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Academic Freedom for Me But Not For Thee

In a posting titled “The Lie of the Liberal Arts Education,” Jeff Goldstein recounts at length an emailed plea from a former professor to remove his name from the About page list of those under whom Goldstein studied.  After a rather uncomfortable follow-up confrontation by telephone, Jeff discovered that this cartoon created and published on his blog by Darleen Click was the proximate cause of the controversy.

Obama Rapes Liberty Cartoon Darleen ClickWrites Jeff,

His position seems to be that allowing Darleen’s comic to stand — the President raping lady liberty “is not a political cartoon and you know it,” he told me — was sick and irresponsible, the abetting of a civil evil that is far worse than, say, drawing Bush as Hitler, or insinuating an American President manufactured a war and sent men and woman off to die so he could expand his portfolio.

[...]

Let me now say this: when [the professor] first wrote me, I was hurt. Now, I’m just angry. And indignant. This idea — coming from a fiction writer, a creative writing program director, and a university professor who instructs on creative endeavors — that a political cartoon or comic he found distasteful should have been removed by me as potentially incendiary and harmful, flies in the face of everything we have ever been taught about free expression, art, political speech, and the exchange of ideas (often heated) in the public square. It is the reverse of tolerance masquerading as a claim to the moral high ground.

It is an Orwellian world in which we live when f*****g novelists want to distance themselves from those who criticize the government. Were [the professor]’s disgust over the comic purely aesthetic, I could at least entertain his point. But that isn’t the case: instead, [the professor] objects to the content, and sees Darleen’s cartoon as the online equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded movie theater.

[...]

This is our modern academy, distilled to this singular objective correlative. And make no mistake: the university where [the professor] teaches is NOT on the far left, by university standards.

Now, I happen to find Click’s cartoon both amateurish and distasteful. Further, I disagree with its hamhanded message, both literally and philosophically.  (That is, while I voted against Obama and oppose his health care plan, the process by which he got it passed into law was legitimate. Further, I tend to be Burkean when it comes to matters of representative government, so the election of November 2008 is indeed all the mandate Obama needs until the election of November 2010.)

That said, I’m in full agreement with Jeff about university professors — much less professors of English — having this reaction to the expression of ideas.   Neither he nor Darleen Click are political leaders, who have some tangential responsibility to think about the impact of their words on their followers.  Rather, they’re public intellectuals applying their creative talents to expressing their frustrations as best they can.

It’s debatable whether blogs constitute “the modern academy.”  But it’s indisputable that it’s possible to live the “life of the mind” via blogging and I would argue that, in the main, Jeff is an outstanding case study.

Beyond that, professors rightly go to great lengths to protect academic freedom.  As outlined over the years by the American Association of University Professionals, it “comprises three elements: freedom of inquiry and research; freedom of teaching within the university or college; and freedom of extramural utterance and action.” So it’s bizarre, indeed, for an English professor to argue so passionately for the suppression of speech.

It would, frankly, never occur to me to contact a former student and, in a huff over some cartoon, demand that they remove my name from their biography page.  If I were, however, of a mind to criticize, I would engage the specific idea or utterance rather than try to hide our former relationship.  There is, after all, plenty of history of teachers engaging former students (and vice versa) in rigorous intellectual debate.  Indeed, it’s in the finest tradition of the academy.  Calls for removing offensive speech?  Not so much.

UPDATE: There appears to be some confusion among the commentariat.  I’m not charging the professor in question with “censorship;”  he is in no position to censor.  Rather, I’m arguing that professors, and perhaps particularly those in the humanities and political science, have an affirmative duty to defend speech.  Criticizing the content of the speech is not only fair game but sometimes approaches a duty.  But calls for its suppression violate the core ethic of the profession.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. sam says:

    @JJ

    “I’m in full agreement with Jeff about university professors — much less professors of English — having this reaction to the expression of ideas.”

    Yeah, well, but I don’t see the prof’s complaint and request as some infringement of Jeff’s — or anyone’s — freedom. The guy said, as I read it, the cartoon is offensive to me, so either you remove it or remove my name from your blog (lest someone think I endorse the views of the cartoonist, etc.). He didn’t say Jeff’s blog couldn’t publish it only that the blog shouldn’t publish it. I can’t see how is that some infringement of anyone’s freedom. He didn’t threaten legal action (which would bring the state in and thus would constitute infringement via intimidation, IMO.) The prof may have been acting like a jerk (I think he pretty much was), but I can’t hear any jackboots. Don’t people do this kind of thing all the time — seek to disassociate themselves from somenthing they believe distasteful and deleterious to their reputations? (Not quite apposite, but just ask Tiger Woods’s erstwhile sponsors.)

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  2. Rick DeMent says:

    Yeah I’m with Sam, this is not a case of anyone trying to censor academic freedom. This is not “Orwellian” it’s one persons opinion. While I agree that the professor has a right not to be associated with ides he finds distasteful, I disagree with the idea that the former student has an obligation to take it down for being “sick” or “distasteful”(despite the fact that the point of the cartoon is factually dishonest).

    If distasteful can never be a reason to limit free expression. If it was 90 % of everything should be banned.

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  3. Tano says:

    I don’t quite understand the objection here. Was the professor arguing that the government should be allowed to suppress publication of the cartoon?

    I don’t think so. Where is the free-speech violation? Seems to me that the professor:

    1) does not want his name associated, even in a tangential manner, with such crap. A perfectly respectable and understandable sentiment, and

    2) wishes that his former student had the same sensibilites and would have chosen not to publish the cartoon under his name. Sounds to me like the professor is trying to continue to mentor Goldstein by teaching him some standards of decency and they relate to this cartoon.

    Seriously, what is Goldstein’s core argument here – that anyone who functions as an editor of a publication is inherintly a censor – in an illegitimate manner? Is it an example of tyranny whenever an editor might reject a cartoon that a cartoonist has submitted? That it is somehow an infringement of freedom for a friend and mentor to tell the editor that he should have rejected some obnoxious and mediocre work?

