Bari Weiss created a short, simple label for the worst people in media: “IDW”

It’s been six years since Bari Weiss published that silly New York Times article conjuring the Intellectual Dark Web into existence. I think a lot of us here, at least, instantly recognized that it was PR for a gang of grifters and that Weiss was trying to be the Queen Bee of an imaginary movement. It’s about time we got a retrospective on Weiss’s propaganda flop. Where is the IDW now? How are its heroes doing? The short answer is that they’re thriving, cruising along with growing audiences, because they’ve become the clowns in the circus.

So let’s take a look at the IDW today. Eric Weinstein:

Eric Weinstein, a mathematician who spent years working for right-wing billionaire Peter Thiel, gave the IDW its name—which he has described variously as a “half-joke” and also a brilliantly calibrated troll designed to get maximum attention. He’s considered one of the least extreme of the original IDW members.

But both in 2018 and now, Weinstein decries what he calls the “gated institutional narrative” and the irredeemable systemic corruption he believes has infected a vast array of institutions, from academia to the media. He’s convinced that many of these institutions are conspiring to silence himself and his friends (and prevent them from winning Nobel Prizes).

Jordan Peterson:

While Peterson was always prone to hyperbole, he has become increasingly unhinged.

He now says climate activists want to “sacrifice the poor,” compares them to Nazis, and suggests that global elites are using climate change as an excuse to depopulate the planet. He compares this effort to “genocidal societies” with a “utopian vision” which leads to the “mass destruction of millions of people.” He believes Vladimir Putin may well be on the right side of a civilizational battle against wokeness. He describes COVID-19 as a “so-called pandemic” and claims it’s “highly probable” that the vaccines (which he refuses to call “vaccines”) were more dangerous than the disease.

Dave Rubin:

Rubin’s North Star was “civility.” But these days he tweets things like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) is a “dishonest communist cunt,” and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is a “vile jihadist cunt.” Tweeting recently about United States Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator Samantha Power, Rubin said, “this bitch can fuck off.”

Ben Shapiro:

Another member of this tribe devoted to civility and rational discourse is the popular conservative podcaster and writer Ben Shapiro. As the right-wing’s angry motormouth one-time wunderkind, he’s remained somewhat consistent—having gone from saying things like, “Israelis like to build. Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage. This is not a difficult issue” to things like, “Hamas is running Columbia University.”

Bret Weinstein:

Here are a few of Weinstein’s fascinating insights today: He suspects that the United States is involved in a plot with China and the WHO to create a “turnkey totalitarian planet.” He claims that a “credible estimate” of the number of deaths caused by mRNA vaccines is 17 million. He suggests that China is financing infrastructure in Central America to launch an “undeclared invasion” with a covert army of “military age” men. He’s a big fan of RFK, Jr., who compared public health measures during the pandemic to Nazism and the Holocaust.

Joe Rogan:

To cite just one example, when Weinstein recently suggested on The Joe Rogan Experience that vaccine mandates in the U.S. military were meant to purge ethical and freethinking soldiers and replace them with disloyal and compliant immigrants—a force that would be “capable of acting on behalf of tyranny against Americans”—Rogan didn’t offer any critical comment.

Instead, he said: “Holy shit. Then you have a real coup.”

Candace Owens:

In a 2017 interview with Rubin, Owens said, “I think abortion is really just about population control.” Rubin replied with a characteristically uncritical and incurious follow-up: “That’s some serious red-pill right there.” In 2018, Owens claimed that liberals want to “exterminate blacks via Planned Parenthood, which she would later describe as a “silent genocide.” She said Black conservative politicians are “all called coons” by the media. She declared that “the word ‘racism’ is repeated obsessively by people who wish to enslave black people to the Democratic Party.”

Five months before Weiss published her piece, Owens called for the imprisonment of journalists and political opponents—something that probably should have pricked the ears of a movement which claimed to be unwavering in its defense of free speech and civil discourse.

There are others mentioned, including Christina Hoff Summers, Majid Nawaz, Douglas Murray, etc., but you get the idea. The IDW was a tarnished brand from the outset, and it’s only gotten worse as its members descend into greater madness.

