Discourse II

Expanding on yesterday afternoon's post.

The vagueness and timing of my post “The Impossibility of Discourse” gave many the impression that it was mostly a reaction to pushback on that morning’s post about Elizabeth Warren. In fact, it’s a frustration that’s much longer in the making.

My subtitle, “The liberal notion that people are persuadable through airing of ideas is obsolete,” is certainly overstated. As commenters, including my co-blogger Steven Taylor noted in the thread, all of the three front-pagers have changed our views considerably over the many years we’ve been blogging, precisely as a function of back-and-forth on thousands of posts.

Then again, we’re part of the “intellectual class” that I referenced in the post to pushback from some. The nature of our training and profession is such that intellectual honesty compels us to grapple with evidence and defend inconsistencies. By contrast, for example, many of my old Army buddies who I know to be decent, highly intelligent people still hold pretty much the same views as they did in 2003, if not 1983.

Most of my frustration, for understandable reasons, are with my former co-partisans who have seemingly abandoned all of their stated principles to first nominate and then elect and continue to support Donald Trump. But, as I’ve written many times, we’ve long since come to the point where the 30ish percent who are hardcore Trump supporters are simply unswayable. We’re literally at the point he bragged about during the campaign, wherein he could shoot a man on Main Street and not lose their support.

But the other side has formed its own kind of echo chamber. It’s not a fact-free zone in the way of the opinion side of Fox News or Breitbart/Daily Caller/etc. But, especially as carried out on Twitter and to a much lesser degree in the comments here, there seems to be more interest in virtue signaling than persuasion.

I’ve written many times over the last few years about particular examples but articulating a general sense of it is difficult. But there’s a tendency to shut down discourse through ad hominem, poisoning the well, and other fallacies of distraction.

So, for example, any criticism of a female politician is invariably decried as misogyny, sexism, privilege, or the like. While the nature of privilege, in particular, is such that one can be blind to it, it’s a rather tiresome critique when one is talking about the Speaker of the House or a leading contender for the Presidency.

More broadly, criticism of Democratic candidates tends to be met with the whataboutism that Democrats decried when applied to Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Any criticism of potential challengers is met as a backdoor endorsement of Trump. While that’s annoying enough on Twitter, it’s particularly odd here, where I’ve spent four years making clear the extent to which he should not be President. Ironically, the very people who spent so much time warning against “normalizing” Trump have wound up doing just that.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. drj says:

    But, especially as carried out on Twitter and to a much lesser degree in the comments here, there seems to be more interest in virtue signaling than persuasion.

    Perhaps instead of virtue signaling, people simply state or defend their sincerely-held beliefs. Especially here.

    By calling it “virtue signaling” you are dismissing these statements without engaging with them.

    This is also not discourse.

    To be honest, you may be right in dismissing something as “virtue signaling,” but you could also be wrong. How would you know?

    In the Warren en Woordward threads, there were some great comments by people using their lived experiences to explain why they came to different conclusions than you.

    Were they virtue signalling or were they trying to persuade?

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  2. Kit says:

    More broadly, criticism of Democratic candidates tends to be met with the whataboutism… While that’s annoying enough on Twitter, it’s particularly odd here

    Fair enough. I do think, however, that the whataboutism on the Left is less about condoning bad behavior and more exasperation. Having to respond to each alleged lie, for example, on the part of Team D is a losing game: no matter the outcome, the spotlight gets drawn away from the real abuses. It’s a matter of proportion. And, yes, when times grow extreme, there is a certain amount of normalizing behavior on the low end: what’s forbidden in the barracks becomes unimportant when the bullets are flying. Still, I’ll admit that there is always a temptation to simply excuse unwelcome facts.

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  3. MarkedMan says:

    FWIW, I agree with you that there are commenters here with hot button issues. And that includes me. If someone comes close to pressing one of those buttons it sets off a no holds barred response. And that is OK. That is just life. It doesn’t make either side right or wrong. Some things are just more important to them than they are to you.

    Way back when I was in college I had a couple of friends that were pretty religious, Baptists if I remember correctly. The last vestiges of my Catholic upbringing were in their death throes and I had a few conversations about religion with them, but at some point I realized that what was an interesting intellectual discussion for me was, for them, a deeply disturbing challenge to their identity. So I stopped talking about it to them. I talked about it with others, but not them. I didn’t hold it against them and realized that there were probably things I felt the same way about without even realizing it.

    I’ve been attacked a few times on in this comment section by a few participants because I’ve come down on the “wrong” side of gender issues. I considered them as hominem attacks, and felt the arguments proposed were pretty weak tea. But I also recognized that for these posters it was something that was bound up in their identity. It simply wasn’t in the cards to have what I considered an interesting, reasoned discussion with them. That’s normal. ( Just try having an interesting, reasonable discussion with me about whether my wife is a bitch. (She’s not! Asshole…) ) So I made my point one last time, and maybe said I didn’t think there was anything more to add and then moved on. No hard feelings, at least in my part.

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  4. Jen says:

    So, for example, any criticism of a female politician is invariably decried as misogyny, sexism, privilege, or the like. While the nature of privilege, in particular, is such that one can be blind to it, it’s a rather tiresome critique when one is talking about the Speaker of the House or a leading contender for the Presidency.

    It’s worth noting that implicit bias is a real thing. Should female politicians be immune from criticism? Of course not. But I think it is worth asking, each and every time, whether the critique is fair and takes into consideration the fact that women are indeed held to a different standard.

    This isn’t virtue signaling or whataboutism or even a suggestion of misogyny. The frustrating thing about implicit bias is that people are completely unaware of it, until they are shown, and sometimes even then there are those who try and explain it away.

    There are multiple examples of implicit bias in hiring–from the use of screens for “blind” orchestra auditions (which increased the number of women in professional orchestras) to female coders removing all gender-identifying information from their resumes leading to more job interviews–implicit gender bias exists.

    When those of us share stories demonstrating that yes, we have experienced this, and thus have modified our behaviors accordingly–including tactical editing of our biographies–it is frustrating to have that dismissed out of hand. Understanding this is critical. It’s what makes an assertive woman in the office get described as “bitchy” but an equally assertive man is described as “driven.” And that plays out in real time in politics. Look at the way Pelosi speaks, versus, say, Kevin McCarthy.

    I’m honestly not sure how to address this, because I think it’s more persistent than people realize, both men and women do it, and because men and women mingle every day in a vast array of settings it’s really hard to suss out.

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  5. Teve says:

    When that cop arrested me for DUI in 2005 he was just virtue signaling. Jerk.

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  6. steve says:

    I am in near total agreement with you James. It is so hard to talk over anything with anyone on the left now that they have alternative facts for everything. They cite people like Bill O”Reilly or Sean Hannity (or one of his disciples) as authoritative. It would never even occur to me to cite equivalent people on the left (Michael Moore as an example) as authoritative. There is no common data set you can use. You used to be able to use FRED or US Labor stats. Now the right denies those as being valid data, except for when they choose to use those sources because it happens to agree with what they believe.

    On the left I agree that there are still too many knee jerk claims of racism and sexism and whatever other ism is current. People still cant accept that one of the reasons Democrats lost in 2016 was that Hillary really was an awful candidate. Better than Trump, who isn’t, but still awful. Democrats need to present a better choice and ideas than just “not Trump”. (On the positive side, I just had a meeting with a small group of people meeting our new congress woman. I think you would like her as would most anyone who has any kind of centrist leanings. She is a Democrat but thinks we need more trade schools and community college and less emphasis on college. Thinks M4A isn’t realistic and a public option is probably doable. Prefers market oriented solutions, but thinks the markets can use a nudge every now and then.)

