criticisms you so desire). But by looking at it honestly, you might just kickstart a wonderful relationship with reality. Good luck!

      1. Ack, I can’t leave this alone. The last time I checked, John Kerry is the Secretary of State, a position he holds at the pleasure of the President. If he is staking out public positions contrary to whatever the President considers–for whatever reason–to be in the best interests of this administration, would you not expect that he be held accountable? Even demand the same?

      2. 1. Elite consensus.
        2. Social pressure.
        3. More complicated answer. Primarily because elite consensus over several decades is that the US should maintain a client regime in the region, heavily armed, run mostly by whites of European ancestry, and nominally within western European social democratic norms (if you don’t count the occupation). But there are other factors as well.

        There is nothing of substance in the rest of your comments for me to address. My suggestion for you is that, just as a starting point, you compile a list of congressional action over the years that relates to Israel, note the voting record, and see if you can draw any basic conclusions. That would just be for starters.

  19. Freddie– you are quite a talented writer and thinker, but you keep doing the thing that I suggested you avoid in my above comment: conflating a meta-analysis of the ways that liberals argue to the actual content of the arguments themselves. In the former segment, your critique is spot-on: the racial good-thinkingness as a cultural marker for white liberals, the tendency of LGM and balloon juice comment packs to really ugly patterns of discourse, etc.

    But your update is simply wrong. Both Scott lemeiux in his piece and me in my comment have offered a very clear answer to that question: if right-wingers are trying to push a pro-choice or pro-palestinian CEO out of office, you defend it on the merits of the pro-choice or pro-palestinian arguments and not a procedural argument, not on the claim that CEO’s have the right to say and donate to what they want and keep their jobs. On the balance, treating CEO’s and that strata of upper management as quasi-public figures is a good thing for progressive left politics. I wish the outrage would have accrued around Sterling’s status as a slumlord rather than an oafish racist, but these are things we should try to build on.

    1. Can you articulate what your personal free speech principle is? Because Lemieux’s is gobbledegook: “Applying free speech rights to the workplace requires attention to context, consideration of power relations, and so on.” Shorter Lemieux: “Free speech is indeed a right but means whatever I decide it is for purposes of the current argument.” He says, “I agree that properly conceived ‘free speech’ means more than simply protection against government sanction,” but refuses to tell us what that means, other than lawyerly vagaries about “context.” The question being asked and not answered is, what is your principle?

      1. My principal is that CEOs and other upper management being pushed out by their own company (with no state intervention), due to a public pressure campaign or a dissatisfaction within a firm, is absolutely fine. All those who are not in such a position should never be terminated or disciplined for political speech and activity done not on company time or with company resources. Management and workers have inherently different rights in the workplace, so why not actually turn it on them from time to time?

        1. also, too, the law doesn’t merely rest on black-and-white “principles,” institutional and social context actually matter.

          1. Obviously, the problem is the refusal to articulate the “principle” part.

        2. How far down in “upper management” is it acceptable to push out?

          Should it only apply to CEO, COO, and CFO? Or do we include vice presidents? Directors? Or all management positions?

          1. I can’t tell whether your actually asking me or trying to intimate a slippery slope argument. I’m not a legislator or a judge, but I’ll throw out a pretty easy distinction. If the political action is in the public record and would seem to flow directly into and affect a management decision (i.e. discriminating against black tenants and running an almost all-black sports team), and particularly if there is a record of complaints against discrimination, then it should apply to all management with disciplinary powers.

            If the question is, well, our customer’s wont agree with this political position and it might hurt our bottom line, then that applies really only to people who are the “public face” of the company (perhaps a standard would be anyone who has sent out a press release, or something else).

            Look, this isn’t my preferred mode of politics. I’m a socialist, so I prefer movements that look for systematic change. In many ways, these things with sterling and eich annoy me. But they’re legitimate modes of politics, and Freddie’s “they’ll come for you next” argument falls flat to my ears, since workers are already fired or disciplined for their political action outside the workplace ALL THE TIME (check out Corey robin’s longstanding interest in and documentation of this). The law doesn’t and has never operated in some sort of ideal register where the exact same rules apply to the exact same people no matter the context, so even if you want the law to be like that you have to account for the fact that it just isn’t.

          2. “If the political action is in the public record and would seem to flow directly into and affect a management decision (i.e. discriminating against black tenants and running an almost all-black sports team), and particularly if there is a record of complaints against discrimination, then it should apply to all management with disciplinary powers.”

            Not sure how this applies to the situation under discussion. The housing discrimination situation was resolved and Sterling was not sanctioned by the league. His sanction was for an act of private speech.

            As for the rest of it, we all already know that the law does not adequately protect the less powerful. Maybe you think that you can cleverly craft laws that protect the weak but stick it to The Man? People like me are skeptical that such things can ever be done in a way that The Man can’t successfully game.

          3. I wan’t being snarky. There really was a discussion about how there were others at Mozilla that gave $1000 to Prop 8, and should they be sanctioned or not.