Bari Weiss has an awesome legacy. Let’s hope it catches up to her someday.

This testimony could be very damaging for Trump

Yesterday Lisa Birnbach, one of E. Jean Carroll’s friends, gave testimony at the trial about how Carroll had called her immediately after the alleged rape by Donald Trump. She described how Carroll had been hyperventilating as she described what Trump had done to her. She said that she had urged Carroll to go to the police because what had happened to her was rape but Carroll refused and asked her not to tell anyone about it and she had honored that request all these years.

Another woman described how Trump assaulted her on a plane.

The court also heard dramatic testimony from a businesswoman, Jessica Leeds, who said Trump grabbed her breast and attempted to put his hand up her skirt on a flight in 1979.

Leeds is one of two women the judge has ruled can give evidence about the former president’s alleged sexual assaults. She told the jury she was seated next to Trump on a flight to New York. After chatting for a while and eating dinner, he suddenly “decided to kiss me and grope me”.

“He was trying to kiss me. He was trying to pull me towards him. He was grabbing my breasts. It was like he had 40m hands.

“It was when he started putting his hand up my skirt, that gave me a jolt of strength.”

Leeds said she was able to pull away and fled to the back of the plane. She went public with her account of the alleged attack weeks before the 2016 presidential election, after Trump denied having sexually assaulted women.

Leeds said she saw Trump three years later, when she was volunteering at a Humane Society event.

“He looked at me and he said, ‘I remember you, you’re that cunt from the airplane,’” Leeds said. “It was like a bucket of cold water thrown over my head.”

There seems to be no limit to the amount of evidence revealing what a disgusting creep Trump is.

The news reports do not mention any cross examination by Trump’s lawyers of these two witnesses but the trial is still ongoing so maybe that will come later. Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina seems to be the bulldog type and has not shown himself to be subtle and sensitive. The two women are now 79 and 81 years old and subjecting elderly women to brutal cross-examinations may not play well with a jury.

Interestingly, the Leeds story with all its graphic details was prominently reported in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post as well. I would have thought they would downplay or even ignore it. I wonder what that says, if anything, about the state of the Trump-Murdoch alliance.

Trump’s behavior with women is utterly disgusting

Yes, yes, I know this is old news but we need to remind ourselves that Trump is not just your run-of-the-mill ordinary creep, he is a predator. On the excellent radio program This American Life this week, we hear another example of this. Writer E. Jean Carroll talked with an old friend of hers named Jessica Leeds about what the latter experienced at the hands (literally) of Donald Trump when she was a young woman. Leeds was one of the first women to accuse Trump of sexual assault in 2016.
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The interesting history of the Miss America pageant

I have of course heard of the Miss America and Miss USA pageants and recall having seen bits of either or both (it was hard for me to tell the difference) on TV many years ago. To me they seemed to be two sides of the same coin, an opportunity to parade attractive young women in swim suits before a large TV audience. But in the August 31, 2020 issue of The New Yorker magazine, Lauren Collins says there are differences between the two, in that the Miss America organization insists that its contest is about more than looks.
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The contradictions of anti-SJW atheists laid bare

The latest atheist scandal: Michael Sherlock, executive director of Atheist Alliance International, was a bit less than professional on Twitter. He called religion “retarded”, and when told that word has a lot of baggage, escalated the argument and ended up calling a woman a “cunt”. This has led to the organization suspending him without pay for one month, which seems like a reasonable rebuke to me, and the process leading to that punishment seems fair, as well. Atheist organizations have had a bit of trouble with poorly behaved leaders lately, so it’s a good idea to set standards and enforce them. If anything, the punishment was too light for an action that led to three board members announcing their resignation, and the Atheist Foundation of Australia severing their ties to AAI. I get the impression that Sherlock has been an antagonizing figure at AAI, especially given that they had recently appointed and then fired David Silverman.

Except…now Sherlock has become the newest cause célèbre for all those anti-SJW folks who are outraged at consequences — you know, what they’re calling “cancel culture”. Any effort to clean their room and tell the paid professionals who are supposed to be running the show to stand up straight is met with petulant whining from the spoiled children who otherwise adore people like Jordan Peterson. How dare you expect them to behave?

