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Tuesday 31 March 2015

Everyjoe Tuesday: The Last Free-Speech Liberal in the World?

Today, I'm forced to do something different, since I blew my intellectual load twice last week, with my Jeremy Clarkson article, that turned out to be the most popular Everyjoe article I ever wrote... in the world.   Apparently people love Clarkson, love Top Gear, and love to read me shitting on the BBC.

So instead of an Everyjoe article, I present you with the man who may soon be the last Free-Speech Liberal in the world, or at least in the United States.  Also, one of the last actually funny liberals, because these days being funny is not allowed, as John Stewart's successor is finding out.

Back in 2001, Bill Maher had a show called "Politically Incorrect".  Ironically, it was censored and cancelled because the right-wing objected to comments he made in light of 9/11.   Many, many liberals rallied to his side in defense of free speech.

Well, I'm going to predict that I think its only really a matter of time now, just 14 years later, where in spite of his popularity Bill Maher will again find himself facing demands that he be fired.  This time, though, it will be the LEFT who will seek to drive him out of work.  Because there's two things that are forbidden to the modern "progressive" mindset:  having a sense of humor, and daring to question the agenda.  Maher always did the former, and lately he's been doing more and more of the latter, clearly becoming increasingly frustrated over the last year with the rampant extremism of Thought-Control going on in the left.

Thought-control that goes to such extremes of absurdity as to make it so that Clapping is now controversial, a product of the patriarchy or something.  The Women's Conference of the National Union of Students held at Oxford which now famously tried to ban clapping and whooping also felt (though it was somewhat less reported) that the same group felt OK with condemning gay men for "appropriating the culture of black women" (whatever that means) but literally felt they could not bring themselves to raise enough jazz hands to condemn the Islamic State for LITERALLY "appropriating" women and girls as sex slaves or to murder and oppress them (because condemning fucking ISIS could be seen as "Islamophobic" or culturally insensitive).
So yeah, nothing says "Empowered" like being terrified of applause and loud noises while being too meek to condemn men that actually murder and enslave women.

And the above, the "empowered" women who are scared of loud noises and make excuses for kidnappers, rapists, and murderers, will be the ones who will declare Bill Maher "problematic" and keep exerting more and more pressure to try to have him blackballed.  If they can't end up getting him kicked out of HBO, they sure will do their very best to make sure that everyone who is in the self-styled Progressive Tribe knows that it is no longer Politically Correct to like the guy who was once the host of "Politically Incorrect", and shunning is clearly called for.


Currently Smoking: Brigham Anniversary Pipe + Image Latakia


  1. Bill, really, Bill Maher?

    The guy is funny, but meeeeeh, you can do better that that, Pundit. The guy could use reading your everyjoe article on Islam to start with.

    1. I think you missed the point. Maher is incorrect or idiotic on many things: vaccinations, for one. The point is he supports free speech even for those with whom he disagrees, a vanishing virtue among liberals and practically nonexistent among Leftists.

  2. Bill, really, Bill Maher?

    The guy is funny, but meeeeeh, you can do better that that, Pundit. The guy could use reading your everyjoe article on Islam to start with.

    1. He takes an equally rabid stance against all religions, due to his totally militant atheism. But he does have a particular blind spot toward the particular nuances of Islamist violence because of that. Regardless, my point here is that he is one of the few left-wing media figures that takes an uncompromising stance in support of free speech.

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  4. Sorry -- my original post was unclear (and grumpy). Let me try again.

    You seem to identify as right-wing, and as Libertarian.

    When talking about the right, you tend to assume that mainstream beliefs line up with yours. To this end, you paint interventionist foreign policy and theocratic social engineering as fringe. (See, for example, your series on the Religious Right.) In fact, those policies are widely supported by the Republican voter base, and politicians who endorse them do well.

    When talking about the left, you tend to assume that the mainstream beliefs disagree with yours. To this end, you paint identity politics and collectivism as mainstream. In fact, no serious Democratic politician advances the sorts of social or economic policies you bring up as examples.

    These biases are frustrating for me. There are many issues where you agree with me (a liberal) and disagree with the mainstream GOP position. However, even when discussing those issues, you present the right as your ally and the left as your enemy.

    Free speech is a fine example.

    Republicans are the ones who advocated for police-state-style solutions to Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matters. Republicans are the ones trying to ban porn. Republicans are the ones writing Thomas Jefferson and the Enlightenment out of history textbooks. Republicans are the ones who periodically try to ban flag burning.

    Free speech protection is important because it ensures that people are able to safely express subversive ideas, and thereby undermine the status quo. Republicans crack down on subversive expression to preserve the status quo.