    The are where I think I might disagree will be in the general election. It is fine to point out lying or bad behavior in the primaries where you are comparing Democrat to Democrat. In the general? Not so sure that makes much sense. Trump exhibits the extremes of bad behaviors and poor leadership in so many areas. Does it really make sense to spend time covering minor problems in a Democrat? It sort of makes them equal when they really arent. Sort of like comparing a jaywalker to Charles Manson. They both broke the law, but if you give equal amounts of coverage to both crimes you are really missing the forest for the trees.

    Steve

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  7. James Joyner says:

    @Jen:

    It’s worth noting that implicit bias is a real thing. Should female politicians be immune from criticism? Of course not. But I think it is worth asking, each and every time, whether the critique is fair and takes into consideration the fact that women are indeed held to a different standard.

    That’s entirely fair and I at least try to do that. I think I do with regard to, say, Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi. I probably don’t in the case of Hillary Clinton, because it’s next to impossible to assess her without the baggage of how I viewed her in the 1990s creeping in.

    But I get frustrated when, as in the Woodward case, I make the argument he was doing exactly what happens all the time in these fora, regardless of sex and the pushback ignores that and says, no, it was about the gender dynamics.

    When those of us share stories demonstrating that yes, we have experienced this, and thus have modified our behaviors accordingly–including tactical editing of our biographies–it is frustrating to have that dismissed out of hand.

    Again, I think this is fair. I tend to dismiss particularist conclusions by extension. So, while I ultimately came around to believing Christine Blassey Ford’s allegations, I was not persuaded by “this sounds a lot like what happened to me/my sister/a female friend” arguments.

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  8. Jen says:

    @James Joyner:

    Navigating social discourse in the current climate is a challenge, for all of us.

    Speaking only for myself, I know some of my more ardent push back comes from a place that deeply fears a second term of this president.

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  9. James Joyner says:

    @steve:

    They both broke the law, but if you give equal amounts of coverage to both crimes you are really missing the forest for the trees.

    I’m torn on this. Part of the problem in 2016 was that Trump’s defects were so obvious after awhile that it seemed like beating a dead horse. So, arguing about what the Dems were doing was simply more interesting. Additionally, while “but her emails” is a legit post-hoc retort given that Trump has been so much worse even on the securing of classified materials front, it was a live debate partly becasue Hillary supporters were so adamant that she’d done nothing wrong, thus keeping the topic fresh and interesting.

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  10. R.Dave says:

    @Jen: I would recommend against leaning too heavily on the “implicit bias” notion in your evaluation of people’s views and actions. It does seem to make a lot of intuitive sense, and I used to find it quite persuasive myself, but the core studies underlying the concept have more or less fallen victim to the replication crisis in social-psychology over the last couple of years, so it’s unclear how much, if any, value it really has for predicting or explaining behavior. Beyond that, it’s also a really convenient and non-falsifiable way of dismissing or at least skeptically discounting any position that runs counter to “woke” progressivism, while simultaneously flattering oneself for being so comparatively objective and insightful, which in and of itself should counsel against relying on it.

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  11. James Joyner says:

    @R.Dave:

    Beyond that, it’s also a really convenient and non-falsifiable way of dismissing or at least skeptically discounting any position that runs counter to “woke” progressivism, while simultaneously flattering oneself for being so comparatively objective and insightful

    Yes, this is part of my frustration.

    While hardly my specialization, I teach about implicit bias as part of our course here. And I frequently explain the “privilege” notion to people on the right, which is a useful construct for understanding some issues. What neither are good for, however, is persuasion via accusation.

    “That’s your privilege showing” or “Check your privilege” is so obviously going to put people on the defensive that it’s virtue signaling at best. Alternatively, arguing that, from the cultural position of a black/Hispanic/woman, a situation looks different because X, Y, and Z can advance the discussion by bringing new information to help bridge gaps in understanding.

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  12. Scott says:

    OTB is one of the few places where online discourse is actually useful. Regardless about how the online discourse is played out, it seems almost impossible in this day and age to have neighborhood in-person conversations. I live in a stable, friendly neighborhood with lots of social activities going on. I don’t think I know what my neighbor’s and friend’s views really are. Why? Because there is great fear out here that any real conversation will ruin friendships. Quite frankly, I’m very careful to rein in my views and reactions. I think this also runs in families. Quite a sad situation, really and I don’t see a way back either locally or nationally.

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  13. KM says:

    @James:

    So, for example, any criticism of a female politician is invariably decried as misogyny, sexism, privilege, or the like. While the nature of privilege, in particular, is such that one can be blind to it, it’s a rather tiresome critique when one is talking about the Speaker of the House or a leading contender for the Presidency.

    Think it’s tiring just to talk about it? Try living it and pointing it out to people who don’t want to hear how often it happens. It’s interesting to me as a woman to hear men gripe about not being about critique women or else it’s “sexist”. Kinda like listening to a chain smoker complain that smoking cigarettes gives you cancer – they want to be to do this thing but not deal with consequences. It always carries this tinge of whininess about how it’s not fair they are being held responsible for something they’ve never really had to consider before. Women *always* have to be careful how we say things – pissing off a male can end very, very badly for us quite quickly so it’s second nature to phrase our criticism more carefully. Now that men have to essentially do the same, it’s “tiresome”. D’uh, what do you think we’ve been telling you?

    Again, not a dig at you. It’s just funny to me that something every woman on this planet has to do every time the open their mouth is considered a burden to legitimate criticism but the logic is never taken any further. If men are finding it difficult to critique women without being accused of sexism or misogyny, it would be a logical conclusion to examine the message to see how that determination is made. After all, it’s incumbent on the speaker to make sure they are heard and understand they way they intend. Instead, what comes out is inevitably “why can’t we say what we want without having to censor it for your feelings?”

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  14. Scott O says:

    There are nuts on both sides but the nuts on the left have very little power while the nuts on the right are running the country. I’m white, 62. I never encounter left wing nuts. About half of my relatives believe crazy things, like the Clintons kill people who get in their way, global warming is a hoax, there are millions of illegal voters, the government was selling guns to Mexican drug dealers, etc. These are all successful educated people. I’m very worried about where we’re headed in this country. The left wing nuts on Twitter do not enter into my concerns.

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  15. Slugger says:

    I agree that it is very hard to change peoples’ positions. Once we are past adolescence, we all have established beliefs and will rise up to defend those beliefs as our first response when contrary information arises. I like the same baseball team, movies, and musical styles now as when I was twenty more than fifty years ago. On more important issues like politics and religion, I am as firm as my dislike of the Yankees and Ohio State.
    This is your blog, and I think you should use it to develop and flesh out your ideas. It is inherently unlikely that you’ll change many minds, but it is useful to have a wall to bounce things off, and that is how you should regard both the ones who cheer and the ones who boo. Think of poor me who has had to endure the bitterness of so many Yankee and Ohio State victories in my life. And hell no to that the Ohio State business.
    We should all strive to avoid the sixth grade level of puerile name calling that does degrade our discourse.

