Notes and Comment Blog

Take away credentials?

May 9th, 2018 7:51 am | By

He’s musing aloud about suppressing the news media again.

The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?

Says the most corrupt president in living memory (and probably in dead memory too – Teapot Dome wishes it had been that corrupt.)

In his tweet, Trump referred to a study that found 91 percent of network news stories about him are negative.

Shortly before, the anchors on “Fox & Friends” on Fox News discussed a study by the Media Research Center study citing that figure after evaluating the nightly newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC between January and April.

Fox News of course is not corrupt at all, it’s only the ones that don’t kiss his ring that are corrupt. 91% of the total, apparently.

Dinner with the vanguard

May 8th, 2018 5:57 pm | By

Well this one sure has all the kids talking: Bari Weiss at the Times explaining the “intellectual dark web” and how courageously iconoclastic and awesome it is.

Here are some things that you will hear when you sit down to dinner with the vanguard of the Intellectual Dark Web: There are fundamental biological differences between men and women. Free speech is under siege. Identity politics is a toxic ideology that is tearing American society apart. And we’re in a dangerous place if these ideas are considered “dark.”

I was meeting with Sam Harris, a neuroscientist; Eric Weinstein, a mathematician and managing director of Thiel Capital; the commentator and comedian Dave Rubin; and their spouses in a Los Angeles restaurant to talk about how they were turned into heretics. A decade ago, they argued, when Donald Trump was still hosting “The Apprentice,” none of these observations would have been considered taboo.

But would they have been considered simplistic, meaningless, a disguise for something less anodyne, pointless, in need of further explanation? Of course they would. No shit there are “fundamental biological differences between men and women,” but what’s your point? That women are more stupid or more suited to the helping professions than to tech? When you say identity politics is a toxic ideology, what the fuck are you talking about? Free speech is under siege how and where and in what sense and how much more than it ever has been?

Or to put it another way, how about fewer clichés and more precision?

What is the I.D.W. and who is a member of it? It’s hard to explain, which is both its beauty and its danger.

Most simply, it is a collection of iconoclastic thinkers, academic renegades and media personalities who are having a rolling conversation — on podcasts, YouTube and Twitter, and in sold-out auditoriums — that sound unlike anything else happening, at least publicly, in the culture right now. Feeling largely locked out of legacy outlets, they are rapidly building their own mass media channels.

Sam Harris? I doubt that he’s “locked out of legacy outlets.” On the other hand Dave Rubin? Why should he feel welcomed to “legacy outlets” – they’re not public schools or libraries, open to all, they’re publications (I assume that’s what she means by that unattractive descriptor) that want good writers and thinkers as opposed to random people who just turn up brandishing an opinion.

The closest thing to a phone book for the I.D.W. is a sleek website that lists the dramatis personae of the network, including Mr. Harris; Mr. Weinstein and his brother and sister-in-law, the evolutionary biologists Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying; Jordan Peterson, the psychologist and best-selling author; the conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Douglas Murray; Maajid Nawaz, the former Islamist turned anti-extremist activist; and the feminists Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Christina Hoff Sommers.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a former Islamist turned anti-extremist activist just as Maajid Nawaz is, and she’s more known for that than she is as a feminist. Sommers of course is not known as a feminist at all, but as a contemptuous critic of feminism.

The core members have little in common politically. Bret and Eric Weinstein and Ms. Heying were Bernie Sanders supporters. Mr. Harris was an outspoken Hillary voter. Ben Shapiro is an anti-Trump conservative.

But they all share three distinct qualities. First, they are willing to disagree ferociously, but talk civilly, about nearly every meaningful subject: religion, abortion, immigration, the nature of consciousness. Second, in an age in which popular feelings about the way things ought to be often override facts about the way things actually are, each is determined to resist parroting what’s politically convenient. And third, some have paid for this commitment by being purged from institutions that have become increasingly hostile to unorthodox thought — and have found receptive audiences elsewhere.

Oops. She started by saying they all share three distinct qualities, then she says that one of those three is that some have paid for this commitment by being purged – if only some have been purged then they don’t all share that one, do they. Sharpen up. This is why the “legacy outlets” are so shut-outy.

“People are starved for controversial opinions,” said Joe Rogan, an MMA color commentator and comedian who hosts one of the most popular podcasts in the country. “And they are starved for an actual conversation.”

This is the “intellectual dark web”? Intellectual?

Offline and in the real world, members of the I.D.W. are often found speaking to one another in packed venues around the globe. In July, for example, Jordan Peterson, Douglas Murray and Mr. Harris will appear together at the O2 Arena in London.

Of course they will.

“I’ve been at this for 25 years now, having done all the MSM shows, including Oprah, Charlie Rose, ‘The Colbert Report,’ Larry King — you name it,” Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic magazine, told me. “The last couple of years I’ve shifted to doing shows hosted by Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin, Sam Harris and others. The I.D.W. is as powerful a media as any I’ve encountered.”

Mr. Shermer, a middle-aged science writer, now gets recognized on the street. On a recent bike ride in Santa Barbara, Calif., he passed a work crew and “the flag man stopped me and says: ‘Hey, you’re that skeptic guy, Shermer! I saw you on Dave Rubin and Joe Rogan!’” When he can’t watch the shows on YouTube, he listens to them as podcasts on the job. On breaks, he told Mr. Shermer, he takes notes.


And safer than getting women drunk and then “having sex” with them.

Editing to add: H/t Sackbut

Debates in our country should be informed by facts

May 8th, 2018 3:37 pm | By

Obama on Trump’s bad move:

There are few issues more important to the security of the United States than the potential spread of nuclear weapons, or the potential for even more destructive war in the Middle East. That’s why the United States negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the first place.

The reality is clear. The JCPOA is working – that is a view shared by our European allies, independent experts, and the current U.S. Secretary of Defense. The JCPOA is in America’s interest – it has significantly rolled back Iran’s nuclear program. And the JCPOA is a model for what diplomacy can accomplish – its inspections and verification regime is precisely what the United States should be working to put in place with North Korea. Indeed, at a time when we are all rooting for diplomacy with North Korea to succeed, walking away from the JCPOA risks losing a deal that accomplishes – with Iran – the very outcome that we are pursuing with the North Koreans.