            My view is that nobody should be sanctioned for donating to a political cause, an action that I believe should be considered private. Others disagree, but then they should say what criteria they are using. As far as I can tell, the criteria is murky at best.

        3. I’m not sure this answers the question. There is a different set of rules for CEOs? Just for speech or for other things as well? I echo Quiddity’s questions below.

  20. One of the messages of this post is that giving in to the temptation of hypocritical opportunism – in the name of crushing ones enemies and chilling every possible kind of defender – is a foolish strategic error if it undermines the normative respect for the abstract principles upon which one’s allies will need to rely in the future.

    Perhaps. Unless some convenient principles-for-me-but-not-for-thee strategy tends to work out to one’s benefit more often than not. Yes, someone you like will eventually get crushed too, once in a while. But if it’s mostly at the expense of the enemy, then that makes it worth it. It’s particularly useful if you know your allies dominate in your preferred medium, and will always make excuses for you and back you up in your hypocrisy.

    What was once espoused as a universal ‘principle’ is now in practice merely a form of ‘privilege’. We saw it with the response to Eich’s ouster from Mozilla. The conversation went something like this:

    A. Yeah! Purge that bigoted bastard!
    B. I’m concerned. If an internet mob can get you fired for contributing to political campaign, then that has as profound chilling effect on political participation, expression, and free speech.
    A. Wrong! It has nothing to do with free speech, because Mozilla is a private organization, not the government, and they can do whatever they want to anybody at any time.
    B. That sounds really odd coming from you. We’re you just telling me the other day that corporations shouldn’t be able to fire anyone at will, or do anything they wanted to anyone? It’s weird that you are now suddenly such a libertarian, private-sector rights absolutist. And anyway, let’s turn this around. Let’s say it’s the Chik-fil-A company and they notice some vice president contributed to the campaign to oppose Proposition 8. Their Evangelical customers are appalled and demand the man’s head, and the corporation promptly hands it to them. Ok?
    A. No, that’s totally different. It is distinguishable because they would be doing that in league with Satan and the forces of darkness, whereas we only advocate on behalf or truth, justice, equality, goodness, and the forces of light.

    Just like with any privilege, when one’s friends are attacked, one cries out for principles and rights. When one’s enemies are attacked, they are evil and malum in se; the same principles don’t apply to them, and they have no rights.

    1. No, it’s distinguishable because the CEO of Mozilla is going to be in a position to mobilize his Prop 8 views to materially impact the lives of people who work for his company in a negative way by taking away their rights. What rights of Chick-Fil-A employees would be lost by having a boss who supports SSM?

      1. So you’re opposed to using the democratic process “to materially impact the lives of people who work for [Eich's] company in a negative way by taking away their rights”.

        I can only conclude that your position is that SSM is a fundamental right that should not be contested, and therefore going after Eich was acceptable, even meritorious. There were a lot of people who shared that view last month when the issue was first being debated.

        1. So you’re opposed to using the democratic process “to materially impact the lives of people who work for [Eich's] company in a negative way by taking away their rights”.

          Ballot initiatives as they exist in the U.S. are a perversion of the Democratic process. They’ve got all of the worst features of the pure textbook definition of democracy combined with all of the worst features of our money-driven electoral process.

          I can only conclude that your position is that SSM is a fundamental right that should not be contested, and therefore going after Eich was acceptable, even meritorious. There were a lot of people who shared that view last month when the issue was first being debated.

          We have a winner! Give this man a cigar.

      2. So, someone merely in a position to do something must be fired lest he may act upon it, whether or not he actually has, or given any indication at all that he might? That’s your brilliant CYA?

        1. He wasn’t fired, as I’m sure you are aware, and yes, I think it’s perfectly acceptable for people to devote their own free speech towards putting public pressure on people who deny basic rights. It’s how many of the rights we now have in this country came to be.

          1. First, I never claimed he was fired, but to claim he merely quite of his own volition, which is the only reason to insist he “wasn’t fired,” is profoundly disingenuous.

            So, you believe that if someone holds an opinion you don’t approve of — just holds the opinion — he must be removed or barred from any position where he might — just might, mind you — put that opinion into practice? Ah. Wrong-think is punished.

            Sorry if I’m not having a lot of problem imagining your squealing if, say, someone was similarly cashiered for being pro-choice.

          2. You said “must be fired”. I was differentiating my position — that it is perfectly okay to put public pressure on companies to change leadership if that leadership can have an adverse affect on the companies employees — from the straw man you created where I feel that they “must be fired.”

            At the end of the day, Mozilla could have told everyone that they’d made their decision, and they were confident that Eich could separate his personal views from his role as CEO in charge of hundreds of employees who would be led by someone who wanted to deny them basic civil rights. They (or Eich) chose not to go down that road.

            Public pressure is speech. To say that he has a right to “speak” by donating money to Prop 8 but the people who were adversely affected by Prop 8 have no right to respond is the height of hypocrisy.

