People like Scott Adams claim they're being silenced. But what they actually seem to object to is being understood.
Somehow I expected the comments to be smarter or more self-aware or in some way more uplifting than Twitter. But sadly, no. So many arbiters of reality here too who can't bring themselves to comment about the words actually written or their unambiguous meanings. Thanks AR for the laughs and for the very important focus on the complicity of the media in creating this upside-down worldview. I'm sick of being told that I need to understand the right. I do understand the right - they are supremacist a-holes doing terrible things and advocating for even more terrible things while claiming to be just ordinary Americans trying to reign in the out-of-control left. F.F.S.!
Pretty much everyone across the spectrum criticized NYT for their stupid “you have the right speak without fear of being shamed or shunned” line. No one believes that and basing an argument on it is just a straw man. And of course bad actors like the Dilbert clown are going to claim censorship when they are absolutely fairly ostracized.
But that doesn’t mean there’s not a pattern of “The Lottery”-style mob mentality branding Scarlet As on everyone before the full story even has a chance to come out. Jon Ronson wrote a whole book on it and Monica Lewinsky has a great documentary on the subject. For every Marjorine Greene or Dilbert guy, there are piles of people whose lives have truly been ruined by social media mobs and credulous journalism. The issue isn’t black and white. There’s a lot of grey area that needs nuanced debate. Like, where do we draw the line between the Harvey Weinsteins and the Emmanuel Caffertys (who got fired from his working class job at a utility company because someone took a pic of him holding his hand out the window in a vaguely 👌 way and was smeared online as throwing white supremacy signs - he’s Hispanic)?
I’m not worried about the Dave Chapelles (the Streisand Effect usually backfires on the criticism anyways by making him MORE popular) getting criticized, but the tons of everyday people who are branded, fired, or pressured to keeping their views quiet for fear of an overzealous Twitter mob. Even professors at a rate never seen in academia are being flushed at the first sign of criticism for very minor mistakes, which stifles discourse in the place most relied on for fostering open inquiry. From FIRE: “Since 2015, we documented 563 attempts (345 from the left, 202 from the right, 16 from neither) to get scholars canceled. Two thirds (362 incidents; 64 percent) of these cancellation attempts were successful, resulting in some form of professional sanction leveled at the scholar, including over one-fifth (117 incidents; 21 percent) resulting in termination … In 2001, the idea of one tenured professor being fired for protected speech seemed impossible, yet since 2015 there have been 30.” 65% of students on the left and right (black and white) surveyed said they felt they couldn’t express their views without fear of ostracism. (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/09/academics-are-really-really-worried-about-their-freedom/615724/)
This clearly has slipped past social enforcement of new norms to a culture that survivors of the USSR and Mao’s China say is becoming reminiscent of the stifling atmosphere they escaped. (Anne Applebaum wrote a good piece for the Atlantic on that https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/10/new-puritans-mob-justice-canceled/619818/)
And Moxon illustrates this slippery slope when he goes from focusing on actual racists to legitimate journalism from the NYT on transgender care (Reuters did similar reporting that supported the evidence in Emily Bazelon’s piece for NYT). Whether or not the evidence turns in favor of the activists condemning the NYT or the NYT’s reporting is a legitimate topic up for discussion, and the experts and public should be able to freely debate that evidence through open discourse without being pressured into self-censorship.
I'd say accurate. And I'm not Scott Adams.
A.R., you have bought into and are pushing the very narrative, and are reacting robotically --without grasping any of the context-- as a virtue signaler in the very way that Scott Adams predicted. How convenient. His methods are a little too clever for his own good as most of the public simply don't "get it," but his goal is to get society beyond the status quo toward better race relations. There really does seem to be a gene that senses sarcasm, satire, hyperbole, a gene that can create and understands memes. It's just an interesting thought and I recommend that you gather more information and reexamine your critique. Maybe in your echo chamber Scott Adams is just written off as a bigot as you move onto the next thing to be outraged about, but there are other circles that are right now discussing the points Scott brought up. He has already spurred race discussion in a positive direction beyond what the race grifters and virtue signalers will ever do. BTW, other than virtue signaling what have you done to improve race relations in America?
Great article. I think you nailed it. It really does bother me when these brain geniuses (Chappelle is another one) constantly insist they're being misunderstood and can't be criticized, at least not until one has watched every single thing they've said. And yet when they go on these bigoted rants it's always over one thing taken way out of context. Good riddance Scott, history ain't gonna remember shit about Dilbert but it might remember you being a racist and supremely weird piece of garbage.
It seems to me this essay – if we dignify it with that term – says more about the blogger's intolerance than it does about Scott Adams.
They appear to be offended that any prominent person might question the anthropogenic global warming theory, as do many climate scientists and other educated people, or question how many of the deaths attributed to Covid-19 were actually caused by the virus and how many were a result of government lockdowns and the economic harm caused by their policies that cost many people their livelihoods, their regular medical checkups and treatments, etc., as do many doctors and medical professionals.