That is why today’s announcement is so misguided. Walking away from the JCPOA turns our back on America’s closest allies, and an agreement that our country’s leading diplomats, scientists, and intelligence professionals negotiated. In a democracy, there will always be changes in policies and priorities from one Administration to the next. But the consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America’s credibility, and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers.

Debates in our country should be informed by facts, especially debates that have proven to be divisive. So it’s important to review several facts about the JCPOA.

First, the JCPOA was not just an agreement between my Administration and the Iranian government. After years of building an international coalition that could impose crippling sanctions on Iran, we reached the JCPOA together with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia, China, and Iran. It is a multilateral arms control deal, unanimously endorsed by a United Nations Security Council Resolution.

Second, the JCPOA has worked in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program. For decades, Iran had steadily advanced its nuclear program, approaching the point where they could rapidly produce enough fissile material to build a bomb. The JCPOA put a lid on that breakout capacity. Since the JCPOA was implemented, Iran has destroyed the core of a reactor that could have produced weapons-grade plutonium; removed two-thirds of its centrifuges (over 13,000) and placed them under international monitoring; and eliminated 97 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium – the raw materials necessary for a bomb. So by any measure, the JCPOA has imposed strict limitations on Iran’s nuclear program and achieved real results.

Third, the JCPOA does not rely on trust – it is rooted in the most far-reaching inspections and verification regime ever negotiated in an arms control deal. Iran’s nuclear facilities are strictly monitored. International monitors also have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, so that we can catch them if they cheat. Without the JCPOA, this monitoring and inspections regime would go away.

Fourth, Iran is complying with the JCPOA. That was not simply the view of my Administration. The United States intelligence community has continued to find that Iran is meeting its responsibilities under the deal, and has reported as much to Congress. So have our closest allies, and the international agency responsible for verifying Iranian compliance – the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Fifth, the JCPOA does not expire. The prohibition on Iran ever obtaining a nuclear weapon is permanent. Some of the most important and intrusive inspections codified by the JCPOA are permanent. Even as some of the provisions in the JCPOA do become less strict with time, this won’t happen until ten, fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years into the deal, so there is little reason to put those restrictions at risk today.

Finally, the JCPOA was never intended to solve all of our problems with Iran. We were clear-eyed that Iran engages in destabilizing behavior – including support for terrorism, and threats toward Israel and its neighbors. But that’s precisely why it was so important that we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Every aspect of Iranian behavior that is troubling is far more dangerous if their nuclear program is unconstrained. Our ability to confront Iran’s destabilizing behavior – and to sustain a unity of purpose with our allies – is strengthened with the JCPOA, and weakened without it.

Because of these facts, I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake. Without the JCPOA, the United States could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East. We all know the dangers of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. It could embolden an already dangerous regime; threaten our friends with destruction; pose unacceptable dangers to America’s own security; and trigger an arms race in the world’s most dangerous region. If the constraints on Iran’s nuclear program under the JCPOA are lost, we could be hastening the day when we are faced with the choice between living with that threat, or going to war to prevent it.

In a dangerous world, America must be able to rely in part on strong, principled diplomacy to secure our country. We have been safer in the years since we achieved the JCPOA, thanks in part to the work of our diplomats, many members of Congress, and our allies. Going forward, I hope that Americans continue to speak out in support of the kind of strong, principled, fact-based, and unifying leadership that can best secure our country and uphold our responsibilities around the globe.

What happens when you elect a damn fool

May 8th, 2018 3:25 pm | By

The BBC on Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran deal:

Calling it “decaying and rotten”, he said the deal was “an embarrassment” to him “as a citizen”.

Going against advice from European allies, he said he would reimpose economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.

In response, Iran said it was preparing to restart uranium enrichment, key for making both nuclear energy and weapons.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said: “The US has announced that it doesn’t respect its commitments.”

Trump has announced.

But then what is Trump but everybody’s idea of The Worst American?

Analysis by Jonathan Marcus, BBC defence and diplomatic correspondent

With a stroke of his pen President Trump has jeopardised the one agreement – good or bad -that seeks to constrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

He launched a scathing assault on the deal and its deficiencies, but he offered no alternative policy to put in its place.

He has put US diplomacy on a collision course with some of Washington’s closest allies.

And some fear that he may have brought a new and catastrophic regional war in the Middle East that much closer.

Other than that

France, Germany and the UK – whose leaders had tried to change Mr Trump’s mind – have said they “regret” the American decision. The foreign ministry of Russia, another signatory, said it was “deeply disappointed”.

The European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said the EU was “determined to preserve” the deal.

Former President Obama said on Facebook that the deal was working and was in US interests.

The United Nations secretary general’s spokesman said Antonio Guterres was “deeply concerned” at the announcement and called on the other signatories to abide by their commitments.

But Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he “fully supports” Mr Trump’s “bold” withdrawal from a “disastrous” deal.

And Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, says it “supports and welcomes” Mr Trump’s moves towards pulling out of the deal.

Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia. Brilliant.

He told her that she simply wasn’t “liberated” enough

May 8th, 2018 10:08 am | By

More from the Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow article on Eric Schneiderman:

Evan Stark, a forensic social worker and an emeritus professor at Rutgers, is the author of a landmark book, “Coercive Control,” in which he argues that domestic abuse is just as often psychological as it is physical. Abusive men, he writes, often “terrorize” and “control” their partners by demeaning them, particularly about the traits or accomplishments of which they are proudest. Manning Barish says that Schneiderman often mocked her political activism. When she told him of her plan to attend an anti-gun demonstration with various political figures and a group of parents from Sandy Hook Elementary School, he dismissed the effort, calling the demonstrators “losers.” He added, “Go ahead, if it makes you feel better to do your little political things.” When she was using her computer, he’d sometimes say, “Oh, look at little Mimi. So cute—she’s working!

Does that sound healthy? No it does not.

The novelist Salman Rushdie, who dated Manning Barish before Schneiderman did, and who has been her close friend for nearly fifteen years, says that she confided in him as well. “She called me and told me he had hit her,” Rushdie recalls. “She was obviously very upset. I was horrified.” In his view, Schneiderman’s behavior does not fall into the kind of gray area that should remain private. “It was clear to me that it crossed a line,” he says. Rushdie, who describes Manning Barish as “a very truthful person, in my experience,” advised her to stay away from Schneiderman.

I like Salman Rushdie. He stuck his neck out during the whole Charlie Hebdo-PEN brouhaha, when way too many respectable right-on literary types (such as Francine Prose and Joyce Carol Oates) jumped on the anti-Charlie bandwagon only a few months after the massacre.