            And, as I’ve pointed out above, the pro-choice example is an example of taking away rights, not affirming them. The rights in question matter — speech doesn’t happen in the hermetically sealed vacuum you seem to think it does.

          3. “You said “must be fired”. I was differentiating my position — that it is perfectly okay to put public pressure on companies to change leadership if that leadership can have an adverse affect on the companies employees — from the straw man you created where I feel that they “must be fired.””

            How do companies “change leadership” if said leadership doesn’t agree to be changed?

            Obviously you do feel that someone like Eich must go, so if he doesn’t want to, he “must be fired” by your own construct.

            “At the end of the day, Mozilla could have told everyone that they’d made their decision, and they were confident that Eich could separate his personal views from his role as CEO in charge of hundreds of employees who would be led by someone who wanted to deny them basic civil rights. They (or Eich) chose not to go down that road.”

            Yes, they could have. They didn’t, because they gave in to mob pressure. Not sure why you even think this is worth mentioning. Are you arguing “it was their right to do it”? And thus everyone else should shut up about it? Really? In the context of THIS article, that’s what you’re saying?

            To say nothing in the context of what YOU said next:

            “Public pressure is speech. To say that he has a right to “speak” by donating money to Prop 8 but the people who were adversely affected by Prop 8 have no right to respond is the height of hypocrisy.”

            Who said they had no right to? People who criticize Mozilla are exercising EXACTLY the same rights to criticize what they did that you’re claiming for Mozilla, for those who called for Eich to be oustered, and even yourself.

            But it doesn’t look like you’re very happy with it going both ways.

            “And, as I’ve pointed out above, the pro-choice example is an example of taking away rights, not affirming them. The rights in question matter — speech doesn’t happen in the hermetically sealed vacuum you seem to think it does.”

            A pro-lifer sees an abortion as taking away the developing baby’s right to live, and that action as murder, which is at LEAST as onerous as prejudice or bigotry. (I’m sure your response is that they’re simply wrong about that.)

          4. Your argument fails even on its own terms, because pro-lifers can protect their rights to not abort by… not aborting. They themselves are not denied any rights by the decision of others to abort. I applaud the effort, though.

          5. As I say below, to a pro-lifer, that’s exactly the same as arguing you can protect someone against murder by not murdering anyone.

          6. What the fuck? Do you not understand the difference between rights that affect the person materially versus those that simply affect their conscience? I’m sorry, I can’t deal with this shit.

          7. Actually, what it looks like you can’t deal with is imagining a moral point of view different from your own.

            A pro-lifer sees an embryo or a fetus as a human being, and an abortion as ending a human life, i.e., a murder. Thus, from that point of view, those who would be in favor of that sort of thing, much less do it, would have a morally-repugnant point of view, being on board with denying a human being’s right to live.

            According to you, such things are fair game for deciding to separate such a person from his employ if the company sees it in their interest or as consistent with their company culture. Or if that person might be in a position to spread or effectively promote that point of view.

            From all appearances (especially now that the profanity is out), you are incapable of entertaining that point of view even for the sake of argument. That, of course, is your failing, not mine.

        2. No, I’ve just tired of your willful obtuseness about the fact that, even in the case where someone believes abortion is murder, that they themselves, nor their children are the ones being aborted, whereas Eich was in a position to deny the employees themselves rights through the hiring process, benefits packages, etc.

          This isn’t about abstract arguments about when life begins, it’s about whether the employees themselves are negatively impacted in a direct way. If you can’t understand the difference, then I can’t help you.

          1. “No, I’ve just tired of your willful obtuseness about the fact that, even in the case where someone believes abortion is murder, that they themselves, nor their children are the ones being aborted, whereas Eich was in a position to deny the employees themselves rights through the hiring process, benefits packages, etc.”

            No, according to you above, it’s enough that the “repugnant” opinion be held. Not that they actually try to do anything about. We covered this above.

            It’s disingenuous anyway, as a pro-choice CEO could, of course, do many things to promote abortion among the employees of the company. A pro-choice CEO could even take your own point of view and start firing pro-life employees, or refuse to hire them. It really doesn’t surprise me that your level of contemplation doesn’t allow you to even consider it.

            “This isn’t about abstract arguments about when life begins, it’s about whether the employees themselves are negatively impacted in a direct way. If you can’t understand the difference, then I can’t help you.”

            I never made any such arguments; I simply described what a pro-lifer believes — in the humanity of the developing embryo/fetus/baby. The argument over whether or not that belief is correct is irrelevant, because all morality is opinion. (Yours is, too, though I suspect you don’t think it is.) You’re talking about acting on the basis of one’s moral opinions.

  21. The 1st amendment legally protects the right of any U.S. citizen to give voice to any notion that that pops into his head. It does not protect that citizen from public shaming. That would infringe on every other citizen’s 1st amendment right. This we Do Not Want.

    Truth be told, public shaming just is another name for “the invisible hand of the market”. What’s good for the Dixie Chicks is good for “a CEO or sports team owner who was forced out for insufficient loyalty to the state of Israel.”

