Can men stop being violent? Uncoupling masculinity from the massacres.


On March 22nd 2017, Khalid Masood drove a car on to the pavement of Westminster Bridge, killing four people and injuring 50 more, then fatally stabbing a police officer outside the Palace of Westminster before being himself shot and killed.

Exactly two months later on May 22nd, Salman Abedi walked up to the entrance of Manchester Arena just as a pop concert ended and exploded the bomb in his backpack, killing himself and 22 others.

June 3rd, Khuram Butt and two accomplices drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before randomly attacking members of the public with kitchen knives. By the time they were shot dead by police, they had killed eight people and wounded 48 more.

June 19th. Shortly after midnight, Darren Osborne drove a van into a crowd of Muslims outside Finsbury Park mosque before being restrained by worshippers. When emergency services arrived, one person lay dead, 11 injured.

On the morning after the Finsbury Park attack, the Twitter account @WomenDefyHate asked a question that always echoes in one form or another in the aftershock of such atrocities:

“Seriously, for fucks sake, can men stop being violent? I’m no prissy, no feminazi type. But men have to stop this violence. Men.”

It is an essential question that demands an answer and, tragically, the answer is certainly no. Men cannot stop being violent. At least not all of us, not all the time. Not the way we are raised, socialised, instructed to behave, taught to react. Not for as long as we are raised to believe that a man’s worth and value as a human being is inextricably tied to his capacity and willingness to both inflict and tolerate violence, aggression and brutality.

With very few exceptions, our global human society, our cultures and our global economic systems are steeped in militarism, in warfare, in violence. Perhaps the most profoundly symbolic moment of the recent General Election campaign came during the live TV leader interviews when Jeremy Corbyn was harangued by not one, not two, but no fewer than nine different middle-aged/elderly men over his anti-nuclear weapons beliefs. Each of these men seemed to become more red in the cheek than the one before, each more furious, more indignant that a candidate for Prime Minister might express reluctance to authorise the instant slaughter of hundreds of millions of innocent civilians in a first strike nuclear attack.

What we saw in that exchange was not a debate about military strategy or the wisdom of mutually assured destruction. What we saw was a vivid unfolding of blunt masculinity politics (a game which, of course, female politicians are also expected to play and some whom play very well indeed.) Corbyn was being held over the coals, superficially for the politics of relative risk appraisal, but at an emotional and psychological level he was having his machismo tested and (in the eyes of his inquisitors) he was coming up short and they despised him for it.

There is a marvellous essay covering this by Raewynn Connell (writing then as Robert W Connell) in a book published a while back by UNESCO. (Chapter 1 in the pdf here.) As I read it again this morning, something leaped out at me that places one final piece in the jigsaw of awfulness that has made up our summer of 2017. You might not think there is much in common between recent terrorist atrocities and the unimaginable horrors of the Grenfell Tower fire. Connell provides the link, identifying the profoundly masculine gender processes involved in neoliberal economics and globalised politics.

World politics today is increasingly organized around the needs of transnational capital and the creation of global markets. Neo-liberalism speaks a gender-neutral language of ‘markets’, ‘individuals’, and ‘choice’, but has an implicit view of masculinity. The ‘individual’ of neo-liberal theory has the attributes and interests of a male entrepreneur. Institutionally, the strong emphasis on competition creates a particular kind of hierarchy among men.

Meanwhile the increasingly unregulated world of transnational corporations places strategic social power in the hands of particular groups of men. Here is the basis of a new hegemonic masculinity on a world scale. The hegemonic form of masculinity in the new world order, I would argue, is the masculinity of the business executives who operate in global markets, and the political executives and military leaderships who constantly deal with them. I call this ‘transnational business masculinity’, and I think that understanding it will be important for the future of peace strategies.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying neoliberalism caused the Manchester bombing and I am not saying economic conditions drove a van into worshippers outside a mosque (nor would Connell, I’m pretty sure). I am saying that a society where hundreds of human lives can be risked to save a few grand on refurbishment costs, a society which fetishizes risk-taking and competitiveness, where the pursuit of profits can excuse the systematic demonization of human beings for being poor or black or Muslim or disabled or on benefits, that is a society in which the most twisted, damaged and dangerous minds on the fringes will will inevitably and necessarily be enabled, nurtured and inspired toward acts of appalling violence.

If we genuinely seek to understand the behaviour and values of those at the margins of society, we must understand the links to behaviour and values at the very heart of society. Going further, if we wish to alter and adapt the behaviours and values of those at the margins of society, our only hope is to alter and adapt the behaviours and values at the very heart of society. Hegemonic masculinity does not drive individuals to murder and maim innocent men, women and children, but it is certainly one crucial ingredient in a toxic stew of behavioural motivation.

I would like to turn around the question asked on Twitter. The question we need to ask as a society is not “can men stop being violent?” The question we need to as a society is “how can we, together, stop men from being violent?” That is a question that can be answered, albeit maybe easier said than done.

We can think less about preventing radicalisation and more about preventing brutalisation.  Ending or reducing terrorism should not need to be the justification for building a society that offers everyone purpose, self-worth, self-actualisation, social welfare and mental health care, but it would certainly come as a bonus. It is no revelation that those who who trigger acts or random mass violence are almost invariably damaged, isolated, sad, broken men and yes, we need to find ways to prevent such people erupting into hateful vengeance, but we also have to ask ourselves how we have ended up in a society with so many damaged, isolated, sad, broken men in the first place.

We can learn, as a society, that masculinity can be an asset not a curse. Connell suggests framing peacebuilding in masculine terms as an active, constructive challenge – framing peace and security as more than simply the absence of violence.  We also need to uncouple the very best of traditionally masculine traits – courage, selflessness, strength etc – from the language and concepts of violent conflict.

John Donne was not lying: No man is an island. It is ultimately futile to tell men to stop being violent. The ones who need to hear you will never be listening. When all is said and done, if we have really had enough of violent men, we need to stop making men violent. That is a job for us all.

Comments

  1. redpesto says

    Fogg:

    You might not think there is much in common between recent terrorist atrocities and the unimaginable horrors of the Grenfell Tower fire. Connell provides the link, identifying the profoundly masculine gender processes involved in neoliberal economics and globalised politics.

    It’s the same argument that views ‘homo economicus’ as ‘male’ (e.g. no ties or dependencies, ‘rational’ economic decision making). It’s why, despite her gender, there are so many Ayn Rand ‘fanboys’. It’s also why you get the assumption that capitalism (like neoliberalism) is something ‘men’ do.

    As for the initial question, there are men who want to stop (other) men being violent – the man who held down the Finsbury Park attacker until the police came; among the police who shot dead the Borough Market attackers; the men (in general) who for want peace rather than war. Other masculinities are available, though I don’t think they’re the ones implied by the rhetorical call from a ‘non-feminazi’ woman and they can’t just be summoned out of thin air.

  2. Carnation says

    @ RedPesto

    “there are men who want to stop (other) men being violent – the man who held down the Finsbury Park attacker until the police came; among the police who shot dead the Borough Market attackers”

    I agree. However, there are two very different forms of masculinity at play. Whilst applauding the police action, and being somewhat in awe of their professionalism, police marksmen are immersed in a highly macho culture where emotional detachment and extreme violence (toxic masculinity?) are not only tolerated, they are essential, understandable and desirable.

    The brave men at the Mosque protecting the scumbag murderer represented something of a metaphor on masculinity – wise, elder, devout, community minded men reigning in the hot-headed, violent (if understandable) actions of an enraged group.

    @ Ally Fogg

    “We also need to uncouple the very best of traditionally masculine traits – courage, selflessness, strength etc – from the language and concepts of violent conflict”

    Again, I agree. And most people, including “hard men” can agree that walking way makes one the “bigger man.” But it is so, so intensely hard to do. Society has a sneaking (and not so sneaking) regard for men who dispense violence that has a sheen of righteousness to it.

    Can the uncoupling of masculinity be done without ceding ground to femininity?

  3. redpesto says

    Carnation #2:

    Re. the police – that was precisely my point.. However, ‘police marksmen are immersed in a highly macho culture where emotional detachment and extreme violence (toxic masculinity?) are not only tolerated, they are essential, understandable and desirable’ is no use when it comes to split-second decisions on taking a shot. Also, at some point the issue of gender parity among armed officers (rather than ‘marksmen’ [sic]) will have to arise – and I’m reluctant to go down a ‘how female armed response officers will dismantle the macho culture because women’ route since ‘feminisation’ is not their job.

    Likewise with the ‘brave men at the Mosque’ – though the bravery might have been as much for protecting the attacker from the crowd as for stopping him in the first place. How far that’s seen in terms of ‘gender’ is another matter: I recall Jane Martinson from the Guardian tweeting about how it was admirable/signifcant that it was women who talked to the murderers of Lee Rigby until the police arrived, as if the men were either cowering in fear or expected to behave like Batman.

    Can the uncoupling of masculinity be done without ceding ground to femininity?

    What models do we have outside/beyond that binary? It’s not as though we have new/different conceptions of how ‘masculinity can be an asset not a curse’

  4. Ally Fogg says

    redpesto
    What models do we have outside/beyond that binary? It’s not as though we have new/different conceptions of how ‘masculinity can be an asset not a curse’

    I disagree, I think there are plenty. Firefighters the most obvious & immediate example.

    But more subtly, I think if you were to back 30/40/50 years, you would find that express homophobia was considered an essential component of masculinity. That has very largely diminished. I don’t think it is too impossible to imagine the active violence being marginalised from models of masculinity.

    carnation

    Again, I agree. And most people, including “hard men” can agree that walking way makes one the “bigger man.” But it is so, so intensely hard to do. Society has a sneaking (and not so sneaking) regard for men who dispense violence that has a sheen of righteousness to it.

    Agree. By coincidence I just this moment read this blog here https://allearssite.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/masculinity-and-violence-in-schools/ which makes similar points very well.

  5. Amalec says

    [quote]
    As for the initial question, there are men who want to stop (other) men being violent – the man who held down the Finsbury Park attacker until the police came; among the police who shot dead the Borough Market attackers; the men (in general) who for want peace rather than war.
    [/quote]

    The capacity for violence to help and to hurt are two sides of the same coin. We teach men that is right and good – that it is their duty – to kill or to die for their values. We applaud them for doing violence in the name freedom, or to protect others, or to protect their country. How can we be shocked when those with other values – religion, nationality, race – are willing to do violence on behalf of their values as well?

    Violence may be a necessary evil in the world we live in. And our society has set (young, mid-low class) men up to do the violence it requires on it’s behalf – with all the damage the act and the attitude can cause. It can hardly be shocking that men taught to do violence don’t always do the violence society wants. Until we can build a society that doesn’t require violence, or shares the load of the violence equally among it’s members, I find it hard to take any claims that violence is a masculine problem seriously.

  6. Florian Blaschke says

    It is no revelation that those who who trigger acts or random mass violence are almost invariably damaged, isolated, sad, broken men and yes, we need to find ways to prevent such people erupting into hateful vengeance, but we also have to ask ourselves how we have ended up in a society with so many damaged, isolated, sad, broken men in the first place.

    Not so fast. Like so often, you’ll find it’s more complicated than that.

    There is at least one profile of lone wolf terrorists. These are people who tend to be loners, or they’ve recently lost their social connections. Frequently chronic loners, they have some history of mental disorder, especially depression. They have a grievance. And what that amounts to is if you’re suffering from some grievance, as you see it, and if you’re suffering from some kind of psychopathology, you don’t have very much to lose in acting on your grievance.

    But not everybody who is a lone actor terrorist fits this disconnected-disorder profile. The other profile that we have suggested is a caring-compelled profile. There are examples of lone actor terrorist who have no history of mental disorder, who have good social connections, family, friends, work, but who seem to be capable of more intense sympathy and empathy than most of us. And they feel so strongly, their emotional reaction to the suffering of others as they see it, that they just feel like that they have got to do something.

    Now, this is a little hard for most people to get hold of, I admit, because it amounts to saying that there’s a potential dark side to qualities that we usually think of as quintessentially human and humane. We’re suggesting there are some people who feel so strongly, they have to do something. Anything that isn’t action is hypocrisy.

  7. That Guy says

    This is a seriously sticky problem- IMO, the best way to expunge unfavourable qualities from the concept of ‘masculinity’ is through positive role models. This sounds simple- but is actually quite tricky.

    To take Ally’s example of homophobia, you introduce role models who are strongly against homophobia. Cool, so what makes a role model a role model? It’s being a manifestation of whatever qualities you admire, in this case, masculinity.
    So appeals against homophobia then centre around re-framing whatever in terms of negative associations with masculinity, e.g., “man enough not to be threatened by someone’s sexuality”.
    By this method, masculinity eats itself.

    HOWEVER- this is a big however, violence is so deeply ingrained as masculine in our culture that it’s going to be seriously difficult to appeal to masculinity while abstaining from violence. I don’t see that happening any time soon.

    The second issue I have, is that even the most benign or admirable qualities can become harmful. To ride the second example, if we take the qualities of the archetypal firefighter as a potential ideal-

    A firefighter is/posesses: determination, resilience, bravery, self-sacrifice, physical fitness, resolve, skill, instinct, training, intelligence.

    All well and good- most of these area already masculine, nothing revolutionary here. The problem is that the weight of aspiring to resilience, determination and self sacrifice creates an atmosphere where men are less likely to develop social support networks. This can lead to an inability to deal with feelings, self-medication and suicide.

    What I’m driving at, in an overly long way, is that I’m not entirely convinced that any quality we hold as admirable in society is inherently ‘good’ or universally beneficial. Anything we put up as an ideal can have harmful effects.

    It also seems a bit weird to want to privilege certain qualities as male or female anyway- that’s going to exclude someone, somewhere, no matter how you cut it.

    tl:dr, shit’s all fucked, son.

  8. Ally Fogg says

    Florian Blaschke (6)

    That’s an interesting quote but I’ve checked the link and there is a frustrating lack of evidence or examples.

    Just about the only cast iron rule of psychology is there aren’t any cast iron rules – you’ll find (apparent) exceptions to any pattern of human behaviour because humans are weird & unpredictable. That said, I’d like to know if he’s saying half of all ‘lone wolf’ terrorists are perfectly mentally balanced & have no known pattern of social isolation & emotional damage, or is he saying that there was once an example found of one lone wolf terrorist who didn’t fit that pattern? Because those would be very different claims.

    He hasn’t left me feeling very convinced, put it that way.

  9. redpesto says

    Fogg #4:

    What models do we have outside/beyond that binary? It’s not as though we have new/different conceptions of how ‘masculinity can be an asset not a curse’

    I disagree, I think there are plenty. Firefighters the most obvious & immediate example.

    Not ‘new’. One could even argue that it’s a form of uniformed, but non-militarized, public service, allied to discourses of bravery and heroism (see also lifeboat crews and paramedics).

    But more subtly, I think if you were to back 30/40/50 years, you would find that express homophobia was considered an essential component of masculinity. That has very largely diminished. I don’t think it is too impossible to imagine the active violence being marginalised from models of masculinity.

    I’m not disputing whether ‘men’ can change. Lynne Segal made it clear that any such change is likely to be incremental, slow, and often ‘below the radar’ because it doesn’t work the same way as it does within, say, feminism. It also overlooks that men are often not ‘That Guy’ [NB: I don’t mean the commenter above] in a way that doesn’t fit models of a ‘new masculinity’. As you’ve argued yourself, it’s not ‘seen’ as a political project – or it too often takes the form of rhetorical ‘do something’ calls like the one you’ve quoted.

  10. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally

    If I had not known you so well, I would have filed this under ‘Jessica Valenti’ and stopped reading before I came to the more sensible end.

    1) Imagine someone stopped your list of examples after June 3rd, and gave the obvious follow-on: “Seriously, for fucks sake, can Muslims stop being violent? I’m no racist. But Muslims have to stop this violence. Muslims.” Would that also have been “an essential question that demands an answer”? And why is the ‘Men’ version worth taking seriously, if the ‘Muslims’ version is not?

    2) What the !”£$%^&* does ‘hegemonic masculinity’ have to do with Grenfell tower? The only logical connection I can see is ‘The fire was evil’, ‘masculinity is the root of all evil’, ‘therefore the fire was caused by masculinity’. Which, to say the least, is somewhat below your normal standard of argument. Which point did you want to make here? And, with all due respect, a sentence like “Hegemonic masculinity does not drive individuals to murder and maim innocent men, women and children, but it is certainly one crucial ingredient in a toxic stew of behavioural motivation.”sounds too much like ‘No, but yes.’ ‘Throwing the stone, and hiding the hand’, as the Italians say.

    3) The problem with Jeremy Corbyn is not that as a “candidate for Prime Minister [he] might express reluctance to authorise the instant slaughter of hundreds of millions of innocent civilians in a first strike nuclear attack”. Most people would, once it came down to it. The problem is that he is proposing himself for a leadership position in a hard, violent world where he may have to make difficult choices. And his answer is “I do not like living in such a nasty world, therefore I will ignore this unpleasant fact and act as if I was living in a nice world. See how moral you can get, when you can wish the problems away”? And if you think that is too harsh, consider his ‘solution’ to Trident: He cannot bear to disappoint his nice feelings and his friends in the nuclear disarmament campaign, nor to disappoint the trade unions who want the shipbuilding jobs. So he proposes to build the submarines and just not put missiles on them, which amounts to choosing a multi-billion make-work project of useless junk, just because he cannot face the responsibility of making a choice? In my nine-year-old daughter that would be an endearing sign of imagination, empathy, and conscience. In a grown man who fancies himself as prime minister I think it is well worth despising.

    Once we get to “We can think less about preventing radicalisation and more about preventing brutalisation.” we are back with the Ally we know and respect. That is a worthwhile thing to try, even if it has nothing to do with terrorism. Or with men. But I cannot see why we need to aim for a society of peaceful men. It would be equally effective (and equally easy to implement) to aim for a society where nobody, anywhere, was “damaged, isolated, sad, or broken”.

    As for this, to me it sounds less like a plan and more like propaganda:

    We can learn, as a society, that masculinity can be an asset not a curse. Connell suggests framing peacebuilding in masculine terms as an active, constructive challenge – framing peace and security as more than simply the absence of violence. We also need to uncouple the very best of traditionally masculine traits – courage, selflessness, strength etc – from the language and concepts of violent conflict.

    If people are to believe that masculinity is actually seen as a blessing rather than a curse, we would have to find and accept the good side of the masculinity we have. Not (re)framing the concept beyond recognition so that we can use the positive emotional charge behind the world ‘masculinity’ in an advertisement campaign to promote something entirely different. Your masculinity-and-violence-in-schools link show a man who laudably felt an urge to protect the weak against being bullied, and then quite correctly decided that the safety of his small daughter required him to back down. It is understandable both why he blames himself and why he should not, but to go from there to this great praise for the courage and manliness needed to walk away and let the bullies work in peace, or the great evil in society that anybody should ever be expected to do different sounds, if anything, weird.

    Masculinity, male interactions, as I see them are about claiming your ground and being willing to defend it, doing what needs to be done and taking the consequences, giving and expecting respect, living in a world where status and hierarchies are accepted and matter. And accepting that if you fail you have let yourself down. That sometimes leads to violence, or depression, accepted. But you do not get the heroism and self-sacrifice of the Sheriff in High Noon if you teach your children to aspire to the peacefulness and avoidance strategies of the citizens who would much rather do nothing, let evil take its course, and feel good about themselves while they do it.

  11. Marduk says

    I don’t accept the premise. Men have been remarkably successful at reducing the amount of violence in the world, particularly white men, particularly in the west. Past a certain point certainly as regards people who are fighting in wars (or believe they are whatever other people’s views of the relative legitimacy of their claim), you have to start separating masculinity from gender roles where men do violence because it is their job and women believe they should do it. In the few societies that didn’t observe these presumably outdated anti-feminist notions, such as Palestine, Kurdistan or Russia during Operation Barbarossa, there is no evidence of women being less violent at all.

    It reminds me a bit of that photograph of a protester getting in the face of a right wing thug. Suzanne Moore said the picture showed: “Female insouciance against fascism…It signals to us that we all might be braver, that we can stand up and fight, that men who cannot tolerate difference cannot tolerate being laughed at either.” I genuinely think Suzanne is so deeply privileged she could gaze at that photograph for a hundred years and not see that there are actually three, not two, people in the picture.

  12. WineEM says

    @10. Well I’m awfully glad I didn’t write that last post, Gjenganger. Think I’d be in no small degree of trouble with Ally (again). 🙂

  13. StillGjenganger says

    @12 . I was being shrill and self-indulgent, sure, even if I like to think there is a real point there, somewhere, But I hope he will not be that nasty. Anyway he is stronger than me so I am not going to hurt him, and he has a remarkable tolerance for fools. If he finds it worth his time to answer (he might well not) I could even learn something.

  14. Daran says

    June 19th. Shortly after midnight, Darren Osborne drove a van into a crowd of Muslims outside Finsbury Park mosque before being restrained by worshippers. When emergency services arrived, one person lay dead, 11 injured.

    I see what you did there. You included one white presumably non-Muslin attacker (alledgedly – he hasn’t been convicted yet, and unlike the others you name is still alive, so should be presumed innocent), just to ensure that they don’t all have “Muslim” or “Arabic” in common. They’re all male though.

    But there have been female terrorists and alleged terrorists. Suppose I wrote a blog post beginning with the same first three paragraphs as yours, and continuing as follows:

    11 May: Rizlaine Boular, 21, her mother Mina Dich, 43, and 20-year-old associate Khawla Barghouthi were charged in relation to the alleged planning of a suspected knife attack in the Westminster area of London.

    Seriously for fuck’s sake. Can Arabs stop being violent? I’m no racist, no white supremicist type, but Arabs have to stop this violence, Arabs

    Would that be acceptable to you? Or would you denounce it as the racist bigotry that it would be?

  15. WineEM says

    “he has a remarkable tolerance for fools.”

    LOL, this is, admittedly, true 😉

  16. WineEM says

    14@ Just had the same happen to me, but chances are it’s because you included a link, and the FreeThought website blocks them by default (whilst being perfectly happy to create all kinds dubious links of its own!)

  17. Ally Fogg says

    Daran – your post had indeed gone to spam. Retrieved now.

    Don’t have time to reply to any comments right now but will come back later & set y’all straight 😉

  18. Marduk says

    14.
    There are two things to this.
    Firstly, its dangerous to have one explanation for everything in the world and think you can apply it all events.
    Secondly, we normally recognise this as idiotic and as you are point out, resulting necessarily in hate speech because having only one idea about everything in the world is just another way of describing obsessive bigotry.

    For some reason this self-evidently flawed pattern of thought is tolerated in the case of some groups. My argument has repeatedly been that such patterns of thought and rhetoric should ALWAYS be resisted regardless of whatever special pleading, value judgement or liking for a particular outcome we apply in a special circumstance we enjoy. The reason they should be resisted is that when you give up on the principle, and allow such weaseling, you are dropping your defenses against people you find generally abhorrent (free speech restrictions are the same deal, I don’t insist on it so Nazis can spread hate, I insist on it so I can say Nazis are spreading hate and they are wrong). I have to say Hetpat in general disagrees with me on this but I will go on attempting to argue for memetic intellectual discipline even from my own side so to speak.

    Personally I genuinely don’t think you can get a fag paper between people with elaborate stories about how everything is the fault of “white males” and people with elaborate stories about how everything is the fault of “the jews” or “the koran” or whatever else its supposed to be.

    Yet if we can say one thing with confidence about the world, lots of things happen for lots of different reasons and lots of things happen for multiple reasons as well. Having one idea does not make you a philosopher of keen insight, it makes you an idiot by definition incapable of understanding anything at all.

    The use of the “lens” to interpret thing is supposed to be a playful, provocative and experimental mode of art criticism. It was never supposed to supplant even normative social science, let alone philosophy and definitely not escape the academy and become how real people talk about real events.

  19. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally

    If we genuinely seek to understand the behaviour and values of those at the margins of society, we must understand the links to behaviour and values at the very heart of society. Going further, if we wish to alter and adapt the behaviours and values of those at the margins of society, our only hope is to alter and adapt the behaviours and values at the very heart of society.

    Depending on what you mean exactly, I am not sure I would agree. I would argue that everyday male behaviour and attitudes are highly socialised towards managing aggression and competition in a way that avoids damaging fights. Surely that is the point of hierarchies (or pecking orders, if you prefer), that it allows you to fit into a power structure, or even jockey for position, without risking a dangerous fight to prove it – whether we are talking about wolf packs, dinner conversation, or academic debate. A loose look at young boys in a school yard can give you the impression that they are (play)fighting about half the time, yet they very rarely hurt each other. IMHO because they practice it so much. It is probably not a coincidence that the boys that tend to hurt others – and are disliked as a consequence – are those who are misfits or socially inept and so have not mastered the skill of when to stop or to pull their punches. Much like, as you point out, it is the damaged and isolated men who end up violent. And if it is already the badly socialised men who do the violence, how likely is it that we can avoid violence by socialising men, in bulk, to be peaceful?

  20. Danny Gibbs says

    I would like to turn around the question asked on Twitter. The question we need to ask as a society is not “can men stop being violent?” The question we need to as a society is “how can we, together, stop men from being violent?” That is a question that can be answered, albeit maybe easier said than done.
    Yes the answer is quite easy. Listen to men and don’t be so quick to pass judgement on us. I often find that the same people that complain about men being violent are the same people that will tease, harass, insult, and otherwise harm men for the smallest slight. People have to learn that can’t have it both ways in the form of wanting the latitude to mistreat and ostracize men and get upset when they turn to violence.

    Here’s the thing. No matter how you cook the numbers with whatever creative math you want the vast majority of men are not violent. Yet time and against when 1 man commits an act of violence his violent masculinity is propped up as the common norm as if that is the standard of masculinity across the board when it is not.

    19.
    The use of the “lens” to interpret thing is supposed to be a playful, provocative and experimental mode of art criticism. It was never supposed to supplant even normative social science, let alone philosophy and definitely not escape the academy and become how real people talk about real events.
    I do think this is a major problem. The application of specific lenses and then trying to pass off that lensed (if that wasn’t a word already it is now) view as the actual reality that is taking place alters the context of the reality thus leading to an analysis and solution that don’t really fit the reality. And in the fact of such a mismatch too many are basically choosing to force the reality to fit the lens rather than try taking the lens off for a moment.

  21. Florian Blaschke says

    Ally (8)

    Clark McCauley is a notable expert on this subject, not some random ignorant pundit; maybe he deserves a little bit of trust that he’s not basing his conclusions on a single exception, which would obviously be ridiculous. The article I linked to is a summary of the results of his research, not an explanation of how he arrived at them; if you wish to examine his research, it’s readily available on the web, just search for his name.

    The widespread assumption that terrorists – lone wolf or not – are all mentally ill has been as lazy, convenient for everyone (including the terrorists themselves, because it lets them off the hook and absolves them and everyone else for responsibility), and ableist many times before (compare <a href=https://www.coursera.org/learn/terrorism/lecture/jwgWW/3-2-assumption-terrorists-are-crazy<here). (Not to mention how it erases motivations rooted in systematic biases like misogyny or white surpremacy!) I’m surprised, to say the least, to see you echoing it so uncritically.

    Especially considering that it weakens your case unnecessarily. Because I actually agree with your central thesis. The way human traits and tendencies are subdivided into two groups – “masculine” and “feminine” – and the one mindlessly extolled while the other is equally mindlessly lambasted, ridiculed and demonised is an absolutely toxic and harmful practice (habit). By the way, neither group is limited to any gender, so “butbutbut there are female terrorists too!” is a laughable, MRA-level retort. And while terrorism is no doubt a complex problem, masculine and male supremacy certainly places a central role. And no, in a world when “peaceful” Buddhists kill “evil” Muslims in Burma, you guys up there can keep your Islamophobia.

  22. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    What is it about the concept of “toxic masculinity” that you find so deeply threatening? You, and people like you, respond with a level of hysteria that’s baffling.

    That article is clearly a pro-male argument.

    You object to the term maladaptation, despite it being used in the context of men not seeking the help that they should. Is that not a behaviour that requires modification?

    I wonder if your outrage would have been the same if a man wrote it, say Peter Lloyd, Philip Davies or Martin Daubney?

    Somehow, I doubt it.

  23. That Guy says

    @ Carnation-

    not to nitpick, but wasn’t it two men that wrote the article?

    I didn’t think it was brilliant, (I also take exception at the claim that the increase in male fatality in suicide attempts is due to a preference for firearms- the UK is a good counterexample) but it’s a form of progress that it’s turned up in the guardian I suppose.

    Maybe some of the

  24. That Guy says

    Sorry, I prematurely posted.

    I think some of the kickback at least is due to the perception that whereas female oppression is due to ‘men’, the ‘male oppression’ is also due to ‘men’.

    Now, you can parse this in an immature way as female oppression is ‘not their fault’ whereas ‘male oppression’ is ‘their own fault’. If this is your reading, then it can seem a little insulting.

    This, however, is the wrong reading.

    I guess a healthy part of the kickback is also (paradoxically) insecurity over masculinity and maleness as a concept, where any discussion is seen as an assault on maleness itself.

    I guess. I’m not too sure.

  25. Ally Fogg says

    Right, sorry to have abandoned you but as promised, some replies, working from the bottom upwards.

    Marduk / Carnation – must admit I thought that was a pretty terrible article – partly just because it was badly written, partly because it is a specifically US perspective (the firearms explanation for suicide just doesn’t wash outside the US, where men don’t shoot themselves but still out-suicide women by similar rates). But my main one is that the article simply doesn’t engage with the evidence that you can change men’s health-related behaviour significantly by changing policies around service delivery.

    I’m not one of those who screams foul any time anyone mentions toxic masculinity but in this case I think it *is* a bit of a high two-footed tackle. It basically abrogates political responsibility onto individuals & demands they pull their socks up in a way that is really unhelpful.

  26. Ally Fogg says

    Danny (and others making similar points)

    “Here’s the thing. No matter how you cook the numbers with whatever creative math you want the vast majority of men are not violent. Yet time and against when 1 man commits an act of violence his violent masculinity is propped up as the common norm as if that is the standard of masculinity across the board when it is not.”

    Here’s the thing. The vast majority of men do not commit acts of extreme and exceptional violence of the types under discussion.

    HOWEVER all men, to a greater or lesser extent, are invested in a shared culture of violence from which the exceptional extremes spring.

    Metaphor. Imagine the individuals committing the extreme and exceptional acts of violence are the dangerous sparks which randomly fly out from a burning campfire & can do terrible damage by landing on the gusset of your tracksuit and setting your knackers on fire. So long as they remain in the fireplace no one even thinks about them being there, but when they suddenly shoot out in an unexpected direction they can be terrifying and dangerous.

    It is possible to try to catch the individual sparks using a fireguard or trying to change your fuel to one which produces fewer sparks or whatever. But the bottom line is that the bigger and more furious your campfire is, the more likely sparks are to fly out.

    The standard response from politicians & media to catching terrorists is to promise to catch the sparks before they do any damage. To monitor the fire to try & identify sparks before they suddenly shoot out.

    What I am saying is that the only real way to prevent sparks is to reduce the size & fierceness of the fire. That fire is the whole culture of violence, aggression, masculine gender norms etc. It’s not enough to say that all the fire that remains under safely in the fireplace is fine & dandy & under control. Because for as long as there is a big raging fire there, sooner or later some random sparks are going to burst out.

    My point is that if we want to reduce or eliminate the numbers of (apparently) random acts of extreme male violence, the only long term strategy is to reduce the raging fire from which they spark.

    So, parking the over-stretched metaphor. It is simply not enough for 99.99% of men to say, hey, I haven’t murdered anyone or blown anything up, so why are you laying this on me? The fact is that we all participate in the middle of the same culture which is causing problems at the extreme. If we want to shift the extremes, we cannot do it without shifting the centre.

  27. Ally Fogg says

    Daran (14)

    I see what you did there. You included one white presumably non-Muslin attacker (alledgedly – he hasn’t been convicted yet, and unlike the others you name is still alive, so should be presumed innocent), just to ensure that they don’t all have “Muslim” or “Arabic” in common. They’re all male though.

    I included one, but I could have included countless others. Thomas Mair. David Copeland. Anders Breivik. Hop over the Atlantic & there’s a near endless supply – Dylann Roof, Jeremy Joseph Christian, Timothy McVeigh etc etc etc. Those are literally just the names off the top of my head.

    We can argue about definitions of terrorism, but even if we just restrict the definition to politically-motivated acts of murder it would be literally nonsensical to pretend it is an exclusively Muslim (or Arabic or whatever) phenomenon, or that those committing crimes from a Muslim starting point are notably different to those committing such crimes from any ideological standpoint.

    (And all of that is without bringing in the likes of spree shooters, which I’d argue are a very, very similar phenomenon & to which pretty much identical arguments apply)

    But there have been female terrorists and alleged terrorists.

    There have been, it is true. There are exceptions to every rule in behavioural sciences. But there are two really important observations here.

    The first is that when we talk about gender norms & gendered behaviour, ‘masculine’ does not mean ‘what men and only men do.’ Women also participate in and are affected by masculine cultural norms. Hegemonic masculinity is the sum of culturally conditioned standards to which all boys & men are pressurised to conform. That does not preclude the possibility that some women will also behave similarly.

    The second point is that your argument (evidentially speaking) is really, really weak. Sorry but it is. The numbers of women who have ever been involved in the actual perpetration of acts of political murder (outside the most horrific warzones) is tiny. Yes, occasionally you’ll get female co-conspirators and common purpose offenders or women who apparently planned to commit violent acts, but as a proportion of the total it is literally fractions of one percent. We can have this argument about, say domestic violence or sexual offending & quite a good case can be made to say enough women are involved to contradict any simple gender-based equation. When it comes to terrorism & politically-inspired murder, it really is an (almost) entirely male phenomenon – certainly close enough to it that we can justify having this debate.

    It is simple inescapable truth that acts of politically-motivated murder are so close to a uniformly male phenomenon that it demands we recognise that & grasp the nettle of discussing why.

  28. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger (10)

    Most of this I would file under “Hey, so we disagree.” But I’ll pick you up on this.

    “2) What the !”£$%^&* does ‘hegemonic masculinity’ have to do with Grenfell tower? The only logical connection I can see is ‘The fire was evil’, ‘masculinity is the root of all evil’, ‘therefore the fire was caused by masculinity’.”

    No, not even close. I’ll start again.

    Gender standards pervade all of human society & interpersonal culture. Because it has always been primarily men who design & deliver the mechanics of political, civic and economic activity, our political, civic & economic activities are steeped in masculine gender norms. (Note again, for anyone dozing at the back, this does not mean it is only men involved, but it does mean that women who are involved are usually expected to behave in traditionally male ways if they are to be considered successful.)

    What are the masculine gender norms in this context? The fetishisation and aggrandizement of competition, conflict, defeating your enemies, grinding them into the dust. Particularly relevant is the worship of risk-taking behaviours, whether financial or social risk or a proud indifference to endangering the actual physical health & safety and broader wellbeing of yourself and others.

    Now, recall my campfire analogy in [28]. The point I was making is that the values I describe above are inescapably wrapped up in the Grenfell Tower tragedy and they are ALSO a major fuel of the raging fire from which the sparks fly. In the grand argument, I’m saying that if we want to reduce the fierceness of the fire, we have to examine how our political and economic systems are fuelling that fire.

  29. That Guy says

    @Ally, wrt hagonom, heago, haemo, heagonemic pervasive masculinity, is this a worldwide thing?

    Just because in the UK (and the US) there’s a very conflict oriented attitude to many things- politics being the primary one that comes to mind. Political discourse tends to be of the form “fuk u ill fite u m8” rather than “let’s constructively work towards a sensible consensus, here are some alternatives”.

    In contrast, many governments around the world manage to function reasonably well with multi-party coalitions.

    tl:dr, why are some places in the world more conflict-oriented and adversarial in the deepest layers of society than others?

  30. Marduk says

    29.
    I know you mean well but I urge you to think about people who have made arguments like that in the past, it isn’t exaggeration to say that is the logic of the Gulag. You are positing the existence of an essential imperfection in our passage to utopia that cannot be removed or purged by an individual who indeed, may be part of 99.99% who never act upon it but are still somehow complicit and guilty. You need far better evidence for this.

    I don’t believe we have a culture of aggression and by any historical or international standard we are some of the most gentle, placid people that have ever existed. What aggression does exist is practiced by men and women for primarily for emotional reasons (and appears to have very little to do with anything that could be called masculinity) and by terrorists for political reasons. Both situations and be helped but they have nothing to do with an essential part of character, they are situational. Again, good look with fixing the human condition towards perfection but it nearly always ends with the camps, the boot and the rifle butt.

    We abhor violence, we spend huge sums in trying to limit and control it, most of this is the creation of men and falls disproportionately upon men’s shoulders.

    I return you to Suzanne Moore’s description of a photograph in which it is literally invisible to her that a working class man, the only person there acting with with the full consent of our society and on our behalf, bodily separates two other people apart to prevent violence. This my metaphor for all this, you are so used to him being there, you can’t see him in the middle of the picture, but that is exactly who “we” really are. Indeed it is the ever present invisible man in the photograph that leads us to worry so much about rare and newsworthy tragedies precisely because they are not normal nor an expression of anything about us. And even then you ignore the fact that for every bomber there are dozens of people, again mostly men, running towards the danger. Fuck the men of violence for getting into your head like this.

  31. Ally Fogg says

    I know you mean well but I urge you to think about people who have made arguments like that in the past, it isn’t exaggeration to say that is the logic of the Gulag.

    It’s no exaggeration?

    Mate, tt’s no exaggeration to say this is utterly batshit loopytalk. “The people who have made arguments like that” in the past are basically a bunch of sociology polemicists and if you want to look at what was said by people who did favour Gulags or concentration camps or whatever it did tend to laud and fetishise the extreme masculinity of killing & fighting & dying for the revolution or the fatherland or whatever.

    Anyway, that aside, what is your argument, really?

    Are you saying that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds? That there will always be terrorists & murderers & so we shouldn’t make any efforts to ensure we have fewer? Everything is tickety-boo?

    Because up to a point I agree with you. By any historical or international standard we are some of the most gentle, placid people that have ever existed. We have got to this point by moving away from the militaristic violent cultures of the 12th, 18th or 20th centuries. We’ve developed much more abhorrence of cruelty, whether capital and corporal punishment, casual bullying etc etc, and replaced that with a culture of human rights, children’s rights, women’s rights etc. And if you look at he statistics, you’ll see that this is even true of political violence and terrorism – there is far less of it, here in Europe, than there was in the 1960s, 70s or 80s. We are indeed a much, much less violent society than we have been i the past and that is precisely because we have been having the type of conversation we are having here now.

    I return you to Suzanne Moore’s description of a photograph in which it is literally invisible to her that a working class man, the only person there acting with with the full consent of our society and on our behalf, bodily separates two other people apart to prevent violence. This my metaphor for all this, you are so used to him being there, you can’t see him in the middle of the picture, but that is exactly who “we” really are.

    But the man in the middle only exists (in a symbollic sense) because of the man on the right. WIthout the threat of violence there is no need for someone else to be the shield, the protector.

    Your point is eloquently made but it is basically still the same point I was discussing with redpesto above. The man who steps in to prevent violence is playing the same role here as the firefighter or the paramedic or whoever, using masculine strength & courage to prevent bad things happening. This too is part of the package of masculinities and I wholeheartedly applaud drawing attention to that man because it is a good example of peacebuliding as positive masculinity (as I described in the OP) but I think it is daft to look at the whole picture of violence, threat, resistence & intervention & declare that only one part of that is a valid representation of masculinity while discounting the huge masculine elephant in the frame.

  32. Marduk says

    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s main argument is that evil is in all of us, it is all our problem and all our responsibility. Where things take an ugly turn is when we try to say that its a problem with some people, perhaps a class of people we can identify in society. That leads to trying to change society by changing or removing those people, always it ends badly because we are punishing people for the human condition.

    I think violence is situational and it is over-determined, which is to say it usually happens for many reasons at the same time annoying as this is to sociological polemicist. The main proximal causes are however fear and confusion, mostly fear. I can explain how we can we have made people less afraid and less confused as our society has progressed into greater wealth and greater education, as it has become more liberal and accepting, I can also explain ways we could help people feel even less fear and confusion and deal better with both those states when they arise. You cannot explain to me how ‘reinventing masculinity’ or whatever it is supposed to be does anything or how you’d do it without pulling your Commissar’s peaked hat on. If we have a competition to reduce violence by tea-time, I bet I win.

    Violence has not, on the whole, been successful for people anyway, individually or societal. Sparta got turned into the first theme park, Marcus Aurelius bought a ticket to see them and visited the gift shop on the way out and all the Iliad was about was that Achilles died – “he isn’t coming back and we need to be smart if we’re going to prosper lads”. Its a parable and a textbook on masculinity, its the oldest story we have and even then its basically post-modern. Homer winks at the reader all the way through, ancient people hearing about even more ancient people knew that it was rubbish, it had nothing to do with honour and Helen of Troy, it was a trade dispute. Our heroes know that, Achilles sulks because he knows that, so when did people believe in these things if they didn’t in pre-historical myths (ever notice its everyone else who believes these things, Odysseus thought this as well). We’ve been on this course for a while then and doesn’t have much to do with our feelings when all is said and done.

    So, in a society we both agreed is marked by its rejection of violence (despite this somehow being central to the identity of a hegemony which either doesn’t have much identity or isn’t really a hegemony) the question then is how we can reduce violence further. By doing more of the things I identify above, we’d certainly reduce violence if we adopted evidence-based social policy for example (although these theories tend to accord with what I’m talking about rather than what you are talking about).

    The problem now is that you’d let perfect be the enemy of good, because I do believe to the extent we can’t ultimately defeat fear and confusion in absolute terms, violence may still happen amongst the very fearful and the very confused who put themselves into extreme situations we’re unable to help. The problem for me is that, believing what I do, and you believing what you do, despite me having the practical suggestions that actually work, you’d look at the evidence of extreme isolated cases and continue to believe you could eradicate them if only society can be perfected. Which leads me back to poor Aleksandr or at least poor Alex (“I was cured alright”).

  33. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 31 We do disagree, yes.

    Now, I’ll grant you that men have been the dominant gender for most of history, and that the kind of violence we are talking about is largely committed by men. Where I part company is when you use this to conclude that violence is something we can blame on men, basically. It does not help to start making distictions between men and masculinity (hegemonic or otherwise). Masculinity is the role and culture of men. My culture, if you like. Blame one and you blame the other. Nor does it sweeten the pill that I could be excused the blame if only I would sign up with your crusade against masculinity – repenting my sins and joining you on the paths of righteousness, as it were.

    Putting the blame on ‘masculinity’ is essentially unfalisfiable. The chain of cause of effect is entirely notional. You have no evidence of what would have happened if only we did not have masculinity. And it does not help that, apparently, women who behave in ways that you do not approve of are also driven by (hegemonic) masculinity (so that the blame for the actions of women also falls on men). Which is all a fancy way of saying that blaming violence on ‘hegemonic masculinity’ is a notion that one would only entertain if it serves to confirm your pre-existing beliefs.

    The best parallel I can think of is with the debate on Western foreign policy. It is not in doubt that the west has interfered heavily in the politics of e.g.. the Middle East., nor that the region is currently a bloodstained mess, and a humanitarina disaster. But you can not conclude (although many do) that it is all our fault, and that the region would have been a shining beacon of tolerance, peace and properity if only us nasty Westerners had stayed on our side of the Bosphorus.

    But OK, yours is a consistent worldview, and clearly sincerely held. All I can say is that it makes it rather futile for you to try to argue with, let alone convince, anybody who has not signed up to your beliefs beforehand.

    But when you start on Grenfell tower you are really going too far. The tower fire is a disaster, causing great sorrow and anger – and there is Ally to show (without any visible connection) that the whole thing is all the fault of his bugbear – ‘hegemonic masculinity’, no less – and to direct this great and justified anger in a politically useful direction. Others have similar ideas: John McDonnell also found it useful to blame Grenfell Tower on his personal bugbear, which in his case was murdering tories (he did not use the word ‘scum’). Which makes for two nice and progressive people to use the tower catastrophe for political gain – and to accuse me of complicity in murder. The nearest parallel I can think of is Jerry Falwell, who found it opportune to blame the tragedy of AIDS on the perverted and degenerate society provoking God’;s vengeance. I do not doubt that Falwell was sincere, just like I do not doubt that your are, but I cannot say that I find this kind of argument acceptable regardless.

  34. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk – I think the main point of our disagreement is right there in the first line of your comment.

    Where things take an ugly turn is when we try to say that its a problem with some people, perhaps a class of people we can identify in society.

    I’d like you to go back over the OP & my comments & point out where I have said the problem is with some people or perhaps a class of people. Where have I ever said that the problem is with “men”?

    You’ll find the answer is nowhere, I’m not saying the problem is men (although admittedly the tweet I was addressing did). I am talking about a set of shared social values which are part of the package of behaviours and standards which all men and boys in our societies are expected to aspire to. I am talking about the violent aspects of hegemonic masculinity..

    Do you understand that? Do you accept that distinction? Because if you do not this conversation is being held at entirely cross purposes.

  35. Ally Fogg says

    And Gjenganger, same point.

    “Where I part company is when you use this to conclude that violence is something we can blame on men, basically. It does not help to start making distictions between men and masculinity (hegemonic or otherwise). Masculinity is the role and culture of men.”

    No, first of all I am absolutely not saying that we can blame men, and we absolutely MUST make the distinction between men and masculinity or you are simply not understanding a word of what I am saying.

    Masculinity is not the state of being a man. Masculinity is not “the role and culture of men.” That is fundamentally wrong. Masculinity (or more helpfully masculinities, plural) are the complete set of standards, behaviours and social norms to which men are expected to adhere. THAT IS NOT THE SAME THING AT ALL.

    The way you have defined it, masculinity is simply an observed state of how men are – a passive reflection of men in their diversity. What I am saying is that masculinity is an IMPOSED state of how men are SUPPOSED TO BE. See the difference?

    And the reason it is imposed? Because society – itself a socioeconomic political construction – has specific demands of men. Traditionally those demands were a willingness to tolerate and accept the horrors of the battlefield, the mines, the fields and the factories without complaint. There’s a lot more to it of course, but fundamentally that is what masculinity is for, that is its purpose.

    When Marx wrote that the values of any society are the values of the ruling class, this is what he meant. He wasn’t saying that everyone in society will start saying “tooodle pip old chap” & then pop off to the opera. He was saying that the values which we are all expected to adhere to are the values which most suit the interest of the ruling class. The way the ruling class ensures that we do retain those values are by carefully controlling the culture – through mass media, entertainment, education systems, religions, all the other mechanisms for transferring beliefs. This is what hegemony is, this is what hegemonic masculinity means.

    Nor does it sweeten the pill that I could be excused the blame if only I would sign up with your crusade against masculinity

    Again, this profoundly misreads what I am saying. I am not on a crusade against masculinity. That would be like punching jelly. There will always be masculinity for as long as we live in a gendered society (which I suspect will be always, because humans & sex & all that.) If I’m on a “crusade” it is not against masculinity but with masculinity. I’m saying that if we want to change society for the better we have to change masculinity for the better and vice versa – if we want to change masculinity for the better we have to change society for the better.

    (I’d say the same about femininity, FWIW, while acknowledging that we have already made far bigger and better strides in reforming femininity and related aspects of society than we have with masculinity.)

    In fact I’ll get off for now, but leave you with this thought.

    When was the last time you heard a woman (in this culture) being seriously criticised for being “unladylike” and urged to change her behaviour? In all honesty, I cannot remember the last time I heard it seriously used. We now (most of us) accept that women can have their own independent lives, can do physical chores, have sex with who they fancy ,do whichever job appeals and yes, sure, they still face plenty of sexism & misogyny and we still have the Daily Mail muttering away at them every day, but by and large, I think we’d probably all agree that the ideals of femininity have changed profoundly over the past 50 years. Agreed?

    Now, imagine a world where it felt as anachronistic and old-fashioned to tell a man or boy to “man up” as it would in 2017 to tell a woman to “be a lady?”

    When people critcised & strived to reform those strict gender norms for women, do you think they were “blaming women” for liking pretty dresses and wanting to stay home raising children & cooking for their husbands? I don’t. We (correctly) identified the strictures of society and culture for imposing unwanted gender norms on women and involved ourselves in a shared project to reform those ideals and move onwards and forwards.

    So if you can accept that over the past 50 years we have collectively, constructively reimagined gender roles & gender conditioning for women, can you also accept the possibility of a collective, constructive reimagning of what it means to be a man?

  36. Marduk says

    “It is an essential question that demands an answer and, tragically, the answer is certainly no. Men cannot stop being violent. At least not all of us, not all the time. Not the way we are raised, socialised, instructed to behave, taught to react. Not for as long as we are raised to believe that a man’s worth and value as a human being is inextricably tied to his capacity and willingness to both inflict and tolerate violence, aggression and brutality.”

    I also don’t buy hegemonic masculinity, it seems to be one long circular argument that bottoms out with people analyzing John Wayne films. I think you have to put it to some scrutiny as a construct. Its rarely enacted, it is rarely accepted, it is subject to constant change and challenge, it is used instrumentally by basically everyone against everyone else (whatever subdivision we can imagine) all the time.

    I can understand the idea of an insidious thing that changes, I don’t demand that its fixed for all time, but I do challenge its claims to hegemony given even Connell is constantly popping up to tell us its different in different places, its different at different levels of analysis and its used by different people at different times. It is also constantly subverted and challenged, although the rules are not clear as to how we separate a challenge from a local change or a mere switch to another complex of masculinities.

    So what you have, in the end, are actual attributes like aggression and like dominance and we selectively label them as something else. There is no real theory there, its an empty easter egg.

    The real reason I think we are using the word hegemonic is not that it is in action or actual fact a hegemony at all, I think its because the theory’s only claim to legitimacy is based on an inherited assumption from Gramsci (it is then “hegemonic theory” in the absence of an actual hegemony, just as we could apply Marxist analysis to a situation with no classes by trying to invent some). We posit then something exists to reproduce gender hierarchies and that thing is ‘hegemonic masculinity’. At which point we’re off to the races again, because anything we infer as hegeomonic masculinity (which apparently we can detect more easily in films than in real life?) is, because its a circular argument based on using one idea to interpret everything. Does it contain violence? Well maybe. But if you read feminist International Relations scholars on this, they interpret armies refusing to kill people as just another really sly way that hegemonic masculinity works, other scholars believe its challenging hegemonic masculinity. The same applies to internationalist business masculine hegemony where both internationalism and nationalism are both ‘integral’, ‘cruical’ etc. aspects.

    I suggest that when a thing is everything and nothing at once, Aristotle said that was the sign of a thing that it doesn’t really exist and isn’t very useful. Hegeomonic masculinity isn’t “out there”, its just in the minds of sociologists so of course it morphs reflexively (reflexivitilly?), its entirely post-hoc and therefore descriptive and cannot make predictions and cannot be falsified.

  37. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk, when you say you don’t believe in hegemonic masculinity you will have to be more specific. I don’t understand what it is you don’t believe.

    Are you saying that you do not believe in the existence of socially constructed and socially transferred gender roles and norms?

    Because I would assert that the existence of such is a falsifiable hypothesis.

    Are you saying that gender roles and norms do exist but do not serve a socioeconomic function?

    Because I would assert that their socioeconomic function is a faslifiable hypothesis.

    Couple of corrections too.

    “So what you have, in the end, are actual attributes like aggression and like dominance and we selectively label them as something else. “

    Absolutely not. This is 100% wrong. Agggression is aggression. Dominance is dominance. Those are traits inherent to all human beings and most other animals. I’m not redefining those as gender roles or anything else. The gender roles determine how the circumstances under which and manner in which they will be played out. Which is why patterns of aggression and dominance (etc) play out with profound differences in differnet cultures and at different times in history.

    We posit then something exists to reproduce gender hierarchies and that thing is ‘hegemonic masculinity’.

    Again no, this is so off beam as to be almost 100% opposite.

    I’m arguing that gender hierarchies exist to cement and support economic, social and political power . They exist as a bulwark and a buttress for the status quo.

    And to an extent, from that point onwards you critique is valid, in that I am indeed asserting that our entire culture and society have evolved all sorts of mechanisms to protect the interests of the ruling class and that is a broad ideology, not a testable hypothesis. You’re perfectly entitled to reject the ideology. I’m just here to explain it;-)

  38. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 39

    At the level of concepts I quite agree with your distinctions. Yes, masculinity is “the complete set of standards, behaviours and social norms to which men are expected to adhere”. Conceptually this may well be different from ‘ the role and culture of men’ i.e. the attitudes, practices etc. that men share and with which they identify, but in a real society the differences will be small, and the overlap hbuge. Masculinity in principle is different between different societies and different times, but in practice masculinity is reasonably consistent, both in space and time, for the societies an individual knows about. So, whatever the difference in concepts, it will be hard to keep the different aspects separate, mentally (outside of a brief scientific discussion). What you say about ‘masculinity’ will reflect equally on male culture, and on men, at least emotionally. Your non-feminazi twitterer would certainly not appreciate the distinction. Nor do I, because if you shoot into a place where I am known to be, it matters little that you were really aiming at my shadow.
    The distinction is a bit like that between the language called Swedish, and the language spoken by people in central Scandinavia. There is no intrinsic relationship between that particular set of semantics, phonems and grammar, and the land mass or the people in it – no reason why they should not speak Hungarian or Pushtu instead. But historically they belong together, so anything said about one will splash pretty equally on to all three, whatever the conceptual distinctions. So, you sound like a language reformer saying “I am not campaigning against the Swedish language, but with it. In fact, once all the inhabitants of Sweden have changed over to speaking Esperanto, the Swedish language will have been immensely improved”. Or in other words, you are not (campaigning) against men. But you are (campaigning) against masculinity, at least masculinity as we know it.