    Goldstein has never impressed me as much of an intellectual – a nasty self-absorbed jerk would be more like it. This article just drives it that point home more. He does not seem to take criticism very well – constructing some massive critique of the academy when confronted with a legitimate criticism. One can only imagine what he used to do if a prof ever gave him a B on some assignment.

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  4. kth says:

    Well here’s the text of that attempt to intimidate Jeff and his associates into silence:

    Jeff,

    Would you mind taking my name off your “about” page on Proteinwisdom? I’ve always liked you and your fiction, and your and [name redacted] impetus to make that conference happen, at that moment in time, did a great deal to speed this program along. I was also simply grateful to have you in the program when you came along, because you were—and are—a very smart and intellectual fiction writer, a rare commodity still, to this day. But I am more and more alarmed by the writings in this website of yours, and I do not want to be associated with it.

    Brian Kiteley

    I’m not seeing that any demands were made, nor consequences offered. There simply isn’t the slightest hint of an issue of academic freedom.

    James, if one of your ex-students started a porno site, and listed you on his ‘about’ page, you might be cool with that. But if you sent him a polite note asking him to take your name off his site, I can’t imagine that anyone would regard it as censorship.

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  5. Johanna says:

    I agree with Sam that the prof wasn’t trying to limit the cartoonist’s freedom of speech.

    I fully support the professor’s decision to distance himself from such an offensive, degrading, wrong-headed, misogynist, hyperbolic cartoon.

    Every President has passed legislation to the dismay of some portion of the general public. That doesn’t mean they’ve raped Liberty.

    I wanted Medicare for all. But I didn’t get my way. That doesn’t mean I’m going to shout “rape! I’ve been raped!” because I feel scorned by Prez. Obama.

    Where are the Bush = rapist cartoons when he passed controversial legislation?

    After all, he instigated wiretapping, found a convoluted way to allow torture, and killed millions of innocent Iraqis.

    I guess that makes George Bush Liberty’s abusive husband.

    The cartoonist isn’t making any sort of intelligent point. He’s just being offensive and reactionary. Props to the professor for having the moral fiber to remove himself from such uneducated discourse.

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  6. J.W. Hamner says:

    In academia, you name and publication record are pretty much everything, no? “Please take my name off of the manuscript” is not something commonly said, but it does happen when disagreements reach as certain point… and that’s not censorship is it? In addition Jeff Goldstein is fairly widely read, so it’s not like the guy has a Google alert for his former students so that he can fire off a cease and desist order whenever his name is mentioned.

    It’s understandable that Goldstein is upset, but he’s not being censored. With such harsh language and frequent use of aggressive imagery, you’d think he’d have a thicker skin.

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  7. William d'Inger says:

    Ha. Ha. I applaud Mr. Goldstein’s business acumen. He’s in a trade where getting noticed is a major component of success. Of the ???-thousand pundits who published stuff this week, he’s one of the few who got free advertisement here. In my book, that makes him a winner.

    In my lifetime, Muhammad Ali was the first person I knew who raised trash talk to a high art form and laughed all the way to the bank. We’ve come a long way since then.

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  8. John Burgess says:

    Sure, Goldstein is not being ‘censored’ in the legal sense of the term. He is, however, being pressured to do something, polite as the pressure may be.

    Goldstein (and Joyner) are commenting here on the thin skin of the professor who purports to defend freedom of expression, but in fact only when the expression agrees with his own, or at least his own sense of aesthetics and propriety. Let’s call it ‘Political Correctness’.

    It’s not just thin skin, though, it’s also antithetical to the concept of free expression in its Voltairian ‘…defend to the death your right to say it’ sense.

    Jeff, of course, is under no obligation to comply with the request. He certainly has the right to feel betrayed by his erstwhile teacher’s flaccid, if not out-and-out false, support of freedom of expression. Creative writing tends toward the ‘transgressive’; it comes with the territory. To be offended by it seems rather disingenuous when it comes from a proponent of the art.

    As for the professor’s fear of being ‘smeared’ by the spacial relationship of his name and the cartoon? Tough sh*t. If he gets burned by incompetent Google analysts who find that relationship meaningful, he might consider adding a segment on logic to his courses. He’d be doing the world a favor, if only preventing other such inanities from happening again.

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  9. Mr. Joyner, your argument makes no sense. The professor didn’t try to “suppress” Goldstein. He didn’t ask Goldstein to take down the cartoon or modify anything. He asked, very politely, not to be associated with Goldstein’s site, no doubt because the association embarrassed him. And if Goldstein were not an unmitigated whackjob, he would have respected the request and removed the professor’s name. It’s Goldstein who is being intolerant here.

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  10. pete says:

    Johanna, will you ever get over your BDS? Obama is doing the same thing Bush did to prosecute the war on terror. Give it a rest. Maybe your credibility rating will improve.

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  11. Steve Plunk says:

    Don’t all political cartoons use hamhanded messages? Hyperbole? Out and out false statements disguised as political insight? And hasn’t that method worked it’s way into various political comedy TV shows? Regardless of the colorful history of political cartoons I consider the mixing of comedy with a serious subject wasteful and often misleading.

    The professor should understand it’s a fact Goldstein studied under him and facts cannot be changed. The professor should also understand his control of students pretty much ends once they get that sheepskin. I know it’s tough to let go of that control but it’s going to happen whether he likes it or not.

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  12. J.W. Hamner says:

    Jeff, of course, is under no obligation to comply with the request. He certainly has the right to feel betrayed by his erstwhile teacher’s flaccid, if not out-and-out false, support of freedom of expression. Creative writing tends toward the ‘transgressive’; it comes with the territory. To be offended by it seems rather disingenuous when it comes from a proponent of the art.

    This is complete and utter nonsense. Goldstein is completely free to spew his bile. Someone can support freedom of expression while not wanting their name sullied by association with Jeff Goldstein’s writing. If Goldstein wants to express himself that way, then he should get used to some people being offended and not wanting anything to do with him. That’s their freedom of expression… it cuts both ways you know.

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  13. McGehee says:

    Cartoons that only express popular opinions don’t count for a whole lot.

    And Hamner, it’s not Kiteley’s freedom of expression to tell Goldstein to stop saying something — in this case the simple fact that Kiteley is one of four professors he studied under in fiction writing.

