You get up with fleas

Sam Harris is getting help, or at least psychological support, in his quest for political correctness run amok. Bill Dembski Denyse O’Leary at Uncommon Descent is all sympathy.

Guy made the mistake of actually challenging something serious now.

Like, he could have been a pop sci celeb, with articles like “Ten reasons you go to church that you wish you never knew,” or “Ten reasons you give to charity that have nothing to do with caring,” or “Why the government really does know what is best for you.”

Legacy media editors can’t get enough of that stuff, even if readers are dropping away like fleas off a dead moose.

Instead, unaccountably, the guy decided to take on the current pussyfoot between progressive politics and Islamic terror. Hope he has insurance against being brained with a picket sign or just plain blown up.

Meanwhile, do let’s help. (I sent him Rotherham. – O’Leary for News)

Aw, that’s sweet. Dembski thinks Harris is just thinking of the segment of the left that confuses criticism of Islam or Islamism with persecution of Muslims. Apparently Harris’s contempt for feminism has escaped his notice…or possibly he prefers not to mention it because he shares it.

Another ally comments:

There is no need to look very far, IMO. Darwinism, materialism, machine consciousness and parallel universes are all examples of political correctness gone crazy.

Have fun with that, Sam!


  1. says

    Are you sure that’s Dembski? I believe “News” at UD is journalistic joke Denyse O’Leary (see also that Twitter link you quote). Dembski turned over the keys to her a while ago. The style of that post is certainly consistent with “Sneery O’Leary”‘s typical tone.

    And I see Robert Byers — perennial laughing stock at the Panda’s Thumb — has turned up in the comments.

  2. says

    However, I should note that I’m not a big fan of the “Aren’t you embarrassed by who agrees with you?” argument. Especially when the supporter is a breathtakingly shallow thinker like O’Leary, who seizes on anything that she thinks (rightly or wrongly) will let her score debating points.

  3. says

    Parallel universes? Eh? I presume that’s the “many worlds” interpretation. How’s that PC?

    I must be missing something. Something really sophistimacted.

  4. says

    @4: I believe said commenter is referring to the “fine-tuning” argument — the argument that physical constants have to be just right for the universe to be capable of supporting life as we know it, ergo God designed it that way. One (though not the only, or necessarily the best) rebuttal to this is that there are (or have been) a large number of universes, all with different values of the fundamental constants, thus there was bound to be at least one like ours.

    However, the commenter’s definition of “PC gone crazy” appears to be “anything I disagree with”. This is, after all, posted at UD.

  5. Dunc says

    However, the commenter’s definition of “PC gone crazy” appears to be “anything I disagree with”.

    That’s kinda the point: there is no other definition. It’s an entirely subjective term.

  6. chrislawson says


    I understand your concerns about the “lie down with dogs” argument. I like to point to Norman Spinrad’s intriguing essay about how his novel The Iron Dream, a savage skewering of latent fascism in science fiction adventure novels, ended up on the American Nazi Party’s recommended reading list.

    But I do think it’s fair to make the lie-with-dogs argument when someone has wilfully dived into a kennel. (Apart from it being unfair to dogs…) When Sam Harris starts fishing for anti-PC anecdotes, then he’s going to get the usual anti-PC garbage. This is entirely predictable and I can’t imagine he does not know it. He’s throwing himself in with the Bill O’Reillys and the War-on-Christmas brigade. I can think of a few cases where “PC” thinking (for want of a better term) has led to poor outcomes, but if I really wanted to explore the issues of political correctness the last thing I’d do is broadcast an unfiltered request to the world at large for anecdotal evidence of only-adverse effects. Especially since, if that’s his standard, any philosophy/movement can be made to look bad, including Harris’s own.

  7. We are Plethora says

    We agree with the overall point being made in this post and we are looking forward to seeing how far off the deep end Harris will go. It will reveal more about his own personal views and biases than anything else, since all stories will be filtered through his selection.

    That said, we can’t help but feel uncomfortable with ostensibly speciesiest imagery and wording in the title of this post and in comment 9, that seems to belittle both fleas and dogs, as well as otherkin who identify as such. “Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas” is a well-known saying and we realize that no offense was intended, but in the interest of creating environments that are welcoming and safe for all beings and entities, we believe that we need to move beyond language that relies on belittling in any sense, even non-human beings and entities.

    For all we know, there are mutliple systems that include otherkin headmates of the canine and flea variety, and so it may be literally possible for that system’s partner to lie down with a canine-kin headmate, and wake up to the flea-kin headmate instead.

  8. resident_alien says

    @ We are Plethora : Decent for a first attempt, but you need to work on the Poe.
    Still slightly too obvious. Anyway, carry on.

  9. We are Plethora says

    resident_alien @11,
    We are used to being laughed at by those who don’t understand, but please know that your words hurt us deeply. Also, this is far from our first comment here or elsewhere within FtB, but please carry on with your demeaning insults if you must.

  10. chrislawson says

    I get where you’re coming from, Plethora. I used to talk about preferring carrots to sticks in education until I realised that I was privileging vegetable roots over tree branches.

  11. says

    chrislawson @13,
    LOL, that’s pretty good. If you don’t mind us asking, what kind of education did or do you do?

    For us, this is primarily about biological people who identify differently than what society expects, and not belittling or dismissing our lived experience anymore than you would want someone to belittle or dismiss yours. It’s also secondarily about respect for all life, particularly that which may have a capacity for suffering on some level.