They want you to believe that just saying it's okay to be white amounts to advocacy of white supremacy, because saying it's okay to have light-colored skin goes against the fashionable form of hate speech that says people of European ancestry are guilty (along with capitalism, the perennial whipping boy of the left) for everything wrong with the world. They want people like themselves to dictate what the rest of us are allowed to believe or think, and cannot stand the reality of there being widespread dissent on what they regard as holy writ.
Quite easily the most beautiful commentary I have read in years. And so perfectly spot on. You are indeed understood, although in your case, it reflects magnificently on you.
I never liked or read Dilbert so I really had my eyes opened with this piece. “ He can’t draw hands” hilarious. Bring on the shunning. There are so many bigots, racists and MAGAs ( not to be confused with maggots) left, I’m sure he’ll continue to have a free speech platform for his ideas and will be a highly paid Fox News broadcaster soon. The rest of us can shun.
Some of this does add up to a legitimate commentary, but there’s another angle here. Consider: the left has determined that the First Amendment constrains the government from passing laws detrimental to free speech and nothing else; therefore leftists get to disrupt rightist rallies all they want, because the First Amendment doesn’t apply to regular people. This is awful. I mean, it really is a terrible undermining of our societal norms. The best example of the prior condition is embodied in the phrase “I don’t agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Not only has the left stepped away from tolerance as a leftist virtue, but it has attacked and undermined a norm which used to apply to everyone. But these things–norms, virtues, and so on–are societal rather than governmental. They belong to the sphere of What Should Be rather than the sphere of What Is. Now, my experience as an American was that the Constitution does have a societal role. In some ways it is the capstone of societal virtues, being an implementation of values into the real world. It provides an official seal onto our ideological beliefs. But part of that is the implication that you should at least stand aside while other Americans, who are members of your tribe, carry on with their nonsense. That because they are members of your tribe you should not find them or their beliefs threatening. This condition is not really in effect now. There’s too much hostility and alienation. It is most pronounced on Twitter–the Republicans and Democrats do not try to shout each other down in Congress–but the role of the left in damaging our previous stability is very serious and has gone mostly unremarked. Anyway, yes, we do have an obligation to let our fellow tribesmen carry on saying things we don’t like. There are very many people that have said things I don’t like at all. Can you shun them? Well, you can, legally speaking, and you don’t have to attend their rallies, but it just enhances the alienation and hostility. Further, because cancelation or shunning is societal rather than governmental it follows no due process. It’s just an upsurge of emotion, really mob behavior. Mobs are bad, allowing the expression of aggression through the submergence of individuality into mass consciousness, and they are frequently wrong.
2 marks for the footnote!
Scott Adams is a dick who should bear the consequences of his actions and our current culture of shunning isn't fit for purpose. Both statements can be true at the same time.
I think you overlooked the key word in that statement from the NYT, which is that people should be able to say what they like without FEAR of being shunned, and I agree with that. Because the issue here isn't Scott Adams with his nationally published platform, it's the millions of regular nobodies out there who will now look at Scott Adams being shunned and feel scared of talking about what they see as the truth for fear of being instantly and irrevocable labelled something evil. By shunning him, you're pushing millions of people closer to his views and his wretched media bubble, whether they believe in it or not.
And I feel like most people on the left forget how long and how recently they didn't know about white privilege or trans rights. They weren't always true believers of the most righteous causes. They forget that they spent almost their whole life ignorant about a miriad of inconvenient evils and they forget they're still willfully ignorant of a miriad of inconvenient evils that they indulge in today. (iPhones and fast fashion anyone?)
And so I think that we need to climb off our collective pedestal and realise that while consequences must exist, fear is not the way to keep people in line in a free society. We don't live in a panopticon. We shouldn't feel like we're being watched all the time because if you make people feel like they've been put in prison, their natural instinct is to band together and try to break out. It's just human nature.
So, what's the alternative? Polite unending intellectual persistance. If someone says rank shit you disagree with, don't run to Twitter and start a hashtag. Understand that that's a dick move. Sit on their porch and talk to them. Be honest about why you believe what you believe. Convince them. And if they still tell you they disagree? Turn up the next day, and the next. And on the day you decide that they aren't savable and sit at home instead and Tweet bad shit about them, accept that it's you that have failed, and not them.
Because the truth is, what shunning really is is laziness. It's having your cake and eating it too. And while it's okay to be lazy now and then, when the reprehensible shitbags like MTG or Scott Adams of the world come along, the price is knocking on doors forever.
“That’s what the shunning is for” was my favorite line….until I read everything that came after it. What a great piece. Bring on the shunning.
Should be required reading for Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert.
Very well said.
You can say anything you want to; that is what free speech is. BUT you must also bear the consequences of what you say. That is what being a responsible person is. So many want the freedom of free speech, but are unwilling to take the consequences.
Grow up and get over yourselves.