Schneiderman was elected to the New York State Senate in 1998, and served for twelve years. He wrote many laws, including one that created specific penalties for strangulation. He introduced the bill in 2010, after chairing a committee that investigated domestic-violence charges against the former state senator Hiram Monserrate, a Democrat, who was expelled from the legislature after having been convicted of assaulting his girlfriend. During the hearings, the legislators learned that New York State imposed no specific criminal penalty for choking, even though it is a common prelude to domestic-violence homicides. Not only did Schneiderman’s bill make life-threatening strangulation a grave crime; it also criminalized less serious cases involving “an intent to impede breathing” as misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in prison. “I’m just sorry it took us so long in New York State to do this,” Schneiderman declared at the time. “I think this will save a lot of lives.”

But he’s a strangler himself. People baffle me.

Jennifer Friedman, a legal expert on domestic violence, says that she cannot square Schneiderman’s public and private behavior. Anyone knowledgeable about intimate-partner violence, she says, knows that choking is “a known lethality indicator.” She adds, “I cannot fathom that someone who drafted the legislation on strangulation is unfamiliar with such concepts.” She also says, “A slap is not just a slap—it reverberates through the rest of the relationship, making her afraid of setting him off.” She adds, “People aren’t usually prosecuted for it, but, in the state of New York, slapping is assault when it results in pain or physical injury.”

Well at least I’m not the only one who doesn’t get it.


Selvaratnam kept notes about her exchanges with the former girlfriend, and she described them to TheNew Yorker. According to these notes, the former girlfriend told Selvaratnam that she had been in love with Schneiderman, but that in bed he had routinely slapped her hard across the ear and the face, as tears rolled down her cheeks. He also choked her and spat at her. Not all the abuse had taken place in a sexual context. She said that Schneiderman had once slapped her during an argument they’d had while getting dressed to go out. The blow left a handprint on her back; the next day, the spot still hurt. When the former girlfriend objected to this mistreatment, he told her that she simply wasn’t “liberated” enough.

That. It reminds me of a line from Big Little Lies – the novel or the tv dramatization or both, I don’t remember – about a one night stand with a guy who turned out to be violent: when the woman said no he told her she was “too vanilla.” Apparently that’s a thing now? Women who like being beaten up or anally raped during sex are “liberated” and adventurous, and women who don’t are horrible unliberated vanilla prudes? So being beaten up (for women only) is extra extra super sexy and rejecting it is “sex-negative”?

That’s Schneiderman’s theory, apparently.

The lawyer and Schneiderman began making out, but he said things that repelled her. He told the woman, a divorced mother, that professional women with big jobs and children had so many decisions to make that, when it came to sex, they secretly wanted men to take charge. She recalls him saying, “Yeah, you act a certain way and look a certain way, but I know that at heart you are a dirty little slut. You want to be my whore.” He became more sexually aggressive, but she was repulsed by his talk, and pulled away from him. She says that “suddenly—at least, in my mind’s eye—he drew back, and there was a moment where I was, like, ‘What’s happening?’ ” Then, she recalls, “He slapped me across the face hard, twice,” adding, “I was stunned.”

Schneiderman hit her so hard, she says, that the blow left a red handprint. “What the fuck did you just do?” she screamed, and started to sob. “I couldn’t believe it,” she recalls. “For a split second, I was scared.” She notes that, in all her years of dating, she has never been in a situation like the one with Schneiderman. “He just really smacked me,” she says.

When she told him that she wanted to leave, she recalls, he started to “freak out,” saying that he’d misjudged her. “You’d really be surprised,” he claimed. “A lot of women like it. They don’t always think they like it, but then they do, and they ask for more.”

So just in case, he gives it to them, and “a lot of them” like it and ask for more.

A striking resemblance

May 8th, 2018 9:29 am | By

This again. Somebody at the White House pretends Melania Trump wrote a thing that was actually written by someone in the Obama administration. Why do that?

US First Lady Melania Trump has been caught up in another plagiarism row, following the launch of her new online safety for children campaign on Monday.

A booklet put out by Mrs Trump bore a striking resemblance to one published under the Obama administration.

The text and graphics of the “Be Best” booklet were nearly identical to those in the previous edition.

Well that’s not “a striking resemblance,” it’s plagiarism. Words aren’t like faces; you don’t have a resemblance, you have the same words. The word “good” isn’t “like” the word “good”; it is that word.

Mrs Trump’s online safety booklet was initially billed on the initiative’s website as being “by First Lady Melania Trump and the Federal Trade Commission”.

After similarities to the Obama-era edition were picked up online, the text was revised to describe it as a “Federal Trade Commission booklet, promoted by First Lady Melania Trump”.

Why didn’t they just do it that way in the first place? What is wrong with them?

Launching the “Be Best” initiative at the White House on Monday, Mrs Trump said the aim was to promote healthy living, encourage positive use of social media, and combat opioid abuse.

“As we all know, social media can both positively and negatively affect our children, but too often it is used in negative ways,” she said.

Her decision to focus on cyberbullying has prompted questions about the behaviour of her husband, who frequently uses Twitter to attack and insult his opponents.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked ahead of the launch of the initiative whether President Trump believed he bore any responsibility for the need to address cyberbullying.

“I think the idea that you’re trying to blame cyberbullying on the president is kind of ridiculous,” she said.


Yearning to breathe free

May 8th, 2018 8:55 am | By

A reckoning of his own

May 8th, 2018 8:46 am | By

Now there’s Schneiderman.

Eric Schneiderman, New York’s attorney general, has long been a liberal Democratic champion of women’s rights, and recently he has become an outspoken figure in the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment. As New York State’s highest-ranking law-enforcement officer, Schneiderman, who is sixty-three, has used his authority to take legal action against the disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein, and to demand greater compensation for the victims of Weinstein’s alleged sexual crimes.

Great. But…

Now Schneiderman is facing a reckoning of his own. As his prominence as a voice against sexual misconduct has risen, so, too, has the distress of four women with whom he has had romantic relationships or encounters. They accuse Schneiderman of having subjected them to nonconsensual physical violence. All have been reluctant to speak out, fearing reprisal. But two of the women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, have talked to The New Yorker on the record, because they feel that doing so could protect other women. They allege that he repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent.