    It’s not censorship, but neither is it kosher, especially for a college professor.

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  14. kth says:

    But calls for its suppression violate the core ethic of the profession.

    Yeah, except the professor didn’t do this. He privately asked Goldstein to take his name off the site. Goldstein called him to ask for specifics, and the reply he got was, “well maybe if you took down that cartoon I could live with my name attached to your site.”

    Perhaps that was the wrong answer to a peremptory phone call from a (by every indication) fairly excitable blogger. The best answer undoubtedly would have been, “you write whatever you want, but I’d prefer not to have my name associated with it”. But it was Goldstein who asked for specifics, not the professor demanding an excision.

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  15. Rick Almeida says:

    James, I think your update makes an argument that doesn’t fit the facts here. You are “arguing that professors, and perhaps particularly those in the humanities and political science, have an affirmative duty to defend speech.”

    But you concede that there’s no censorship. Surely your argument is not that the professor has a positive duty to endorse speech he finds objectionable, is it? Is asking someone with whom I once had a professional relationship with to remove something really a call for “suppression” in any meaningful sense of the phrase?

    From what does the professor have a duty to defend the political cartoon? Criticism? You say not. Attempts at censorship? Ok, but there are none here, Burgess’ weak attempt to equate a request with “pressure” notwithstanding.

    I cannot for the life of me see anything at all wrong with one professional acquaintance contacting another and saying, “I encourage you to reconsider your publication of this. If you’re unwilling, I would prefer not to be publicly associated with you.”

    I’m not even saying that Goldstein has any obligation even to consider the professor’s requests, but I feel strongly that the requests themselves do not deserve criticism.

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  16. I am basically a free speech absolutist and am a staunch advocate for academic freedom. However, I don’t see either of these at issue here. It seems to me that the professor (or, for that matter, anyone) has the right to ask to have their name removed from a website if they are embarrassed by or do not support the contents of that site. In this world of Google searches one doesn’t want one’s name coming up alongside material one finds offensive.

    And, I must confess, while I used to read Goldstein’s site when he first started, it has gotten (to me) increasingly angry and unpleasant. And I do find the cartoon in question distasteful (indeed, offensive) but I would not challenge the right of his co-blogger to publish it.

    Still, unless I am missing something, I am not sure how a request by a former prof to have his name removed violates any principles of free speech. I think that Jeff tries to make into a speech issue in his post, but really it is about his professor’s desire not to be associated with certain speech.

    Again, just because one believes in free speech rights does not mean that one personally has an obligation to be associated with all speech.

    I thought, for example, that Ward Churchill deserved academic freedom protection for his “Little Eichmann’s” essay, but I wasn’t going to host the essay on my site nor would I have wanted my name in the acknowledgements.

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  17. John Burgess says:

    To request is to apply polite and light pressure. To demand is to apply greater pressure. To threaten legal sanctions is even harsher than that.

    I’ll stick by my definitions.

    So far, it’s only light pressure, but it’s pressure nonetheless.

    It is absolutely antithetical for a professor of creative writing to get his panties in a twist over something as mundane and trivial as having his name on the same page as a cartoon he doesn’t like. Goldstein isn’t saying, ‘All these people support or endorse my political views.’ He’s saying, ‘All these people helped form my political views.’ The professor has no right to request, even politely with peaches on top, that Goldstein not mention him in this context.

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  18. J.W. Hamner says:

    And Hamner, it’s not Kiteley’s freedom of expression to tell Goldstein to stop saying something — in this case the simple fact that Kiteley is one of four professors he studied under in fiction writing.

    How is requesting your name be removed from a website because you find the material offensive anything other than an expression? If Goldstein refuses, nobody is knocking down his door to drag him away to PC police.

    If the professor had instead published an open letter requesting his name being taken off the site and outlining his reasons, that would clearly be defensible as an expression of his views, yes? So why is a private communication so deplorable?

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  19. Rick Almeida says:

    It is absolutely antithetical for a professor of creative writing to get his panties in a twist over something as mundane and trivial as having his name on the same page as a cartoon he doesn’t like.

    Antithetical to what?

    Of course the professor has the right to request his name be removed. One might wish he choose not to exercise it, but the right exists regardless.

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  20. Certainly I myself have no problem with people who find my cartoon “amatuerish” or even “distasteful”. To each his own taste — there are any number of people, including publishers, who find Ted Rall’s or Garry Trudeau’s cartoons “artistic”. The cartoon IS crude and in your face. Purposely so. As I have described it several times in different threads it was intended as a “haddock across the face” (Monty Python reference).

    One might ask oneself why the rush to condemn that cartoon as “racist” or playing on “racist tropes” when this certainly didn’t draw the same kind of controversy. I’ve done a lot of photoshops and a few cartoons and find it interesting that anything that casts the least bit of criticism on The One “proves” racism. Here is a less “crudely” drawn cartoon of Obama shackling Uncle Sam I did last November and the first comment accuses me of racism.

    Now some find my Lady Liberty cartoon “dishonest” or “factually incorrect” and yes I find that a legitimate arguement to make. I will, of course, disagree. I voted in my first national election in 1972, never skipped one, and in all that time I have never seen such a huge, transformative (will fundamentally alter the relationship between citizen and government) bill, so corruptly crafted, so dishonestly presented, “passed” on a strictly partisan vote and in which the majority of citizens have expressed their opposition. When even Olympia Snow won’t sign on, something is horribly wrong. Add to that Obama’s petulance in winning. When my girls played soccer, at the end of the game both teams met on the field and shook hands. Obama launched into a victory lap around the country and in front of invited crowds, sneered and mocked any who opposed him. How very unPresidential. How Obama.

    He is my President even if I didn’t vote for him, but he’s saying he doesn’t want to be my President if I don’t agree with him.

    With all due respect, winning an election doesn’t mean 4 years of supplication, fealty and obediance. Obama is not Hugo Chavez … yet.

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  21. kth says:

    John, by definition a request is for something to which you don’t have a right. If you had a right to it, then you would demand it. And your expectation of the professor to “not get his panties in a bunch” is quite at odds with the contention that even a private request is a form of pressure. Perhaps it is Goldstein who ought not to get his BVDs in a bunch (I could have said panties, too, but I don’t gratuitously call people sissies).

