82 Comments

I remember @Charlotte Clymer explained many years ago to me on Twitter what a sexist fuckwad Scott Adams is.

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Absolute clowns at the NYT.

Incoherent nonsense:

A [ Everyone has a right to speak their mind free from all consequences ]

B [ We will not tolerate anyone who works for us criticizing our coverage ]

Two entirely incompatible positions voiced on the same topic.

It's a consistent pattern from their editorial board.

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Very beautifully written. I believe that shunning works, and is necessary in a healthy society. Here in my pre-dotage, episodes of Gunsmoke often present me with gems of philosophy. In yesterday's, every resident of Dodge City shunned a murderer who had crowed about his acquittal. The citizens aren't shown discussing their strategy but every saloon denizen, bank employee, and livery operator quietly shunned the shit out of that guy.

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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.!

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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.

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author

This comment entirely ignores what Republicans are actually doing to marginalized people everywhere they can, as much as they can, as fast as they can, and all the ways that keeping their bigoted, ahistorical, and anti-scientific conspiracy-minded talking points in circulation abets them in their crusade of targeted menace, abuse, and harm.

Otherwise awesome comment.

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I absolutely agree Republicans are hypocrites and practice the exact same censorship tactics as the left - in many cases far more insidiously. Many of the institutions the right focuses on are inherently left-leaning (like academia), but completely ignore right wing-dominated institutions such as law enforcement where their “code of silence” makes the left’s enforcement of norms look like your typical “No shirt, no service” sign. And the right claims sunlight is the best disinfectant (which I do believe) while actually criminalizing opposing views such as CRT. I didn’t mean to leave out my loathing for the right wing lol. I’m just usually quicker to criticize “my own side” because I feel like there’s actually a chance at a productive conversation with those on the left.

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This attempt to “both sides” this issue distorts the truth rather than illuminating it.

The difference is that the right is building a fascist movement to use the power of the state to enforce 1984 style censorship throughout our society. At most, the left is guilty of being overly quick to shame people socially in some cases. These are not even close to the same thing.

Are you familiar with what Gov DeSantis is doing in FL? No one on the left is doing anything remotely similar.

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I'd say accurate. And I'm not Scott Adams.

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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?

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Ken White said it better. And by that I mean he said what YOU said better.

https://post.news/@/popehat/2MQJ4k9HJnheREhy6iguOZmsbhT

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That was a great read! I've been following Scott Adams' Twitter for a few months now and I think Ken White nailed the mindset, what I was euphemistically referring to as "clever." A lot of Scott's followers have been calling him out for seemingly backtracking on his covid and vaccine opinions. Back to the topic, I believe that Adams really wants to make waves to help things. He's just not very refined and his approach alienates too many people, making him less effective.

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I'm not sure why anyone would believe Scott wanted to "help things" at all - as far as I know he has not donated any of his massive fortune to charity, and is downright hostile to liberal/equitable causes. He has also cultivated a fanbase of people who, lets face it, tend to flirt a lot with open white supremacy. Seems like the only thing he cares about is that people view him as a genius.

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sorry man but I've got a hard time believing that a man who lost his job for publicly advocating segregation because he took a Rasmussen poll seriously AND literally is clever at all. have you considered that perhaps this man is incredibly stupid?

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We're probably more in agreement than disagreement. "Clever" has a wide interpretation. Please read my substack where I describe a few ways that he could have pulled this off without destroying himself in the process. It has the nuance that I think many miss in their rapid reactionary dismissal of him. Adams actually made a tweet last summer about retiring from cartooning, but doing it by being canceled. His words were not an unhinged "rant."

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believe it or not, I watched some (not all) of his discussion with Hotep Jesus. I also heard him debate Sam Harris. both times I came away with the impression that Scott Adams is either a very dumb person who does not understand context and is very easily fooled by cherrypicked data, or he pretends to be as a way to appeal to conservatives. when people use the term "virtue signal" it kind of gives away the game - if they themselves don't really care about issues that don't directly apply to them, they assume that naturally, others don't either. There's a reason this man can't respond to any bit of criticism rather than to say "oh you misunderstood me". Isn't this man supposed to be a linguistic master or something?

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author

This is sort of all over the place, but one thing that comes through loud and clear is your strong passion for improving race relations in America.

Thank you for the worded comment, and I'd like to invite you to support the newsletter with a paid subscription.

https://armoxon.substack.com/about

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Mar 1, 2023Liked by A.R. Moxon

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.

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Feb 28, 2023·edited Feb 28, 2023

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.

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Name the “climate scientists” who question whether people are changing the climate. I’ll wait. And remember, you said that “many” such scientists exist, so you should be easily able to provide quote a large list.

You should also Google “the Dunning-Kruger effect.” You don’t know enough about climate science or epidemiology to understand that your beliefs about these subjects are inaccurate, as this concept explains.

Free your mind, and the rest will follow.