And what does he say? That it was “role-playing” in “the privacy of intimate relationships.” So I guess he was playing the role of a guy who hits women and the women he hit were…emergency understudies who didn’t know they were playing women who got hit?

Or in other words he says it was kink, and kink is private and intimate, and how dare you.

He says it was consensual and the women say it was absolutely not consensual.

Am I the only one who thinks this whole business of calling it “kink” and “role-playing” is turning out to be just a pretext for men to belt women and get away with it?

Schneiderman’s activism on behalf of feminist causes has increasingly won him praise from women’s groups. On May 1st, the New York-based National Institute for Reproductive Health honored him as one of three “Champions of Choice” at its annual fund-raising luncheon. Accepting the award, Schneiderman said, “If a woman cannot control her body, she is not truly equal.” But, as Manning Barish sees it, “you cannot be a champion of women when you are hitting them and choking them in bed, and saying to them, ‘You’re a fucking whore.’ ” She says of Schneiderman’s involvement in the Weinstein investigation, “How can you put a perpetrator in charge of the country’s most important sexual-assault case?” Selvaratnam describes Schneiderman as “a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” figure, and says that seeing him lauded as a supporter of women has made her “feel sick,” adding, “This is a man who has staked his entire career, his personal narrative, on being a champion for women publicly. But he abuses them privately. He needs to be called out.”

One wonders how many there are like that.

There can be only one loudmouth fool at a time

May 7th, 2018 5:34 pm | By

Uh oh – the honeymoon is over.

President Donald Trump is growing increasingly irritated with lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s frequently off-message media blitz, in which he has muddied the waters on hush money paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels and made claims that could complicate the president’s standing in the special counsel’s Russia probe.

Not to mention Rudy is getting all that attention. Attention is supposed to be for Donnie, all for Donnie. No amount is ever enough.

Trump also expressed annoyance that Giuliani’s theatrics have breathed new life into the Daniels story and extended its lifespan. It’s a concern shared by Trump allies who think Giuliani is only generating more legal and political trouble for the White House.

Darn those theatrics. If only Giuliani could be sober and temperate and thoughtful, like Trump.

After Trump chided Giuliani on Friday, saying the lawyer needed to “get his facts straight,” the former mayor put out a statement trying to clarify his remarks. But in weekend interviews, Giuliani appeared to dig himself a deeper hole by acknowledging that “Cohen takes care of situations like this, then gets paid for them sometimes.” He did not rule out the possibility that Cohen had paid off other women.

Trump, who has denied the affair with Daniels, was angry that Giuliani had given the impression that other women may make similar charges of infidelity, according to the people familiar with his views.

“Dammit Rudy you’re making me look sleazy here!”

Trump, according to one confidant, celebrated Giuliani’s hiring last month by declaring that he had enlisted “America’s Fucking Mayor” as a legal attack dog with star power. But many in the White House have begun evoking comparisons with Anthony Scaramucci — who, like Giuliani, was a hard-charging New Yorker with a knack for getting TV airtime.

Yeah he’s not America’s fucking mayor. That’s just the usual catchphrasey bullshit that doesn’t mean anything. He was highly visible on September 11 2001, but that doesn’t make him permanent national mayor. If we were going to have one of those it wouldn’t be Rudy Giuliani.

These ideas were laundered to smell a bit better

May 7th, 2018 11:54 am | By

Talia Lavin notes with what a light heart men can ask hey now if we talk about fairness in the distribution of wealth, income, health care, housing, why can’t we talk about it in the distribution of access to women’s genitalia?

Let’s reconstruct this sequence of events, shall we?

Shortly before he committed mass murder on April 23, Alek Minassian, 25, logged on to Facebook. “Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161,” he posted. “The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”

It looks like typical online bullshit, but he wasn’t joking or playacting or bullshitting; he meant it.

A few days later, a tenured professor of economics at George Mason University, Robin Hanson, published a post entitled “Two Types of Envy” on the blog Overcoming Bias arguing that incels might have a salient point to contribute to the national discourse. As Hanson put it, “Those with much less access to sex suffer to a similar degree as those with low income, and might similarly hope to gain from organizing around this identity, to lobby for redistribution along this axis and to at least implicitly threaten violence if their demands are not met.”

By the same token, those with much less access to domestic servants to scrub their toilets and get rid of all the dust might like redistribution along this axis.

Yesterday, Douthat — that incorrigible chinstrap-bearded prophet of pedantic reason — published his own thoughts on the issue, entitled “The Redistribution of Sex,” positing that the idea of sex as a redistributable resource is “entirely responsive to the logic of late-modern sexual life,” and blaming “sexual liberation” for inceldom and its victims.

It appalls but does not surprise me that neither of these august ideologues sought even once to examine a primary source on the issue. That neither of them bothered to emphasize that it is not incidental that incel ideology has led to multiple massacres. It is far easier to write an abstract consideration of the economics of sex and a generalized bemoaning of contemporary mores than to face the glaring and obvious truth: Inceldom is an ideological system premised in its entirety on a poisonous, irrational, and thoroughgoing hatred of women.

Along with a conception of women as not fully human in the way men are fully human.

Do you want to know how incels would like to redistribute sex?

Take them at their word. Here’s a quick segment from an incel manifesto that began making the rounds this weekend after it appeared on r/badeconomics, and which lays out a few clear principles for a sex-redistribution matrix. Among the ideas on offer are banning makeup – a means of feminine deceit – and suggesting a system of state-mandated “sexual-market value cards” measured on a one-to-ten scale. The proposal culminates in the following: “Women with more than 9 sexual partners and single moms should be forced by the state to date and have sex with incels that can’t get any women despite the above changes.”

I wonder if an open program of state-mandated mass rape, à la The Handmaid’s Tale, would make it into the crisp pages of the New York Times. It’s a good thing these ideas were laundered to smell a bit better.

The Times launders terrible ideas through Ross Douthat the way Trump launders money through compliant lawyers.

I wish Ross Douthat had had my weekend: After tweeting about incels — in a state of fairly earned horror, I tweeted a screenshot of the mass rape manifesto mentioned above — a number of them discovered my Twitter account.

(That is, after she tweeted about incels, a number of them discovered her Twitter account. Watch those dangling participles, folks.)

That’s when I found out what incels like to call women they consider slutty. The term is “roastie,” and it’s short for “roast beef,” and it derives from a physics-and-anatomy-illiterate understanding of female genitalia. Their theory, you see, is that a woman who has too many sexual partners (perhaps even more than nine!) suffers from an excess of friction, and her labia begin to resemble the folds of a roast beef sandwich.