    As it happens your insistence on social roles being ‘imposed’ is misleading at best. It only makes sense if there is an individual, conscious entity to force onto you things that you already know you do not want. Social roles are socially transmitted, which means that you absorb them from your parents and classmates and the world around you. By the time your personality is formed, your social role is part of who you are and who you want to be, and something you will want to pass on in turn. Of course you can rebel against it and renounce it, much like you can renounce your family or your country, but it is not meaningful to ask who you are and what you want separately from how you have grown up to be. Of course social roles are not fixed, people try to change them in their favour, and the dominant classes will have much more success in this endeavour. But material circumstances and historical transmission would still be the dominant influence.

    So, “can [I] accept the possibility of a collective, constructive reimagining of what it means to be a man”? Not the way you are going about it, for sure. If you look at the social changes that improved the lot of women, they were relaxations of strictures that people were consciously chafing under. Each change brought more choice and freedom, individually, to women, And collectively, women were half of the population. The gains of the various ethnic, sexual, etc. minorities are more complex to think about, because we have to deal with the conflict between different groups, each wanting a society in their own image. (As I see it, a society that is somewhat optimised for the majority will have a higher total sum of happiness than one where members of majority and minority groups feel equally welcome and fitting-in – simply because minority members are always so few). But again, the changes are bringing immediate and clear benefits to individual minority members. Your proposed changes of masculinity, on the other hand are simply abstract social engineering. They are not meeting a pent-up demand from men. There is no immediate benefit to the majority of men who have to change, or even to the minority of violent men, or to their victims of today. All we have is the speculation that if we make these changes, the society of 2070 might be more peaceful and happier than it otherwise would have been. If this had been a computer game it would make sense: “Yeah, let’s dial the aggression level right down to zero, and see what that does to the long-term happiness score”. But in the real world, few will want to embark on this kind of experiment. The only exception I can see are people who have already decided that, for personal or ideological reasons, they see no benefit in keeping the current roles. If you dislike the current masculinity already, the fact that everything has to change is not a problem but an additional bonus. The normal situation would be that men see masculinity as part of their identity and sense of self, and value it positively as anybody values the culture he is part of. Of course, if you happen to be a woman, what you are talking about is coercing other people to change so that the world will fit better to you. It is always good if you can get things and someone else pay for them (as witness teh current Labour manifesto ;-)). And this is where the blaming comes in. If I identify with my culture and my culture is bad, that means that I am bad. And conversely, making people feel that they are morally guilty of causing violence is one way you might convince them to back a set of changes they have neither desire nor interest in making otherwise.

    So, if I was to ‘collectively imagine’ masculinity, I would start by identifying the central and positive parts of what is is – currently. And the interests and desires of the men who carry it. Then I would make specific and minimal changes that clearly would help with specific problems. And for the rest I would make changes to society and let masculiinity adjust, rather than remaking my culture as a tool for changing society.

    As for a world where it would be impossible and embarrassing to tell someone to man up, it would make me feel rather sad. Because it would mean that the positive and valuable aspects of expecting men to be strong and deal with their problem would be lost, and I would be a dinosaur lost in a world where it was replaced with I know not what – encouraged whining?

  39. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger

    Sorry, don’t have time to go through this line by line but by way of summary

    And for the rest I would make changes to society and let masculiinity adjust, rather than remaking my culture as a tool for changing society.

    But this is exactly what I am suggesting.

    Read what I actually say in the OP and everything else by me you have ever read (which we both know is a lot!). I’m not talking about banning WWE wrestling or John Wayne films (cc Marduk above) as a route to preventing terrorism. I’m talking about changing social policy & social norms so that we brutalise boys less through application or tolerance of violence to “toughen them up.” I’m talking about our excessive tolerance for the pain and discomfort for men and boys – how as a society we are prepared to shrug & accept domestic violence or abuse if they are inflicted against men or boys. I’m talking about our collective social indifference to male homelessness, to men’s mental and physical health. To male suicide. Etc etc etc.

    These are the primary mechanisms by which we brutalise and “toughen up” men and boys. And changing that requires a degree of collective recognition and shared determination to change our attitudes, but it also requires a lot of political change, change in social policy, change in political decision making & priorities.

    I’m saying all of these issues are connected, all of these issues have common shared origins in our socially transmitted gender norms. I’m also saying these issues also have unwanted and unforeseen consequences that include – at the margins – damaged, brutalised men committing acts of nihilistic or politically-charged murderous violence.

    I’m also saying that IF we want to stop that very small minority of damaged, brutalised men from committing those terrible acts then we have to look at the conditions under which they have become damaged & brutalised & change those.

    Now, what I’d really like to know is what specific things I am advocating that you think are a bad or dangerous idea. I don’t mean the things you imagine I am saying or the things I would be saying if you stretched my logic to absurd lengths. I am asking what, specifically, I have advocated here that you disagree with?

  40. secondtofirstworld says

    I’d like to address a serious problem here, that many people, even the well intentioned ones ignore, and it can be demonstrated by 2 opposing politicians, Macron and Orban. The latter leads a government, which is built on a very chauvinistic culture, with some very distinct views on what masculinity is.

    Yes, many have made remarks about Macron having a wife, that could be his mother, but go no further than the former Soviet Bloc to find, they equate the relationship to lack masculinity. Government policies, ergo not just talking points, are filled with like minded chauvinistic views, such as teaching gender studies is part of an international conspiracy aimed at destroying the nation’s character, and trans people don’t exist, it’s just gender craziness peddled by the West. I’m constantly baffled by others who claim everything is A-OK here, and those Islam believers, they can’t integrate. I’m baffled because no sane person would forget about half of the continent and the sh*t that’s going on if they actually cared. You want to see your worst fears manifested by regressed and reversed ideas? Yes, Mr. Fogg, we can look back half a century… or look east of Berlin, the same thing. Except worse, because you have this progress in danger of losing, they never had it, and don’t want it either.

    Beyond the talking, there’s action and the mental gymnastics that come with it. A politician has frequently abused his wife but on one occasion it came out, and he resigned… I’m just kidding, he blamed it on a blind dog. Also got away with it, all it took was “convincing experts” to withdraw expert testimony and to have his ex wife become his girlfriend and testifying on his behalf, while a country stood by and watched. The spectators of the Colosseum do not need to be the lion or the gladiator to see blood or murder. The culture which enables is the problem.

    So those who claim we’re the most peaceful as we’ve ever been… either you’re too focused on Anglo-Saxon relations, or not focused on anything else. Illiberal countries of Europe thrive on treating minorities as subhuman, and women are no exception. The Czech nuclear plant has decided who to hire as an intern by a bikini contest, and Univer advertised its product by praising its ability to prevent the husband from beating the wife. How do American conservatives put it? Wholesome, white Christian countries. They loathe Macron and Trudeau, but look up to Farage and Trump. The latter who endorses violence, and Farage’s guys beat each other up in Strasbourg.

  41. Marduk says

    44. This is a lot clearer and not really what I took from the OP.

    In the interests of intellectual honesty I should say I can actually think of some dominant values that are only expressed, paradoxically, in subcultures. The strongest one is probably conspicuous consumption among the poor. The middle class don’t do this, the wealthy don’t generally do this, capitalism is clearly a dominant ideology but its expressed explicitly in behavior by those least included within it. I also wonder about ‘capitalist feminism’ and the bizarre fetishisation of corporate employment while at the same time repeatedly expressing dissatisfaction at the structural issues in corporate environments. Inspirational career books for women speak of ‘leaning in’ and becoming ever more conditioned by corporate ideology even in your personal life, inspirational career books for men speak of ‘leaning out’ and getting a small-holding instead.

    In both cases it has a feeling of bait and switch. I really don’t think we live in a ‘violence culture’ in the same way but if someone did think that then I suppose one could look at the prison-industrial complex and think a similar suckers game has been sold.

  42. StillGjenganger says

    what I’d really like to know is what specific things I am advocating that you think are a bad or dangerous idea.

    Specific initiatives: None (except for your unreasonable attitude towards circumcision 😉 – but that is another discussion).

    What am I getting so upset about, then? Well,
    – Legitimisng that tweet by treating it as a sensible proposal worth discussing.
    – Blaming current masculinity specifically (if partially) for the Grenfell Tower disaster.
    – Your fireplace analogy, which suggests to me that you see current masculinity as an inherently hazardous and damaging substance, that for the well-being of society should be replaced with something of an entirely different nature – like wet ash or ice cubes, as it were.

    At best I would say it is like someonne claiming that Islam is an intolerant and violent and generally jihadi religion. There is enough of a point to it, in that case and in yours, that it could serve as the start of a perfectly reasonable discussion. But unless you are extraordinarliily careful about wording it right and putting in all the caveats (and in this case you are not), it sounds like, and hereby legitimises, what you hear from people with quite unpleasant opinions. But beyond that I am afraid that anyone calling for a ‘shared commn determeination’ to change our ‘attiteds and socially transmitted gender norms’ makes me quite nervous about what things he will feel need changing, for what essentially speculative purposees. Even if he is as sensible and practical and generally wise as you are – and not many of those involved will be.

  43. Konrad Lorenz says

    Testosterone causes both risk-taking and violent aggression (and not just for its risk-taking element).

    So there’s a legitimate connection between the fire (risk-taking) and violence. And that connection is through “masculinity,” although I’m sure the rare high-T woman is far more violent and risk-taking than a castrado. But I guess you could say she’s more masculine.

  44. WineEM says

    I think there’s also wider problem with neuro-diversity in society in general. I think this is a problem in itself, but will often affect men more, as they often tend to be wired up mentally in more extreme ways.

    Now, if we solved this problem, created a society where a very broad range of different types of minds (not just the standardised, conventional types) could fulfil their true potential, would this eliminate violence and terrorism altogether? Probably not, because there will still likely be thrill seekers who will seek out violence and extremists ideologies, since everything else in comparison seems just too dull (witness, for the example, the popularity of cage-fighting and other dangerous risk-taking sports). Who is to say that adrenaline junkies won’t turn to such activities, even if other options are freely available?

    But certainly, to quote the original blog entry, “a society that offers everyone purpose, self-worth, self-actualisation”, will surely be one where there aren’t so many inane assumptions by policy makers as to what skills and abilities humans will naturally have.

    We cannot automatically assume, surely, that everyone will be able to drive a car safely; that everyone will have strong interpersonal abilities and skills; that everyone will be able to master touch typing, or penmanship (the latter a 20th century skill that is still the only game in town in school exams); we cannot take for granted that everyone will have a fluent, strong relationship with the technology of print (no matter how many hours of effort and teaching are put in) when we have phenomena as subtle and obscure as this associated with it:-

    https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-26/edition-2/dyslexia-%E2%80%93-tune-out-time

    (Just think, for instance: could one imagine in the future, a world where people would feel at ease using their skill or ability with just one technology to assume or assert their superiority over others? Some new interface between the human mind and the world of information, which through some quirk of the human genetic code, some people would arbitrarily have great facility with, while other less so, and others still , comparitavely, very weak skills? If this suddenly came upon us, would we not question this?

    Yet today we have a world where to even question a similar assumption would be considered flat-earthism by all of the middle classes. I even heard on super-progressive ‘Man’s Hour’ the presenter say that if you couldn’t read you were finished and had basically no social worth in this society at all. Excellent.

    It’s the ‘Flat Earth News’ mentality writ large. So many unquestioned assumptions; so many MPs who seem totally incapable of thinking in terms of anything other than the dreariest of cliches. The irony is that many of them want to do good, and want a better society, but can only see in black and white binaries so much of the time.

  45. WineEM says

    Oh yeah, here’s an amusing irony I just learned from the Telegraph, (in terms of this quest to reduce male violence.)

    They’re talking about creating jail terms of 18 years for ‘negligent manslaughter’. The irony, here?

    Well, is it not, effectively, ‘negligent manslaughter’ to create social policies which massively inflate the prison population, thus creating overcrowding, thus creating ever more self-harm and person-on-person violence?

    Jesus bleeding Christ….

  46. Adiabat says

    I suspect everyone, men and women, has a point where they are willing to turn to violence in the face of a perceived threat or to achieve some ideological goal. This point is a spectrum with some turning to violence sooner than others.

    So, to answer the OP (minus the sexism and assuming for the sake of argument it’s mainly socially constructed): it probably is possible to manipulate people’s upbringing and experiences in a society so they are further to the pacifist side of that spectrum and less likely to turn to violence.

    However, sometimes those perceived threats are real and sometimes those ideological goals are just, and in those cases we may end up being thankful for people’s propensity for violence. A better approach would be to reduce the spread and effect of undesirable ideologies and reassure people about perceived threats (by showing them to be false or by taking action against them if they are real).

  47. WineEM says

    (BTW, I do feel, intuitively, I am making some inroads into Ally’s mind with this whole neuro-diversity argument, here. I strongly suspect he will be thinking to himself, ‘Yes, actually, I used to encourage my kids to read lots of books, because that was really desirable and cool and everything, but now I realise print is an elitist technology, which has become an aide to the oppressor ruling, capitalist class – and which will probably, decades from now, be shown to have caused terrible social stratification and quite unnecessary culturally mediated disability on a mass scale – and so henceforth, I shall be instructing them only to play XBOX and PS3 instead. 🙂

  48. Adiabat says

    WineEM: You’re joking but unfortunately you’ve fallen victim to Poe’s Law, as is so common when trying to parody Social Justice.

    The argument that parents reading bedtime stories to their children are “unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children” has been seriously made by a Social Justice Professor from the University of Warwick: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/philosopherszone/new-family-values/6437058

    However to be fair he does conclude that “we” should still allow parents to read to their own children anyway. Because Social Justice would be a benevolent dictator.

    You should still feel guilty about it on occasion though:

    I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally

  49. WineEM says

    @54. Yes, I was larking around a bit, but it’s not so much the question of parents and bedtime stories, it’s more of an ethical/philosophical dilemma about the whole concept of merit and social status being so bound up with just one specific form of (very recent) technology, and whether, as a society, we should be thinking a bit more seriously about this – and whether, indeed, this absolute, unquestioned faith is something we might come to regret in the future.

    I think I once posted on some blog somewhere quoting Steve Pinker about this, since he does throw up some interesting points:

    “One could make the argument that some forms of dysfunction are due to a mismatch between the environment we live in now and the one in which we evolved, so when you see figures that 30% of people have dyslexia, that cannot mean that 30% of people have some kind of neurological disease, as it’s sometimes claimed, but rather that we evolved in an environment without written language, as it’s an evolutionary novelty, maybe only 5000 years old in some parts of the world, and one could say that the brain isn’t adapted to written language in the same way it’s adapted to spoken language, and if there is a high percentage of people who don’t master it very well, that’s just a reflection of our evolutionary heritage. (There may be other syndromes which can also be analysed in terms of this mismatch.)”

    Now, obviously that 30% figure is going to be controversial, but I’ve often seen suggestions of at least 10 or 15 per cent of people having diagnosable reading disorder syndromes, and there are probably a lot more out there without diagnosable dyslexia, but for whom the particular quirks or make-up of their minds make for a significant inefficiency when engaging with this technological format, which makes it much harder than decoding human speech.

    I guess we’d like to believe, now probably (in our modern, ‘progressive’ times) that the emotional response of someone like Hanna Schmitz in Schlink’s ‘The Reader’, of preferring to suffer awful judicial consequences rather than admit to difficulty in reading, would not arise – but who, in truth, is going to readily admit to being ‘intellectually inferior’, ‘poorly educated’, an inferior class of citizen? Any takers?

    Certainly, when I’ve been listening to lectures on dyslexia from various ‘top experts’ online, they seem to suggest that there are something like 13 different brain regions, any one of which, through being less than optimal, can create some kind of inefficiency or incompatibility in terms of the neural circuitry required to read.

    So, all in all, I think it’s just a question that needs to be asked that’s we’re not really asking that hard at the moment.

    In the past, after all, it would have been hard, in physical, logistical terms, to provide other kind of formats, but with the massively powerful information technologies we’ve got now this is no longer the case, so perhaps it’s time to start revisiting the question.

  50. Carnation says

    @ WineEM

    “Well, is it not, effectively, ‘negligent manslaughter’ to create social policies which massively inflate the prison population, thus creating overcrowding, thus creating ever more self-harm and person-on-person violence?”

    Which regulars on HetPat would disagree with the above?

    Except for Mike Buchanan and his followers.

  51. WineEM says

    @55 ‘Y know, your caricature of Mike Buchanan turns out, in fact, to be somewhat crude and reductionist.

    For one example, he once penned what I thought was a very moving blog post, describing an occasion where he was physically assaulted by two youths in his home town. Once he had picked himself back up and brushed himself off (it ended with him being pushed over a wall), his reflection was not that these lads oughts to be sent to do several years’ hard labour in Victorian type conditions, but rather that they were victims of a society which does not properly value men and boys, and that had we lived in a world which had invested properly in their skills and their future, they most probably would not have behaved like this.

    So careful in your portrayal of Mr Buchanan. He is not a two dimensional character by any means.

  52. Carnation says

    @ WineEM

    Cool story bro’! You’re right of course, Iife’s way too short to read much of what MB writes.

    So instead I’ll correct what I originally wrote to “Except for Philip Davies and his followers”

    Here’s an interesting proposition; https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/12/women-escaped-prostitution-criminals-sex-trade-criminal-record-expunged

    But Carnation, I hear ye exhort, Bindel is a literal gendercidal feminzi.

    Ah, sez I, just have a think about what she’s saying. Play the roller-derby puck. not the woman.

    And expand it, maybe former addicts could have their records expunged after a set number of years sobriety etc?

  53. That Guy says

    @ Carnation, I’d be more into Julie Bindel’s opinions on expunging criminal records if she wasn’t one of the driving forces behind keeping it criminal in the first place, despite campaigning by sex workers and their advocates.

    I’m not a huge fan of her hatred of trans people, either, but whatever.

    ALLY- kind of off topic, but I saw an the twatters that you had an issue with these two articles on role reboot by the same author

    http://www.rolereboot.org/culture-and-politics/details/2017-07-im-done-pretending-men-safe-even-sons/
    http://www.rolereboot.org/life/details/2017-05-watched-13-reasons-suicidal-teenager/

    I scanned them both briefly, but it wasn’t obvious to me what was wrong with them, can you spell it out for me?

  54. Marduk says

    57.
    Bindel isn’t a researcher, she is incapable of it and has been previously criticised by experts in the field at home and abroad for her practices. It doesn’t surprise me then that someone who doesn’t know how to do research or analyse data is impressed by a model that can only be supported by ‘evidence’ from other people who don’t know how to do research or analyse data.

    Read this:
    http://theconversation.com/the-nordic-model-of-prostitution-law-is-a-myth-21351

    I don’t think tinkering with equal treatment under the law for special groups is a good idea. If we want to change on this issue, either change the law in a way that doesn’t offend this principle or, more plausibly, seek to change attitudes to ex-offenders.

    Part of the reason that we increasingly multiply the reasons for criminalising people is the belief that there are also sorts of vague and wet mitigations around. This is popular with Guardian readers, less so with prosecuting barristers, judges and magistrates who can’t find anything written down on the matter. The law is the law, fuck around with it at your peril.

  55. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    The law is indeed the law, and laws are made and changed on a fairly regular basis.

    Laws exist regarding “spent” convictions, maybe opening that up so that convictions can become “spent” faster in certain circumstances could be a good idea?

    You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one…

  56. Marduk says

    @WineEM A famous version of this argument was made by Lord Young and I think you both have a point here actually.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rise_of_the_Meritocracy
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2001/jun/29/comment

    @Carnation
    Well like I say, I think we start by resisting new crimes multiplying on the statute books, particularly where we have existing laws. Its usually an end-run around the standards of evidence. A good giveaway is when someone insists it will, of course, only be used in the most serious cases. Its an assurance that isn’t written into the law itself nine times out of ten. In practice they then get used for what might be called ‘village nutter’ purposes, a group I’m particularly concerned about. They’ve (we’ve?) been scapegoats for thousands of years, its only now we have quality ways of locking them up for being weird using legislation we were promised was only applicable to international drug cartel kingpins or whatever it is.

    The problem with spent convictions is that they don’t apply to violence and sexual offenses. While both are common parts of an addict career, I’m not sure that special circumstances apply. I also don’t really believe the story in Bindel’s piece, I don’t see how its technically possible to bar someone from a school gate over a solicitation charge, it isn’t actually a notifiable sexual offence, its a public order thing. I suspect either its made up, she did commit an actual sexual offence in the course of her work (underage client, it happens) or else we’re reinterpreting some other kind of stricture (perhaps a magistrate has banned her from a postcode rather than a ‘school gate’). Teachers are in any case a lot more urbane than Julie invites you to imagine them being and parent who is a prostitute and escorts her kids to school is basically a model citizen relative to what most routinely encounter.

    I really think attitudes to offenses are where the action could be. As a society filled with social media, camera phones and permanent databases, in general we are going to have to have to both embrace forms of diversity we didn’t know existed and also start forgiving and accepting a little more. Social mechanisms are going to need to be found. I’m not a great optimist but I don’t think society has much alternative.

  57. BobBobberson says

    Hold on, if neoliberalism and globalization are “masculine” political disciplines, then why are they primarily voted for by women and against by men?

    When a feminist documentarian makes a movie drawing attention to and demanding a call to action about men’s issues, I don’t see Hegemonic Masculinity coming around to protest screenings, calling everyone in it including the woman who produced it evil, and harass venues into removing it. That’s Feminism.

    So we have a force in the world for women, built by women, supported by women, and yet somehow men are at fault for it.

    Can someone explain this to me?

  58. Marduk says

    62.
    In the UK women consistently elect right wing governments opposed to human rights, workers rights and social protections. Internationally, governments that declare war are more likely to have been voted in by a majority of women. You can predict wars from large movements of women voters. In 2010 more men voted Tory than women for the first time since the universal franchise but the coalition and not a Labour government was the choice of women overall.

    The only newspaper created specifically for women and today read mainly by women is the Daily Mail.

    If women had not been given the vote, there wouldn’t have been a single Tory government post-war.

    I don’t know what hegemonic masculinity is supposed to be, but empirically femininity isn’t as a liberal and left wing as people would like you to assume.

    Don’t take my word for it, even Polly knew this was true when she worked for someone who’d let her say it:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/do-women-deserve-the-vote-1361756.html

    Despite having 65k members, WEP candidates were beaten in the seats they contested by the BNP and Raving Loony Party in the last election. Virtue duly signalled, in the privacy of the voting booth even their members dropped them when there was a Tory candidate available.

  59. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    “The problem with spent convictions is that they don’t apply to violence and sexual offenses. While both are common parts of an addict career.”

    What are you basing this on? In the interests of honesty, I don’t believe this to be true.

    “In the UK women consistently elect right wing governments opposed to human rights, workers rights and social protections. Internationally, governments that declare war are more likely to have been voted in by a majority of women.”

    What are you basing this on? I don’t think it’s true, but I’m open to being proven wrong.

    “Despite having 65k members, WEP candidates were beaten in the seats they contested by the BNP and Raving Loony Party in the last election. Virtue duly signalled, in the privacy of the voting booth even their members dropped them when there was a Tory candidate available.”

    This is fantastical gibberish. How can you deduce that WEP members voted Tory?

    I’m also not convinced by the 65k members – that’s more than the Greens. Again, what are you basing this on? The ever deluded collection of cretins at F4J base their numbers according to Facebook, for example, I wonder if the WEP source did the same?

  60. Marduk says

    64.
    1. Not sure what you are disputing. Violent and sexual offences are not subject to being spent. I also believe it isn’t controversial to say that drug addicts tend to be more likely to commit those offences all things being equal. My point is that being a drug addict isn’t as such that criminalised in and of itself (“three strike” states in the US differ markedly in this regard), its everything that goes with it that is the problem. So if you start changing the rules for drug-related offences, you are really treating a group charged with other quite serious crimes in a special way. I think I’ve been pretty consistent in pointing out that DV and IPV are not unconnected to substance abuse in a fairly clear manner although in that case we ordered to believe they are only caused by patriarchal systems of social relations. Unfortunately helping people with a drink or drug problem isn’t taken seriously enough and we only get excited about the secondary consequences.

    2. Beatrix Campbell “Iron Ladies: Why do women vote Tory” (1987). This was back in the days when feminists had serious discussions about whether Maggie should actually be considered female or not. Sort-of quoted by Polly in her piece (its where she gets it from anyway). Although today women are still slightly more likely to vote Tory than Labour, breaking this historical pattern was a key part of the New Labour success story (and which necessitated a rightward move). This is again in stark contrast to the US where, interestingly, women have always voted Democrat and basically tracked it from being a deeply racist party to being the party of Barack Obama.

    3. I’m basing membership on what WEP says on their website. They received 3,580 votes out of 32,196,918. According to the Guardian they should have at least an equal say to the labour party as part of a ‘progressive alliance’. They were also beaten nationally by the Christian People’s Party and The Yorkshire Party. They did however get 91,000 in the London assembly, although that was STV you have to wonder where they went…

    IMHO its actually a rather sexist and false assumption that ‘sugar and spice’ ‘women-are-wonderful’ ladies are progressives of any stripe by virtue of their gender alone (these sorts of outdated assumptions are another regressive consequence of identity politics). Turns out in reality many women vote like any other adult based on what they think about politics, the candidates, national interest, the pound in their pocket etc.

  61. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    “1. Not sure what you are disputing. Violent and sexual offences are not subject to being spent. I also believe it isn’t controversial to say that drug addicts tend to be more likely to commit those offences all things being equal.”

    I would be surprised if drug addicts were overrepresented among sex offenders. Violent criminals, almost certainly, although alcohol addicts would be the greatest perpetrators of violent crime (possibly a slight overrepresentation in sex offenders).

    2. So you’re basing your assumptions on a 30 year old article and a 21 year old newspaper piece?

    3. “IMHO its actually a rather sexist and false assumption that ‘sugar and spice’ ‘women-are-wonderful’ ladies are progressives of any stripe by virtue of their gender alone… Turns out in reality many women vote like any other adult based on what they think about politics, the candidates, national interest, the pound in their pocket etc.”

    Who’s disputing this? I pointed out, accurately, that you can’t prove that WEP members vote Tory. You’re coming back with the type of imaginary thing that Mike Buchanan gets his y-fronts in a knot about.

    “According to the Guardian they should have at least an equal say to the labour party as part of a ‘progressive alliance’”

    I must have missed this… Citation, please? I’d like to see the editorial that confirms this as the Guardian’s position.

  62. Marduk says

    66.
    Yes, I’m basing my assumptions about the 20th century upon analyses done towards the end of the 20th century, I don’t think there is much wrong with that.

    And just google “guardian progressive alliance womens equality party”. I only read Guardian leaders for entertainment purposes these days to work out who wrote them and whether or not they are going to delete them later on or not (they seem to have a high rate of redaction for some reason). I based my views on simple weight of repetitious articles saying the same things over and over again.

  63. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    What you are saying doesn’t make sense. You have made sweeping generalisations, I suspect to reiterate the inane and asinine “false assumption that ‘sugar and spice’ ‘women-are-wonderful’ ladies are progressives.”

    The political scene and voting trends are in such a state of flux at the moment that your sources are easily out of date.

    You have completely failed to link WEP members to voting Tory. The honourable thing to do would be to accept this point and move on.

    Likewise you have completely failed to justify your claim that the Guardian believe the WEP “should have at least an equal say to the labour party as part of a ‘progressive alliance’” Again, the honourable thing to do would be to accept this point and move on.

    You have also completely failed to show a link between drug addiction and sexual offending. Once again, the honourable thing to do would be to accept this point and move on.

    “The only newspaper created specifically for women and today read mainly by women is the Daily Mail.”

    Citation please?

  64. WineEM says

    Ooh, I was gonna express surprise, Ally, that you were not joining up on social media with the progressive Twitterati to express gleeful triumphalism about the new Doctor Who – but maybe that would have been to speak too soon! 🙂

    Yet it cannot be denied that he (used to be, at least) a very good male role model regarding a pacifist approach towards aliens, etc, etc.

  65. Ally Fogg says

    Do you want a hot take on Doctor Who, Wine EM?

    Go on then.

    The people who have been getting in any way aerated, irated, enraged, annoyed or even surprised that the Doctor has regenerated as a woman are hands down the most hilariously pathetic, insecure, snivelling invertebrates I have ever encountered. They make the Gamergaters and the “Oh-Noes-Female-Ghostbusters” walking semen-stains look like the very model of reasonable, mature common sense in comparison. Anyone who even thinks it is an issue that a woman has been cast as the Doctor is so overpoweringly sludge-stupid that they should really have all access to digital communications, writing materials and sharp objects confiscated for their own safety until they have grown up.

    Think that just about covers it.

    Hope this helps

    A
    x

  66. redpesto says

    Fogg:

    Anyone who even thinks it is an issue that a woman has been cast as the Doctor is so overpoweringly sludge-stupid that they should really have all access to digital communications, writing materials and sharp objects confiscated for their own safety until they have grown up.

    Yeah, Ally – but what do you really think? 😉

    More seriously, there have been plenty of people who think it’s ‘an issue’ to have been insisting that the Doctor be played by a woman until it’s finally been done – unless they and the Whiny Numbskulls from Planet Dumbass really should take up something less spoddy than agonising over a sci-fi TV series.

  67. WineEM says

    @70. Ally, the BBC is a deeply misandrist institution, whose political corruption with regard to its treatment of gender issues has real world consequences (see, for example, my post from last month where I talked about BBC news running yet another piece about the importance of improving conditions, but only for women prisoners – whilst, rather bizarrely, using a stock photo of what was clearly a young man gazing out from behind bars).

    It’s not the significance of the series or the role which is important (yes, it’s for teenage kids F.F.S.) but what is utterly, fucking, unbelievably stomach-churning is Auntie Beeb holding herself up, implicitly, as this great beacon of progress, social justice and virtue (by making such a big thing of this story), whilst practising discrimination and double standards such as the one that I’ve described, on a consistent basis, week in, week out.

    That you and your progressive Twitter chums don’t see why this might be a bit sick-making is not that great a surprise, as you’re all very nice, but not always completely attuned to such ironies! 🙂

    But just think to the manner in which Chairman Mao held himself up as a symbol of social enlightenment and virtue, and a great visionary with regards to the undeniable ‘greater good’ ,
    and you might just get an inkling of what I’m on about here.

  68. Marduk says

    I think Anne Perkins new article has pushed me across the line from easily annoyed to actually scared (triggered, as the kids say).

    She describes the advertising standards agency now extending its powers of censorship as “an unexpected beacon of liberal values”. A policy of “aggressive policing” is described as “hardly radical” and a defence of “core values” (whose is left unspecified). She finishes the article complaining, in a fairly angry way, that it does not have significantly wider powers she’d like to see in the field of censoring political speech.

    This from “the leading liberal voice” in our media. How many alarm bells have to ring. Anne may never get her army of Commissars but the fact she feels this emboldened to call for things that are an anathema to normative liberal values (and presumably not to get to get called on it) is terrifying. How some of you can deny these people are a legitimate danger escapes me.

  69. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    Gender voting trends – vaguely supports a watered down version of what you’re saying, but not to any great deal.

    Guardian/Prog. Alliance – did you read that article? Nothing in it supports what you alleged.

    WEP website – ditto, nothing in it supports your claim.

    Addiction claims – you’re conflating drug misuse/abuse with addiction (to be fair to you, this is quite common), and incidentally confirming what I already believed to be the case – that sex offenders suffer disproportionality from mental health disorders, but addiction to illegal drugs is not seriously overrepresented.

    Daily Mail claims – the newspaper was set up in 1896. You’re seriously claiming it was aimed at women?

    I think, Marduk, that you’ve had a bit of a free reign on HetPat- you haven’t been robustly challenged enough. I might just start to do that.

  70. David S says

    Well I, for one, welcome our new female Time Lord and World President.

    The icing on the cake would be if she keeps the West Country accent from Broadchurch (yes, I know she’s really from Yorkshire, but she’s an actor!). It miffs me somewhat that people with Scottish accents can get taken seriously as international super spies, or shape shifting aliens, or whatever, but those of us from the opposite corner of the country get relegated to roles as rustic figures of fun.

  71. Ally Fogg says

    Been trying to keep tabs on this exchange, but there’s a really, really important point raised by the post from Bob Bobberson at 62 which seems to have sent everything a bit skewiff.

    It’s really fundamental to all of this.

    In this theoretical context, “Masculine” DOES NOT MEAN “things that are done by men.”

    “Feminine” DOES NOT MEAN “things that are done by women.”

    Masculine and feminine (in this context) means the behaviours, expressions and performances that our prevailing socio-cultural norms (including all those we have carried with us from hundreds of years of social history) expect men and women to aspire to and adhere to EVEN IF IN PRACTICE THEY DO NOT.

    So in a practical example, boxing or serving in the military are the apotheosis of masculine behaviours even though most men in our society will never do either.

    Similarly, needlecraft or being a stay-at-home housewife are the apotheosis of feminine behaviours even though most women in our society rarely do either.

    When we talk about masculine & feminine norms in the political & economic spheres we are absolutely NOT saying that this is how men will vote and that is how women will vote. It’s actually entirely irrelevant to the point being made. HOWEVER we can identify masculine and feminine gender norms within political movements (of both left and right) and from there define some political positions as being more in keeping with traditionally masculine or feminine values.

    When I say neoliberal capitalism is a predominantly masculine position, I mean that it fetishises risk-taking, competitiveness, frames economic brutality as ‘toughness’ or ‘courage’ or ‘strength’, it despises and undervalues compassion, co-operation, sensitivity.

    I am not saying it appeals primarily to men or women. That would be a categorically different claim.

    For what it is worth, according to YouGov slightly more women than men voted for Labour over Conservatives in 2017, and we know that far more men than women voted Trump, but those are redundant facts from my POV as far as this debate is concerned.

  72. Ally Fogg says

    And just to pick up on the Anne Perkins piece yesterday. I honestly don’t see what your problem is with it, Marduk.

    Her position seems to be that the ASA is a bulwark for civilisation in this country. I tend to agree with her. It’s what has protected our culture from the worst kinds of dishonest & corrosive advertising that have happened in the US & many other countries over the past 70 years or so. I’m quite happy that it is continuing to move with the times & recognise that what was acceptable or appropriate in the 1970s is not necessarily acceptable or appropriate now. I’m quite happy that they say they’ll take a tougher line on the ‘men are so useless in the kitchen’ bants & other lazy gender stereotypes.

    She’s also grumbling that the ASA is not allowed to protect us from the outright lies of politicians on buses and billboards, which I also agree is worth a grumble.

    But the bottom line is Anne Perkins is one comment pundit amongst hundreds, not even a particularly prominent or influential one. Agree or disagree, but she is no more of a threat to the fabric of the nation than any other journalistic gobshite.

  73. WineEM says

    @77. Not being an expert on rural accents, but just wondering, is that by any chance the same accent that they use to say the words ‘the greater good’ in Hot Fuzz, ’cause you just feel that might somehow be very fitting! 😉

  74. Marduk says

    79. My problem with it is that is actually quite a sneaky piece of writing. Nobody objects to the ASA discouraging dishonest or plainly offensive advertising but that isn’t what we’re talking about. We’re entering the realm instead of the “insidious shaper of social standards”, “subliminal messaging” and so on. Positions for which there is not one shred of credible evidence despite entire academic disciplines and political programmes devoted to hunting it down (this is known as the ‘media hypothesis’) but opens up a rather large area of activity because who is to say where these things start and end.

    I agree with the ASA that sexism is bad, I do not agree with them it has any causal connection to media and they provide no evidence that it does. It is very important that we do not confuse (and this is relevant to ‘hegemonic masculinity’) analysis of adverts with evidence of harm from adverts, their per-ponderance of evidence all comes from the former camp and not the latter. This is the same brick wall the video nasties ran into, the same brick wall that corrupting rock & roll ran into, the same brick wall the ‘murder simulators’ (computer games) ran into and the same brick wall the Meese Commission ran into and the same wall Gail Dines ran into, hard, to the point where she ended up rejecting “science shit” as having any relevance to her concerns, twenty years into repeated claims she had vast and weighty scientific evidence on her side but it wasn’t her job to tell you what it was.

    And whose “core values” that have legal implications for even aesthetic choices, who defines them, who gets to change them, how do I vote them out? This matters in a secular multi-cultural society whose “citizen of the world” intelligentsia claim actually has no recognizable culture of it own.

    Liberals should oppose this, not welcome it, I can’t think of anything in liberalism that would lead one to think a state regulator of communications should be acting like this. Either I’m right and the ASA is groundlessly interfering in speech it has no business interfering in, or Perkins is right and the ASA has assumed the mantel of literally regulating the culture and its thought according “core values”. Either way, its not good. This is some seriously right wing shit, just like this week’s other “liberal” forward stride into adopting Putin’s Russia as our actual model for how this porn censorship thing is going to work (this is literally true, google pornhub and Putin, I can’t right now but you’ll see that its Russia we’re getting our new model from instead of the milder, but still ludicrous, suggestions made at the time of the bill’s presentation).

    And there was no lie told on a bus. The fact that people think there was tells you a lot though. And Michael Gove never led a war against expertise either if you allow him to finish his sentence (he was actually right, the triple letter agencies predicted wrongly). I wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire, he is a vile little man, but if this is our starting position, I think its all too obvious where this would end up.

  75. WineEM says

    82 “adopting Putin’s Russia as our actual model for how this porn censorship thing is going to work”

    Oh no, you mean we’re not gonna get Green Dam Youth Escort? What a letdown! 🙂

  76. Adiabat says

    WineEM (73): While the culture of the BBC is ridiculously out of touch with the values and views of most of the people it gets its money from, especially outside of London, I think the pushback against the new doctor (which as far as I can tell is mainly from female fans of the show) is much simpler than that:

    Many fans of popular media (whether TV, movies, comic books etc) have long learnt that the adoption of progressive identity-politics fluff is usually an indicator that the storytelling and general quality is going to go downhill. Not every time, but often enough for it to be a recognised pattern. So when changes are made that appear to be pandering to it they get worried, as they don’t want the same to happen to something they like. It’s an understandable position imo.

    I’m not sure why people feel justified to abuse these fans expressing a concern about something they like, but the level of hate and elitism from social justice types against anyone who doesn’t share their warped views should be expected by now.

    Ally (78): So what’s your process here? Do you find something you don’t like and just try and think about ways that it is somewhat similar to a stereotype you have of masculinity? And once something is declared “masculine” then what? What’s the precise message you are trying to convey?

    If you think companies should be more compassionate then why not just say so, preferably with a decent argument? Why all this messing about with cartoonish caricatures of what you imagine masculinity was in ye olde times? I really don’t see the point.

    From the outside it looks like there’s just no consistent method or practice. It really does look like you just make it up as you go along to suit your own prejudices.

  77. Marduk says

    82.
    The original bill, when discussed in the HoL, was mostly focused around the government’s provision of identity servers and the belief that a third party ecosystem of them would come to exist (apart from Facebook, Google et al. which can’t be part of the conversation as their servers are outside the UK’s own jurisdiction).

    This infrastructure has however not arrived. In the Lords, m’learned friends discussed the issue quite extensively and concluded that credit cards were no way to do it and a massive security risk. But May’s got a floundering government with a deadline they can’t meet on the books and has plumped for the credit card methods created for Putin. He has enforced this on users of VK (Russia’s premier social networking platform which functions as a point of access to Pornhub et al.). MindGeek incidentally love this legislation (the owners of most porn sites, both free and paid). I’ve spoken to people who work there and they’ve had the infrastructure in place for years of increasing frustration at the slow pace of legislators and are waiting to switch it on. It going to make them the monopoly pornographers to Great Britain and kill off all remaining competition, this is a massive coup for them. Think about this, they will sell the advertising on 30% of all internet traffic in the United Kingdom from next April. It will be very interesting to see if they’ve used any proxies for lobbying, its not unknown for them to get involved at that kind of level.

  78. Marduk says

    Reminder that the Perry Review found that 70% of people prosecuted for non-payment of TV licenses were women, resulting in 68% of people paying fines being women. While the Perry Review concluded there was no evidence of systemic sexism at work, its generally viewed as a consequence of Capita’s suggestion of high-pressure tactics through their bonus structure.

    But apparently that isn’t the real scandal at hand, its that Laura Kussenberg “only” gets paid a quarter of a million pounds.

    Never let it be said that the incestuous media elite don’t cover for each other.

  79. That Guy says

    @ David

    It miffs me somewhat that people with Scottish accents can get taken seriously as international super spies, or shape shifting aliens, or whatever, but those of us from the opposite corner of the country get relegated to roles as rustic figures of fun.

    I’d much rather that people with Scottish accents (IRL) got taken seriously as politicians, scientists, or honest to goodness normal people rather than some kind of heroin addled proto-sepratist Sawney Bean tribe.

    But you know, having a guy with my accent pretending to be a magical space alien on the telly kinda balances that all out

    🙂

  80. StillGjenganger says

    @Carnation76

    I think, Marduk, that you’ve had a bit of a free reign on HetPat- you haven’t been robustly challenged enough. I might just start to do that.

    Please don’t.Those discussions are generally rude, boring, and uninformative, all insults and ‘Citation for this!’, ‘Citation for that!’, as if you were marking our homework, or trying to bullly us off the pitch. Marduk got a bit imprecise and sweeping there, and if you had chosen to address his points instead of hammering on citatoins you could actually have have triggered quite an interesting discussion. And won some argumetns as well.

  81. Marduk says

    “But the bottom line is Anne Perkins is one comment pundit amongst hundreds, not even a particularly prominent or influential one. Agree or disagree, but she is no more of a threat to the fabric of the nation than any other journalistic gobshite.”

    Well she is erstwhile leader writer actually. Access to the media is an immensely difficult thing to get and I think its very frustrating when people who move in these circles think it counts for absolutely nothing (Suzanne Moore often plays this game… to an audience of millions). You can’t seriously believe this or you wouldn’t do it and the elite certainly wouldn’t guard it so jealously from outsiders.

  82. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 79
    I am with Marduk on this one. If you have a standards body to decide what can be said in public (advertisements) it really has to stick to banning either what causes demonstrable harm, or what is very widely disliked in society. Giving it a free hand to ban speech that ‘nice people like us’ think is moving in the wrong direction is a non-starter – unless you are sure that your friends will always be the one with the power. Imagine for a moment that the person proposing to enforce the correct pulic opinion – to great acclaim among the culturally dominant classes – was Donald Trump, or Nigel Farage, or anybody who had a problem with ‘promoting homosexuality’, ‘killling unborn children’, or ‘subverting the natural differences betweeen men and women’.

  83. Marduk says

    Ah, can’t resist this. Told you so.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/20/porn-warps-culture-credit-card-footprint

    And so what we were told was purely a child protection issue is actually now about manipulating adults using shame because to protect, once again, “the culture”. Christina can’t explain how “the culture” is affected but she talked to some people who self-report having problems and that is enough for her.

    “Oh, and users may be asked to give credit card details, and perhaps even be charged a small fee. A fee that might appear on a bank statement that might, for example, be seen by your wife. These things will be for a regulator to decide, but the thing is this: your porn habit will now have what tech companies like to call a bigger “footprint”, and one that might well make some users think twice.”

    Christina is actually crowing about the government interfering in the sexual practices of its citizens on the basis of shame. At this point I have to point out the construction of this scenario is itself masturbatory in tone and I think Christina’s fantasies are much worse than those she complains about.

    “And I can’t wait for the day when we’re all a little bit less free.”

    You are evil.

    So the question becomes, what to do? The “leading liberal voice” (which assures us it is our only hope) is cheering on the collapse of our freedoms, there is nobody left.

  84. Ally Fogg says

    Not sure what the ‘told you so’ is about here.

    Every time there’s a story relating to porn in the news the Guardian commissions pretty much that precise article from a nice middle class white lady who thinks it is all a bit yucky and people should be ashamed of themselves.

    They’ve been doing this since the 1970s to the best of my memory, probably a lot longer.

    What’s your point?

  85. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 92
    The obvious thing to note is that the long-running campaign to use child protection as an excuse to get that yucky stuff under control and pushed back can finally register a modest success. Is it unreasonable to assume that the campaign has (in part) caused the result, and that continued campaigning is likely to gain more successes in the future? I find it a little surprising that such a campaigning person as you is so totally dismissive of the idea that political agitation actually leads to consequences.

  86. Ally Fogg says

    Oh of course political agitation leads to consequences. That is what politics *is*

    But I genuinely don’t understand what the premise is to this debate.

    Is it that columnists regularly talk shite? Because you won’t get much disagreement from me.

    However, if the premise is that (nominally) liberal-left columnists at the Guardian are shaping our politics and society in a way that all their opposite numbers at the Mail, the Times, the Telegraph, the Spectator, The Sun etc etc etc are not, then that is clearly arrant nonsense.

  87. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally.

    I think there are some differences. ‘Progressive feminism’ (or whatever you want to call it) is a fairly amorphous movement. It does not live in a specific organisation, but it has (and has had) quite a lot of influence. You can argue whether these columnists are shaping politics or rather are reflecting what movement people think (probably not worth spending too much time on the distinction). But if you want to find out what ideas and plans we should expect from this quarter, where else would you look? If a fairly mainstream commentator (not Julie Bindle or Jessica Valenti) in the Guardian (not the Socialist Worker) is so openly and unashamedly happy about nudging? coercing? people away from politically undesirable pornography, not to speak of bemoaning that there is no authority (staffed, of course, by nice progressive people) that can censor electoral propaganda, that does suggest to me that there is a fairly strong and quite illiberal current here, and that we might expect some successful forays into political censorship from Corbyn or some of his friends. I think it especially notable that this kind of comment is clearly seen as not at all controversial.

    In the immigration debate in many countries, people have been shocked and worried by the kind of aggressive anti-foreigner statements that were clearly seen as normal and acceptable to large parts of the population. I am similarly worried by the kind of incipient thought control that is seen as normal and acceptable to Guardian readers.

  88. Marduk says

    94 & 95. What he said.

    The thing I find confusing is why its ok to justify laws, regulations and grand projects of social transformation (which I think your OP aspires to) on the basis of tenuous and unproven ideological views which emphasise subliminal and, to the uninitiated, undetectable influences on invisible constructs shaping society and and culture from the media.

    Really sit down and think what the ASA thinks its doing, regulating not the content of adverts (“Buy Persil, it gets the egg stains off your ties”) but their presentation. Its beyond silly and dangerous that we’ve got the world’s first semiotic and possibly even hermeneutic regulator of communications.

    But when I say I’m concerned about the implementation of actual laws, actual state regulators and actual explicitly stated views in newspaper columns, there is nothing to see here. The explicit is without meaning but the implicit spins the world round? No.

    The Guardian has long opposed pornography, I agree, although in the 90s there was a period of sex positivity too. But that isn’t what the article is about, it is welcoming the shaming and violation of privacy of people engaged in a form of sexual expression. The paper I remember reading had no time for people who’d defend that kind of thing. It also used to be against regulators of the media valorising one view of personal identity and family over another. In fact, in the same issue today it ‘celebrates’ a film about masturbation to the internet (see if you can guess what makes this different) and in its own sex guide talks about the role of pornography for people struggling with sexual identity. Which is a nice idea, but we’ve got a law now that one of its leader writers is jubilant will humiliate lots of people. I wouldn’t mind this incoherence but its barely covered this act which puts the UK into an elite group with China, Russia and no other western democracy in terms of its censorship of the internet. How comfortable do we really feel about this? Haha, no boobs for you, is hardly the way we should be looking at this. Thanks a lot ‘liberal icon’, ‘leading liberal voice’, ‘liberal beacon’ and whatever else it describes itself as. The Scott Trust should start funding the Independent instead.

    I think we’ve traded post-modernism for reality. I find this stuff intellectually interesting myself but really, its recreational, not real. A tank is smashing through our house and we’re saying “yes, but what are you really trying to say?”. I’m bothered about the tank.

    I said told you so because I’ve said all along the DE bill was a big deal, was a problem and would end up like this and the Guardian would put a trivial agenda before values in failing to hold it up to scrutiny. I see Jacob Rees-Mogg is the bookies favourite to take over from May. He hates homosexuality and thinks his soul is at stake in the fight against it, but I’m sure he won’t be tempted to use the tools now available to him to do anything about it. Honest.

  89. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    Except, of course, that Christina Patterson is no more a leader writer for the Guardian than Julie Bindel is. She’s a ” freelance writer and broadcaster” and I would hazard a guess that she’s been commissioned to write a piece on this subject precisely to get the type of reaction that you’re giving her.

    Our own Ally Fogg has written a similar number of articles for your arch nemesis, and about a similar number of topics.

    Your passionate disdain for the Guardian seems to fog your judgement.

    Now, I have a range of issues with the Guardian, but in the grander (and not so grander) scheme of things, giving a limited voice to feminists with provocative views on issues is basically a non-event.

  90. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger [95]

    If a fairly mainstream commentator (not Julie Bindle or Jessica Valenti) in the Guardian (not the Socialist Worker) is so openly and unashamedly happy about nudging? coercing? people away from politically undesirable pornography, not to speak of bemoaning that there is no authority (staffed, of course, by nice progressive people) that can censor electoral propaganda, that does suggest to me that there is a fairly strong and quite illiberal current here

    imma stop you there. The business of ‘nudging’ has been around a long time now & the ethics & morality of it have been fairly well debated. You may recall the bestselling book called ‘Nudge’ and that the New Labour government introduced a “behavioural insights” unit to do exactly that, but it is mostly a soft-right patrician conservative kind of approach. Basically it is the idea that if something is considered socially harmful (eg littering, unhealthy eating, smoking, whatever) it is more effective to dissuade people from doing it by influencing their behavioural choices than trying to ban or criminalise it. This is how we have ended up with all cigarettes & tobacco being sold in these black packets. Now, the rights & wrongs of this are always up for debate and we can have specific debates about whether or not watching porn should be counted amongst those socially undesirable behaviours, but there is nothing happening here & now that hasn’t been practised for years or decades.

    In the middle there, you also talk about ‘censoring political propaganda.’ This is an entirely different issue.

    British elections and politics have always been amongst the most heavily regulated in the world. We have all kinds of electoral law, which is why we have things like civil service purdah, regulated party political broadcasts, restrictions on political advertising etc. The Advertising Standards Authority mostly doesn’t involve itself in political advertising because the whole business is heavily policed within the Representation of the People Acts & suchlike.

    Now, by and large the ASA is pretty strong on truth & disclosure. In the UK it is illegal to advertise a food product by saying it will lower your cholesterol (or whatever) unless there is a real genuine consensus that it will do so.

    In the UK it is illegal to advertise a product by making a factual claim about what it contains unless it does actually contain what you say.

    Also in the UK, we have broadcast standards for all types of TV & radio, saying things like you’re not allowed to pipe offensive materials of various types into people’s homes without justification. You can’t suddenly broadcast pornography in the middle of the One Show. You can’t be overtly racist, homophobic or whatever in mainstream broadcasts.

    While everyone would disagree with specific rules or specific rulings, in my opinion it is a good thing that we have all the above in British law. It means broadcasters and advertisers can be held responsible for negative consequences of what they do. The alternative is a society more like the USA where their advertising – and especially their political advertising – is massively dishonest, corrosive and destructive and a lot of their broadcast television is unwatchably dire.

    More significantly perhaps, American politics has (more than anywhere in the world) been determined by who has the most money available to throw at political advertising. That in itself has always been a hugely negative aspect to American politics.

    Do you agree?

    However, a lot of the protections we have around product advertising do not apply to political advertising (with the exception of TV advertising, which is banned altogether)

    So, what Patterson was arguing for in that piece with respect to political advertising was a very, very, very slight movement of the groundrules. She’s noting that it was perfectly legal for the Leave campaign to run that utterly dishonest, misleading and fundamentally anti-democratic bus advert about £350m for the NHS, which in practice may have been enough to swing a referendum decision that may well economically devastate this country for decades to come. She’s identifying a very real anomaly there.

    Now, I’m not entirely sure that she is entirely correct that the best thing would be to empower the ASA to rule on accuracy of political advertising. But it is not the worst idea I’ve heard this week by a long stretch. And the fact that she is suggesting it does not strike me as in any way illiberal, sinister or out of the ordinary.

