BethAnn McLaughlin is now famous, in a bad way

Once upon a time, when I first heard about BethAnn McLaughlin, I posted approvingly about her. She was a founder of #MeTooSTEM, and she was struggling to get tenure at Vanderbilt, but it was held up by “allegations that she had posted anonymous, derogatory tweets about colleagues” — those accusations were made by someone being investigated for sexual harassment. It seemed like she was fighting a righteous battle.

Later it turns out that McLaughlin abused her positions as leader of #MeTooSTEM to bully and harass. Large numbers of people resigned rather than work with her.

I still followed her on Twitter, but with reservations. There was something askew there.

Then, recently, one surge of news on that medium was the death from COVID-19 of @sciencing_bi, a Hopi bisexual scientist. Something seemed off about it, though, in part because McLaughlin was promoting the story hard, and in larger part because it was drama entirely on Twitter — there were no corroborating news stories, no obits, no press releases from @sciencing_bi’s university. It felt like a bubble floating entirely in the virtual world of the Twitterverse, which was odd, given that this was the kind of tragedy that would at least have students begging local papers to tell the story.

Now the bubble has popped. @Sciencing_Bi has been revealed to be a sockpuppet of BethAnn McLaughlin.

As the questions swirled, the account settings were switched to private. Then late on Sunday, Twitter suspended both McLaughlin’s and the @Sciencing_Bi accounts.

“We’re aware of this activity and have suspended these accounts for violating our spam and platform manipulation policies,” a Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News by email. The company declined to comment on whether it had any forensic evidence linking the two accounts to the same device or person.

A spokesperson from ASU told BuzzFeed News they had no record of any faculty matching @Sciencing_Bi’s description. And other parts of @Sciencing_Bi’s accounts did not match up: The university closed its campus in March, switching to online instruction, and did not implement salary cuts.

It was truly a sockpuppet, in the traditional sense of the term — @Sciencing_Bi was created to support McLaughlin, and donations sent to @Sciencing_Bi to assist in their struggle with chronic disease went to…McLaughlin.

The @Sciencing_Bi account was created in October 2016 and frequently mentioned McLaughlin. Over the past couple of years, with McLaughlin facing mounting criticism after MeTooSTEM volunteers left the organization complaining of mistreatment and a lack of transparency, @Sciencing_Bi had supported McLaughlin in these disputes.

Recall that one of the accusations that halted McLaughlin’s progress towards tenure at Vanderbilt was that she had posted anonymous accusations against other faculty. That begins to fit her standard MO now, as someone who takes advantage of anonymous online narratives to build an imaginary claque. Worst of all, though, she did deep harm to real causes while flailing about for attention.

As @Sciencing_Bi’s narrative seemed to fall apart, scientists reacted with outrage that someone would fabricate a persona who was a COVID-19 patient, an Indigenous person, and a victim of sexual harassment.

“This faking being Native has a long history of being tied to the actual theft of resources and land,” Kim TallBear of the University of Alberta in Canada, who studies the engagement of Indigenous people with science and technology, told BuzzFeed News. “The fact that this woman thought she could get away with this tells you how little she understands about the actual state of affairs for Native people in the United States.”

“I am disgusted that anyone would take advantage of persistent sexism, racism, homophobia, the genocide of Indigenous peoples, and COVID fears for their own personal gain,” Jacquelyn Gill, a paleoecologist at the University of Maine, told BuzzFeed News. “This is a person that did harm to very real movements and people.”

The terrible thing is that BethAnn McLaughlin will be back, under a new pseudonym, trying to recover the attention she formerly held while poisoning the discourse with lies yet again. These people always creep back. It’s what they do.

But look! Right now she’s in Science, and Heavy, and The Daily Beast! That counts for something, I guess. McLaughlin has gained notoriety at the expense of social justice.

“My real concern, though,” Gill added, “is that someone leveraged racism, sexism, homophobia, and COVID fears for their own personal gain. Any time someone fakes a marginalized identity, it provides fuel for people who don’t want social justice movements to succeed.”

Matt Taibbi and the disappointing lack of cultural awareness

Matt Taibbi used to be one of my favorite writers, but then I learned about his ugly misogyny (which he unconvincingly claimed was made up), and I was never able to look at his work in the same way. So I cancelled him. By which I mean I stopped reading him. Apparently he has sensed the declining number of eyeballs gazing at his writing, and the fading number of tongues wagging his praises, because he is mad about it, and I had to read something new of his. I am disappointed even more.