The funniest reaction comes from Atheists for Liberty, which claims that social justice is destroying atheist groups. To which I have to say, if they oppose social justice, let them be destroyed, along with the Catholic church and Islamic fundamentalism, two things they typically oppose for their lack of justice. Their rant is written by Justin Vacula, a terrible person with the same sensibilities as Sherlock, apparently, and he is mad about everything.

David Silverman was innocent, he suggests, his accuser was “screaming”, and the #metoo movement opposes due process. He takes a few swipes at me, too, calling me social justice warrior PZ Myers who remains out of favor (wait, what? I was “cancelled”, and he’s fine with that?), citing a pair of wankers, Michael Nugent and Hemant Mehta, to justify that. So apparently women and PZ Myers can be cancelled, but no, not his regressive little buddies.

But here’s the real meat of the complaint:

The intrusion of social justice and woke ideology into atheist circles continues. To name just one example of many, Alex DiBranco spoke at the Secular Student Alliance’s 2020 National Convention, where she argued for “a feminist humanist approach” to “contest white, male, and cisgendered supremacism” saying, “the organized secular/atheist movement has over-emphasized opposition to religion or the belief in a god for its own sake, rather than prioritizing the problem of harm posed to social justice from any direction.”

Atheists for Liberty stands against destructive social justice entryism and the overblown response to an atheist activist calling religion a “retarded relic.” Atheists for Liberty instead prioritizes the free exchange of ideas, individual liberties, religious freedom (including non-belief), Enlightenment values, and secular government.

I think I like this Alex DiBranco. Yes, any atheist movement should fully embrace feminism and humanism, and seek to expand their remit to embrace human social values. Anything less and you collapse into the black hole of conservative insularity and a mob of smug men patting themselves on the back for being enlightened. You get creatures like Trump and Boris Johnson, amoral exploiters and abusers. Any movement that seeks to make fundamental changes in society, like the removal of the influence of religion, is fundamentally not conservative, and to succeed and gather influence must adopt a progressive stance — these libertarian, right-wing atheists are doomed to implode in contradictions. Social justice is the only thing that can save atheism, while it’s people like those at Atheists for Liberty that are destroying it.

To quote Amanda Marcotte:

The moral is there is no leftism that can function coherently without anti-racism and feminism at its center. What is obvious now — anti-government sentiment was just opposition to government showing any interest in equality — was always obvious to “social justice warriors”.

You’re saying now that atheism is not leftism, but I’ll reply that it should be. In this era when western civilization is clearly sick and capitalism has exposed itself as a Ponzi scheme, no viable philosophy can afford to ignore reality and pretend that these right-wing sympathizers are anything but a poison pill for progress.

Weinstein “cancelled”, right

Tom Stiglich /

Harvey Weinstein was allowed to attend an event for young performers at the Downtime Bar in Manhattan by the event organizer, Alexandra Laliberte. He showed up with an entourage — disgraced rapists still get to have an entourage if they’re rich enough, I guess. Some women in the audience and on stage were horrified at the monster in their midst, and called him out.

One comedian, Kelly Bachman, called him out in her act onstage, referring to him as “the elephant in the room” and “Freddy Krueger.”

“I didn’t know we had to bring our own Mace and rape whistles to Actor’s Hour,” said Bachman in a video posted to Instagram.

Some audience members, ostensibly men, then started booing. “Shut up,” said one person.

“This kills at group therapy for rape survivors,” replied Bachman, who noted she herself was a rape survivor. Bachman said “fuck you” to Weinstein before continuing with her set.

She wasn’t alone.

“So many women have suffered so greatly because of their experiences with this man, and there were no repercussions,” they said. “And, in fact, he was being supported — and the community meant to uplift emerging actors and emerging artists was not only complicit but directly responsible for their silencing.”

Stuckless said they felt paralyzed by fear but knew they needed to say something because they “couldn’t imagine walking out of the room and him still feeling safe to go in and laugh with the community he was responsible for terrorizing for so many years.”

When intermission began, Stuckless decided to confront Weinstein.

“Tell me — what’s your name?” they asked Weinstein in a video obtained by BuzzFeed News.