    But then you go on to add this sentence:

    “, and that we might expect some successful forays into political censorship from Corbyn or some of his friends”

    This is the most ridiculous thing you have said in a long time. Laughable.

    You might not have noticed but relations between the liberal nanny wing of the Guardian and Jeremy Corbyn (& his supporters) are not exactly healthy. They despise each other. The idea that because Christina Patterson or Anne Perkins makes an argument in a column in the Guardian this will somehow inform policy within Corbyn’s Labour – that is utterly, utterly batshit.

    In all my decades involved in politics, I don’t think there has ever been a politician less likely to be swayed on policy by opinion by a newspaper column than Jeremy Corbyn.

  91. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk

    Really sit down and think what the ASA thinks its doing, regulating not the content of adverts (“Buy Persil, it gets the egg stains off your ties”) but their presentation. Its beyond silly and dangerous that we’ve got the world’s first semiotic and possibly even hermeneutic regulator of communications.

    Do you honestly think advertisers should be allowed to be as offensive as they like?

    If I turn on the telly and see an advert saying “I buy Yorkie Bars because I’m not a poof” – should that be allowed?

    Or rather closer to home for this blog, do you have any problem with adverts saying “so simple, even a man can use it”?

    What about that advert where an abusive wife made her husband lick the toilet bowl clean? Is that OK with you?

    Are you seriously arguing that there should be no controls over this stuff? Or are you arguing that once the standards have been set they should never be changed, modernised, adapted to changing social norms and values? Because that is literally all that is happening here.

    The plain and simple truth is that since the Advertising Standards body was set up in {googles} 1961, there has always been control of the semiotics & hermaneutics of advertising, not least because semiotics & hermaneutics are among the most powerful weapons in the advertisers’ arsenal.

  92. Adiabat says

    Marduk (91):

    So the question becomes, what to do? The “leading liberal voice” (which assures us it is our only hope) is cheering on the collapse of our freedoms, there is nobody left.

    The first step, one I think most liberals on the left are already on, is to recognise that the scolds and regressives at places like the Guardian simply aren’t liberals. They’ve just taken liberalism, skinned and gutted it, and now parade around in its skin to push social engineering agendas.

    The second step is the development of some modern equivalent of Punk (or Metal) subculture, with its focus on individual freedom and anti-authoritarian views, along with a healthy disrespect for all the nonsense-theory and bullshit underpinning much of the regressive worldview. These values are already shared by the majority of Brits, but there’s simply no dynamism or energy behind it for most people, so they just get on with their lives instead of challenging the things they know are bullshit. Unless there’s some sort of change to make these people speak up, like the cultural changes that turned the tide against Mary Whitehouse and social censors of the time, the right and the left will continue to trample over people’s freedoms. We need the modern equivalent of Johnny Rotten swearing on TV.

  93. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat – you too

    Or rather closer to home for this blog, do you have any problem with adverts saying “so simple, even a man can use it”?

    What about that advert where an abusive wife made her husband lick the toilet bowl clean? Is that OK with you?

  94. Adiabat says

    Ally: I support the watershed, but when it’s for an adult audience my answer is that all those examples are ok, and to let viewers decide. If enough people are offended, or just think they are stupid, then they will not buy the products and advertising will naturally change. There’s no need for the self-appointed morally-pure to start banning things.

    Who are you, me, or anyone to decide for other adults what they are allowed to watch, as long is it’s not hurting anyone else? Damn Your social norms and values, I want the freedom for me and my fellow citizens to create our own.

  95. Ally Fogg says

    Well for starters Adiabat, adverts like the ‘So simple even a man can use it” etc never were post-watershed, so it is a bit of an odd argument.

    Secondly the ‘let viewers decide’ argument is nonsense when it comes to advertising because I might choose which programmes I want to watch on telly but I don’t choose which adverts I get to see. Most of them are short enough that even if I actively hate an advert, I will have seen it & it will be gone by the time I’ve found the remote control.

    Thirdly, the ‘if it is offensive people won’t buy it’ argument is demonstrably bogus. Most advertisers are only actually aiming for a small minority of the audience, which is their target. Suppose a product wants to sell “White Power” merchandise to the small percentage of the population who might be interested. Should they be legally free to broadcast overtly racist slogans on TV in order to sell their T-shirts? If they are advertising during the news or Coronation Street, then everyone is affected by it, whether or not they are ever going to buy from the company.

    Finally, if we accept that ‘so long as it’s not hurting someone else’ is the principle, are you really saying that propagating hate speech & encouraging discriminatory & prejudiced attitudes doesn’t hurt anyone? To go back to one of my examples, if an advertising slogan was used “I buy Yorkie Bars because I’m not a poof” then I would argue (and the vast majority of reasonable people would agree) that this is actively harmful to gay people, it validates & reinforces the idea that being gay is not desirable.

    In fact, every single example that has been discussed on this thread could be reasonably interpreted as being unwelcome & could reasonably be banned from broadcast because it hurts people. I would strongly argue that the advert showing an abusive wife forcing her husband to lick the toilet bowl is actively hurting people in the real world by influencing attitudes towards domestic violence.

    For what it is worth, I could also put up a pretty strong case that allowing political campaigns to run adverts that profoundly mislead and misinform people is doing actual harm to millions.

    Which rather brings us back to the beginning of this discussion

  96. Adiabat says

    Well for starters Adiabat, adverts like the ‘So simple even a man can use it” etc never were post-watershed, so it is a bit of an odd argument.

    I was establishing that I’m talking about adults, to pre-empt any ‘think of the children’ arguments. You’re arguing that even adults shouldn’t see these adverts and I wanted to keep the discussion at that level.

    Secondly the ‘let viewers decide’ argument is nonsense when it comes to advertising because I might choose which programmes I want to watch on telly but I don’t choose which adverts I get to see.

    Of course you can’t pick and choose which adverts you see, but you can choose if you’ll buy that product. If not enough people buy the product then the adverts will stop.

    Thirdly, the ‘if it is offensive people won’t buy it’ argument is demonstrably bogus. Most advertisers are only actually aiming for a small minority of the audience, which is their target.

    If they have enough of an audience for a particular advert who are you to decide that those people shouldn’t be advertised to?

    Suppose a product wants to sell “White Power” merchandise to the small percentage of the population who might be interested. Should they be legally free to broadcast overtly racist slogans on TV in order to sell their T-shirts? If they are advertising during the news or Coronation Street, then everyone is affected by it, whether or not they are ever going to buy from the company.

    Your problem isn’t with adverts; it’s with people. Convince people that their views are wrong and you will see the adverts go away. Adverts that were common 50 years ago wouldn’t work today because attitudes have changed (and they changed even though those adverts weren’t banned, implying your cause and effect is the wrong way around.)

    Plus we both know we aren’t discussing “white power” adverts. We’re ultimately discussing cases like the harmless Protein World poster, which the ASA erroneously decided was sexist. Those are the kinds of people you want to decide whether something is acceptable. Why should those people get to decide whether that poster is allowed? Why are Their social norms and values given primacy and not anyone else’s? Why should my, and most other people’s, norms and values be supressed by them?

    I would strongly argue that the advert showing an abusive wife forcing her husband to lick the toilet bowl is actively hurting people in the real world by influencing attitudes towards domestic violence.

    Prove it. I’ve no interest in esoteric theories from bogus academic fields. I want established cause and effect. There has been decades of attempts to show rock music, “video nasties” or violent video games cause all sorts of things, but no-one has been able to prove any of it.

    Why shouldn’t you just be written off as another Jack Thompson or Mary Whitehouse? They could “strongly argue” too.

    For what it is worth, I could also put up a pretty strong case that allowing political campaigns to run adverts that profoundly mislead and misinform people is doing actual harm to millions.

    And who gets to decide what’s profoundly misleading? You’re simply opening the door for whoever is in power to decide what is “true”.

    If you grant someone the power to suppress something then every time they are wrong what you have granted them is the power to oppress people. With adverts you might be willing to take that risk for some ‘greater cause’, as the affect will be less significant, but in politics…

  97. Ally Fogg says

    If they have enough of an audience for a particular advert who are you to decide that those people shouldn’t be advertised to?

    Who are you to decide that I should have something deeply upsetting & potentially harmful imposed upon me against my will? If racists or homophobes want to go to their own media networks they can see any adverts that get thrown at them, but free-to-air broadcast networks are an entirely different kettle of fish. And as far as I’m concerned deeply dodgy outfits are perfectly entitled to advertise. IANAL but as I understand it a website selling horrible racist t-shirts would be allowed to run an advert saying “PLEASE COME TO OUR WEBSITE WHERE YOU CAN BUY HORRIBLE RACIST T-SHIRTS” and that would be perfectly OK. They’re just not allowed to use broadcast platforms to broadcast the actual offensive material. Quite rightly so.

    Prove it. I’ve no interest in esoteric theories from bogus academic fields. I want established cause and effect. There has been decades of attempts to show rock music, “video nasties” or violent video games cause all sorts of things, but no-one has been able to prove any of it.

    Well one of the reasons Mary Whitehouse and Jack Thompson were broadly unsuccessful is precisely because they could not prove it was harmful, because there wasn’t a consensus of evidence. I’m quite happy with that.

    The argument that exposing people to hateful opinions will lead to more people holding and expressing hateful opinions is far less controversial and far more easily proved. However I have a feeling that whatever research I link you to, from psychology, neurology, sociology, anthropology or whatever will be dismissed by you as “bogus science” so I won’t waste time.

    And who gets to decide what’s profoundly misleading? You’re simply opening the door for whoever is in power to decide what is “true”.

    Yes, this is a fair question and the reason why, all things considered, I don’t agree with Patterson that we should regulate truth in political advertising. But FWIW it wouldn’t be “those in power” – the whole point of bodies like ASA, Ofcom, BBFC & other similar organisations is that they are independent of political parties and they enforce codes which have been agreed by democratic processes in advance.

  98. Marduk says

    All your examples would already be banned and nobody has a problem with that, we’re talking about the report “Depictions, perceptions and harms” which adopts the view that gender stereotypes have a causal relationship with harms and that advertising has a causal relationship with gender stereotypes, licensing interfering with subtext, not just text. It is peppered with the language of gender studies post-modernism. Things are “problematic” and so on. On the second page they lament that they cannot ban all depictions of women using cleaning products as impractical but give suggestions of things that could tip it over the edge. But a woman doing a family wash on her own is not “hateful”. I mean, you could to do it yourself or reciprocally scrub the toilet or something, but the police shouldn’t arrest you over a rumour it happened in your house once and its forever affected your children’s sense of what they can do in life (and if the police call, they’d be led by Diana Dors in her leather hot pants presumably so look on the bright side).

    We’re not talking “white pride” t-shirts, we’re talking about whether a thin person should advertise running shoes. Because it implies beauty standards, body size norms, fat shaming etc. according to well, nobody else but there we go.

    The problem with this is its based on poor evidence, a poor standard of argument and presents a carte blanche for meddling in anything we don’t like for reasons that an ordinary person not versed in the gender studies literature wouldn’t even understand the explanation of and many reasonable thinking people wouldn’t agree with. Even if you don’t care, at least accept those are not “core values” of liberalism at work. This is another example of institutional capture, but I’ve been told before that doesn’t exist either.

    105.
    “Well one of the reasons Mary Whitehouse and Jack Thompson were broadly unsuccessful is precisely because they could not prove it was harmful, because there wasn’t a consensus of evidence. I’m quite happy with that.”

    No, this climate-change denier style wriggling. They had no evidence because no evidence existed, nor does it exist. If there was any evidence, they’d have used it and ignored the balance. But this is proving absence. What we can say more positively is that is also plenty of positive evidence that deliberate attempts to change opinions and behaviour generally don’t actually work. Even then, explicitly stated attitudes themselves have a lowish correlation with behaviour, values fair even worse. I mean, this shouldn’t really have to be argued for, the world itself is evidence enough, think how different things could be if everyone acted as they believed and opinions were that easy to change in people.

  99. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk

    I ended up talking about things like extreme racism and homophobia because I wanted to establish that we agree on the fundamental principle that it is right for society (via legal frameworks) to set limits on what is and is not considered appropriate for the advertising industry. Once we’ve agreed that there is a line, we can talk about where the lines can be drawn.

    I think you have accepted that point & Adiabat has not, so I’ll move on to your points.

    I’ve only just read the actual report right now (I’d read the news reports of it but not the pdf) – and I’m even more baffled as to what the bee in your bonnet might be.

    All it says is that they’ve had a look at what decisions they’ve made in this area, looked at their feedback, thought about what people on all sides have said to them & come to the conclusion that most of what they do is fine but they might be a bit more strict with X, Y and Z in future.

    It’s basically suggesting that there is to be a couple of slight changes in emphasis.

    Now Marduk, can you tell me what, precisely, your issue is here?

    Are you saying the Advertising Standards Authority is not doing the job that it has been statutorily obliged to do?

    Are you saying the Advertising Standards Authority & its Codes of Practise should not exist at all?

    Are you saying the Advertising Standards Authority should exist but should interpret its duties differently to how it does?

    Are you saying that you disagree with the specific changes proposed to the Advertising Code this week?

    Or are you saying that you disagree with one or two specific changes proposed to the Code this week?

    For what it is worth, my precise position is that I am glad the ASA exists & mostly does a pretty fair job. As for the changes proposed this week, I entirely agree that they should be a bit more tight on gender stereotyping because I think it is harmful. I’m entirely unbothered about naked skin (male or female) and dubious about the stuff around objectification, but much more sympathetic to the points they make about unrealistic body image which has real public health implications. However I’m also aware that everyone has got their opinion.

    So over to you. What are you actually complaining about?

  100. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally,

    This will get a bit long, to cover all the premises ahead of the conclusion

    To start with Corbyn, I tend to lump ‘all those lefties’ together, out of ignorance, so I am happy to withdraw that particular remark. I am happy to hear that we should not expect that kind of initiatives from Corbyn, McDonnell et al. I am not quite comforted, though. 1) because any Corbyn government would be a coalition with the ‘liberal nannies’, feminists etc. and 2) because I read Corbyn as a man that cares passionately about a limited number of things and little about the rest, and because I do not think that privacy or freedom of expression are among the things he particularly cares about. If he will offer several billion pounds’ worth of make-work submarine building to keep the metalworkers on side, why would he not offer the liberal nannies an internet censorship law?

    For the rest I think we are mixing together rather different things.

    – The laws governing election campaigns are about maintaining a level playing field, mutually policed by the participating parties, and have nothing to say about content. I am all for them.

    – Truth in advertising is a matter of objectively decidable facts, and is anyway limited to people selling stuff. Good and fairly uncontroversial.

    – Nudges have mostly been discussed in the context of things that are uncontroversially good, for people or society, but that do not get done. Smoking, obesity, signing up for pensions. Few people object to being gently manipulated to do things they sort of agree they ought to do anyway.

    – What you can and cannot say in prime time TV, on billboards etc. I see as a matter of protecting the sensibilities of the majority, and the majority norms for acceptable behaviour. People should have a right not to be forced to confront highly offensive material in their daily life, though this right should yield to the free speech rights of others. We could even consider banning insulting the prophet on mainstream media – but only provided you are free to say bad things about him as long as you either put it politely or keep it to media (like Charlie Hebdo) that are easy to avoid.

    But extending ‘truth in advertising’ to political campaigns is not a small step – it is a huge and dangerous one. At best it puts the civil service in charge of determining what political campaigns can be made. But even if you could keep such a crucial topic insulated from political interference – and you could not, the prize is too great – you would be left with a group of nice, progressive people with degrees deciding what politics were right or wrong. I despair about the stupid and dishonest Brexit campaign, but can you really see yet another group of elite liberals trying to tell the Brexiteers that they are basically wrong and are not allowed to put their views to the electorate? Or deciding whether Iraq was likely to have weapons of mass destruction, whether Blair was a liar, whether immigration is a good or a bad thing?

    Even worse are your points that “broadcasters and advertisers can be held responsible for negative consequences of what they do”, combined with wanting to ban things because ‘they hurt people’ by means of promoting bad and harmful attitudes. When you get to deciding which attitudes are good and which are bad and harmful, and claiming it as objective truth, you are no different from people who say that homosexuality is bad and harmful, because it objectively leads people to go to hell in the afterlife. You are imposing your own views on everybody else, without admitting it.
    Of course, everybody want to live in a society that is attuned to them, where their own way of being is supported and normal and desirable. Being weird, to one side, or undesirable is not a good place to be. But given how different people are, it is not possible to for everybody to be equally normal at the same time. If you are gay is is clearly hurtful if other people think, or say, that being gay is not desirable. But you cannot impose on everybody that they should find it so. Personally I see homosexuality in a similar way to sadomasochism. Some people are like that, it is the right choice for them, they should be able to live a good life without being barred from the rights that everybody else enjoy. But whether I find it desirable or not is my own business, as long as I am reasonably polite. And where we should set the general social norm is a matter for negotiation, bringing in both a desire for tolerance and compromise, and a weighing of the legitimately different opinions (and different sizes) of different groups. It is not a matter of saying that some opinions are objectively bad because they disadvantage some minority group that you have selected to champion, and that everybody else have an objective duty to bow to the interests of that particular group.

  101. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 107
    I would say that seeing stereotypes as something objectively bad that needs to be fought, in order to change society is some specific direction, is highly controversial politics. I rather like stereotypes, for instance, and I think the society you desire where ‘gender is never a burden’ (because it does not make a blind bit of difference and is basically just a dress-up option for carnivals) will be not only a total break with all my culture and background, but also quite stressful and chaotic to live in. By all means fight for what you think, but you have no more right than Nigel Farage to demand that the ASA should impose your views. You can ban ads of men licking toilet bowls, or women being witless airheads, on the grounds that they are insulting according to current norms, but NOT on the grounds that they are not leading society towards the politically correct future.

  102. Ally Fogg says

    Quickly now coz I’m about to return to a life….

    On the Nudge stuff… I said upthread it is perfectly legitimate debate as to whether pornography is a social harm or not. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I’m with you, I think the Patterson article was laughable & the idea for age checks is unworkable nonsense in the first place. My only point on that is that the fact that a columnist in the Guardian is writing prohibitionist bollocks about porn is nothing remotely new, interesting or threatening.

    On political advertising, as I said above, yes, I broadly agree with what you say & I don’t think we should regulate political advertising as if it was soap powder, again, I disagree with Anne Perkins. But the proposal she is making is nothing remotely new, interesting or threatening. It’s not even especially radical.

    When you get to deciding which attitudes are good and which are bad and harmful, and claiming it as objective truth, you are no different from people who say that homosexuality is bad and harmful, because it objectively leads people to go to hell in the afterlife. You are imposing your own views on everybody else, without admitting it.

    No, this is quite a dramatic misreading of what I am saying, almost 100% wrong.

    I am not remotely saying things like harm and offense are objective truth. I am not imposing my views on anyone.

    I am saying that the job of the ASA is to reflect and protect a changing society, and part of that is reflecting what a lot of people feel really strongly about. I think what has happened over the last 10 years or so is that they have received a lot of complaints from a lot of people, they’ve taken representations from all sides about some topics & they have agreed with some of it & not agreed with others. That is exactly how it should work.

    As I said in the comment above, I agree with some of their positions and disagree with others. I accept that none of us can get our own way when there is consensus required. But I accept that we have to have positions and I cannot impose my values on everyone.

    I think there is another really important point about the ASA. It was originally set up, and continues to be managed, by the advertising industry. Advertisers are happy that there are standards that they can all stick to because it prevents a race to the bottom on populism, taste & decency & all the rest of it.

  103. lucythoughts says

    This thread has clearly been busy and I don’t check in so often, but I’d like to come back to this one:

    63. Marduk

    If women had not been given the vote, there wouldn’t have been a single Tory government post-war

    This is simply not true. No, not even if Polly Toynbee says so. Without a single female voter, the Conservatives would have won in 1979 on men’s votes alone, increased their majority in 1983 (when they had a double digit lead amongst men) and stayed comfortably in power until 1997, which would have been a pretty much identical landslide Labour victory.

    In 2010 more men voted Tory than women for the first time since the universal franchise

    This is not so far off but still not actually true. In fact, more men voted Conservative than women in 2005, and have done so in every subsequent election.

    This is actually quite an interesting subject so for anyone vaguely interested I will put a little bit more about it in a follow up post.

    Internationally, governments that declare war are more likely to have been voted in by a majority of women. You can predict wars from large movements of women voters

    As for predicting wars in this way, it doesn’t sound very likely to be reliable, but I would have to look at the data. If you want to provide it that’s fine, if not, that’s okay too.

    More generally, I would hazard a guess that governments that declare war are most likely to do so from the position of having large majorities, which is generally the result of being voted in by a majority of both sexes. So, thinking of recent British conflicts:

    1) The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was under New Labour, carrying a 100+ seat majority from 2001 (this was a result of winning about 42% of the popular vote; with identical voting figures for men and women)
    2) Afghanistan 2001: same figures obviously.
    3) The first Gulf war in 1990, almost identical figures: Conservative government, 43% of the popular vote, made up of 43% of women and 43% of men (80 odd seat majority).

    Moreover, the implication that women vote for war-mongers seems quite a stretch; for a start I don’t think anyone voting Labour in May 2001 expected the twin towers to be attacked the following September, let alone the subsequent invasion of Iraq. Also, in polls men have consistently favoured military intervention more than women, over time and internationally, often by large margins. There is some data here but the pattern is very consistent.

    http://www.e-ir.info/2012/01/19/men-and-womens-support-for-war-accounting-for-the-gender-gap-in-public-opinion/

    Don’t take my word for it, even Polly knew this was true when she worked for someone who’d let her say it:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/do-women-deserve-the-vote-1361756.html

    That article strikes me as deliberately inflammatory and offensive, and based on “facts” about voting behaviour which are factually incorrect. Frankly, I would call it clickbait if it hadn’t been written before the term was invented. Newsprint reader bait I guess? Luckily though, the particular demographic being described in terms of utter contempt (stupid, insular, selfish, turkeys-voting-for-Christmas, don’t deserve the vote (because the franchise isn’t a right, but a gift to those who can be relied upon to vote the right way), treacherous, “sneaking off to vote Tory” etc) happens to be women as opposed to, oh I don’t know, say, working class men, or elderly Brexit voters or Trump supporters or whatever, so I guess its all good.

  104. lucythoughts says

    A little bit about the gender gap in voting behaviour for anyone interested:

    Women in the UK were more likely than men to vote Conservative from 1945 right up until 1987, when the gender gap in voting narrowed (0 – 2%, differences, apart from 1992 when it was 5%), and from 2005 onwards the gender gap reversed, with women becoming more likely to vote labour than men in subsequent elections. This broadly reflects a cross generational change in voting pattern, with younger women generally more likely to vote Labour than men of the same age, and older women more likely to vote Conservative than their male counterparts. It doesn’t appear to be a simple life-stage factor, but seems instead to reflect a drift to the left on a range of measures amongst women, which has been found fairly consistently across the post-industrial nations in the last few decades. It is believed to be associated with women’s increased economic and social freedom, fostering changes in values (this is based on the work of the World Values Survey). It was being predicted 20 years ago that a tipping point would be reached when younger, more left wing female voters would outnumber older more conservative ones, and the gender gap in voting patterns would equalise and then be reversed. That appears to be happening.

    Of course, what political party people vote for isn’t a simple left / right policy based decision, it is very much determined by the political climate, factors of perceived credibility etc. To say “women are more likely to vote Conservative than men”, is not the same as saying “women are more likely to vote Conservative than to vote Labour”. Between 1945 and 1979 more women voted Labour than Conservative in five or six (depending on the polling; one was very marginal) out of 11 general elections, but in all these elections men voted Labour by larger margins, so the gender gap was still in the Conservative direction for women. On the whole, I would say that the heyday of women’s conservatism in Britain was the 1950s, when they pretty much kept the Conservatives in power for a decade. Voting behaviour became much more variable in the 60s and 70s.

    Equally, in the post-war era, there was considerable voter loyalty to the Labour party amongst working class men, and more men voted Labour than Conservative at every general election between 1945 and 1979. Then the pattern was broken for good, and more men voted Tory in all the elections up until 1997. They switched to New Labour for 1997 and 2001 elections, were equally split in 2005, and have been more likely to vote Tory since then.

  105. Marduk says

    107.
    I’m saying its over-extending its remit on the basis of a narrow range of opinion and political ideology.

    They clearly haven’t ‘taken representations from all sides’, I mean really, children’s toy preferences (also found in rhesus monkeys that don’t watch tv) and the STEM gap (so apparently Iran sends good messages to young women about their place in the world that Sweden and Norway could learn from?). Its just the usual gender studies hokum going unquestioned.

    You know as well as I do that there is problem identifying expertise because campaigners have morphed themselves into service providers through third sector. When you go along to look at, say, DV experts you think you are going to talk to even-handed providers of services with grass-roots knowledge…what you actually get is some religious people and Julie Bindel and her radfem mates. The ASA ventured out to talk to experts on media representation, guess what they got, do you know of a media studies or gender studies department in this country that is even centrist? The other side doesn’t exist at this point.

    113.
    The point is a wider one really, identity politics sets itself up as progressive and makes a concern for the interests of minorities progressive. The big problem is the transitive assumption that being a member of a minority with self-interest makes you a progressive person with other progressive views (and it must also be said white male middle-class progressive people also exist, if under some duress of late). This is not the case but its a very common assumption and one that often stands behind much blaming of men and masculinity.

  106. Ally Fogg says

    Its just the usual gender studies hokum going unquestioned.

    No, it isn’t. If you think it is, you’ve obviously never read a book on gender studies in your life.

    And if you think gender socialisation is restricted to rhesus monkey experiments (and other exercises in experimental bias) you’ve obviously never read a developmental psychology book in your life

    I hate to break it to you, but what they are reflecting is basically reflecting mainstream opinion to a very large extent. If you disagree with mainstream opinion, that is unfortunate. Happens to the best of us.

    When I talk about all sides, I mean all sides who have bothered to make representations. And yes, it will include feminists, it will include politicians, it will include Christian societies & other religious groups, it will include charities, it will include eating disorder campaigners. It will include readers of the Daily Mail. Again, it is this myth that feminists are some all powerful illuminati in British politics & social policy is the biggest pile of paranoid hooey.

    But for all that, if your opinion is that the ASA have over-reached in their interpretation of what advertising standards should be,, fair enough. That’s an opinion your entitled to. It still doesn’t add up to some concerted assault on human rights & liberties. It’s just a very slight difference of opinion as to where lines of acceptability should be,

    If you don’t like them, get yourself organised & make some representations, to demand more sexist advertising not less. See how it looks when you’ve put it in writing,

  107. Marduk says

    115.
    Firstly, don’t accuse people of not doing the technical reading when you don’t even know what the word ‘neurology’ means if that is how we’re going to play this game, you make yourself look like a fool. I have no idea what “experimental bias” (do you mean experimenter bias?) is but make sure you haven’t confused your vervets with your rhesus. The critique everyone quotes on Hines & Alexander was written by the same team who did the latter study. I can’t actually find you on Scival, so I’d give the credentialism a rest. Anyone can of course criticise published science on methodological grounds but to randomly lash out at Kim Wallen’s lab because you don’t like the sound of it (someone I very much doubt you’ve heard of, read, let alone met) is the classic anti-science progressive move of the era.

    Secondly, you have clearly learned nothing from the last year about how mainstream certain opinions really are. They are responding to the Protein World outcry, an isolated incident revved up on social media. There have been similar adverts before, there are similar adverts now even in women’s magazines, there is no outcry. What does this tell you about the mainstream opinion.

    Thirdly, cool story bro, but there is actually a list of the people they invited to comment in Annex B. The only person I can see being against great regulation would have been Claire Fox since Martin Daubney came to Jesus.

    Finally, its disgustingly dishonest to claim I want advertising to be more sexist, that is not the issue and however deluded you think I might be otherwise, you know it.

  108. Ally Fogg says

    Haha made ya look.

    Seriously though, if you don’t want more sexism in your advertising, what is it you want? Seriously, what is it the ASA are doing which in any way impinges upon your life and liberties, because I’m really not seeing it.

  109. Marduk says

    117.
    I don’t want regulatory bodies controlling speech acting on ideological grounds. This is a terrible, terrible thing because now its in play, you can lobby the ASA and send in Fawcett’s highly paid lobbyists to get them to do things. There are two problems in speech debates, first that you find yourself defending the expression of things you disapprove of (traditionally pornography and right wing political speech), the second opposing things you do approve of in a general sense but not written into law or regulation.

    I don’t want adverts to be sexist in roughly the same way I think people shouldn’t make certain kinds of currently legal pornography which is in the same way I think abortion is a tragedy. These are debates that should occur within the culture not by nudging and trying to manipulate the culture through power. Since when was it actually considered normal that everyone with an opinion is obliged to seek legislation over other people to enforce it.

    I’ve said many times that I think if porn activists spent less time trying to prove non-existent harms and less time trying to bully the rest of us, they’d have done a lot better just telling people what they actually didn’t like about it in words we can understand. But they’ve failed to do this. Political influencing, it seems to me, is nearly always an admital you’ve actually failed to convince large numbers of people so you’re just going to try and convince the right small number of people instead.

    In my lifetime the biggest social change has been attitudes towards homosexuality, I’ve seen it go from a crime to something we were bashfully OK with to something we don’t even think about much and it seems weird to have any sort of negative opinion around. This in the face of government legislation which for a period tried to influence media and culture. Nobody passed a “being is alright, ok?” law, the culture decided and the politicians are still chasing it if anything.

  110. Marduk says

    100.
    Yesterday I would have said you were describing Milo’s manifesto which illustrates the difficulties.
    But then I read this, maybe its just a return to the social democrat left that will do it, I’m open to the idea.
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/22/chapo-trap-house-podcast-dirtbag-left-takes-aim-at-clinton-supporters

    “In a take-down of Chapo and what is called the “dirtbag left”, the century-old New Republic magazine took issue with a phrase used by the podcast’s hosts as suggestive of a demand for an act of sexual submission by Hillary Clinton supporters…The phrase “bend the knee”, was soon interpreted through the prism of gender and identity politics – a realm into which Chapo hosts like to throw grenades.”

    Its the language of Shakespeare really but on this occasion its actually just a Game of Thrones/Stannis meme. OR MAYBE ITS ABOUT SEXUAL ASSAULT AND SHOULD BE BANNED, I CAN’T EVEN. Speech and prisms, what could possibly go wrong.

  111. lucythoughts says

    114. Marduk

    Okay, thank you for explaining the wider point, I understand what you are saying. I also understand that you generally dislike identity politics and are sick of men and masculinity being blamed for stuff; I fully respect that, it seems very reasonable.

    But, whatever may have been your underlying motives, what you actually wrote was a post which essentially said “woman are a bunch of nasty, right-wing, war-mongering Tories, and it’s their fault that we have wars and we ended up with Thatcher.” That is playing identity politics at its worst and most divisive. Then, you illustrated the point with an article which, if you replaced the word “women” with “men” and stuck it in the Guardian, would have had you spitting feathers, and you say, essentially “look, Polly knows the truth and the Independent are brilliant for putting it out there.”

    Okay, this is an exaggerated representation, and I hope you won’t be too offended because I have no desire to provoke a row, but I’m saying what I saw.

    So, here is my wider point: identity politics isn’t owned by progressive lefties anymore than spin-doctoring is owned by Labour just because Blair used it to exceptional effect. The alt-right and others much more in the centre use the same basic tool kit and although they might present themselves as rationalists in the face of ideological hysteria, that is absolute, unalloyed bullshit. Right across the spectrum people act the same way: they play to the gallery; they care about the evidence precisely as much as it can be used to prop up their ideological position, or lend a veneer of credibility to their latest blog-post or twitter-harangue; they apply scepticism just as thoroughly as they need to, to discredit the things they don’t want to be true, and give the stuff they’re comfortable with a free pass. That is human nature unfortunately. None of us are immune.

  112. Marduk says

    120.
    I’m just saying there is a common assumption made that isn’t really true.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22Women_are_wonderful%22_effect

    As to the alt-right, yeah I completely agree, I’ve said this so many times. Its another example of why types of rhetoric and patterns of thought shouldn’t be used for short-term gain even if they are tempting for instrumental reasons (its agenda over-riding values again). I think we should have realised the gig was up when some US colleges started implementing segregation at the behest of ‘progressives’. And if you think this might be a bad idea you get called a racist.

    Identity politics is a bad, dangerous thing. Its now a huge problem that all the ‘progressives’ have got is to ‘punch nazis’ because they’ve robbed themselves as nominally decent people of all the other weapons of argument they could use.

    I don’t know if its human nature but its a thing that happens, its called an in-group/out-group effect. Miles Hewstone has done a lot of work into this. Generically, what an in-group thinks of itself and what it thinks of the out-group is fairly predictable and what you see over and over again. They are all the same, our group is a rainbow coalition of diverse thought. They do bad things because it is in their essential nature and need to change/do more to transform themselves, we do bad things only rarely and its because of very specific excusable circumstances. Sound familiar? Its racists/immigrants, feminists/men, alt-right/muslims, scousers/mancs etc. So for example I thought “Men Kampf” (a plug-in that changed “men” to “jews” and so on) in text made an important point as a piece of digital art but unfortunately it was banned as hate speech because once run through the plug-in, it turned your average Valenti column into a Nuremberg speech. You have to ask what the engine of hate really was.

  113. WineEM says

    Returning to the original discussion, there was a piece that caught my attention from the ‘Heil’ yesterday (‘Cmon, admit it folks, we all take a peek at the blasted rag now and again… )

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4720412/Murderer-set-brother-fire-shared-chilling-video.html

    F*cking appalling, but really it was the back story to these terrible events that grabbed my attention, which had not featured on the news.

    Two brothers, one who worked as a high flying lawyer and who had had a successful academic university career, and the other who was not academic at all, and ended up doing menial gardening jobs on low pay.

    Now, we’ll never know the exact thinking or psychology behind what occurred, but the issues around prestige and status (particularly matters around ‘intellectual status,’ as I was alluding to upthread), do inevitably jump out at you a bit.

    How this might link up at all with the concept of chest-thumping elite liberals who might pronounce stuff along the lines of ‘Ooh, just be aware you can’t have any serious or valid ideas about power dynamics in modern society until your familiar with 30 yr old works by Chomsky’, I have no idea, but this might perhaps worth be dwelling upon at some point I suppose.

    Y’ know, kings in their castles, and dirty rascals, that kinda thing …. 😉

  114. StillGjenganger says

    @Marduk

    I hope you can stay calmer for a bit (though I am not the person to say it, for sure). I agree with you, and your anger is perfectly understandable, but I rely on your rational arguments (not your anger) to convince others, and in part myself, that our point of view can hold. Not many can do that. As it is you push things a little too far, and people who disagree with you can refute the more extreme parts and not engage with the main point.

  115. StillGjenganger says

    @Lucythoughts

    So, here is my wider point: identity politics isn’t owned by progressive lefties

    I wonder what you mean by identity politics, exactly? To be sure, all kinds of underhand tactics are used freely by both sides. There are some differences – the right goes more for rape threats. and the left more for excluding people (or getting them fired) as racists, but it is much of a muchness, yes.

    As I understaand it, though,identity politics is the idea that each group, small or big as it is, has equal right to have society tailored to their specific image, and that anybobdy who disagrees is some kind of ‘ist’ or ‘phobe’, and anyway legally and morally unfit to present an opinion. And that does seem to be a specifically progressive weapon – and a very successful one too. The white, cis, males who try to do the same thing (yes, they exist), are pretty much playing catch-up, I think, trying and failing to gain the same protections that everybody else gets. Personally Ithink men would be better off to drop the feminism envy, and challenge straight on the idea that being female, black, trans, … automatically eititles you to equality of outcome and the right to decalre immoral anyone who disagrees with you. But however misguided the Men’s rights crowd may be, I stll do not think it right to say that ‘identity poltics’ is equally spread.across the spectrum.

  116. Marduk says

    123. I threw the elbow in one post to someone who had lost his temper with me. I don’t have an issue moving on.

    124. I think what both sides have in common is the idea of segmenting people into groups and making that the most important thing about them. All they disagree about is the valence and hierarchy of these various identities, long term its a disaster for the left to go along with this kind of bullshit I hope we’d seen the last of some time ago. The misreading of intersectionality hasn’t helped either. Although you won’t see this written down, I know people in various minority groups who find it incredibly dispiriting to be singled out and labelled again as if they aren’t part of wider society and have a different view of everything. Imagine the effort integration really takes for people, and then they get told, tough shit, you’re BAME. However benign the intent its a retograde step. But the mostly middle-class white people who promote this stuff, of course, never bother to ask the people they think they are saving about these things, like that “Black lives matter” protest last year in the England where all the protesters were white which scared the black community of actual black people who thought someone was trying to get them in trouble/create tension.

    In the US (and to an extent) the UK its become self-feeding of late, people keep saying how fractured society is and how that means they have to fracture it some more.

  117. lucythoughts says

    124. Gjenganger

    The tactics are not as important as the fundamental nature of the thing. My understanding of identity politics is basically this: groups form because common characteristics lead to common life experiences, which when shared lead to a sense of cohesion and kinship. While the shared life experiences are largely positive, you get pro-social special interest groups and everyone is happy. When they are negative, you get angry, restive groups who begin to flex their muscles in a variety of different ways. That could be legitimate lobbying (whatever that may be), but it also could be terrorism, and a lot in between. And the in / out group thing emerges, which means that the dark side of identity politics is the demonisation of other groups, on the basis that their identity is a counterpoint to your own.

    And while in theory identity politics movements have no political agenda beyond advancement of the recognition, influence and interests of the group, in practice they cannot help but be co-opted by people who are married to a very particular view of how society should work. So, as Marduk said, there are parts of the racial equality agenda being pushed from certain quarters which are very unwelcome to many black people, but it doesn’t matter because they are not running the show. Woman’s diverse interests are hardly well represented by the Women’s Equality Party, who have a very specific kind of woman in mind to reap the benefits they would like to offer. MRA groups that campaign against abortion on the grounds that it gives women too much power are hardly likely to win favour with the many, many men who really don’t want their wife’s, or girlfriend’s or casual one-night-stand’s unwanted pregnancy to continue to its logical conclusion; neither will they please a lot of men by forcing them to have paternity tests they don’t bloody well want, and could perfectly well organise for themselves if they did, thank you very much. And as for the alt-right, they are married to a really extreme form of economic libertarianism, which by rights should scare the shit out of any white working class man with a natural sense of self-preservation.

    So, it isn’t a left / right issue. It is a mechanism by which certain identity based groups become the nucleus around which forms a movement they have no direct control over; they can give their support, or get out of the way, but they can’t stop the ball rolling. And they schism and form subgroups, and some get powerful, based on the levers they can pull in the prevailing political climate, while others dwindle away to nothing.

  118. Adiabat says

    Ally (105):

    Who are you to decide that I should have something deeply upsetting & potentially harmful imposed upon me against my will?

    I’m just saying you’re not special so you don’t get different treatment than everyone else. You’re the one wanting to treat people different based solely on your personal opinion of them. My approach doesn’t privilege any group over another and forces people to convince others of their position instead of using institutional power to get their own way.

    RE: “racists, sexists and homophobes”

    20 years ago I would’ve agreed that we should restrict content that are deemed racist, sexist and homophobic: the risk of false positives was smaller, and it was for a greater good. However, progressives have increasingly shown that they cannot correctly identify whether something is any of these things, changing the definitions in many cases, and the ASA’s recent actions hint that they have been giving progressives a level of influence that outweighs their popular support.

    The result will inevitably be the censorship of things that aren’t racist, sexist and homophobic to most reasonable people. Again, just look at the Protein World ad as an example.

    Well one of the reasons Mary Whitehouse and Jack Thompson were broadly unsuccessful is precisely because they could not prove it was harmful, because there wasn’t a consensus of evidence.

    What a strange way to phrase it. You could just say that they couldn’t demonstrate a direct cause and effect relationship to a reasonable degree of significance with credible studies. And I suspect you can’t do that either.

    However I have a feeling that whatever research I link you to, from psychology, neurology, sociology, anthropology or whatever will be dismissed by you as “bogus science”

    Maybe, maybe not: If it’s a crap study, it’s a crap study. It’s not my fault there are an awful lot of crap studies in many of the fields you rely on to support your claims. Address poor standards and ideological bias in academia and you’ll get better studies to support your claims.

    115:

    I hate to break it to you, but what they are reflecting is basically reflecting mainstream opinion to a very large extent. If you disagree with mainstream opinion, that is unfortunate. Happens to the best of us.

    No, they’re responding to a loud activist minority with a level of influence that far outstrips their numbers and popular support.

    I’m reaching the point of thinking we seriously need to reduce the effect of activism on the political process and base policy more on popular consensus. Activists by their nature tend towards the busybody and the radical, leading to the moderate ‘live and let live’ population getting side-lined. The risk of going down this path though is that reduces accountability for those in power, but there has to be a balance where power is accountable but also a minority of activists aren’t having a disproportionate influence on the political process.

  119. Adiabat says

    Marduk (119): I agree it needs to come from the left, just like how the Punk subculture was fundamentally left wing (but would be tearing apart what the left has become).

    But from what little I’ve seen the Chapo guys seem to be “no bad tactics, only bad targets” types i.e without principles or any concept of a reciprocal moral system. I’d be wary of trusting any group like that, even if they do push politics you agree with, for now. I’ll have to listen to more of their show to get a better understanding of them.

  120. WineEM says

    Ok, so thinking about this, Ally, your basic thesis seems to be that the major cause of violence in society is this patriarchal mode of thought, whereby those towards the top of a hierarchy will employ a spirit of competition and dominance, using whatever knowledge and power structures at their disposal, to crush, dismiss and marginalise those beneath them.

    But, in fairness (and in defence of such types), is it not possible that they might get into such habits, without necessarily realising that they’re doing so ? 🙂 I mean, without conscious effort to do any of these things?

    I know I’ve used the expression ‘chest-thumping’ upthread, so it might be a bit inelegant to use it again here, but right now I can’t think of a better term for this purpose.

    So perhaps the ‘chest-thumping’ is a natural male trait (not merely the dominion of red-haired, Scottish men, I think we should strongly emphasise), which may manifest at different times and in different ways, and as the expression of a natural instinct, we should not be to hasty to condemn it? 🙂

  121. Marduk says

    128.
    Yeah, I don’t mean them specifically, it was just in the paper that day. In the critical article Jeet Someoneorother talks about a “dirtbag left” movement which apparently practices “dominance politics” (a new specious idea to explain why they should shut up). I have to admit the only thing named in there I’m actually familiar with is Radio War Nerd (its the War Nerd aka Gary Brecher aka John Dolan from Exile.ru) which I don’t see as political at all other than they have no time for Iraq-war style neo-conservativism. Which would make me wonder if someone on the Clinton-‘left’ is letting the mask slip.

  122. Ally Fogg says

    Hokaaay, some quickies

    Marduk

    I don’t want regulatory bodies controlling speech acting on ideological grounds.

    I think this highlights the fundamental disagreement between us. You think that people complaining about beach body acts are being ideological while people not complaining about them – or indeed producing them – are not being ideological.

    This is profoundly, dangerously wrong. (IMHO natch).

    Everything is ideological to the core. When Protein World produce an advert designed to make people feel ashamed of their bodies and then buy a product to address that shame, they are perpetrating a profoundly ideological action. It is steeped in the ideology of capitalist consumerism, first of all, which is every bit as much of an ideology as feminism, socialism, green anarchism or whatever. It is steeped in the ideology of bodily perfection, which is an entirely socially fabricated strain of ideological propaganda.

    When people object to Protein World, what they are objecting to (in large part) is the ideological propagandizing involved, they are objecting to our society being pushed ever further into those ideological territories.

    Objecting to Protein World adverts is an ideological act. Not objecting to Protein World adverts is an ideological act. For the ASA to rule that Protein World adverts are unacceptable is an ideological decision. For the ASA to rule that Protein World adverts are acceptable is *also* an ideological decision.

    More to the point perhaps, I don’t know where you have been for the last 56 years years but making decisions on the acceptability of adverts on the grounds of ideology is what the ASA has been doing since 1961.

    When the ASA says advertisers cannot be racist because it causes offence and harm, they are making an ideological ruling that racism is not acceptable.

    When the ASA says you cannot mock religious beliefs in advertising (or indeed that you cannot use religious claims in advertising) they are making an ideological ruling.

    Etc etc etc.

    So, to come back to my question, I don’t understand why you are getting upset about (incredibly minor, almost non-existent) changes to interpretations of the ASA code when you have been living with it, apparently oblivious, your entire life.

    In my lifetime the biggest social change has been attitudes towards homosexuality, I’ve seen it go from a crime to something we were bashfully OK with to something we don’t even think about much and it seems weird to have any sort of negative opinion around. This in the face of government legislation which for a period tried to influence media and culture. Nobody passed a “being is alright, ok?” law, the culture decided and the politicians are still chasing it if anything.

    You seem to think that attitudes to homosexuality just decided to change one day, for no reason. This is nonsense. Attitudes to homosexuality changed because gay people and their supporters objected to the ubiquitous negative portrayals of gay people in culture and media and lobbied to have them reduced or removed from TV, from advertising, Attitudes to homosexuality changed because campaigners fought the prevailing ideological assumptions in a long, brutal, often literally bloody battle to change attitudes.

    And it is painfully obvious that at every stage they had to fight and argue against people making the very precise arguments that you’ve been making on this thread.

  123. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat (127)

    I’m just saying you’re not special so you don’t get different treatment than everyone else. You’re the one wanting to treat people different based solely on your personal opinion of them. My approach doesn’t privilege any group over another and forces people to convince others of their position instead of using institutional power to get their own way.

    This bears zero resemblance to anything I have said or any position I hold. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    My position, again, is that personally I’m chill with pretty much any obscenity, nudity, bad taste you want to throw at me. I’ve never formally complained about an advert in my life. However I am aware that as a British citizen I live as part of a large social network & community of around 60m people all of whom have different needs, problems, opinions and concerns. I’m aware that if I swing a fist it might connect with someone’s chin & if it does I should expect to be held responsible. If I pour poison into a river I should expect to be held responsible. I am saying the exact same principle applies to culture and media. If I choose to buy up some advertising space and inflict my speech, my images, my opinions upon random passers by or random passing viewers, then it is right that I can be held responsible for the negative consequences of that. If I am causing hurt, harm or offence to people who have done literally nothing to invite that, I am responsible for that too.

    Now, at this point we then get into a debate about what is and is not hurtful, harmful or offensive.

    I have no divine right to rule on that. You have no divine right to rule on that. The owners of Protein World or ITV have no divine right to rule on that.

    So, as a compromise, we – the 60m people of Britain – have, through democratic channels, agreed to let an independent body be the arbiters of those decisions. That arbitrator (in the context of advertising) is the ASA.

    Now, how is the ASA expected to make its decisions? I expect it to listen to representations, look at evidence, do their best to take a measure of popular consensus and ultimately reach entirely arbitrary decisions about where the lines in the sand are from one year to the next.

    I fully expect and understand that sometimes I will think the lines in the sand are in the right place, sometimes in the wrong place, and if I feel strongly enough I can campaign to have them moved.

    Now, look at all of the above and tell me where your problem is?

    RE: “racists, sexists and homophobes”
    20 years ago I would’ve agreed that we should restrict content that are deemed racist, sexist and homophobic: the risk of false positives was smaller, and it was for a greater good. However, progressives have increasingly shown that they cannot correctly identify whether something is any of these things, changing the definitions in many cases, and the ASA’s recent actions hint that they have been giving progressives a level of influence that outweighs their popular support.
    The result will inevitably be the censorship of things that aren’t racist, sexist and homophobic to most reasonable people. Again, just look at the Protein World ad as an example.

    First thing is I guarantee that 20 years ago you would have been taking the exact same positions on these questions that you’re taking now, only you’d have just said that 20 years earlier things were pretty bad but now they are just fine. So it goes. It honestly is the most tedious and wanky position imaginable to state that you supported social justice back when it was reasonable but nowadays it has all just gone too far. It’s like a woeful comic parody of a Daily Mail reader.

    More significantly, WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU TO DECIDE WHAT IS AND IS NOT SEXIST??? Who are these ‘reasonable people’ you are talking about and how do you know that their view is the prevailing one, not any other?

    How do we reconcile this dilemma? Oh I dunno, maybe we could set up some impartial regulator run by the advertising industry who could take representations and try to make the best judgement they can as to what is and is not acceptable to the public from one year to the next? Hey, we could call it something cool like the Advertising Standards Authority?

    Just an idea.

  124. Ally Fogg says

    WineEM (129)

    Ok, so thinking about this, Ally, your basic thesis seems to be that the major cause of violence in society is this patriarchal mode of thought,

    No. I would say it is one significant contributing factor. Not necessarily the major cause. But all causes of violence tend to interact & feed off each other to such an extent that it is hard to untangle & certainly impossible to state that X, Y or Z is THE major factor.

    whereby those towards the top of a hierarchy will employ a spirit of competition and dominance, using whatever knowledge and power structures at their disposal, to crush, dismiss and marginalise those beneath them.

    Not exactly. Firstly it is not so much about individuals making individual choices. It is more that the structures of society and culture have grown around networks of power and dominance in a symbiotic relationship, so that the interests of economic, cultural and political power are embedded into culture and social values.

    But, in fairness (and in defence of such types), is it not possible that they might get into such habits, without necessarily realising that they’re doing so ? 🙂 I mean, without conscious effort to do any of these things?

    It’s not about defence. I’m not blaming the individuals, you are quite right that they are not even aware of what they are doing and why, as far as the individuals are concerned they are making the best decisions that day for their wealth & wellbeing, their good of their business, their family, whatever.

    So perhaps the ‘chest-thumping’ is a natural male trait (not merely the dominion of red-haired, Scottish men, I think we should strongly emphasise), which may manifest at different times and in different ways, and as the expression of a natural instinct, we should not be to hasty to condemn it? 🙂

    I’ve got nothing against chest-thumping. I do have an issue with a system that demands we thump our chests in particular patterns which (by weird coincidence) serve to benefit the vested interests of the rich and powerful while simultaneously proscribing or condemning other patterns which undermine their interests.

    It’s rarely about the individuals, It’s always about the structures.

  125. Carnation says

    @ Adiabat

    “First thing is I guarantee that 20 years ago you would have been taking the exact same positions on these questions that you’re taking now, only you’d have just said that 20 years earlier things were pretty bad but now they are just fine. So it goes. It honestly is the most tedious and wanky position imaginable to state that you supported social justice back when it was reasonable but nowadays it has all just gone too far. It’s like a woeful comic parody of a Daily Mail reader.”

    A very precise and accurate summation.

    I’m fairly sure you’d have also supported feminism, before it went too far?

    Ditto Milo.

    I seem to recall you also supported the advent of the Gamergate movement, then went quiet about it. They probably went too far, too.

    Classy x

  126. WineEM says

    OMG, Andrew Marr just retweeted something very politically incorrect about a ‘Shrew Caravan’ from his Twitter account. This situation is gonna (metaphorically) explode am telling ya now! 🙂

  127. Marduk says

    So, will Christina Patterson now make a stand on Putin only retaining data for six months rather than the full twelve months as in the UK? Because otherwise its literally the same policy as is being implemented in the UK. Maybe she can explain to the Russians that they even now they still have too much freedom for her liking and see what kind of a response that gets.
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/25/hackers-undermine-russias-attempts-to-control-the-internet

    Oh but its different when Putin does it. Really?

    131.
    There is nowhere to begin with this. The idea that everything is just ideology is the soul post-modernist hogwash. The idea that gay rights was about ideology and not opposing the very real over-reach of institutions into other people’s lives is similarly crazy. I say Stonewall, you say Will & Grace.

    The thing about this post is that it only makes sense (as a circular argument) if one signs up to belief in abstract constructs that don’t exist. I don’t accept they exist, I don’t accept your competence to make them up and I don’t accept a regulatory agency acting like they exist. You sound like a religious person arguing for blasphemy laws.

  128. Ally Fogg says

    Not saying everything is “just ideology.”

    I’m saying every decision is ideological, every position is ideological, every policy is ideological.

    Do you honestly deny that?

    Like, do you think the status quo is inherently ideologically neutral?

    If not, please tell me any stance or situation in the fields of political or social policy which is free of ideology?

  129. SillGjenganger says

    @Ally (nd everybody)

    Scattered responses:

    There was a complaint that the ASA was making decisions on ideological grounds, and your answer was that ‘everyting was ideological’. That is only a consistent answer if it means that everything is ‘just ideology’, and that it is therefore meaningless to discuss other decision criteria. Everybody follows their own ideology, and that is the right thing, and there is nothing to talk about. ”Let the strongest win, and let us make sure that me and my friends are the strongest’. Which is a situation I would rather regret. If you do not take it that far, it is perfectly sensible to dinguish betweeen decisions that are purely or mostly ideological, and those that have an additional basis, e.g. in specific and demonstrable harm, or in being offensive to an actual majority of the population. As for ‘inventing a neutral regulator’, the complaint here is that the ASA has been(partially) captured by a well-organised and vocal minority, so that its decisions do not reflect society, but the way in which that minority thinks socierty ought to (be forced to) change. Anyway, is everything ‘just ideology’, or was your answer insufficient for the question?