It’s the usual spittle-flecked screed we usually see from disgruntled right-wingers, with but one message: the Left is just as bad as the Right! They’re all prudish, finger-wagging authoritarians at heart, but the Lefties are just the worst! We can’t even discuss how stupid the Left is, he says as he writes about how stupid the Left is, because they’ll descend on us with great force and crush us!

Doing so would have meant opening the floodgates on a story most everyone in media sees but no one is allowed to comment upon: that the political right and left in America have traded villainous cultural pathologies. Things we once despised about the right have been amplified a thousand-fold on the flip.

That he can claim this in the era of Trump, when badgeless cops in unmarked cars are grabbing civilians off the street, when cops are maiming citizens with rubber bullets and truncheons and pepper guns, when our president openly considers not respecting the outcome of the next election, is weird and dumb. The old Taibbi had sharp perceptions; this one seems blinded with resentment that his good ol’ boy rape fictions have damaged his reputation.

The centerpiece of his gripe with the Left is a tweet by Byron York (yeah, NRO York, far right apologist for every one of Trump’s excesses), which mocked the National Museum of African American History and Culture for producing this graphic:

Personally, I think it aimed at a bad target. It’s not about “whiteness” itself, it’s about the assumptions of the dominant culture of modern America, and as an exercise at looking at ourselves, it’s useful and insightful. Of course, it doesn’t matter anymore, because the right-wingers were so outraged and expressed the same attitude as Taibbi and the graphic was “cancelled”. Oops. They keep self-owning themselves.

Take the Smithsonian story. The museum became the latest institution to attempt to combat racism by pledging itself to “antiracism,” a quack sub-theology that in a self-clowning trick straight out of Catch-22 seeks to raise awareness about ignorant race stereotypes by reviving and amplifying them.

Oh? And how will you propose combating racism, by pretending it doesn’t exist?

It’s a shame, because look at what it highlights. This is not examining the obvious or necessary components of a successful culture, it’s pointing out unconsidered values we hold and asking us to think about them. Consider alternatives.

For instance, “rugged individualism”. You can’t doubt that this is an implicit value in American culture, and in fact many of the comments responding to York are aghast that we could even question this. But what if an alternative were “cooperative communities and mutual aid”? That would be a better solution to America’s problems, but no, we’re supposed to love the cowboy myth.

Or “family structure”, the heterosexual pairing of a dominant male breadwinner with a subservient female marital aid and housecleaner. Why is that assumed by the American culture at large to be an ideal? It has oppressed more than half our population for centuries and has done us nothing but harm.

Or take “emphasis on the scientific method”. I love the scientific method, I’m a scientist, I apply it all the time. But linear thinking often fails in complex issues with multiple contributing causes, and people are emotional animals who rarely make purely objective decisions. When you limit yourself to only one path to a solution, you’re circumscribing the range of possibilities to such a terrible degree you’re going to miss equally good or better alternatives.

“History”: oh sweet jesus, spare me the monstrous chimera of the “judeo-christian tradition”. All they have in common is the Old Testament, which is a compendium of barbarities and superstitious evils. There are more than 7 billion people on the planet, and they are making a legitimate complaint that our version of “history” is a biased collection of rationalizations for the oppression of the majority by a minority.

Or the “Protestant work ethic”, which is simply an awful way to indoctrinate labor to serve the needs of their bosses. How about work/life balance? How about about recognizing that “hard work” is usually unrewarded with anything but the bare minimum of necessities (sometimes not even that), and that the true path to riches is theft and inheritance, under our current system?

None of these are actually “white” values, although they do serve to maintain the status quo and benefit the majority, who are mostly white, and it’s unsurprising that a museum of African American history and culture would find it worthwhile to point out our biases…and for an angry mob of far-right conservative assholes to squash it. Yet somehow Taibbi finds the African American side to be the one that must be deplored and chastised, while the lunatic right-winger is his ally, and thinks this is a great example of the Left being more evil than the Right? Does he even realize that the graphic is intended to demonstrate the unthinking, implicit assumptions of the American public? This is Anthropology 101 stuff, nothing radical, it doesn’t even make any judgments on whether these are good or bad values, it simply describes the traditions of American culture. People commenting on it are all saying “great values!” and “this is the way to succeed!”, etc., etc., not even aware that they are all confirming the accuracy of the graphic.

But no, to Taibbi this just confirms that the Left (it’s not even written from a leftist perspective!) has gone insane and is worse than the Right. Apparently, questioning your values is not something anyone is supposed to do in Matt Taibbi’s America.