    This is not a difficult concept. So why do Conservatives struggle with it so?

    1. Except it has nothing to do with “markets.” Not that you’re even invoking it genuinely in the first place. I have not seen an instance of someone saying what you’ve said that wasn’t a “too-cute” attempt at turning a conservative argument around.

    2. So, the Hollywood Blacklist was perfectly fine, and McCarthyism needs to be re-considered. Please send that memo to all of the progressives who whined about that.

      Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to start trawling to see what professors have photos of them on-line wearing a Che shirt. Such people who hold abhorrent political views and support the killing of political dissidents should all be fired.

  22. It’s true, at LGM, to police the discussion, they employ a pack of rabid chihuahuas. Which fits perfectly with their general style of hysterical denunciations. But at least they don’t ban you.

    CT, however, is a more interesting case, imho. The site that is still too boring for most rabid chihuahuas because denunciations are still not hysterical enough (although it’s getting there), its owners don’t mind performing the rabid chihuahua routine themselves, and then they ban you and delete your comments. I mean, what the hell was this all about: http://crookedtimber.org/2014/01/22/please-go-away-mao-you-are-banned-as-well/ ?

  23. I see a lot of name calling in Mr. DeBoers piece, and by his fans, but I don’t quite understand the argument.

    1. Don Sterling made crude racists comments to his paramour about blacks, who are a significant number of his employees in his enterprise.

    2. These comments become public, causing these employees in particular to become upset.

    3. But because of “free speech,” these employees should just shut up and carry on respecting Mr. Sperling’s right to treat them with contempt in private? The media in covering Mr. Sterling’s enterprise, an enterprise of mass entertainment should no criticize Mr. Sterling?

    Reference Mr. Winston at Florida State.
    1. A young woman gets herself intoxicated. She alleges that Mr. Winston and friends took advantage of that to kidnap her back to his dorm and forced sex on her.

    2. When the local police investigate, they every thing possible to discourage the wman from bringing the complaint and then the University joins in to protect its investment in Mr. Wriston. In the end, the local prosecutor decides not to bring the case. The young woman, exercising her rights to complain to the Federal Government over a violation of her civil rights and to initiate a civil case. How is this a violation of Mr. Winston’s rights to due process? If you say some in public opinion believe him guilty, well, no one has “due process” rights in regard to another person’s opinion or their right to act privately on that opinion.

    Finally, as regard to your point about the left or those who hold liberal and progressive views, workers and average people who hold such left wing, out spoken views, are fired and punished everyday. There is a reason that academics with tenure and relatively independently wealthy artists are the main spring of the “boycott, disinvest, and sanction movement” in the United States. They are not likely to lose their livelihood as the result of their advocacy.

    For true state action that makes dissent a felony (since it turns the victims of police initiated violence into felons), see the Cindy McMillian case in New York City as reported by Chris Hedges. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/28-0

    Although apparently you regard criticism of your thoughts immoral, I must admit that find this from “Lawyers, Guns, and Money,” convincing (they linked to you) :

    ” This decision was capitalism in action. Very wealthy men wanted to protect their economic interests and corporate brands. They did something they were able to do via the bylaws of the entity that they all, including Sterling, had agreed to when they bought into the league. What this has to do with liberalism is beyond me, unless liberals are expected to demand that highly skilled black men who have been directly insulted and shamed by their employer — who they do not have the freedom to elect to not work for, for the most part, for years to come — are required to swallow their rage and instruct their fans (many of whom are African American or other POC) to give this man who has insulted all of them their money. What would be the freedom argument in favor of that?….

    … He had freedom of speech. He exercised it. The players and fans also have freedom of speech. They exercised it. The men who own the teams made a market-based decision allowed by their legal organizing documents, to which Sterling was a voluntary participant. So the point here is?”

    1. The point here is, as I keep saying, that the arguments deployed against Sterling and Brandon Eich are just as easily deployed against liberal public figures who say controversial things, such as in support of Palestinian statehood, and so we should be very careful in how we think about these arguments. But we’re not being very careful; we’re in fact being our typical sneering selves.

      1. And the commenter’s point is that they ARE so deployed, in vastly disproportionate numbers. You can be as careful as you like; these are everyday occurrences.

        1. “And the commenter’s point is that they ARE so deployed, in vastly disproportionate numbers.”

          LOL–I’m sure you have the quantitative data to back up this assertion.

          1. Wait, you’re asking me to supply quantitative data in a thread where Fearless Freddie doesn’t seem able to supply a single example of the hordes he claims are so keen to violate rights to legal due process?

            The idea that left-liberals are not punished by the conservative business power bloc for their views is amply disproven by the near-complete absence of left-liberals from the business elite.

          2. “Wait, you’re asking me to supply quantitative data”

            Don’t make a claim you can’t substantiate, and don’t whine like a mule with silly tu quoque rationalizations.

          1. Now what indeed. Well, for one, now politics. I know we’re supposed to treat this as some sort of Major Stumbling Block of Theory, but it just isn’t. Speech is political, and therefore has real-world consequences.