And so, dear reader, for hours and hours, incels tweeted photos of roast beef at me, intending to shame me for my distended pudenda. I was disgusted at first. Then I got angry. Then I wanted Arby’s.

But if women are so gross, why do the incels want to use them for sex? Why not just put all that talent to work creating a hand-held vagina instead?

But that’s by the way. The real point is why is the Times laundering incel ideology?

People who are considered unfriendly might show up

May 7th, 2018 9:42 am | By

Scott Pruitt has been hiding his activities and schedule from public view.

But a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club, the environmental group, has resulted in the release of 10,703 pages of documents that detail Mr. Pruitt’s plans for travel and appearances nationwide. The documents offer visibility for the first time not only into many of his appearances but into the agency’s pursuit of secrecy as well.

The emails — concerning events like a closed-door speech to power plant owners in Missouri, a secret visit to Toyota’s auto plant in Texas and a town-hall style speech to farmers in Iowa where organizers clamped down on questions — show the E.P.A.’s chief concern was about controlling who would be in the room with Mr. Pruitt and what could be said.

The EPA said in the past that it was because of an unprecedented number of death threats.

However, the documents provide new indications — supported by interviews with current and former aides to Mr. Pruitt at the E.P.A. — that the concern with secrecy is less about security than a desire by Mr. Pruitt to avoid criticism from detractors or even unexpected questions from allies.

“The security aspect is smoke and mirrors,” said Kevin Chmielewski, Mr. Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff for operations, who is one of several former E.P.A. officials who have said that they were fired or sidelined for disagreeing with Mr. Pruitt’s management practices.

Breaking with all of his predecessors at the E.P.A. for the last 25 years, as well as other members of President Trump’s cabinet, he does not release a list of public speaking events and he discloses most official trips only after they are over. Mr. Pruitt doesn’t hold news conferences, and in one episode, journalists who learned of an event were ejectedfrom the premises after an E.P.A. official threatened to call the police.

The E.P.A. also declined to make public a copy of Mr. Pruitt’s detailed calendar until it was sued by The New York Times and other organizations.

This is the EPA, not the Manhattan Project. Its work is not supposed to be secret.

A driving concern among E.P.A. officials, the emails show, is to separate potential guests into two camps: “friendly” and “unfriendly.” Events can be reorganized at the last minute if there are concerns that people who are considered unfriendly might show up.

“Sixteen friendly Industry leaders will be invited to attend they will arrive at 8:30 with the Administrator expected to arrive at 9:00 a.m.,”said one memo, shared among top E.P.A. officials last September, in advance of a visit by Mr. Pruitt to Colorado Springs, where Mr. Pruitt was scheduled to speak with the National Association of Homebuilders. The event was closed to the public and not announced publicly ahead of time.

Gerald M. Howard, the organization’s top executive, “will moderate Q&A on Industry issues set forth in advance and possibly from the audience — who are all industry friendly and supportive of Mr. Pruitt and his efforts,” the description said.

No dissent allowed – no dissent even allowed to attend, or be aware there is anything to attend. Dissent systematically and secretly ruled out in advance by not being invited or informed.

Norm Eisen sums it up.

Suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence

May 6th, 2018 11:46 am | By

I did some reading up on the Southern Baptist Convention for Does God Hate Women?

They still hate women.

Paige Patterson is the 75-year-old president of Fort Worth’s Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, which claims to be one of the largest schools of its kind in the world. He is lionized among Baptists for his role in the “conservative resurgence,” which is what some call the movement to oust theological liberals beginning in the 1970s. But this week, his past legacy and present credibility were called into question when a 2000 audio recording surfaced in which Patterson said he has counseled physically abused women to avoid divorce and to focus instead on praying for their violent husbands, and to “be submissive in every way that you can.”

I’m not sure what that “But” is doing there. Ordering women to submit is the core of theological conservatism. Shocker: yes that includes submitting to abuse, yes including physical abuse. Male dominance is all-important.

Some notable SBC leaders echoed concerns about Patterson’s comments and whether he should step down. Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, a book-publishing house and retail chain that is owned by the SBC, released a statement denouncing domestic abuse and calling out Patterson by name. Ed Stetzer, a former Southern Baptist employee who is currently a professor at Wheaton College, penned an article for Christianity Today arguing that Patterson must resign post-haste. Others, including theologian Albert Mohler and mega-church pastor Matt Chandler, also made statementscondemning spousal abuse.

But the tight-knit Southern Baptist boys’ club is not so easily unraveled, and many leaders have sheltered their colleague. Some have simply remained mum. The denomination’s Executive Committee has not acknowledged the controversy despite the media coverage it has received…Others have actually offered their support. For example, Atlanta-based pastor and former SBC President Johnny Hunt took to Twitter to praise Patterson as “a man of God and a man of your word.”

Who is God? The ultimate Male, that’s who. Men are made in the image of God and women are not. This isn’t some peripheral bit of fluff, it’s central – more central than anything else. Men are the boss and women are the slave. End of story.

One can only imagine how the million of Southern Baptist women feel when their own denomination cannot seem to muster enough moral courage to offer a full-throated repudiation of domestic abuse. The denomination holds that God intends for wives to submit to their husbands and has not passed a resolution on domestic violence since 1979.

Some of the women will feel ok when their own denomination refuses to condemn domestic violence against women (and girls, of course), because they’ve been trained to. Goddy belief is a powerful drug.

It’s somewhat easier to tolerate disagreement on matters like race when the majority of SBC churches are overwhelmingly white. But when every congregation is at least 50 percent female, domestic abuse hits closer to home.

But that’s why. Women are everywhere, the men can’t escape them, so it’s important to keep the hierarchy firmly in place.

Makamae Street

May 6th, 2018 11:06 am | By

Life near Kilauea right now:

One has to wonder why anyone was allowed to build there.

Dirty ops

May 6th, 2018 9:48 am | By

Mark Townsend and Julian Borger report:

Aides to Donald Trump, the US president, hired an Israeli private intelligence agency to orchestrate a “dirty ops” campaign against key individuals from the Obama administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal, the Observer can reveal.

People in the Trump camp contacted private investigators in May last year to “get dirt” on Ben Rhodes, who had been one of Barack Obama’s top national security advisers, and Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to Obama, as part of an elaborate attempt to discredit the deal.