OK, Taibbi, this is going to hurt you a lot worse than it will me — I shall resume the cruel torture of not reading your work any more.

There goes the neighborhood

The white supremacists have opened a church just down the road from me, about 40 minutes down the road, between Benson and Willmar. It’s another religion, Asatru. Here’s how the SPLC describes it:

A neo-Pagan religion drawing on images of fiercely proud, boar-hunting Norsemen and their white-skinned Aryan womenfolk is increasingly taking root among Skinheads, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists across the nation.

Asatrú leaders have opened prison ministries in at least five states recently, and their many jailed followers are heavily white supremacist.

Here’s how they describe themselves:

The Asatru Folk Assembly was formed by Stephen McNallen in 1994 as a successor to the Asatru Free Assembly, which dominated the Asatru scene in the United States from its inception in the 1970’s until its dissolution in 1986. Since it’s inception, the AFA has been the premier force in the development and practice of Asatru. The AFA is committed, today and everyday, to building strong and lasting communities and families, embracing traditional values and venerating our holy Gods.

In the late 1960’s, Stephen McNallen embraced the Gods and founded the modern religion of Asatru. In short order, Alsherjargothi McNallen started the Viking Brotherhood which quickly evolved into the Asatru Free Assembly. The Asatru Free Assembly began publishing “the Runestone” magazine as well as starting the first Asatru gatherings called Allthings.

Asatru grew and developed throughout the 1970’s and 80’s. In 1986 the Asatru Free Assembly was disbanded. In the late 1980’s and early 90’s the original values and aims of Asatru were growingly subverted by the decay of cultural marxism [emphasis added] Alsherjargothi McNallen knew he must once again take up the banner and save what his vision and initiative had put into motion. The Asatru Folk Assembly was founded from that day forward to be a solid spiritual force for our Ethnic European Folk and our Ethnic European Faith.

That “cultural marxism” remark is a dead giveaway — it’s a racist, right-wing organization.

For completeness sake, here’s a link to their website. I don’t recommend reading it, because it was designed to kill you. ALL-CAPS white text on a background photograph of light green grass and grey-white stones? OMG, that alone convinced me to embrace cultural marxism. My ancestral forebears apparently had no design sense at all.

It was never about “state’s rights”

It’s always been about putting down those uppity Negroes and their race traitor friends. Just come out and admit it, Republicans.

As top federal law enforcement officials arrived in Oregon on Thursday, Gov. Kate Brown accused President Donald Trump of deploying federal officers to Portland to crack down on protesters as a way to boost his flailing reelection prospects.

In an uncharacteristically harsh statement, Brown responded to Trump’s deployment of federal officers to quell Portland’s protests against police violence. Those officers sent one demonstrator to the hospital July 11 with a munition to the face.

“This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety,” Brown said. “The president is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government.”

Secret police roaming around in unmarked cars, shooting unarmed protesters in the face, with the state propaganda organ, Fox News, cheering them on. All those dystopian novels and video games sure failed to capture the flavor of the real thing, didn’t they?

But of course Lawrence Krauss has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal

Krauss & friends

He was “cancelled”, so he’s got to complain about all the “cancelling” going on, only, you know, it’s not just asshats like him being served their comeuppance, it’s The Ideological Corruption of Science. It’s not simply scientists being handsy or racist, this is an ASSAULT ON THE VERY FABRIC OF SCIENCE. Oh, fuck you.

In the 1980s, when I was a young professor of physics and astronomy at Yale, deconstructionism was in vogue in the English Department. We in the science departments would scoff at the lack of objective intellectual standards in the humanities, epitomized by a movement that argued against the existence of objective truth itself, arguing that all such claims to knowledge were tainted by ideological biases due to race, sex or economic dominance.

There’s the root of the problem right there, that he would scoff at other disciplines, and that he had this hierarchical notion of the value of knowledge that placed physics, no doubt, at the pinnacle of rigor and true science. Meanwhile, scholars in ‘lesser’ disciplines like sociology and psychology were doing real work to expose why, for instance, physics was so oppressive to women and why biology was infested with racists. One of the reasons is that so-called hard scientists have tended to dismiss the work of scholars outside their narrow domain.

Yeah, I was a grad student and post-doc in biology in the 80s. I saw that attitude, too, only I could see through it to the ignorant elitism behind it. Why can’t Krauss?