          2. “Now what indeed. Well, for one, now politics. I know we’re supposed to treat this as some sort of Major Stumbling Block of Theory, but it just isn’t. Speech is political, and therefore has real-world consequences.”

            In all of those words, you said . . . nothing.

            I ask “now what,” because you seem to believe that the “other side” doing what DeBoer describes is somehow dispositive of the matter.

            I take it, then, that your view on it is “they do it to, so it’s fine for me to do it”? This sets you apart, and puts you in a superior moral position, how?

  24. Regarding a hypothetical CEO who loses his job for saying “Israel is an apartheid State and indicating support the BDS movement,” although I would be able to write in admiration of his courage, I could not object to the “right” of his board of directors to remove him for injuring the interests of his shareholders by his comments and controversy they create, as they probably most certainly would. (See how much trouble John Kerry just got into over saying the bleeding obvious about Israel’s continued evolution without a two state solution.)

    If you are just waking up to this fact of the “employment at will” doctrine which has controlled 400 years of common law on the employer – employee relations, I am sorry to disabuse you of your illusions of speech without consequence. The only limits on this rule (don’t make your employer unhappy with you if you want to stay employed) are those created by collective bargaining agreements and those passed by the legislature to protect certain categories of employees from discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion, national origin, disability and reprisal for utilizing the complaint process.

  25. Watching ideologues argue over which of them is the more righteous would be as funny as a Monty Python show…if it weren’t so tragic and if it never led to chaos, death and destruction in the real world.

    That’s where you’re heading, kids. Historically, your arguments always end up in chaos, death and destruction. Always.

    …and you are all too arrogant, stupid and childish to admit it.

    Seek peace before the war you’ve begun comes to your own homes and families.

  26. So, what happens if Hobby Lobby decides that anyone who WOULD want birth control or abortifacients in their health insurance doesn’t fit the HL corporate culture, and fires them all?

  27. If you generate a mouth-foaming piece of invective from Scott Lemieux in full-fledged Progressive Commissar mode, you must be doing something right, so rock on. Scott and his 400 commenters are outraged, outraged, outraged!

  28. LGM: “He had freedom of speech. He exercised it.”

    Sterling had a private conversation with his girlfriend and said something racist. That’s nowhere near to exercising freedom of speech.

    In fact, it’s what we call “freedom of conscience”. He had a personal opinion, it wasn’t the correct opinion, and he’s been punished for it. Something very similar happened to the CEO of Mozilla. He made a private donation to a political cause, but the real reason for outrage was that he had a wrong opinion of SSM.

    He and Sterling both have committed thought crimes.

    1. He’s been punished for it, yes; that’s a matter to take up with the NBA Commissioner and the NBA Board of Governors, if you wish. It’s not a matter to take up witgh “online liberalism” which doesn’t have the power to punish anything.

      1. This “online liberalism” (if that’s what you want to call it), it does have the power to whip up hysteria, and it does that well. And then the powers that be mete out a punishment, to make the loonies calm down and shut up. That’s how the system operates.

        1. I think in this case, the “Hysteria” was whipped up by the players on his own team. And the other team. And the other owners. And NBA legends.

          Hardly the online left that you and Freddie seem to want to blame. But what should we do? Should we picket the NBA now and demand that the majority black players accept Sterling and his plantation views of them?

          Please, you or Freddie or anyone, explain the correct, true lefty position here. Should we side with plutocrats over workers? Should we tell them to not worry, just keep going to work for that vile man? You realize the teams (again, the TEAMS) were both debating boycotting playoff games. This had nothing to do with the online left. Nothing to do with Balloon Juice, or LGM. This was all a labour dispute. And then, sponsors started dropping out.

          Maybe you think I should start a bake sale to help Donald? I honestly have no idea.

          1. “Should we side with plutocrats over workers?”

            No Kevin, of course you should side with workers.

            However: the content of plutocrats’ (or workers’) conversations with their girlfriends, or plutocrats’ or workers’ opinions of SSM should have absolutely nothing to do with your siding with workers. It’s not that complicated.

  29. I agree with your analysis.
    The only problem is, you’ve forgotten Fen’s Law in your analysis of what happens when the tables are eventually turned.

  30. ” not one single attempt to explain how you would defend a CEO or sports team owner who was forced out for insufficient loyalty to the state of Israel”

    That is probably because for today’s Leftists, there is no such thing as “insufficient loyalty to the state of Israel”.

    Judging from your phraseology, that group would include you – but I might be wrong.