    Just our two cents, YMMV.

  12. smhll says

    That said, we can’t help but feel uncomfortable with ostensibly speciesiest imagery and wording in the title of this post and in comment 9, that seems to belittle both fleas and dogs…

    Giggle. Perhaps we’ll see #notalldogs trending on Twitter tomorrow?

  13. Decker says

    Just because a loon like Denyse ( and de elbows!) O’Leary suggest we supply Sam Harris with material, doesn’t in any way discredit what Harris is doing.

    It’s may be embarrassing for Sam that she agrees with him, but that doesn’t negate, in any way. shape or form, the arguments Sam makes.

  14. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Please stop with the “we” crap. It’s twee and tedious and makes one want to ignore your comments regardless of whether they have value otherwise.

  15. says

    Josh, Official SpokesGay @19,
    Our apologies if you are annoyed or offended at our identity and how we speak/write. If you feel the need to ignore us, so be it.

    That said, we can’t help but wonder whether you feel it appropriate to tell a trans person to stop referring to themselves according to their preferred gender and pronouns because you personally find it annoying or distasteful. How would you feel if you were asked you to stop refering to yourself as “gay” because some person you’ve never met before doesn’t like it? We imagine you might not like that very much and you certainly wouldn’t change your identity for the sake of that person, and yet that’s how you are treating us and what you are asking us to do.

  16. says

    Al Dente @23,
    If you find it pretentious to speak and write in a way that is consistent with our identity, we’re afraid that’s your issue not ours. We are a multiple system consisting of multiple headmates, and we refuse to deny that or lie about that for your sake or anyone else’s for that matter.

    We realize that multiplicity is not well understood, but for future reference, asking us to pretend or lie or hide our identity in any way is akin to asking a trans person to lie about their identity so as not to make cis people uncomfortable. There is nothing pretentious about it, it’s just who we are.

  17. says

    there is no other definition.

    How about: “being concerned with being perceived to be aligned with public ‘truths’ and prevailing ideology in a totalitarian community.” ?

    I do think there may be some value to the idea. One of my former co-workers lived through The Cultural Revolution in China and her description of the double-think that went on between someone’s inner thoughts and the enforced “consensus” resonates with the idea. Indeed, as the US slides further into totalitarianism, we see a “political correctness” in the socially mandated genuflections to “The Troops” that is reminiscent of the manufactured consent in North Korea or the former USSR.

    When I first commented on Harris’ silly quest, I was immediately thinking of Dershowitz’ attempt to destroy an academic’s career for not mumbling the approved platitudes about Israel’s need for self-defense.

    Political correctness, then, is an attempt to enshrine ideas in popular culture, and to place them (supposedly) above criticism by hijacking our democratic urges saying, “everyone agrees that…. What ought to be obvious is that that kind of behavior is easiest and best used in defense of the status quo rather than as a serious challenge to the establishment’s ideas. So “political correctness” might well apply to rape culture, or male privilege. Philosophamacator Harris, in other words, is barking up the tree which he has already climbed.

  18. Ichthyic says

    It’s may be embarrassing for Sam that she agrees with him, but that doesn’t negate, in any way. shape or form, the arguments Sam makes.

    what negates the argument that Sam tries (and fails) to make, and the very reason he asked for examples is…

    there really IS no evidence to support the “political correctness” meme.

    there never was.

    It was an invention by anti-affirmative action clowns in an attempt to divert attention away from REAL issues of segregation, both economically and racially, way back in the 80s.

    it was never anything then, and it isn’t anything now.

    it’s fucking SAD that so many have chosen to create a reality around that fiction.

  19. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Back when Bill Maher had his show on the Comedy Channel and it was called “Politically Incorrect”, the schtick was already old. Maher’s show at the time was usually decent in spite of that, but that doesn’t change the point that anti-PC was more of the same old reactionary bullshit to people being called on being assholes.

    I should look through some of those old episodes. I have a vague recollection of Sarah Silverman (maybe?) calling him on it, and nailing Maher pretty good.

  20. octopod says

    chrislawson@9: I would be very interested in reading the essay about Iron Dream that you mention. Is it posted somewhere online? My results are being swamped by stuff about the book itself.

  21. Al Dente says

    I wish killfile was still available so I could killfile We are Plethora.

    I know people with multiple personalities. They do not refer to themselves in the plural. I don’t think you have “multiple headmates”. I think you’re trying to be “clever” and failing miserably.

  22. says

    Al Dente @31,
    Since you are so clearly qualified and trained to diagnose mental illness via blog comments, would you be willing to write to our doctors and health care providers to let them know that you’ve got it all figured out? Since you’ve ruled out “multiple personalities” (is that a technical term, doctor?) do you have an alternate diagnosis we should mention, or just tell them “trying to be clever?”

    We wonder if it ever occured to you that just because you “know people with multiple personalities” (not unlike the racist touting their supposed minority friends, BTW) that doesn’t mean you know everything about the topic (like, say, what it’s actually called; here’s a hint, it’s not “multiple personalities”) or that you know much of anything about us in particular. That you “know people” doesn’t trump our lived experience.

    That said, we feel you should probably carry on shitting on us if that’s what you need to do to make yourself feel better. Better us than someone else who doesn’t have such thick skin.

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