    I think this highlights the fundamental disagreement between us. You think that people complaining about beach body acts are being ideological while people not complaining about them – or indeed producing them – are not being ideological.

    […]

    Who are you to decide that I should have something deeply upsetting & potentially harmful imposed upon me against my will?

    […]

    are you really saying that propagating hate speech & encouraging discriminatory & prejudiced attitudes doesn’t hurt anyone? To go back to one of my examples, if an advertising slogan was used “I buy Yorkie Bars because I’m not a poof” then I would argue (and the vast majority of reasonable people would agree) that this is actively harmful to gay people,

    The norms for allowable speech may well be arbitrary. But the questino is who has a right to set them. The fact that some expressions are supposedly hurtful (or even harmful) for some specific group is not by itself enough to compel evertybody else to avoid them. The decision goes to society as a whole, because there can be ony one general norm. It is not for gays, or muslims, or ethnic minorities, or paedophiles, to decide for themselves what other people can say about them – even if they can show that some specific speech puts them at a disadvantage. Now I would certainly argue for tolerance and good manners, but it is for the majority to decide. And this is where the status quo has a privileged position. Norms are supposed to reflect what people think, and the status quo is generally what they think. People whose ideology is different are not on an equal footing with the existing consensus; they should try to change people’s thinking, and let the rules adapt, not change the rules as a means to remodel society..

  130. WineEM says

    Well we see right now the way the left is falling in to a massive trap around censorship.

    So in case you don’t live on planet Zog, you will not have failed to notice there is a bit of a discussion in the media going on about the so-called ‘abuse’ of MPs, and the extra measures which they are implying are needed to counter this.

    This, presumably, is all very well when it comes to #ReclaimTheNet types, who see the ‘abuse’ (read, often just criticising their feminism) ,as something that needs to be outlawed and squashed, no matter the civil liberty implications, no matter if it means losing the potential for anonymity on social media altogether. (For let’s face it, ideas and memes especially can be so undesirable and dangerous in some quarters. Pepe the frog, anyone?).

    Tories, meanwhile, (and the left is being pretty thick, quite frankly, not to get this), have another plan in mind. They see the social media army which is Corbyn’s fan club as a massive strategic risk for them, and therefore, they will happily welcome in a world in which the most trivial insult, criticism or caustic side is categorised as ‘abuse’ or ‘hate crime’ (perhaps along similar lines to the ‘misogynist hate crime in Nottingham), and which has to be investigated by Police ‘cyber squads’ every single time, with the heavy hand of the law. (Like no worries about the hassle, or potential invasion of privacy, or anything of that sort.)

    You can just see how this will play out. Left-wing, Corbyn supporter types will start saying ‘hang on, I didn’t mean for my civil liberties or freedom of expression to come under threat, my freedom to use the expression ‘Tory Scum’, or to point out the ‘social murder’ of Atos victims.

    No, no, I merely meant the MRA types with their backwards interpretation of feminism, the Brexiteers and the Trump supporters. I never realised this could apply to me and my cyber friends as well’.

    By this time, of course, it will all be too late. So we see that progressives like to censor, they are not so keen to be hampered and censored themselves. Kinda strange and funny that.

  131. Carnation says

    @ WineEM

    As much as I suspect you’d love to see that happen, it won’t.

    Most likely, nothing will.

  132. Marduk says

    139. It isn’t a partisan thing. Politicians have very little legitimacy, they hold views that ordinary people don’t, its the same with journalists who increasingly hold views nobody who reads their papers have because they are part of the same arrogant establishment class. Naturally both groups would like you to stay in your place and shut up. There is nothing more to it than that.

    I’ll prove it to you as well. Remember after Brexit we had a media class who hadn’t seen it coming and a Parliament full of people who didn’t want to enact the will of the people (the majority of MPs were remainers, not saying anything about the merits either way but its just a fact). Both promised admidst much sack cloth and ashes that there would be serious self-examination of their disconnect with the people. And….

    Well its a year on, nothing happened and both groups have completely forgotten about it. Couldn’t have been anything important huh.

    This will keep happening until some sort of crisis is reached I expect although I can’t tell you what it will be or what will happen but things can’t continue like this indefinitely.

  133. Marduk says

    137.
    I can’t answer the question because if I do I’ve accepted a premise I don’t agree with. I have never beaten my wife so I can’t answer a question about when I stopped.

    You’re going to have to help me here:

    Do you actually think pictures can make people feel ashamed and this is because of ideology. Or there other types of inanimate object that can do this or is it just graven representations?

    Or are you saying ideology makes people feel ashamed and this is supported by pictures. In which case, is there an ideology that would make people feel happy seeing the same picture and if so, what would it be?

    I don’t think either is true btw. I think you’re reflecting a view in feminism that is a form of “looking for the foul”. No mental health professional would say that encouraging people to believe they can only feel OK if the entire world and everything in it changes is a good way to live and no mental health professional would encourage people in the belief they have no control over their feelings.

  134. StillGjenganger says

    @Lucythoughts 127

    I’ve tried, but I cannot make sense of you point. So, groups form around shared characteristics, develop a sense of kinship, and agitate to promote their shared interests. That is so general that you would not call it ‘identity politics’, but just ‘politics’. Or even human nature. Parties and movements have always formed around particular social groups, no? On top of that, you say, groups can get married to specific political ideas, and non-members can join in and even dominate, based on the political idea rather than shared group membership. So far, so general. I still do not understand how that makes ‘identity politics’ anything but a synonym for ‘politics’. Could you help clarify how identity politics are distinct?

  135. lucythoughts says

    143. Gjenganger.

    I’m sorry Gjenganger, but the point I was originally making went by the wayside some time ago, overall this isn’t very interesting to me, and I really don’t know what you are looking for. I will try to give you a very simplified view of how I see politics in case that helps.

    Political ideology (in my view) broadly works along two axes: economic and social. Common configurations are things like “economically liberal / socially conservative” (e.g Republican party); “economically socialist / socially progressive” (e.g. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, although with much resistance from the PLP). In the UK under New Labour, the configuration “economically (neo)liberal / socially progressive” came to be defined as “centrist”, and that mantle was inherited by the One Nation Tories. Reasonable so far?

    As individuals, people may only care very much about one axis or the other and ascribe themselves a political identity based on that. However, a political party of government has to have a coherent ideological and policy position on both axes. Although socialism / conservatism / liberalism etc might have their origins in particular demographics (most obviously socialism in the industrial working classes), they are broad based political ideologies. Identity politics is different in the sense that it exists, nominally, to promote the specific interests of a given demographic group within the political landscape, not to reshape the prevailing social and economic architecture according to general ideological principles.

    Is that enough? I really don’t know what you are after here. Identity politics is a subset of politics, and behaves accordingly; it isn’t a thing all by itself. It also isn’t just a catch-all term for “progressive meddling we don’t like,” which seems to be how it’s used most of the time, often by people who then do the exact same things which they claim to object to, apparently without noticing.

  136. WineEM says

    Wow, the MSM appears to have completely ignored Marr’s ‘shrew caravan’ Tweet. I’m amazed. If he had tweeted something like “that Garvey and Murray, just a buncha imbecile mingers, innit?” would they still have done the same thing? Or is that retweeting a clip of a ‘shrew caravan’ with the caption: “Each shrew grasps the base of the tail of the preceding shrew so that the mother leads them all” doesn’t quite have the connotations I’m thinking it does?!

    There is a theory out there that the Telegraph, Mail, etc will do everything they can to put paid to the BBC, but actually, I reckon they’re all part of the same patrician elite club, so it’s not that surprising they don’t want to cause each other that much trouble.

  137. Ally Fogg says

    Gjen

    “There was a complaint that the ASA was making decisions on ideological grounds, and your answer was that ‘everyting was ideological’. That is only a consistent answer if it means that everything is ‘just ideology’, and that it is therefore meaningless to discuss other decision criteria.”

    A judgement about what is or is not harmful to society is invariably an ideological ruling.

    To start at the extreme and work my way in…

    A judgement that overt racial hatred is harmful to society is an ideological judgement, because it is arbitrarily stating that a society where racial hatred is freely propagated is more damaged or less healthy than a society in which expressions of racial hatred are entirely uncensored. Now, there are some (libertarians and racists) who disagree with that, but society has decided through the agreed channels that the libertarians and racists are wrong about that. If society went the other way and ruled in the opposite direction, the ruling would still be ideological, it would just be adhering to different ideological priorities.

    With me so far?

    Now, take a complaint about expressions of overt misogyny or sexism – imagine an advert with the strapline “Because a woman’s place is in the kitchen” – something like that. A judgement that overt sexism is harmful to society is an ideological judgement, because it is arbitrarily stating that a society where sexism or misogyny is freely propagated is more damaged or less healthy than a society in which expressions of misogyny are entirely uncensored. Now, there are some (libertarians & sexists) who disagree with that, but society has decided through the agreed channels that the libertarians and sexists are wrong about that. If society went the other way and ruled in the opposite direction, the ruling would still be ideological, it would just be adhering to different ideological priorities.

    Still with me?

    Now, what happens when we all agree on everything above, and then a complaint is made about an advert (eg Protein World) which some people think is clearly, unquestionably sexist & misogynist and – for good measure – which risks damaging the psychological wellbeing and good mental health of the people who are exposed to it by altering their perceptions of good health & body image in a harmful way. Then at the same time some other people think the same advert is clearly, unquestionably NOT sexist or misogynist and who DO NOT believe any harm can or will come from it.

    How do you weigh up those competing claims?

    This is the question which we are all debating here.

    The point I am making is that you cannot simply strip away ideology from that decision because you are making a ruling on ideological questions (What is sexism? What is racism? What is free speech? What is social harm and how is it measured?)

    So again I say yes, everything is ideological. Now, if you want it is perfectly reasonable for you to extrapolate from there that the Advertising Standards Authority is making rulings on “just ideology” but personally I think that misrepresents the complexity of what they are doing.

    Apart from anything else, if you read the ASA weekly bulletins you will find that there are loads of complaints around sexism, racism etc which the ASA disagrees with and rejects. Here’s a random one here from 10 seconds on Google https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/west-quay-cars-southampton-ltd-a15-290427.html So if you are going to argue that the ASA is being ideological when it rules in favour of what we might call a feminist complaint, you also have to explain what they are doing when they rule against a feminist complaint. You can’t have it both ways.

  138. Ally Fogg says

    and following on from that, Marduk

    You’re going to have to help me here:

    “Do you actually think pictures can make people feel ashamed and this is because of ideology. Or there other types of inanimate object that can do this or is it just graven representations?”

    No, I think pictures can make people feel ashamed and this is because of human psychology because we are a social species & responsive to representations of ourselves & our behaviour. I think text can also make people feel ashamed, so can film or video or animations or whatever. When you have photos, text & other media working together specifically to induce feelings of shame, then you have a powerful tool for inducing shame if that is what you want to do.

    Is this even up for debate? I don’t think so.

    The ideology comes in when someone makes a decision as to what we do or do not do about that.

    “Or are you saying ideology makes people feel ashamed and this is supported by pictures. In which case, is there an ideology that would make people feel happy seeing the same picture and if so, what would it be?”

    Yes, absolutely. Take the Protein World photo & instead of a caption saying “ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY?” have a caption saying “JANE SMITH: WORLD GYMNASTICS CHAMPION, SUPPORTED BY THE GENEROSITY OF PLAYERS OF THE NATIONAL LOTTERY.”

    Totally changes the context. Designed to induce pride & engagement rather than shame & while I’m sure you’d still find someone somewhere who would take exception to it, I would be astonished if the ASA would consider it in any way unacceptable.

    “No mental health professional would say that encouraging people to believe they can only feel OK if the entire world and everything in it changes is a good way to live and no mental health professional would encourage people in the belief they have no control over their feelings.

    Well literally nobody is saying that so I’m not sure why you’re inventing stuff. There is a big difference between saying we must control everything and we can’t control anything. This debate is entirely about where we draw the line on potential harmfulness. And if you’re talking about mental health professionals, they are firmly on my side, not yours, consistently & very prominently demanding that regulators do more to clamp down on images of unrealistic & unhealthy bodies.

    So you should probably take that up with the Royal College of Psychiatrists & tell them they don’t know what they are talking about.

  139. Ally Fogg says

    Wine EM (139)

    You know what? I don’t entirely disagree with you there, although your analysis of this as a left-right thing is way, way off beam.

    This summer there has indeed been a deeply cynical manoeuvre by the establishment centre right – in which I very much include the Blairite centrists of the Labour party – to isolate & alienate the Corbynite left of the Labour party & see them politically tainted & damaged by allegations of militant intimidation, petty vandalism & ‘internet trolling.’

    There has been a concerted effort involving a cynical alliance of Tories & Blairites to portray the Corbynite left as a rabble of hooligans, thugs, terrorists & trolls & Yvette Cooper’s Reclaim the Internet stuff is slap bang in the centre of that.

    However you seem to think that it is the same Corbynite left who is demanding censorship of advertising or media or whatever else, this is very largely false. The people who throw wobblies about Protein World adverts are by and large the precise same individuals (and ideologically the precise same political groupings) who are attacking the left for being trolls (Cooper, Jess Philips, the whole liberal feminist wing of the Guardian.)

    By and large the Corbynite left (which is largely made up of leftist women, I’d remind you) is generally pretty sceptical of the Guardianista / Fawcett / Everyday Sexism kind of liberal feminism & to a very large extent at ideological loggerheads with them.

    Certainly if my Twitter feed is anything to go by, that is.

  140. Marduk says

    144.
    If identity politics was only that, I really wouldn’t have a problem with it.

    But that isn’t how it works. Firstly, with reference to post 148, its been used as a way of slicing and dicing the left whose only real strength is unity and, dare I say, common purpose. In the last year we’ve seen for example white women and gay men both get turned against as this war rages on. This has happened for serious reasons, this is the deal that people like Hilary Clinton offer you, basically what the right is selling plus identity politics = third way. This is the classic triangulation but what it ain’t is anything really to do with liberal, let alone left wing, politics. It just seems like it might, this is false. Its politics as a personalised services, not as a set of values or beliefs. Second, how it works in practice is different as well. I read quite a good column about this but I can’t find it now (US politics stuff). Basically they were examining the claim of SJW-style activists to have achieved gay rights. What they, rightly in my opinion, pointed out was this wasn’t true. Gay rights were achieved on the basis of argument and rhetoric going back many, many years around universal principles of equality. They note in particular how rigorously activists policed themselves in making sure that this was always the line, always the statement, even to the point of boring themselves. There is no question that this is the most successful social movement there has ever been, I would argue even more so than civil rights because of the influence it has had in the culture as well as in the law. SJW identity politics appeals to minority rights are typically less successful and only come about when enforced through power (they rarely penetrate the culture either) and as we know, power changes hands. This distinction here is important.

    147.
    Well, they are talking about eating disorders specifically and the best evidence is in maintenance factors only really. I think over the last seven years its become a lot less fashionable to link eating disorders to diets and swimsuit models in the same way linking depression to sad songs and grey skies isn’t done so much. What even the evidence there has in common is that these things are predicated on false beliefs which is why unrealistic representations support maintenance by people who spend a massive amount of time trying to find them (how preventable that could be is also debatable given the level of effort involved and the motivation behind it). And it doesn’t get much more false than the belief pictures can MAKE YOU feel something. If you want to invest in the idea of false ideologies, there isn’t a deeper form of fuckery than to imprison people behind an open door. Look at CBT or REBT etc., they are all about helping people understand that this isn’t how they work or the world works (moreso in the case of CBT where the idea is to test the way the world works against a ‘pretended’ belief system derived from action until you realise the world is playing along). What they all agree is that pictures don’t make you feel anything, but if you go around saying that to yourself, thats a category error that is going to lead to significant hurt.

    Furthermore, you now this is true because as you’ve said, via not entirely a trick question, context alters these things. I put it to you someone’s head is a bigger producer of context and far more amenable to being changed by that person than what its says on a poster. Yeah, she’s beach ready because presumably she works out a lot (protein is an exercise thing after all). How important is a beach ready body, who cares, why do you care, is it a good use of someone’s time, what the real (vs imagined) consequences, what would you get from it, and so on. There is so much that needs to be examined there that just shrieking and covering your eyes doesn’t do. I know how I dealt with advertising like that when I was a kid, my parents explained to me what was going on with it and what they were trying to do until the idea of buying, say, trainers was less appealing than sprouts, I’m disappointed that this isn’t a universal experience.

    If we were genuinely worried about the harms these things do, and I mean about the harms not our aesthetic preferences or imagined ‘how the world is supposed to be’, our responses would be quite different and result in far more empowered, effective people in society. These things need to have power taken away from them, it feels like we’re doing the opposite by pretending otherwise because hey, its get stuff we don’t like banned.

  141. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 146
    A very interesting post, that really had me thinking.

    For most practical questions I do not think we are far apart. I am neither libertarian nor racist (by my lights), and I fully accept that decisions on what speech is permissible are ultimately arbitrary. I can readily believe that the day-to-day work of the ASA is quite sensible (that is surprisingly often the case for civil service institutions). And I still think that the principles, assumptions, and arguments you present here are partisan, purely political, and quite dangerous. So:

    A judgement that overt racial hatred is harmful to society is an ideological judgement, because it is arbitrarily stating that a society where racial hatred is freely propagated is more damaged or less healthy than a society in which expressions of racial hatred [are censored]

    […]

    A judgement that overt sexism is harmful to society is an ideological judgement, because it is arbitrarily stating that a society where sexism or misogyny is freely propagated is more damaged or less healthy than a society in which expressions of misogyny [are censored].

    No, No, and No. First, because you are stating the problem in terms of which ideologies are being propagated, not in terms of which words are said. Second because your definition of a ‘damaged society’ is purely political. Your political goals are what would make the society healthy, and anything that moves away form those goals is therefore ‘damage’. And third because you claim that society, through appropriate channels, has already settled that your political goals are the right ones. It would follow logically that anyone who is arguing against those goals (or, God forbid, working against them) is harming society and should be prevented from speaking. I hope you can see why I find that problematic. Note, I am not accusing you, personally, of wanting to shut anybody up (the idea is ridiculous, on this blog), but your arguments and principles do not become less dangerous because you yourself prefer not to draw the logical conclusion.

    Let me give a few examples:

    It would not be hard to find people who think that the policies of Corbyn, or the very existence of the Tories, are harmful to society. Having accepted that we want to suppress harmful attitudes, which group should get its wish?

    There is the problem of anti-muslim speech. Granted that you do not think that Sharia law would be healthy for society, how do you argue for freedom of expression, let alone protection from insults, for muslims?

    Pornography. If this was all about healthy and harmful attitudes, we would need to decide whether pornography was good and liberating, and so should be accepted and encouraged, or it was reactionary and misogynistic, and so should be suppressed. Is that really the best way to look at it?

    Your approach rather reminds me of modern Turkey. The secularists, the islamists, and the Gulenists compete for power, and whoever wins has the perfect right to suppress dissent. That is not the kind of society I want to live in, even if I had a good chance of my side winning. So what is the alternative?

    Well, first of all, you can limit free speech based on the harm it does, but you do have to prove demonstrable and specific harm. ISIS propaganda, pro-anorexia propaganda, and bullying (that can push people into suicide) need to be taken seriously. You can extend it to trolling or doxxing, scaring people from participating in debate. But claims of ‘harm’ from statements that might promote attitudes you do not like should be ignored as special pleading.

    Second, the purpose of this kind of censorship is not to police the right ideas, but to protect people from being forced to face offensive material, and to police the tactics (not the content) of public discourse. Of course deciding what is offensive, which groups deserve protection, and what the debating rules should be, is as arbitrary as deciding which is the correct ideology. But there are some practical differences. For one thing the job of the ASA becomes to reflect what people think, not to decide what they ought to think. That is semi-objective, much like it is possible for dictionary-makers to decide how a word is understood in the population. Secondly it becomes (rightly) harder to suppress attitudes and political opinions, especially those held by large segments of the population. You can and should prevent people from using words like ‘paki’ or ‘poof’, but you cannot prevent people from expressing their lack of appreciation for certain groups, as long as they do it politely. Third, it puts the emphasis on protecting public space. Unpleasant opinions, like pornography, are allowed to thrive, provided they stay discreet. That sounds more like a society I would want to ive in. And, unless you are competely certain that your friends will win the various culture wars, you might see some advantages in it too.

  142. StillGjenganger says

    @Marduk 149
    Some interesting comments there. Tangentially:

    You could argue that the US Democrat (and to some extent Labour) are working on a coalition of ethnic minorities, ideological left-wingers, and the well-off, well-educated middle class. It might be harder to find a uniting point without the identity politics to keep the first two groups sweet? What would be the alternative?

    I totally agree with what you say on universal principles as opposed to minority rights. But I wonder if that means you can only get so far. For instance, universal principles can get you to registered partnership, with identical social rights. It might be harder to make the step to making ‘marriage’ sexuality-indepedent, or in general to claim a culture that is tailored to you as much as to the majority. Being conservative I am not that much in favour of that step anyway, but it might not be cost-free for campaigners to stick to universal principles when they are close to winning.

  143. Marduk says

    151.
    Well, I think the way it was won was that civil unions were clearly not equal because they are not the same thing. I say that as one of the few heterosexuals who’d prefer a civil union incidentally. It does help that there is no cost to this, and people trying to argue why gay marriage implies a cost on them just ended up looking like idiots.

    Why appeals to universal rights work is because it builds an actual coalition of interest and values. You can contrast this with the Hilary Clinton bloc which wasn’t really a coalition, it was an aggregate of differently self-interested people which isn’t the same thing. And really, if a multi-cultural world, those things are going to be pretty fragile anyway because not every minority is the friend of every other minority.

    Naturally I would defend gay rights as far as I could. Now there are two reasons one could have for doing this. The exciting virtue-seeking reason is because I like gay people, I want to fight for them, I want to be an “ally” etc. This is the SocJus mode of thought. But fuck that, I have a far better reason. I have to defend their rights because they are my rights too, they are the same rights. I’m not some suffered marginal ally, I’m quietly here for myself too. I’d suggest this is a lot more enduring and powerful and its how stable coalitions are actually formed.

    What I would hope is that a genuinely liberal party emerges, it could be any of the existing big three, although I feel least confident about the one with it in the name! If there is one thing people can agree on its that they are sick of being scolded, controlled, nudged and lectured. When is the establishment going to wake up and realise that the last two years has basically been the story of people deliberately fucking with them out of frustration. The people of this country are here to be served, not managed as a problem. Could be right wing populism, could be a very powerful liberal left.

    I’ll leave you with a Polish joke (from Poland). A Polish labourer is digging and he finds a magic lamp. He rubs the lamp, the genie appears and says “you know the drill, make a wish”. The labourer immediately says “I want Poland to be invaded by the Chinese army”. The genie creases his brow and says “I don’t normally allow these to be taken back, but are you sure thats what you want?”. The Labourer nods. The genie shrugs, the Chinese army invades, there are explosions, burning buildings, screams etc. The genie says “OK, that was so odd, I’ll give you another wish, maybe put it right? Think carefully please”. The labourer says “I want the Chinese army to invade Poland. No question.” The genie shakes his head. Fire, explosions, etc. The genie says “OK, I can’t sort this out unless you give the say so, there is virtually nothing left, for god’s sake, make a sensible third wish and I’ll fix it”. The Polish labourer grunts “I want the Chinese army to invade Poland”. Firestorms erupt, bombs rain down, artillery fires in the distance. There isn’t a building left standing. The genie says “Well, no more wishes now, what the hell, what were you thinking? You kept asking me for the Chinese army to invade Poland and now its destroyed your home.” The labourer for the first time smiles “Yes, but look at a map, each time they came they had to invade Russia first”.

  144. StillGjenganger says

    @150

    overt racial hatred is harmful to society

    I should add that it is not that I disagree. Racial segregation is very bad, much like introducing sharia law or selling the NHS to G4S. But, bad or not, that does not mean you are not allowed to argue for it. On top of that, the highly loaded wording makes it mean ‘any race-related policy i do not like is terribly harmful to society’.

  145. StillGjenganger says

    @Marduk 152

    civil unions were clearly not equal because they are not the same thing

    I would disagree with that, they are the same thing except for the social approval aspects. But, while most of the arguments were invalid, the result is correct. What won it was not the arguments, but that a majority thought hetero and homo marriage ought be seen as indistinguishable, and imposed their will upon the rest. And that is actually how things are supposed to work.

  146. Ally Fogg says

    Gjen (150)

    I think you’re entirely missing my point. You seem to be responding to me here as if I am saying it is right to censor billboards so long as the censorship tallies with my beliefs.

    This is categorically, absolutely not what I am saying. Whether I believe a Protein World advert should be banned or not is absolutely beside the point (FWIW I couldn’t really give a toss about that advert either way)

    What I am saying that is that when ever a body (stick with the the ASA, but could just as easily be Ofcom or BBFC or whatever else) makes a ruling on anything like taste & decency, harmfulness, offense, blasphemy etc etc etc, then their rulings are at least to an extent ideological, because ideology is informing all of the values and terms on which they are making their judgement. A decision to censor an advert is ideological. A decision not to censor an advert is ideological.

    You then go on to list a whole load of examples of ideological interpretations of ‘harm to society’ which absolutely 100% demonstrate my point.

    You also skip over another incredibly important ideological point which is the question of where, when and how society can censor expression of any type, so you end up blurring them altogether.

    Our current position as a society (at least in the UK) is that we censor more heavily materials which are potentially likely to be seen by children (obviously.) We quite rigidly censor materials which are imposed upon members of the public without them having any meaningful choice in whether they see them or not – most obviously advertising, but would also apply to public art.
    There is minimal censorship of materials which are normally only accessible to adults who have chosen to see them (eg pornography) although that is less true than a few years ago (“extreme pornography” legislation.) There is minimal censorship of the written word unless one transgresses the (relatively high) legal bar for criminal action for inciting violence or racial hatred or whatever.

    Now, our collective political decision to enact censorship to different degrees in different contexts is an ideological one. I personally think it is broadly correct although I would disagree with a lot of the detail and specifics.

    What I am asking you to accept is that there are two different arguments here. This is what (I think) is confusing the debate here, people keep conflating them:

    1/ Should we have regulatory mechanisms which oversees rules about the published materials which members of society can broadcast, share, sell or impose upon each other?

    2/ Once we have those regulatory mechanisms, what specific kinds of regulation and control should they be performing?

    My point is that there is a fairly broad consensus that the answer to 1/ is yes. There aren’t many extreme libertarians arguing against it. However the fact that most people agree does not mean the question (and answer) is not profoundly ideological, of course it is

    As to 2/ – these are the questions on which everyone always disagrees. There are infinite different lines in the sand and we all disagree about where they go & how they interact. Ho hum. One of the main reasons we all disagree is that we have different ideological positions on the questions at hand.

    Now the reason I have been coming back to argue this point is that I got a bit irritated by some comments that seem to suggest because they disagreed with one of the issues arising under Q2, it meant that the consensus answer to Q1 was wrong. I profoundly disagree with that. My fundamental position here is that you can disagree with the ASA on an issue of Q2 while still wholeheartedly accepting the premise of the Q1.

    Your approach rather reminds me of modern Turkey. The secularists, the islamists, and the Gulenists compete for power, and whoever wins has the perfect right to suppress dissent. That is not the kind of society I want to live in, even if I had a good chance of my side winning. So what is the alternative?

    I think this is disingenuous & unfair. It is not about dissent & I think it is rather grossly insulting to people in Turkey to pretend that the situations are even comparable when they are categorically different. Sticking to the example at hand, nobody has told Protein World they are not allowed to make & sell their snake oil. Nobody has told Protein World they are not allowed to advertise their snake oil. What they have been told is that there are an agreed list of rules and regulations which all advertisers must operate within, which include not being overtly sexist and not using extreme body shaming techniques to flog their gunk. That is all. Nobody is “stifling dissent.” And for good measure, the whole point of the ASA & bodies like it is that they are outside the control of political parties and governments. The government at Westminster changes with an election, the ASA does not.

    One final long pullquote coming up because we need to read all of this again:

    “Second, the purpose of this kind of censorship is not to police the right ideas, but to protect people from being forced to face offensive material, and to police the tactics (not the content) of public discourse. Of course deciding what is offensive, which groups deserve protection, and what the debating rules should be, is as arbitrary as deciding which is the correct ideology. But there are some practical differences. For one thing the job of the ASA becomes to reflect what people think, not to decide what they ought to think. That is semi-objective, much like it is possible for dictionary-makers to decide how a word is understood in the population. Secondly it becomes (rightly) harder to suppress attitudes and political opinions, especially those held by large segments of the population. You can and should prevent people from using words like ‘paki’ or ‘poof’, but you cannot prevent people from expressing their lack of appreciation for certain groups, as long as they do it politely. Third, it puts the emphasis on protecting public space. Unpleasant opinions, like pornography, are allowed to thrive, provided they stay discreet. That sounds more like a society I would want to live in.”

    You have just perfectly described the society we do live in and the regulatory system we have. Literally. Exactly. This is precisely what happens. This is exactly what you have been arguing against for about two weeks now.

  147. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally
    We do seem to be talking besides each other. And, as it says in both our latest posts, we do seeem to agree about most things. FWIW I do not particularly care if they ban that Protein World ad – it was gross and in-your-face enough that there was a perfectly reasonable case for banning it. I do care, though, that they are banning it because it is promoting sexist attitudes. I would say that in between Q1 (should we regulate what people say? of course we should), and Q2 (specifically what should be banned? Meh. And are those choices arbitrary? Unavoidably), there is Q1.5: What general kinds of reasons do we accept for censoring what people say? And if the answer is that we can and should censor expressions because they promote the wrong attitudes (be it sexism, racism, socialism, selfish individualism, or whatnot), we are already on board the Istanbul express, as it were. We are inviting a situation where different political groups fight to establish their ideas as the norm and explicitly ban dissenting voices as harmful, because that is how we do things.
    This is not only a question of principle. It will have pratical consequences for specific cases. One danish politician once said that immigrants ‘bred like rats’. She was convicted of hate speech, and quite rightly too. If she had merely said that immigrants ‘have far too many children’, she would still be a xenophobic idiot, but she would be safe from censorship, unless you decide that promoting the wrong attitudes is in itself enough to trigger it.
    Anyway, I have to say that your examples of what should be censored, ‘overt racial hatred’, ‘overt sexism’, are very ill-chosen – because they in practice mean ”any racial or gender poltical attitude that goes against progressive beliefs’. Much like I would not accept a right-wingers suggestion of banning ‘treasonous utterances that harm the nation’, because I know that it would in practice be used to criminalise left-wing speech in general. In fact I would say that as your words stand, they do mean that it is right to censor billboards, so long as the censorship tallies with your beliefs. And if that is not the impression you want to give, I think you should use different words. Maybe I should just ask you: Do you think that an otherwise politely worded statement that argues for a society where genders, sexualities, cis/trans etc. are not equal, should be censored or not?

    Does that make it a liittle clearer?

  148. Ally Fogg says

    Gjen,

    No, there are still several points on which we clearly disagree!

    “there is Q1.5: What general kinds of reasons do we accept for censoring what people say? And if the answer is that we can and should censor expressions because they promote the wrong attitudes (be it sexism, racism, socialism, selfish individualism, or whatnot), we are already on board the Istanbul express, as it were.”

    Yes, that is a good amendment. I agree, there is a stage at which ‘we’ (meaning the social collective, via agreed mechanisms) agree the principles or general kinds of reasons we have for censoring what people say in specific locations and contexts. (That caveat is significant, by the way. There is, quite rightly, nothing to stop any of us self-publishing a book or website or magazine full of Protein World-style images & messages. We just can’t pollute the commons with it & impose it upon people who would actively choose not to see it given the choice.)

    SO that stage, Q1.5, includes coming to various (arbitrary) lines in the sand as to what we mean by terms like sexist, racist, offensive or harmful. That is actually the precise process that the ASA was going through in compiling and publishing the report the other week.

    Now, you said earlier you agree that people should not be allowed to use words like ‘poof’ and ‘paki’ in mainstream advertising.

    Why? Because you believe they promote the wrong attitudes? Because they conflict with some ideological principle you have about what is and is not acceptable or offensive? Or what? Because it seems to me that whatever answer you give, you have already conceded that you have bought a ticket on the Istanbul Express, as you describe it. No?

    Anyway, I have to say that your examples of what should be censored, ‘overt racial hatred’, ‘overt sexism’, are very ill-chosen – because they in practice mean ”any racial or gender poltical attitude that goes against progressive beliefs’.

    No, absolutely 100% disagree with you on this. It is no longer a ‘progressive belief’ to insist that racism & sexism are socially unacceptable. That was a debate that was held & won/lost in the 1970s & 80s. We are 40 years beyond that debate now. It is an absolute mainstream, down-the-centre, social consensus upon which every mainstream institution from schools to political parties and the vast majority of the population now agree. To be racist is a bad thing. To be sexist is a bad thing. This is why it is perfectly legitimate for a regulator like the ASA to be regulating on that front. Its job, its very reason for existing, is to be preventing the bad things.

    (Of course we can have endless arguments about what is and is not racist or sexist, which is why I bolstered my point with the word ‘overt’, by which I meant ‘something which most or all reasonable observers would agree is racist or sexist.’ But there is no meaningful dispute that if something is racist then it is bad.)

    Much like I would not accept a right-wingers suggestion of banning ‘treasonous utterances that harm the nation’, because I know that it would in practice be used to criminalise left-wing speech in general. In fact I would say that as your words stand, they do mean that it is right to censor billboards, so long as the censorship tallies with your beliefs.

    You see this is a really interesting point. I have several opinions of my own on that score which I know would cause sincere & real offence to many other members of this society. I have some pretty brutal critiques of the British national image, the history of British imperialism, the role of nationalist & patriotic propaganda in enabling wars & atrocities around the world. I could easily write a sentence on this blog which might cause you or any hypothetical reader to furrow your brows, shake your head & consider me an appalling traitor to this country.

    I believe I must be free to write that sentence here on my own blog, in a lyric to a song, in a book (if I can find someone to publish it) or in a documentary film which I somehow persuade someone else to fund & distribute. At the same time, I fully understand that if that sentence were to be printed in letters 12 foot high on a billboard at Piccadilly Station it would be sufficiently offensive to enough other people that it would be considered offensive, objectionable & unacceptable on a billboard. At that point the ASA might step in & say sorry Ally, you can print that sentence in a book, but not on a billboard where people cannot have a choice as to whether they are exposed to it or not.

    I totally accept and agree with that principle (whether or not I would agree with the ruling.)

    Maybe I should just ask you: Do you think that an otherwise politely worded statement that argues for a society where genders, sexualities, cis/trans etc. are not equal, should be censored or not?

    In a book or in a newspaper or on a personal website, no, it should not be censored by the state (although of course the publisher itself has responsibilities & choices to make, just ask Kevin Myers about that.)

    In a Netflix or cinema documentary which people can choose to watch or not watch, no, it should not be censored. (although of course the publisher…)

    In a late night ‘controversy’ spot on a rolling news channel, no, it should not be censored by the state (although of course the broadcaster…)

    In a BBC primetime Panorama show where there are likely to be many ‘idle passers by’ – maybe, probably. It would be unlikely to pass many other tests of broadcastability (eg fair & accurate etc) but that is by the by.

    On a billboard in an underground station where passers by have zero control over whether they are exposed to it or not, yes, absolutely it should be banned.

    Hope this clears everything up.

  149. Ally Fogg says

    Just to add a very real world example of the issues above.

    A couple of years ago, a kid from round our way was prosecuted for sending “grossly offensive material over an electronic network” (or something very like that) under the Malicious Communications Act because he posted an image on his own Facebook of himself burning a poppy on armistice day. He said he did it to annoy some squaddies.

    Now, my strongly held personal opinion is that this was an outrageous prosecution, a severe restriction on free speech, it should be perfectly legal to burn a poppy AND to post a photo of yourself doing it on your own social media.

    HOWEVER if me & my mates were to get together & crowdfund to hire a huge billboard & post an image of us burning poppies while flicking V-signs, I would fully expect the ASA to intervene & say nope, sorry Ally, you can’t do that on an advertising billboard. I would consider that to be a small price to pay if it also means that Katie Hopkins or Milo Yiannopoulis are similarly not allowed to buy up a billboard and show images of them burning refugees.

  150. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally
    We are still not there.

    For preliminaries, I agree with your “specific locations and contexts” limit, and the general hierarchy of what kinds of things can be published where.

    For more preliminaries, the ‘arbitrary’ needs modifying. In a purely philosophical sense any society has the right to choose a set of rules for public discourse that are right for that society. Including North Korea or Saudi Arabia. A little less abstractly, you would have to add some things about the rules representing all members, not just the culturally dominant (or most powerful) group, proportionality, treatment of minorities etc.

    I would agree with your judgment in #158. Just checking: would you say the same for someone who said that blacks were an inferior race or gays were disgusting – on his own Facebook page?

    If you think that a polite statement against equality can ipso facto be banned as offensive I do think you are into political censorship. Admittedly I have a hard time finding a good example that is not so offensive that it would be banned on tone anyway. Maybe “Some people do not think that gay people can ‘marry’. Get over it”. After all, can it really be intolerably offensive to argue against a law that was passed, under some controversy, only a few years ago?

    To be racist is a bad thing. To be sexist is a bad thing.

    Now those are weasel words. So it really depends what they are supposed to mean. If you mean that ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’ are defined as referring only to bad things, like ‘evil’, we can only agree. But that is irrelevant linguistics. If you mean that there are a lot of opinions that everybody agrees are both racist and too offensive to put on a billboard we also agree. But in that case calling them racist adds nothing: we ban those because they are generally considered offensive, full stop. But if you are saying (as, by the normal rules of the English language I think you are) that a statement that can be characterised as racist should be banned simply because it is promoting the wrong attitudes, there we part company.

    I would ban ‘poof’ and ‘paki’ from billboards for the same reasons I would ban a lot of Charlie Hebdo cartoons, or hardcore pornography. It does not matter what attitudes, if any, they promote. They are outside what is commonly (if arbitrarily) accepted for unavoidable public spaces, that is all we need to look at. For an illustration there was a recent comment article in the Guardian claiming that the ‘Black Country flag’, is racist. The flag shows three forged links of chain, on a background representing three stylised industrial chimneys. And it is supposedly racist because it celebrates the industrial revolution period, where the Black Country was getting rich off the proceeds of slavery, and producing the means to keep the slaves subjugated (as all of Britain was, during that period). Now I would not deny that if you are a British citizen of Caribbean descent you could feel hurt and marginalised by a symbol that celebrates a period in history that looked quite different to your own ancestors. But the questions to ask about using or displaying that flag ought to be: “How many people are actually offended by this?”. “How offended are they?” “Do we, collectively, want to let their offense dominate over the desires of other people who feel differently?” If we accept that we should ban things on the basis that they are racist, we get a completely different discussion. It is now irrelevant what offense, if any, that flag is causing. All we have to do is to decide if it can reasonably be said that this flag is racist. And if it is, it should be banned (from the appropriate set of public spaces).

    This is where I disagree. The rules of what you can say need to be anchored in what actual people are actually offended by. And openly and transparently negotiated between different groups. If you disregard actual offense and ban things based only on the ideology they promote, or on the basis of ‘harm’ that is derived from purely political considerations of how they might affect what society might change into, you have way too much leeway for political manipulation and thought control. Which, quite frankly, I think is why so many progressive people are into banning on ideological grounds only.

  151. Ally Fogg says

    Just checking: would you say the same for someone who said that blacks were an inferior race or gays were disgusting – on his own Facebook page?

    Yes. (I might expect Facebook to police their own terms & conditions, but I would certainly agree that it should not be a matter for the authorities)

    If you think that a polite statement against equality can ipso facto be banned as offensive I do think you are into political censorship.

    Well first of all, if we agree that there is and should be an (enforceable) advertising code of practice then we have already conceded the point about censorship.

    However it is a bit more complicated than that (and I might now be revising my earlier answer a little) – if the poster is engaged in a live political debate or campaign, we have to be very careful about what is and is not subject to regulation & control. This is precisely why political campaign advertising is governed by electoral law not advertising codes (to bring us back to the beginning of this conversation).

    So, to take the example you come up with, “Some people do not think that gay people can ‘marry’. Get over it” – my own judgement would be that this is a direct engagement with an ongoing political campaign & so should be allowable. An advert simply saying “gay people are perverts who will burn in hell” should not. BUT I also accept that there is a fine line between what should and should not be permissable in this area and I can think of no better solution than having a statutorily impartial apolitical body ruling on individual cases, in accordance with a published set of rules.

    “If you mean that there are a lot of opinions that everybody agrees are both racist and too offensive to put on a billboard we also agree. But in that case calling them racist adds nothing: we ban those because they are generally considered offensive, full stop. But if you are saying (as, by the normal rules of the English language I think you are) that a statement that can be characterised as racist should be banned simply because it is promoting the wrong attitudes, there we part company.”

    I do not accept the terms of your argument here. I am not drawing a distinction between what is racist & what is offensive. Something which is racist is by definition offensive. Something simply cannot be racist and not be offensive.

    That said, I have no problem with us (collectively as a society) specifying when something is offensive because it is racist, because in doing so we acknowledge the existence of racism & highlight our determination to challenge or reduce it.

    However at no point in this discussion have I ever argued that something should be banned from advertising if it is at all in anyway offensive or if it is at all in any way sexist or racist or whatever else. Something can be a little bit offensive, a little bit racist, whatever, but not pass the bar for intervention whereby it is so offensive that the ASA would rule it should be banned. That has always been the case and would & should continue to be the case.

    So your point about the chain flag is relevant but doesn’t concern me. Supposing the Black Country Marketing Board put up a poster using the flag & one person complained. I would expect the ASA to look at that complaint & (quite possibly) take on board that some people might consider it offensive but rule that not enough people would consider it offensive enough that it should be banned.

    Just like a protein shake company could put out a different poster for slimming gunk which was still a bit exploitative of a woman in a bikini and maybe advocate unrealistic body images, but decide that it wasn’t as bad as the Protein World one so this time they’d let it go.

    There will always be borderline decisions on these things, because the lines are ultimately arbitrary, as I have said many a time.

  152. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally
    I have one niggle with your last post: There is a difference betweeem political censorhip – banning something because it expresses the wrong opinions – and plain censorship – banning something for any reason at all.You can be against the first without being against the second.

    Apart from that, it looks like we are finally done (and thanks for spending the time for the engagement). And I agree with all your examples – it looks like there would be very little difference between our opinion on concrete cases.

    I am not drawing a distinction between what is racist & what is offensive. Something which is racist is by definition offensive.

    This may well be true at an individual level; “ Anthing that I find racist is something I will also find offensive“. But as a general principle, applied to collective rule-making,.
    I think it is a clear mistake. In logic, because these are two different concepts, with different classification criteria and different definitions – which evolve all the time, under heavy political pressure. However much they may overlap at the moment, you cannot substitute one for the other. And in politics, because it opens the door for banning other opinions that someone may not like, and replaces an important discussion about what should be permissible in a public space, with a lot of technical point-scoring about what falls within the definition of racism.
    We will not agree here. But at least we have nailed the problem down.

  153. mostlymarvelous says

    Just to be prepared for that bbc program and the discussions that are likely to follow, here’s a dandy paper. Gender Bias in Teacher Interactions with Students

    I’m not much interested in a _very_ limited study of 8 Canadian middle school classrooms and I don’t expect anyone else to be either. The reason the paper is useful is that it’s comprehensively referenced with lots and lots of studies over the last 30+ years on teachers, both male and female, treating boys and girls differently despite thinking that they treat them equally (fairly, neutrally, gender blind, whatever).

  154. Marduk says

    Public service announcement: Please read the Damore ‘manifesto’ before having an opinion on it.

    Its in general fairly mild and reasonable in tone and most of the statements are hyperlinks to peer-reviewed studies (Buzzfeed etc. removed these so it just looks like bald assertions). It isn’t a “screed” or a “rant” and doesn’t seem to me much different from things that a feminist or educational charity could publish without anyone really raising an eyebrow. The guy has a PhD in systems biology from MIT, Owen Jones treating him like the village idiot who can’t get his facts straight (“guff dressed up in pseudo-scientific jargon”) shows Owen’s breathtaking arrogance.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/08/google-sexist-memo-alt-right-martyr-james-damore

    This is a very frightening moment, Owen thinks if he doesn’t like science, its wrong and people should be sacked for talking about it. And more than that, he thinks most people would agree with him on this. Its ironic really, he more than anyone else is acting like Donald Trump.

    This is going to backfire.
    https://web.archive.org/web/20170808013732/http://quillette.com/2017/08/07/google-memo-four-scientists-respond

    There is plenty of debate to be had about the content of Damore’s document but I haven’t seen any of it yet, just howling and “you can’t say that” which isn’t the same thing.

  155. StillGjenganger says

    @MostlyMarvelous 165
    From an admittedly lightning fast reading of that paper, I notice:

    – One school, eight teachers, 2*20 min film for each. And classifying amount and type of interaction is human-intensive and open to bias. Not very much, is it?

    – Boys get on the order of 10% more attention. Interactions with boys are ‘behavioural’ in 10% of cases, whereas they are ‘behavioural’ in only 5% of cases for girls. Girls get 5% more positive interactions, and 5% more negative interactions.

    Hypothesis: The results do not reflect bias, but the well-established fact that boys tend to be noisier and more disruptive than girls.

    Question: Are these data of sufficient quality to hang a dead dog, let alone form the basis for rearranging the teaching and identities of our children?

    PS I did not read all the references, no. But in such a politicised field I would anyway insist on comparing references from people with opposing views before making up my mind.

  156. StillGjenganger says

    @Marduk 166
    Full agreement, and thanks for that link, I suspected the state of things but I would not have got to read it without your post.

    As it is, I would subscribe pretty much 100% of what the memo says, very much including the caveats, of course. He even has some good and non-discriminatory ideas of how one might promote diversity without favouring people by sex and race.

  157. Marduk says

    168.
    Exactly, look too at the bit where the poor sod actually draws graphs to try to explain how distributions work and what he is and is not saying about them, its painful. They’ve picked the wrong target here. The forthcoming legal cases could end up being the Scopes Monkey Trial of our times.

    It is quite funny that every time Owen is given the chance to fight, he invariably comes down on the side of the establishment or in this case, the tax-evading megacorporation that is never out of the EU courts.

  158. StillGjenganger says

    @myself 167

    Girls get 5% more positive interactions, and 5% more negative interactions.

    Bother! That should have been:
    Girls get 5% more positive interactions, and 5% FEWER negative interactions.

  159. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk

    I’ve read all ten pages and ‘guff’ is about the most accurate description I’ve seen.

    I wouldn’t use a stronger word, because it’s all so intellectually barren & ill-informed it barely warrants attack, but you can’t even get through his ‘TL;DR’ on his first page without stumbling over multiple, entirely unwarranted, unevidenced, illogical assertions & opinions which he obviously considers to be self-evident statements of fact, but in truth are anything but. It’s like reading a rant (or screed if you prefer) by a teenager on Reddit who has taken his information entirely from watching MRA Youtube videos.

    This went from being embarrassing to downright funny when he re-published the ‘manifesto’ with footnotes which were supposed to be evidential citations to validate his position, & in fact almost all of them proved to be just more comments that he’d pulled off the top of his head or out of his arse.

    I won’t go through all of it because I’d be here all day & plenty of others have already done the bootwork, but by far the biggest problem, which comes up in one form or another again and again, is that he seems to believe facts & figures about the general human population should be directly reflected in the specialist sub-population that consists of highly skilled & trained software engineers at a company like Google.

    In other words, even if it were true and as simple (it isn’t) that men, on average, are ‘naturally’ (whatever that means) better at systemising maths-type cognitive functions & women better at pro-social human interaction, there is zero reason to believe the same would apply among the top 1% (or whatever) of technically-minded & motivated males & females who want to become software engineers.

    The other huge problem in his logic is that his premise that more solitary, less pro-social & co-operative individuals (ie those he thinks as psychologically ‘male’ in his analysis) make better engineers. This is demonstrably false. The way the software/tech industry is going at the moment (& has been for some while) is towards agile programming, pair & group programming, co-operative working.

    But anyway, it is all by the by. For what it is worth I think Google would have been better advised to sit on this rather than making him a martyr by firing him, but the bottom line is that wherever we work, from a greasy fast-food joint to a blue chip multinational, if any one of us sent a memo round our workmates that trashed the policy & position statements of management, undermined company morale, implied without evidence that a significant minority of our colleagues weren’t really up to the job, made it impossible for many of our colleagues to have a respectful professional working relationship with us and resulted in masses of bad PR for the company, we could and should expect to be fired. Most of us have been fired from a job at some time or another for a fuck of a lot less than that.

  160. Marduk says

    171.
    That is a ludicrous response on the content, you aren’t even reading what he said and you certainly haven’t read the cited material. You’re also doing Owen’s trick of disagreeing him by repeating things he actually said. Damore complains about male gender roles and work place deaths, Owen attacks him for supporting male gender roles and doesn’t Damore know these harm people? You talk about the importance of paired programming, Damore wants more paired and group programming at google.

    So lets get this straight, you are strongly against the following because they have no role in improving diversity or women’s working lives such that they might attract them to a company and you would denounce these policies if anyone else proposed them as sexist:
    – Improved work/life balance
    – Genuine support for part-time working
    – Balance of individualistic vs group awards (esp. in context of above)
    – Deconstruction of gender roles.

    Its just bizarre. You’re chopping your own legs off, can’t you see this? Maybe this is how feminism dies, if women can’t be said to have common interests, there is no need to be a feminist anymore.

    There are two things he says that might offend people and they are to do with the fact they don’t understand the language of personality (trait) psychology (e.g., trait neuroticism). We can’t help how these words are used in everyday life, they date from 1961 when ‘retard’ and ‘spastic’ were medical terms too. But these differences aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’ things anyway, they don’t make people better or worse at programming AND HE NEVER SAID THAT THEY DID.

    There is very good evidence for his specific claims that nobody seriously disputes. What you will notice in critique is that people don’t even engage with it, they talk about brains etc. which have very little to do with anything. Ironically, its the critics who are the biological determinists, trait psychologists aren’t generally, they can live with nurture and tend to be more left-leaning as people in my observation. Which is why this is going to kick off now because I don’t think they’ll enjoy being told they are idiots, morons and members of the alt-right.

    Why is it people who haven’t done the reading that they think they are so clever because they make incorrect assumptions? The theory that women hired by google are drawn from the extreme ends of multiple strongly correlated continua is utterly bizarre and I would challenge you to provide evidence for this. Its such a strange idea I don’t even know what you are suggesting really, given any concrete form its ridiculously offensive (you are going further than asserting they are all lesbians for example) but you don’t even know you are doing it. And even if it were true, guess what it isn’t: diversity.

    Finally, your last paragraph reads like it was written by the Koch brothers. In the state of california you have the right to write things like Damore did and it doesn’t even matter if you are wrong interestingly. This was done to protect union organisers and communists for being persecuted for commenting on company policies and for their political beliefs. Guess you’re not in favour of people criticising how megacorps treat their employees in case of “mass bad PR” now. Share price is everything right? Its interesting how people’s values change based on the agenda but really values should be in the driving seat. I’m reminded of The Guardian which, for the first time in its history, post-Brexit has become a staunch defender of bank profit taking and (even more strangely) advocates for the “over-strong pound” which throughout the history of the liberal left in the UK has been seen as a bad thing hitherto.

    If nothing else, even if you think its clumsy, even if you think you know better than half of psychologists in America, whatever, Damore’s piece was obviously an attempt at constructive engagement to increase diversity in his workplace. This more than anything is what I find so sad about the regressive left’s bullying response.

  161. Carnation says

    @ Ally Fogg

    “Most of us have been fired from a job at some time or another for a fuck of a lot less than that.”

    I’m agog with curiosity… What’s your being fired story?

    @ Marduk

    “Maybe this is how feminism dies, if women can’t be said to have common interests, there is no need to be a feminist anymore.”

    Yup, there’s, like, totally NO NEED for feminism now. That IS how it dies. Oh, hang on, there’s regressive right-wing governments in much of the west and misogynists and racists seem to be coalescing around each other online in a stew of mediocre bitterness.

    I think feminism is only gonna get stronger, basically because it has to.

  162. Marduk says

    173.
    Well, apparently women are the same as men now so if we treat everyone the same, thats equality.
    Also, when everyone is the same, that is called diversity.

    I can’t keep up with the rate of ‘progress’ anymore.

  163. Marduk says

    @Carnation.

    I assume you don’t listen but on the latest Joe Rogan podcast where Jon Ronson explains that he is worried about “people from my world, you know, the left wing and the Guardian” attacking people in mobs online and how this is never reported.

    He goes on to describe how his editor asked him to contribute to a high profile series on online harassment (“the web we want” I’m assuming) but that it could only be about women being attacked online. Ronson said he was sure this was disproportionately suffered but he was concerned that if it was only about that, it might be used to justify progressive people making even more attacks on men online. Apparently the editor (Viner I’m assuming) rolled her eyes and said “well you would say that” and he never wrote the piece.