Watergate much?

Although sources have confirmed that contact and an initial plan of attack was provided to private investigators by representatives of Trump, it is not clear how much work was actually undertaken, for how long or what became of any material unearthed.

Neither is it known if the black ops constituted only a strand of a wider Trump-Netanyahu collaboration to undermine the deal or if investigators targeted other individuals such as John Kerry, the lead American signatory to the deal. Both Rhodes and Kahl said they had no idea of the campaign against them. Rhodes said: “I was not aware, though sadly am not surprised. I would say that digging up dirt on someone for carrying out their professional responsibilities in their positions as White House officials is a chillingly authoritarian thing to do.”

Trump is every inch an authoritarian.

Boom! Come over here.

May 5th, 2018 4:31 pm | By

Oh lord.

The BBC explains:

US President Donald Trump has outraged French opinion by suggesting the 2015 attacks on Paris could have been stopped by giving people guns.

He mimicked gunmen summoning and shooting victims one by one, saying “Boom! Come over here!” and using his hand to imitate a gun being fired.

Oh christing fuck.

It’s not even the first time – he said it then.

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, Donald Trump and other American conservatives repeated a familiar and predictable response to mass shootings in other countries: France has a gun problem. If Parisians could legally carry weapons, they could have fought back against the assailants.

That argument doesn’t have much support in France — a country that has around 1,800 firearms deaths every year, as opposed to the more than 33,000 in the United States.

The US has more people, of course – 326 million compared to France’s 67 million. Call it five times as many, then multiply 1,800 by 5: 9000. 33,000 is quite a lot more than 9000.

Back to the BBC:

The French foreign ministry called for the victims’ memory to be respected.

“France expresses its firm disapproval of the comments by President Trump about the attacks of 13 November 2015 in Paris and asks for the memory of the victims to be respected,” the foreign ministry said.

François Hollande, who was French president at the time of the attacks, said Mr Trump’s remarks were “shameful”. They “said a lot about what he thinks of France and its values”, he added.

Manuel Valls, who was France’s prime minister in 2015, tweeted: “Indecent and incompetent. What more can I say?”

“Paris, France, has the toughest gun laws in the world…” he told the NRA.

“Nobody has guns in Paris, nobody, and we all remember more than 130 people, plus tremendous numbers of people that were horribly, horribly wounded. Did you notice that nobody ever talks about them?

“They were brutally killed by a small group of terrorists that had guns. They took their time and gunned them down one by one. Boom! Come over here. Boom! Come over here. Boom!

“But if one employee or just one patron had a gun, or if just one person in this room had been there with a gun, aimed at the opposite direction, the terrorists would have fled or been shot.”

They wouldn’t have fled, they were on a suicide mission. One employee or patron wouldn’t have been able to shoot many of them, if any.

But more to the point it’s just so disgusting – pantomiming it, saying “Boom.”

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, tweeted that President Trump’s depiction of the 2015 attacks was “scornful and unworthy”.

The Latin is Paris’s motto: It is tossed by the waves but doesn’t sink.

Trump’s motto is: “I can’t keep my mouth shut.”

Why is everyone laughing?

May 5th, 2018 11:08 am | By

Maddow did a rather brilliant exposition yesterday about Rod Rosenstein’s admiration of FDR’s Attorney General Robert Jackson and how that ties in to Rosenstein’s resistance to Republican demands for documents from an ongoing investigation. Rosenstein has a big portrait of Jackson in his Deputy AG conference room, hung so that it’s over his right shoulder when he sits at the head of the table for meetings. Jackson went from AG to the Supreme Court, from which he took a leave (a most unusual thing for a supreme to do) to be the prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials.

She drew on a story the Times did on May 2 about those Republican demands for docs from a live investigation. I’ve been thinking all along that it sounds very like Devin Nunes’s tipping off of the administration last year – that in fact they want the documents because they want to tip off the White House about what’s in them. The Times story spells that out, cautiously.

President Trump plunged into an angry dispute on Wednesday between conservative House Republicans and the deputy attorney general, siding with hard-line lawmakers over his own Justice Department as they pressed for access to sensitive documents related to the special counsel’s investigation and other politically charged cases.

Distrust between Mr. Rosenstein and Congress has been building over months. In recent weeks, he has made significant gestures to release documents demanded by prominent congressmen, only to be threatened with impeachment by lawmakers from the far right.

Mr. Rosenstein responded on Tuesday to that threat by declaring that the Justice Department would not be “extorted.”

Officials at the department believe that the conservatives have now gone too far with document requests related to continuing investigations that the lawmakers clearly do not support, including the inquiry led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russia’s election interference. A former federal law enforcement official familiar with the department’s views said that Mr. Rosenstein and top F.B.I. officials have come to suspect that some lawmakers were using their oversight authority to gain intelligence about that investigation so that it could be shared with the White House.

Ya think?

That’s probably cautious reporterese for “they have assumed all along that some lawmakers are trying to see the documents so that they can share the contents with Trump’s lawyers.”

The way Maddow and the people she chose to interview put it, it’s a core principle of DoJ investigations that they don’t share information from them while they are in progress. Other sources put it somewhat more tentatively. On the other other hand Maddow showed a clip of Rosenstein speaking at an event yesterday, a rather obscure event for a busy Deputy Ag, which seems to hint that he’s speaking at these things to make his case in public – in the clip he mentioned the separation of powers and then that he has a rather strong interest in it at the moment, and then slyly asked why everyone was laughing. Wink wink nudge nudge. In short he gave a big shoutout to the separation of powers at a moment when some House Republicans are trying to undermine that in their efforts to help the mob boss in the White House.

Mr. Trump’s threat on Wednesday to intervene bolstered those voices and could undermine the Justice Department’s ability to protect some of its most closely held secrets. Lawmakers conducting oversight are usually given summaries of the information, but not the intelligence collected directly from wiretaps and sensitive sources.

Similar standoffs between law enforcement officials and Congress have resulted in compromise dating back decades, but in those cases, the Justice Department had the support of the president. Without Mr. Trump’s support, Congress is gaining the advantage.

Republican lawmakers, for their part, argue that Mr. Rosenstein’s department has slow-walked important requests and withheld crucial details from documents they do turn over — material they say is necessary to doing their jobs. And their threats are hardly veiled.