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  16. EddieInCA says:

    Dr. Joyner –

    I’ve refrained while commenting on the last few posts of yours because they pissed me off so much.

    For me, I’ve spent the last several weeks reading and posting almost exclusively at The Resurgent, National Review, The American Conservative, Hot Air, and The Federalist.

    After several weeks of this, I’m beyond numb. One thing that we no longer have as a country is an objective set of facts from which we can start an actual dialogue. How do you “debate” or exchange ideas with someone who, literally, is operating under a completely different reality where actual facts aren’t fact, and unfounded conspiracy is pushed as fact?

    There is as entire network, and a large conservative ecosystem, which does nothing to promulgate outright lies – which intend (and succeed) to give people an alternate reality.

    Do you now how many people actually believe that Joe Biden did something illegal in Ukraine and has a long history of corruption in the USA?

    Do you know how many people actually believe that Hillary Clinton was 100% responsible for Benghazi?

    Do you know how many people actually believe that Adam Schiff should be tried for treason for doing his job of oversight?

    Do you know how many people believe that the lifetime Republican appointees to the FBI and NSA are part of a coup against Trump?

    All this stuff is insane, yet it’s presented as “one side of an argument’. So how the f**k do you have a conversation with people are believing nonsense?

    I can’t. And the numbers that believe the BS is astounding.

    Yesterday, Facebook made, as an official policy, that political ads will have zero fact checking. In other words, Facebook is going to allow candidates to lie with impunity.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/24/facebook-will-let-politicians-post-without-fact-checking.html

    Then you come along and talk about Elizabeth Warren’s “relationship to the truth”, when there is overwhelming evidence she was truthful, and the “lie” is part of a nuanced situation from 50 f**king years ago? Seriously!!!! WTF? If this is where you are, Dr, Joyner; if this is what you’re thinking about as a rational, thoughtful, smart intellectual, what are they thinking about in the fever swamps of Breitbart, Drudge, Townhall, and the like?

    Seriously. What the actual F**K?

    Get ready for Swiftboat 2.0, Butter Emails 2.0, Birtherism 2.0. On steroids.

    We’re screwed.

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  17. KM says:

    @Scott:

    Quite a sad situation, really and I don’t see a way back either locally or nationally.

    A huge part is deliberate polarization and fostered tribalism on the part of people profiting off this. Look no further then the cynical evangelicals who are acting like Trump is the Second Coming. They are using the tools of their trade to deliberately influence and push people into an untenable position of supporting the unsupportable solely to enrich and empower themselves. For God’s sake, Roberston is claiming Trump has the “Mandate of Heaven” to lose. That’s not even a Christian concept! We had the “divine right of kings” but that’s not the same thing. The divine right of kings meant only God could Judge the sovereign and they ruled without the consent of the People. It didn’t mean they were blessed or appointed by God but that by virtue of being King, they were inherently better then everyone else but God. If an individual King was overthrown, no big deal – it was the concept of “King is better then you” that mattered. The Mandate of Heaven stated that a just ruler had the approval of Heaven and an unjust ruler would be replaced. It was used to justify dynasties and revolutions with the assumption the current ruler was a good one since they were in power / took it from the old. Robertson is essentially saying that Trump has a right to be President because God said so and if he doesn’t behave, God will punish him (and thus America) by costing him the election.

    How can you have a debate with this? This is the kind of “logic” we rebelled against back in 1776 and is utterly anathema to a democratic way of thinking. And yet, it’s becoming an article of faith on the right (literally) that Trump has diving providence backing him and to question that is to question God. The people pushing that idea *KNOW* it’s not true and are doing it solely to drive a wedge in this nation. To push their bloc further into their grasp and consolidate their fading power. Still, point this fact out and you are “attacking” their faith and their way of life – thus you are “enemy” and “violating religious liberties”. They’ve woven their defenses in such a way that any criticism is seen as an attack on their very existence so no, discourse isn’t happening. At best we’ll have a detente for a number of years.

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  18. @Slugger: The sports analogy is apt, as we all are often in denial about how much of our partisan attachments are similar to our sports loyalties.

    That is why I keep pointing out a lot of GOP of Trump is just basic partisanship and not necessarily about any specific action.

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  19. dmichael says:

    James: You have now posted three essays, the second two of which attempt to deflect the criticisms of the first. The second two whine about the inability of having rational discourse apparently because you are unable to address the legitimate criticisms of the first. Stop digging. If you must respond, reread your first about Warren and then directly (and honestly) address those criticisms. I am not going to repeat what I have criticized you about before but ask that you take to heart what Jen says about implicit bias.

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  20. James Joyner says:

    @EddieInCA:

    If this is where you are, Dr, Joyner; if this is what you’re thinking about as a rational, thoughtful, smart intellectual, what are they thinking about in the fever swamps of Breitbart, Drudge, Townhall, and the like?

    It’s been a long time since I visited any of those sites other than to follow a link from a credible source or to investigate “what are the crazies saying about this issue.” I’m much more likely to visit a Mother Jones, Rolling Stone, The Nation, etc. than any of them.

    WRT Warren, I’m evaluating the Democratic candidates because I expect to vote for one of them next November. While I disagree with her ideologically, I actually rather like her. She’s fast becoming my preferred candidate among the plausible ones because Joe Biden seems to be visibly in decline, Bernie Sanders seems like an asshole, and I don’t think Kamala Harris is ready for prime time. I don’t care much why she left a job in 1971. My concern was doubling down on a narrative when challenged with a detailed and varying narrative from a few years ago. Like Biden’s verbal miscues, it raises a red flag for me. I noted in the post that I don’t think it’s disqualifying. But I find it mildly troubling, especially if it’s part of a pattern.

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  21. KM says:

    @Slugger:

    We should all strive to avoid the sixth grade level of puerile name calling that does degrade our discourse.

    Yes, we should as a general rule. However, it’s becoming pretty clear in politics that Republicans are allowed to say and do terrible things without consequences while Dems are being held to strict standard by the public as well as their own party. It’s irritating AF to be told to “calm yourself” and have your anger stifled when your opponent gets free reign to piss you off.

    Right now, America is an apartment that looks like something out of Hoarders. It’s dirty and cluttered and falling apart from all the neglect and rot. One roommate is leaving two-week old dirty dishes under underwear piles, throwing their trash all over the room and even taking a piss in the corner because the bathroom is too far away. The other roommate forgot to put their laundry away because they’re trying to clean up the piss and find the smelly dishes. If you say “this apartment is a mess because you’re both leaving clothes out”, it is technically true and advice that needs to be followed. It’s also going to piss off the cleaner roommate since it’s pretty damn clear who’s soiled jock strap is hanging from the doorknob. Telling the cleaner roommate they need to take the initiate to clean up since the pig clearly isn’t going to do anything is going to end rather badly. There’s an obvious problem that needs to be dealt with but trying to appeal to the adult in the room is going to foster some major resentment. Caring more about the pig’s feelings then the cleaner roommate is going to make them hate the guy even more then the dirt will. Putting the responsibility to clean or even have a discussion about cleaning on them is asking for a confrontation.

    Liberals are being asked to put up with a lot right now. Conservatives are in a phase where reality is out to lunch and their cult leader is setting their robes on fire while still clothed. They’re having a moment. It happens. Being asked to have a civil conversation someone like that is one thing but that’s not what’s happening. We’re being asked to treat all of this as normal and valid. We’re being asked to compromise and “work with” people who don’t see the same color sky we do. We being told to be the adult and do the heavy lifting to get things back to functional while not doing anything to stop the destruction from happening. That’s not discourse – that’s taking advantage. Discourse is a back and further, not take take take.