    So when you say I seem to have a problem with the Guardian, when Jon Ronson isn’t ‘progressive’ enough for them to write a piece of on online harassment, then maybe there is a problem?

  164. Marduk says

    I’ve been trying to find something sufficiently dumbed down in a reputable place that it can be easily understood.

    So here is a review of some “hate facts” prepared for the BBC by someone the BPS employs to promote the communication of high-quality psychological research.

    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20161011-do-men-and-women-really-have-different-personalities

    “There is increasing recognition of the part played by our personality traits in influencing our life choices and mental wellbeing. A better understanding of how men and women differ in personality, and why, *could help create equal opportunity for all*, *as well as more effectively combat mental health problems*, many of which affect one gender more than the other – like levels of depression being higher among women, consistent with their scoring higher on average in neuroticism.”

    Should the BBC be in trouble for “promoting gender stereotypes”? Should the BPS? This is absolutely fucking terrifying, the world has gone mad.

  165. Ally Fogg says

    The problem Marduk is that your post on 172 bears pretty much no resemblance to what his manifesto actually says. The idea that it was his recommendation for more access to part-time work that has caused the fuss is frankly hilarious. You’ve taken one line out of ten pages & made it look as if he is saying something progressive when it is anything but.

    The problem is what he has actually written, which is a long, rambling unevidenced screed that has one intention – to undermine the companies anti-discrimination policies by the most tediously hackneyed logic imaginable “Oooh ooh what if anti-discrimination policies are the REAL discrimination?”

    I mean seriously look at it – it is full of stuff like this:

    At Google, we talk so much about unconscious bias as it applies to race and gender, but we rarely discuss our moral biases. Political orientation is actually a result of deep moral preferences and thus biases. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the social sciences, media, and Google lean left, we should critically examine these prejudices:

    I mean that is just shit. I mean, what the fuck is a moral bias? Who says popitical orientation is “actually” a result of “deep moral preferences and thus biases” – the work of which political scientist is he basing that upon? I mean it is just bollocks piled upon bollocks to look clever.

    He goes on:

    Neither side is 100% correct and both viewpoints are necessary for a functioning society or, in this case, company.

    Says who?

    A company too far to the right may be slow to react, overly hierarchical, and untrusting of others. In contrast, a company too far to the left will constantly be changing (deprecating much loved services), over diversify its interests (ignoring or being ashamed of its core business), and overly trust its employees and competitors.

    Says who?

    Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases

    HAHAHA

    ahahahahahahahaha

    BEHOLD LOGIC MAN AND HIS MIGHTY FACTS AND REASON

    For fuck’s sake.

    Face it mate, it is bollocks on stilts. That’s from the first page or two and it goes downhill from there. Really. Pick me out any page at random and I’ll point you to all the made up bollocks on that page too.

  166. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally
    The memo strikes me as calm, coherent, constructive, and basically true. So if even you can give it nothing more than a contemptuous dismissal, it leaves little hope for any constructive discussions across no-mans’-land. Let alone any hope for a peace deal that is not a matter of one side unconditionally surrendering to the other. Incidentally, since I fully back the memo, I take it I can now add badges for ‘intellectually barren’ and ‘ill-informed’ to go with the ‘sexist’, ‘misogynist’, ‘bigot’, ‘transphobic’ etc. I earned at the Guardian. But as long as you can still find time to argue with the idiots, I am game.

    His argument seems clear enough, but since everybody seems to be missing it I can give you my rewording:

    Apparently, female Google engineers do not have the same success rate in their job as male Google engineers. One possible reason is that they have the same distribution of skills, desires, talents, requirements and tolerance for reversals as the men, but that they are held back by discrimination and harassment. If that is the case, anti-discrimination and counter-discrimination is clearly the way to solve the problemm.
    Another possible reason is that the distribution of skills, desires etc. etc. is different between the men and women that apply for a job with Google, so that fewer women than men end up being successful and happy in the current Google environment. If that is the case, anti/counter-disctrimination is not solving the problem. You would get more by changing the environment so that it was better suited to people with a different starting point from your typical male IT-geek. That would also have the advantage of benefiting all the people who did not fit the mould, not just those who happened to have tits. In some cases you would have to accept with good grace that the environment and demands of a place like Google were there for business reasons, and that one sex or the other might have fewer people that fitted in.
    These different distributions might be caused by a number of factors. For gender, biology is clearly one of them. There are enough differences in anatomy and hormones, not to speak of who get pregnant and who does not, to justify different distrubutions of relevant factors in the two sexes. Do we know that this is actually happening? No. Can we prove that this is NOT happening? Not either. Separating nature from nurture without controlled experiments in childrearing is pretty much impossible. But even if biology should have nothing to do with it, there are plenty of alternative explanations to consider. Racial differences on these factors are unlikely to have a biological basis. But it still does not follow that black applicants to Google will have the same distribution of desires and aptitudes as white applicants. Quite likely the defferences were set long before those people ever came to Google.
    Essentially Mr Damore proposes to open a discussion into what is actually happening, and to adjust the remedies that Google proposes to what we find out. When we find out. Whereas Goole, in his (and my) opinion, takes it as an article of faith that differences are necessarily caused by discrimination at Google, and that counterdiscrimination is therefore justified and necessary. I would not deny (I do not know about him) that this would slow the process down. But is it really ground for vilification, let alone dismissal, to suggest that before we take severe measures to solve a problem, we try to establish what actually caused it?

    Another point he makes is about the benefit of diverse inputs and personality types. He accepts (it would be hard not to) that diversity is in many contexts a clear advantage. He just suggests that this advantage be quantified, and weighed in connection with the requirements for each particular job. It is hardly unreasonable to suggest that diverse and empathic engineers were more crucial in the parts of the company that determined the user interface and the answers to queries, whereas systematising ability and plain coding skill might count for relatively more among the people that ensured that the server farms kept working under load.

    Finaly I doubt that he was shocked to be fired – I certainly am not. After all, if you work for the East German government you know that even mildly anticommunist memoes will not be well received. He may still have had lingering doubts whether Google was really an ideological monoculture to that extent. But that point can now be considered proved. You, for one, clearly think that a dismissal was in order, and serve him right. Can I quote that one back at you, next time some employer decides to get rid of some vexatious whistle-blower, or complainer against the company culture?

  167. lucythoughts says

    I will just put in my two pennies worth. I feel a little bit sorry for this memo guy, I think he was probably trying in all good faith to communicate his ideas in a constructive way and he has received a very nasty public reaction. Nevertheless, the fact is that when you cite biological predispositions as the root course of a social phenomenon you are going to get peoples backs up, especially the people directly affected by that phenomenon (in this case mostly his female co-workers at Google). You can say that is because of pernicious ideology if you like, but I think it is a pretty natural reaction to having your brain dissected on the company’s internal network.

    To illustrate this in another way: he talks about unconscious bias, so let’s test our own. Here are some gender-reversed examples of the kind of deductive leaps he is making in his memo, which could be “supported” with exactly the research that he cites.

    1) Only about 20% of primary school teachers are men and 80% are women (almost identical figures as for Google’s technical staff by the way). This may be because men are generally more interested in things than in people. Therefore, the best, non-discriminatory way of getting more male primary school teachers would be to make school teaching more “thing-orientated”.

    2) Most custodial parents are mothers. This may be because men (on average) have lower agreeableness, empathy and openness, and are less able to recognise negative emotions in infants, which may make them less engaged with their children and less likely to be emotionally suited to full time parenting.

    3) Men commit more violent crime. This may be because they score higher, on average, on the “aggressiveness” trait and show less negative emotionality in response to images of violence, mutilated corpses etc. From an evolutionary psychology perspective, this could be because a biologically higher tolerance of, and readiness for, violence would enhance their mating opportunities.

    Does this all seem reasonable? If I have gauged the Hetpat audience correctly, I would guess that there are some hackles up right now. And if you felt the same way about the contents of that memo (or as it might be, if you find both sets of assertions quite convincing), then fair enough. But if you are happy with one and not the other, then I would ask you to honestly think about why, because both follow the same tenuous chain of reasoning using the same research.

    PS Gjenganger
    I understand you are happy with the arguments in that memo but I hope you can at least see why people might take this stuff personally. After all, Ally just called a completely different individual who is a perfect stranger to you “intellectually barren,” and you took that personally 🙂

  168. Marduk says

    177. Do you really want the answers? The first bit is from social preference theory, the second from personality, the third is actually what Google internally think happened to Yahoo, he is actually sort of joking here, you are supposed to know exactly who he is talking about.

    I just don’t think any of this is beyond the pale and while everyone is obsessed now with saying “junk science” as you can see from the BBC link, a few short months ago this was considered normal social science held in reasonable regard. Now its alt-right hate speech. Look at those developmental psychology textbooks you were waving around further up the thread, what do they say? Beware of hate facts.

    I want to be very clear about this, whatever the Guardian says, most scientists believe biology exists. Most social scientists believe biology (whether its genetics, the actions of hormones or patterns of development) may in certain cases affect people’s behaviour in some measurable way at some point in their lives. Its long been joked about that this sort of thing might become impossible to mention, you’d have accused me of being hysterical about it if I’d said this last week(!), I didn’t think it would actually happen or happen so quickly.

    One of the things Damore argues for (and really the meta-argument in his entire piece) is for psychological safety. We have been shown now that psychological safety doesn’t exist even in organisations that state it is part of their core values (like google). When you were banging on about how Damore was contradicting Google’s policies, you didn’t notice this was underlying everything. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_safety

    I don’t share your Tory ideology on sacking people for fun and I don’t think he did anything wrong whatever your criticism of the document. If that is now the bar, we are truly fucked. I mean, you more than anyone, thats what is crazy about this.

    I think the other thing is that you are missing the wall of ideology on the other side of this. Its not less harmful or better supported. Damore believed the reason that the diversity seminars alone were not recorded or minuted was because they were trying to encourage people to break the law in California. He didn’t want to be measured by standards that would require him to break the law. I don’t think that is a small thing for someone to worry about.

    180. I don’t have a problem except with the parenting one, because you make a value judgement there about what good parenting is. That is what the real issue is here. As soon as words like ‘neuroticism’ start flying around, people think the traits in themselves have valence and they don’t. In each case more could be said of course, generally about how you generally want a mix of people with different traits in all those situations.

    Like I say, there is something paradoxical about all this that advocates for diversity are now denying diversity can actually exist because everyone is the same. If there is nothing to gain from diversity because everyone is the same, it might be better if all primary school teachers were women, all computer programmers were men and so on, you’d save money on bathrooms at no detriment to the competitiveness or quality of what you were doing. I don’t think anyone actually believes that however.

    What I don’t think is that you’ve said anything so offensive it cannot be discussed which is really the point here.

  169. StillGjenganger says

    @Lucythoughts 180
    I’d feel about the same to both sets. They are a bit light-weight, too specific and speculative, and it sort of shines through the wording that the author, while trying very hard, is not a member of the sex he is describing. But as general support for a debating hypothesis the basic approach is quite reasonable in both cases. And anyway you do not need to argue to convince people that anti-discrimination indoctrination and gender-preferred courses are not appropriate ways to achieve gender equality for the teaching professions or the prison population. .

    I would understand people’s reaction better if any of them actually addressed the points that he is making. As it is I think what really offends people is the idea that anyone could possibly challenge their collective, goddess-given right to 50% of the top jobs.

  170. Carnation says

    @ LucyThoughts

    Don’t feel sorry for him. He’s given an interview (and the attendant publicity) to Stefan Molyneux, that odious, vile right-wing buffoon.

    And another to Jordan Peterson – I don’t know much about him, but his views seem analogous with Molyneux, if more academic.

  171. Ally Fogg says

    OK Gjenganger, since I like you:

    Apparently, female Google engineers do not have the same success rate in their job as male Google engineers.

    No, it doesn’t say this in the memo and I know of no reason to believe it is true. What is true (from elsewhere) is that women make up only 17% of the company’s tech staff & 1 in 4 of their leadership positions. (https://www.cnet.com/uk/news/google-discloses-its-workforce-diversity-record-and-its-not-good/) that – does not tell us that female Google engineers do not have the same success rate as male engineers. It tells us that Google doesn’t appoint women to technical and leadership roles very often. Not the same thing.

    One possible reason is that they have the same distribution of skills, desires, talents, requirements and tolerance for reversals as the men, but that they are held back by discrimination and harassment. If that is the case, anti-discrimination and counter-discrimination is clearly the way to solve the problem.

    Possibly. Or perhaps female employees have a slightly different distribution of skills, talents etc which are equally if not more valuable to the company than those distributed within the male cohort of employees, but are held back by discrimination or because those skills & talents are less valued by the company & especially their hiring/HR policies) than they should be. That is an important difference in the context of what is to follow.

    Another possible reason is that the distribution of skills, desires etc. etc. is different between the men and women that apply for a job with Google, so that fewer women than men end up being successful and happy in the current Google environment. If that is the case, anti/counter-disctrimination is not solving the problem.

    Well possibly. But the problem with the Memo is that it doesn’t mention any research about the distribution of skills, interests etc between male Google employees & female Google employees (or male highly qualified & skilled software engineers vs female highly qualified & skilled software engineers.) And this is the only research that matters. Research on general populations tell us literally nothing about the question that matters. So all his multiple pages of half-understood, regurgitated evo-psych are completely worthless & meaningless in this context.

    You would get more by changing the environment so that it was better suited to people with a different starting point from your typical male IT-geek. That would also have the advantage of benefiting all the people who did not fit the mould, not just those who happened to have tits. In some cases you would have to accept with good grace that the environment and demands of a place like Google were there for business reasons, and that one sex or the other might have fewer people that fitted in.

    Says who? He has produced zero evidence as to what female Google employees or applicants would actually want. Has he asked them what is preventing them from applying for promotion? Now as a general rule I support flexible working, part time options, job share etc for all parents, but it is so eminently obvious (it might be written in 12 ft neon letters) this is not the purpose of his memo. His purpose is to grumble about things like mentoring programmes for non-male, non-white employees and proactive diversity recruitment policies.

    Essentially Mr Damore proposes to open a discussion into what is actually happening, and to adjust the remedies that Google proposes to what we find out.

    This isn’t a major point, but you prompt me to ask at this point, who the fuck is Damore and who appointed him a leading expert on the relative merits of different diversity HR policies? He clearly hasn’t read a single fucking book on the actual matter at hand or (I presume) he would have referenced it & wouldn’t have made quite so many terrible, terrible arguments. It really is quite spectacular arrogance & hubris to imagine that he knows better than A/ the entire management & HR team of one of the world’s largest & most successful companies and B/ The people who are actually affected by the issues at hand (primarily women, POC & other minorities)?

    How do you think he would he feel if Sally from HR sent a memo round the entire company telling them she’d had a good look at their code & decided that coding in Java is totally the wrong way to go & they should be using C++ instead?

    When we find out. Whereas Google, in his (and my) opinion, takes it as an article of faith that differences are necessarily caused by discrimination at Google, and that counterdiscrimination is therefore justified and necessary.

    Really, article of faith? What makes you say that? How many of Google’s internal investigations have you seen? How may minutes of their meetings? I mean, perhaps it is, but on balance it seems rather more likely that they’ve got a damn sight more of a clue what is going on in their own company than some spotty junior programmer. Don’t you think?

    I would not deny (I do not know about him) that this would slow the process down. But is it really ground for vilification, let alone dismissal, to suggest that before we take severe measures to solve a problem, we try to establish what actually caused it?

    As I said above I think it would have been better all round if Google had not fired him. But have a think about why he has been fired.

    Do you think he would have been fired if he had gone to his line manager & said “hey, I’m really interested in the company’s diversity & inclusion policies, I’d like to learn more & maybe have an input into committees or whatever?”

    Of course not.

    So he is not being fired for “wanting to have a conversation” about this stuff. He’s been fired, presumably in part, for bringing the company into disrepute, which is unfortunate because he presumably never intended to become the world’s most debated person this week, but them’s the breaks.

    But I suspect more significant reason why he has been fired is this:

    All of his half-baked evo-psych bollocks does not contribute anything meaningful to the debate about employment & promotion practices at Google, for reasons I gave above. But what it does do is strongly, strongly suggest that he believes men (arguably white men) are just more naturally suited to being engineers than women are, thereby explaining the differentials. There is no reason why all that stuff would be there if he didn’t believe that to be the case.

    So this means from this point onwards every female or black (or whatever) co-worker that is pushed into a meeting with him will no longer be able to work with him on an equal basis, since he has pretty much announced to the world that he doesn’t think they are up to the job.

    I strongly suspect the reason he has been sacked is because it has been judged that his actions have made it harder for women & minorities to feel welcome at Google, if they know that the company is willing to continue to employ someone who has inadequate trust in them as a colleague. That is what Sunder Pichai’s comment basically said, and it is very, very hard to disagree.

    Still think the best comment on all of this is the blogpost by someone who really does know what they are talking about at Google. Yonatan Zunger here https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/so-about-this-googlers-manifesto-1e3773ed1788

  172. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk

    I think everything I just said to Gjenganger is also addressed to you to.

    But I’ll add, the problem is not with evolutionary psychology as a discipline (there are huge problems with it of course & there is loads & loads of utter tripe published in its name, but that is not the specific problem here.)

    The problem is not ‘hate speech’ – I have certainly never accused Madore of using hate speech & I wouldn’t endorse anyone else who had.

    I also don’t really approve of firing people for stuff like this, although as I say, considering the working people who will have been fired for more petty reasons than this around the world this week, I’m not going to lose much sleep.

    As I’ve said, I think the manifesto itself is dribble. I think the guy who wrote it has shown quite monumental arrogance, but again, that is not a crime. I think the story has only blown up because it is August & journalists & Twitter users haven’t got much else to talk about.

    But for all that, I reiterate that if someone, in any professional context, were to circulate a memo which gave the strong impression that the author believes the women & people of colour with whom he works are less capable & competent than the white men like him, he shouldn’t really be surprised to see his p45.

    I’m quite prepared to believe that was not his intention. However, that is how the document reads to most of us. If he didn’t want to give that impression, he shouldn’t have written something which gives that impression.

  173. Ally Fogg says

    One more thing I’ll add as a general point.

    Everyone has come down really harshly (quite rightly) on his bad & irrelevant pseudo-science. He simply does not successfully make the case that he wants to make.

    However I think there’s something else missing. He seems to have very little idea of what it is, specifically, that he is arguing against. It’s just a general sense that he thinks there is all this positive discrimination going on which is benefitting everyone but him. There’s a little section under the heading ‘The harm of Google’s biases’ which has got some bullet points which hint at what he is actually complaining about. But they’re incredibly vague. Things like
    “Reconsidering any set of people if it’s not “diverse” enough, but not showing that same
    scrutiny in the reverse direction (clear confirmation bias)”
    – I presume his complaint here is that if there is a panel with four white men on it they get sent back to find someone who isn’t a white man, but if you have a panel with four women they don’t.

    Now first of all this isn’t confirmation bias, which is something entirely different, again suggesting he doesn’t actually understand the terms he is using, but more importantly it shows that he entirely fails to appreciate & understand how structural discrimination emerges & is reinforced & the arguments for and against having diversity on representative panels.

    The truth is I think he doesn’t just fail to understand the science & function of gender in a context like this, he actually doesn’t really know what is going on in the company he works for.

    If he had specific complaints about specific policies I would be a lot more sympathetic. As it is, I’m pretty sure that deep down he just resents the fact that he works for a company with a nominally liberal, progressive ethos, he feels personally excluded because he is a conservative. He wants to work for a company which doesn’t give a shit about representation & diversity & I’m sure there are plenty out there in techland where he will feel at home.

    Boo hoo, my heart bleeds.

  174. WineEM says

    Tell you what, Ally, would it not be kind of slightly ironic and amusing if a son of yours ended up, at the start of their professional career, in one of these areas where a similar ‘progressive, liberal’ diversity scheme is already in place. But (oh noes!) say that they’re just getting their foot on the first rung on the ladder at a time when the workplace has already exceeded it’s quotient of having – oh no, the terrible, sheer, awfulness of it – 50% white blokes in more senior positions.

    Of course, in an academic environment, particularly, to give one example, it’s a long time before anyone gets tenure, therefore there will be a long period of uncertainty before a more senior post is secured.

    Given this situation, there will of course need to be all kinds of actions and schemes (like mentoring and career development opportunities, which are explicitly open to female colleagues, but not to the guys. So sad – because they can’t even turn up, they won’t even necessarily know what they are missing out on! 🙂 (Blubber, blubber, teh poor menz, etc. )

    Also there are general ‘reward schemes’ which are promoted by the authorities who control the purse strings, which look favourably upon the department if they have at least 50% women working in senior posts.

    Would you, hand on heart, be entirely relaxed about this scenario, a price worth paying for your ideologically guided ‘diversity drive’, or maybe… erm… not.

    In any case, it’s a situation I do find a particularly funny and indeed fun idea – not quite sure why 🙂

  175. That Guy says

    I don’t know how you expect me to read all this shit. are we talking about google now?

  176. Ally Fogg says

    The thing is Wine EM, I have two sons, & knowing what I do about the issues & problems faced by young men in the world today, I have lots and lots of worries about them & their future.

    Pretty much at the bottom of that list of worries is what would happen if they were to choose to follow careers in professions that are overwhelmingly dominated by white middle-class young men like them. I know full well that (assuming they have the necessary talent & education) they would breeze through it, certainly compared to anyone who didn’t have their advantages.

    You see the thing is, all those diversity & inclusion policies we are talking about are there for a reason. They are there because at the moment it is (relatively speaking) really, really easy for a young white man to breeze through a career in STEM because they are exactly the kinds of people that the industry is geared up to expecting, accommodating, training and employing. The industry still hasn’t made itself as easy to access for people who don’t come from that cultural template. It is the attempt to (very, very cautiously) rectify that situation that has got Mr Damore’s back up in the first place.

    Oh, and by the way I don’t have daughters but my boys’ mum is a senior tech developer & has had a whole career of dealing with these issues, so if you’re trying to make this personal for me, you’re about 25 years too late.

  177. WineEM says

    Pretty much at the bottom of that list of worries is what would happen if they were to choose to follow careers in professions that are overwhelmingly dominated by white middle-class young men like them.

    Well, gotta hand it to you Ally, that is pretty philosophically consistent at least. It just contrasts with so much I’ve heard about, e.g. academia, where it’s said to be like a constant game of musical chairs, and you have a lot of ultra-competitive, highly gifted people vying for a small number of desirable posts.

    Also, if someone were to arrive a little late on the scene (where ‘white men’ have already been dominating for quite some time), talent and ability might presumably have little bearing when it comes to this drive to do everything possible to level up the percentages of certain specific groups. (Of course it’s not going to be the men already in post who will be affected, because they will have security and tenure already, the pressure instead will be in terms of new recruits). Look at what’s happening at the BBC right now, for example, where they actively and openly boast about the vast majority of their new hires now going to women.

    Further, whether offering women-only training and development opportunities is ‘modest’ and ‘subtle’ is probably open to debate (I mean you did of course denounce and decry the situation when adult learning courses in your areas were being offered to all groups except white men as being unfair and discriminatory).

    But good on you anyway, Ally: I think a lot of feminists and SJW types out there would be enthusiastic about this sort of thing, except for when it might affect those they were close to (a bit like the way that some Brexit enthusiasts say economic damage would be a price worth paying – though not if it meant a family member lost their job!) 🙂

  178. Ally Fogg says

    It just contrasts with so much I’ve heard about, e.g. academia, where it’s said to be like a constant game of musical chairs, and you have a lot of ultra-competitive, highly gifted people vying for a small number of desirable posts.

    This is entirely true. And the higher up the chain you go, the more competitive it gets, and the higher the proportion of those who get the jobs turn out to be white men.

    For a long time it was pretty much guaranteed that top jobs in competitive fields would go to white men. Now it is only *most* that do. That is what you are complaining about here, when all is said and done. You are complaining that all the inherent structural advantages afforded to white men in these fields, from which my sons would benefit, are now partially – yes, only partially – counteracted by some other policies, policies which benefit those who are not white men. Yes, I’m fine with that.

    Also, if someone were to arrive a little late on the scene (where ‘white men’ have already been dominating for quite some time), talent and ability might presumably have little bearing when it comes to this drive to do everything possible to level up the percentages of certain specific groups.

    If this were true it would be a problem, I agree, but thankfully it is a pile of shite. There is no university, no company, no employer anywhere who thinks talent & ability “have little bearing in a drive to do everything possible to level up the percentages” There is no suggestion from anywhere that this is what we are talking about.

    We’re talking about things like: “if two equally qualified people are applying for the same job, preference should go to the candidate from an under-represented population”

    We are talking about things like a policy which says that a panel of experts should not be entirely white men.

    Things like that. It’s hardly apartheid now, is it?

    (Of course it’s not going to be the men already in post who will be affected, because they will have security and tenure already, the pressure instead will be in terms of new recruits). Look at what’s happening at the BBC right now, for example, where they actively and openly boast about the vast majority of their new hires now going to women.

    Source on “vast majority” ?

    But also, you do understand don’t you that the reason they are trying to hire more women than men is because for decades they have been hiring more men than women and if we want that to change at any time within the next 50 years, they do actually have to try to recruit more women than men?

    Further, whether offering women-only training and development opportunities is ‘modest’ and ‘subtle’ is probably open to debate (I mean you did of course denounce and decry the situation when adult learning courses in your areas were being offered to all groups except white men as being unfair and discriminatory).

    Again, if there was any company anywhere which offered training & mentoring to female employees but not male, then again you would have a point, but again you are blethering shite. When we’re talking about workshops for women developers, for eg, we are talking about one strand in a whole corporate menu of career development & training.

  179. That Guy says

    personally I’m looking forward to the golden age where I don’t have to deal with all these sub-par white men that have been added to my field to make up numbers and we can finally tap the enormous well of female talent without making rape jokes or groping them while we ‘jokingly’ ask them to do the coffee run for the fifth fucking day in a row.

  180. StilGjenganger says

    @Ally
    I could think of a fair few arguments, only some of them repetitive. But there is really no point: We are not on the same planet, and we do not have the minimum common ground necessary to make an interesting argument, let alone agreeing on anything. I shalll try to remember that (until the next time I come across a tempting discussion 😉 ).

  181. mostlymarvelous says

    StillGjenganger @167

    Exactly. The _only_ benefit of that paper for all of us unfamiliar with the topic is saving the time and effort it would take to assemble a list of 17 relevant papers and other sources covering a 30+ year period.

    (I haven’t yet found any with “opposing” views, but I’m not sure what that would mean anyway. There are certainly differences, but academic review and analysis would have to look more deeply into the features – both obvious and subtle – of the differences between the researchers, the research methods, the teachers and the students in the works that observed different behaviours &or reached different conclusions. The longer research like this is conducted, the more likely it is that conclusions will eventually converge in at least some respects. Having an “opposing” view at that time is as likely as not to be a consequence of being out of date.)

  182. StillGjenganger says

    @Marduk
    Following the links Ally put up led to this very interesting blog:
    https://extranewsfeed.com/tolerance-is-not-a-moral-precept-1af7007d6376

    Basically the man is saying that tolerance has no moral value – it is simply a truce you choose to settle for when your group cannot win the war over the others and canot afford to keep fighting. Interesting, well analyzed, and not a million miles from some things I have thought myself. But it has an interesting logical consequence that was not pointed out on the blog:

    Tolerance is for losers.

    You do not make a truce as long as you feel strong enough to win the war, and you do not tolerate others as long as you can afford the cost of squashing them.

    Maybe this ideology has some relevance for the interesting observation that groups that relied on tolerance only a short while ago can be remarkably reluctant to extend it to others.

    (@ Ally: Didn’t last long, did it? 😉 But note at least that it is not you I am arguing with).

  183. Marduk says

    @Ally
    I just think you are being unfair. The science isn’t quite as pseudo or unsubstantiated as you want to make out and the context you invent is inaccurate and unfair to what actually happened. The fact you can’t follow the piece should suggest to you that it was written in a context you aren’t fully appreciating. Beyond that you are ultimately blaming someone who is being publicly shamed for being unprepared when placed in the public eye. Opinion columnists treating everyone else as if they were opinion columnists or a public figure is a bad habit a lot of people seem to have gotten into lately.

    The mistreatment of science on ideological grounds is also worrying. Anyone impressed that the Guardian keeps raising the Joel et al study that found they couldn’t distinguish between male and female brains should actually look at the article and the seven linked letters to it, four of which re-analyse their data and find differing results. Either the people involved haven’t actually read the article first hand or they are lying about the level of consensus surrounding it, I think everyone can agree this ideological treatment of empirical data is unhelpful.

    195.
    John Rawls writes about this. He agrees with self-defence but regards tolerance as moral. What this means in practice is that your action against intolerance should be honestly done in and limited/proportional to defending tolerant social institutions (whose tolerance makes them legitimate in the first place and thus worthy of defence). The other reason for being tolerant of intolerance is that generally, if you are in the majority, you change them faster than they change you which is how tolerance is spread and maintained. Whether this is right or wrong, it has some appeal because its what western democracies actually do in practice.

    I think he is just trying to justify ‘punch a nazi’ stuff to be honest.

  184. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk

    You’re probably right that I am being very hard on him. If it had been yet another anonymous blog on Medium or whatever I’d have shrugged, thought it to be yet another half-baked blog post by someone without many interesting opinions, one amongst thousands.

    However as the story grew & unfolded, it went something like this:

    Damore: writes ill-informed screed & sends it around internal mail at Google.

    Google employees: WTF is this pile of shit?

    Right wing internet media: It’s not a pile of shit, it’s a brilliant, brave, coruscating takedown of the culture of political correctness written by a hero & a martyr.

    Me: Nah, it’s a pile of shit.

    In other words, it is not that he has written a pile of shit that is the problem, it is the fact that people like you have been pretending he has had something valuable to say which is the problem.

    But I would challenge you on this:

    The science isn’t quite as pseudo or unsubstantiated as you want to make out

    To be clear, I’m not saying all of his “science” is pseudo or unsubstantiated (although a lot of it is.) I’m saying for the most part it is simply irrelevant to the point he is trying to make. Trait distribution in the general population has zero applicability to the self-selected population subset of highly skilled software engineers at a company like Google, who are not representative of the general population in many, many ways.

    Do you accept that point? Because it is absolutely crucial, IMO.

    “The fact you can’t follow the piece should suggest to you that it was written in a context you aren’t fully appreciating.

    I follow it perfectly. I know exactly what he is trying to say and why. In fact I follow it so well I can not only see what he is trying to say, I can recognise several points when he doesn’t know what he is talking about and is using terminology wrongly or where is supposed evidence is not supporting the point he is trying to make. For example, the quote about ‘moral bias’ he used above. I’ve just now tried Googling it & there have been a couple of philosophers over the years who have used that term, but I can’t find any entry in any glossary of psychology or philosophy or anything like it, and those who have used it before, none have done so in any way that make sense in Damore’s paragraph. I presume that what he was trying to say is that individuals or groups tend to perceive things which they believe to be right more favourably than they do things which they perceive to be wrong. In other words he is making a point so mind-numbingly banal that he has had to dress it up in invented jargon to make it sound technical.

    The mistreatment of science on ideological grounds is also worrying.

    The fact that you have been able to write those words in the context of a debate about Damore’s manifesto – without exploding in a ketchup-burst of reflexive irony – is hands down the most remarkable and hilarious thing about this whole discussion.

  185. Marduk says

    This is tiresome and I’m not going to persist. He didn’t send it around google, he was encouraged to think what he was doing was what google wanted people to do and finally, much of the language is contextual to the diversity seminar he attended. You can find the slides somewhere. It wasn’t a manifesto, it was feedback, what he is arguing against is a diversity seminar you didn’t attend that itself made some quite strange claims.

    Instead you’ve invented an entire chain of events that didn’t happen there to make him look unusually reprehensible, I think the idea is to make someone far too conscientious look like a brassnecked bro. He might be misguided, but unless you are very sheltered you should realise that people who don’t care about diversity don’t give feedback on diversity seminars.

    I’d ask you two questions: 1. Do you know who he actually sent it to and why? 2. Do you know when he wrote it? If you can’t answer those questions you don’t understand the context.

    Also, did you look up Jonathan Haidt?

    I’ve not actually said I agree with his argument, I just disagree with you that he had a reasonable cause to make it and that it was not as unreasonable in tone as you have repeatedly characterised it as being. Which is also why I say its not entirely fact free as to be vexatious and I also pointed out he advocated a set of very progressive things Google could do that is better than just paying a 3rd party for a seminar.

    “Trait distribution in the general population has zero applicability to the self-selected population subset of highly skilled software engineers at a company like Google, who are not representative of the general population in many, many ways.”

    Well, first, its applicability has to be more than zero if they are within that population. Second, google is concerned about who it doesn’t get to hire not who it already has hired to the tune of 30% of its workforce. Third, Damore was talking about why people might self-select not to be hired by google. Fourth, Damore didn’t say this but you all imagine he did, in actual fact, the traits that correlate with being good at programming are mostly those more common in women than men.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092656615300052

    So I guess you’re saying female programmers at google are bad at their jobs because they aren’t representative of the general population. Shall I “Damore” you on Twitter now or shall I accept you have reasonable motives but didn’t know?

  186. Adiabat79 says

    Ally (197): While it’s been entertaining watching from the side-lines how emotional and irrational this memo has made you over the last few days, now you’re just repeating your random assertions-as-fact and intentional misrepresentations of the article.

    Quite a few academics in relevant fields have said that the points he makes are basically supported by the current consensus of evidence, with a minor quibble here or there*. I think I’ll take their opinion over the view of a minor Guardian writer/activist with no relevant education or experience in those fields and who, so far, has failed to support a single one of his points (except for linking to an ex-google employee who also failed to support a single one of his points and whose attitude reinforces the memo).

    Unlike you though I don’t believe in gatekeeping these subjects to a priestly caste, so if you can support your many, many, many assertions present them. Otherwise it’s all just the rants of a triggered social justice activist. So far we’ve had nothing but your opinion along with a whole load of undue arrogance and it’s getting a bit cringy.

    * In the link provided by Marduk which you’ve ignored: http://quillette.com/2017/08/07/google-memo-four-scientists-respond/, as well as Jordan Peterson (Professor in Psychology with a spotless publishing record). Also Sean Stevens and Jonathan Haidt from Business and Society department at New York University: https://heterodoxacademy.org/2017/08/10/the-google-memo-what-does-the-research-say-about-gender-differences/ did an analysis of the scientific evidence supporting his points.

    I’m saying for the most part it is simply irrelevant to the point he is trying to make. Trait distribution in the general population has zero applicability to the self-selected population subset of highly skilled software engineers at a company like Google, who are not representative of the general population in many, many ways.

    Do you accept that point? Because it is absolutely crucial, IMO

    No, you’ve failed to understand what his points were. He wasn’t passing comment on his colleagues at google: that’s your invention/imagination. You could in fact assume that there isn’t much, if any, difference in that sub-population and it changes none of his points.

    His arguments are relevant to the points he was actually making, and they reflect the current scientific understanding, as opposed to the activist “understanding” you believe in. I agree he could’ve referenced it better, but it was a memo not an academic paper, and he offers within the memo to provide citations if requested. No-one requested, preferring instead to leak his paper outside of the small skeptic group it was shared with at google, proving the point the memo makes.

    I follow it perfectly. I know exactly what he is trying to say and why. In fact I follow it so well I can not only see what he is trying to say, I can recognise several points when he doesn’t know what he is talking about…

    For some reason this reminded me of something Trump would say. It’s reminiscent of his argumentation style. Regardless, at several points you’ve demonstrated serious reading comprehension issues and a willingness to misrepresent the author: for example when you mock him for his “logic man” attitude yet anyone who actually reads the document can see a little bit above the part you quoted he admits he may be subject to his own bias when gathering evidence and is happy to have a discussion. You’re reading what you want into the document and dismissing anything that contradicts your own bias as ‘red herrings’, there to hide his “true purpose” you in your infinite wisdom can divine. You even have an entire post ‘mind-reading’ his “real” motivations. Again, it’s just cringy to read. You can be better than this.

    Re: Hangups about the term ‘Moral Bias’

    He literally has a table next to the bit you quoted giving examples of what he’s referring to. Are you incapable of making simple inferences? (Don’t worry, I know you can really: you’re just being over-emotional and trying to find any reason you can to discredit him to protect your ideological beliefs.)

    He’s referring to the links between personality traits and their links to political views and moral values. It’s well supported in the literature:
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228984558_Personality_and_Political_Attitudes_Relationships_Across_Issue_Domains_and_Political_Contexts
    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/dace/92341dcb7be513e7fc3868db80a7144edbd2.pdf
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228194331_The_Big_Five_Personality_Traits_in_the_Political_Arena
    http://www.yorku.ca/mar/Xu%20et%20al%202013_PSPB_cultural%20exposure%20mediations%20relation%20betwen%20personality%20and%20political%20orientation.pdf

    P.S My other handle appears to be blocked. Is this intentional Ally (in which case I’ll stop posting) or am I getting marked as spam or something?

  187. Adiabat says

    Hey Ally, it must’ve been all the links. Please can you let through my latest comment with all the links to scientific papers?

    If there are any more posts of mine in your spam just delete them if you want. They’ll be old and the discussion has moved on too much for me to care if they are posted or not.

  188. Marduk says

    Maybe you don’t like the way I express myself. Here is Peter Singer saying the same thing.

    “There is scientific research supporting the views Damore expresses. There are also grounds for questioning some of this research. In assessing Google’s action in firing Damore, it isn’t necessary to decide which side is right, but only whether Damore’s view is one that a Google employee should be permitted to express.

    I think it is. First, as I’ve said, it is not some twisted, crazy view. There are serious articles, published in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals, supporting it. Second, it addresses an important issue.”

    http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/google-wrong-article-1.3399750

  189. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk – as far as I’m aware the most precise summary of the chain of events is here. http://uk.businessinsider.com/james-damore-wrote-his-memo-after-attending-a-google-diversity-programme-2017-8?r=US&IR=T

    I can’t see where it contradicts or undermines anything I’ve said. OK, so he didn’t send it “to the entire company” but he did send it to others over the company’s internal email, from where it spread.

    Here’s a shocking heads up for you and Adiabat. I disagree with Peter Singer about pretty much everything, including this. He’s a good writer and a very interesting thinker but I just think he is wrong about everything.

    I disagree with at least two of the four scientists quoted in the Quillette for the reasons I gave above. They are saying that some of what Damore says about the general population is backed up by science. Nowhere does one of them acknowledge that there is no reason to believe that this has any relevance to the specific cohort under discussion.

    I have never read Jonathan Haidt & know nothing about him. But the synopsis of the book doesn’t suggest that it has much to do with diversity policies at a company like Google. I’ll reserve judgement.

    Jordan Peterson is prize fucking idiot. He rose to fame being a total fucking ignorant idiot about gender identity. He cemented his total fucking idiocy by allowing himself to become a darling of the most gruntingly stupid MRAs on the internet. Then I checked out his published academic work and found it to be completely fucking idiotic. His one value to this world would appear to be demonstrating the long-poorly-guarded secret that being a prize fucking idiot is no object to a career in academia.

    But what does this show? There are lots of people in the world and you will find someone who agrees with literally anything. Big deal. I know there are people out there, including people with letters after their name, who agree with Damore, just like there are people who agree with Ann Coulter or Donald Trump or climate change denialists or 9/11 troofers or whatever else. Doesn’t mean they are not fucking idiots. Throwing around the names of scientists doesn’t change the fact that the manifesto was plucked out of his arse.

  190. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat, if you have another handle which has been banned here it would have been for good reason, but I very much doubt it. I haven’t banned anyone for years & most of those were for advocating paedophilia.

  191. Marduk says

    Thats weird, your last post has vanished. I don’t want to argue further, I think I’ve said all I want to say about this.
    http://uk.businessinsider.com/james-damore-wrote-the-google-manifesto-after-reading-jonathan-haidt-2017-8?r=US&IR=T
    As Adibat says, in context its obvious, the following table comes from that book.

    What you have to understand of context is that Haidt’s work is used in subconscious bias training and Google discounts copies of his books for their staff and have him over to Clearview fairly often. Intended readers would not have made the same misreading you did. Unfortunately while Haidt explains how you can overcome unconscious bias (e.g., why the feeling of being disgusted by two men kissing shouldn’t trick you into thinking there is something wrong about it) he also argues that political beliefs are themselves the product of unconscious moral biases. It was only the over-conscientious nerd who actually did the recommended reading and then sent his likely incorrect musings to the recommended place under the psychological safety/unconscious bias training regime.

    When he says he was betrayed, I believe him, everything he did he was encouraged to do.

  192. Ally Fogg says

    Yep Marduk, I deleted a comment because it was a bit aggressive & inflammatory & I realised I wasn’t going to be around last night or for the next few days to argue on or douse the flames so it seemed a bit unreasonable to hit & run.

    And on that note, yes, off for a bit. Feel free to continue without me. Be good 😉

  193. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally

    Sorry, but I just cannot let this one go. You are too smart for this, Ally. You genuinely seem to believe that Damore is claiming the women working alongside him at Google are his intellectual inferiors. Well, he isn’t. He is saying something else: That men and women might have different distributions of skillls and desires for all kinds of reasons, including biology. That there is therefore no reason to take for granted that they should either qualify, apply, or succeed at Google in equal numbers. And that policies expecting Google to aim for 50% gender representation with their current applicant pool are therefore unjustified without additional arguments that nobody is even trying to provide.

    So, if Damore is claiming that his female colleagues are inferior, please show us where in the memo it says so. Or admit you can’t.

  194. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally
    Well, I read her answer as “Damone does not claim that we are inferior, but we have every right to be furious anyway”. My question stands.

    She does say one very useful thing: Antidiscrimination policies at Gogle should indeed be based in solid knowledge on what is actually happening at Google. If Google has convincing data to show that women are failing to appply or prosper at Google in proportion to the number of qualified applicants, they might consider making them public. That would certainly shut me up, and quite likely Damone too. Meanwhile is it not a little unfair to demand that Damone should do the work for them – in his spare time? In addition to producing a complete and detailed diversity policy?

  195. Marduk says

    210.
    I don’t think her points are unreasonable actually (although again she is treating something that wasn’t meant for mass consumption as if it were) but its a different set of things and a different level of argument. Damore does actually discuss some more concrete stuff earlier in the document, I don’t know how she missed it, but whatever. Perhaps this is representative of the better sort of discussion people could have had, unfortunately that isn’t the place people like Owen Jones took it and would of course be unsustainable now people have actually read the document in question.

    “Hot take” culture is killing discourse.

  196. WineEM says

    You know, what I love about this, Ally, is that I just know if this was all about, say, getting a high percentage of straight men into various roles and positions in the fashion industry, say as fashion magazine editors, designers, newspaper fashion critics, etc. (and having lots of affirmative action measures to try and ensure this, like being given several job interviews when they’ve already failed one, unlike women candidates), then you and the progressive Twitterati would be defending this approach with exactly the same level of passion and ferocity – and any woman who came along and said: ‘well, perhaps there are only 10% men who are catwalk fashion critics because there just aren’t so many guys who are passionate about it, so perhaps guys in the industry ought not to be given massive advantages which are only directed at them,’ I’m sure they would be subjected to the same kinds of ad hominem attacks and all the accusations of selfishly wanting to preserve the status quo for their own group.

    Erm, yeah, like right …

  197. StillGjenganger says

    @Marduk 211
    I cannot see she has much to offer, She is making a good job of explaining why there was such a huge emotional reaction – much like I could make a stab at explaining the anger and frustration of the Gamergate mob. But I do not see that she is actually addressing any of the issues, beyond emphasizing how she will keep fighting for her sisters’ share of the cake without caring about what anyone else might say, and how strongly she feels about it. But emotions only matter to the extent that we agree to respect and protect each others’ emotions. Does she care about my feelings? or about Damores? Should I care about hers?

    For the rest I think this discussion shows that you and I are at the end of the line. We would like many of the same policies, I think – liberalism, individual rights rather than group rights, openness and compromise rather than one side trouncing the other, antidiscrimination to target specific established problems, not just to advance the cause of preferred minorities at other group’s expense. So we argue and hope to have some minor effect. Personally, I would like just the feeling that my voice gets listened to and my concernes addressed on par with everybody else’s, in all these new developments, even if it makes little difference to the outcome. I suspect you may feel similarly: Is your only concern really for the strength of the left, being weakened by identity politics, or do you also have a a problem with the fact that you and people who think like you are effectively being excluded? But we have to face up to the fact that no matter how much we think we have reason and tolerance on our side, nobody is interested in listening. The Social Justice crowd thinks it can win, not just without you, but over you. We are the oldthinkers, they could not care less what we want, and they have absolutely no reason to rein back their objectives to please us. So it does not matter how good our goals may be because, like Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans, there is not the slightest chance that they can come about.

    I think it is time that we should stop bleating, and make a choice beteween the available alternatives. Both the SJWs and the Alt-Right crowd are at least doing something effective. So, what is your poison: Feminism, anti-feminism, or apathy? Embrace the lash, or embrace the backlash?

  198. WineEM says

    I will confess though, am feeling slightly bad, because I do rather fear that progressive parents up and down the country might suddenly start waking up in the small hours, and saying to each other something along the lines of: ‘Oh no, do you think old Whiney from the Free Thought Ally blog might actually have a point, in that the half-baked, idiotic and discriminatory diversity schemes we’ve supported could actually start causing horrendous difficulties for our own sons 5 or ten years down the line?’

    But then they will probably reflect, ‘but actually, if a son of ours were to do something as selfish as pursuing a scientific academic career, or working as a technician for Google, instead of working for Oxfam, then he will probably not be worthy in any case.’

    And so it will be fine, they will relax and go to sleep, no marital tension or anything, so not to worry. 🙂

  199. Ally Fogg says

    Gjen (210)

    Well, I read her answer as “Damone does not claim that we are inferior, but we have every right to be furious anyway”. My question stands.

    Then I suggest you read it again, because that is not what she was saying at all at any point.

    She makes several points, but the most relevant to this comment is this:

    “I called the manifesto’s citations to findings about “average” women a “sleight of hand” for a very specific reason: While he dutifully includes that limiting language when making the citations, the policies he goes on to advance in the memo have no mathematically rigorous connection to those averages. He is deploying these dispassionate facts to argue for ending Google’s attempts at creating a fair and broadly welcoming working environment.

    (I cannot judge what the author’s motives might be in adopting this rhetorical strategy: It could be cynical and strategic, or, as I suspect, the author may simply be very, very naïve.)

    The author was not simply listing various items of scientific news at random, for the reader’s information only. He was building a case for ending specific, real programs that affect very real people. If his proposals were adopted, it wouldn’t be some abstract concept of “average” that doesn’t get a scholarship, it would be an actual individual woman. It would be an actual female Googler who doesn’t get to attend the Grace Hopper Conference, which provides many women with their first experience of being in a majority-women tech conference space.

    If, as the manifesto’s defenders claim, the population averages do not have anything to say about individual Googlers, who are all exceptional, then why is Google the subject of the manifesto’s arguments at all? What do averages have to do with hiring practices at a company that famously hires fewer than one percent of applicants? In the name of the rational empiricism and quantitative rigor that the manifesto holds so dear, shouldn’t we insist that it only cite studies that specifically speak to the tails of the distribution — to the actual pool of women Google draws from?”

    (My emphasis.) I put the question to you. If he is not saying that the female cohort at Google is representative of general population distribution, why is all that stuff even there? What is the point of it? What point is he trying to make?

  200. Ally Fogg says

    WineEM (214)

    Let me try saying this in words of few syllables in the hope it might get through.

    As a parent of two sons I would be (very selfishly) delighted if either or both of them were to pursue a career in a something like IT or engineering or science. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of parents of sons would feel similarly. Why? Because I know that engineering, science etc are careers in which it is really, really easy for middle class young white men to thrive & succeed (relative to other sections of society.)

    I recognise that IT industries etc are doing a little bit to redress the fact that it is far, far easier for young white men to thrive in a career in IT etc than others but I’m also not stupid or ignorant enough to imagine that this has done anything more than put a tiny dent in the combined myriad advantages held by middle class young white men in fields like engineering, science & IT.

    As it is, son No.2 is still too young to really tell but it looks as if son No.1 is set on a much more artsy & creative path where he is much less likely to be part of a large social minority & is much more likely to have a really fucking tough time, but hey, so it goes.

  201. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally
    He is trying to make the point that there is no reason to assume that men and women would have the same distribution of skills, desires etc. even in a discrimination-free society, and that it is therefore not justified to aim for 50% female representation in any profession without checking what the specific reasons for the difference is. Maybe a given profession like medicine (or even engineering if it really as people-oriented as peoople keep saying) should ideally be 90% fermale. Maybe STEM subjects should be more male because males have a relative advantage in technical subjects (I.e. are relatively less crap at tech and even more crap at law or teaching).

    Off on holiday (without internet). Ciao.

  202. Ally Fogg says

    Gjen

    Can you find any document or quote from anyone at Google anywhere, any time, saying that their objective is for exactly 50% of their tech staff should be female?

    I can’t. So until you do, I don’t know what point you think he is arguing against.

    As the article above says,

    “For example, we could look to the percentage of women majoring in computer science at highly selective colleges and universities. Women currently make up about 30 percent of the computer science majors at Stanford University, one key source of Google’s elite workforce. Harvey Mudd College, another elite program, has seen its numbers grow steadily for many years, and is currently at about 50 percent women in their computer science department.

    Yet Google’s workforce is just 19 percent female. So even if we imagine for a moment that the manifesto is correct and there is some biological ceiling on the percentage of women who will be suited to work at Google — less than 50 percent of their workforce — isn’t it the case that Google, and tech generally, is almost certainly not yet hitting that ceiling?

    In other words, you can accept that fewer women than men in the general population are interested in careers in tech and STILL note that – at 19% – Google are way, way below where a company of that type would and should expect to be if all was equal.

    In addition, you can’t discuss this in good faith without acknowledging Cynthia Lee’s point that Damore was not just making a philosophical point, he was (quite surreptitiously) arguing for the removal of programmes & policies that have helped Google’s gender ratio get up to an embarrassingly low 1:5.

  203. WineEM says

    @216. Ah, well of course the beauty of this is there’s an arts version of Athena which is now set on targeting the humanties as well (and, needless to say, it doesn’t take much of an interest in the progress of men either).

    So in short there ain’t gonna be no corner of the universe free of ‘progressive’ social engineering schemes. Hurrah! 🙂

  204. Adiabat says

    Ally (203):

    Nowhere does one of them acknowledge that there is no reason to believe that this has any relevance to the specific cohort under discussion.

    No, there is no “specific cohort under discussion” for everyone else. You haven’t established why this point you keep going on about is so important that everyone is under an obligation to talk about it. Surely the fact that no-one, including academics in relevant fields, sees the importance of it except for you should be a clue that you’re going down the wrong path?

    Throwing around the names of scientists doesn’t change the fact that the manifesto was plucked out of his arse.

    They weren’t “thrown around”, they were to counterpoint the opinion of someone making lots of assertions without giving any reason to believe those assertions. Those links also had arguments and a large meta-review of the current research, compared to diddly-squat from anyone on “your side” except outrage and assertions.

    He clearly did his research for the memo, as evidenced by the fact that his points are supported by the current research on the subject (despite how much you want to deny the science). As I said before, I agree he could’ve cited them better, but it was just a memo.

    (204): It was the links in the end. If you look at the handle used in the post it’s different from my usual one and I put the P.S in there to avoid accusations of sockpuppeting. Thanks for allowing the comment through.

    (215):

    If he is not saying that the female cohort at Google is representative of general population distribution, why is all that stuff even there?

    Because the policies he explicitly (not surreptitiously) opposes* are discriminatory and sexist against men. And the only way this sexism can possibly be remotely justified is if you assume the ratio should be very different and they’re not because of “structural sexism” or “existing sexist bias” at google which the policies are ‘correcting for’ (though even this a ‘sins of the father’ argument and immoral imo). That’s why ‘that stuff is in there’: He dismantles your justification for unfair and discriminatory policies.

    That’s also why he suggests non-sexist ways to increase diversity, because these approaches don’t need the same justification and provide some of the same benefit.

    *Such as giving women but not men extra interviews if they do badly, preventing male employees from accessing certain training and fast-track opportunities etc – watch the interviews for the rest.

    (218):

    In other words, you can accept that fewer women than men in the general population are interested in careers in tech and STILL note that – at 19% – Google are way, way below where a company of that type would and should expect to be if all was equal.

    You can believe that, but if you want to promote discriminatory practices against a group you damn well have to show what that ratio should be first, because it just might be 19% or lower. You have no reason to assume 19% is “way below where a company of that type would and should expect to be if all was equal” specifically because of the points made in the memo. You need more than your beliefs to justify discrimination because if you are wrong (as the evidence suggests you are) your beliefs are going to unfairly impact some poor kid’s life. You’re so confident in your beliefs that you’ll risk being a monster, and I find that troubling.