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  22. I don’t believe that Jeff is implying that his former Professor, nor any other co-blogger or commenter, endorses everything or anything that appears on Protein Wisdom. All Jeff has done is note that he studied under the Professor.

    What the Professor is asking is that Jeff airbrush himself from any electronic record that they ever knew each other as he seeks to purify his own portfolio. Seems downright Stalin-like to me.

    As to Dr. Schuler’s noting that Protein Wisdom has become a little rough around the edges, I tend to agree. But it reminds me a bit of Sydney Schanberg in The Killing Fields when asked about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge — whose assumption of power he had supported — and he replied (paraphrasing from memory), “Maybe I underestimated the insanity that would be caused by dropping five thousand tons of bombs on Cambodia.”

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  23. sam says:

    @Charles

    What the Professor is asking is that Jeff airbrush himself from any electronic record that they ever knew each other as he seeks to purify his own portfolio. Seems downright Stalin-like to me.

    You’re really a piece of work, Charles.

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  24. I don’t believe that Jeff is implying that his former Professor, nor any other co-blogger or commenter, endorses everything or anything that appears on Protein Wisdom. All Jeff has done is note that he studied under the Professor

    Quite true. Still, if the fellow doesn’t want his name on the site, it seems the polite thing to do is to take his name off. I can certainly understand why Jeff is hurt by the request. I would be hurt if one of my dissertation advisors asked me to remove their name from my c.v., for example–especially if it was because they overtly disproved of something I did or was associated with.

    However, I see neither the free speech nor the academic freedom implications of such a request.

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  25. TangoMan says:

    I’m utterly surprised (not really) that so many people can’t see the fault committed by the professor. He has no right to ask that Jeff erase part of his history in order to appease the professor’s delicate sensitivities.

    Maybe an analogy would help – you’re dating someone for a few years and you share many events together. Eventually you part ways. A few years later you find that your ex-partner has written something on her blog about one of your shared events. You contact your partner and tell them to erase that writing because you no longer wish to be associated with that partner.

    The point is that you have no right to make such a request because you and your partner shared equally in the event. The same principle applies to Jeff – he studied under this professor, that experience is legitimately part of his history, and the professor has no right to ask Jeff to hide part of his history. The most that the professor can do is to manage his own release of information of his relationship with Jeff – he can take Jeff’s name off of any public list that he manages.

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  26. MM says:

    Of all the things Jeff Goldstein has been rightly or wrongly accused of in the blogosphere, being thick-skinned has never really been one of them.

    the funniest part of this entire ordeal is that Jeff managed to make Darleen’s cartoon all about him.

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  27. Sorry, I meant Dr. Taylor rather than Dr. Schuler earlier. My apologies to each of them.

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  28. sam, I’ll take that as a compliment.

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  29. Grewgills says:

    What the Professor is asking is that Jeff airbrush himself from any electronic record that they ever knew each other as he seeks to purify his own portfolio.

    Really, out of any electronic record? I didn’t realize that his efforts extended beyond a polite request that his name be removed from one website.

    Seems downright Stalin-like to me.

    Yes, because asking someone to take your name off of their website is just like sending them to a gulag.
    Charles,
    Your moving off into bithead and ragshaft land on this one.

    Maybe an analogy would help –

    Perhaps if it weren’t quite so strained.
    In your analogy the request would be more akin to your ex asking you not to use his or her name in the story. You would not be obligated by that request, but using it as an excuse to post a diatribe about your ex would make you an immature a$$.

    The point is that you have no right to make such a request because you and your partner shared equally in the event.

    Hilarious that this was included in a supposed defense of free speech.

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  30. MM says:

    What the Professor is asking is that Jeff airbrush himself from any electronic record that they ever knew each other as he seeks to purify his own portfolio. Seems downright Stalin-like to me.

    I had an ex girlfriend once tell me to lose her number, AND she voted for John Kerry. No wonder she was acting just like Uncle Joe.

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  31. TangoMan says:

    Hilarious that this was included in a supposed defense of free speech.

    Explain the hilarity. Jeff has the right to write about his own history. His professor has no right to ask Jeff to airbrush the professor out of that history. The request itself is bizarre.

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  32. An Interested Party says:

    Obama is not Hugo Chavez … yet.

    You’re really going to blow your stack when The One wins a second term, aren’t ya, sweetie?

    I had an ex girlfriend once tell me to lose her number, AND she voted for John Kerry. No wonder she was acting just like Uncle Joe.

    That’s some great parody there…

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  33. Yes, because asking someone to take your name off of their website is just like sending them to a gulag.

    It is something more than asking for his name to be taken off Jeff’s website. Either you haven’t read the threads involved or you don’t understand the issues raised. Either way, your first instinct seems to be engage in hyperbolic exaggeration that exceeds whatever it is your accusing me of doing. Well done.

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  34. It is something more than asking for his name to be taken off Jeff’s website. Either you haven’t read the threads involved or you don’t understand the issues raised.

    Yes, the reported interchange between Jeff and his prof goes beyond the name removal. But, in fairness, it all started with a request for name removal and could easily have ended there.

    Given that Jeff is “angry and indignant” (his own words) and has a writing style that can be rather bombastic, it is not unreasonable to wonder as to exactly what happened in the reported phone call. Really, if one goes back and rereads Jeff’s post (which I just did) the only clear, unfiltered communication we are provided from the prof is the original e-mail, which is a request to have the name removed.

    I still fail to see either the free speech or the academic freedom issue here. There is no state (or really any other) coercion here and nothing is stopping Jeff or his co-bloggers from continuing to do exactly what they have been doing. In the end, Jeff was criticized and rejected by a former professor. That’s no fun, but it has nothing to do with his freedoms of thought and expression.

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  35. PJ says:

    Why would Mr Goldstein want to be associated with such a liberal professor? Is there some reason why he wants the professor’s name on his about page? Does he need the professor’s approval? Can’t he replace him with some conservative scholar?