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  22. James Joyner says:

    @KM:

    We’re being asked to treat all of this as normal and valid. We’re being asked to compromise and “work with” people who don’t see the same color sky we do. We being told to be the adult and do the heavy lifting to get things back to functional while not doing anything to stop the destruction from happening. That’s not discourse – that’s taking advantage. Discourse is a back and further, not take take take.

    So, I think that’s a reasonable point of view in a fight with a staunch supporter of Trump. Or when comparing a Democratic candidate to Trump. But it’s a losing strategy when talking with people who both disagree with Trump and the the more sweeping policy preferences of the Sanders/AOC left.

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  23. EddieInCA says:

    @James Joyner:

    Thank you for the response. As I mentioned previously, I find you a thoughtful, smart, decent, honest man. I find a kinship with you because you and I have both had to deal with the loss of a spouse long before it was time. I know how that changes one’s perspective on much of life.

    But my larger question remains. How is it possible to have a rational discourse about policy when almost 40% of the population believes in fairy tales, and there is no repercussions for such beliefs?

    I listened to Hannity and Dan Bongino on Fox last night talk about Adam Schiff writing the whisleblower’s report. How do you combat that sort of outright fabrication?

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  24. mistermix says:

    I made a snarky comment in the Warren post, but I’ll make a serious one here.

    At this point in our history, there just isn’t any air in the room for picayune criticism of a Democratic candidate. Elizabeth Warren (perhaps) made a couple of exaggerations/omissions in her biography. This is standard politics, and in a normal time, we could have a back and forth on that, and I’d enjoy having it. I’m sure you would be generally reasonable about it, as you are about most things.

    This is not a normal time. An honest investigation showed that a foreign power interfered with our elections, and, by his own admission, the current President is actively soliciting more interference. (I don’t think you’d disagree with that, James, but maybe you do. ) And, the bulk of his party is complicit with that solicitation (actively defending it or simply hiding from it). One of the tactics used by foreign governments seeking interference was to “flood the zone” with lies built on tiny slivers of truth or half-truth. Based on the 2016 experience and the 2019 reality, those fighting back against Trump think, with justification I might add, that they are involved in a war, and part of the war is to push back on half-truths where they find them.

    Personally, my tolerance for picayune criticism is much lower because it has a real “fiddling while Rome burns” feel to it. That was what moved me to make a snarky comment on your Warren post, because it felt like an anachronism.

    I think the way through this for someone who wants to have reasonable discourse is to have a sense of proportionality and consult it regularly. Does Warren generally tell the truth? She’s been in the public eye long enough for everyone to know that the answer to that is yes. Is she “doubling down” – no, she’s fighting back. Does she deserve a bit of the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her subjective evaluation of her firing, dismissal, whatever in 1970? I would say yes, especially since those of us who were alive in 1970 know how women were treated then.

    I will say that your posts made me think about why I reacted the way I did, and maybe I’ll phrase my criticism differently, so you had an impact on me. I hope you keep posting.

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  25. EddieInCA says:

    @James Joyner:

    But it’s a losing strategy when talking with people who both disagree with Trump and the the more sweeping policy preferences of the Sanders/AOC left.

    That’s me. I have no love for AOC’s policies across the board. And I’ve been a Never-Bernie forever.

    BUT….

    The fact that you equate the two is the largest part of the problem? You know who pushes AOC’s policies most? The GOP and Conservatives. Why? Because they want her to be the face of the party, even though she’s a freshman congresswoman from NYC.

    What legislation has she passed? Same for Bernie. Which of his policies actually has a chance to pass the house and Senate and passed into law?

    You’re comparing the President of the United States, who has implemented policies for the last 3 years which have hurt most Americans, to a Freshman Congresswoman from NYC, and a quasi-socialist multi-term US Senator from Vermont more known for his cantankerous ways than any legislative achievements.

    That alone shows the issue facing the country. The two scenarios are not close to equal, yet you’re conflating the two.

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  26. @mistermix:

    At this point in our history, there just isn’t any air in the room for picayune criticism of a Democratic candidate

    I think this is problematic, insofar as it sounds like Democratic candidates should not be scrutinized or criticized because Trump is so terrible (and yes, the word “picayune” is relevant).

    Still, I think it is dangerous to make a suggestion that the Dems are above criticism. BUT, I do think that criticizing the framing is essential (as is pointing out when the critiques are petty).

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  27. michael reynolds says:

    But the other side has formed its own kind of echo chamber. It’s not a fact-free zone in the way of the opinion side of Fox News or Breitbart/Daily Caller/etc. But, especially as carried out on Twitter and to a much lesser degree in the comments here, there seems to be more interest in virtue signaling than persuasion.

    I largely agree. For example I am an equal opportunity debater. But when I have a sharp dialog with a woman online I’m often told it’s sexist. When I ask whether they think I should use only gentle language when talking to a woman, in other words condescend as if this was the 1950’s, they’re just baffled.

    Not everyone on ‘my’ side is exactly brilliant. Most get a sort of single layer notion of things and instantly try to weaponize that. Yes, it’s virtue signaling, but mostly it’s just the left-wing counterpart of @Paul: they get one semi-relevant minor fact and think they’re polymaths. More Dunning-Kruger than anything. Like children who pipe up in adult conversation to start reciting their times tables. Again, like @Paul.

    When we get past the present emergency I will absolutely get back to focusing on it. But when you’re fighting Nazis you set aside your issues with, say, colonialists.

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  28. James Joyner says:

    @mistermix:

    Personally, my tolerance for picayune criticism is much lower because it has a real “fiddling while Rome burns” feel to it. That was what moved me to make a snarky comment on your Warren post, because it felt like an anachronism.

    Again, I could see that argument were she the nominee and this October 2020 and not October 2019 when we’re trying to figure out who to nominate.

    I think the way through this for someone who wants to have reasonable discourse is to have a sense of proportionality and consult it regularly. Does Warren generally tell the truth? She’s been in the public eye long enough for everyone to know that the answer to that is yes. Is she “doubling down” – no, she’s fighting back. Does she deserve a bit of the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her subjective evaluation of her firing, dismissal, whatever in 1970? I would say yes, especially since those of us who were alive in 1970 know how women were treated then.

    So, I think this is a fair critique of the argument. I’m taking two long-running examples of something and extrapolating a trend. I think that’s a reasonable thing to do. And blogging involves doing that publicly. But it’s also fair to say that, overall, she seems like a decent and honorable person and that we shouldn’t take too harsh a view of the trend.

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  29. mistermix says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I agree with you – I didn’t mean to imply that she’s above criticism, and certainly her substantive policy positions and her actions when she held office should be wide open for a lively debate.

    But when it comes to this long-ago personal stuff, in addition to pointing out that they are petty, I think when the candidate is a woman, there needs to be some recognition that her subjective testimony about her lived experience probably should have some weight, especially when the issue is something that happened almost 50 years ago.

    And, certainly, “picayune” is doing a lot of work in my comment above.