    Also, the Vox writer’s examples such as Harvey Mudd College, which you also rely on for your point, don’t support her points. Even ignoring selection bias in admissions, Harvey Mudd has manoeuvred itself into a ‘goto’ college for women who want to do CS, which has resulted in them cannibalising the applicant pool from other colleges. The percentage of female CS students nationwide in the US has actually declined in recent years to around 15-20% (http://www.computerscience.org/resources/women-in-computer-science/). In short, as the current approaches aren’t actually increasing women’s interest in CS (the opposite in fact) there can be only one Harvey Mudd “success story” in the academic sector, and there is no reason to assume that the ratio present there will replicate across to the Tech sector (where there isn’t a Harvey Mudd equivalent hogging the applicants). The graduates will, in theory at least, filter to different companies meaning that the percentage at any particular company will approach the average percentage of female CS students (15-20%). Google is at the top of this range.

  205. Marduk says

    220.
    The funny thing is that Harvey Mudd’s design of a curriculum that is “female friendly” (for which it has received many plaudits) is largely based on the same findings and ideas that Damore was talking about anyway.

    Note how this is shifting now. At the start of the week, he was supposed to have said women were less capable. When someone read the document and found out he didn’t say this, it was then the biological element that was evil. Now that people have looked at the science and found it wasn’t quite as open and shut as they were hoping, its all about “surreptitious” claims and how having a “reasonable tone” is the true mark of evil.

    The truth of the matter is that setting out to ruin someone’s life over a Google Doc is an utter disgrace. Its one of those mob things, people act in haste and then the mob cools down and stands around trying not to catch each other’s eyes. The next thing that happens is always that people then hunt around for additional reasons they were right to do what they did. And while the people in the mob may be nodding, everyone knows deep down what the score is.

  206. Carnation says

    Re Adiabat

    It’s worth just reiterating at this point that Adiabat has, at various times, either endorsed or defended AVFM, Milo Yiannopolis, Sargon of Akkad and Gamergate.

    His cheerleading of the Google manifesto is as predictable as it is tragic.

    Stay class, Prince x

  207. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat

    “Surely the fact that no-one, including academics in relevant fields, sees the importance of it except for you should be a clue that you’re going down the wrong path?”

    You mean apart from the Professor of Computer Science at Stanford who teaches Statistics & Probability & made that exact, precise point in the exact, precise article we were discussing just two posts above your own?

    You’re priceless.

  208. Ally Fogg says

    By the way, Adiabat, you can’t even read your own sources

    “The percentage of female CS students nationwide in the US has actually declined in recent years to around 15-20% (http://www.computerscience.org/resources/women-in-computer-science/).”

    That link says the numbers of female graduates in CS has dropped by 15-20%, not to 15-20%.

    There doesn’t seem to be much consensus on what proportion of IT professionals or graduates in the US are female, but I’m seeing statistics ranging from 20-35% over the past few years,
    according to Fortune (hardly a hotbed of SJW liberalism it was 26% in 2013, down from 35% in 1990.

    I can’t find any that suggest Google isn’t at least slightly below industry average, and I’m sure the company would tell you they want to be ahead of the industry in any case, not lagging behind.

  209. Marduk says

    225. “As of 2010-2011, women made up just 17.6% of computer science students.”

    Truthfully you might wonder at the ideology behind herding women into CS just as the industry is starting to pay less and has become institutionalised and corporate. CS is by far the absolute worst STEM degree you can do for employment prospects in the UK and has been for years. You could actually conclude that young women being a bit more conscientious than the kind of tunnel-visioned young men about have actually looked at the numbers, they are making a wise decision.

    Even the start-up scene is dying on its ass, everyone does them to sell them to Google, Facebook or whoever now from the start (UK Gov has just recently realised this re: “Silicon Roundabout” which creates many successful businesses but virtually no jobs for the UK, the jobs it creates end up in California which is an interesting variation on the idea of foreigners stealing your job).

    The kind of young men who would have gone into it 15 years ago are all about edgy disruptive biotech/pharma startups now anyway. The other thing to get into thats really bleeding edge is in the food/horticulture technology area. Which are, at this moment, all traditionally female dominated subjects just like computing used to be. Whatever the reasons this seems to be a pattern and a bit of a paradox. As soon as you are talking about corporate HR policies to improve diversity you’re talking about the kind of organisations that might pay you a decent wage but you’re not going to get rich working for them.

    In 20 years time we’ll be having the same discussion about diversity in biotech, why all its leads are pale and stale men and the wheel will have kept spinning.

    So maybe its not actually something special to computing and its not about the sector but the kind of work you can take within it. I think actually the best way to encourage people into what are risky ventures (in more ways than one) is stronger social protections. Ditch the fees, sort out the housing market, look after people better if they slip up, women at least perceive themselves as being more vulnerable in this way. Boring and hard stuff as usual is the key, not kumbya sessions.

  210. Adiabat says

    Ally (224):

    You mean apart from the Professor of Computer Science at Stanford who teaches Statistics & Probability & made that exact, precise point in the exact, precise article we were discussing just two posts above your own?

    Ok yes; apart from the academic who makes basic statistical mistakes by using Harvey Mudd as an example in the argument you quoted, and whose arguments mainly consist of ‘standing in solidarity with the sisterhood’: Notice that she also fails to establish ‘why this point you keep going on about is so important that everyone is under an obligation to talk about it’. She instead asks a bunch of stupid questions about it, implying that she doesn’t know the rather obvious answers.

    Y’now, instead of playing gotcha games you could just argue why this point of yours is so important.

    (225):

    That link says the numbers of female graduates in CS has dropped by 15-20%, not to 15-20%.

    From the link: “As of 2010-2011, women made up just 17.6% of computer science students.” I was being generous when I extrapolated the trend from this section to today as a rough 15-20% estimate. I didn’t realise I needed to show my working out to you, as I was just demonstrating the wider point why using the Harvey Mudd example was statistically illiterate.

    I can’t find any that suggest Google isn’t at least slightly below industry average

    Again: “As of 2010-2011, women made up just 17.6% of computer science students.”

    And another 5 second google search (search term: percentage of female computer science majors) brought up this as the third link (the first was the one I provided above): “In 1984, 37 percent of computer science majors were women, but by 2014 that number had dropped to 18 percent” (my emphasis) which is apparently from a study by ‘Accenture and Girls Who Code’ (https://www.usnews.com/news/data-mine/articles/2016-10-20/study-computer-science-gender-gap-widens-despite-increase-in-jobs).

    I’ve no idea how valid that study is and I’m not going to do a comprehensive review of the literature to find a figure, because I don’t need to in order to prove my point: “if you want to promote discriminatory practices against a group you damn well have to show what that ratio should be first, because it just might be 19% or lower.”

    By your own admission you don’t know what the ratio should be, and until you do pushing through these policies that will discriminate against innocent kids starting out in life is monstrous. Do you not agree that before engaging in social engineering that will affect people in potentially unfair ways you should be as close to 100% sure as you can that your beliefs are correct? Isn’t that just a minimum standard to not be and do evil?

  211. Marduk says

    213.
    I didn’t see this earlier. I think you have to stick to what you believe and as I keep saying, values and integrity over agenda.

    When I were a lad, the right wing did the following things I hated: ignored science, reduced people to categories (remember when finding something “reductive” was cool? anyone remember the “gay senator” or the “black millionaires” episodes of the West Wing?), used social punishments against people to stop them from working (e.g., blacklisting was a big thing when I was growing up), stupid moral policing shit like trying to ban books/films/games they hadn’t seen “and I can assure you I have no intention of seeing it either” and a sinister obsession with what was in people’s pants and what they were and were not using it for in private.

    I’m still against those things and at the end of the day I don’t think there is any difference in it just because its a teenage girl with blue hair arguing for it rather than a grandmother with a blue rinse arguing for it. It was supposed to be fine when it only hurt “Commies” (“Bolshies” was more the kind of thing really), its supposed to be fine now because it only hurts “Nazis”. Its not fine, Commies and Nazis are just names for people you want to justify hurting and its not even a political thing really, its just what bullies do.

    I wish I had a side but I’m starting to think its just the same thing as like I wish (sometimes) I had a religion I believed in because that would be reassuring too. I reckon I’m actually in the silent (silenced?) majority on this but I suppose everyone thinks that. I used to be an activist, in fact a trained organiser of activists if you can believe that, but these days I just write cheques and do the letter writing campaigns with Amnesty and so on. Everyone makes mistakes politically when they are young, its just I’d hoped the adults would intervene with the SJWs and although some feminists tried, its not really worked out like I was hoping. It doesn’t really work anyway, it magicked a non-existent Alt-Right into existence in America and just seems to leave right-wing politicians in power wherever it takes hold.

    PS. I realised just now why people think Damore said women were less capable when he obviously didn’t. Its because Larry Summers actually did. I think its pent up rage because Larry Summers is famously the mentor of Saint Sheryl Sandberg, Our Lady Of Leaning In so a lot of people self-censored at the time, particularly after Sandberg literally ordered them to shut up. If you look at the coverage of Summers, its very gentle compared to what Damore got. But Summers is a wealthy patrician with powerful friends, Damore is just some kid.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sheryl-sandberg/what-larry-summers-has-do_b_142126.html

  212. Marduk says

    Oh, and Damore is not an alt-right martyr or hero, the Graun is failing to understand American politics as usual. He has become a right-wing cause mostly because there is a movement to regulate Google as utility, its a key Bannon policy. This is why Google created the Alphabet entity in case this happens so they can separate off their assets. The right wing talking heads are like Cato The Elder on this, all coverage ends with “This is yet another reason why Google must be regulated as a utility”, it plays into the argument perfectly if indeed they’ve become politicised. This is related to net neutrality wrangles but its probably a retribution as much as anything.

    https://theintercept.com/2017/07/27/steve-bannon-wants-facebook-and-google-regulated-like-utilities/

  213. Marduk says

    Going back a bit, this isn’t the piece on gay rights vs. identity politics I still can’t refind but it makes the same points.
    https://jacobinmag.com/2017/08/identity-politics-gay-rights-neoliberalism-stonewall-feminism-race

    “Under the rubric of liberation, activists embraced identity in order to abolish it. Marxist ideas about class struggle — which similarly culminate with the abolition of social classes — influenced their ideas. They rallied around demands for adequate income, housing, medical care, ecological well-being, and meaningful employment. Their liberation struggle was ultimately a revolutionary call to action with a universalist view of freedom.

    The turn to identity as the key political trope, as well as the whittling-back of demands to fit this narrower concept, came in the wake of the original political upsurge, as urban gay communities were growing, as gay was emerging as a niche market, and when the political discourse shifted from social to personal liberation. In this context, increasingly reified identities would step out of closets to claim their rights, each vying for recognition under increasingly elaborate acronyms. A complex history of separatisms, nationalisms, and intersectionalities follows.”

  214. Koken says

    It’s fascinating how hard it seems to be in this particular case to produce agreement even on something as seemingly basic as what the memo actually says. Having re-read it after viewing a few arguments of this sort, I think that part of the issue is that it’s not structured as a single complete argument so much as a set of grievances or pushbacks against what the author sees as the echo-chamber monoculture. As such the precise relationship between some of the scientific facts stated and policy changes suggested is left to be inferred, with many of the more incendiary claims people have found in the memo being reliant on such inference.

  215. Carnation says

    @ Koken, @Marduk

    I think it’s quite clear from the actions of the memo’s author after his sacking where his political heart lies. This makes it obvious to all but the wilfully obtuse, and the intellectually dull, what motivated him.

  216. Marduk says

    232.
    As I say, the pitchfork carrying mob can always find reasons after the event, “hey we didn’t read the memo before attacking him or understand its context but it turns out he was a bad person anyway, phew”. I hope you aren’t listening to the Guardian on this, because as he has said, he is accepting all media requests on principle. Yes, that does include Milo and Fox, but also hostile lion’s den stuff with left wing outlets.

    We can always find a way to twist anything after all, consider this recent corker:
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/23/photos-afghan-women-foreign-policy-trump-womens-rights

    What I imagine Trump thinks isn’t right, he isn’t an expert and I imagine he hasn’t done any research (the State Department, CIA, National Security Advisor and Joint Chiefs of Staff?), although the experts who have done the research agree with what I’ve just said he thinks. Let me be clear, the photographs are frequently posted on Reddit, people make smart observations…er, I mean posted specifically in right-wing spaces and people make false arguments that are correct but motivated by the wrong motivations so they are generally right only wrong. They’ve gone viral but only in specific places which is to say, they haven’t gone viral but they have. I don’t want to say everyone who posts these things is right wing but only right wing people do it, apart from when other people do it. In conclusion, when someone supports our agenda, its because they hate us, this should be obvious. [Not that Trump mentioned any of this in two quite lengthy statements on the matter].

  217. WineEM says

    Out of interest, Mard, what’s your take on the Saunders new ‘hate crime’ offensive?

    I appreciate that a lot of it is technically in statute already (although in some relatively obscure stuff, which has not often been invoked).

    William Collins (Rick Bradford), often makes the point about the so-called ‘liberal’ establishment changing the ‘de facto’ law, and that this then makes a massive change as to how it is actually implemented.

    I’ve also heard it said that there is no ‘hate crime’ of ‘misogyny’ in this context, yet of course ‘gender’ (normally assumed to be the female sex, here), is of course most certainly a ‘protected characteristic’ in the 2010 Equality Bill, and the original guidance I read on the CPS website definitely said that a hate crime would be considered a hate crime if it was motivated by somebody’s gender, not just being ‘intersex’ etc. (though they now seem to have moved that particular document to a more obscure place on the site that I’m now finding difficult to locate.)

    All in all, from my point of view, it just leaves a really bad taste in the mouth.

    Yes, thus far, the (ill)liberal elites have been able to troll the general public with their idiotic schemes of constant social re-engineering (as alluded to many times in this thread), and up till now, in return, at least we’ve been able to point out that their schemes are idiotic, and that they are being totally idiotic for backing them.

    But if this is now to be outlawed as ‘hate’, then the asymmetry in terms of democratic power surely becomes far too great (for at least in the past, free speech always hinted at the promise of change.)

    I’m just surprised that there hasn’t been more of a coordinated backlash thus far by people who value free speech and democracy.

  218. Ally Fogg says

    WineEM (235)

    I read through the three new policy documents she produced the other day & I honestly couldn’t find a single sentence that wasn’t previously policy anyway.

    Saunders has a habit of that. She publishes a new document saying the precise same thing that was already in their previous documents & announcing it with a fanfare of interviews on the Today programme & articles in the Guardian. Nobody ever thinks to stop and ask her what it actually means in practice, who precisely will be prosecuted tomorrow that wouldn’t have been prosecuted yesterday? Strongly suspect the answer to that question is ‘nobody.’

  219. WineEM says

    “who … will be prosecuted tomorrow that wouldn’t have been prosecuted yesterday?”

    @236 Well, Ms Saunders has already pretty much answered that question, hasn’t she? It’s those who have political views that she considers not to be in the mainstream and unacceptable: indeed, she has actually said in her newspaper interviews and pieces that she and the CPS intend to use this deliberately for political censorship.

    Steven Pinker, on his Twitter page, just this month, has explained – as it if were actually flipping well necessary – why there is no ‘hate speech’ exception to the 1st amendment. It’s..

    “For the obvious reason that anyone can call ideas they don’t like “hate speech.”

    https://twitter.com/sapinker/status/897452001289674761

    And yes, as I acknowledged in my post, in terms of statute, it’s probably the case that nothing has changed, but Will Collins is surely correct that the ‘de facto’ implementation of British law makes a massive, massive difference as to how it’s carried out. The Malicious Communications Act, for example, is a silly, badly worded piece of legislation, yet up till now, hardly anyone has been aware of its daft and excessive provisions.

    But we now have a CPS shoving it in people’s faces, taking it mainstream, far beyond the bonkers #ReclaimTheNet corners of the web.

    We’ve already heard what it’s like when citizens are actively encouraged to shop one another for the tiniest, trivial incident or infraction, because we’ve all heard stories from the D.D.R. etc describing exactly what kind of an atmosphere and society this produces.

    This IS what a police state looks like, Ally, and that you can just shrug and effectively say ‘nothing to see here,’ I find absolutely extraordinary.

  220. Ally Fogg says

    WineEM

    Well, Ms Saunders has already pretty much answered that question, hasn’t she?

    No, you’ll need to furnish me with the quotes because I’ve just read her piece & the accompanying news piece & I can’t see that anywhere.

    It’s those who have political views that she considers not to be in the mainstream and unacceptable:

    Really? You’ll need to furnish me with the quotes because I’ve just read her piece & the accompanying news piece & I can’t see that anywhere.

    indeed, she has actually said in her newspaper interviews and pieces that she and the CPS intend to use this deliberately for political censorship.

    Really? You’ll need to furnish me with the quotes because I’ve just read her piece & the accompanying news piece & I can’t see that anywhere.

  221. Marduk says

    235/236
    I agree with what Ally said, this is an annoying habit of Saunders lately. I think she is taking her cues from the Americans on this, possibly without considering there is a reason that politically appointed/elected (depending on the state) prosecutors might have a different set of motivations and reasons for being activist office holders. The only wrinkle I can find in this is that, I think, a year-long consultation on hate crime should have ended now. It isn’t clear to me if these are early reporting of the outcomes of the consultation or the CPS trying to get a view out ahead of a consultation that didn’t go the way they were hoping?
    https://www.cps.gov.uk/consultations/hate_crime.html

    It is slightly worrying Saunders likes to give the impression that she is writing the law without reference to parliament or the courts but I think in this regard you have to see the CPS more as the state prosecutor, one side in a courtroom, rather than any kind of guardian of anything. She isn’t writing the law, she is writing CPS procedures which I think should have parliamentary oversight personally. In interviews Saunders has conceded she doesn’t actually know if the law itself will back her up and it would need to be tested. Where this gets a bit dodgy is that it means the state will be prosecuting people on the basis of a theory basically, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything different will be determined by judges and magistrates.

  222. WineEM says

    @238. Ally, what you’re missing here is that there’s always been a strong cultural dimension as to how the law is implemented.

    We both know, by way of example, that it is technically a crime to make a copy of a song off the radio by recording it in some way (copyright infringement). But it would be completely silly, and massively disproportionate, to go on a spree trying to search out cases where this might have happened. And if tomorrow, say, the head of the CPS were to issue a statement announcing that ‘we’ve had enough of these freeloaders and petty criminals, we’re going to encourage anyone and everyone who believes this kind of activity may have happened to shop that person to the police. And what’s more, we’re going to make sure that each incident is treated as seriously and robustly as if they were stealing for a shop’, everyone would instantly recognise that this person was not fit to be in the job, that they were making poor use of resources and also, what is more, creating quite an unpleasant atmosphere, whereby everyone had to be nervous over such trivial and relatively inconsequential activities.

    Now, you ask where Saunders has expressed an ambition towards political censorship.
    Well, in her Guardian piece, she refers to tackling “those in the UK who hold extreme views on race, religion, sexuality, gender and even disability” . (Many of these views, by definition, will fall into the realm of political beliefs, since policies involving, for example, transgender people, can be very controversial and difficult, as indeed can be to what extent people’s religious beliefs and practises should be exempt from any criticism from others.) Yet what views people might hold in such contexts should be no concern of hers, unless they have committed a crime so injurious to the public good that it would merit formal investigation and prosecution. But that is not her approach, she wants to base it entirely about how any individual might feel about the given situation, and that it should be that which is the deciding factor as to whether the police look into it or not (very much, of course, like the misogynist ‘hate crime’ initiative in Nottingham, where the police were promising to look into any incident of ill will that might have been motivated by a man having sexist attitudes towards a woman. Yes, it sounds completely absurd, yet this was their stated policy.)

    And then, furthermore, what has happened to the concept of mockery, here? Have we all lost our collective sense of humour? Should we take it for granted that religion (particularly Christianity and Islam) should have absolute protection from anyone pointing out how daft and absurd a religious person’s beliefs might be? Are we truly comfortable with this?

    You should know better than most people, Ally, that just because something has been defined in law, does not make it morally correct or right, and when you have someone on an uncompromising mission to give full force to the most questionable aspects of it, then it’s not necessarily going to make for a better society by any means at all.

    Again, I find your indifference to this short-sighted and really rather surprising.

  223. WineEM says

    241 Oh, and lo and behold, Vera Baird says she’s recruiting large groups of volunteers to go actively looking for ‘hate speech’ online :-

    http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2017/08/24/funding-the-fight-against-hate/

    That’s really gonna end well isn’t it, doesn’t have political or ideological overtones at all.

    Ally, you ask why one more person would get into trouble who wouldn’t have done previously? Because groups of zealots are doing their darndest to make it so, that’s why.

  224. David S says

    I think there might be less to that story than meets the eye. It is true that Northumbria Police are recruiting volunteers to help tackle cyber crime, and Vera B make it looks as if it is online hate crime they are interested in. But it looks to me more like they are going after fraud and hacking. Vera’s article also tells us that the inclusion of online crime in CSEW statistics has doubled the incidence reported, and makes it sound as if online hate crime is a significant contributor to that rise. But if you look at the additional crimes reported they are in fact various kinds of fraud, computer virus offences, and unauthorised access to personal information, including hacking.

  225. Marduk says

    240. OK, so according to Vera Baird, this is a consequence of the consultation. So where is the published outcome? I can’t find it.

    In other news, I was watching a Tucker Carlson video from Fox News earlier. Tucker is a rabid right winger and has a segment on his show where he gets people on so he can shout at them (his defenestration of neocon Max Boot is well worth watching and the nearest anyone has ever come to public retribution for Iraq and why he has started turning up in my feed). Anyhow, old Tucker is shooting the insane right wing shit with some equally insane ideologue and he starts saying that surely the point of identity politics and hate mobs is to distract people from inequality and the state doing nothing about it.

    Who knew that Tucker fucking Carlson would be the last standard bearer conventional Marxism and the dangers of false consciousness. Identity is truly the opium of the people. Meanwhile the Owen Joneses of this world never met an establishment notion or a multinational corporation they wouldn’t go the mattresses to defend. Funny old world we live in.

  226. Ally Fogg says

    Ally, what you’re missing here is that there’s always been a strong cultural dimension as to how the law is implemented

    Citation needed. WTF are you talking about?

    I mean, if you are talking about hate crime legislation specifically, then yeah, it tends to get used against people who commit hate crime, which is kinda cultural but not exactly a revelation.

    Your next paragraph ends with

    And what’s more, we’re going to make sure that each incident is treated as seriously and robustly as if they were stealing for a shop’, everyone would instantly recognise that this person was not fit to be in the job, that they were making poor use of resources and also, what is more, creating quite an unpleasant atmosphere, whereby everyone had to be nervous over such trivial and relatively inconsequential activities.

    Let’s leave aside the issue that it is not actually a crime to download pirated music (copyright infringement is a civil offence, not a criminal offence) This analogy would have some value if it were true that hate crime is a “trivial and relatively inconsequential” activity on a par with illegal downloading. You are going to have to make a better case for it than that.

    Now, you ask where Saunders has expressed an ambition towards political censorship.
    Well, in her Guardian piece, she refers to tackling “those in the UK who hold extreme views on race, religion, sexuality, gender and even disability” .

    Hang about. It sounds like you are taking issue with the existence of hate crime laws altogether, as opposed to Saunders’ latest policy announcements (I won’t call them policy changes, because I’ve still not seen those).

    Yes, you can argue that being overtly & extremely racist, homophobic, transphobic or whatever is (or can be) a political position. If you want to, you can even argue that those political positions should be protected by principles of freedom of speech (you’d be an arsehole, but go for it if you like). However you would not be taking issue with Allison Saunders. You’d be taking issue with criminal law in the UK all the way back to the Race Relations Act of 1972 if not earlier.

    Yet what views people might hold in such contexts should be no concern of hers, unless they have committed a crime so injurious to the public good that it would merit formal investigation and prosecution.

    Are you tripping? What do you think Saunders job is? Pretty much her entire job is specifically to decide whether a crime is so injurious to the public good that it would merit formal investigation & prosecution. That is precisely what she is doing here. She is telling us that she has looked at the evidence & come to the conclusion that online hate crime is so injurious to the public good that it should merit formal investigation & prosecution. If the Director of Public Prosecutions does not make that judgement, who do you think should?

    And then, furthermore, what has happened to the concept of mockery, here? Have we all lost our collective sense of humour? Should we take it for granted that religion (particularly Christianity and Islam) should have absolute protection from anyone pointing out how daft and absurd a religious person’s beliefs might be? Are we truly comfortable with this?

    What year is this, 2005? Don’t you remember the whole fuss about the introduction of the Incitement to Religious Hatred Act? Look it up. Go back & read the arguments at the time. I seem to remember Rowan Atkinson was particularly vocal about it. FWIW I had a lot of concerns at the time, I’m quite happy that the law has been very rarely & sparingly used, but again, Saunders has not announced anything which hasn’t been the law for a long, long time.

    You should know better than most people, Ally, that just because something has been defined in law, does not make it morally correct or right, and when you have someone on an uncompromising mission to give full force to the most questionable aspects of it, then it’s not necessarily going to make for a better society by any means at all.

    I agree with this. There is lots of law in the UK which is dangerously worded. There are a lot of examples of infringement of free speech that I am extremely worried about. For example, I was horrified that LGBT activists were arrested & held for 48 hours last weekend for supposed ‘hate crimes’ because they held up placards against the police participation in Glasgow’s Pride saying “These faggots fight fascists.”

    There are all sorts of issues around free speech & expression which our law, police, CPS & courts get wrong on a regular basis, IMO.

    However I see absolutely nothing that has in any way changed this week in the light of Saunders’s new initiatives, which is the point of this discussion.

  227. Ally Fogg says

    242 – Yep. There is more detail here:

    http://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/south-tyneside-firms-in-cyber-crime-warning-1-8717389

    Seems to be about fraud & other cybercrime rather than trolling. That will be why, in the Progress piece, it says “men and women who work during the week in banking or software development”

    Funnily enough the words “large groups” doesn’t seem to appear anywhere. It’s just WineEM having his excitable paranoid fantasies again.

    Honestly mate, I promise, you can call me a cunt on the internet with confidence that the secret police will not come a-knocking on your door.

  228. David S says

    @Ally (245)

    Well yeah, but the Progress piece seems to invite misinterpretation, and I think it does so deliberately. Vera B seems to be playing that journalistic game where the author says something that isn’t literally false, but frames it in such a way that the reader is led to a conclusion that is false.

  229. Marduk says

    On the subject of advertising restrictions, I was amused to discover the the ACLU is currently suing the District of Columbia for banning advertisements from subway stations. Ahead of PETA and Carafem and the ACLU itself(!) as an entity that advertises, the lead litigant is one Milo Yiannopoulos as, remarkably, he was judged to have the strongest case on the basis that the adverts he put up were the least offensive. They just showed his face and the word “Dangerous” (i.e., his book cover). I don’t think a punchline is really required here.

  230. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 218

    On holiday and in a hurry:

    Can you find any document from Google arguing what percentage of their workforce ought to be women,and why? And what is the reason why the numbers fall short – so we know what errors we are trying to remedy? All I have seen can be summarised as ‘Yes, of course we need to favour women, because, like, they have been oppressed, and anyway women are groovy’. They could have shut him up in a flash if they had presented anything halfway quantitative, even after his memo, but no, nothing but outrage that anyone could dare to throw doubt on their nice programs. So, can you point to any actual arguments (instead of requiring the memo-writer and anyone defending him to present a major social science research project before they are allowed to talk)? Or is it an article of faith, that can be accepted without arguments, that making things better for women is always a ‘good thing’?

    As for working against already existing programs, I do not doubt that a lot of women can do much better in their careers if they are given special courses and encouragement, shorcuts to the top,and a general presumption that they are worth much more than the world gives them, and that doubting their (collective) ability, is, always, totally out of line, If my group had that kind of privileges, I would defend them too. The thing is, there are surely a lot of men around who will not by themselves make it to the very top, but who also might do rather better if given the same advantages. Now, before you make it corporate policy to favour one group and tell the other group to shut up and lump it, would it not be reasonable to give some justification for why one group is more deserving than the other? Or at a minimum to allow people to raise the question without being excommunicated?

  231. Ally Fogg says

    David S (246)

    Oh yes. Which I think is in keeping with (my perception) of what is really going on here. The likes of Vera Baird & Alison Saunders quite regularly make grandiose announcements on issues like these which are convincing enough to earn lots of approving thumbs up from Guardian columnists on Twitter & earn lots of screeching about SJWs & political correctness going mad Daily Mail readers, meanwhile nobody notices that neither police nor prosecutors nor PCCs have anywhere near the resources to actually do anything about any of this stuff even if they did want to.

    In fact when you think about it, Vera Baird is actually telling us that she is going to cross her fingers and hope that specialist professionals are somehow going to be prepared to volunteer to give up their weekends to help the police investigate cybercrime & online fraud because they haven’t got any budget to do it themselves.

  232. StillGjenganger says

    @Carnation 232

    It totally does not matter what motivated him.He should be judged on what he actually said (especially since he was so freaking careful about putting it neutrally). That is same right we should extend to Julie Bindel. Or even to you.

  233. David S says

    @Ally (249)

    In fact when you think about it, Vera Baird is actually telling us that she is going to cross her fingers and hope that specialist professionals are somehow going to be prepared to volunteer to give up their weekends to help the police investigate cybercrime & online fraud because they haven’t got any budget to do it themselves.

    She is also presumably hoping that they will be doing it for the right reasons. The advert I linked to says that volunteers will “conduct overt open source investigations across online sites to identify people and businesses susceptible to exploitation or threat”, which would of course be an ideal cover for someone who wanted to, er, identify people and businesses susceptible to exploitation or threat.

  234. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger

    I don’t think Google is under any obligation to set a specific number on what their gender ratio should be, and I doubt it would be very good management to do so, for multiple reasons. I put it to you earlier because whatever their various ranges of targets & objectives may be, I very much doubt it was ever a precise target of 50% – which was what you suggested.

    FWIW I think any organisation of that size should be using all kinds of metrics & methods to assess whether they are performing as well as they should be on issues like diversity & inclusion and – particularly an organisation like Google which has been heavily criticized & had a lot of bad PR over things like their pay gap & ongoing dispute with the government – you’d expect them to be striving to do ever better, in all the different ways in which that could be interpreted. That might not even be about numbers of employees, but about all sorts of divisions of workloads, promotions, job titles, job satisfaction, etc etc etc, all of which could – theoretically – move in different directions to each other.

    I think this is one major reason why I found Damore’s document so fucking dumb in the first place. He was wanting to apply nice simple quantifications to phenomena that aren’t quantifiable. It was like he was wanting to use a ruler to measure justice or something.

    The thing is, there are surely a lot of men around who will not by themselves make it to the very top, but who also might do rather better if given the same advantages.

    Let me try explaining this one last time, because you’re not getting it.

    Men (particularly white men) in STEM industries, and IT in particular, start their careers and progress in those careers with multiple advantages over other people.

    Stop there, before I say anything else, and process that sentence above. Agree with it and we can take this further. If you don’t agree with that sentence as it is, then stop right here, let me know and I will come back & discuss it.

    If you do agree with the sentence however, I’ll add some more.

    The first thing to note about most of the advantages men have in IT is that they cannot simply be removed overnight with a policy change. They are embedded into society, into social values, in the education system etc etc etc. Similarly we can’t just take the advantages men have & afford them to women. Doesn’t work like that.

    All the things that are done to encourage women & minorities into IT & STEM – mentoring programmes, conferences, networking events etc etc etc – these are done as a way of offering some different advantages which hopefully go some way to compensating for the advantages that the men have.

    Yes, this is a clumsy, imperfect solution. It might create its own injustices along the way. Just where the balance is might be up for debate (for example, personally I’m generally against positive discrimination in appointments, which I think crosses a line & does more harm than good).

    But whatever the rights & wrongs & value of specific policies, it is essential that you understand that the policies are not there to advantage women (or etc) as an end in itself, but to at least partially compensate for other advantages that men have.

    Does that make any more sense?

  235. Marduk says

    252.
    Asian men are the most over-represented group at google, white people are represented exactly equally to their presence in the US as a whole. There are reasons for this but reasons other than discrimination cannot be entertained under the new rules so we won’t discuss the fact you’d have to change the culture of the two largest countries on earth to affect this. In any case, I think the Bay Area has been institutionally racist towards Asians quite enough for one geological period and I can’t see it getting revived on the basis of “diversity” now. How much easier it is to pretend its always about “white men” vs. “women and minorities” eh Father Ted.

  236. Ally Fogg says

    That’s true Marduk but it is also true that there have been extensive problems with / allegations of racism, exclusion & stereotyping in the tech / IT sectors involving American-Asian employees, so while there might not be a numerical discrepancy it doesn’t mean there aren’t issues to be considered & addressed.

    I’m not the one saying it is all about numbers.

  237. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally,
    What you are saying here is that all of society is biased in favour of white males. So they always, by general principle, have an unfair advantage, and you always need to favour other groups over them. There is no need for arguments. Rather like the argument a couple of years back, where someone claimed that white men played the game of life on ‘beginner’ level, so that everything always was easier for each one of them. And here I disagree, because that is an ideology that says that just by being white and male I am advantaged, no matter how poor and luckless I am otherwise, and because like any ideology it puts the point beyond discussion or challenge. It is the same point that led communist countries to discriminate on social class (a much stronger correlation, actually). And that was not a great success, was it? Saying ‘women are disavantaged’ is no more serious than saying ‘women are no good at IT’ – in both cases we need to look at individuals, and aggregates of individuals.

    Men dominate that industry for a number of reasons. One is self-reinforcement – members of minorities always and unavoidably find it harder to adapt and navigate the cultural maze, be they women in a mostly male environment, or Samoans in the US. Straight discrimination is another one, of course, and that will work against many woman more or less equally. Apart from that there are many factors that probably contribute, but that are all about individuals. These work the same for individual men and women, just that the poroiportion of people with poarticular problems might differ between the sexes.

    – Starting disposition. Not all IT people are nerds, but extreme, concentration on a factual subject seems for whatever reason to be more common among males, and engineering is less about people than many other subjects.
    – Goals and desires. Women might on the average be more inclined to favour work-life balance, and less to put in 14-hour.days
    – Skills distribution.As I hinted at before, even if men are equal at tech subjects they might concentrate here if they happened to be inferior (on the average, as always) in other competing subjects.

    Ths could all be expanded upon, but I am short of time and I am sure you get the point. Anyway, if women do worse at Google because they are women, the solution is positive discrimination. If they do worse because they do not have the same skills or attitudes by the time they apply, the solution is to train the next generation better and meanwhileto treat people on their merits. And if the problem is that more women than men have probelms with assertiveness, self-esteem, etc. the solution isto give advantageto those individuals who needthem no matter what genitals they carry..

    Of course in reality all these factors are likely to apply together. But if you assume, on ideological grounds that all differences aer due to discriination,or that women need to be advantaged beyond what their capacities, personalities, or life goals would indicate, just because they are women, you endup in gender war. Faiing that, you need to address hat teh problem is, to adapt the solution to the problem, and to give specific reasons (not general ideology) for why some groupneeds to be singled out for positive treatment.

  238. StillGjenganger says

    Sorry, that should have read:
    ‘discrimination will work against any woman more or less equally’

  239. Ally Fogg says

    What you are saying here is that all of society is biased in favour of white males.

    No, that is not what I am saying here. (It’s broadly true, but by the by, it is not what I am saying here.)

    What I am saying here is that the social structure of the industries of STEM, & IT in particular are biased in favour of males, and in favour of some ethnic groups of males more than others. This is a significant correction, because I would not for a moment advocate a pressing need for measures to improve the opportunities for women in, say, primary teaching or pharmacology or psychological sciences. And where there might be need for this kind of thing in say, medicine, it would take a very different form & have very different issues. So I am talking about the STEM / IT industries, and nothing but the STEM / IT industries. OK?

    Saying ‘women are disavantaged’ is no more serious than saying ‘women are no good at IT’ – in both cases we need to look at individuals, and aggregates of individuals.

    Well, except that (in this specific context) one of those statements is objectively, observably, demonstrably true & one of those statements is objectively, observably, demonstrably false, so no, I am not going to grant equivalence to them.

    Men dominate that industry for a number of reasons. One is self-reinforcement – members of minorities always and unavoidably find it harder to adapt and navigate the cultural maze, be they women in a mostly male environment, or Samoans in the US. Straight discrimination is another one, of course, and that will work against many woman more or less equally.

    Yes, correct. There are other issues but this gets to the nub of the issue. And whether or not there is any truth in everything you say after this point (some of which I agree with, some of which I don’t) the above will remain true and will remain a problem and necessitates & justifies some form of remedial action, don’t you think?

    Anyway, if women do worse at Google because they are women, the solution is positive discrimination.

    Well the phrase “positive discrimination” is loaded & probably inaccurate, but broadly yes. As you have already agreed “members of minorities always and unavoidably find it harder to adapt and navigate the cultural maze… ” and there is “straight discrimination” so of course women do worse at Google because they are women.

    This is the whole debate settled.

  240. WineEM says

    @244 Forgive me, Ally, but I am finding your position here a bit silly and inconsistent on various levels.

    Take this paragraph, here, for instance:

    “I agree with this. There is lots of law in the UK which is dangerously worded. There are a lot of examples of infringement of free speech that I am extremely worried about. For example, I was horrified that LGBT activists were arrested & held for 48 hours last weekend for supposed ‘hate crimes’ because they held up placards against the police participation in Glasgow’s Pride saying “These faggots fight fascists.”
    There are all sorts of issues around free speech & expression which our law, police, CPS & courts get wrong on a regular basis, IMO.

    So you have accepted, then, that there are aspects to hate crime laws which are seriously flawed in the way that they have been framed, and the way that they have been worded. (In other words, that in some respects, they are not good, sound laws.) You have also accepted that the UK authorities (including, specifically, the police and the CPS) get it wrong in their treatment of dilemmas around “free speech and expression” on a “regular basis” . What’s more, you’ve shown that you recognise that there are instances of people using free expression in a creative way to exersize their civil liberties, who have been arrested and investigated simply for doing that where there’s been absolutely no need.

    The problem, then, is clearly not that we have any hate crime laws per se (and it was pretty daft of you, if I may say so, to suggest that I objected to their having any existence at all, which of course I never have), but rather the way that they are poorly drafted, and the potential for the over-zealous application of such provisions.

    And as you can see, I’ve not, in any of my posts, claimed that the law has being changed in any significant way, but what I object to is precisely this sprit of over-zealousness of using the worst, most poorly worded aspects of the legislation to impinge upon people’s civil liberties. That the head of the CPS has announced that she is on a mission to do (in effect) precisely this, should theoretically make you agree with me that this is a worrying development, not merely to dismiss such concerns as the rantings of poorly informed ‘Daily Mail’ readers.

    For if the CPS is intent on pursuing any incident which corresponds to a certain identity group category and ‘which is perceived by the victim, or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice’, this is a recipe for precisely the kind of clampdown on free speech, which you yourself have said you object to (in, for example, those gay people having their placards taken away, because they apparently somehow implied some kind of trivial and inconsequential prejudice towards other gay people).

    Your only argument, it would appear, is that the police and Saunders don’t have the manpower or resources to carry out her plan. So we’ve no need to worry, because it will be impractical. But what kind of an argument is that? It certainly didn’t shield those gay people with the placards, or for that matter those people who are the victims “of our law, police, CPS & courts” getting “issues around free speech & expression” wrong “on a regular basis”.

    You said that if I were to call you a c*nt next week I would be fine, yet if the remark somehow implied something as obscure as ‘bi-phobia’, you apparently could not guarantee the same protection; or, if I was gay, if I was referring to myself ironically as a ‘faggot’.

    Just because the chances of something happening might be statistically low – who is actually to say – does not mean that the principle of free expression is not being attacked here.

    It is no wonder, really, in this context, that the meme of the ‘regressive left’ or the ‘authoritarian left’ spreads ever wider and gains ever more in credibility, when it is literally only one or two Tory backbenchers who will speak out against this assault on our freedoms.

  241. Marduk says

    258.
    The point of law in this area is to be vague, the point of the law is that it won’t be often used but heavily publicised. The intent isn’t to expand the prison population, its to silence millions of people as thoroughly as possible. The best way to do this is to get them to do it to themselves.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilling_effect
    If they were really enforcing it, you’d be seeing your neighbours and so on dragged off nightly by the new Stasi on silly grounds and people would rebel. So they would really rather not use it funnily enough but that isn’t born of being nice or reasonable. You know when a law is a good idea, people actually stand behind it and rigorously and proactively enforce it. Seems we have a lot of stuff now that we’re told is all a bit of lark and nobody means it, not a good sign IMHO.

  242. Carnation says

    @ Ally

    Off-topic, but on the topic of off-topics – fancy reviving the Friday open threads?

    Your blog has become livelier of late, which is very welcome, but an open thread would allow a dedicated forum for the very interesting discussions that have kicked off lately.

    What do you say?

  243. WineEM says

    You know, another thing that bothers me about the Saunders thing is that it’s clearly a case of progressive liberal types seizing far too much power for themselves at the expense of others.

    Now, Ally, you’re a nice guy, who wants to do your best by society in your own particular way.That, for me, makes you a bit of an outlier amongst progressives and the liberal elite.

    But look at it this way: people like Grayson Perry are free to troll parts of the population, with the full might of our state broadcaster, in saying pejorative things about straight, white males (in, for instance, expounding his theories around ‘the great white male’.)

    Until now, there’s at least been some kind of balance to this, because Sargon of Akkad, for instance, has been able to troll progressives on Twitter, and say slightly rude and controversial things about such types in return.

    But now we see that since the latest push around ‘hate crime’, Sargon’s Twitter account has been closed, with no apparent reason given, and many other libertarian bloggers have had their YouTube videos demonetarised.

    So I just don’t think it’s right, Ally, that you and other progressives can go around giving each other high fives on social media about all the social engineering schemes that will wind up lots of white men (the Google diversity project being a case in point), yet egalitarians and free thinking libertarians are not allowed to be rude and controversial in return. (Admittedly, it’s not that they will never be allowed to be so, but now they will have the shadow of the law looming over them in many cases , should they be regarded as “unfriendly” or “annoying” towards or about any of the progressive left’s specially ‘protected’ (read, sometimes, ‘specially privileged’) groups.

    It’s not on. You’ve often talked about people being impervious to their own privileges , Ally, as being the epitome, itself, of privilege. Well, I think ‘progressives’ have become completely blind to the kind of media, corporate and media power that you actually enjoy, and now you want to consolidate this by trampling on other people’s freedoms. It’s really not acceptable, and I swear this callousness towards the rights of others will come back to haunt you folk on the ‘progressive’ part of the spectrum.

  244. Ally Fogg says

    WineEM

    Oh dear, where to begin. This is going to take a while.

    But look at it this way: people like Grayson Perry are free to troll parts of the population, with the full might of our state broadcaster, in saying pejorative things about straight, white males (in, for instance, expounding his theories around ‘the great white male’.)

    Until now, there’s at least been some kind of balance to this, because Sargon of Akkad, for instance, has been able to troll progressives on Twitter, and say slightly rude and controversial things about such types in return.

    No, the inverse of Grayson Perry is not Sargon of Akkad, and the inverse of Sargon of Akkad is not Grayson Perry.

    The flipside of Grayson Perry is John Humphreys making his documentaries about the decline of the Great White Male, or indeed spluttering his grimly chauvinist loaded questions on the Today programme every morning. The flipside of Grayson Perry being allowed to make the occasional documentary on Channel 4 is Niall Ferguson making his documentaries on Channel 4.

    The flipside of Sargon Akkad, a right wing internet troll would be a left wing internet troll, and there are plenty of those. The Daily Mail just took great delight in “outing” or naming & shaming the guys from the Reel Politik podcast on a double page spread purely because they called someone a cunt on Twitter. At any given time I could point you to dozens of left wing accounts that have been temporarily or permanently banned from Twitter for identical behaviour from the left.

    I have no idea whether Sargon or whoever is currently banned from Twitter or not, don’t care, but if he has been, I guarantee you it was not for expressing a political opinion, and I know that because there are literally millions of people spitting very very similar opinions on Twitter all day every day. If Sargon’s account has been closed it is very probably for stirring up a hate mob of trolls against some perceived opponent, but in either case that is nothing to do with the laws & authorities in the UK & is entirely about the terms & conditions of using Twitter. And for as long as Twitter continues to be positively rancid with overt & proud Nazis, Fascists & other hatemongers you’re gonna have a hard time convincing me that it is political censorship. Whether or not Twitter is good at managing hate, trolling, harassment etc is a moot question but it is certainly not a matter of left vs right and has literally nothing to do with state censorship.

    So I just don’t think it’s right, Ally, that you and other progressives can go around giving each other high fives on social media about all the social engineering schemes that will wind up lots of white men (the Google diversity project being a case in point), yet egalitarians and free thinking libertarians are not allowed to be rude and controversial in return.

    This is fucking laughable mate, laughable. I’m not even going to point out how ridiculous it is because you are smart enough to see it yourself with a moment’s thought.

  245. Ally Fogg says

    I know I should just let it rest but I can’t.

    The problem I have with your position, WineEM, is that it is invariably about terrible things that are going to happen and never about terrible things that actually happen.

    You are convinced that there is a liberal progressive establishment that is stamping out all traces of rightwing/ conservative/ anti-feminist expression.

    The reality, as anyone with one eye and half a brain can see, is that conservative, right wing, anti-feminist, often outright misogynistic, racist, homophobic, opinions, expressions and individuals are ABSOLUTELY FUCKING EVERYWHERE! All over the vast majority of our press and media are people like Melanie Phillips, Jan Moir, Julia Hartley-Brewer, Jon Gaunt, Nick Ferrrari etc etc etc etc, all making an admirably lucrative living from churning out those opinions. People all over Facebook, Twitter & in every pub and at every bus stop in the land are perfectly freely sharing their horrible opinions without any trace of the Liberal PC Thought Police coming breaking down their doors & arresting them. As Katie Hopkins recently discovered, the bar at which terrible right wing opinions start to become problematic to one’s career are – quite literally – when you advocate a Holocaust. That is it. That’s the bar.

    It seems the best you’ve got to offer is that a vile misogynistic American finally got himself banned from an American social media platform after years & years of being outrageously offensive.

    So my point is not that free speech can be threatened by anti-hate speech or anti-incitement laws. We get that. I get that. Philosophically minded folks have been debating that for decades & we all know there are balances to be made.

    What I am mocking you for is for looking at someone like the Director of Public Prosecutions threatening to occasionally put one little finger in the whelming dam of online hate, trolling & abuse, by reminding people it is actually possible to break the law of the land while using social media, and you start wailing & gnashing your teeth about the poor rightwing libertarians not being allowed to express an opinion any more. It is utter paranoid nonsense.

    So here is a challenge. Find me one example of the state (not a private company, not a private employer but the state) embarking on political censorship of the conservative right in the UK. In any way. In any sense.

    When you do, we’ll talk about the rights & wrongs of that one. Until then I will continue to laugh at you.

  246. WineEM says

    “that a vile misogynistic American finally got himself banned from an American social media platform after years & years of being outrageously offensive”

    Hang on, you actually think that Sargon Of Akkad is actually American?! #ThisIsGettingTooWeird

  247. Ally Fogg says

    Is he not? I know literally nothing about him beyond the fact he is a vile cunt. Either way, same .applies

  248. Marduk says

    262.
    You have a lot of faith in Twitter. In reality they are banning people for being ‘undesirables’, not for anything particularly specific.I suppose this is the right of unregulated international corporation. And its certainly true that Twitter is less social media and more broadcast media at this point, I don’t know many people outside the more self-regarding industries who actually uses for anything personal or even reads it these days. More worrying is that its pretty obvious some people are allowed to form hate mobs and make death threats til the cows come home. I refer you to my earlier comment quoting Jon Ronson explaining why he isn’t on the best of terms with the Guardian anymore. I don’t regard Ronson as a reactionary, an alt-righer or a thug. I think he is an off-beat “new journalism” tupe pointing out a real problem. Within the orgy of reportage on Damore (which I don’t mean to return to but its an excellent example), how many left wing and terribly socially concerned outlets reported on the threats he received and how Google HR refused to do anything about it? I thought worker’s rights and freedom from violence at work were important?

    The main thing is that fairness is general has gone out of the window, you can punch people and gang up on them with impunity now because they are “vile cunts” or “Nazis”, all bets are off. Dehumanise and persecute.

    I remain amazed you are so relaxed about this, are you even familiar with your own body of work? I’d hope not but you really could be next.

  249. WineEM says

    So here is a challenge. Find me one example of the state (not a private company, not a private employer but the state) embarking on political censorship of the conservative right in the UK. In any way. In any sense.
    When you do, we’ll talk about the rights & wrongs of that one. Until then I will continue to laugh at you.

    I presume you don’t read the news then Ally:

    Donald Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulos barred from speaking at former school after government intervened
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/21/school-cancels-talk-far-right-trump-cheerleader-milo-yiannopoulos/

  250. Ally Fogg says

    From your own link

    “While the unit has no power to ban speakers, it raised concerns about security surrounding the event as well as the potential of long-term damage to the school’s reputation.”

    Still laughing.

  251. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk,

    “You have a lot of faith in Twitter. In reality they are banning people for being ‘undesirables’, not for anything particularly specific.”

    Yes, I’d agree with that. But those undesirables get banned for being undesirable, not for being right wing or anti-feminist or whatever else.

    More worrying is that its pretty obvious some people are allowed to form hate mobs and make death threats til the cows come home

    Really? Who are these people?

    As for the Jon Ronson point, seems to me he was probably cross because he wanted to make a point in a Guardian article that they didn’t want him to make. I hate to break it to you but this happens hundreds of times every single day. Every contributor to every newspaper is having that exact argument about whichever article they are writing. And it may have escaped your notice but I am probably on far worse terms with the Guardian these days than Ronson is!

    There are literally only one or two editors there who will commission me at all. I’ve given up trying, for the most part.

    But the Guardian has always done that, primarily to writers on the left. They dropped Jeremy Hardy for being too left wing years ago. They dropped Mark Steel for being too left wing. I’m sure they regularly decline to publish authors who are considered off-messages in one way or another. What’s your point? It’s a newspaper with political stances & prejudices & editorial lines on everything under the sun, & with commissioning staff who all carry their own preferences & prejudices. Just like every other newspaper. As it ever was.

    I mean, really, what is your point? Is it that one cannot get anything published in the UK which deviates from a precise politically correct manifesto? Is that what you are saying? Or what? What is your premise here?

  252. Koken says

    Why are you on bad terms with the Guardian, Ally? (Unless it’s something you’d rather not talk about publicly, obviously)

  253. Ally Fogg says

    Ah it’s no big deal Koken, I wasn’t trying to be dramatic.

    It’s always been like that, really, as I was saying to Marduk. Even when I was under contract to them & writing a blog a week they’d turn down about three for every one they accepted. That is just how commissioning works.

    In terms of my work I’ve taken a break from pitching stuff to Guardian b/c I’ve got other things on my plate, but they still ask me occasionally & I still offer occasionally, we haven’t fallen out.

  254. Marduk says

    269.
    I’m sorry to hear that but no, that wasn’t my point really. All I’m saying is that internet harassment is done by all ‘sides’ to everyone despite the way that a narrative has been shaped around it (I actually can’t imagine what their motivations for this are unless its some weird thing to do with promoting Yvette Cooper rather than the issue itself). Many would say the political left are generally the worst offenders. Some high profile ‘victims’ are also simultaneously known as some of the worst offenders but this also doesn’t get discussed either. This is the internet equivalent of the difference between someone who being abused and someone who likes fighting and sometimes comes off worse.

    It is however treated differently depending on who does it and what they say about it. I would agree to an extent that certain types of threat are unacceptable for everyone, but the cloak of pseudo-theoretical righteousness (“calling out”, “don’t tone police me”, “I can’t be a bully if I don’t have privilege”, “I’m FIGHTING BACK”, “Resistance!”) and “everyone I disagree with is a Nazi” does seem to be encouraging people into things that they should know are flat out wrong. Its not that stupid teenagers do this stuff even, its that the adults in the room also seem to be quite enjoying this rather than intervening. There is a lot of sick shit going on and its not ok.

    Instead of starting a witchunt in the context of complaining about witchhunts, I’ll give you a more obvious bigger example. Back when Jeremy Corbyn was a backbench MP, nobody on the left harassed anyone online, ever. There were no mobs, no brigades, and certainly no bandwagon shaming. Just hilarious hashtags about the worst people who’d ever lived (e.g., Sir Tim Hunt, Dr Matt Taylor, Adolph Hitler). Yet as soon as Corbyn won a leadership election and Momentum existed, they were without exception the worst offenders in the history of the internet to such an extent it would require the UK government to censor and monitor it. Question is, where did these people emerge from? Is this what they’d really been doing in the Tora Bora cave complex? Or were they actually there all along.