    However, you've already assumed that the right-wingers are the good guys in terms of free speech, so those political issues are in your blind spot. Instead, you fixate on the fact that random left-wingers complain on the internet about Bill Maher, and that some presentation at Oxford asked their audience to use jazz hands instead of clapping.

    1. I know, for sure, that there is a branch of the right wing which would deny speech, or things like freedom of religion or sexual expression, to anyone they don't like. I know that in the United States, they represent a significant chunk of the influential sphere of the Republican Party.

      However, outside the U.S. that group have barely any relevance at all. And even within the U.S. the difference is that there is a much more stark division (note, I do think it should be even STARKER) between that group, the Theocratic Censors, and the other group (liberty-loving individualists).

      But in the left, there is neither that limited American experience nor that stark division: the left is in favor of social engineering and thought control (what you can call Political Correctness) EVERYWHERE. And it does not have a big Pro-Free-Speech camp; it seems to me that while on the right, the Libertarians are strongly STRONGLY opposed to censoring porn (for example), there's hardly anyone at all on the left that is strongly opposed to Feminists trying to do exactly the same (because Patriarchy and Rape Culture and Porn Actresses are Helpless Victims of Zak Smith and Don't Know What They're Saying and need a smarter more ideologically-trained woman to speak for them and make choices for them).

      And I want to praise those people who are strongly left-wing and strongly in favor of individual freedom. I praised Bill Maher here. I think he desperately needs to be an Example for the progressive left, but I fear he will instead end up being a VICTIM of it instead, as sooner or later something he says will lead the left-wing to try to get him fired.

      If the majority of left-wingers are in favor of individual freedom, then why are colleges the way they are these days? That is the home ground of the future left-wing politicians and social workers. Why are leftists trying to ban sugar, like they already did alcohol and tobacco? Why do they not believe that I have a fucking right to kill myself fast or slow or any way I want? Why aren't there more people on the left in any social media (including my G+ page) speaking out about the ABSURDITIES of the pseudo-activist culture of persecution and inventing new words you're not allowed to say anymore and thoughts you're not allowed to think anymore in the name of people they don't really represent?


    2. I spent the better part of my youth in the left. I hope you get that. In my native canada, until I left it in 2003 there was not one time when I actually voted for a right-wing party (I was usually a center-left Liberal party voter, sometimes the socialist NPD party).

      I don't know how old you are, from your picture you look young, but I REMEMBER a time (in the 70s and up to the late 80s) when the idea that the left would be the pro-censorship camp would have been UNTHINKABLE. It was the Religious Nut and the Fascists over in the Right, in the Republican part or the Conservative Party that were trying to ban rock music, that gave us the war on drugs, that wanted to illegalize D&D, that enforced the comics code, that wanted to ban video games, that tried to block radical leftist speakers from colleges.

      I didn't leave the left. The left LEFT ME. I still believe in pretty well everything I believed in when I was younger, I still hold all the same ideals of equality, of freedom, of human rights, of opposing censorship and oppression, of fighting against corruption and totalitarianism. It's the Left that has, more and more, stopped believing in those things. They can't pretend they do, not when they think it's OK to be the ones who now want to ban "offensive" music, humor, comic books, and video games, when its the left that wants to decide what substances people should be allowed to put into their own bodies, or tell women how they should or should not be allowed to dress, or what they should be allowed to do with their own bodies. And not when its now the left that's blocking 'dangerous' speakers from colleges and creating at atmosphere of everyone having to feel nervous about what they're allowed to say, or indeed think.

      Understand that context, and you can maybe understand why I'm a lot harder on the Left than on the Right. On the right, I've seen improvement since the 1980s. On the left, I've felt nothing but growing disappointment.

    3. I was born in 1987, and I follow the politics of the USA far more closely than those of any other country. That means that, for the 15ish years that I've been aware of politics, the right has been a disaster.

      When the country rallied behind Bush after 9/11, he spent his political capital on wars and regressive tax cuts, spiking the deficit. Since Obama's election, Republicans have made heretofore-unprecedented use of the filibuster to block laws and appointees. Instead of working towards compromise, they vote over and over again to repeal Obamacare and hold hearings about Benghazi. At the state level, they defund public education, bust unions, impose poll taxes, ban abortions, and take a shit on gay rights. The language they use to rally their voters against Obama, Mexicans, Arabs, and black voters may not be explicitly racist, but it's pretty damn close.

      Economically, the left wants to close loopholes and bump up the tax rate -- currently at historic lows -- experienced by top earners. It's not exactly socialism.