Weinstein placed his elbows on the table while another man next to him was heard speaking to Stuckless. They said the man accompanying Weinstein told them it was none of their business and that they had no right to ask.

“Nobody is going to say anything?” screamed Stuckless in a video their friend filmed and later posted to Facebook. “Nobody is really going to say anything?,” they continued, pointing a finger toward Weinstein.

Stuckless was then asked to leave the venue.

“I’ll get out of here, that’s fine, I am happy to leave, but nobody is going to say anything?” they continued. “I’m going to stand four feet from a fucking rapist, and no one is going to say anything?”

And more!

Moments after Stuckless confronted Weinstein, so did Amber Rollo, a 31-year-old comedian who had attended the show to support her friend, Bachman.

“She’s right,” Rollo told Weinstein, she recalled. “You’re a fucking monster. What are you doing out here? Fuck you.”

Rollo said one of the men accompanying Weinstein called her a “cunt” in response, while another woman at Weinstein’s table guided her outside. Rollo said she was disappointed that Weinstein was welcomed at the event and that those who questioned his presence were booed or removed from the venue.

Those three women, Kelly Bachman, Zoe Stuckless, and Amber Rollo deserve praise for standing up and speaking out. Instead, though, two of them were thrown out, and Weinstein was allowed to squat there, toadlike, and be supported by his sycophants. I’m also disturbed by the majority of attendees who did not speak out. One little thing stands out to me.

“This guy was leading me out the stairs, just repeating ‘due process, due process’ to me,” said Stuckless, who asked the man if he worked at the bar. He did not respond.

This irrelevant bit of legalese has become a mantra among horrible people. You do not need “due process” to detest an exploiter and harasser. The state needs due process if it is going to deprive an individual of liberty or property, but neither of those were at issue here — these were women using their free speech (one of those rights that the Right loves so much, except when it is inconvenient to them) to express their assessment of the available evidence that Harvey Weinstein is a crude rapist thug, and that this issue has not been formally tried in a court of law doesn’t make it any less true. That the wealth and influence Weinstein used to do harm also shelters him from legal action does not protect him from the informed judgement of society, it just means he isn’t in jail where he belongs, stripped of his power. That would require “due process”. No one needs “due process” to shun a rapist.

Oh, and speaking of free speech…

Alexandra Laliberte, the organizer of Actor’s Hour, told BuzzFeed News it was the second time Weinstein had turned up to one of her events. Laliberte added that she doesn’t have a security team, and rather than turn Weinstein away, she thought the community could address him.

“I welcome all walks of life into my space,” she said.

When asked why she allowed Weinstein to attend an event specifically intended to support and encourage young actors when he has been accused of sexually assaulting and harassing dozens of them, Laliberte told BuzzFeed News: “I protect them by freedom of speech.”

“Comedians made fun of him,” said the 26-year-old actor. “This one lady stood up and screamed at him. People walked out, which was fantastic.”

Right. Except your version of “free speech” allows you to physically evict people exercising that right from your space if they criticize a media influencer you’re trying to flatter, while a man calling a woman a “cunt” was allowed to remain. This principle of free speech is a tough one to maintain, and in reality always requires compromises, but Laliberte just outright broke it.

By the way, I wouldn’t dignify “rapist abuser” and “predatory pariah” with the phrase “walks of life”.

The strange appeal of Eastern-styled cults

In an interesting and informative profile of Tulsi Gabbard, Kerry Howley looks at her very unusual childhood and family that are followers of a one-time white surfer-dude named Chris Butler who became a self-styled guru called Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa and founded a group called Science of Identity that has pretty weird beliefs and actions.

I had thought that Gabbard’s father was an Indian-American but it turns out that he is a socially conservative Samoan who grew up as a Catholic before becoming a devotee of the guru. Gabbard calls herself a Hindu though the guru’s sect does not identify itself as Hindu. The article says that “Butler taught vegetarianism, sexual conservatism, mind-body dualism, and disinterest in the material world. He taught a virulent homophobia, skepticism of science, and the dangers of public schools… Whenever Butler traveled, he’d have the homes he stayed in lined with tinfoil, to protect against electromagnetic radiation.” He also thinks the moon landing was a hoax.
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Louis CK is attempting a comeback

And he’s getting worse, taking a big fat dump on his former fans. He’s gone full on Dennis Miller, throwing out bullying conservative crap.