It could never happen in the hard sciences, except perhaps under dictatorships, such as the Nazi condemnation of “Jewish” science, or the Stalinist campaign against genetics led by Trofim Lysenko, in which literally thousands of mainstream geneticists were dismissed in the effort to suppress any opposition to the prevailing political view of the state.

Oh, yes, there has never been any political or social or economic influence on the hard sciences — those grants were awarded in a frictionless universe, professorships earned in a perfect vacuum, promotions achieved by pure disciplined calculation. Do tell me more.

Or so we thought. In recent years, and especially since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, academic science leaders have adopted wholesale the language of dominance and oppression previously restricted to “cultural studies” journals to guide their disciplines, to censor dissenting views, to remove faculty from leadership positions if their research is claimed by opponents to support systemic oppression.

You mean science has finally started cleaning up the deadwood and kicking the exploiters and frauds to the curb? You do realize that policies of oppression have affected the make-up of science, don’t you, and that granting agencies have slowly, deliberately begun cracking down on institutions that don’t practice the necessary principles of equal opportunity, right?

Well, let’s look at some of the examples Dr Krauss uses to bolster his argument. It’s curious how he thoroughly downplays the bad ideas of these “victims” to pretend that this is an attack on the purity of science.

… At Michigan State University, one group used the strike to organize and coordinate a protest campaign against the vice president for research, physicist Stephen Hsu, whose crimes included doing research on computational genomics to study how human genetics might be related to cognitive ability—something that to the protesters smacked of eugenics. He was also accused of supporting psychology research at MSU on the statistics of police shootings that didn’t clearly support claims of racial bias. Within a week, the university president forced Mr. Hsu to resign.

Hsu was outright promoting eugenics. He was making extravagant claims about genetics, a subject in which he has no expertise, and about intelligence (ditto), to propose ideas that were flatly rejected by the American Society for Human Genetics. Of course he would be found out and his qualifications rightfully questioned! Also, he only resigned from his administrative position. He is still employed as a professor. Perhaps Krauss is envious?

… Shortly after Mr. Hsu resigned, the authors of the psychology study asked the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science to retract their paper—not because of flaws in their statistical analysis, but because of what they called the “misuse” of their article by journalists who argued that it countered the prevailing view that police forces are racist. They later amended the retraction request to claim, conveniently, that it “had nothing to do with political considerations, ‘mob’ pressure, threats to the authors, or distaste for the political views of people citing the work approvingly.” As a cosmologist, I can say that if we retracted all the papers in cosmology that we felt were misrepresented by journalists, there would hardly be any papers left.

Is it common for cosmology papers to be used to justify discriminatory policies and police violence?

Also, there are a lot of papers in cosmology that ought to be retracted, because they are bad and go far beyond what the evidence warrants.

Actual censorship is also occurring. A distinguished chemist in Canada argued in favor of merit-based science and against hiring practices that aim at equality of outcome if they result “in discrimination against the most meritorious candidates.” For that he was censured by his university provost, his published review article on research and education in organic synthesis was removed from the journal website, and two editors involved in accepting it were suspended.

Oh, right, Tomas Hudlicky, who wrote a paper so backward and regressive that a large number of the board members of the journal promptly resigned in protest. It’s so good of Lawrence Krauss to come along and second guess prominent experts in the field in question.

Hudlicky also was not fired.

An Italian scientist at the international laboratory CERN, home to the Large Hadron Collider, had his scheduled seminar on statistical imbalances between the sexes in physics canceled and his position at the laboratory revoked because he suggested that apparent inequities might not be directly due to sexism. A group of linguistics students initiated a public petition asking that the psychologist Steven Pinker be stripped of his position as a Linguistics Society of America Fellow for such offenses as tweeting a New York Times article they disapproved of.

Right, Alessandro Strumia — hey! Have you noticed that Krauss is careful to not mention the specifics, like the names, of these more egregious cases? Is he afraid we might look them up? Or remember what stinkers they are?

Strumia is one of those physicists who dismissed the concerns of women physicists and scoffed at the humanities, so maybe he and Krauss are sharing a moment of fellowship. He also cherry-picked his data and used bad statistics to bolster his claim that Cultural Marxism was corrupting academia with the womens.

Whenever science has been corrupted by falling prey to ideology, scientific progress suffers. This was the case in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union—and in the U.S. in the 19th century when racist views dominated biology, and during the McCarthy era, when prominent scientists like Robert Oppenheimer were ostracized for their political views. To stem the slide, scientific leaders, scientific societies and senior academic administrators must publicly stand up not only for free speech in science, but for quality, independent of political doctrine and divorced from the demands of political factions.