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  30. KM says:

    @James Joyner :
    Fair enough. My point was more the invalidation of liberal frustration as a whole instead of outreach to specific groups. It’s going to affect overall outlook and behavior when the general consensus is for liberals to be constantly “civil” and swallow down any negatively. Always telling liberals they have to change to appeal to on-the-fence group is putting the onus on them unfairly. It’s also shifting blame and consequences the same way abusers do – “why do you make me do that?”

    Frankly, if your choice is between Trump and X and you choose Trump, it’s your own damn fault and you deserve everything that happens to you. You are choosing one of the worst people this country’s ever had in politics on purpose. If I offer you arsenic and a badly burned grilled cheese sandwich that’s been on the floor for ten minutes, I shouldn’t have to extol the virtues of the sandwich because it’s not freaking arsenic. Is it a good choice for you? No. Is it a choice that will make you happy? Hell no. But it is a choice with a clearly obvious answer and if you chose the poison, it’s not my fault for not convincing you otherwise. If it’s even close in your head, what could I possibly say to convince you? It’s not like it’s a choice between Crappy Bland Candidate A and Crappy Bland Candidate B. It anyone picks Trump now, it’s their own damn choice and no one else. We’ve hit a point where there’s really no ambiguity anymore. Don’t like AOC/Warren/Sanders/Harris/Burnt Grilled Cheese? Fine, drink the arsenic. It’s gonna kill you but hey, no burnt cheese taste, right? And no, the paramedics aren’t coming to save you when you inevitably freak out over the whole dying thing. We’re respecting your choice and it’s too late to change your mind.

    We joke about Cult#45 but it’s not funny anymore. We’re trying to argue with people to not drink the Koolaid because they don’t like AOC’s (who’s not even running) sweeping policy? Stand back and think about that. It’s absurd and makes you wonder if it’s worth the effort. This country is hosed the second liberals decide it’s not worth the effort anymore and let it all burn. We can only care so much before we burn ourselves out and we’re rapidly approaching that point.

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  31. Barry says:

    @steve: “They cite people like Bill O”Reilly or Sean Hannity (or one of his disciples) as authoritative. It would never even occur to me to cite equivalent people on the left (Michael Moore as an example) as authoritative. ”

    The latter occasionally appears on shows.

    The former have shows.

    In addition, the President runs off of Hannity; there is no evidence that any top Dem candidate cares what Moore says.

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  32. Stormy Dragon says:

    But, especially as carried out on Twitter and to a much lesser degree in the comments here, there seems to be more interest in virtue signaling than persuasion.

    How does the words of random people on Twitter have anything to do with what the commenters here are saying? It doesn’t. But by lumping them all together into a box, you have a convenient pre-built excuse for refusing to engage with the criticism you received on the Warren and Woodward posts.

    Alternatively, arguing that, from the cultural position of a black/Hispanic/woman, a situation looks different because X, Y, and Z can advance the discussion by bringing new information to help bridge gaps in understanding.

    The comments in the Warren posts were full of personal testimonials from people who suffered the exact same problems Warren claims to have experience. You didn’t seem at all interested bridging the gaps in understanding.

    That’s entirely fair and I at least try to do that.

    You have? How? All you’ve done is accuse people of arguing things they don’t actually believe and of being “Social Justice Warriors” who can be ignored out of hand.

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  33. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    it was a live debate partly becasue Hillary supporters were so adamant that she’d done nothing wrong, thus keeping the topic fresh and interesting.

    it was a live debate partly becasue Hillary opponents were so adamant that she’d done something wrong, thus keeping the topic fresh and interesting.

    Just a little adjustment 😉

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  34. Blue Galangal says:

    @KM: First – I think I love you. <3

    It’s going to affect overall outlook and behavior when the general consensus is for liberals to be constantly “civil” and swallow down any negatively. Always telling liberals they have to change to appeal to on-the-fence group is putting the onus on them unfairly. It’s also shifting blame and consequences the same way abusers do – “why do you make me do that?”

    This has been a minor drumbeat for a little while now, and came to my notice about the time Max Boot unswallowed the Kool-Aid publicly and undeniably. Right after that there started to be editorials and columns about how “we” couldn’t nominate someone the “reasonable conservatives” wouldn’t vote for.

    And your response is *chef kiss* exactly what the real situation is. Either you want arsenic or burnt grilled cheese that’s been on the floor. Where the dog walks.

    Burnt grilled cheese for me, thanks, even if it’s got Bernie’s face and some dog slobber on it.

    @James Joyner: No, I do not think it’s reasonable to take two minor examples and “extrapolate a trend” from it. Many of us have lived experiences that reflect similar experiences to Warren’s, and in both cases, the issues are so nuanced that it is disingenuous to claim they are lies.

    My grandfather and then my mother claimed Cherokee blood my entire life and it was not until the advent of 23andme that several of us found out we don’t have an iota or speck of Native American DNA. If you had asked me, her, or any of my siblings or grandparents in 1980 if we had Native American blood, the answer would have been yes without a second thought because this was the received knowledge in our family. If we had gotten results similar to Warren’s, indicating an ancestor ~6 generations back, that would have comported exactly with what my family believed to be true and in her specific case, it turns out family history is likely (statistically speaking) to be correct.

    The second “lie” was ginned up by a fact free site to create exactly this controversy a la Hillary.

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  35. Cheryl Rofer says:

    @James Joyner:

    But it’s a losing strategy when talking with people who both disagree with Trump and the the more sweeping policy preferences of the Sanders/AOC left.

    This is perilously close to the “you’re going to make me vote for Trump by your liberalism” argument.

    James, you were wrong about Elizabeth Warren because you are still blind, even after all the responses, to women’s lived experience and the facts of how pregnancy was handled in employment through the 1970s. Please evaluate that.

    And, overall, take responsibility for your own comments and emotional responses before you tell others how to argue.

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  36. MarkedMan says:

    I’m going to disagree with the only thing in the OP that hasn’t been challenged yet: that reasoned debate no longer changes minds. And I’m going to disagree in two ways. First, the premise is wrong because it never did. Second the content is wrong because, yes, it actually did and still does.

    For most things that fall into one of the philosophy/religion/ethics/politics bins I don’t think people have ever been particularly likely to change their mind in the moment. But over the long term, steady, rational argument and the evidence of one’s own eyes does have an effect. Look at gay marriage. There was a decades long tunnel from when the lovable cops on Barney Miller were arresting a gay man for the crime of being flamboyant on a public street to the point where a solid majority of Americans think that of course gay people should be able to marry anyone they wish. And at no point was it ever likely that reasoned discussions were instantly changing people’s mind, but somehow when we reached the end of that tunnel lots of minds had been changed.

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  37. de stijl says:

    New American right discovered somewhere in some penumbra:

    I have the right to publicly state a “hot take” on a contentious issue and it shall not be criticized, and if you do you’re an SJW poopyhead incapable of proper, reasoned discourse.

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  38. michael reynolds says:

    James:

    You make a category error – you think this is a political fight; it’s not. This is a fight against evil.

    We’re not debating an appropriations bill, we’re debating whether we will be a white supremacist country, whether we will have the rule of law, whether we will remain a free people. You kind of get it, but you kind of don’t. And before you decide that wild-eyed Michael is off the rails, show me where I’ve been wrong about Trump, or about #Cult45, or about the nature of the Republican party.

    I’ve been telling you for years – long before Trump – that GOP power rests on racism. Been telling you for years that they are hypocrites who don’t actually believe anything they say on deficits, on the constitution, on the very concept of conservatism. Where have I been wrong?