    Let’s say I had studied under a conservative professor, and on my about page that was mentioned. And after writing something critical of Bush, the professor emailed me and asked me to remove his name, I would have been happy that he had me aware of it. And I would certainly not have raised any fuss about it.

    Or maybe the rejection hurt Jeff’s feelings?

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  36. James Joyner says:

    With all due respect, winning an election doesn’t mean 4 years of supplication, fealty and obediance. Obama is not Hugo Chavez … yet.

    Who’s arguing otherwise? I merely say he has the right to push legislation I don’t like through Congress given that he has the votes. To the extent health care reform is unconstitutional, it’s at the margins, and the recourse it to take it to court.

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  37. TangoMan says:

    Let’s say I had studied under a conservative professor, and on my about page that was mentioned. And after writing something critical of Bush, the professor emailed me and asked me to remove his name, I would have been happy that he had me aware of it. And I would certainly not have raised any fuss about it.

    Should a principle be judge simply on the basis of how you would react in such a situation? I’d argue that this isn’t a sufficient test of principle. The fact that your reaction is different than Jeff’s in no way means that it is better or more correct, it just means that you’d be happy with that course of action because it would reflect either your values or your priorities. It’s quite obvious that Jeff believes the value of upholding principle is more important than comity.

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  38. Grewgills says:

    Either way, your first instinct seems to be engage in hyperbolic exaggeration that exceeds whatever it is your accusing me of doing. Well done.

    I read the e-mail and Jeff’s recounting of the conversations. Even if we assume that Jeff gave a true, full, and accurate depiction of their conversation (a stretch), nothing the professor did in any way approaches even the milder infringements on life and liberty by Stalin. That you think it does speaks volumes.

    Explain the hilarity. Jeff has the right to write about his own history. His professor has no right to ask Jeff to airbrush the professor out of that history.

    How free is your speech if you have no right to politely ask someone else to modify their speech?

    In two parts.

    Jeff has the right to write about his own history.

    Certainly true.

    his professor has no right to ask Jeff to airbrush the professor out of that history.

    That is where you go off the rails on two fronts.
    1) His professor has a right to request it, but Jeff is not obligated to respond. If you posit that the professor has no right to ask it you are demanding a far greater limitation on free speech than even the worst interpretation of what the professor did.
    2) “Would you mind taking my name off your “about” page on Proteinwisdom?” ≠ airbrush me out of your history.

    Jeff is just being petulant to drive up his hit count and it is apparently working. Score one for Jeff.

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  39. serr8d says:

    The result of this no-name professor’s questionable action is not that his name will suddenly become google-disassociated from Jeff Goldstein and protein wisdom, but that Brian Kiteley will now be forever google-associated with Jeff Goldstein and protein wisdom.

    Kiteley obviously was contacted and pushed by one or more of the surly leftists who have had disagreements with Jeff (James Wolcott and Scott Eric Kaufman both posted negatively on Darleen’s political cartoon, both were mercilessly upbraided in the comments, and suffered massive butthurt). Someone took the time to track down and ‘inform’ Kiteley of their ‘findings’. Kiteley may even have been threatened if he didn’t comply with the ‘suggestion’ that his name might be sullied, and he should ask for disassociation. Otherwise, who would’ve known a thing about Brian Kiteley, if he hadn’t come forward? I had never noticed his name, and I’ve read pw for years.

    Kiteley seems to me to be a cowardly, kittenish, querulous sort of person.

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  40. anjin-san says:

    It would, frankly, never occur to me to contact a former student and, in a huff over some cartoon, demand that they remove my name from their biography page.

    Does not necessarily make it wrong for another professor to do it. No ones free speech is being denied here.

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  41. serr8d says:

    James Joyner, you might think Darleen’s cartoon is ‘amateurish and distasteful’, but that didn’t stop you from putting it up in prominent location on your blog, now did it? If I found something that distasteful I would’ve managed to find a way to keep it at arm’s length. Maybe by simply linking to it.

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  42. TangoMan says:

    That is where you go off the rails on two fronts.
    1) His professor has a right to request it, but Jeff is not obligated to respond. If you posit that the professor has no right to ask it you are demanding a far greater limitation on free speech than even the worst interpretation of what the professor did.
    2) “Would you mind taking my name off your “about” page on Proteinwisdom?” ≠ airbrush me out of your history.

    Thanks for making your argument clearer.

    Point #1: I agree that Professor Brian Kiteley certainly has the right to make the request. However, by making the request it invalidates a principle he supposedly upholds, which is that speech which pushes the boundaries is speech that shouldn’t be stifled, it should be speech that is rebutted.

    He asked Jeff to remove “speech” (Kiteley’s name from a list of scholars that Jeff had studied with) rather than uphold the principle of the “best response to speech you disagree with is to present a counter-argument.” This is after all, what believers in free-speech advocate, is it not?

    I don’t know if we’re talking past each other but I see this case as more related to the principle of “better speech” rather than it being a case of Jeff advocating that Kiteley doesn’t have the right to make the request.

    2.) I disagree. Prof. Kiteley has no standing in deciding how Goldstein factually recounts his own history. If Goldstein was lying, the Kiteley has legal recourse. This principle is no different than you having the right to put your employment history on your own resume and employers not having the standing to deny you that ability if they feel it works against their interest. They don’t have to engage in advertising the fact that they once employed you but it is wholly improper for them to request that you make no mention of the fact that you once worked for them.

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  43. Grewgills, you are missing the point. I didn’t call Kitely Stalin or imply that he is anywhere near as bad as Stalin and his crimes against humanity. The fact is that Stalin did try to use the memory hole to erase the existence of people and their relationships to him via airbrushing of photographs. I likened Kitely’s attempt to airbrush out his ever having taught Goldstein to this. I think it is a legitimate analogy, but YMMV. I agree wholeheartedly with Tangoman this is an attempt to change history by Kitely demanding that Goldstein remove factual references to his ever having taught him.

    Stalin also killed whole families to accomplish the same goals but please note that I have not accused Kitely of doing this. Do I have to be this explicit and recount every one of Stalin’s crimes with a note that Kitely is not guilty of these things either?