We live in a country where climate data is suppressed, epidemiology disregarded, and the government is wrecking education, yet Krauss wants to compare the people who demand rigorous application of knowledge from all disciplines, even those less privileged than physics, to Nazis and Commies.

I’m more worried about scientific elitism that thinks it is above criticism and finds joy in spitting on research work that might expose their own flaws.

Oh, and Larry — are you still mad about those people who questioned your association with convicted pedophile and all-around sleaze, Jeffrey Epstein? It’s amazing that prominent publications still accept op-eds from you.

Capitalism and sexism wrecks comic books now

I remember when comic books were synonymous with weekends at my grandmother’s, buying 10 for a dollar, swapping old comics with my cousins, picking up a paper sack full of tattered, coverless copies at the Goodwill store. It was all innocence and fun times. Maybe not so much now.

The month of June saw the comics industry rocked by successive waves of predatory conduct allegations, amid similar reckonings around sexual harassment in the affiliated worlds of video games, twitch streaming, tabletop games, professional wrestling, and professional illustration. Some of the allegations, as with superstar writer Warren Ellis, were new. Others brought renewed scrutiny to lingering problems like the allegations against Dark Horse editor Scott Allie and DC writer Scott Lobdell. Most of the stories came from marginalized creators who’d previously been silent for fear of being blacklisted. In June, that wall of silence cracked, and what showed beneath was red and raw and deeply, viscerally angry.

“A huge reason why abusive, predatory, and discriminatory practices go unchecked in the comics industry is this: the impetus is always put on the victims to come forward,” Maï wrote in an email to The Daily Beast. “Victims are expected to speak out at great personal cost—at risk of losing jobs and damaging their financial livelihood, at detriment to their mental health and threats to their personal safety… For every story you hear, there is also an unimaginable amount more that are not heard.” (Stewart did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.)

Maybe not so much when I was a kid, either.

The comics industry has long been synonymous with exploitation. The early comics publishers were wheeler-dealers and back-room grifters, with their hands in everything from the pulps to softcore pornography. They cut vague handshake deals, crushed attempts to collectively organize and built their industry almost entirely on “work for hire” contracts and freelance labor. The result is a history of dirty dealing that has, over time, been reduced to a litany of names, a Mount Rushmore of the fucked: DC’s mistreatment and neglect of Superman creators Siegel and Shuster; Jack Kirby’s struggle for his original artwork and equal credit for his work with Stan Lee; Alan Moore being screwed out of the rights for Watchmen; Steve Gerber’s long-running battle with Marvel over Howard the Duck.

The modern industry is almost entirely made up of freelancers: writers, artists, colorists and letterers. “Freelancers and people trying to break in are incredibly vulnerable,” writer Devin Grayson (Nightwing, Black Widow, Gotham Nights) told The Daily Beast, particularly when it comes to people working for companies centered around the comics direct market—DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Oni, and the like. That senior editors hold the power to hire and fire is true across most industries, she said. “But then add in factors like freelancers having zero job security, no health insurance, no access to HR departments or higher-ups, no union. If we’re talking mainstream superhero comics, [there are] essentially two large companies—so two chances, period—to get their foot in the door. What happens to you if you piss off just one person in one of those companies, much less voice your concerns in a wider arena?”

If it was so awful in the 50s and 60s, and it’s getting worse now, and they’re screwing over the labor, where is all the money going? Marvel is making bank right now with their movies, and none of that is benefiting the talent that brought them to where they are? It sounds like an industry taken over by amoral profiteers.

The history of genetics is too often a horror story

I had already known that the number of human chromosomes had been incorrectly reported as 48 (it’s actually 46), and that observers maintained that number for decades, seeing what they expected to see. I’ve used it as an example for years to tell students to clear their heads of preconceptions when making observations, trust what you see, and report your measurements as accurately as you can, because this tendency favoring confirmation bias can corrupt science surprisingly easily. It sounds like a relatively benign example: oops, early investigator makes a mistake counting chromosomes (I’ve done some chromosome work, it’s easy to do), and the initial observation gets perpetuated through the literature until superior techniques make the correct value obvious. Ha ha, don’t do that.

Now Dan Graur digs into the details of the mistake, and it turns out to be a goddamn horror story. There are more lessons here than I thought.

The guy who made the mistake was named Theophilus Painter, and he seems to have stumbled upwards throughout his career by being a terrible person.