    I told you Trump was a psychopath, incapable of empathy, a narcissist, a weak, predatory pig of a man who would never grow even a millimeter in office. Was I wrong?

    I could go on, and on, down a long list of bullet points, but the bottom line here is that for all your open-mindedness you are failing to grasp the essence of what’s happening and what’s at stake. You know lots of Republicans, you work with them, they seem like decent patriotic fellows. Who support a racist, fascist, corrupt scumbag who has sold this country out. They support a traitor, James. What do you think that makes them?

    You instinctively reject what you think of as extreme rhetoric. Well, you know what? Sometimes what you think of as extreme rhetoric is a simple statement of fact.

    Open you fkin eyes and see what’s right in front of you. There is no scale to balance, here. There is evil, and there is if not good then at least rationality and truth and some fundamental decency.

    Jesus Christ, it’s 1939 and at some level you insist on refusing to face the full depths of the tragedy unfolding. Wake the hell up. You know, like the Kurds just did.

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  39. Cheryl Rofer says:

    On Elizabeth Warren’s claim that she was fired for being pregnant, from Margaret Sullivan, former public editor for the New York Times.

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  40. Jen says:

    @R.Dave:

    It does seem to make a lot of intuitive sense, and I used to find it quite persuasive myself, but the core studies underlying the concept have more or less fallen victim to the replication crisis in social-psychology over the last couple of years, so it’s unclear how much, if any, value it really has for predicting or explaining behavior.

    I am familiar with the replication challenges for implicit bias, but it’s important to note that when we are talking about implicit bias, as opposed to unconscious bias, the difference is in questioning how buried a bias can truly be as the public becomes more and more aware of their existence. In short, as society changes and more people recognize biases, implicit bias will decline–or at least change.

    A couple of years ago, a NH news outlet–I can’t remember if I read it or heard it on NHPR–ran a story about some federal race in the state–either House or Senate, I can’t remember which. Buried in the piece was an interview with a voter, who had a pre-teen daughter with her, who expressed surprised that a man was running for the seat. Because NH had an all-female delegation (Shaheen, Ayotte, Kuster, and Shea-Porter) with representatives from both parties and had for several years, that’s what this child understood to be who represented NH in government. In the child’s view, with her (limited) experience, this just wasn’t something that men did.

    Beyond that, it’s also a really convenient and non-falsifiable way of dismissing or at least skeptically discounting any position that runs counter to “woke” progressivism,

    This is interesting in that I view pointing out the existence of implicit or unconscious bias not as a way to discount a person’s position, but rather to note that an individual might be viewing an issue through a specific lens of life that might restrict full understanding of a contrary position. The ability to be empathetic, and put yourself in someone else’s shoes, works wonders for civil discourse.

    while simultaneously flattering oneself for being so comparatively objective and insightful, which in and of itself should counsel against relying on it.

    This part is just arrogant and disingenuous. Pointing out that people’s perspectives are shaped by their lived experiences isn’t some flighty notion.

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  41. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    That’s entirely fair and I at least try to do that [examine bias]. I think I do with regard to, say, Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi. I probably don’t in the case of Hillary Clinton, because it’s next to impossible to assess her without the baggage of how I viewed her in the 1990s creeping in.

    I don’t think you do it with Warren. I think you genuinely dislike her for policy and (possibly) style reasons, and that this makes you far less likely to giver her the benefit of the doubt, far less likely to consider her perspective, and far more likely to find a negative pattern from a few data points.

    And far more likely to hear a sexist attack on her, and not consider it before repeating it.

    You would be far more comfortable if the Democrats nominated Amy Klobuchar than Elizabeth Warren, and I strongly suspect that if Klobuchar said she was fired for being pregnant many years ago you would probably* take a little time to try to understand any inconsistencies rather than leaping on the inconsistency as proof she was dishonest.

    For all Warren’s flaws, I don’t think dishonesty is one of them. If she says she is part Native American, it’s because she believes she is part Native American. (Not chatting with Tribal Leaders before revealing the DNA… that could be part of her other flaws)

    *: probably. You have some serious blind spots that seem to come out on full display pretty often. I wouldn’t call you sexist or racist or whatever, but you’re quick to judge things from your perspective before considering others with different life experiences. You’re bad at it. Not a bad person, just bad at doing that without prompting. You’re often open to having your mind changed when maybe you should have had an open mind longer.

    But I get frustrated when, as in the Woodward case, I make the argument he was doing exactly what happens all the time in these fora, regardless of sex and the pushback ignores that and says, no, it was about the gender dynamics.

    I don’t know, man, I don’t know. I totally get this, and in isolation would agree with you, but a lot of folks think you’re wrong. And Woodward definitely didn’t read the crowd.

    It might be like how portraying George W. Bush as a monkey because of his big ears is entirely different than portraying Barack Obama as a monkey. Same act, different meanings.

    When Biden debated Palin, he reportedly had to be coached on not talking over her since it looked so bad. The fact that she was an idiot and the longer she spoke the worse it was probably made that a little easier.

    Congratulations, you found something a white man can’t do without backlash. There’s a whole lot more that women and PoC cannot do without backlash.

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  42. Chip Vogel says:

    Yep
    Those stupid brainwashed Nazis and Commies stop listening for some reason.
    They ignore facts that prove they are filthy liars and Nazis and Commies.
    This proves they lack intellectual honesty and are incapable of changing their minds.
    It’s just that simple.

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  43. Fortunato says:

    But the other side has formed its own kind of echo chamber. It’s not a fact-free zone in the way of the opinion side of Fox News or Breitbart/Daily Caller/etc.

    “The opinion side..”?

    I wasn’t aware there was a side of Breitbart/Daily Caller/etc. that was anything other than fact free.
    Also, Shep Smith and Chris Wallace comprise, what.. 5%, maybe 7%, of Fox ‘News’ daily output of obfuscation and bilge?
    And for the coming election season Fox has now seen fit to reward none other than John Solomon, Grand Poobah of the wingnuttiest of conspiracies, with a prime time platform.

    Fox, Breitbart, Daily Caller etc.. are each and every one an equally vile plague on our nation’s soul. To imagine them as anything less only perpetuates the contagion they spread and nurture – in the name of profit.

    And this farming of the fevered swamp isn’t a phenomena du Trump. It was in 2012, long before the emergence of Donny Two Scoops, that David Frum was forced to come forward, admitting:
    “Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex,”.

    by the way, the above link takes you back to this very site and a Nov 9, 2012 post by Doug Mataconis and the 34 ensuing comments.

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  44. Blue Galangal says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Thanks for posting the link.

    It all seems to track: There is no big controversy here. No apparent lie and no “character issue” that should unduly concern the voting public.

    If there is a scandal here, it’s how — in the bad-faith media world — narrowly presented facts without sufficient context can do unfair harm.

    They can and will be weaponized, falsely regurgitated and twisted beyond recognition.

    The only thing missing from this mini-saga is President Trump’s custom-made insult. Stand by for that.

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  45. Pylon says:

    I’m somewhat sympathetic to a post which says “I tried to argue in good faith but you won’t listen”. Except then I see stuff like “Social Justice Warrior” or “virtue signalling” which, to me, are always indicators that anything I say in response is going to be shrugged off.

    Nothing stops me in a discussion quicker than hearing “Social Justice Warrior, even when it’s not directed at me (which it rarely is).