    I assume that you don’t agree with much of what I just wrote. That is fine and that is your perogative. I also know that Jeff can be very sharp with his comments and at times treats some hair splitting pedantic differences as battles to the pain, with apologies to William Goldman. Jeff’s falling outs with former compadres are legendary. I do not believe that he changes many minds in these rhetorical melees, but I understand and usually sympathize with the point he is trying to make regarding the use of language.

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  44. James Joyner says:

    James Joyner, you might think Darleen’s cartoon is ‘amateurish and distasteful’, but that didn’t stop you from putting it up in prominent location on your blog, now did it? If I found something that distasteful I would’ve managed to find a way to keep it at arm’s length.

    It would be rather odd to write a post defending the free expression of posting an offensive cartoon but then not be willing to display the cartoon with my critique.

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  45. LauraNo says:

    Drawing Bush as Hitler when one feels he’s becoming militaristic and drawing another president as a rapist seem to me to be two totally different things. The first seems to be a political opinion, implying a president is a rapist really doesn’t. The first is objecting to the political situation, the second just seems to be personal dislike, and is a personal smear against a married family man. In point of fact, Bush was being militaristic but Obama has raped no one, least of all ‘Lady Liberty’.

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  46. TangoMan says:

    It would be rather odd to write a post defending the free expression of posting an offensive cartoon but then not be willing to display the cartoon with my critique.

    While I agree with you 100%, you do realize that your position is at odds with most of the MSM in that they were quite content to discuss the Danish Cartoon Controversy without publishing any of the cartoons.

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  47. TangoMan says:

    Drawing Bush as Hitler when one feels he’s becoming militaristic and drawing another president as a rapist seem to me to be two totally different things. The first seems to be a political opinion, implying a president is a rapist really doesn’t. The first is objecting to the political situation, the second just seems to be personal dislike, and is a personal smear against a married family man. In point of fact, Bush was being militaristic but Obama has raped no one, least of all ‘Lady Liberty’.

    Malarkey. Bush as Hitler is not representing Bush as being militaristic. Hitler allusions don’t represent militarism, they represent evil, they represent genocide, they represent the absolute very worst thing a person could ever become – a stain on the fabric of humanity. Even a rapist has more redeeming qualities than Hitler.

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  48. TangoMan says:

    In point of fact, Bush was being militaristic but Obama has raped no one, least of all ‘Lady Liberty’.

    Actually, this isn’t a “point of fact.” It could reasonably be argued that Bush was a liberator of millions and that Obama has indeed destroyed the liberty of those who don’t wish to be forced to buy a personal consumer good against their will nor fund the consumption of personal consumer goods for strangers.

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  49. An Interested Party says:

    Bush as Hitler is not representing Bush as being militaristic. Hitler allusions don’t represent militarism, they represent evil, they represent genocide, they represent the absolute very worst thing a person could ever become – a stain on the fabric of humanity.

    Oh? So then you condemn the comparison of President Obama to Hitler?

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  50. TangoMan says:

    Oh? So then you condemn the comparison of President Obama to Hitler?

    I condemn it without reservation.

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  51. john personna says:

    For what it’s worth, I think “please unlink me” should always be honored, no matter whatever the reason.

    The internet is not short on text or links. If some prof is not comfortable with some cartoon … whatever, it’s still a big internet.

    Replace the specific “James Joiner” with “a conservative writer” if he asks, because that’s the polite thing to do.

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  52. john personna says:

    Doh!

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  53. Eric Florack says:

    It would, frankly, never occur to me to contact a former student and, in a huff over some cartoon, demand that they remove my name from their biography page.

    I think I see why that might happen. Most logically and directly, is a professor tenured yet , I wonder? Even if so, his further advancement could be hindered by such an association, given the political leanings of those deciding his future. Thus does the politically correct become the defacto law of the land.

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  54. john persona, this is not about linking or delinking anyone.

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  55. An Interested Party says:

    I condemn it without reservation.

    How about Marx? Lenin? Stalin? Mussolini?

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  56. TangoMan says:

    Stalin was a greater stain on humanity than even Hitler, so no, Obama is no Stalin.

    As for Obama being a Marxist, well, if you run as a candidate for an avowedly socialist party, then yeah, you’re a Marxist. There’s no getting around that.

    Hey, while we’re at this, why don’t you make your own declarations and repudiate the agitprop about racism infusing the TEA Party.

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  57. Grewgills says:

    Charles

    I didn’t call Kitely Stalin or imply that he is anywhere near as bad as Stalin and his crimes against humanity. The fact is that Stalin did try to use the memory hole to erase the existence of people and their relationships to him via airbrushing of photographs. I likened Kitely’s attempt to airbrush out his ever having taught Goldstein to this.

    Your original comment:

    What the Professor is asking is that Jeff airbrush himself from any electronic record that they ever knew each other as he seeks to purify his own portfolio. Seems downright Stalin-like to me.

    1) Because Kitely’s request to have his name removed from a single website is the equivalent to using the power of the state to erase all associations.
    2) We all know that Stalin limited that black hole to photographs and written associations, right?
    3) When you call someone Stalin like it carries far more with it than what you claim and you know it. That is why you chose a mass murderer as your comparison. Pretending otherwise is transparent.

    Tango

    rather than it being a case of Jeff advocating that Kiteley doesn’t have the right to make the request.

    I didn’t say that is what Jeff advocated it. I said you advocated it when you said,

    His professor has no right to ask Jeff to airbrush the professor out of that history.

    and

    the professor has no right to ask Jeff to hide part of his history.

    but I see you have backed off of that now,

    I agree that Professor Brian Kiteley certainly has the right to make the request.

    so I guess we are now in agreement on that point.

    I disagree. Prof. Kiteley has no standing in deciding how Goldstein factually recounts his own history.

    It was a polite request, he was not deciding anything for Jeff.

    his principle is no different than you having the right to put your employment history on your own resume and employers not having the standing to deny you that ability if they feel it works against their interest.

    They would certainly have the right to make the request if they felt that I would poorly represent them and I would have the right to disregard that request absent some contractual obligation. Keep in mind also that they would be bringing considerably more pressure to bear than did the professor.

    rather than uphold the principle of the “best response to speech you disagree with is to present a counter-argument.”

