Steven L. Taylor
Monday, March 7, 2022
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective.
He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog).
Follow Steven on Twitter
On the New York subway the other day, a man walked by me. He looked to be in his late 20s or early 30s, Latino, and he stuck a sign on the window. I read the sign and quickly snapped a photo of it, seen here. It features a sketch of a man giving the finger, to the caption “Vaccinate THIS!” Underneath, it says, “Brought to you by THE WHITE ROSE.”
The White Rose was a resistance movement in Nazi Germany that distributed pamphlets opposing the regime. Its leaders were executed in 1943, less than a year after it first appeared. The modern-day group that has taken its name originates from the Telegram platform, and its messages are rife with New World Order conspiracy theories, links to white supremacist groups, and anti-Semitism.
I presume these folks would be quick to hate on “antifa,” even while naming themselves after an actual anti-fascist group.
@Kylopod: White supremacists aren’t too big on actual history, they prefer the made up kind.
2 stories in Sanction news:
Iran nuclear talks rocked by Russian demand for sanctions exemption
Like nobody saw that coming.
US officials fly to Venezuela for talks in apparent bid to further isolate Russia
I’m not holding my breath but…
Okay…. Which one of you bastards put away your snow shovel??
I did not order this.
Have Latinos become white supremacists?
Well, Nick Fuentes is of partially Hispanic descent. But the guy I encountered on the subway wasn’t a white-passing Hispanic. He was visibly brown.
Still, I never said he was a white supremacist, merely that the anti-vax sign he stuck on the window originated from a group that has been known to link to white supremacist sites. Either he’s ignorant of that fact, or indifferent to it. Neither is exactly uncommon these days.
Yes, I thought of Fuentes. It’s puzzling the exceptions that seem to be made.
@CSK: As my Mexican-American daughter in law says, “Mexicans can be racist as hell”.
And they don’t want to be considered People of Color.
@Mu Yixiao: We’re supposed to get some on Friday.
@Scott: Having traveled quite extensively in Mexico, yes.
@Scott: It’s been my experience that most people, all over the world, are racist as hell. The West seems more in your face racist simply because we are trying to change.
@Mu Yixiao: It was me, I apologize. I washed my car, replaced my windshield wipers, and ordered seeds. Now I’ve got 3 ft drifts. 😛
It’s not puzzling once you understand the strategy of WN groups, who over the past several decades have made significant efforts to worm their way into the mainstream, and part of that has involved downplaying some of their traditional anti-Semitism and racism and accepting a degree of tokenization that they might have been less amenable to in the past. David Duke was one of the first to employ this strategy, though after leaving politics in the early ’90s he soon removed the veil and reverted to being a more garden-variety white supremacist. The rise of the alt-right in the past decade provided a new avenue for this strategy, by framing their rhetoric as mere trolling. So you have gay (now “ex-gay”), allegedly Jewish Milo Yiannopoulos talking about how “we” control the banks, then you have Michelle Malkin, herself the daughter of Filipino immigrants and married to a Jewish man, speaking at VDARE about how the country is losing its whiteness and defending Fuentes’ comments questioning the number dead in the Holocaust (which Fuentes himself claims was a joke).
I agree, also, that there are many racist Hispanics. It reminds me in some ways of the way many Irish immigrants in the 19th century, themselves the victims of persecution, quickly embraced white supremacy in order to be accepted in the white mainstream.
@MarkedMan: Hatred/Fear of the other is the result of millions of years of evolution. Hopefully someday we can collectively rise above our baser instincts.
That’s an excellent encapsulation.
This is quite good. It doesn’t tell us much we haven’t already established for ourselves about Trump and his adoration of Putin, but it’s worth reading.
@CSK: Boy, the phrasing of that link is super misleading.
I’ve seen a bunch of those in public bathrooms. Almost as many times as as I’ve seen “I Did That” stickers on gas pumps.