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  46. Jen says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    @Blue Galangal:

    And where is that piece posted? In the Style section.

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  47. Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Jen: I bugged Dan Zak about that a while back. Apparently WaPo is trying to make the Style section much more than what we think of as Style sections. So Dan writes there about global warming and nuclear weapons and there is other good stuff too.

    But maybe they should call it other than “Style.”

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  48. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    But it’s a losing strategy when talking with people who both disagree with Trump and the the more sweeping policy preferences of the Sanders/AOC left.

    Can we pause a moment here to note that the policy preferences of Bernie Sanders and AOC have never made it anywhere near the actual election platform of the Democratic Party at any time? AOC is a junior Representative; Sanders isn’t even a Democrat. Their rhetoric affects the discourse within the party, but there is as yet no evidence that it can or will lead to any actual far-left planks in a platform. This is in sharp contrast with the GOP, where the most extreme positions are not merely showing up in election platforms, they are also the current administration’s policies.

    I feel that people lose sight of this asymmetry when discussing the current situation.

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  49. Andy says:

    I’m late to the second part of this party – there’s a lot I missed and I would like to respond to several comments but instead, I’ll just present my own views on l’affaire de Joyner.

    The TLDR version is that I think many people here are missing a fundamental point of these two discourse posts. James isn’t complaining about pushback to his posts, he’s complaining (legitimately, in my view), about the form and method of pushback. Pushback and disagreement is perfectly fine – we probably wouldn’t be here at all if everyone agreed about everything.

    But not all disagreement is equal. How one goes about disagreeing matters a great deal as does the context and content of the disagreement itself.

    Too often (probably most often) the first thing that comes out in a disagreement here is an ad hominem or some form of whataboutism – both fallacies that do three things:
    – Register disagreement
    – Avoid tackling the disagreement on the merits
    – Put the person you’re disagreeing with on the defensive by trying to force them to respond to your fallacy.

    And the result of this debate tactic is “pushback” that doesn’t actually refute whatever the person was trying to say, but instead tries to shame them or divert the conversation to ad hominem or irrelevancy.

    It still boggles my mind that several regulars here still impugn the motives and the character of the hosts whenever they write something that goes against certain dogma. After well over a decade of blogging, there are still people whose first instinct is to question their moral character and make assumptions about what “really” motivated their wrong views instead of accepting them as honestly held and responding in kind.

    Example – All three regular hosts here (James, Doug and Steven) have strongly established bona fides of opposition to President Trump and his policies. Yet, whenever anyone of them criticizes a Democrat, you can practically count the seconds until someone responds with some variation of “but Trump!!!” or “False equivalence!” or the various ad homimens, sometimes followed by long explanations about why it isn’t fair to crititicize anyone but Trump. That, in my view, is exactly what James is talking about here:

    But, especially as carried out on Twitter and to a much lesser degree in the comments here, there seems to be more interest in virtue signaling than persuasion.

    I’ve written many times over the last few years about particular examples but articulating a general sense of it is difficult. But there’s a tendency to shut down discourse through ad hominem, poisoning the well, and other fallacies of distraction.

    And what I would like to try to get those who engage in this style of debate to understand is that it’s not effective and it’s even counterproductive. These discourse posts are proof enough of that.

    James, Doug, and Steven are known quantities and their overall philosophy should be well understood by any of the regulars here. And despite the slings and arrows thrown their way, they are unfailingly polite and take even the bullshit criticism in stride. Honestly, if it were me running things here, I would have quit long ago.

    So, is it really too much to ask you to give them the benefit of the doubt before unloading your both-barrels broadside not-on-the-merits attack that triggered you? Maybe try – at least once – to disagree and make your argument on the merits instead of asserting their “wrong” view must come from some immutable characteristic like their skin color? Maybe assume they just don’t know the full information instead of assuming implicit bias? Is that really so difficult?

    Because here’s the thing, they’ve demonstrated over many years they are persuadable and reasonable. If you ACTUALLY want to change their minds instead of farming tribal upvotes, avoiding their arguments through ad hominem and whattaboutism just makes you look like an asshole. Trust me, it’s not convincing.

    Example?

    On the Warren post, I think the reasonable approach would have worked much better. There were many good arguments that James oversold his point, at least, which were plenty convincing without having to wade through all BS attacks and frankly unsubstantiated pseudo-psychology drivel that his view was the product of white privilege or implicit bias. Such accusations are so pernicious because they can’t be confirmed or refuted – so they’re the perfect weapons. Stop using them, you don’t need them. If your views are actually right then the merits of your arguments will carry the day – or at least appeal to the fence-sitters and whoever else may be reading.

    Please, give it a try.

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  50. An Interested Party says:

    …all BS attacks and frankly unsubstantiated pseudo-psychology drivel that his view was the product of white privilege or implicit bias.

    Surely a woman around Elizabeth Warren’s age who may have had the same issue when she was pregnant or knew another woman who did might understand what Warren said she did better than, say, James…

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  51. Andy says:

    @An Interested Party:

    An assumption is an assumption. Does your argument really hinge on the gender of the people making their points? Can you prove that is the reason James came to the conclusion he did – or are you just assuming? How can you know? Please explain and be specific.

    I know you can’t. You can’t see into Jame’s mind to know or understand why he made the argument he did. You’ve just assumed it’s because he’s a man – which you can’t prove and which he can’t disprove.

    So, to reiterate my point, why use an argument based on your own assumptions about Joyner’s gender rather than other arguments that are actually pertinent to the facts? There is a lot of good information and points that are actually relevant that were brought up in that thread, such as the norms of the time, the change in the law, etc. that call into question the claim that Warren was lying.

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  52. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    Can you prove that is the reason James came to the conclusion he did – or are you just assuming? How can you know?

    Because this is not one isolated post in a vacuum. It is one in a long line of posts over the years in which James repeatedly displays exactly the same blind spot, then doubles down on it when it is pointed out to him that he is doing that. The “pointing out” has gotten less gentle over time; that’s unfortunate but not surprising.

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  53. Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Andy: I have great respect for you and would like to see you on the internets more.

    I have worked in the government bureaucracy and have written academic papers and know very well how to write what is conventionally called a logical argument.

    BUT

    A certain group of people (yes, white cishet men) have called the shots for all too long. They have told us what to think and how to think it. They even tell us when all indications are that we know better than they do; they ignore that.

    As I said above, I know how to do what James and you have described. At this time of my life, I choose not to do it. That is also a form of argumentation. I no longer allow white cishet men to define how I am to express my thoughts.

    When the argument falls into an all too well-known rut (I am now explaining to you how I expect you to make your arguments, and I find arguments from your lived experience unconvincing), it’s time to disrupt.

    There are a number of concepts that have new names like mansplaining because the white cishet male discourse did not allow for them. It’s easier to use those new names than to explain, yet one more time to be ignored, the concept. We have the Google.

    The world changes. It no longer is the property of a single group.

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  54. An Interested Party says:

    Does your argument really hinge on the gender of the people making their points?

    No it does not…it hinges on the people who had a similar experience as Warren…of course, since men can’t get pregnant, those people just happen to be women…

    There is a lot of good information and points that are actually relevant that were brought up in that thread, such as the norms of the time, the change in the law, etc. that call into question the claim that Warren was lying.