It’s a trap.

Democrats fear that the Republican requests — many of which call on the department to ignore longstanding policy about what it shares with Congress — are meant as a trap. Either Mr. Rosenstein can turn over information that could be used to undermine the special counsel’s inquiry, or he could refuse, giving Mr. Trump cover, or even cause, to fire the deputy attorney general.

Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said the latest Republican efforts were “clearly trying to sabotage” Mr. Mueller’s investigation and court a confrontation with Mr. Rosenstein.

“All of this noise is aimed at undermining the special counsel’s work as the investigation closes in on the president,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement. “The president’s attacks on the Department of Justice grow more paranoid by the day. The case for obstruction of justice — and the complicity of these House Republicans — grows day by day as well.”

Mr. Rosenstein, who has already given the Republican lawmakers access to hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, has made clear in recent days that he does not intend to go further.

On Monday, the Justice Department wrote to Mr. Meadows and Mr. Jordan to deny them access to the document about the scope of the Russia inquiry, citing department policy against sharing information on a continuing investigation.

“The department recognizes the keen interest that Congress has in the special counsel’s investigation, but, respectfully, we must adhere to the longstanding position of the department that congressional inquiries pertaining to ongoing criminal investigations threaten the integrity of those investigations,” Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, wrote in the letter, a copy of which was provided to The New York Times.

“We hope you can respect our position,” he added.

And on Tuesday, Mr. Rosenstein, reacting to reports that Mr. Meadows had drafted articles of impeachment to use against him if needed, pushed back hard.

“If we were to just open our doors to allow Congress to come and rummage through the files, that would be a serious infringement on the separation of powers,” Mr. Rosenstein said at an event in Washington. “It might resolve a dispute today, but it would have negative repercussions in the long run, and we have a responsibility to defend the institution.”

And on Friday he said it again.

Women are not cars, explained

May 5th, 2018 10:05 am | By

Now Toby Young gets in on the act – hey all you lefty types think money should be more equitably shared so how come you don’t think the same thing about access to women, huh huh huh?

Robin Hanson, Alek Minassian, incel rebellion, Elliot Rodger, Chad and Stacy, blah blah.

Hanson wasn’t defending these two mass murderers, but querying why incels had been dismissed in the media as ‘self-pitying’ and ‘lonely weirdos’ in the aftermath of the Toronto attack, often by the same journalists and commentators who decry other forms of inequality. Why are terrorists who murder people in the name of redistributing wealth, like Che Guevara, lionised by the left, whereas terrorists whose aim is to draw attention to sex inequality are detested? A columnist on the Scottish Daily Record said Minassian was a ‘pathetic little boy who can’t get a girlfriend’. I don’t suppose the same journalist would describe the late socialist hero Jimmy Reid as a ‘pathetic little man who couldn’t afford a nice car’.


One can never tell – is he (whichever – Hanson, Douthat, Young) really that stupid or just pretending to be to wind us up? It’s right there in the words – girlfriend versus car. Now do you see what we’re getting at? A girlfriend is not like a car. How? A girlfriend is a person and a car is a thing. A girlfriend has thoughts and plans and ideas and feelings; a car has an engine and windows and wheels.

It works the same way with women on the one hand and money on the other. Women have minds; money does not.

Women are not things to be distributed. You’d think this would be too fucking obvious to say, yet they keep ignoring it, either genuinely or ad arguendo. Neither is acceptable.

She chafed at the assumptions

May 5th, 2018 9:02 am | By

The New York Times introduces us to a fascinatingly original and independent-minded couple in a large west coast city:

When Amanda Davidson, a 42-year-old Los Angeles-based artist and writer, welcomed her firstborn child in December — a boy named Felix — with her partner Isaac Schankler, 39, a composer, she chafed at the assumptions the medical staff members made about how the pair wanted to identify themselves as parents.

“‘Hi, Mommy! Where’s Daddy? Mommy needs to know this, but so does Daddy,’” she said with a big laugh. The binary clashed so much with how the couple sees themselves and exists in the world — she’s queer-identified, and her partner goes by pronouns they/their/them and uses the gender-neutral title Mx. — she refrained from calling herself anything vis-à-vis Felix for the first two weeks of his life.

Oh, my, that must have been awful. Couldn’t the medical staff members see at a glance how not Mommy and Daddy our eccentric pair are?

Isaac Schankler, left, and Amanda Davidson are among a wave of gender-nonconforming parents reconsidering the labels of “mommy” and “daddy.”

CreditChris Schell

So…that’s Isaac on the left in the suit and tie and short hair, and that’s Amanda on the right in a dress and long hair and lipstick…so…uh…how could medical staff possibly call them Daddy and Mommy respectively? Don’t they…uh…realize that Isaac and Amanda are queering all the things?

Naming is particularly important to the pair as a means of signaling their queerness, since they “pass” as a straight couple. “We don’t look visibly queer,” Ms. Davidson said, “So in some ways, our choice of names helps us affirm our identities.”

Ellen Kahn, the director of the Children, Youth & Families Program at the Human Rights Campaign, said the gender binary that underlies “mother” and “father” doesn’t jibe with some parents’ self-understanding and self-presentation: “For queer parents who don’t think of themselves as gender conforming, ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’ may be a little discordant with the way they think about themselves.”

Which is what, exactly? More special than everyone else? More thoughtful and rebellious and quirky and interesting than all those stupid “binary” couples with their suits and dresses and short hair/long hair?

Katie Herzog at The Stranger finds the whole thing rather annoying.

Now, I will admit that my first reaction to this article was to roll my eyes back in my head and pull out my application to a lesbian seperatist commune in Taos, but then I remembered that it’s against the rules to question other peoples’ identities (unless that person is Rachel Dolezal) so I reigned in my annoyance.

But then I read it again, and I thought about some lesbian friends of mine back in North Carolina who just had a kid last year. Unlike Davidson and Schankler, who, I presume, used the body parts they were born with to make a kid, my friends had to go about it the old fashioned ways: turkey baster, with sperm purchased from a sperm bank.

That was the easy part.

The hard part was the adoption, which they had to do if they wanted both parents to have parental rights.

It’s a cumbersome, stressful, and expensive process, but many attorneys specializing in LGBTQ family law recommend it. And so, this married couple who conceived a child together had to get background checks, have home visits with social workers, get reference letters, sign affidavits attesting to how their child was conceived, and have meetings with the county clerk—all so that Heather, who literally has two mommies, could legally have two mommies.