  31. Harvey Silverglate, founder of FIRE, an organization that advocates for free speech on college campuses, asserts at the 3:50 mark in this video that the people who favor censoring speech today will find themselves in the gulags tomorrow:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHh1WV-81gE

    I liked the video when I first saw it and I hoped his sentiment is right. But I’m not sure it is. It is hard work to fight for a principle. You get called names, threatened with your livelihood, etc. It’s much easier to acquiesce and not dissent. As long as people have bread to eat, and the penalty for dissent is sufficiently harsh, I suspect people will try to figure out how to adapt without dissenting. Of course, societal norms and attitudes change over time. But it does not happen quickly as Silverglate suggests. We’ve been pulled leftward for 80 years, and it accelerated 35-40 years ago. Even the very popular Ronald Reagan presidency only stalled the leftward drift for a few years – none of it was reversed.

  32. Thought crimes, yes. That is the point of the foaming progressives, whose thinking is so shallow they cannot see the reciprocal of their position. They define thought crimes as thought they do not approve. The topic does not matter: Their position is absolute, and tyrannical: agree 100%, or be scorned and banished…and then along comes the eliminationist rhetoric in which someone who does not agree with them does not have the right to live. Tolerance is only directed to those who already think the “proper thoughts” and do the “proper things.”
    This is the Progressive Paradise: Total control over thought and behavior.
    Damn them. I ask anyone with a shred of common sense to refute this ideology, and instead to adopt a beneficent tolerance of those who think differently.

  33. OK, I’m gonna dip a little toe in this seething cauldron.

    Nobody is talking about the source of the Sterling expose’, his Black/Hispanic ex-girl friend. Whatever one thinks about Sterling, or the more general topic discussed in this article, should we not be mightily cautious about rewarding an obviously vindictive action from a person [of color] who was happy to ignore his racism while it profited her, and happy to turn it against him in order to profit even more?

    /flame shields up!

  34. You’re obviously a right-wing fanatic, so there’s no point arguing. We’ll just tell your employer what you’ve been writing; you’ll be fired and your life will be ruined. If we can’t dox you out, we’ll call you a dickless anonymous coward hiding in your Mom’s basement. Your personal anecdotes are all lies unless you provide names, dates, places, and supporting documents (so we know who you are). Heads we win, tails you lose!

  35. I sense that in a short while we’ll become what Tudor England once was: an ideology-driven society that would execute dissenters for any reason where a violation of the state ideology could be contrived, but yet who’s state ideology could completely turn on a dime on the whims of those in charge: making today’s adherents tomorrow’s heretics. Merit mattered not in such an age, and the insecurity of people both noble and common couldn’t be understated.

    It took over a hundred years and Oliver Cromwell to clean up the mess, and what a mess it was.

    1. What the Progressives DON’T get, and this is their undoing because their top thinkers are disciples of Marcuse and Alinsky, is that at some point a Cromwell figure always happens along to not only put them in their place, but everyone else as well.

      At bottom, Marx did have a point about history repeating itself; the first time as Tragedy, the second time as Farce.

  36. You are assuming that the progressives you’re speaking of are both self-aware and consistent.

    I expect they will have no trouble screaming about their rights when the other side hoists them up on their own petard.

    1. hypocrisy is an easy thing to live with in this age. As long as you can shout louder, be more snarky and delegitimize your opponent to win it doesn’t matter that you are not consistent in thought. Its about creating a personal self satisfaction.

  37. There are attack ads running against some guy in South Carolina (I do not live there) which weigh in heavily on the “fact” that he supports men who abuse women. The guy is a criminal defense attorney. They imply that he supports the evil his clients do, by virtue of him being their attorney.

    Now I am not an attorney, and what I know comes from TV ( ;- ) ) and reading some of the law blogs (the latter being more reliable info, I am sure), but the ads make me uncomfortable in that I wonder who is supposed to defend people accused of crimes?

    “Guilty as sin” some of them easily can be without much thought, but the idea of due process, innocent until proven guilty and being entitled to a defense is lost in the horror that a person would represent an accused person.

    Curious. And troubling.

  38. We don’t have to imagine it happening, because it already is. See Abby Nurre and Ryan Bell.

  39. “This is going to happen: sooner or later, some CEO or sports team owner or similar is going to get ousted because he or she supports a woman’s right to an abortion, or the cause of Palestinian statehood, or opposes the death penalty.”

    This wouldn’t happen. Because the issues mentioned are liberal hallmarks.

  40. Remember the hue and cry when some conservatives boycotted and insulted the Dixie Chicks over anti-Bush remarks at a London concert? They were literally free speech covergirls and darlings of the chattering classes. Of course the left has long been ‘Free speech for me and not for thee.’

  41. This article is over-thought, on the one hand, and under-sensed on the other. The error starts with the under-sensing and that makes for the over-thinking. The object of discussion are not liberals. They are agents provocateurs for an international criminal conspiracy. They adopt labels like “liberal” in order to get in the door of discussion and fill the room with power, their own. Trying to analyze their activities as liberal or deforming liberal is intellectual pinwheeling into space, exactly what they want their enemies to do. No, these are not liberals. They never have been. From their very origin they have been, they are and they always will be fascist criminals.

  42. “I can’t see how he could– unless it really is just all about teams, and not about principle at all.”