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This is America. You are free to be as stupid, ignorant, and racist as you want!

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That's right. I'm not for stupidity, ignorance, or racism. But I recognize that trying to forcibly suppress or silence those deemed to be stupid, ignorant, or racist does more harm than good.

It is more important for society that there be public dissent from dogma and questioning of orthodoxy, than to silence everyone who's stupid, ignorant, or racist. Because if they can easily be silenced, you could be next.

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What the hell are you talking about? "I'm not for stupidity, ignorance, or racism, I just think those that are should be allowed massive platforms which can never be taken away from them?" Why should a newspaper or publishing syndicate be forced to carry the work of an overt racist, when doing so would absolutely hurt their bottom line?

Scott Adams is not being "silenced" for god's sake, he's still whining to his hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter. Come on, man. Books are being burned and entre fields of scientific study are being criminalized by the right. And you're concerned about Dilbert??

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I see a distinction between saying that everyone has a "right" to a massive platform provided by a newspaper, publisher, or other voluntary sector organization, which I don't believe, and saying that people should try to completely shut down and exclude from public discourse any views that offend them, which I don't believe either.

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"people should try to completely shut down and exclude from public discourse any views that offend them"

Who advocated this?

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If that's not the goal, what is, in your view?

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I'll add that anyone who thinks only the right, or only the left, are the problem and guilty of the worst behavior, is clearly wearing a partisan hat and not looking at the situation fairly or objectively.

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Your conservative ideology-based defensiveness caused you to miss the whole point.

The author doesn't say you must believe in X or Y or you'll be shunned. In fact it's stated that you can believe and say whatever the hell you want.

"Donald Trump is a bloviating yam and a lying con man!"... I just said that. And I believe it.

The point is now that I said it, I have to be prepared to live with the consequences of what I said. And when / if there are consequences, I'm not being "cancelled" or "subject to liberal media bias" (add sounds of crying conservative snowflakes here.) although in this case it would be a conservative bias, but whatever. Instead, I'm facing the consequences of my actions.

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Mar 1, 2023·edited Mar 1, 2023

I wasn't being "defensive" (nothing to defend, as I haven't posted here before), simply responding to a cheap hit piece on Scott Adams. You're way off the mark in assuming I'm a conservative and that I don't believe in free speech. The blogger exercised theirs, I exercised mine, and now you're exercising yours. I have noticed however that when people raise the issue of ideology, it's almost always to point to it in others, never in themselves.

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"a cheap hit piece on Scott Adams"

Defensive.

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I'd say accurate. And given that I'm not Scott Adams, "defensive" is a strange accusation in this context.

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Not at all. Centrists lacking a moral compass have always carried water for the right.

It's only strange that you don't understand attacks on person A commonly trigger defensive feelings in person B, when person B strongly identifies with the situation of person A.

Because otherwise, why are you misrepresenting Moxon's post? And you need to explain why a "cheap hit piece" isn't just any criticism you don't like.

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author

Apology accepted.

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What are you talking about?

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author

You are forgiven.

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I didn't ask for your forgiveness. If you're feeling generous, I suggest apologizing to the public for saying that people should be shunned for daring to question establishment dogma surrounding the issues of Covid and global warming.

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author

I am indeed feeling generous, and so you are forgiven.

We'll say no more of it.

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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.

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author

Thanks for reading.

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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.

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He won't be. Not only is he a bad cartoonist but he's an incredibly boring and lifeless speaker. If you let the man on TV he just might hypnotize his audience into falling asleep. The MyPillow man is he not.

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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.

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"the First Amendment doesn’t apply to regular people"

This is literally the only true statement I could find in your block of text.

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“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

—some leftist antifa propagandist, probably

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Is this just "the left are actually the intolerant ones if they can't tolerate the genocidal Nazis who want them dead" argument again? As a rightwinger you should be thankful that whenever you stage a protest the cops will be there to protect you instead of shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at you.

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Feb 28, 2023Liked by A.R. Moxon

When your political ideas and the actual policies that result from ideas harm other people, don’t expect those people to react with polite dispassionate debate. The very idea that you can remain dispassionate about politics implies, if not privilege, then at least safety and security. It would be paradoxical to be blasé about politicizes that undermine your safety and security.

“Tolerance” is neither conservative nor liberal. It’s a social grace that applies to those things which are indeed tolerable. It does not naturally extend to those things which are, well, intolerable. The US did not respond to the bombing of Pearl Harbor with tolerance. The law does not tolerate theft, murder, rape, and so on. To be involved in politics at all means to have ideas not only about what is desirable but also what is intolerable. If large numbers of publishers decide that Scot Adams’ public statements on race relations are intolerable, they have the right to sever their business ties with him. Not only is that decision itself an example of free speech on the part of publishers, it’s a rational business decision which a conservative person, looking at the matter from the perspective of money, ought to understand.