Now, same-sex adoption laws vary by state, but in many places, it’s still an arduous, time-consuming process that no heterosexual couple who birthed a child together would have to engage in. And, in most countries, it’s not even an option. It’s also something that Davidson and Schankler would never have to deal with, because, regardless of their pronouns, they are still, in the eyes of the law (and, lets be real, society) a plain old heterosexual couple. While I’m sure it is painful for them to be seen as straight when they feel they are queer, every time the New York Times or New York mag or whoever else elevates couples like this, they ignore the very real trials and tribulations that actual same-sex couples go through in a legal system that isn’t equipped to handle us.

That plus there’s the whole thing of what looks like deliberately creating a kind of “oppressed” status for themselves so that they can hang with the cool kids who already have actual oppression. It looks, in short, like exactly what people mean by “appropriation,” in a strikingly obnoxious form. Davidson and Shankler “pass” as exactly what they are, so they claim to be “queer” in the most nebulous and indeed meaningless sense possible. Herzog sums up:

I realize that I’m not the LGBTQIAS (the “s” stands for “straight”) hall monitor, but while everyone and their abba has decided that queerness is more about haircuts and pronouns than who you bone, actual queer people are still second class citizens under the law. As of 2018, only 22 states have full protections preventing housing, employment, and public accommodation discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people. And yet, the Times devotes column inches to a “queer” couple whose big struggle was resolved by adopting the Hebrew word for dad. Just an idea, but perhaps the next time the paper of note writes about LGBTQ families, maybe they could actually talk to a few.

Won’t somebody please think of the queer straight people?

Free Sherif Gaber

May 5th, 2018 8:26 am | By

Maryam Namazie writes:

Egyptian Atheist and Youtube Vlogger Sherif Gaber has disappeared and is most likely arrested when trying to leave the country on Wednesday 2nd May. He sent a message to friends telling them he was stopped and taken to an interrogation room at Cairo airport and his passport confiscated. No one has heard from him since. The last message from Sherif on Wednesday 2nd May at 11:08 am Cairo time:

“I am suppose to be traveling to Malaysia at 12:05 Cairo Time, an hour from now. The police took me and made me wait in this room for 2 hours and I’m still waiting> they took my belongings and my passport. If I don’t update you in one hour know that I was arrested.”

We demand Gaber’s release. Atheism, Blasphemy, Apostasy are not crimes. #FreeSherifGaber

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Guest post: On punching up

May 4th, 2018 5:56 pm | By

Guest post by Bruce Everett

I’ve always had a lingering suspicion about the rule to “never punch down/only punch up”. What started out as a heuristic for comedians seems to be apt at morphing into a kind of social contagion along the lines of what Bertrand Russell wrote about in ‘The Superior Virtue of The Oppressed’.

Yes, people are oppressed to varying extents. No, that’s not good. Neither is taking advantage of people’s social standing to enact sadism for shits and giggles. Conflict occurs across the power differentials. That’s not disputed.

But in practice, and especially in groups of people, this rule doesn’t always seem to work so well.

For one, it appeals to people’s sentiments and naturally, people forget why the rule exists and just try and wing the spirit of it, whatever the fuck that may be. Eventually you can wind up with things like “the most oppressed in the room can do whatever the fuck they want, including not putting up with any doubt that they are the most oppressed in the room, which is LITERAL VIOLENCE!”

Pretty soon after things metastasize this far, without reference to any material fact you wind up with people in unassailable positions, irrespective of whether or not they as an individual or as a member of a social group, are actually most oppressed, effectively with license to do anything to members of any other oppressed group. And when they actually do “anything”, people act all surprised and then make excuses.

I can’t help but notice this also seems more pronounced when the person on the receiving end is a woman, and the person dishing it out is a man. Maybe that’s just my biases.

Then there are the pile-ons. The first step is for the purported or actually most oppressed person to have a go at someone who may very well have actually done something wrong, who may actually be an oppressed person themselves… and then a bunch of usually white, upper-middle class shits will come along and harangue the person on the receiving end for “punching down”. Never mind if they’ve just condescended to someone more disadvantaged than them – they’re doing it in alliance with The Most Oppressed, so all’s good.

“Oh, it does feel ever so good to be able to condescend to someone less advantaged than me, and for it to make me such a good ally, Tarquin. This system licenses it!”
“Oh, I know. It’s especially good when I do it to old feminists. It’s like calling them “bitch” or “feminazi”, but without the fear of being seen as a sexist pig. Just be sure to bring someone along who is able to punch up first – you only need to bring one of them. #TokenismYay

Even people who are aware that social justice causes/activist circles attract narcissists like ants to a picnic, will fail to realize that the mere prospect of the status of unassailability within such a milieu is all that much more attractive. There is inherent vagary in “don’t punch down” and don’t think for a second narcs won’t weaponize it if they can.

“Which way’s down in this case?”
“I’m not sure. Better be cautious and assume the shouty person knows.”
“Oh, yes. And we’d better not doubt them, because that’d be punching down too!”
“True. We must signal our support by following through when their voice is too hoarse to repeat themselves!”
“Oh dear, they just kicked the shit out of that lesbian.”
“That’s not good. But remember, we can’t expect people to be perfect in their activism and it is difficult to be a activist and suffer from the social stigma of Morgellons at the same time. Perhaps if we give them more time and attention in future, this kind of thing won’t happen again. We need to love them more!”
“Yes. Is it time tell the lesbian off now?”
“Of course. But I don’t think we use the word “lesbian” anymore.”
“[At lesbian] DAMN YOU… THING!?! You provoked them! How would you like to be a Furry with Morgellons? Non-human animals are the most oppressed group!”
“You’re such a good feminist, Tarquin. #woke

And of course, just addressing this is practically impossible. The terms of the problem preclude discussing it from any angle other than that of the outsider.

And there’s the bait and switch between strict and equivocal definitions as the last barrier. For decision making within the group, the definition is equivocal, and made up on the fly for the convenience of whoever is in power. For criticism from outside the group, any questioning of “don’t punch down” is defined into literally excusing abusing disadvantaged people – end of story.

I can’t think of any solution other than to step away and start again once this shit takes hold. At least, not outside of groups that allow you to clear house with elections. Even then, that’s hard and requires the opportunity to organize.

I don’t envy people who don’t have the option to walk away.