  255. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk

    Your second paragraph in 272 is so dripping in sarcasm & irony that I still can’t actually tell what it is you are trying to claim or say. I would find it useful if you could just come out and tell me what it is you are arguing here, what point you are trying to make, what your hypothesis is.

    I *think* the point you are making in that paragraph is that there is a cynical political agenda to accusations of trolling & harassment online.

    If so, this is absolutely true. Bullying and harassment by “hard left trolls” is a media theme in 2017 in a way that it wasn’t in 2014, and the reasons this is a prevailing theme are indeed political. The people with the power to set the media & political agenda have a particular interest in demonising Corbyn supporters.

    You can extrapolate from that if you like that other accusations of harassment, trolling etc fall under an ideological pattern. So people whose beliefs are primarily centre right, liberal feminist will be particularly sensitive to and concerned about trolling & harassment of centre right liberal feminists & be largely oblivious to or unconcerned by harassment , trolling etc committed BY centre right liberal feminists. No argument from me either.

    From that, you can make a claim if you like that if the political and media establishment has a particular agenda and will tend to interpret all issues in the best possible light for them. They will also tend to project those values onto the rest of us, propagate them through their control of media & culture & create the impression, possibly even the reality , that the majority of the population agrees with them because “it’s just common sense innit?!”

    Marx had a nice little phrase to describe this phenomenon: the values of all societies are the values of the ruling class. Gramsci described the mechanism & called it hegemony.

    Now, the debate gets interesting when we stop & ask who are the ruling class & what are their actual values? I think WineEM genuinely believes the ruling class are petty bourgeoisie bureaucrats like Alison Saunders & Vera Baird. I am more inclined to think they are the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Lord Rothermere, Richard Branson and the thousands of faceless bankers & hedge fund managers whose significance is not their names & faces but their roles.

    But within all that, I think there is still some sort of notion floating around this debate that there is some kind of liberal-left politically correct progressive conspiracy that is silencing & oppressing poor oppressed right wingers and that remains the most honking pile of laughable shite.

    So come on, I’ll ask again, what point are you trying to claim?

  256. Ally Fogg says

    Sorry, I meant your third paragraph!

    Your second paragraph… I dunno, but it sounds very like you’re making the argument that calling someone a racist is just the same as being racist, calling someone a homophobe is just like being a homophobe – in other words you are bundling together people who use oppressive language & people who attack & criticise those who use oppressive language.

    If that is your point then, geez dude get a fucking grip. It’s not just a question of whether someone is aggressive & hostile online. It is about why they are aggressive & hostile online & whether or not they are right to be aggressive & hostile online. I’d argue that if someone is being racist or homophobic or whatever, it is a moral good & a public service to call them a racist or a homophobe, it doesn’t make me “just as bad” as the racist or the homophobe.

  257. WineEM says

    @274 Yeah, but Ally, the whole question here is what kind of things it should be legitimate to flag up as serious cases of racism or homophobia (‘or biphobia’ for that matter), and what isn’t.

    The head of our CPS, which I think we can acknowledge is quite a serious and influential role, has now set this bar at things which are perceived as being aimed at these sets of ‘protected characteristics’ and which are (literally, quoting the CPS’s language) thought to be “unfriendly”, or “annoying”.

    How can anybody in their right mind think that is the correct level at which to balance the protection of minorities and the facilitation of free speech on social media?

    I mean, take the Google case above. Damore mentioned in interviews that one way in which Google was trying to give female candidates a helping hand was to offer them several extra job interviews when they had already failed one, whereas the male candidates would just get the one shot.

    Now, let’s say this scheme was extended to gay men as a group, and then perhaps a gay guy goes on social media and posts something like “Yay, Google giving us gay guys extra interviews, deal with it heteros!”

    Some straight person somewhere then replies: “Actually, I quite resent you as gay people having extra goes simply because of your sexuality, it’s ridiculous.”

    So here, you have two political views, both potentially quite offensive to different people, one being backed by quite a powerful actor (the corporate entity which is Google), and the other which is open to being perceived and investigated as ‘hate’.

    But you’re saying this kind of asymmetry is in effect entirely understandable and legitimate? How is that supposed to work?

  258. WineEM says

    Oh yeah, by the way @268. Yep, you’re free to laugh to the extent that you’re not applying the criterion which you suggested. To ’embark on’ something merely means to proceed with something, or to attempt to do whatever; it does not stipulate or imply the methods or powers by which that venture are undertaken, nor even the success of said venture. So, yes, you laugh away, yer great big numpty 😉

  259. Ally Fogg says

    but Ally, the whole question here is what kind of things it should be legitimate to flag up as serious cases of racism or homophobia (‘or biphobia’ for that matter), and what isn’t.

    Yes, of course this is true. Lots of people will say things all the time which are a teensy wee bit (or even a big bit) racist or homophobic or biphobic or whatever, some of them do it on social media, some of them do it in Daily Mail columns. Sometimes people say things that are egregious & overt incitement to racial hatred (whether on social media or in the Daily Mail.) You are quite right that someone has to make a decision as to where the bar is set for criminal prosecution (although note, that is not necessarily the same place as the bar for criminal conviction – a judge or jury can always disagree with CPS & often will.)

    The head of our CPS, which I think we can acknowledge is quite a serious and influential role, has now set this bar at things which are perceived as being aimed at these sets of ‘protected characteristics’ and which are (literally, quoting the CPS’s language) thought to be “unfriendly”, or “annoying”.

    No, you appear to be referring to the section in the CPS guidelines which say:

    The police and the CPS have agreed the following definition for identifying and flagging hate crimes:

    “Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person’s disability or perceived disability; race or perceived race; or religion or perceived religion; or sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation or a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.”

    There is no legal definition of hostility so we use the everyday understanding of the word which includes ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike.

    So in order for something to be a hate crime FIRST OF ALL IT HAS TO BE A CRIME. The section above is saying that if you commit a crime and the authorities or courts decide that the reason you committed that crime was out of hostility to the person on the basis of their race or sexuality or whatever, then that crime becomes a hate crime. All you have done is quote to me a literal (and I would have thought pretty uncontroversial) definition of “hostility.”

    How can anybody in their right mind think that is the correct level at which to balance the protection of minorities and the facilitation of free speech on social media?

    Nobody is suggesting this is the test of criminality or protection of free speech. You should have read the CPS guidance, not the article in The Sun or Daily Heil or wherever the fuck you are getting your info from.

    Now, let’s say this scheme was extended to gay men as a group, and then perhaps a gay guy goes on social media and posts something like “Yay, Google giving us gay guys extra interviews, deal with it heteros!”

    Some straight person somewhere then replies: “Actually, I quite resent you as gay people having extra goes simply because of your sexuality, it’s ridiculous.”

    So here, you have two political views, both potentially quite offensive to different people, one being backed by quite a powerful actor (the corporate entity which is Google), and the other which is open to being perceived and investigated as ‘hate’.

    Literally no one is suggesting that this would or should be investigated as hate.

    As a point of hard fact, hate is not a crime and nobody anywhere investigates hate. Incitement to hate is a crime. Or for any other crime hate (in UK law) can be a motivation, but it is not in itself a crime. In the example you give, no crime has been committed and therefore nobody would care whether or not the statement is motivated by hate.

  260. WineEM says

    Well, as it happens, it’s not just me who’s interpreting it in this way, Ally. (And it’s a rather circular argument, surely, to say that something is only a crime, when it’s believed to be a crime. Is a ‘hate crime’, then, not actually in fact a crime? )

    You might look to Andrew Tettenborn, for instance, who is apparently a very learned professor of law, writing here for the @ConWoman:

    (You know, maybe I can contact him on Twitter, and tell him that you think he can only have gleaned his understanding and information from the Daily or the Sun!) 🙂

    https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/dpp-name-calling-astonishing-waste-police-time/

    “But perhaps most important is the element of deception involved. It needs to be shouted from the rooftops that the Crown Prosecution Service’s usefully all-enveloping and oft-repeated definition of hate crime as ‘any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice’ is just that: their definition. It is a position adopted unilaterally by the CPS and, significantly, by the police. It has no basis in the actual law, where it is certainly not enough to show that someone, somewhere, thought there might be hostility or prejudice; if the matter comes to court the motivation has to be proved from the circumstances.

    Why are the CPS and others happy to perpetuate this remarkable economy with the truth?”

    Tettenborm answers this question by demonstrated how this has already been used, here, for instance:

    http://yourbrexit.co.uk/news/rees-mogg-fan-warned-by-police-2/

  261. Marduk says

    273.
    Well, the conspiracy theory is that its all true at the same time, its the neo-liberal (New Labour/Clinton) settlement. We will never, under any circumstances, discuss class or finance. We will continue to allow our friends to steal from you, there will be no reckoning for 2008. We will govern you as technocrats who have a problem to solve, we will treat our own people not as our masters but as if they were an unruly colony, because to international business, they basically are. On the other hand, we’ll reify a bunch of identities and create an entire body of busy work shadow-politics around their internecine squabbling while investing in spying, surveillance, nagging, nudging and chilling effects.

    In summary, we’ll swap you class (an objectively definable thing) for identity politics. Identity politics is over-determined really; it suits people in power because it doesn’t affect the bottom line or threaten them, some people seem to like it, and it also has a very Blair-ish “politics as consumption” feel to it, its by definition personalised and to do with your own individual lifestyle. Also, because of the way it connects with the law, it doesn’t encourage active citizenship either in favour of “telling teacher”. It depends on the state, it depends on corporate HR, it doesn’t question the state, it doesn’t challenge the corporation.

    This a bit of a reach perhaps but its worth keeping in mind that the way the British Empire worked was that they empowered and backed whoever the second or third largest ethnic group were in any country they entered (the actual cause of much suffering ever since). They’d usually been oppressed in some way by the largest group(s) and could be trusted because of their reliance on their new pith-helmeted friends who’d brought them justice. This is how you control half the globe from the Foreign Office. One might see echoes of the victimhood = power equation in our own society.

    Look at how people who do talk about class, like Corbyn and Sanders are criticized: always on identity politics grounds. Look at Owen Jones going into bat for Google, a corporation who make Exxon look like the Salvation Army, what would possess someone who claims to have any kind of social conscience to do that. The clearest fault lines are in American politics of course. H.Clinton was for all “social justice” short of a decent wage for people. Oh, and she was against gay marriage specifically until it polled so badly she was given permission to change her platform. The reason H.Clinton was against gay marriage wasn’t actually on moral grounds, it was on financial grounds because of what marriage means for company healthcare insurance benefits in the US. You can have it, but only if it doesn’t conflict with anything we care about. In what sane society would people sit around and let Carlos Criado-Perez’s daughter tell working class men she is oppressed? That isn’t a “point of view” or “lens”, she is simply taking the piss, she is the Ivanka Trump of the left. She lectures the entire country to get less done than if she just told daddy she was going to hold her breath and turn blue until he agreed to pay his largely female workforce (Walmart, Sainsburys) a decent wage and decent benefits. Point is most people don’t realise this, you aren’t allowed to mention it, whereas any other personal characteristics are completely fair game for invalidating people’s opinions.

    So yeah, perhaps I do believe in a crazy conspiracy theory because it all seems fairly self-consistent to me (this is of course the sign of someone losing the plot also…)

    274.
    I really don’t think that except to say that its become very easy now to accuse people of things they haven’t really done or believe and its very hard for someone to defend themselves.

  262. WineEM says

    @278 Oh yeah, should emphasise of course, that I used the term ‘flag up’ n 275, not prosecute.

  263. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk – I’m trying to unpick what you are saying, but it is really difficult because you keep making these wildly hyperbolic statements & I’m not sure if you know they are hyperbolic & are using them for effect or if you actually believe these to be literally true.

    You seem to have drifted so many miles off the original discussion that I honestly can’t keep track. But let me ask you:

    Do you believe racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia etc are real and serious problems for society, yes or no?

    Do you believe that political activists are right to attempt to challenge, confront, reduce & mitigate racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia etc? Yes or no?

    Please, nothing else, just a couple of yes & no answers & we’ll take it from there.

  264. Ally Fogg says

    WineEM (278)

    Well, as it happens, it’s not just me who’s interpreting it in this way, Ally. (And it’s a rather circular argument, surely, to say that something is only a crime, when it’s believed to be a crime. Is a ‘hate crime’, then, not actually in fact a crime? )

    It is not remotely circular. A hate crime is a crime motivated by hate, as opposed to every other crime which might be motivated by greed or anger or jealousy or whatever else. It is not really difficult to understand, is it?

    When we are talking online trolling, someone might be guilty of a crime under the Malicious Communications Act, which I would agree is a dangerously vague bit of legislation. Technically we could all be guilty of a crime under that Act every time we call someone else a cunt on the internet. Alison Saunders knows this too, she also knows they cannot prosecute everyone who calls someone a cunt.

    However, she has used her position to tell the nation when they are likely to prosecute and when they are not. She is saying that if you call someone a cunt because they’re a cunt, they’re not particularly interested. However if you call someone a cunt because they are black or gay or whatever then the CPS considers that to be more serious and they are therefore more likely to prosecute you.

    So for a real world example, from the link you gave me, Alison Saunders has effectively told us that if this young chap http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/national/13522743.You_re_fined__Teenager_who_trolled_Lord_Sugar_must_pay_for_anti_Semitic_tweet/ had tweeted Alan Sugar & called him a cunt, the CPS would have let it ride. However because he called him an “old Jewish cunt” he has committed not just a crime under the MCA but a hate-crime under the MCA.

    Now notwithstanding my concerns about the Malicious Communications Act, this doesn’t strike me as in any way unreasonable. I think overt racism like that is more of a social problem, more harmful, more corrosive than people simply being rude. (And I’d also add that an £85 fine seems a reasonably proportionate sentence for the severity of that offence.)

    Andrew Tettenborn doesn’t seem to have a problem with that kind of racism or with people tweeting ‘Paki’ at British Asian politicians. He calls it “childish name-calling.”

    I think he is dangerously wrong & glib about it.

    He is, meanwhile, broadly correct to say that the definition of a hate-crime is not statutory. It’s wildly wrong to imply that it is Alison Saunders invention though. It’s usually known as the Macpherson principle and was adopted by public bodies in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence scandal and wbhile it has never been encoded in legislation, all legislation passed since 1998 (iirc) has been written with the principles of Macpherson in mind.

    Still, at least he is upfront about his position. He says he wants it to be legal to call someone a “paki poof” or an “old Jewish cunt” on the internet.

    Do you? Because be honest, these are the actual instances we are talking about.

    These are the martyrs of free speech you are defending. Happy to be on that side?

  265. Ally Fogg says

    Thank you.

    Next question,

    What do you consider to be legitimate and/or appropriate methods to challenge & reduce racism, sexism, homophobia etc in society?

  266. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 256

    Look mate, this is getting tiresome. If you do not want to discuss this (or think your position is right beyond discussion) just say so. Then we can both stop wasting our time.

    If you do want to discuss this, you might take note of the fairly obvious point that it makes a difference to what remedies you should adopt whether straight discrimination is responsible for most of the skewed gender distribution at Google, or a tiny fraction of it. And that since being in a minority always leaves you at a slight disadvantage (much like being the only only westerner in a Japanese company) you have only two consistent options: either you accept that fact as inescapable, or you adopt a systematic policy of disadvantaging the majority in any given context to make sure that no one is better off than the ill-adjusted.

  267. Ally Fogg says

    you might take note of the fairly obvious point that it makes a difference to what remedies you should adopt whether straight discrimination is responsible for most of the skewed gender distribution at Google, or a tiny fraction of it.

    and you might make note of the fairly obvious point that neither you nor I, nor for that matter James Damore, are particularly well placed to make that judgement. But you also might take note of the fairly obvious point that it is always impossible to quantify the various complex interconnected dynamics which go to make up ‘discrimination.’ As I’m sure you’re more than capable of understanding, discrimination is very rarely a single boss in a suit stating that he doesn’t like employing women. It really doesn’t work like that.

    And that since being in a minority always leaves you at a slight disadvantage (much like being the only only westerner in a Japanese company) you have only two consistent options: either you accept that fact as inescapable, or you adopt a systematic policy of disadvantaging the majority in any given context to make sure that no one is better off than the ill-adjusted.

    Says who? Who says we need to be consistent?

    How about we adopt a policy of trying to be aware of and alert to particularly extreme and harmful instances of inequality or injustice and doing a little bit of something to try to make that a bit better.

    What is wrong with that approach?

  268. WineEM says

    says he wants it to be legal to call someone a “paki poof” or an “old Jewish cunt” on the internet.

    I don’t agree with him specifically about those insults, but I do think he’s right to say it’s utterly ludicrous, as a general principle, to treat, with the same level severity, insults which are made in the flesh on our streets, as it is to deal with stuff on social media.
    There is, as Tettenborm points out, a massive, unavoidable difference, in that you can’t really avoid thugs and abusers out on the street all that easily, but if you sign up on social media, you should have some awareness that you’ve signed up to an environment where people are often going to say angry and idiotic things. Usually, they can just be blocked or ignored (with the exception, of course, of really extreme cases).

    But out of interest, if someone were to call you a ‘Scottish c*nt’ on social media, or somebody else a ‘Welsh c*nt’ or an ‘English C*nt’, do you really believe these incidents would be worthy of police time?
    (Not in terms of how it affects you personally, obviously – but as a principle? )

  269. Ally Fogg says

    WineEM –

    I do think he’s right to say it’s utterly ludicrous, as a general principle, to treat, with the same level severity, insults which are made in the flesh on our streets, as it is to deal with stuff on social media.

    I don’t think that general principle is ludicrous at all. We all know that people can be driven to total mental breakdown, even suicidal depression by online harassment and abuse. Racist or homophobic abuse can be just as harmful & hurtful if it arrives electronically than in a letter or scrawled on a wall. It is in many ways easier to escape & avoid stalkers or harassers in the real world than it is on the internet. Obviously there are differences between online & offline worlds but I don’t see any way in which it is obviously self-evident that stuff which happens offline is always more serious than stuff that happens online.

    if you sign up on social media, you should have some awareness that you’ve signed up to an environment where people are often going to say angry and idiotic things.

    No, no and a hundred times no. Social media is now an essential part of life for many or most people. Lots of us need it for work, to stay in touch with family etc etc, and it is entirely unreasonable to tell people they should expect to be victims of nasty criminal behaviour without recourse as a price to pay for living in the modern world.

    But out of interest, if someone were to call you a ‘Scottish c*nt’ on social media, or somebody else a ‘Welsh c*nt’ or an ‘English C*nt’, do you really believe these incidents would be worthy of police time?

    Personally no, but same would apply to a lot of physical assaults, robberies etc, I’m not a big fan of the police at the best of times & tend to avoid if I can. Doesn’t mean I don’t think other people should be free to report such behaviour, as they might.

    But your general point here is a fair one about definitions of racism etc. The distinctions between race & nationality & ethnicity & religion & all those things are very fuzzy & debatable. ISTR there was a court case once involving someone being called an “Australian cunt” by an angry neighbour & were charged with a racially-motivated crime. I can’t remember the verdict, but either way, the controversy about it means that is probably roughly about where the borderline is set.

    This is always going to be disagreement about where such lines should be drawn. That’s fine. What I want is agreement that there should be a line in the first place.

  270. Ally Fogg says

    Free and open speech – does that include the freedom to be able to identify and challenge racist, homophobic etc statements and attitudes?

  271. Ally Fogg says

    Cool.

    So we agree that racism, sexism, homophobia are a problem that need to be addressed, and we agree that it is important that activists use their free speech to challenge oppressive language and behaviour.

    So when someone – purely hypothetically of course – does something like, say, publish a document which people consider sexist and damaging and likely to contribute to wider sexism in society, we agree that it is right that everyone who considers it sexist and damaging should exercise their right to free speech and use it to call the offender out as being sexist and damaging?

  272. Marduk says

    292.
    I don’t think discourse should be limited to activists, I was answering your question as you put it to me (activists are people too so I wouldn’t restrict them either). I don’t necessarily agree that it is “it is right” but I would say you shouldn’t be directly prevented from doing it.

  273. StillGjenganger says

    Back from holiday – still had no time to catch up with the rest of the discussion, though.

    How about we adopt a policy of trying to be aware of and alert to particularly extreme and harmful instances of inequality or injustice and doing a little bit of something to try to make that a bit better.

    I totally agree with that plan. But it does require that we have some way of deciding which are “particularly extreme and harmful instances of inequality or injustice”. Does that phrase really apply to Google? Which brings us back where we started:

    You clearly know how many female engineers there ought to be at Google. At least you know the current number is shamefully low, and that Damore is completely wrong, so you must have some idea. What I have been asking you for the entire debate is: How many women ought there to be? How do you know? What is the evidence? Your comments about the number of computer science gradiuates only adds up to handwaving, it is much less convincing than Damore (and even he can only prove that there is a question worth debating, not what the answer would be). Surely these are not difficult questions to answer? You are saying that ‘women are disadvantaged’ is an objectively, verifiably, true statement’. If you mean in Saudi Arabia, or fiifty years ago I am not going to disagree with you, or quibble about evidence. But if you mean among the top US combputer engiineers, who might get a job at Google, I personally rather doubt that discrimination is a major factor in the result, compared with individual variation, or discrimination against other groups (like rednecks, for instance). If what you say is objectively, verifiably, true, could you kindly provide the arguments? And address the counterarguments?
    Alternatively, you might be saying that the things Google are doing are proportional if (positively) discriiminatory, and not worth getting worked up about. In that case too I am eager to learn more, and willing to be convinced by your arguments, but I do have to hear them first.

    But if you had those arguments to give, I suspect you would have given them by now. Instead you and your frineds react with immense indignation that anyone could possibly question your opinions. You do not accept any obligation to provide arguments, and disagreeing with you is grounds for lawsuits and dismissal. The ‘arguments’ I glean from your posts are:
    “I happen to be right and Damore happens to be wrong”,
    “We have no obligation to be consistent”, and
    “Discriminatoin can be (assumed to be?) present without knowing anything aboutt mechanism or proof”.
    That last poiint is indeed the beauty of concepts like ‘institurional racism. ‘institutional sexism’, .Because the discrimination is not deduced from any tangible evidence, its presence cannot be disproved. Even if every single person is trying hard to be fair, procedures are neutral, etc. etc., you can still claim that ‘the system’ is discriminatory, and that your favourite minority needs reparatory measures.

    Would it not be fair to say that you see your positoin as beyond argument, unchallegeable, and rooted in an unfalsifiable theory (‘institurional’ discrimination)? In short that the need for positive discrimination towards women is based on an article of belierf, a faith position? I am open to be disproved on this point. But until then I find it rather scary that our social policy is not only set on faith grounds, but set by people who are not willing to admit that this is what they are doinig.

  274. WinEM says

    Hey, tell you what, here’s a funny thing (and I was wondering whether you might have any thoughts about it, Ally, being the master of stats in sociology, as Ben Goldacre often is in science…)

    Yesterday, the Guardian ran a piece about student suicides, in which it reported:

    https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/sep/02/suicide-record-level-students-uk-universities-study

    “Analysts […] found that a record 134 students killed themselves in 2015.”

    Which does seem shockingly and remarkably high, yet I suppose plausible.

    It’s just that these two numbers, 134 in 2015 turn up in another report by the BBC from last year, where we’re told:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-36378573

    “The University of York highlighted the rise in demand for mental health services by publishing data from ambulance call-outs to the university.

    It showed that this year, up until the first week in February, 12 call-outs were for incidents of self harm or suicide attempts, representing 50% of ambulance emergencies at the university.

    In the previous full calendar year, there were 134 such call-outs to the university, with suicide attempts or self-harm accounting for 32%.”

    So is this like just an astonishing coincidence, or something should we be slightly concerned about, in terms of reporting the truth and all that? 🙂

  275. Marduk says

    295.
    What you should be looking at there is how the rate compares with the general population 18-22, its actually far lower than the general population. Any trained journalist should always compare a rate within a sample against the population rate.
    Additionally, the absolute number has tracked the increase in admissions over time although it would also be fair to point out that a rate of 130 within a population of around 600,000 is so low and the behaviour so strongly individualistic you can’t do much with it with numerically.
    Which is neither here nor there to the real issue being raised, suicide is a bad way to measure mental health or the need for mental health services.
    It doesn’t have much to do with universities as such, its to do with what young people setting out into the world are like, probably a combination of physiological/hormonal/brain development stuff and the environment.

  276. WineEM says

    @296 Yeah, take your point Marduk, just seems very surprising that those numbers should match up so precisely. The Guardian may not have been alone in doing this, but does look very odd…

    You know, odd, in the way that Alison Saunders is now using the term ‘hate crime’ in an apparently completely reasonable and coherent manner, when we’ve seen exactly the same expression used in Nottingham regarding ‘misogynistic hate crime’, and we know from the people who were in charge of implementing it that it went well beyond the scope of merely ‘criminal offences’. And yet everyone’s supposed to be clear about what Saunders is referring to now. Like, way to go: if Saunders position is meant to be there to explain and clarify the law, she’s doing a marvellous job of it (not least since it seems from my perspective that Ally is about the only person in the whole country who’s certain in his own mind about what she does mean!) 🙂

  277. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger

    I totally agree with that plan. But it does require that we have some way of deciding which are “particularly extreme and harmful instances of inequality or injustice”. Does that phrase really apply to Google?

    I think in the IT industry as a whole is a good example of an extreme instance of inequality, to say the least, and Google as a company have decided to do something about their own corner of that industry, which seems entirely proportionate and reasonable to me.

    “What I have been asking you for the entire debate is: How many women ought there to be? How do you know? What is the evidence?”

    You keep using words like “ought” and I keep telling you it is not that simple.

    I know that there are fewer women than Google (as a company) want there to be, at least in some positions & roles in the company. Which is why they have decided to invest something like $300m on improving it. https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/05/05/google-raises-stakes-diversity-spending/26868359/
    Agreed?

    I know that Google are perfectly entitled to make their own judgement as to how many women there ought to be in different roles & positions, from the point of view of their corporate interests.
    Agreed?

    I know that Google, as a company, considers it to be important that the staff of their company strives to be representative of the community of customers that they serve, which may not be the same as being representative of the tech industry from which they mostly recruit.
    Agreed?

    I know that their estimation of how many women they would like there to be will certainly be based on multiple, complex, interacting measures, both qualitative and quantitative, such as internal pay reviews & audits, human resources data, employee feedback, PR & reputational considerations, corporate ethos & ideology, and much much more.
    Agreed?

    I do not know, but would confidently guess, that Google do not have a specific number of how many women they would like there to be at the company because that would be really fucking dumb, so what they probably have is a large raft of targets, improvement schedules, roadmaps & all that other business bollocks which stands in place of a nice, simple but dumb numerical target.
    Agreed?

    What is it you are not agreeing with?

  278. Ally Fogg says

    WineEM

    I can’t find the IPPR report that the Guardian piece is taken from, the stat in the paper will certainly have come from there, but I would be very surprised if it wasn’t just a coincidence, I can’t imagine any other way it could have sneaked in there as a mistake.

    Both stats look about right to me at face value.

  279. WineEM says

    Yeah, but there are like three layers of coincidence: 134, in 2015, in the context of student mental health and suicides. How strange is that?

  280. davids1 says

    The figure of 134 is based on ONS data. I am trying to post a link to it, but Ally’s blog is not co-operating!

  281. WineEM says

    @ 30 Oh fair enough, then – bit like the scene in Pulp Fiction with the gun and the holes! 🙂

  282. davids1 says

    @WineEM (302)

    Ally’s blog is not letting me enter web addresses in any form, but if you Google the following phrase, in quotes, you should get to the ONS page with the data on it

    “Student suicides in those aged 18 years and above, by sex and usual place of residence indicator, deaths registered in England and Wales between 2001 and 2015”

  283. Ally Fogg says

    No Marduk, you are certainly not alone. Lots of people have said similar things.

    Not many have been quite so hamfisted, ignorant & clueless when writing about it as Anis Shivani in that Salon piece.

    It really is quite staggeringly replete with strawman arguments, disingenuous half-truths and utterly bizarre fabrications.

    But the most clanging failure in the piece is that he conflates identity politics with the politics of personality, apparently unaware that he is doing so.

    But then, since he appears to be operating with no working definition of identity politics in the first place, that is not really surprising.

  284. Ally Fogg says

    Just to be a bit less confrontational for a moment.

    There are loads of really good critiques and criticisms of (so-called) identity politics floating around, and even more really good critiques of specific aspects of identity politics (which is a much more fruitful debate, IMO).

    Some of these I agree with, some don’t, but there are plenty which I think are more than worth reading & thinking about. Kenan Malik is the absolute boss of this stuff. I don’t always agree with him, but even when I disagree he makes me think & challenge my own opinions, which is always welcome.

    Here’s a good example

    https://kenanmalik.wordpress.com/2016/04/14/away-with-the-gatekeepers/

    Malik is very good at specifying what it is he is criticising at any given point or who it is he is disagreeing with, whatever.

    The Salon piece above is an extreme example of the opposite approach. Shivani does not attempt to define or specify what or who he is talking about so it becomes a broad swipe at everything from anti-racism to feminism to multiculturalism and the goalposts keep moving depending what straw man he wants to chuck grenades at.

    Identity politics does not have an agreed definition. Any practical definition it can have would have to include things like religion, regionalism, nationalism and class identity – including a working class identity. And those things have been informing, often dominating, politics for hundreds of years if not all eternity.

    So more generally, when I hear people grumble about ‘identity politics’ I assume that they’re not really complaining about the whole of politics since the beginning of ever. I assume that what they are really doing is grumbling because black people won’t shut up about racism, gay people won’t shut up about homophobia etc. etc.

    In some cases I see that from the old-school left, and in their case, the justification is “please stop banging on about racism because it is diverting people from the real struggle which is banging on about capitalism, and if you really want to stop racism you have to first stop capitalism.”

    I understand the logic of that. I disagree with that, profoundly, but I hear what they are saying.

    More commonly I see it from the right, and what they really mean is that they are fed up of black people grumbling about racism etc, and won’t they shut up about it already and stop being mean by calling racists racists just for being racist.

    Now, that might be unfair of me but I’ve seen it so often with such crystal transparency that I will take a lot of convincing otherwise.

    As for Shivani, his main beef seems to be with the crossover between neoliberalism & so-called identity politics (and yes, I get why you reposted it because it was clear upthread that this is your beef too.)

    The problem is he then lumps in all sorts of alternative & apparently contradictory definitions of identity politics along the way – so for example he asks the rhetorical question “I’m not sure what culture an Irish-American whose ancestors came to this country 150 years ago can hold onto” –

    Has he ever heard of St Patrick’s Day? The Catholic Church? Has he ever listened to anything from the Boston music scene? He forgets that Irish-American is a very distinct cultural identity because at that moment he was thinking of a completely different definition of identity politics.

    Ah, but don’t get me started on that again, basically it is a mess.

  285. Ally Fogg says

    Sorry, hit send too soon. I was going to go on & say, Marduk

    The reason I was getting you to answer some simple questions upthread was because I was trying to get you to specify what it was exactly that you were meaning when you complain about identity politics. I got waylaid, but I guess the question still stands.

  286. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 298

    OK, this makes sense. My answer is in two parts:

    1) So, why do you think that the IT industry is ‘an extreme example of inequality’? If it is because women are heavily under-represented, well, that word means that there are not as many of them as there ought to be. Which rather does beg the question of how many of them you think there ought to be – and how you know. As Damore points out, there might be perfectly legitimate reasons that women with the right combination of skills, attitude, and desire to work in software were not as common as men with the required attributes. He might be wrong, of course. But you (and your friends) do owe us an explanation, at least. There are quite a few fields where we accept extreme imbalances: women in prisons or long range truck driving, men in kindergarten teaching, short people in professional basketball. Why is it you think that women in IT are so different from all of these?

    2) As I understand you, you are saying that Google has decided that it is in their corporate interest to promote women at the expense of men (up to a point, of course). No disagreement there. Also that there is neither obligation nor sense in their setting any particular target number. Again, no disagreement (the ‘target number’ is relevant for the previous point, not this one). And, apparently, that this is their sovereign right to do, and nobody’s business to interfere with. Here I do see some problems. I am probably more relaxed than you are about companies hiring explicitly to fit their corporate interests, even if it happens to have a discriminatory effect. Dress codes that do not allow headscarves, for instance. But even I would insist that any explicit discrimination requires some clear, business reason, and that the reason should be vetted externally. Anything else leaves the door open to rampant discrimination. Now, imagine for a moment a company that decided to promote the career of straight, white men by giving them special mentoring, preferential promotion, access to particular conferences, targets for increasing their number. Or even that wanted to exclude completely certain groups, women, blacks, gays, left-wingers, … The points you are raising for Google would apply in exactly the same way here. There could be perfectly legitimate commercial reasons in each case, too: Maybe this fitted better with the composition and desires of the customer base. Maybe monocultural teams were found to be more productive and easier to manage. Maybe excluding some groups could avoid expensive and damaging conflicts and lawsuits. Or maybe, since you seem to accept that kind of argument, hiring minorities might simply be against the corporate ethos and ideology.

    Of course we both know that you would never countenance a company that as a matter of explicit policy promoted white men at the expense of women and racial minorities. But for this very reason, it is neither here nor there to claim that it is simply up to Google to determine the preferred gender composition of their workforce. Google is explicitly discriminating in favour of women, and against men. If you find that acceptable, it is because you have decided in advance that women are victims of discrimination and deserve some reparatory advantages. It is not impossible that you are right, of course, but that brings us back to point 1: How do you decide that this is the case? How do you prove your position to the rest of us? And how many women can Google hire before it becomes unjust to favour them further?

  287. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally

    I should add one poiint:
    You can promote women at the expense of men for a variety of reasons:
    – You believe that they are always equally qualified, on principle, so any differences are proof of discrimination.
    – You believe that they have a right to half the plum jobs as a group, even if that means sacrificing the rights of individual, qualiified men..
    – Or you can simply be part of a women’s mutual-assistance group and say “We want more, and screw anybody else.”.
    When women are heavily discriminated against across the board, as they were fifty years ago, any move that improves their lot is pretty much sure to be just, so there is no reason to worry about the details. But now women are, if not equal, everywhere, then close enough that you need to at least ask yourself when, and where, it would be right to stop granting them special favours.

  288. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger

    “If it is because women are heavily under-represented, well, that word means that there are not as many of them as there ought to be. Which rather does beg the question of how many of them you think there ought to be – and how you know. ”

    Well I don’t know. My position is not that *I* know that Google inadequately diverse in its employment practices.

    My position is that I know that Google knows that Google is inadequately diverse in its employment practices and I see absolutely zero reason to question their judgement on that score. My position is also that I think the management, internal auditors and HR department at Google probably know rather more about their own diversity requirements than you, I or a spotty junior programmer like Damore.

    And I repeat, I would strongly, strongly suspect that Google does not have a number in mind, it has a whole raft of different schedules, targets, roadmaps etc, which would be typical of how most large organisations work.

    “As Damore points out, there might be perfectly legitimate reasons that women with the right combination of skills, attitude, and desire to work in software were not as common as men with the required attributes.”

    This is where we keep running onto the rocks, mate. Because from Google’s point of view (and mine, FWIW) IF THERE ARE fewer women out there with the right combination of attributes etc to fill their positions, that does not necessarily mean that Google should just give up. It might mean that Google is going to have to work even harder to counteract that starting position. They are going to have to offer incentives & go the extra mile to make their company an attractive prospect for the types of candidates they want to attract. Theoretically that could be as crude as a cash bursary or better pay or whatever, but in practice companies like Google tend to know that this is divisive & problematic so instead they tend to offer soft, social benefits instead.

    Real world personal example again. My OH is a senior tech lead with an IT multinational. Her company is 34% female workforce, in large part because the founders decided from the outset that this was the type of corporation they wanted to be. They wanted to make social justice a central plank of their corporate ethos, so they have consciously & deliberately created a working environment which is attractive to women developers & engineers. It then becomes self-perpetuating to an extent, because just the fact that a third of tech staff are women becomes, in itself, an attractive selling point for female engineers.

    At the other end of the scale, I know there are some corners of the IT industry (games programming, for starters) where a lot of companies (particularly smaller ones) are 95% or more male, and they don’t care. I honestly could give a stuff. I can quite believe that 95% (or 99%) of the people who want to work at those companies are men. If that suits their business and if they are not actively excluding female staff (and that’s a big IF btw but we’ll skip over that for now) then so be it.

    Google is its own case. It is a global household brand & they have a particular public image & corporate ethos they want to create & project. It is embarrassing for them that less than one in five of their tech staff is female. That is not the type of company they want to be. So they have every right to initiate the types of policies that will help them transform their company into the type of company that they do want it to be.

    Now, all of this is constrained by the law around fair employment practices and discrimination, as it should be. I don’t know about the law in the US so I’m only going to talk about the UK, but in this country employers are bound by both anti-discrimination laws and equalities legislation, which between them set out what is and is not reasonable and why, under what circumstances.

    Without getting into quibbles about the letters of the law, this again is as it should be, IMO. So (in broad, inaccurate strokes) unless there is a very good reason pertaining to the role, it is illegal to advertise a position as being only for a white man or a black woman or whatever else.

    In employment, attempting to improve your corporate diversity is considered a legitimate objective. However at the same time you are not allowed to discriminate in employment. You are allowed to have policies like a “all other factors being equal” clause, which means if you have two equally well qualified candidates for a position, it is reasonable to appoint the one which will improve your company’s diversity. Again, this makes perfect sense to me. It is also legal to adopt policies which will make your company a more attractive place for those candidates to want to work.

    Google is explicitly discriminating in favour of women, and against men.

    Just briefly & for the record, I disagree with this. I have not seen any evidence or heard any arguments that Google is discriminating against men. I have seen evidence that Google is attempting to make Google as desirable a place for women to work as it currently is for men to work. I see evidence that Google has identified ways in which their corporate culture (as one part of the broader IT industry culture) is a more desirable, comfortable, convenient place to be employed and thrive if you are male than if you are female, and I see evidence that Google has taken some limited steps to mitigate that. I do not accept that this meets the definition of “discriminating against men.”

  289. WineEM says

    @312

    I have not seen any evidence or heard any arguments that Google is discriminating against men.

    Well, one such instance I’ve already alluded to in this thread. Damore gave an interview shortly after the whole furore erupted, in which he was asked which potentially discriminatory practises at Google he was concerned about.
    One thing he said that was happening was that while both women and men were being invited for job interviews, often there would be a deliberate policy of only giving the men one chance at the interview, and if they failed it, that would be it. However, he said that if the women failed the first interview, they would be offered a couple of other interviews to give them extra chances.

    Now, we know there’s also a controversy in Formula 1, where people often bemoan the lack of female drivers (and, especially those who believe in the Standard Social Science Model), say that in an equal society, there should be more or less 50/50 male and female drivers in formula one.

    So, given the lack of female drivers in Formula 1, would you, Ally, support a system whereby (in order to qualify for a team), female drivers were given several chances to hit a certain lap-time, whereas male drivers just had the one shot?

    Why would one situation be discriminatory and the other not? 🙂

  290. Ally Fogg says

    “One thing he said that was happening was that while both women and men were being invited for job interviews, often there would be a deliberate policy of only giving the men one chance at the interview, and if they failed it, that would be it. However, he said that if the women failed the first interview, they would be offered a couple of other interviews to give them extra chances.”

    Well, I would like to see Google’s version of that policy, because I doubt it is quite as straightforward as you/he is making out.

    However there are loads and loads of really good arguments against traditional job interview formats. Research has shown they are usually little more than exercises in confirmation bias and tend to give a huge advantages to people who fit the stereotype of someone who would be good at this job and actively discriminate against people who don’t fit the usual profile.

    So I would reserve judgement until I’d seen the actual policy& the justifications for it, but in theory I could imagine that this is a fairly reasonable approach to ensuring that your interview panels aren’t merely employing people who look & sound like them (or more commonly, look & sound like their boss.)

    As a man, if I thought I was the best candidate for a job, I wouldn’t have any problems with an interview panel giving other candidates a second chance to check they haven’t failed to do themselves justice. I’d still be confident I was the best person for the job, however many interviews other applicants might get.

  291. Marduk says

    307/8.
    I don’t want to repeat myself too much. My overall ultimate complaint is that Identity Politics and Social Justice have nothing to do with left-wing or liberal politics. They have become their own industries, their own things, their own areas of thought and behaviour. They are no longer rooted in the same values of universalism that anti-racism or anti-sexism emerge from in a coherent manner (e.g., as they do in the writing of John Stuart Mill or to an extent Engels). This can be traced back to “Studies” subjects that lack internal scaffolding leaving a hollowed-out agenda without values and why they end up saying stupid (activists against free speech) and occasionally hateful shit.

    I was just reading some IP takes on “The Big Sick”. Desi women says its racist against them, white women say its sexist towards them, mixed-race women say the first two groups are invalidating their existence. Once again we’ve regressed, this time to a miscegenation discourse. I fail to see how this is progressive, anti-racism or anti-sexism and its really just a shame someone called Kumail can’t make an autobiographical comedy without people talking like this and people should date whoever they want. After all, the people who don’t agree with this are ‘villains’ of the film anyway. But perhaps I’m old-fashioned.

  292. Ally Fogg says

    OK, Marduk, let’s go with this.

    “My overall ultimate complaint is that Identity Politics and Social Justice have nothing to do with left-wing or liberal politics. They have become their own industries, their own things, their own areas of thought and behaviour. They are no longer rooted in the same values of universalism that anti-racism or anti-sexism emerge from in a coherent manner (e.g., as they do in the writing of John Stuart Mill or to an extent Engels). This can be traced back to “Studies” subjects that lack internal scaffolding leaving a hollowed-out agenda without values and why they end up saying stupid (activists against free speech) and occasionally hateful shit.”

    OK, we’re getting something. I think what you mean when you talk about “Studies” subjects is that you are objecting to a strain of political thought & activism that is rooted in post-structural philosophy, so you are talking about post-colonial race studies, post-structural feminism (Butler, Kristeva, Crenshsaw) – that kind of thing. Correct?

    (I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, genuinely asking if this is what you mean?)

    Because if this is what you are saying, you first have to allow for the fact that some of the most fierce and passionate opponents of this ideology are other anti-racist theorists (those coming from a Marxist ideological background, primarily) and other feminists – 2nd wave radical feminists in particular but also most so-called liberal feminists.

    So if you are attacking ‘identity politics” meaning “post-structural post-Foucauldian thinkers” you have to exclude the vast majority of ‘Guardian feminists’ as we’d loosely call them, who are bitterly opposed to the people you are talking about.

    Is that really what you mean? Or do you have something broader in mind?

    I was just reading some IP takes on “The Big Sick”. Desi women says its racist against them, white women say its sexist towards them, mixed-race women say the first two groups are invalidating their existence. Once again we’ve regressed, this time to a miscegenation discourse.

    OK, I’m interested, let’s go with this.

    You’ll need to link me to some comments that you are talking about because I’ve just Googled it & can’t find any theoretical objections to it, but anyway, can you talk me through your problem with this? (I should say I have read literally nothing about this film so know nothing about it, I’m in your hands)

    Are these critiques you have read just that – critiques – or are they demanding some kind of censorship or punishment for those responsible?

    Because as I’m sure you understand, those would be entirely different debates. (If anyone is actually demanding a ban or a prosecution or whatever let me know and I’ll probably argue against them.) For now, I’ll assume that what we are talking about here is critique.

    First of all, can you imagine that a film made by a man of Indian descent might (hypothetically) present a derogatory view of Indian women?

    Can you imagine that a film made by a man might (hypothetically) present a derogatory or sexist view of women?

    Can you imagine that women from a mixed race background might have a different perspective on the same film and feel that the positive ways in which it portrays them more than makes up for the other criticisms above?

    In short, can you understand that a film might have a mix of positive and negative qualities that mean more or less to different people?

    If so, do you respect the right of critics (whether professional or amateur) to make known the problems they have with the film and/or the things they like about it from their point of view?

    If so, what’s your problem.

    Come on, talk me through it.

  293. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally

    OK. You are saying that it is a good and legitimate objecttive for Google to work actively to get more women and fewer men. Even if thre are fewer qualified female candidates around, so you need to bypass more qalified candidates to do it. Even if the women are not discriminated against relative to the men. Even without having to quote any reason beyond ‘this is the company we want to be’.

    So, imagine a company that does the same things Google does: Give special opportunities for networking, mentoring etc. for one sex only. Preferentially hire only one sex, unless the competitor is clearly and unequivocaly superior. Make it an explicit target for their mangers to hire the right kind fo person (which they will discreetly do, without anybody able to prove what criteria they used). And, for good measure, make a series of training courses to make clear to everyone that feminist ideas are not welcome in this company. Only this company does it to achieve a white, male workforce and reduce the nuber of women. Do you say that this is not discrimination? Do you still sy that they konw best whether this is necessary to achieve theri goals? Do you think this is acceptable? Or if not, what is the difference?

    And, please, when you answer do not hide behind the law’s words that accept increasing (but not decreasing) diversity as a legitimate goal. We are not lawyers, and we are discussing whether these mesures are just, not whether they happen to be legal.

  294. WineEM says

    @314 . I doubt it is quite as straightforward as you/he is making out.

    Well he’s pretty clear and straightforward in what he’s saying about it (@6:18, here:)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4WoeOkj2Ng

    I can’t believe that he’s simply making it up – if he was, he’d presumably get sued.

    As a man, if I thought I was the best candidate for a job, I wouldn’t have any problems with an interview panel giving other candidates a second chance to check they haven’t failed to do themselves justice.

    Well, have to hand it to you Ally, that’s pretty honest again. (Maybe a bit like, in this hypothetical situation – and going back to my analogy – an F1 Driver who was so confident in his superiority to all the other drivers, that he’d be quite happy with the female drivers having a couple of extra goes, because he knew he’d ace it anyway). In truth, of course, Ally, you do have a pretty formidable intellect – false modesty aside, I think most people who read your writing would recognise this – and I can actually well imagine that if you had become a scientist you might very well have fitted the category of someone who was so gifted that you wouldn’t have minded the scales being weighted in this sort of way.

  295. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger

    OK. You are saying that it is a good and legitimate objecttive for Google to work actively to get more women and fewer men.

    Yep.

    “Even if thre are fewer qualified female candidates around, so you need to bypass more qalified candidates to do it.”

    Nope. No one at any stage has suggested this. No one, not even Damore, has suggested that there aren’t enough suitably qualified candidates around who are not white men.

    Even if the women are not discriminated against relative to the men. Even without having to quote any reason beyond ‘this is the company we want to be’.

    Nope. What I have been saying all the way through is that discrimination is complex and multifaceted and is inherent to society so that women are discriminated against (using a grown-up definition of discrimination) in IT before they have even started school, never mind applied for a job.

    So, imagine a company that does the same things Google does: Give special opportunities for networking, mentoring etc. for one sex only. . . [etc]

    Well it would depend on the context. If you can find me a company in an industry where white men are systematically discriminated against, disadvantaged and in a minority then I’d quite accept the need for that kind of company and I would support their right to exist and operate in that way.

    If, however, they were doing it not for those reasons but because they don’t like women or people of colour or whatever, then I’d say that company would be in breach of employment law and should rightly be prosecuted.

  296. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally.

    If you can find me a company in an industry where white men are systematically discriminated against, disadvantaged and in a minority then I’d quite accept the need

    Hooray! – we have made a tiny step forward. After all this debate, you have admitted that positive discrimination is not a generally acceptable choice, but something you can only justify in order to remedy pre-existing discrimination. It does not help much, though, because you are still refusing to argue that, or whether, women are discriminated against in IT. You simply take it as a given, based on an arbitrary and unfalsifiable criteria (women are discriminated against in IT before they have even started school, forsooth!). I could claim with equal right that men are discriminated against in the criminal justice system before they even leave kindergarten, and therefore they should not be sent to jail when they break the law. But then this is not about truth, or logic, or justice. As Humpty-Dumpty said “The question is which is to be master — that’s all.”

  297. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger

    “After all this debate, you have admitted that positive discrimination is not a generally acceptable choice, but something you can only justify in order to remedy pre-existing discrimination.”

    Hang about – what do you mean by positive discrimination? I’ve said all along that I don’t think this is the best way to go – IF by positive discrimination you mean appointing any woman just because she is a woman.

    If by ‘positive discrimination’ you mean any kind of affirmative or remedial action to improve or remove existing disparities, then yes, I support those.

    I’m just asking that we are careful about definitions.

    “It does not help much, though, because you are still refusing to argue that, or whether, women are discriminated against in IT. “

    Err, no I’m not. I’m saying the opposite. Shall I just quote myself?

    Nope. What I have been saying all the way through is that discrimination is complex and multifaceted and is inherent to society so that women are discriminated against (using a grown-up definition of discrimination) in IT before they have even started school, never mind applied for a job.

    Women are discriminated against. How much clearer do I need to be? However, for the umpteenth time, I am saying that discrimination is complex and multifaceted and inherent to our current society. So that (to expand my point) before a baby girl can even talk she is likely to have been steered away from skills relating to engineering by the adults around her. (If you didn’t watch the BBC series about gender in a primary school classroom last month you should, there was a beautifully recreated little experiment where they swapped the clothes on baby boys & girls then filmed as the adults tried really hard to make the little girls play with the building blocks and robots & the little boys play with the dolls & prams, then insisting that those toys had been the ones the babies had been most keen on.)

    This will then go all the way up through the school system, careers system etc, right up to job interviews etc, where interviewers will typically profess to be equally keen to employ men & women but in practice be more likely to value what is presented by male candidates than female. All of this stuff has been demonstrated experimentally & qualitatively again and again and again and if you are refusing to see it, I suspect the problem isn’t with the research.

    And none if it is either ‘unfalsifiable’ or arbitrary.

    “I could claim with equal right that men are discriminated against in the criminal justice system before they even leave kindergarten, “

    Hallelujah! After all these years you have finally cottoned on to one of the central planks of my arguments, one that I have been making repeatedly!

    “and therefore they should not be sent to jail when they break the law.”

    Oh there you go spoiling it with one of your gargantuan logical leaps. No, of course that does not follow, any more than I am arguing that any woman should be appointed to any job over any man.

    However if you were to argue that boys (or men) may sometimes need gender-conscious and gender-specific support to help them with criminal desistance, or that courts & judges should be conscious of the gender-specific circumstances that lead men into (self-)destructive and violent tendencies & consider those sometimes in mitigation, then yes – that is a very good analogy and I wholeheartedly agree.

  298. lucythoughts says

    #314
    This thing about female candidates being given extra job interviews sounded weird to me so I had a little go at finding out what it was about. Unfortunately I can’t shed much light because it just seems to be completely unverifiable. Even Demore’s “straight forward” remarks on it don’t really tell you anything about the policy, how it’s used in practice or the rationale behind it; all he says is “some people can be given more interviews than others.” Here’s what I have found out: Google appears to have a very, very stringent hiring procedure which they have spent considerable time and effort standardising (unlike most employers who have a much more “go with your gut” attitude to the interview process). As far as I can see, no one is ever hired on the basis of a single interview, as a minimum there will be two telephone interviews followed by four face to face interviews, all with different interviewers, all of whom score you. Then the results are reviewed by senior staff before they think about giving you a job. Apparently, they used to give even more interviews but they analysed the results and found that giving more very rarely affected the final outcome. If, however, they still can’t make up their minds about you for some reason at the end of the standard six-odd hours of interviewing, they may pull you in for even more interviews. Oh joy.

    I can’t find any reference anywhere (outside of Demore’s rather vague statement) as to whether, why or under what circumstances female or minority candidates specifically might be called in for more interviews that others. It may happen, and there may be a reason why it happens but I can’t find it out. At the end of the day Google are data miners so, for example, one possibility might be that they have found a higher level of variability in the spread of scores that their interviewers give to female or minority candidates, and that in these cases extra interviews give them a more accurate mean score to work from. It simply isn’t possible to say. I would hazard a guess based on his statements that Demore himself probably doesn’t really know what the process actually is and what it is for.

  299. Marduk says

    316.
    Largely fair but remember this is about what people do with it, not an academic debate. These things are reduced from the page into very blunt, unnuanced and sometimes almost meaningless memes. If we pick one of the worst, I can see cultural appropriation is an interesting idea and one could trace examples about how its tied up the empire and power and how there might be a difference between say, how the Persian empire absorbed culture and the Roman empire stole it. What isn’t very interesting is being told I’m a racist because I’m eating sushi. I really don’t think theorists of race wanted people to become ever more racist, I certainly don’t think they intend that ordinary people return to KKK-tier discussions about one-drop rules and calls for segregation. Its curdled, its gone wrong, there is something about stripping out the underlying logic and just being left with a set of agendas and rules that leads to this. Its pretty fundamental, its like people can’t tell right from wrong or apply common sense if its not written down for them.

    Personally I think there more interest in studying the abuses of these ideas because they are just as revealing as the insights that led to their original form. Cultural Appropriation in particular, as employed, doesn’t take much digging before you realise how profoundly imperialistic it is. It isn’t about the cultures of the world, its about how Americans see the world and how they are uneasy about their own identities. Look what happens to “Africa”, I know exactly what is behind this and I’m profoundly sympathetic but the idea such a colossal mass of people living on an area of land that could encompass every other continent is basically one place is insane. Its not about Africans, its about African Americans who are relatively rich and powerful people although they don’t see it that way always. The ideal book cover would be a picture of that fake Eiffel Tower they built in Las Vegas.