I even saw that someone skipped the sticker and went straight to the Sharpie (!!!).
Imagine having a thought so amazing that your brain will explode if you don’t use permanent marker to ensure everyone gets to profundity given free by an anon . . .
And using your ad hoc forum to write:
Let’s go Brandon!
@Mu Yixiao: My fault, I haven’t put my shovel away but I didn’t fill the gas can for my snowblower this weekend. Looking at the weather forecast for the rest of the week here I may have chosen poorly.
@Kurtz: This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen one of these signs. A couple months ago I spotted one on a restaurant window next to the notices demanding that customers wear masks and show proof of vaccination. It read “There is NO PANDEMIC.”
My girlfriend has a whole bunch more along those lines. (My favorite was “Underwear can’t stop a fart, and you think masks work.”) But Sat. night was the first time either one of us spotted someone placing one of these signs down. I wish I had had my camera out sooner.
It is, isn’t it? That’s why I put in some clarifying details.
@CSK: And I had to go to the article to make sure you hadn’t misworded something!
I seldom misword. To quote TFG, “I have the best words.”
@CSK: I do.
Ummm… Maybe consider moving?
I’m a professional writer. I get paid to have the best words.
@Mu Yixiao: Yah, I’ve got the white stuff coming down as well….
Dammit, it’s MARCH. And no, it’s not lakeeffectsnow either.
You’re nearing hockey tourney time and it always snows. Quit complaining.
Balmy 60 here yesterday and whatever snow was on the ground, about 4″ is gone.
@CSK: I know. I’m a not so professional reader. Wish somebody would pay me.
@Michael Reynolds: Is this real? I went to UVa. Nobody refers to themselves as “seniors”, but rather “4th Years”.
@Michael Reynolds: Snowflakes, one and all.
Would my heartfelt appreciation for your bracing wit and smartly phrased insights suffice?
Trump wasn’t invited to this confab of Republican mega-donors.
She wouldn’t use a school specific term like that when writing for a broad audience. And if she did her editor would catch it and revert to the more familiar term.
@CSK: Warms the cockles of my heart, but I still say, “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”
@CSK: Talk about a target rich environment.
@Michael Reynolds: The power of cancel culture is such that…. she is being published in the NYT?
@Steven L. Taylor:
Oh stop it, that is a pitiful response. I don’t think she alleged that UVA controlled the NYT, and as she’s graduating she no longer has to worry about her college. In fact, professor, your knee-jerk response has the whiff of ass-covering self-censorship about it. What if you agreed with the writer’s point? Would you be able to say so publicly without fear of backlash?
I have a question for Michael/WR/CSK/EddieinCA/Anyone involved in the movie and publishing industry.
I have a friend–and unlike some stories that start this way, this ‘friend’ is an actual friend and not ‘me’–who is in the middle of one hell of a headline-grabbing story. It’s been front page on the Daily Beast, NYTimes, a few of the USA Today affiliates, etc. I can almost guarantee it will be front page again soon.
This friend has been approached by a few companies to option his life rights. He feels that the offers he’s getting are probably pretty low compared to similar past deals of people’s life rights he could find with his google-fu. I have no idea if he’s right on that point, but just from the unsolicited interest he’s already received and due to the fact that the real-life story he finds himself in is absolutely bugfuck crazy, he’s probably not wrong. Considering the personal hell he’s going through, I completely understand wanting to cash out from this experience.
And so he asked me to find out how one goes about marketing one’s life rights. Is it just find a publisher? A publicist? Both? Start with an intellectual property attorney and see what s/he has to say? Cold call one of the big six screenwriting agencies? Just go with one of the offers that have already been presented?
I asked why he thought I could help and he said “I dunno, you just know people.” I was about to say “well that’s ridiculous” until I realized, ope, I kinda do know some people who could maybe put him on the right track.
Sorry to be coy as to what the story is, but it’s not my story to tell publicly. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it graces the pages of OTB eventually.