    There you go, nailed it. When Bill Clinton was discovered to be engaged in amorous pursuits with an intern, suddenly it was ok for CEOs and similar to hit on their employees and underlings. Benghazi means the murder in cold blood of an American ambassador is just the natural outpourings of a people angered beyond the point of reason by a YouTube video. These things happen.

    When I was in college, my liberal friends were fond of quoting Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Now it’s all about speech-codes and posturing, shunning and social barbed wire. What they stand for depends on the direction the wind is blowing and what position the cause de jour requires, and to hell with principles. :/

  43. rnelson…”My argument is that there is a categorical difference between top management (CEO, team owner, etc.) than a worker whose actual means of subsistence and political efficacy are tied up in the specific job they have.”

    What about the CEO of a corporation with 200 employes? Is he a “public figure” as you are using the term?

    What about the VP of Marketing & Sales? Is he a public figure, and if so is his degree of public-figureness greater than the of the VP of Manufacturing?

    How about the Central Region Sales Manager, or the Plant Manager in Dubuque? Where does this permission for thought-crime persecutions stop?

    There is no question that people have a *right* to assert that the CR Sales Manager should be fired because he (supports or opposes) Israel (for example)…the question is whether a top management with integrity (or, in the case of the CEO, a Board with integrity) should bow to such demands.

  44. Let me suggest, as an aside, stop using the word “progressive” unmodified. Just say “leftist”, or at least prefix “progressive” with “so-called” or put air quotes around it.

  45. A “liberal” / “progressive” is a person who developed the usual bad attitude toward legitimate authority as a teenager, found his comfort zone as a self-righteous “rebel” . . . and never outgrew it. The Left is cliquish middle school culture, writ large.

    It is – by definition – not susceptible to reason; therefore, there is no reasonable way for any adult to defend against it. Sorry.

  46. Hey, Freddie.

    The question that pops up in my head when I see these behaviors is whether minimum wage workers fired for ugly stuff they’ve said on Twitter or Facebook should be eligible for unemployment.

    The usual counter-argument given my implicit argument is generally something to the effect of “we don’t have to worry about that happening any more than is already happening.”

  47. No, “they” won’t. Gramsci calls it “hegemony.” Progs have the universities, the media, and, thanks to George Soros, the state Secretaries of State who administer elections and count votes. It is too late. Evil (or at least Ingsoc, powered by Google and Facebook) has won.

    1. No it hasn’t.

      Remember, Stalin’s Empire fell to the might of a Polish cardinal from Krakow.

  48. ” ..not one single attempt to explain how you would defend a CEO or sports team owner who was forced out for insufficient loyalty to the state of Israel.”

    Is that a reference to Sterling? (Who did remark that blacks were treated like dogs in Israel)

    “sooner or later, some CEO or sports team owner or similar is going to get ousted because he or she supports a woman’s right to an abortion”

    Never happen. Rich and important people get ousted when other rich and important people want them to be. And all rich and important people are in agreement on “a womans right to chose”, as the euphemism goes.

  49. I think you’re talking about Bizarro World…

    “This is going to happen: sooner or later, some CEO or sports team owner or similar is going to get ousted because he or she supports a woman’s right to an abortion, or the cause of Palestinian statehood, or opposes the death penalty. It’s inevitable. I can easily see someone suggesting that, say, Israel is an apartheid state, and watching as the media whips itself into a frenzy.”

    The media in the US? Are you out of your fucking mind?

    1. Yes? The media in the United States is wildly, unambiguously biased towards the establishment Israeli government’s preferences. Support for Israel against the Palestinians is a matter of almost total conformity in our establishment media.

  50. While I agree with the main thesis of this article, the expression of ideas that are given as examples as possibly leading to unfortunate consequences are not very well chosen. It is more likely that a an owner of a sports team or a CEO expressing a pro life point of view and that abortion is murder is most likely to have his sports team stripped of him or lose his position. After all, Ted Turner has expressed many opinions that demonizing pro life supporters and christians and his baseball team was never taken from him.!

  51. At first I was about to say, “But it IS about teams,” but I decided that wasn’t adequate.

    Liberalism/Progressivism is a belief system, just like a formal religion. It seeks sameness and unified purpose among its adherents. The difference is that formal religion has a teacher/prophet/Divine Entity who ostensibly provided doctrine and rules for his/her followers. Liberal/Progressives lack a Bible so they tend to go off in lot of different directions. Eventually, the may come up with their own version of the Nicene Council (where they keep the Books of Marx, Mao and Che while tossing out the books of Pol Pot, Hitler and Stalin) but who knows.
    But if Liberalism is a religion, what do they–ultimately–believe? What is Progressive salvation? It’s hard to say, and as the author points out, they do tend to beat around the bush about their objectives, but taking hints from their recurrent themes of equality over liberty, comprehensive rules and structure for society, and serving the collective good versus individual desires, I can only assume their purpose is the equivalent of a human hive (a la the Borg). From their point of view it’s really sort of perfect.