    And of course a film can be all those things, thats the point. But that isn’t what you get now, you instead receive a single reading based on who the person watching the film is. Again, I’m aware of ideas of subjectivity and reflexivity, but… look at this way, you probably look at a classic review of Citizen Kane, it will invariably be by a white man and you can say this is very much a white man’s review of the film, look at all the things he doesn’t talk about or care about that were in it. And sure, if you are an Asian woman your review of Citizen Kane might have different things to say. But that doesn’t mean that because you are an Asian woman you should only write Asian and female things about it. There are probably special academic circumstances where that would be a good idea too. But you can also watch it as a film reviewer and in fact, if anyone tried to force you to do anything else, I’d be pretty annoyed about it because to me that really is discrimination.

  300. Marduk says

    Good news?
    http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/equality/vaw/public-statement-male-victims-crimes-covered-by-CPS-VAWG-strategy.pdf

    “The statement forms part of the CPS revised Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy 2017-2020 which outlines the CPS’s approach to all VAWG Crimes. The CPS, in line with the United Nations conventions, ratified by the Government, recognises these crimes have a disproportionate number of female victims, hence the continued use of the term “VAWG”. However, the CPS also recognises the experience of male victims and the distressing impact on them.”

    I can’t think why male victims would ever have thought the CPS didn’t really care about them but I guess they’ve issued a clarifying statement now.

    What I find most intriguing about this is why the CPS consulted with “national women’s groups” about their response to male victims.

  301. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    Because of a lack of credible national men’s rights groups? Because for every men’s rights group doing actual work supporting men there’s a dozen or so noisy, vile misogynistic cretins making the very term “men’s rights” as loaded as “rights for whites”?

  302. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk

    If we pick one of the worst, I can see cultural appropriation is an interesting idea and one could trace examples about how its tied up the empire and power and how there might be a difference between say, how the Persian empire absorbed culture and the Roman empire stole it. What isn’t very interesting is being told I’m a racist because I’m eating sushi. I really don’t think theorists of race wanted people to become ever more racist, I certainly don’t think they intend that ordinary people return to KKK-tier discussions about one-drop rules and calls for segregation. Its curdled, its gone wrong, there is something about stripping out the underlying logic and just being left with a set of agendas and rules that leads to this.

    You are not really ‘picking the worst’ there so much as picking a wildly extreme outlier and then using it to attack people who do not subscribe to that opinion.

    I mean, really, if the definition of “identity politics” is “thinks eating sushi is cultural appropriation’ then this conversation has lurched into the absurd.

    I really don’t think theorists of race wanted people to become ever more racist, I certainly don’t think they intend that ordinary people return to KKK-tier discussions about one-drop rules and calls for segregation.

    I’m not quite sure what you are talking about here. Unless… are you suggesting that people have become more racist and the KKK have become more popular because ‘identity politics’ has driven them to it? If so that is a really fucking ignorant and dangerously stupid position to hold.

    More broadly, cultural appropriation is a controversial idea and many, many people who are actively involved in the politics of social justice (or whatever you want to call it) have serious doubts about its extremes, even before you start cherry-picking or inventing lurid extreme examples. See the Kenan Malik piece I linked to above.

    As for the stuff about Citizen Kane, are you seriously suggesting anyone is forcing anyone to write (or for that matter read) critiques of The Big Sick or any other film from an Asian woman’s perspective or any other?

    You’re basically doing the same as Shivani was doing in that Salon piece, inventing boogieman versions of social justice warriors and criticising real people for things said by your imaginary versions of them.

  303. Ally Fogg says

    324 – yes it is good news & I’m just going through it all, will give you a shiny nice new blogpost to talk about it on later this evening or tomorrow.

  304. WineEM says

    @232 ” but remember this is about what people do with it, not an academic debate. ”

    This is key, surely. For all that Ally may want to quibble about the semantics and origin of the term “identity politics”, we all know that there’s a trend from many politicians and the media to pander towards certain sectional interests (the women’s lobby and old-age lobby to name but two), and we can also see that there are an awful lot of people and institutions out there seizing on concepts such as ‘sexism’ and ‘racism’ in order to be overtly racist and sexist themselves (giving everybody except evil ‘white men’ extra goes at job interviews being one such example – but hey-ho, that’s just my opinion).

    You’re right that this happens across the spectrum, although it can be particularly marked on the left (among whom, like you Marduk, I used to count myself), because – as you just have to spend a couple of seconds on social media to observe – nobody appears to do it in such an arrogant and self-congratulatory manner as they often do.

    It’s a dangerous game, not that they will care, since Theresa May is quite likely to not be the Prime Minister going into the next election. If, heaven forbid, she were to get replaced with someone like David Davis, he could well start railing against ‘political correctness’ in a similar vein to Trump, and no matter the rights and wrongs of what he was saying, the ‘dog whistle effect’ of using animosities which have been cultivated over years by ‘progressives’ shameless and hypocritical behaviour will mean that he would have a deep pool of anger to drawn from. It’s not desirable, but it’s not unlikely either.

    And then, after the right wing have seized upon these things effectively, the ‘progressives’ will be left crying into their muesli about the lost election that they could easily have one, had they been just a bit less self-indulgent and a bit more sensible.

  305. WineEM says

    @328 Actually, for that last sentence, instead of ‘sensible’, read “a bit more self-aware of what they themselves had been doing all these years”.

  306. Adiabat says

    Ally (321):

    If by ‘positive discrimination’ you mean any kind of affirmative or remedial action to improve or remove existing disparities, then yes, I support those.

    What disparities?! Be precise. What disparity is being resolved by giving more interviews to applicants based on their sex? What disparity is being resolved by adopting policies aiming to increase the proportion of female employees above and beyond the proportion of CS graduates? Isn’t that creating a disparity? I can’t see how this does anything but discriminate against men in “complex and multifaceted ways”. It has to for it to work.

    In the rest of your post you’re alluding to a disparity in the applicant pool itself, and claim that this is caused by a long line of “discrimination” since their early years until they reach the workplace. Let’s work backwards on this claim shall we:

    Google has a 19% female tech workforce, which matches or is greater than the proportion of CS graduates, so we can rule out discrimination at this point.

    The proportion of CS college graduates matches the interest shown at high school (19%: https://www.ncwit.org/infographic/3435). So we can rule out your vague “complex and multifaceted” causes at college.

    Does it happen at high school? Again you see the same interest in CS compared to the earlier stages, and to cut this process short, this goes all the way back through to as early as anyone’s bothered checking: http://sci-hub.io/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1989.tb01042.x. So interest in computing doesn’t change while they are supposedly being bombarded all their lives with all this “complex and multifaceted” discrimination steering them away from CS.

    The only ‘god of the gaps’ left you’ve got for your faith in this theory is babies…

    the adults tried really hard to make the little girls play with the building blocks and robots & the little boys play with the dolls & prams, then insisting that those toys had been the ones the babies had been most keen on

    Well done, they demonstrated that adults can force certain toys onto babies, and delude themselves into thinking that the babies chose them. Groundbreaking stuff. It’s on par with showing that parents delude themselves that their baby’s gurgle is their first word./s

    What this doesn’t show is that it affects the children’s interests in a significant way, especially into adulthood; it’s just an article of faith from activist academics. As soon as those babies get a choice they stop playing with whatever gender-neutral toys they were forced to play with and ask for a Barbie/Toy Car/whatever-they’re-actually-interested-in for their birthday. Have you seriously never read a feminist despair that their daughter wanted a Barbie, despite their best efforts to steer them away from them since they were born?

    Of course I’m talking about averages, and trends. There are exceptions, such as (but not limited to) the subgroup of women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which gives them prenatal hormone levels similar to that of boys. From babies these women show interests much more in-line with boys than women without this condition: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166361/. No amount of pushing Barbies on these girls, and the traditional mothers do try, changes what they are eventually interested in either.

    Can your theory even explain why these women are seemingly immune to all the “complex and multifaceted” discrimination you believe causes a disparity in the CS talent pool?

  307. Adiabat says

    “Unless… are you suggesting that people have become more racist and the KKK have become more popular because ‘identity politics’ has driven them to it?”

    No, I think he’s saying those who use identity politics are among the most racist and sexist people in society today, especially in terms of numbers and influence. Which is true despite your bluster otherwise.

    You asked earlier if people think it’s important to tackle sexism, racism etc without realising that this is exactly what those who oppose identity politics are doing. You, along much of the Left, have just forgotten what racism and sexism actually is.

  308. Marduk says

    326.
    Well here is where we end, I think you’ve got your head in the sand. Not on the specifics really, as much as what its about. As they quote Drehler in the Atlantic article, its not really about culture here, its the cynical use of power to elevate a mundane complaint that has been made in every canteen in history. Point is they did it and it worked. This is how these ideas are used once they leave rarefied atmospheres with Bach fugues playing in the background.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/12/the-food-fight-at-oberlin-college/421401/
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/36804155/lena-dunham-says-sushi-is-cultural-appropriation

    “I’m not quite sure what you are talking about here. Unless… are you suggesting that people have become more racist and the KKK have become more popular because ‘identity politics’ has driven them to it? If so that is a really fucking ignorant and dangerously stupid position to hold.”

    I have simply no idea how you came to that conclusion. No, what I’m saying is that the left is talking like only racists used to talk. This is not surprising because they have some common beliefs in the centrality of identity even if they disagree on the details. I mention the “one-drop” rule for a reason because of how its normally written about in terms of race, identity and contingency:
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity-politics/

    Finally, on films, I’m suggesting people are doing it to themselves because they think it is the right thing to do, it isn’t.

    This is why people say there are being regressive, its not purely a play on words, this shit just takes us back decades if not centuries.

  309. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat (330)

    What disparities?! Be precise.

    Like, for instance, only 19% of Google’s technical staff being women and 81% men. That’s a pretty spectacular disparity, don’t you think?

    “Google has a 19% female tech workforce, which matches or is greater than the proportion of CS graduates, so we can rule out discrimination at this point.”

    No it doesn’t, it just means that the discrimination at Google matches and is no better than the discrimination elsewhere in society. Why shouldn’t they want to do better?

    What disparity is being resolved by adopting policies aiming to increase the proportion of female employees above and beyond the proportion of CS graduates?

    I think it is called trying to be part of the solution not part of the problem.

    Well done, they demonstrated that adults can force certain toys onto babies, and delude themselves into thinking that the babies chose them. Groundbreaking stuff. It’s on par with showing that parents delude themselves that their baby’s gurgle is their first word./s
    What this doesn’t show is that it affects the children’s interests in a significant way

    Well that single experiment doesn’t. Hundreds of others do.

    Have you seriously never read a feminist despair that their daughter wanted a Barbie, despite their best efforts to steer them away from them since they were born?

    Of course I have and all this shows is that the wider social pressures on children can more than outweigh the influence of their parents or any one adult.

  310. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat [331}

    No, I think he’s saying those who use identity politics are among the most racist and sexist people in society today, especially in terms of numbers and influence. Which is true despite your bluster otherwise.

    OK, so sticking to the USA & just from the last few weeks, we have had Nazis & white supremacists marching with swastikas, we’ve had the President of the USA elected by hundreds of millions of Americans largely on a promise to build a wall to keep out Mexican rapists, then refusing to condemn those Nazis. Just we’ve had his government propose abolishing DACA to deport hundreds of thousands of children.

    And the racists you think are the most influential and numerous and are really worried about are some students poking fun at white men on Twitter?

    Glad we’ve cleared up your priorities.

  311. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 321
    Oh Boy!. This will unavoidably be long, and requires splitting:

    First, by ‘positive discrimination’ I mean treating some people better than others based on their group membership or generally on criteria that have no direct relevance to the task we are dealing with. Like letting universiy admission depend on skin collour or racial group, which have no direct relevance for your studies. It may be justified in particular cases, but it is a negative-sounding term because it is, at best, something better avoided.Google is doing positive discrimination because they are giving specific advantages to some (potential) employees, and incentivising their managers to change their hiring decisions, purely on the basis of the emplyee’s sex, in cases where gender has no direct relevance for the job performance. Your wife’s company, from what you say, is simply trying to change the general working environment in such a way that it is attractive to women. That is NOT ‘positive discrimination’, not even if the intention, and the effect, is to change the gender composition of the workforce. Nor would it be ‘straight’ discrimination if they refused to do so.

    A good example of the distinction is the misguided idea to reduce the number of women in prson. It may well be that woman prisoners are generally non-violent and suffer from a number of problems that makes jail time more destructive. But a policy that gives people lighter punishments specifiacally because they are women is profoundly unfair; just for starters it benefits women even if they have none of the particular problems, while ignoring the men who also suffer from them. A non-discriminatory way of dealing with the problem would be to reduce sentences based on whether the crime was violent, mental health or social problems, family responsibilities etc. (even pregnancy) of the convicted. That might largely benefit the same people (and so have a heavily pro-female effect), but it would avoid the explicit unfairness of basing punishment on sex, and would let us evaluate the costs and benefits of the program without getting bogged down in competitive victimhood or gender wars.

    Damore is actually on to all this. He makes the explicit point that Google could (and should) increase the number of women by making conditions in general more woman-friendly, and that this would not only avoid explicit gender discrimination in their policies, but benefit a number of individual men who also did not feel comfortable with a too macho environment. He also suggests that the (perfectly correct) drive to have a workforce that reflects the diveresity of the customer base should be limited to positions that in various ways define the customer experiance, but not be used for e.g. electronics maintenance engineers, where there is no operational need for understanding the variety of customer viewpoints

  312. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally Second part

    No, you are not arguing that women are discriminated against in IT, you are simply claiming it. In fact, most of the time you are not doing even that, but presupposing it, i.e. talking as if this anti-woman discrimination was an obvious and agreed fact. Only now, when I have finally hammered out what you are actually saying, I can answer: No, women are NOT discriminated against in IT. Not in the way you mean, at least. Thanks to Adiabat, BTW, for an excellent counterargument that helped get things clarified.

    What you are saying is that we have gendered social roles (true) that are transmitted socially from other people (true), and that they influence the subjects people study and the choices they want to make (also true). Whatever biological aspects there may (also) be, the end result is less interest in computer science from women. But what on earth allows you to conclude that this constitutes discrimination? ‘Discrimination’ has some precise implications: it is something that is intentional, malicious, disadvantages one group relative to another, is by definition wrong, and calls for immediate redress. But there is no person or group who is doing the discrimination. Gender roles are not deliberately instilled to harm anyone, and anyway are largely transmitted by peers. So who is doing the discrimination, little girls in kindergarten? Whether gender roles all things considered disadvantage women relative to men is not obvious either – you have spoken often enough about all the bad things the male gender role do to men. As for gendered roles being wrong and in need of immediate redress, well, that what this whole discussion is supposed to be about! Presupposing the answer makes a debate impossible, and is pretty shabby tactics (see my next post on that). The rest of us use ‘discrimination’ in the dictionary sense, and so end up bewildered and infuriated by what you are saying. Your answer to Adiabat makes it clear: Apparently the IT industry is discriminating against women by, wait for it, treating job candidates on their merits and hiring and promoting them in proportion to how many qualified candidates they find, regardless of their sex!. At this point we are really in Humpty-Dumpty territory.
    This is where your ideas become unfalsifiable. It is provable enough that gender roles influence life choices. But that they do it in a way that means we must remove them or counteract them is impossible to argue against. At worst you have decided that your social policies are right by definition, which is a pure faith position. At best you think that we should treat people, not on the basis of what they are, or can do, or want, but on the basis of what we believe they would have been, done, or wanted in a hypothetical parallel universe.
    The honest way of making your point would be to stop talking about discrimination, and simply say that gender roles distorted people’s choices, and the only way to get equal representation and get rid of gender roles was, well, positive discrimination. But of course that would have force you to answer the obvious questions of why we need to get rid of gender roles, and why the fair treatment of individual Google employees should be put aside in favour of a progressive social engineering project. Which, as it happens, is exactly what we need to discuss.

  313. WineEM says

    “the racists you [ ….]are really worried about are some students poking fun at white men on Twitter?”

    Hang on a second, Ally, upthread you’ve been saying that you think it’s entirely fitting and appropriate that all and any racial slurs and jibes should be pursued with the full whack of the law, and full-on Alison Saunders style authoritarian humourlessness. Which is it to be? I don’t see any get-out clause for comments about ‘white blokes’. If these things are, in your view, so trivial and innocuous, then why are you taking that tack?

    At least free speech libertarians have a bit more consistency, that they may not like insults and rude comments, but don’t generally think it’s a good idea to go running to the authorities because of ‘hurt feelings’ about being called a ‘white, anglo-saxon eedjut’ or whatever.

  314. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally, final instalment
    As an aside, let me point out that the way you and your fellow progressives debate this comes across as manipulative, insincere, and deliberately trying to deligitimise your opponents, drive them out of the debate, and bully them into accepting your positions. I am not being hyperbolic here. This is not meant to insult you specifically – a professor of linguistics I happen to know, who has studied presuppositions in discourse, points out that this has been a problem in progressive discourse for more than forty years.

    I probably need to explain myself. A (non-left-wing) example of the phenomenon is the following (true) conversation snippet, from somewhere in the US:
    Policeman: What’s your name, boy?
    Black man: Dr. Poussaint. I am a physician
    Policeman: What’s your first name, boy?
    Black man: Alvin
    What is happening is that the policeman insists on basing the exchange on his own norms, even though it is perfectly clear that Dr. Poussaint does not share them. The word ‘boy’ plants into the conversation the assumption that Dr Poussaint is an inferior human being – a nigger, in fact. By accepting to participate in the conversation without challenging the term, Dr Poussaint implicitly accepts the description of himself as a nigger. In fact he reported to feel a profound sense of self-loathing afterwards. According to my professor, there is a technical term for this kind of discussion strategy. It is called ‘bullying’.

    The way progressive people use redefined versions of ‘discrimination’, ‘racism’, etc. in debate works in the same way. It presupposes that their politics are right, and that anybody who disagrees is not only obviously wrong, but a bad person to boot. If those who disagree choose to play along, they thereby acknowledge that the progressives are right and so lose the argument. Alternatively we can withdraw from the debate, leaving it to the progressives to win by default (possibly sending a few anonymous rape threats on twitter afterwards, since that seems to be the only way that we can make our opinions heard). The only remaining choice is to disregard the substance of the debate and relentlessly hammer away at the words our opponents use and what they are taken to mean. That is a thanklesss task. I am no stranger to this kind of argument, and you are more open and honest than most. But, even so, it has taken me two weeks of intense argument to even get to the point where it is clear what we are disagreeing about!

    Of course it may be your deliberate intention to forego rational debate and win by bullying your opponents into submission (at this point I honestly do not know, even for you personally). If not, let me inform you that the way progressive people base their argument on the presupposition that they are right and everybody else is wrong makes it impossible for anyone who disagrees to understand what you are saying, let alone participate in the discussion. If you are interested in rational debate, social harmony and consensus, etc., is it not time to make a fairly major change to your vocabulary, and your approach?

  315. WineEM says

    Oh, here we go, Owen Jones in the Guardian today: saying inflammatory, derogatory and offensive things about ‘straight white males’ is merely a “critique of privilege”, whilst saying any daft things regarding ‘minorities’ is wholly unacceptable, and any views which may be potentially uncomfortable for such folk should not be allowed any air time on mainstream media.

    And, needless to say, the piece is not open to comment from the nasty plebs.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/07/gay-cure-right-abuses-free-speech

    Holy Smoke, Ally, I’ve got to say that some folk on the left are really turning the act of revelling in your own hypocrisy into an absolute art form. It almost defies belief.

    You guys need to watch out in the sense that the Corbyn surge over the summer merely hinted at something which could potentially capture the public mood.

    If the Owen Joneses of this world think that uptick in enthusiasm has now made them completely invincible, and that they can say whatever they like without alienating the general public (including former Labour voters), then you are in for a rude awakening, because that’s not necessarily how democracy works; we’ve seen that in America already.

  316. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger, I’ll come back to your points when I have time!

    WineEM

    Oh, here we go, Owen Jones in the Guardian today: saying inflammatory, derogatory and offensive things about ‘straight white males’ is merely a “critique of privilege”, whilst saying any daft things regarding ‘minorities’ is wholly unacceptable, and any views which may be potentially uncomfortable for such folk should not be allowed any air time on mainstream media.

    Nope, you’ve got it arse about tit.

    Owen Jones is not saying that saying inflammatory, derogatory and offensive things about ‘straight white males’ is merely a “critique of privilege”

    He is saying that critiques of privilege are perceived to be inflammatory, derogatory & offensive about straight white males by the delicate little anti-free speech snowflakes of the online right.

    He’s absolutely 100% correct about that, and it has been demonstrated perfectly by this very thread.

  317. Ally Fogg says

    WineEM [337]

    Hang on a second, Ally, upthread you’ve been saying that you think it’s entirely fitting and appropriate that all and any racial slurs and jibes should be pursued with the full whack of the law, and full-on Alison Saunders style authoritarian humourlessness.

    Please stop completely inventing positions and opinions I do not hold and have never expressed and attempting to ascribe them to me.

    I honestly don’t even know what it is you are trying to paraphrase. I’ve literally never said anything even remotely similar to that.

  318. WineEM says

    @314. No but Ally, you’ve come across the concept of logical deduction before, presumably.
    You know, stuff like Socrates is a man; all men are mortal; therefore Socrates is mortal. That kind of thing.

    Well you’ve said upthread that you back Saunders’ approach to the hilt, and she’s the one who’s been talking about going after not only the most extreme acts, but also ‘low-level offences’, things which are perceived by ‘protected’ groups as being ‘annoying’ or ‘offensive’ online. Now, you’ve come up with this scheme in your head, whereby such things will only be pursued by the authorities if they are a ‘crime’, so there’s no need to worry; yet you have admitted yourself upthread, also, that pretty much any really rude or vulgar thing people write can potentially be deemed criminal under the idiotic piece of legislation which is the Malicious Communications Act.

    He is saying that critiques of privilege are perceived to be inflammatory, derogatory & offensive about straight white males by the delicate little anti-free speech snowflakes of the online right.

    No, I’m sorry, Ally, it’s like Gjenganger is saying: you and Owen Jones do not get to unilaterally set the terms of discourse like that. One ‘critique of privilege’ may be to say that (non ‘white males’) should get extra goes at job interviews, and a legitimate response to that might be to say that such a procedure is racist and discriminatory. That is by no means a ‘snowflake’ response, and it’s certainly not a question of trying to run to authorities, the media and politicians to try and impose your will; it is merely a logical and reasoned point of view.

  319. WineEM says

    Whoops meant @341 of course ! 🙂 And then @340 for the final paragraph (as if that weren’t obvious…)

  320. Ally Fogg says

    Oh FFS WineEM, can you at least try not to just make stuff up?

    Well you’ve said upthread that you back Saunders’ approach to the hilt,

    No I haven’t. You know I haven’t. If I had said that you would have quoted me directly, but I didn’t.

    “…and she’s the one who’s been talking about going after not only the most extreme acts, but also ‘low-level offences’, things which are perceived by ‘protected’ groups as being ‘annoying’ or ‘offensive’ online.

    No she hasn’t. We covered this. She is talking about going after crimes that have been committed which are motivated by hostility to protected groups. You then quoted a completely irrelevant definition of ‘hostility’

    This is not remotely the same thing as saying “it’s entirely fitting and appropriate that all and any racial slurs and jibes should be pursued with the full whack of the law.” It’s not even in the same ball park. You’re just inventing stuff.

    Now, you’ve come up with this scheme in your head, whereby such things will only be pursued by the authorities if they are a ‘crime’,

    No, I didn’t come up with that scheme. That is the law. That is the definition of a hate crime.

    so there’s no need to worry; yet you have admitted yourself upthread, also, that pretty much any really rude or vulgar thing people write can potentially be deemed criminal under the idiotic piece of legislation which is the Malicious Communications Act.

    No I didn’t, stop inventing things. What I said is that the MCA is a worryingly vague piece of legislation, but that the actual statement from Saunders is that the CPS are prepared to prosecute when someone commits an offence under the MCA (or any other act) AND the offence is motivated by hostility to a protected group.

    So what Saunders was saying, which I said I am more or less OK with, is that the CPS will only generally consider prosecuting someone under these circumstances if they send an electronic message for the specific purpose of causing distress and anxiety and for the specific reason that they were motivated by hatred or hostility towards the victim’s racial (or whatever) identity.

    So it is absolutely categorically not the case that “pretty much any really rude or vulgar thing people write can potentially be deemed criminal” you can be as rude as you like, as vulgar as you like, wherever you like.

    However if you write things that are deliberately racist for the purposes of causing distress and anxiety to your victims, such as, for example, tweeting at Alan Sugar that he’s a “fucking old Jew” then yes, you are likely to find yourself under arrest and yes, I am perfectly relaxed about that.

    “you and Owen Jones do not get to unilaterally set the terms of discourse like that.”

    We are not setting the terms of discourse, we are telling you what happened. Munroe Bergdof offered an intelligent critique (IMO) of white privilege, and a bunch of snowflakes got their knickers in a twist about it because they find it offensive to be reminded of their white privilege. Now you are perfectly free to offer a different interpretation of that, but I am pointing out, as a matter of fact, what it is that Owen was saying this morning which, once again, you twisted out of all recognition.

    One ‘critique of privilege’ may be to say that (non ‘white males’) should get extra goes at job interviews,

    Well that’s not really a critique, it’s more a reaction to privilege, but whatever

    “and a legitimate response to that might be to say that such a procedure is racist and discriminatory.”

    It would be a legitimate response, I’d disagree with it because it is wrong, IMO, but I have no problem with people attempting to make the argument.

    That is by no means a ‘snowflake’ response, and it’s certainly not a question of trying to run to authorities, the media and politicians to try and impose your will; it is merely a logical and reasoned point of view.

    Indeed. However running to L’Oreal to get a model sacked from her job because you are offended by her political beliefs – as hundreds of rightwingers did the other week – that is pretty snowflakey, don’t you think?

    And to back up Owen’s point, the people who were outraged about James Damore being sacked from Google for expressing his views appeared to be pretty much the same people celebrating Bergdof’s dismissal by L’Oreal.

  321. Ally Fogg says

    Righty-ho, Gjenganger.

    Your part 1:

    Not going to do a line by line rebuttal because we’d be here all day, but first of all let me say (again) I am not a big fan of the term positive discrimination because it can mean so many things to different people.

    However (whatever we call it) the crucial moral & ethical questions to these types of affirmative actions is always: are they proportionate to to the scale of inequality they are addressing?

    So, to take the case of Google, would it be proportionate for Google to have a policy where they refuse to employ any men at all until they have reached exactly 50/50 gender balance? No, it wouldn’t IMO, for all sorts of reasons, all covered up thread.

    However, I can easily imagine that at some time in the recent past Google have gone to their HR department & staff reviews & appraisals & all that and asked themselves what obstacles there might be at their company that deter women applying or prevent women from securing promotion?

    Those enquiries have come back to say “well women applicants we have talked to found the interview process a bit blokeish & intimidating & they found it hard to present themselves in their best light.” So Google then go away & ask themselves if they could come up with different interview processes that address that. Obviously I’m speculating, but I could easily imagine that was the kind of route they took to their current interview policy (whatever that might be). And if so, I could easily accept that the solutions they have found are proportionate to the problems they identified. And if this were the case, I think it would be fair to describe it not as discrimination, but as a legitimate response to discrimination.

  322. Ally Fogg says

    (336)

    “What you are saying is that we have gendered social roles (true) that are transmitted socially from other people (true), and that they influence the subjects people study and the choices they want to make (also true). Whatever biological aspects there may (also) be, the end result is less interest in computer science from women. But what on earth allows you to conclude that this constitutes discrimination?”

    I hate to break it to you Gjenganger, but this is not me doing this. I did a module on organisational psychology back in about 1987 and even then I was taught about systemic discrimination and institutional discrimination as opposed to individual discrimination or structural discrimination. When we are talking about a sexist boss who doesn’t like employing women we are talking about individual discrimination. When we are talking about organisations who have policies which serve, perhaps unintentionally, to make life harder for women than for men we are talking about systemic discrimination. When we describe a society which is structured in such a way as to make it harder or less likely for a woman to achieve X, Y or Z then we are talking about structural discrimination.

    I haven’t invented these terms and definitions. They have been around for decades. They are taught not just in gender studies classes but in psychology, sociology, business studies, personnel management etc etc etc.

    When people – not just trendy lefty theorists but your bogstandard human resources manager in any company pretty much anywhere – talk about ‘discrimination’ they are talking about any and all of these.

    I have been specific on several occasions in this thread in talking about structural discrimination. If you didn’t recognise the term you could have just googled it. You’ll get a few million hits but the very top one is a handy definition:

    “Structural discrimination (also known as structural inequality, systemic discrimination, or institutional racism) occurs in a society “when an entire network of rules and practices disadvantages less empowered groups while serving at the same time to advantage the dominant group”.

    Hope this helps.

  323. WineEM says

    @344 Oh come off it, Ally, you literally want me to find a sentence in which you’ve said “I absolutely back Alison Saunders’ approach to the hilt”?

    The truth is, of course, that if you review this thread, then everything you’ve said has been in agreement with the substance of what she announced last month, and nothing has been critical of the bar at which she suggested hate crime should be perceived as hate crime – or acted upon as hate crime.

    ” the CPS will only generally consider prosecuting someone under these circumstances if they send an electronic message for the specific purpose of causing distress or whatever) identity.”

    No, I’m sorry, Ally that is a whole load of nonsense, and you know it. In fact I know that you know it, because we’ve discussed this legislation before in a Twitter exchange.

    What you’ve quoted is the wording for the 1988 Act, but this was amended in 2003 to say it is an offence to send messages “for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another”.

    So if you put this together with the illiberal ideas Saunders was setting forth last month, and you end up with a very low bar indeed. This is a REAL problem, and one you seem to be turning a blind eye to.

  324. Ally Fogg says

    [338]

    I’ve honestly got little patience for this argument & little respect for its accuracy.

    For starters, everyone on every side of politics believes themselves to be right & everyone else to be ‘bad’ or ‘wrong.’

    IF you doubt that, I’d suggest you visit Twitter or any newspaper’s comments boards and state that Islam is a religion of peace, or immigration is a categorical benefit to the nation, and enjoy the response you get. If you think the left can “bully” opponents, you should try being on the other side.

    But more importantly, when I hear the type of argument you have just laid out, all I can hear is “I want the liberty to be racist or sexist or homophobic without the discomfort and inconvenience of being called racist or sexist or homophobic.”

    Because be honest, this is what it is about, isn’t it? It isn’t really left-right, We’re not talking economic policy here or defence policy or anything else, your complaint is all about allegations of oppressive behaviour and so-called ‘call-outs’, isn’t it?

    And from there we can easily work out why I’m not going to buy into your post. We live in a society which – despite many improvements – remains absolutely rancid with bigotry of all kinds. And I have no interest in making peace and finding common ground with bigotry. If the people uttering that bigotry want to make peace and find common ground with me, then fine, they know what to do.

    However I never seem to see that argument made the other way. I never see someone telling Melanie Phillips or Nigel Farage that if they want to make rational debate, social harmony and consensus with the rest of society they should rethink their vocabulary and style of argument.

    Or perhaps, more accurately, I do see that, but I only ever see it from the left. In other words, when we do it, we meet precisely the accusations that you are throwing at me now.

  325. Carnation says

    @ Anyone interested

    I think that the problem with the GJGangers, Marduk’s and even Adiabats of this world is that they realise Nigel Farage and Melanie Phillips (and co) are essentially crude demagogues who tailor their message for the generally unthinking and those with very limited critical thinking skills. The GJ’s et al of this world feel a bit adrift. They know that being an admirer of Farage or Phillips is essentially an admission of being fairly gullible, but they don’t feel at home with Owen Jones either.

    So, they’re a bit cut adrift. Some will claim a left-wing position and claim that “identity politics” is poisoning left-wing politics (hello Marduk). They might claim liberalism (or “classic liberalism” if they’re disgruntled former Google employees), but are very selective in their interpretation of what it means.

    Melanie Phillips, and her more extreme cousin Katie Hopkins are miserable people who manipulate miserable people.

    A common them with the GJ’s on this thread is hostility to a largely imaginary and comparatively powerless group of people. This, interestingly, is where they have common ground with MRAs – ascribing vast power to a group of people and ideas and identifying themselves as the enlightened who are fighting against it.

    James O’Brien did a fantastic show on Brexit and how support for Brexit was basically psychological – it wasn’t based on facts, it was based on emotions. I think that opponents of what they construe as identity-politics (or political correctness as it was known before) are basically the same. They feel aggrieved. They object to being described as privileged when they don’t consider themselves privileged and lack the imagination to understand that privilege is relative.

    That, I think, is what this all boils down to. Unhappy people railing against people they feel inferior to.

  326. Ally Fogg says

    Nope WineEM you are wrong yet again.

    You are mixing up two different bits of legislation. The 2003 Communications Act says

    127. – (1) A person is guilty of an offence if he-

    sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or
    causes any such message or matter to be so sent.
    (2) A person is guilty of an offence if, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, he-
    – sends by means of a public electronic communications network, a message that he knows to be false,
    – causes such a message to be sent; or
    – persistently makes use of a public electronic communications network.

    So the ‘annoyance, inconvenience’ etc is covering (in effect) libel and harassment on electronic networks.

    It is still not a crime to be as vulgar, rude or even racist as you like.

    But since you seem so convinced this is a terrible law – why don’t you post some links to some of the people convicted in terrible miscarriages of justice under this act?

  327. Adiabat says

    Ally (333):

    Like, for instance, only 19% of Google’s technical staff being women and 81% men. That’s a pretty spectacular disparity, don’t you think?

    No, for reasons above in this thread that you haven’t addressed. It’s completely congruent with what we’d expect from the proportions in the talent pool. This has all been dealt with, so I don’t know why you’ve pushed the reset button and making the same discredited arguments again.

    A genuine disparity would be having a talent pool of 19% women yet your workforce has a much lower or greater proportion of women. What you support is actually increasing this disparity.

    No it doesn’t, it just means that the discrimination at Google matches and is no better than the discrimination elsewhere in society.

    Are you seriously trying to claim that all the ‘complex and multifaceted’ discrimination at every stage of someone’s life just happens to result in the same proportions of interest? Would you not expect some fluctuation as they pass through the various stages of schooling, college, and workplace and encounter different forms and magnitudes of this ‘complex and multifaceted’ discrimination?

    This is sounding like it’s less ‘complex and multifaceted’ and more ‘bullshitting as you go’.

    What disparity is being resolved by adopting policies aiming to increase the proportion of female employees above and beyond the proportion of CS graduates?

    I think it is called trying to be part of the solution not part of the problem.

    Wtf. There’s no “problem” with a company hiring in proportion to the available talent pool. Nor is it a “solution” to increase the proportion of female employees above and beyond the proportion of CS graduates. Hiring women in proportions that are in excess of the talent pool is actually an indication of sexist and discriminatory practices.

    Well that single experiment doesn’t. Hundreds of others do.

    I doubt that. I’ve read enough from these activist fields to suspect the majority don’t prove what you claim they do. Low standards, poorly designed experiments and wild, unsubstantiated conclusions from limited data are the norm. But if you feel you’re beliefs are really supported by solid science please cite.

    Have you seriously never read a feminist despair that their daughter wanted a Barbie, despite their best efforts to steer them away from them since they were born?

    Of course I have and all this shows is that the wider social pressures on children can more than outweigh the influence of their parents or any one adult.

    So parents giving babies certain toys do affect the children’s interests in a significant way, according to as yet unnamed “hundreds of studies”, except when they don’t then it’s “the wider social pressures”? Sounds like you’ve found yourself a nice unfalsifiable theory to believe in.

    If you ever find any real science supporting your beliefs let me know.

    (334):

    we have had Nazis & white supremacists marching with swastikas

    All 12 of them.

    Just we’ve had his government propose abolishing DACA to deport hundreds of thousands of children.

    And this is racist because…?

    Again, you’ve forgotten what racism actually is.

    And the racists you think are the most influential and numerous and are really worried about are some students poking fun at white men on Twitter?

    Except that their racism is learnt from their professors and university courses pushing nonsense. Then things like Evergreen happen supported by those with power.

    Of course, I’m not just referring to students on twitter being racist; that’s your strawman. I’m also referring to those who push for and defend sexist hiring practices such as giving extra interviews based on sex, and also those who pushed for and defend the law allowing companies to practice sexist discrimination when they have “two identical applicants”. It’s still sexist discrimination to decide on an applicant based on their sex, whether you’re okay with that sexism or not.

    No-one, ever, should lose out on a job because of their sex. I don’t care about your social engineering.

    345:

    And if this were the case, I think it would be fair to describe it not as discrimination, but as a legitimate response to discrimination.

    No, it’s sexist discrimination; they would be treating applicants differently based solely on their sex.

    As I said, those who use identity politics are among the most racist and sexist people in society today, especially in terms of numbers and influence. They seem to include many journalists at various outlets, many tech CEO’s, and a fair number of MP’s who have all convinced themselves that they aren’t sexist or racist on spurious grounds, using dodgy studies and reasoning, like the old proponents of early 20th Century Scientific Racism.

  328. Ally Fogg says

    “Taught his dog to salute as a prank”

    I’m sorry Adiabat, but you seem to have somehow misspelt

    “Taught his dog to salute when he said the words “gas the Jews” and then posted the video on Facebook”

    Let me stand up and say proudly that yes, I am exceedingly relaxed about people being convicted of a hate crime for posting videos saying “GAS THE JEWS” whether or not they consider it funny to do so.

    Is that the best example you’ve got?

  329. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat [352]

    Most of that is just bollocks and I can’t be arsed anymore, but

    “No-one, ever, should lose out on a job because of their sex.”

    Yes, well done.

    Welcome to the very beginning of this conversation.

  330. WineEM says

    @350 Ok, right so it was the @2003 Communications Act that we discussed on Twitter, which overlaps with the 1988 MCA in terms of its provisions, but does not make direct reference to it. Fine, but the point still stands: you were and are aware that the reason for something to be a crime can merely be that it is perceived to be (by a recipient or somebody else on their behalf), to be ‘grossly offensive’. That is a pretty elastic definition, and I don’t know why should be necessary to make reference to legal precedent, when we’re now in this brave new world whereby Alison Saunders is encouraging specific minorities to find messages which are ‘unfriendly’ or ‘annoying’ to be grossly offensive, and worthy of reporting to the police.

  331. Ally Fogg says

    this brave new world whereby Alison Saunders is encouraging specific minorities to find messages which are ‘unfriendly’ or ‘annoying’ to be grossly offensive, and worthy of reporting to the police.

    OK, that really is the final straw, I cannot have a grown up conversation with someone who is just making stuff up as they go along.

    Consider me out.

  332. WineEM says

    Oh right, I’m making it up now, am I?

    William Collins – always pretty thorough on these things – quotes directly from the relevant CPS leaflet in his piece:

    http://thebackbencher.co.uk/comment-how-the-new-definition-of-online-hate-crime-marks-a-slippery-slope-to-totalitarianism/

    “Remember, if the words or behaviour make you feel bad, upset, annoyed or insulted and target something personal such as disability, ethnicity, gender identity, nationality, race, religion or sexual orientation, then you can report it to the police.”

    In other words, the CPS are making it perfectly clear that they consider such matters sufficiently offensive enough (i.e. a matter of such gross offense) to be relevant to this law.

    So there we go. I await your apology, Ally. Thanks 🙂

  333. Ally Fogg says

    I’m struggling to see the word “unfriendly” anywhere in that leaflet, WineEM.

    You wouldn’t have, you know, what’s the phrase, made that up now would you?

  334. Ally Fogg says

    In fact, I can see where you’ve got it from. Not from the CPS leaflet In the OTHER FUCKING SECTION OF COLLINS BLOG – the one with a definition of ‘hostility’ it explains what it means by hostility IN OTHER WORDS EXACTLY WHAT I FUCKING TOLD YOU ABOUT A HUNDRED POSTS AGO.

    Also struggling to see anything in that leaflet that is “encouraging specific minorities.”

    Probably because YOU FUCKING MADE THAT UP TOO.

    What it is in the link is a perfectly reasonable leaflet describing what is hate crime, which includes the section ‘How to report a hate crime” contains the words you have quoted out of context.

    “You can also report it through an alternative agency or the True Vision website, but if you feel in immediate danger you should always call the police. Make sure you say you are reporting it as a hate incident and let them know if you think you were targeted for more than one reason. Remember, if the words or behaviour make you feel bad, upset, annoyed or insulted and target something personal such as disability, ethnicity, gender identity, nationality, race, religion or sexual orientation, then you can report it to the police.”

    But basically this is just a polite version of what I said to you IN FUCKING COMMENT 282

    However, she has used her position to tell the nation when they are likely to prosecute and when they are not. She is saying that if you call someone a cunt because they’re a cunt, they’re not particularly interested. However if you call someone a cunt because they are black or gay or whatever then the CPS considers that to be more serious and they are therefore more likely to prosecute you.

  335. StillGjengnger says

    @Ally 345

    And if this were the case, I think it would be fair to describe it not as discrimination, but as a legitimate response to [whatever].

    I would agree with this post, I think. Which is why I was careful to ignore the question of interviews completely in my post, and stuck to the offering of female-specific opportunities like conferences and mentoring, and explicit pressure on managers for hiring more women.
    If you want to rebut me, couldn’t you hit on something that I actually said?

    @Ally 346
    This may serve to excuse you, but it matters little for the conclusions. For general debate it makes no difference what ‘discrimination’ means in organisational theory, or left-wing group-speak, just like it does not matter for political debate in the USA whether the word ‘cunt’ is offensive in Glasgow. The point that needs to be discussed is whether any gender difference, or this particular gender difference, is reasonable and something you can live with, or immoral, unacceptable, and in need of redress. And describing the phenomenon as some kind of ‘discrimination’ still has the primary effect of prejudging the outcome. The net effect of your word-use is to establish, without saying it outright, that all such differences are wrong and need redressing, and that anybody who disagrees is by definition wrong. And if you want to discuss, or convince, rather than impose your power, that wording defeats the purpose.

    @Ally 348

    For starters, everyone on every side of politics believes themselves to be right & everyone else to be ‘bad’ or ‘wrong.’

    That is not true. It is perfectly possible to disagree without thinking that the person on the other side is a bad person. I call myself as an example. I do not think that even Munroe Bergdorf is necessarily a bad person, or even that her views are necessarily wrong, in the abstract. If you happen to be black it is perfectly reasonable if you want to live in a country with a black culture, revering black (or at least inclusive) heroes, and looking with horror and shame at any colonialists from the past, and any benefits you have inherited from them. I just think it is unreasonable to expect the white majority to give in to her demands, and ridiculous for any white Uncle Toms to back them. Bismarck said, of Austria, “They were no more wrong to resist our demands than we were to make them in the first place.” But he still went to war.
    There are other reasons to hold (or pretend to hold) that your opponents are decent people with reasons that are worth respecting, if not giving in to. It keeps open a dialogue with a chance of compromise, and avoids descending into a politics of zero-sum competition, extreme polarisation, and ideological war. And it keeps the possibility of trying to convince some of your opponents to change their ways. I know that one from the other side. Once it is your sincere conviction that only a fool or a crook could vote for Berlusconi, it is effectively impossible to come up with any argument that could convince his voters to switch sides.

    all I can hear is “I want the liberty to be racist or sexist or homophobic without the discomfort and inconvenience of being called racist or sexist or homophobic.”

    Funnily enough that is probably correct, according to your word definitions. According to mine it would be “I want to be able to express my sincere, common, and fairly reasonable opinions, without being insulted, daemonised, or risk being fired for it”.

    I have no interest in making peace and finding common ground with bigotry. If the people uttering that bigotry want to make peace and find common ground with me, then fine, they know what to do.

    Your clarity and honesty are appreciated, as always. I am, by your standards, a bigot, and so you have no interest in making peace with me, finding common ground with me, or generally giving me the time of day, until such a time as I renounce my heresy and join you in the ranks of the just. I was reaching similar conclusions from the Damore debate, but it is good to see it confirmed in black and white. I had hoped for better from you, to be honest, but you certainly have every right to take that stance.
    It does feel a little weird; I have always insisted on rational debate, the search for compromise and consensus in society, and now I find myself with the deliberately obnoxious internet trolls of reddit, and the dubious members of various US militias as the only people likely to even listen to my views. I have little in common with people like that, but I have to accept their help (though I still draw the line at nazis). I cannot help but notice that the only victory for my side in the Damore affairt was due to the internet trolls; Google had planned a great public lovefest, where they would have celebrated their own self-righteousness, their firm belief in the ideology of their management, and their firing of the heretic Damore, but they had to abandon it because they were afraid that anyone who stuck her head above the parapet would be hounded off the internet by the trolls. For a company that likes to fire ideological dissenters that is a very healthy fear.
    I guess the one advantage I gain is that I have no obligation to care for others any more than they care for me. It is not like I am going to start harassing and sending out rape threats myself. That kind of thing is really not my style, and, besides, when did I ever do anything useful anyway, beyond writing long posts on other people’s blogs? But the trolls share some of my views, they are harassing to promote them, and I refuse to condemn them unequivocably. I am happy to accept that this gives me a share of moral responsibility for some of their actions.

    The only thing left to say is that whatever you are trying to achieve, Ally, I sincerely hope that you will fail. And if you ever start getting death threats in the line of political activism, you should not look to me for sympathy. After all this is war, gender war. And anyway, you would not really expect to have the liberty of bullying, offending, and excluding people without the discomfort and inconvenience of people hitting back, would you?

  336. Ally Fogg says

    Gjen

    Which is why I was careful to ignore the question of interviews completely in my post, and stuck to the offering of female-specific opportunities like conferences and mentoring, and explicit pressure on managers for hiring more women.
    If you want to rebut me, couldn’t you hit on something that I actually said?

    Exactly same would apply to those examples. Policies like mentoring schemes or conference-going or whatever are not just plucked out of thin air, they emerge in response to specific problems.

    According to mine it would be “I want to be able to express my sincere, common, and fairly reasonable opinions, without being insulted, daemonised, or risk being fired for it”.

    I genuinely don’t think any of us really has that right or should have that expectation in a free society. Every time I express my opinion (however common or sincere it may be) about immigration and multiculturalism, about gender politics, about prison reform etc etc etc, I expect to be insulted for it and demonised for it. I am fully aware that I have some opinions about capitalism, society, sexuality and politics which would get me fired from a lot of jobs. I know that there are innumerable jobs I could not get tomorrow because employers would google me, read my Twitter & blogs & stuff, and decide they don’t want me working there. I accept that my words have consequences.

    Why don’t you?

    I am, by your standards, a bigot, and so you have no interest in making peace with me, finding common ground with me, or generally giving me the time of day, until such a time as I renounce my heresy and join you in the ranks of the just.

    Haha, given how much time of my days recently I have given to chatting to you here, that is pretty funny.

    C’mon mate this is shit. You have written thousands and thousands of words here, when have I ever felt the need to call you out for sexism or racism or homophobia or anything? I don’t think I ever have, once. I chat to you precisely because you are not a bigot.

    You’re being quite daft with this leap that because I won’t always shut up and allow racism or homophobia or whatever to pass unchallenged to saying “everyone must renounce their heresy and join the just”

    It’s just a pantomime caricature of what I – and others on my side – are saying here

  337. lucythoughts says

    #360 Gjenganger

    Well, this is some pretty disturbing stuff. Some of us have actually expended precious hours of our lives reading and digesting what you have to say on a range of issues, but if you feel it would have been more “useful” to have just fired off a rape threat or two then you should have said so before, it would have saved so much time. I don’t know what you’re looking for frankly, an internet connection doesn’t give us the power to change the world, if you’re lucky you might influence a few people to modify a few opinions a little bit. And in the process we’ve all been called names, we’ve all felt intimidated, it isn’t particularly pleasant. Meanwhile, apparently we are now in a world where using the word “discrimination” without a prior agreed definition is unequivocally bullying, but doxxing and harassing Google employees is a victory for “your side” if it has the side effect of making their company executives a little bit uncomfortable. Your side being the alt-right now apparently, because they really listen to you. Jesus Christ, I’m out.

  338. WineEM says

    @359 Oh here we go – I f*cking told you this, I f*cking told you that, blah di blah.

    Look, Ally, this is a concept you really need to get your head around: you don’t personally, no matter how high and mighty you may be, get to define the law from on high, and lay it forth in tablets of stone. Rather, a lot of it is open to interpretation (by lawyers, and particularly in this instance the CPS and the police) based upon the statute.

    And one thing that we can see quite clearly here in this instance is that the Communications Bill and the Malicious Communications Act do not, by any means, exclude the possibility of trivial and minor incidents being defined as ‘crimes’. You know this perfectly well.

    What you’ve done, here, is to try to define things on your own terms, by giving examples of specific, really egregious instances that no civilised person would deny should be dealt with by the law. But you can also see perfectly easily that there are other combinations of words and communications that would match your definition of ‘crime’ and ‘hate crime’, yet it’s highly questionable as to whether they should be handled by the police as serious ‘hate incidents.’

    Using “P*ki P**f” and “Jewish C*nt” are clearly grave racial assaults, but there are so many other permutations, which involve combining some minor communications law infraction with some allusion to someone’s ‘protected characteristic’, which will fit your definition of hate crime as well.

    And honestly, if you think the paragraph you’ve quoted in 359 is what passes for balanced, sensible guidance, then I can only think that you’ve been so deeply indoctrinated in liberal snowflake culture, that you’ve lost all powers of judgement.

    Really, if words make you feel ‘upset’ or ‘annoyed’ with some allusion to your protected characterstic (like a specific person’s potentially daft religious beliefs, for example) this is inevitably worth reporting to the police as a ‘hate incident’? Honestly, Ally, I mean holy f*cking cow.

  339. WineEM says

    (Tee, hee…. don’t worry, I feel that Ally’s blood pressure will remain nice and low upon reading that last post). 🙂

  340. Ally Fogg says

    WineEM

    “Oh here we go – I f*cking told you this, I f*cking told you that, blah di blah.”

    Yes I fucking told you you were fucking making stuff up again and again and you fucking responded by MAKING MORE FUCKING STUFF UP.

    Are you surprised I am being cross with you?

    Look, Ally, this is a concept you really need to get your head around: you don’t personally, no matter how high and mighty you may be, get to define the law from on high, and lay it forth in tablets of stone. Rather, a lot of it is open to interpretation (by lawyers, and particularly in this instance the CPS and the police) based upon the statute.

    Holy fucking shit dude, do you know what the CPS is there to do?

    Like, what its actual job is?

    The CPS’s job is (in part) to interpret statute and inform the public where and when they are likely to be arrested and charged and when they are not.

    I have, in painstaking detail and with frankly tedious repetition, explained to you again and again what it is the CPS have said about online hate crimes and when people are likely to be arrested and charged and when they are not.

    This is exactly what I have been doing, throughout, explaining to you why your paranoid fantasies about the PC thought police arresting you for being right wing are exactly that, paranoid fantasies.

    And you come back with this ignorant, clueless bollocks about me defining statute?

    Just listen to yourself. You’re drowning in your own paranoia and can’t even see it.

    And one thing that we can see quite clearly here in this instance is that the Communications Bill and the Malicious Communications Act do not, by any means, exclude the possibility of trivial and minor incidents being defined as ‘crimes’. You know this perfectly well.

    WHICH IS WHY WE HAVE A FUCKING CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE!!!!!

    WHICH IS WHY THE FUCKING CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE MAKES JUDGEMENTS EVERY SINGLE DAY ABOUT WHICH OFFENCES ARE WORTHY OF PROSECUTION AND WHICH ARE TOO TRIVIAL TO WORRY ABOUT!!!!

    WHICH IS WHY WE STARTED HAVING THIS FUCKING CONVERSATION IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!

    Really, this stuff is not complicated, you are perfectly capable of wrapping your braincells around it if you will only give it a try. Then I might be able to stop shouting at you.

  341. Adiabat says

    Ally (353):

    Let me stand up and say proudly that yes, I am exceedingly relaxed about people being convicted of a hate crime for posting videos saying “GAS THE JEWS” whether or not they consider it funny to do so.

    Then you’ve lost all sense of reason and proportion. The whole point of the prank if that teaching the dog to do this would “ruin the dog” for his girlfriend. If anyone wanted to read any political message into it, it’s a criticism of Nazism.

    You’ve shown that WineEM is completely correct in his interpretation of your position.

    (354):

    Most of that is just bollocks

    Most of what you say is bollocks. I’ve at least provided evidence and arguments, while all you’ve done throughout this thread is assert that you are right and everyone else is wrong.

    The funniest bit for me might be when you railed about how awful Sargon is while thinking he’s American, showing everyone that you haven’t the faintest clue what you’re talking about. But oh boy, do you feel strongly about it!