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founding
Feb 28, 2023Liked by A.R. Moxon

2 marks for the footnote!

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author

Footnote readers are doubly blessed.

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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.

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This tireless attempting to convince bigots is a methodology that can only be realistically embraced by people with a profound level of privilege. Live for awhile as the target of people like Adams and Rowling and unless you have a superhuman level of time and emotional energy, or are in an unsustainable state of denial, you will find out very quickly how utterly oppressive it is to be expected to empathize with and educate all the people who believe they are justified in demonizing you just fir existing.

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"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."

This is the "you made me a Nazi" argument that has been mocked so effectively for years.

And then you tell us shunning Nazis is lazy. If that's true, who will do the work of stopping Nazis before they kill again? Clearly not the white supremacist army, Air Force, and police. All Americans should shun Nazis, and shun them hard.

BTW, it's spelled "myriad."

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There's a joke that says that the way to get a centrist (the NYT, for instance) to vigorously defend your right to be heard is to tell them "I'm a white nationalist"

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Sadly, it doesn't seem to be only a joke.

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author

Nonsense.

I think that people who say bigoted things should live with an expectation that they will be understood by others as being a person who says bigoted things, and that others will inform them that the thing they said was bigoted.

And if they are convinced by others telling them this, then they'll stop. And if they aren't, they won't.

If they persist, I think they should live with an expectation that people will understand them to be a person who persists in saying bigoted things, and not want to be around or support a person who persists in such a toxic worldview, which harms others.

Whether they fear that entirely natural result or not is their business, as is what they believe and what they say.

There's nothing lazier than unending exoneration offered to unrepentant people of abusive and toxic intent.

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Bigots should be fearful of being shunned. That’s called a healthy society.🙄

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Double nonsense.

I would bet $1000 that like most people on the intellectual left, myself included, your definition of what is and isn't bigoted has changed remarkably over the last 20 years. And I would bet a further $1000 that like most people this change didn't happen for you in a vaccum. You weren't out there on universities doing research and forming totally novel opinions about things that challenged the status quo like antiracism, racial privilege and trans rights. These opinions were, unless I'm totally getting who you are wrong, most like served to you piecemeal by your peers in the easiest and most accessible format possible. And to infer that all of the people out there for whom these opinions are still hard to grasp for reasons of age or location or culture should be shunned is absolutely ridiculous. There are a million reasons why toxic intent alone isn't enough of an indicator of guilt. We need to work to convince these people they're wrong, not instill them with fear of consequences if they fail to toe our line.

And to be clear, I don't disagree that there are pieces of shit figureheads like Adams who go too far and need to be argued against, or even villified when they step over the line, but to sit around and say that they prove that shunning is good and proper thing to just wield willy nilly like some kind of social justice lightsaber that will threaten to slice the people we deem to be intellectually unclean off from the body politic is dangerously flippant.

The truth is shunning is awful and it should cost us something. It should be hard, and awful if we have to do it. It should be rare and a last resort. There's a reason it was left behind with the Amish and cults, because it's primitive and horrible. It ruins families and fractures communities. It creates fear and distance while it creates groups of disenfranchised outliers who are hell bent on revenge. And to ignore that as in inevitable side effect of its use is also dangerously flippant.

Like I get it, it makes a good article title. But I'm sorry, I disagree.

And just as an aside, when it comes to Adams we should at the very least be sad and worried that an otherwise clever and creative man has gone so fucking wrong. His story should fuel us to go forth, get up every day and work to change the world for the better, not just be happy to live in a smaller one without dicks like him.

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Scott Adams literally shunned an entire race but to you the real problem is that Dilbert got cancelled? Maybe those who saw him say "white people should stay away from black people" and thought, "wow, that's how I think too" should be scared.

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author

These are fairly revealing mischaracterizations of what I wrote.

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Well, you said people should be prepare to be judged for what they say.

And you say your judgement towards people like Adams is that he and people like him should be shunned.

And that when it comes to the people who are adjacent people like him, people who might not agree with him but who now feel that your willingness and fervour for shunning is something to fear, well when it comes to them...you don't care. How they feel doesn't matter to you, and if your love of shunning pushes them closer to Adams, so be it. They made their bed and they can be judged in it. Shun a go-go.

Honestly, I understand the centre of whay you're saying is well intentioned, I just don't think you've really thought about the consequences of using this kind of language and how it's ultimately just going to make things worse.

And you may think it's revealing that I wrote a long tract filled with assumptions and what you see as mischaracterisations, but I could say the same about you and your article, if I were to decide to judge you simply on what you said.

Anyways, have a good week.

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"if your love of shunning pushes them closer to Adams"

That's not how shunning works.

Your whole response to this essay reveals that you have not thought at all about the consequences of allowing racists to publicly express their racism without consequences, and how doing that will very quickly make things worse.

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founding

Talent worn thin a few decades back...

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“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.

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Should be required reading for Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert.

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