    The professor didn’t want to be associated with something that he found distasteful and he didn’t want to get into a pissing contest with a bombastic a$$hole and he failed on both counts. Jeff gets the double win with the ginned up controversy and increased hit count.
    Laura

    Drawing Bush as Hitler when one feels he’s becoming militaristic and drawing another president as a rapist seem to me to be two totally different things.

    No. They are both trying to tar the target with all of the other crimes committed by the villain in question. You simply cannot compare someone to Stalin or Hitler without bringing to mind their mass murders. That is why people do it when other comparisons would be far more accurate.

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  58. serr8d says:

    Grewgills

    The professor didn’t want to be associated with something that he found distasteful and he didn’t want to get into a pissing contest with a bombastic a$$hole

    The professor was not directly associated with anything distasteful. It’s very difficult to find any mention of that poor fellow unless, as was done, some disgruntled surly leftist asshat searched for, then contacted the professor and persuaded him to beseech Jeff to remove his already far-removed association. The other three professors weren’t so easily manipulated.

    As for your ‘bombastic a$$hole’ remark, well, I see that you, given your comment, aren’t particularly comely either.

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  59. john personna says:

    charles, I made my comment based on the line:

    “Jeff Goldstein recounts at length an emailed plea from a former professor to remove his name from the About page list of those under whom Goldstein studied.”

    I went over just now and looked, and yup, Protein Wisdom looks like a blog, and the About looks like a short bio.

    It’s kinda sad that a prof would want to be unlinked from a bio. I don’t think there is really any confusion about authorship of the blog or anything … but I think I’d still go with “unlink on general principles.” As I say, we aren’t short on blogs or content.

    And the student would understand that he has left the prof behind in his own progress through life.

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  60. john personna says:

    (I’m not sure why I’m in this thread. The topic actually bores me. I’m much more interested in things like this (Frank Rich nails it) … though … the two are probably not unrelated, when you get right down to it.)

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  61. john persona – Of course, we’re all mad because Obama is black and Nancy is a woman. Yeah, Frank Rich has really nailed it. We really don’t care about health care at all. Or deficits for that matter. Or even liberty.

    Whatever.

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  62. Grewgills says:

    As for your ‘bombastic a$$hole’ remark, well, I see that you, given your comment, aren’t particularly comely either

    Sorry I didn’t live up to your high standards and entirely avoid personal insults.

    Kiteley seems to me to be a cowardly, kittenish, querulous sort of person.

    some disgruntled surly leftist asshat

    I see consistency is only required of your opponents and that regardless of the mental gymnastics required it will inevitably boil down to a liberal conspiracy. You sir are brilliant.

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  63. John Personna says:

    Charles, it is sometimes effective rhetorical technique to go over the top with “of course it is all about X.”. I’m sure I’ve done that myself. It is less effective though when X, while not everything is still something.

    Why is a health plan which shares so much with past republican plans suddenly socialist?

    To what extent does lady liberty, in the comic, signal “white woman?”

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  64. serr8d says:

    Grewgills

    I’ve no expectations of you, and did only seek to knock that thin veneer of civility right off your pretend-to-be-genteel face. Sine nobilitatis.

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  65. An Interested Party says:

    re: TangoMan | March 28, 2010 | 01:01 am

    If that is the thin reed you wish to cling to so as to paint the president as a “Marxist”, please feel free to do so, although it’s such a pity that most people in this country, especially most voters, don’t agree with the accusation…and of course not every person in the Tea Party Movement is a racist, but, judging from signs seen at their rallies, there are certainly racists within their ranks…interesting that you should bring this up, though…I mean, if you really are the person behind the VDARE website, you yourself could reasonably be asked about being a racist…speaking of the Tea Party folks, I believe you were one of many who questioned the accusations of some congressmen recently, especially Congressman Cleaver…well, let’s look at the tape, shall we? Finally, if the Tea Party folk want to be taken seriously, perhaps some of them shouldn’t be so quick to look for government assistance while also trying to trash government…that does tend to look a tad hypocritical…

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  66. Charles, it is sometimes effective rhetorical technique to go over the top with “of course it is all about X.”. I’m sure I’ve done that myself. It is less effective though when X, while not everything is still something.

    Wow, generalize much? Perhaps you can tell me what percentage racist, homophobic, misogynist, and violent I am because I am opposed to this so-called health care reform and the current unsustainable spending paths for the other major entitlement programs (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security).

    Why is a health plan which shares so much with past republican plans suddenly socialist?

    Is this a trick question? Perhaps because those past Republican plans were also socialist in nature. Where did I ever say that previous Republican health care plans (whichever ones you are referring to) were consistent with free market approaches? I, for one, do not care for the ascendant approach of the opposition here (and in other countries) that merely says we can manage your government program better than they can. How about an opposition that says this is wrong and were going to do it differently?

    To what extent does lady liberty, in the comic, signal “white woman?”

    I think that’s in the eye of the beholder. Generally, people who are inclined to see things in racial terms are going to see things in racial terms. At the same time, I believe the author of this cartoon intentionally set out to provoke people. It isn’t something I would have done and like others I find it distasteful. But, I haven’t said a word about this political cartoon yet, so I’m somewhat at a loss as to how this applies unless you think I necessarily have to agree with everything you don’t.

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  67. john personna says:

    I guess you are sticking with “over the top” ;-)

    That includes, of course, your call for me to address “what percentage racist am I?”

    I’ll continue this in the newer thread, since it has become au currant at OTB.

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  68. TangoMan says:

    If that is the thin reed you wish to cling to so as to paint the president as a “Marxist”, please feel free to do so,

    Running as a candidate for a socialist party before mainstreaming himself as a Democrat is something that you consider to be a thin reed? Rather than defending your man what I see you doing is making excuses and deflections.

    Look, I don’t believe that Obama hews to the genocidal and racist notions inherent in Marxism, but he’s most certainly subscribes to many of the economic planks of Marxism.

    I mean, if you really are the person behind the VDARE website, you yourself could reasonably be asked about being a racist

    If you’re really David Duke and you’re masquerading as A.I.P. in order to bring ridicule on leftism, then you’re a duplicitous person. Are you really so rotted of mind that you pay any heed to Reynolds’ ranting? It’s one thing for me to laugh at Reynolds’ baying at the moon, for that simply confirms him to be an idiot, but now you – you’re now simply lending credibility to the notion that many leftists are lacking in common sense and honor.