He bemoans how younger people will tell him, in relation to gender identification, that he has to use specific pronouns preferred by the person. They’re like royalty! he said. They tell you what to call them. ‘You should address me as they/them, because I identify as gender-neutral.’ Oh, OK. You should address me as ‘there’ because I identify as a location. And the location is your mother’s cunt.

I listened to a chunk of it, and seeing it written down does not communicate the full awfulness of it. He affects a stereotypical ‘effeminate’ gay voice when he’s stating what those terrible young people are saying. It’s cheesy, low humor that isn’t even creative — people have been making these same stupid pronoun jokes for decades.

The closest he comes to topicality is to complain about the Parkland shooting survivors. How dare they complain about getting shot at? They’re supposed to be in a basement fingering each other and doing jello shots like he did as a teenager.

They testify in front of Congress, these kids? What are they doing?, he said. You’re young, you should be crazy, you should be unhinged, not in a suit… you’re not interesting. Because you went to a high school where kids got shot? Why does that mean I have to listen to you?… You didn’t got shot, you pushed some fat kid in the way, and now I’ve gotta listen to you talking?

Fortunately, I don’t have to listen to Louis CK talking — he’s dead to me. Even if he were to reverse course on this ugly trajectory he’s taking, this trash won’t be forgotten. He’s a conniving opportunist looking for an ever uglier audience to give him money. If you do track down the recording of this set, be prepared to be appalled at the audience — they’re shrieking like happy hyenas at the cheap shots and bigotry.

He might actually succeed, in other words.

It’s sad, too. He had the choice of the hard, slow, slog towards earning redemption, or the fast, cheap, easy path of pandering to deplorables. It’s clear what he has chosen to do.

The truth is, and we’re self-aware enough to admit it, that in the conversation about the paths to a comeback we’re talking about with so many male celebrities, Louis C.K. may have had the easiest one. The work he has created, be it Louie or his stand-up, is so celebrated by liberal, progressive critics that there would likely have been an eager leap to forgiveness had he handled the aftermath with any sort of contrition, education, campaigning or awareness.

Instead, we’ve been greeted by smugness, pettiness, offensiveness, and frustration, the kind that signals nothing learned—when the base level for some of our forgiveness is anything learned—and a pandering to the kind of community that will cheer his ignorance and amplify his message.

He’s had the opportunity to champion a lesson that leads us forward in this conversation. It may not be an opportunity he volunteered for, but he’s now obligated to perform the community service. And he’s not just ditching it. He’s rejecting it completely.

Another harm he has done is that at least some comedians have worked hard to do the respectable work of afflicting the comfortable — of satire as a tool to put authoritarians in their place. He has joined the well-populated ranks of comedians who blame “PC culture” for killing their acts, rather than that punching down is cowardly. We live in an ugly oligarchy/kleptocracy where inequities are everywhere, where there’s no shortage of targets for good satire, where the wealthy are investing in anti-science demagoguery and race-baiting, and if you choose to avoid the obvious and take nothing but cheap shots against oppressed minorities and helpless kids, then you are bringing all of comedy into disrepute.

If you do listen to that Louis CK set, that’s what you’ll hear: he’s “getting paid to make a bunch of drunk people laugh”, like the guy in the audience who, when Louis CK says he’s going to mock the Parkland survivors, yells “FUCK THEM!”

If stand-up comedy is nothing but bigots shilling for homophobia, transphobia, and racism, well then…fuck them.

Racism in cricket

It is said that sports do not build character as much as reveal it. The cricket cheating scandal is a good example of that truism. Today, the Australian cricket authorities issued further summary punishments to captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft, issuing one year bans for Test and first class cricket on Smith and Warner and nine-months on Bancroft. Smith will not be eligible for consideration for captaincy for two years. The announcement singled Warner out as the ringleader of the plot and was not only stripped from his leadership role, he was banned for life from ever being considered for the captaincy. All three will also have to perform 100 hours of community service.
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