If from your Hollywood/publishing/media experience you could give any indication of where my friend might start, I would be very grateful.
In fact, nobody at all alleged that. Dr. Taylor’s point, as I understood it, was that it is difficult to make the claim you are being silenced by writing a piece that will be published in the NYT. Apropos that, my favorite comment (so far) from the LGM thread about this:
Well, I always had an agent to handle the selling of and rights to my books, and to negotiate contracts. This includes the one movie deal (optioned and purchased, never made) I got. So I would suggest finding an agent. The Society of Authors Representatives might be able to help with this.
Awesome! I’ll direct him to that society. He just needed a first step–any first step–to take.
Appreciate the response.
I’m not sure what the point is here. She wrote an essay for the NYT asserting she felt the climate at UVA was antithetical to intellectual discussion. Why does the fact that the NYT published it have any bearing on her claims about UVA?
I was getting undressed last night. I was trying to pull a hoodie off. I was wearing a button up shirt and a t-shirt underneath.
The whole shebang got stuck on my neck – all three shirts. Wrapped around my head my arms stuck up in the air and I was flummoxed and beginning to panic. My heart rate and breath rate went crazy.
It took me 20 or 30 seconds to extricate myself. I had to unbutton by touch the wrist buttons of the shirt so I could pull all three shirts off at once.
I freaked out. That was seriously uncool. I was just trying to get undressed
This is TMI, but relates: I am an adventurous person and that includes relationship intimacy. A long while back, me and my paramour were playing around with restraint, and when it was my turn I was up for it. It sounds like fun.
Turns out I really, really, really hate being tied up and restrained. It was the antithesis of fun play for me. I was freaking out and called “stop” after a few minutes. She was super cool and untied me ASAP, but Crikey that was a big time freak out.
On the plus side, I now know that is super not my thing. Never again.
@CSK: I’m curious, what genre do you work in?
Really. So when a Russian journalist writes in the NYT that he’s being censored, you call bullshit?
It’s of a piece with denying that, say, Chris Rock has ever encountered racism because look how rich he is. That’s why I called Steven’s response pitiful. Because it’s not on-point, it’s essentially just yelling squirrel! Let’s not look at this woman’s experience at UVA, let’s talk about the NYT.
I don’t think it is pitiful at all. There is a limit to which I can take these statements about not being able to express oneself when one is able to express ones’s views to a global audience.
I am not going to say that she makes no valid points, but you have to admit it is hard to see this as a textbook case of being unable to speak.
Going directly to ad hominem, is, however, kind of pitiful, TBH.
Why do you so readily go there, Michael?
Yup. It is pretty straightforward. I mean, yes, I could have been more explicit (but then again, MR simply quoted a chunk and while I inferred his support, he really didn’t make a point).
I don’t doubt that she feels as she does. I don’t doubt some students don’t want to be hammered on social media, and therefore don’t talk about some things. But by the same token, I always find extrapolating from these kinds of pieces to be a problem because they are basically sets of anecdotes. If someone else writes an opposite experience, does that makes it all balance out and go away?
He can go right here:
It seems to have changed its name.
The proper response to this is “They’re both intended to stop the wet stuff.”
I am not kink shaming, BTW. If restraint is in your wheelhouse, go for it. If it is your thing and works for you and your partner, more power to ya.
I just know now it is not my thing. Never again.
No, it’s not.
This piece is of a broader genre that attempts to assert the we in America are being silenced by scolds who will cancel you if you aren’t in conformity with whatever orthodoxy they are protecting. This narrative is undercut, in my view, when people have clear and obvious channels to talk openly about not only whatever they want to talk about, but also to be able to criticize those who are supposedly trying to silence them.