    I believe you were one of many who questioned the accusations of some congressmen recently, especially Congressman Cleaver…well, let’s look at the tape, shall we?

    Yeah, look at the tape and compare it to the charge that Cleaver leveled. “Say it, don’t spray it” has as much relevance to “being spit on” as a pat on the back has to violent assault.

    Finally, if the Tea Party folk want to be taken seriously, perhaps some of them shouldn’t be so quick to look for government assistance while also trying to trash government…that does tend to look a tad hypocritical…

    I don’t think that you really understand the definition of hypocrisy. It would be hypocritical to argue against unemployment insurance and then collect it. It would be hypocritical to argue for the elimination of Medicare and then collect benefits. It would be hypocritical to argue for the elimination of social security and then collect it.

    It is not hypocritical to argue against the implementation of a new welfare scheme designed to transfer wealth so that people can consume personal consumer services and bill others for their consumption while receiving benefits from nationalized insurance schemes into which one has paid premiums over the course of one’s working life.

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  69. anjin-san says:

    Running as a candidate for a socialist party before mainstreaming himself as a Democrat is something that you consider to be a thin reed?

    Reagan was once a liberal Democrat. Was he still a Democrat when he was President?

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  70. TangoMan says:

    Reagan was once a liberal Democrat. Was he still a Democrat when he was President?

    You’re engaging in a false equivalence game just so you can shout “gotcha!”

    Most people believe that the Democrats and the Republicans are legitimate parties. Most people believe that Marxism and, say Theocracy, are illegitimate forms of governance. If Reagan had believed that only people of a certain religion should have control of government and that the national government should govern by a set of religious principles, etc and then migrated away from that party towards the Republican Party without making an outright denunciation of his former beliefs, then your example might be pertinent.

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  71. An Interested Party says:

    Running as a candidate for a socialist party before mainstreaming himself as a Democrat is something that you consider to be a thin reed?

    It is when you are using it to claim that the president is a “Marxist”…

    If you’re really David Duke…

    That is a rather weak argument as I’ve written nothing to indicate that I believe anything similar to the views of David Duke…don’t get mad at me because your ideas seem very similar to those of Peter Brimelow and VDARE…

    It is not hypocritical to argue against the implementation of a new welfare scheme designed to transfer wealth so that people can consume personal consumer services and bill others for their consumption while receiving benefits from nationalized insurance schemes into which one has paid premiums over the course of one’s working life.

    This is duplicitous, as the Tea Party people seem to be expressing rage at more than simply HCR…and if you are really so concerned about wealth transfer, I assume you would agree with the idea that beneficiaries of Social Security and Medicare should only get benefits matched to the dollar amount they paid into those programs? I mean, anything more than that would simply be “unfair” and “redistributionist”…

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  72. TangoMan says:

    Your views are pretty similar to Duke’s considering that he ran as a Democrat early in his career and most of the people on the fringe with you two also share a belief in redistributionist government.

    and if you are really so concerned about wealth transfer, I assume you would agree with the idea that beneficiaries of Social Security and Medicare should only get benefits matched to the dollar amount they paid into those programs?

    Let me introduce you to the Social Security Benefit Calculator which helps you determine your benefits based on your age and earnings history. As I noted earlier SS is thought of, by most people, as a forced savings plan, which is why it isn’t means-tested, and why people oppose the imposition of a means-test like is the case for qualifying for welfare.

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  73. An Interested Party says:

    Your views are pretty similar to Duke’s…

    Not really, considering I don’t care for wearing bedsheets, nor do I believe in white separatism…your ploy is so terribly obvious…when I yank your chain about Peter Brimelow/VDARE, you try to accuse me of something similar involving David Duke? Surely you can do better than that…

    Let me introduce you to the Social Security Benefit Calculator…

    Why thank you so much! Despite what Social Security and Medicare are thought of as, if it is possible that someone takes more out of those systems than he/she paid into them, is that person entitled to that “redistribution” of wealth?

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  74. TangoMan says:

    Despite what Social Security and Medicare are thought of as, if it is possible that someone takes more out of those systems than he/she paid into them, is that person entitled to that “redistribution” of wealth?

    There are two problems here. What is right and what is manageable. Medicare has a massive unfunded liability, which means that people, over their working lives, weren’t contributing enough to pay for their own medical care, at current prices, during their golden years. That should be changed, on the price, medical delivery and contribution levels.

    Clearly there’s not much wiggle room to reform for those who are no longer in the work force or are approaching retirement. Society needs to eat that cost, but thankfully, these people won’t live forever.

    It comes down to this, sooner or later, preferably sooner, entitlements need to kick the Ponzi Scheme approach down to the curb and transition over to sustainability.

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  75. floyd says:

    “”How about Marx? Lenin? Stalin? Mussolini?”"
    “”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"
    Aip;
    Of course, it wouldn’t be fair to call the big zer”O” any of those names. Not fair to them!
    After all, The zer”O” is just a wanna-be.
    Maybe “Howdy-Doody” would be appropriate, since Axelrod controls the strings!
    Second thought… Mussolini was a sort of bit player on the world stage too!
    dig-dig…LOL

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  76. An Interested Party says:

    Awwww, floyd…well at least you can laugh while experiencing impotence…I mean, the Axelrod Machine is taking our country down the Marxist path and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, well, except for making inane jokes…enjoy the ride… :-)

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  77. floyd says:

    I suspect the tide of the times will remain barely affected by either of us, your willing conformity conceals your political impotence as well, but maybe it keeps your bp in check.

    As for my joy, it is intact, since my salvation is not dependent on government.
    It is comforting to know that you have had a glimpse of reality though,bless your heart.

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  78. An Interested Party says:

    Poor floyd…don’t you even know when you are being mocked? God bless your salvation though…may it make your entry out of this world and into the next one peaceful…hey, maybe there won’t be any Marxists there, well, depending on where you end up…

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  79. floyd says:

    And you do??

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