The first horror: the specimens he used to make those initial chromosome counts were human testicles lopped off prisoners in an asylum. They were castrated for the crime of excessive masturbation. The methods discuss some grisly details I really didn’t need to know.

“The material upon which this study is based was obtained from three inmates of the Texas State Insane Asylum through the interest and cooperation of Dr. T. E. Cook, a physician at that institution. Two of these individuals were negroes and one was a young white man. In all three cases, the cause for the removal of the testes was excessive self abuse… The operation for the removal of the testes was made, in all three cases, under local anesthesia. An hour or two prior to the operation, the patients were given hypodermic injections of morphine in order to quiet them. This was followed by local injections of Novocain in the operating room. None of the patients exhibited any interest or excitement during the operation, nor did they show any signs of pain except when the vas deferens and the accompanying nerves were cut. One of the negroes went to sleep during the operation.”

Yikes. I guess mutilation of your patients was a routine practice in 1923. No big deal, Negroes don’t feel pain.

The second horror: as you might guess from the passage above, the whole affair was soaking in racism. Painter got the same erroneous chromosome count from all 3 of his victims, but always reported the count separately for his black and white subjects. There may also have been confirmation bias in Painter’s work, because more recent examination of his slides, which still exist, reveal that his methods were a cytological mess and it’s difficult to count chromosome numbers from them at all.

The third horror: Painter later got appointed to the presidency of the University of Texas because he was a reliably negligent creature who would happily turn a blind eye to blatantly discriminatory admission policies, and would allow segregation to continue.

Read Graur for all the details. I’m just dismayed that a point I’ve always used casually as an example of a simple error with long-term consequences is now going to have to be presented as a deeper point about bad science being used for evil. Oh, well, students should know how genetics can be misused for wicked purposes, and here’s yet another case.

So…this is “cancel culture”? I don’t see the problem.

An example: a man in a restaurant, unprovoked, starts spewing racist slurs at a family.

Jordan Chan, the woman who posted the video, told KION the incident happened as her family was celebrating her aunt’s birthday on the Fourth of July and that man was insulting and harassing her family with racist language, saying, “F— you Asians,” “Go back to whatever f—— Asian country you’re from” and “You don’t belong here.”

The video starts with the woman asking the man sitting one table over to repeat what he had just said to them. The man stares at the camera for a few seconds, then extends his middle finger and says, “This is what I say.”

The man then says, “Trump’s gonna f— you,” as he stood up to leave, followed by “You f—— need to leave! You f—— Asian piece of s—!” A server then immediately yells at him “No, you do not talk to our guests like that. Get out of here,” the waitress could be heard saying in the video.

He gets thrown out of the restaurant. Cancelled! Sounds good to me.

The man turns out to be Michael Lofthouse, CEO of a Silicon Valley tech company (why am I not surprised?). There seem to have been repercussions.

Multiple publications Tuesday identified the man in the video as Michael Lofthouse, CEO of San Francisco cloud computing firm Solid8. A message to the company asking for a statement has not been returned.

A message sent to an Instagram account apparently used by Lofthouse was not returned. In addition, his LinkedIn account appears to have been deleted and his Twitter account has been suspended.

Whoops. Consequences! I’m thinking that must a synonym for “cancelled”.

That was dramatic and obvious, but I think most “cancellations” work like this:

Sounds familiar, actually. I haven’t read any thing by Orson Scott Card in ages, and I won’t in the future, either. My reaction to JK Rowling is the same — nope, won’t read (or buy!) the books, won’t watch the movies, and actually, I just remembered that I might have one or two books on a crowded shelf that could use some lightening. Am I not allowed to throw away my copies of her books? Is consumption of JK Rowling media now mandatory? Am I now not allowed to say, “fuck you, lady”? Whose free speech is being compromised?

Perhaps you need to see an example of a good letter?

Some people seem to lack any understanding of what a good letter is all about — the editors at Harper’s, for instance, seem to be clueless. Let’s show them how it’s done.

Notice that it immediately explains what specific incident the letter is about: signs that say “Black Lives Matter” have been getting vandalized here in Morris. It explains why this issue is important. It asks for a specific action, a public declaration by city officials that such criminal destruction is wrong. It asks for continued discussion. This is how you do it.

This letter is written by a student here at UMM. The signatories of that other letter are right to be concerned about their reputations and prospects, because this current generation is going to blow them all away.

By the way, I have a “Black lives matter” sign in my yard that hasn’t been defaced at all, yet. It helps that I’m in the bubble of reasonableness of the university.