      There are a few points of social policy where you seem to be mixing up parties. Democrats and Republicans seem to both be slowly coming around to an end to marijuana prohibition; gains have so far been made in left-leaning states. You have repeatedly brought up that Democrats are trying to ban pop and junk food, but I can't find any evidence of that; however, state-level Republicans are trying to prevent food stamp users from buying those things.

      I understand your complaint about social activists, but I think you're overrepresenting how prevalent they are on the left. I also think it's crucial to evaluate why this movement exists.

      (It seems like you're also pretty affected on the personal attacks on yourself and Zak after D&D5 came out. That's understandable, but keep in mind that the people who carry out those attacks are, almost by definition, nutjob extremists.)

      When I was young, there was a lot of "don't judge people based on race." Perhaps as a result, you don't see a lot of explicit racism anymore. However, this also had the effect of creating a colorblind mindset. There are a lot of people who just aren't aware of racial issues, who believe racism is over. The same is true for "don't judge people based on sex" and sexism.

      The problem is, historically-disenfranchised groups are still disenfranchised. Women, LGBT individuals, and people of color are proportionally underrepresented in media, politics, high-paying jobs, you name it. They are overrepresented among victims of abuse. Things are getting better, gradually, *because* of the irritating actions of social activism.

      The ideas of privilege, rape culture, etc, are meant to dramatically confront people who think that the civil rights movement is over. Largely, they're targeted at people my age, who were raised without ever hearing the words "racism" and "sexism." You can't affect change without challenging people to admit that problems exist. Being challenged to acknowledge problems that don't affect you directly -- but where the solution might inconvenience you -- is annoying.

      There's also something to be said for the distinction between stigmatizing speech and outlawing speech. It's good that racial slurs are not outlawed by the state. It's also good that people are in general agreement that using them as such is inappropriate. The same is true for sexist and homophobic slurs. Fringe elements sometimes get overzealous about what counts as a slur, but the general approach of stigmatizing hateful words is sound.

    4. I was consistently opposed to George W. Bush and his whole neo-con crew throughout that presidency. I don't have a lot of love for any of the Republican party's luminaries. This isn't really about party-politics (certainly not U.S. party politics, which is generally insane). However, there has been a steadily-growing Libertarian wing in the right, which is opposed to and proposing alternatives to both the big-government Neo-cons and the theocratic religious-right.

      I will absolutely agree that there is still disenfranchisement among all the groups you mentioned; there has also been steady improvement for all those groups, mind you. But I disagree that the witch-hunts and shrieking dogpiling mobs of "social activists", the type of people who'll go after any women, LGBT people, or people of colour (the latest example being the biracial South-African born new host of the daily show) for the slightest deviation from their demands of ideological purity, who regularly call for censorship and boycotts as the answer to every tiny slight, while ignoring massive injustices if they are being committed by anyone who doesn't fit their target-profile, and who have a fetishistic obsession with being Perpetually Outraged, are actually helping the situation. I think they're great for the already-true-believers and playing to their own crowd's sense of self-righteousness but they do almost NOTHING in terms of actually helping anything, much less changing minds among the undecided. If anything, they generate a backlash from people who would otherwise be reasoned with and could be allies but who are appalled by the Thought Police tactics of these people. I mean, do you really think that PETA has done more good than harm? Do you think the "environmentalists" who defaced millennia-old monuments of ancient civilizations are winning any hearts and minds?

      Defining anyone who doesn't believe exactly the same as you as "the Enemy" is not the way to bring people on board for change.

    5. The people you're describing are nutjobs. They're the left-wing version of birthers. They make a lot of noise on the internet, but you shouldn't worry too much about what they say (until they start running for office).

      Look at left-wing news sites like Huff Post, Daily Kos, Mother Jones or Raw Story. Listen to what left-wing politicians talk about. They go on about evil corporatists and theocrats. Economically, they love minimum wage increases, progressive taxation, and universal healthcare. Socially, they love marriage equality and anti-discrimination laws.

      No leftist worth taking seriously supports the stances your criticizing. Many leftists NOT worth taking seriously STILL aren't crazy enough to buy into those things.

      If you want to trash talk the nutjobs, by all means, be my guest. But when you present them as representative of the left as a whole, you're building a strawman.

    6. The right-wing nutjobs still believe in running for office. But the left has figured out that trying to control public expressions on media, and controlling institutions of higher learning so as to enforce a way of thinking on young people desperate to be good and do good is a more successful long-term strategy for them.

      Huffpo (which I read very often) and Kos (which I occasionally read) have both had articles that offer excuses and justification for censorship and thought control.

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