    Yes, also like, again, the viewpoint of women who had a similar experience to Warren’s…

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  55. Andy says:

    Cheryl,

    It is great to hear from you and I hope all is well in NM. I’m no longer on Twitter (my account is there but dormant, neglected and rarely checked) but I am still a regular reader of Nuclear Diner which continues to be an insightful and valuable voice.

    With respect to the problem of white men dominating various parts of American society, or really any issue one might want to address, I just return to the practicalities – what is likely to advance the cause or overcome the problem?

    For me, that is the fundamental question – what is effective in advancing a goal? In an online debate presumably that goal is convincing others. I can only speak for myself in that regard, but my sense is that the techniques which focus on fallacies, perceived motives, perceived bias and unalterable traits like skin color are not convincing arguments for the intended audience. I know they aren’t convincing when people deploy them against me. So why use them?

    Secondly, I have no desire or intention to dictate to others what they should say and how they should express their thoughts. My comment above was a request – or plea- to consider alternatives, not a demand for compliance. Everyone is free to choose how to express their views and I am an ardent defender of free speech. But the other side of that coin is everyone is just as free to choose how to respond, or whether to respond at all.

    I agree with you about the need to disrupt after falling into a well-worn rut. It’s just that, from my perspective, the well-known rut is what I previously described in my original comment. The rut is the typical internet and social media debates defined by invective, ad hominem, whataboutism and other fallacies. That “norm” is a big reason why I abandoned Twitter. Disruption, in my view, would be to change that dynamic, not reinforce it.

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  56. Andy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Because this is not one isolated post in a vacuum. It is one in a long line of posts over the years in which James repeatedly displays exactly the same blind spot, then doubles down on it when it is pointed out to him that he is doing that. The “pointing out” has gotten less gentle over time; that’s unfortunate but not surprising.

    Let’s assume you’re right that James hasn’t changed and has had the “same blind spot” for years. I’ve been here for probably 15 years and I don’t think that’s true, but let’s assume it is.

    With that assumption, what is the reason this blind spot hasn’t changed?

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  57. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @KM: This reminds me of conversations that I have with my brother, fiercely conservative on economics only and more laissez faire on social policy. He’ll call me up and be all what Medicare for All and the Green New Deal are going to do to the economy, and I will reply “yeah, but fortunately, none of these things are going to be passed as presented currently, some of them not at all.”

    To which the response is always “Yeah, that’s true, but if they were, the whole global economy would tank.” And I shake my head and remember that “paranoia strikes deep.”

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  58. MarkedMan says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I get your broader point and agree with it. And you have no obligation to convince me of anything when you express your honest opinion. But FWIW when I read the post above the thing that overwhelms everything else you say is that You don’t feel James opinion is worth engaging because of his gender, his Sexual identity and the color of his skin.

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  59. Cheryl Rofer says:

    @MarkedMan: And that is one of the opinions I object to heartily. You are telling me what I think, and you are quite wrong.

    The fact is that I am engaging James. If I felt otherwise, I wouldn’t take time to write or read his blog posts. You choose to ignore facts in front of your face in favor of your divisive opinion.

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  60. An Interested Party says:

    Elizabeth Warren’s pregnancy discrimination “scandal” explains how identity politics have changed since 2016.

    Here’s the interesting thing about the response to this Warren “scandal,” though: Women responded not with sympathy for a woman who’s suffered, or with general fist-shaking at the patriarchy. They related to Warren with deep-seated anger, born of personal experience. They flooded Twitter with stories of pregnancy and the workplace. Some said they’d been demoted or passed over for promotions when it became clear that they were expecting. Some repeated diminishing comments they’d heard from managers when they’d showed up visibly pregnant to job interviews. Some shared the stories of their mothers, who were ushered out of the workforce when they became parents in the years before pregnancy discrimination was outlawed nationwide in 1978. Others told of mistreatment that still afflicts pregnant working women, or any working woman of reproductive age, given that employers suspect she might get pregnant, someday.

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  61. KM says:

    @Andy:

    I know you can’t. You can’t see into Jame’s mind to know or understand why he made the argument he did. You’ve just assumed it’s because he’s a man – which you can’t prove and which he can’t disprove.

    This is remarkably similar to the conservative “you can’t know their heart so you can’t possibly know they’re lying” defense. It predicates an unknowable, ineffable reality you have no access to and thus have no right to make any sort determination whatever on. BS! Of course we can’t know what’s in someone’s mind…. only what they choose to let out and show us. *That’s* what the judgement is based on. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, has baby ducklings following behind it then it’s probably not a zebra. Who knows – I could be wrong but the chances are really, really, really good that tiny bird’s not an equine taller then me and it’s safe to call the thing the duck that it is.

    When 50% of the population all chime in to tell you pretty much the same thing, it’s worth taking it seriously that there’s some truth there. When someone from the other 50% just ignores that and anyone pointing it out, it’s really easy to conclude what’s causing that disconnect. Again – we could be wrong but based on what was written and the follow-ups, it doesn’t seem like we’re not. In a debate, pointing out someone is arguing from ignorance, a limited point of view or a bad faith position is part of the discourse. That’s literally all we have to go on since, as you noted, we’re not mind-readers. What the debater chooses to put forth is part of their argument as the background logic and rationale.

    Sun Tzu said : “If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders ARE clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.” It is on the speaker to be clear in their meaning lest they be misunderstood to their detriment. Choosing to argue from a sexist position can lead to the listener assuming the speaker is endorsing that position. Failure to change the position after its problematic nature is pointed out and getting defensive doesn’t help dispel that notion. Is James sexist? I don’t know – I’d like to think not. Did he post several posts that really made it seem like that was his take on this particular issue? Yes, he did. Now, as a non-mind-reader what seems more likely, he holds some views that influenced these contentious posts or the entirety of his readership all jumped to the same conclusion independently over nothing? Remember, you can’t read our minds either so we should get the same benefit of the doubt…..

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  62. MarkedMan says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    You are telling me what I think, and you are quite wrong.

    You choose to ignore facts in front of your face in favor of your divisive opinion

    You honestly don’t see anything odd about these two comments coming in sequential order?

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  63. Blue Galangal says:

    @Jen: Oh jeez.

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  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Well and good, but there are two equations at work in communication–what you said and what listeners heard.

    I understand that you think you know what I said. The problem comes in that what you heard is not what I meant.

    Now, I’ll go back to Mansplaining Central and leave you to your communication.

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  65. dazedandconfused says:

    I’ve been of the opinion of late that cynicism is a beast that must be “taken by the horns”. Run from it and it will get ya every time.

    Vonnegut on Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo dodging…and to where it would eventually lead poor Hunter to:

    But we will be doing what he wants us to do, I think, if we consider his exterior a sort of Dorian Gray facade. Inwardly, he is being eaten alive by tinhorn politicians.

    The disease is fatal. There is no known cure. The most we can do for the poor devil, it seems to me, is to name his disease in his honor. From this moment on, let all those who feel that Americans can be as easily led to beauty as to ugliness, to truth as to public relations, to joy as to bitterness, be said to be suffering from Hunter Thompson’s disease.

    Bolding is mine. There above is a blast from the past. Vonnegut’s surprising review of “Fear and Loathing” . Sounds terribly cynical? Well…the riddle here is how did that terribly, terribly cynical Kurt Vonnegut remain a pleasant, thinking man right to the end and Hunter did not?

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