  52. At first I was about to say, “But it IS about teams,” but I decided that wasn’t adequate.

    Liberalism/Progressivism is a belief system, just like a formal religion. It seeks sameness and unified purpose among its adherents. The difference is that formal religion has a teacher/prophet/Divine Entity who ostensibly provided doctrine and rules for his/her followers. Liberal/Progressives lack a Bible so they tend to go off in lot of different directions. Eventually, the may come up with their own version of the Nicene Council (where they keep the Books of Marx, Mao and Che while tossing out the books of Pol Pot, Hitler and Stalin) but who knows.

    But if Liberalism is a religion, what do they–ultimately–believe? What is Progressive salvation? It’s hard to say, and as the author points out, they do tend to beat around the bush about their objectives, but taking hints from their recurrent themes of equality over liberty, comprehensive rules and structure for society, and serving the collective good versus individual desires, I can only assume their purpose is the equivalent of a human hive (a la the Borg). From their point of view it’s really sort of perfect.

  53. While agree with the overall point of this essay, the author goes immediately off the rails with the very first paragraph, and it explains his supposed confusion about why progressives don’t seem to understand the danger:

    Online liberalism, as I’ve said many times, is not actually a series of political beliefs and alliances but instead a set of social cues that are adopted to demonstrate one’s class background– economic class, certainly, but more cultural class, the various linguistic and consumptive signals that assure those around you that you’re the right kind of person and which appear to be the only thing that America’s 20-something progressives really care about anymore.

    That should have started “Online progressivism”. I can’t make this point more strongly than this- progressives don’t have classically liberal notions of rights, and they never have. It has always been about “team” and not principle when it comes to discussing rights.

  54. This is a debate that needs to be had. I have felt however that Eich and Sterling are not the best examples for this discussion, the reason being that the court of public opinion is their bread-and-butter.
    Mr. Sterling is part of an oligarchy whose constitution is not even entirely public so to talk about fairness for NBA team owners is perhaps missing the point entirely. I am all for fairness, the money that makes up the NBA collectively may not be.
    Likewise with Eich: CEO of a company that makes money by dealing with entitites that exist in the ultimate court of opinion, the internet. My point is that both of these men do business in worlds where civilized rules of logic that remember that argumentum ad hominem is a fallacy do not apply because these worlds stimulate impulse and emotion. I liken it to medieval knights opting for trial by combat as opposed to trial by jury of peers; and if you live by the sword, well…

  55. This post chases a red herring.

    These dismissals, firings, bannings, etc. are not done with free speech in mind at all. The principle is only one–

    “We can say whatever we want, you can’t. There is only one actual viewpoint.”

    It is only a tool to be used to silence any opposing views.

    They are quite certain that the tables will never be turned. And, that if the other ever regains the upper hand, that the first thing they (meaning, those who have suffered from being squashed) will do is reinstate the right to have differing opinions. So, they will never experience what you say. Therefore, no need to answer your question.

  56. The answer is, “Your hypothetical will never happen.”
    When and if, and it is a big IF, the political pendulum swings to the right, freedom of expression and the rule of law are more likely to take precedence. I am not saying the right is perfect, but at least they try to follow a set of rules. The Supreme Court has left, and right. The right tends to read the rule book and follow it, the left tends to imagine new entries of text in the current rule book In a nutshell, the way it works, as I see it, the left views freedom as a free for all; chaos, no self control while the right views freedom as a responsibility to be respected. In a broad brush view.
    Watching the respective side’s behaviors, the answer becomes apparent:
    The non-supporter of Israel is safe because, the left is OK with that, and the right won’t tend to violate that person’s rights of expression like the lynch mob left did to the Firefox employee.

  57. In my circle, we too talk of this issue, but in a slightly different way.

    We speak of the rising conflict between ‘ethics’ and ‘morals’. Ethics being rules that someone has agreed or taken an oath to follow as a politician taking an oath of office would. Morals being (not the religious definition) your personal view on what is right and wrong.

    We seem to live in an age where ‘morals’ now trump ‘ethics’. And both liberals and conservatives are guilty. Conservatives bristle when they hear of the president altering the ObamaCare law without using the defined mechanism of the congress. They see the rules of office being thwarted (ethics) because the ‘right thing to do’ needed to be done (morals). The liberal supports it because it was the moral decision, and the conservative condemns it because it was not ethical.

    Yet if you ask a conservative about a situation in which the rules are bent to allow something they believe to be moral, their response (in my circle at least) is the same. The conservative supports it because it was the moral decision, and the liberal condemns it because it was not ethical.

    This is a dangerous situation that leads to the break-down of the rights and mechanisms that defend all of us.

    Free-speech is not to allow us to vent, it has a purpose. It facilitates communication over difficult and most likely emotional subjects. We all think we are right. I do, you do. But we can’t both be right. Without a means to resolve differences, or even talk about them, freedom will be diminished and national stresses will grow. Possibly to the point of violence.

    I beg of all of you. For the sake of our very future, hold whatever opposing argument in disdain, but support their right to say and think it with honor.

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