The notion that this the same as Russian dissidents going to the NYT is silly. One, the idea that UVA is truly censoring its students needs more evidence than the essay in question. Second, UVA is not a foreign country this student has to escape from to be able to speak her mind. And, broadly cast, UVA and the NYT are in the same politico-cultural context (in a way that a Russian dissident needing to go to the NYT for an outlet is not).
All I am really asking is for some perspective on:
1. How much power a given set of anecdotes ought to be given.
2. Some perspective on how much silencing can be attributed to someone who ends up with a far larger megaphone via the NYT than the allegedly hushed tones of her professor’s office.
I wrote crime novels (six) and one book about a famous true crime. I’m not being cute or coy about my identity; it’s that, given my feelings about Trump, I don’t want a crew of crazed semi-literate MAGAs descending on Amazon giving me one-star ratings. That happens–a lot. I’m a coward, I know. I freely admit it.
I never comment anywhere but here at OTB, home of the sane, literate, and well-informed.
The White Rose might also imply mr. robot’s character of the same name played by DB Wong. The leader of a hacker collective.
Presents as female except when working their day job as a senior Chinese security official and then presents as male.
I highly recommend mr. robot, BTW. It is extremely well written and acted, especially the first season. Rami Malek as Elliot is relevatory.
Extremely rich lore. Extremely unreliable narrator taken to extremes.
It will eff your head.
Plus, the perfectly contextualized use of Len’s Steal My Sunshine in the strangest, coolest way possible. And a few Neil Diamond songs.
Come off it Michael. If you or I say something, damned near anything, somebody somewhere will take exception to it. Maybe dozens of people will take exception. So the F what. They have the right to object as surely as we have the right to say whatever stupid thing pops into our head. We can either defend our statement or not. And if we can’t, than maybe we should just stfu.
Freedom of speech is messy. Always has been.
@Neil Hudelson: Speaking as one not involved in the movie and publishing industry in any way shape or form, I wouldn’t do it. No way do I want somebody else telling my story. I don’t even want me telling my story.
@de stijl: Heh. I’ve been stuck caving a few times. Not fun. First rule: Keep calm. A lot easier said than done.
Yeah, we got about 7-8 inches here last night. I had no idea it was coming. I woke up this morning and said “Holy Crap!” when I looked out the window. It was 70F two days ago. Now I have to shovel my sidewalks.
In my freshman year at college we got 18 inches of snow one day in mid April. Talk about a spring tease bummer.
Mother Nature is capricious.
That’s interesting. Wouldn’t that, itself, also be a reference to the WWII resistance movement?
@Steven L. Taylor:
Sure. But that’s not what the article was about. She felt that if she or others spoke up at UVA it might impact their grades negatively. That is a very serious charge and deserves to be dealt with. It feels to me that you aren’t dealing with that but instead have focused on something you feel more comfortable dealing with.
@CSK: Hey, no stone throwing from me. I hide behind a pen name too, albeit for different reasons. I often find myself representing the viewpoint of my company and getting publicly involved in controversial topics would affect my ability to do so.
This has been happening for decades. The economics department in my college was dominated by Marxist economists (ultimately it became all so). I avoided the subject. Those who disagreed with Marxist economics got Ds, if they were lucky. I think the Marxist economists regarded anyone who disputed their view as not just wrongheaded, but stupid and/or actively evil.
The story is likely getting told one way or the other. It has everything. Political intrigue. Bribes. High Powered Elected Officials. Blood. Sex. It has it all.
He’s not going to be able to avoid the circus–he’s already dealing with journalists calling him, knocking on his door, waiting for him outside his office.
The two companies that approached him seem eager to lock his rights down quickly. At least one journalist covering the story seems to be openly courting HBO on his twitter feed.
So my friend’s thought is:
-Watch this story get told without any input from me, and for gratis.
-Watch my story get told with at least some input from me, and a nice check.
I get where he’s coming from. And I’m glad I’m not in his situation.
It’s tiresome, isn’t it? But not worth jeopardizing your future earnings.
@Steven L. Taylor:
I agree with all this. It’s like Marjorie Taylor Green complaining about being censored on a live speech from the floor of Congress.
Want to call it “reproach culture”, or call-out culture,” or even “scold culture,” I suppose that at would be more accurate than “cancel culture.”
Oh, boy. Watch out for HBO. They wanted a free-fall 30 day option from me. That meant they didn’t have to pay me any money for 30 days while they were looking around for a production company that might be interested, or trying to get the head honcho to green light, or something. Never, ever agree to a free option.
Also avoid like the plague ANYONE who wants to bypass your agent.
Just in case anyone was curious: the ruble did indeed find another cliff to fall off of today 🙂
Now down to 138 to the dollar.
Paul Campos at LGM does a nice job of fisking the subject op-ed, or in his phrase “emetic whinge”.
Didn’t we used to have a frequent commenter “Pinky”? (Perhaps still do under another handle?) IIRC Pinky was prone to asserting his/her conservative views were due respect just because they existed. A common phenomenon. I attended U of Ill. during Vietnam and the Goldwater campaign. There wasn’t much tolerance for conservative opinion. No one was injured. And Conservatism survived, even thrived, despite having been wrong about everything.
Why do conservatives have to be constantly reminded that the First Amendment means only that the government can’t punish you for speech? (OK, on occasion it has.) Outside that, a general, non-legal, concept of free speech means you’re free to say stupid stuff and we’re free to tell you your statement was stupid.
@Michael Reynolds: @MarkedMan: So Dr. Taylor responded before I did, and he’s better at this than I am, but here goes anyway.
This is very much not some isolated “I had a bad time at UVA” lament, rather it’s part of a larger genre of bullshit around so-called cancel culture. The URL for the article gives it away: “campus-speech-cancel-culture.html.” The examples she gives lack any actual specifics about what language or discussion was censored, just vague statements. What specifically, for instance, did she have to say about suttee that angered anybody? What was the ‘well-meaning but mildly offensive’ statement that got a friend ostracized during diversity training? The lecture her friend allegedly didn’t want their roommate to hear discussed was a talk by Rich Lowry and Chip Roy, who are much more notable as bomb-throwers than nuanced thinkers on history or race.
She doesn’t grapple at all with the fact that some of the speech she says is shut down may be as offensive to others as her claims of being silenced are to her. Maybe she really was just asking innocent questions about suttee, for exmample, and got peremptorily shut down for no valid reason. Or perhaps she was a bit more strident in her statements and said things that others actually found offensive. We just don’t know, we only have her side. And I can’t help but note that, yet again, we’re uncritically privileging the voices of white folks without getting corresponding input from those she says are “punishing each other for our opinions.”
She complains about self-censoring, but self-censoring is not in and of itself a bad thing; we all do it all the time. Not everything that pops in to your head needs to be said out-loud. And honestly, institutions of higher learning are precisely the type of place to help you learn when you *should* self-censor.
I mean overall, there just seems to be a whole lot of noise without any concrete facts. And it is hard to take her too seriously when one of her complaints was about a university policy limiting the size of signs on dorm room doors, which was resolved when “[she] worked with administrators to create a less restrictive policy.” I am hard-pressed to see the totalitarianism there.
@Steven L. Taylor:
The purpose of these articles is to distract from actual censorship: all around the country Republican legislatures are passing laws to ban discussion of topics they don’t like and to drive LGBT people back into the closet, but they want us to focus on “I don’t get invited to the cool parties because I’m an annoying sealion” as the real tragedy here.
Jeebus, I’d probably consider suicide. Best of luck to him.
I was involved in an urban exploration group of folks in Minneapolis. I loved the underground places especially.
In that crowd were some real-ass cavers / spelunkers with bona fides.
I begged onto a caving trip to Missouri. I was the obvious newbie so I was going to be slow and sure and not eff anybody up or the adventure. I was a tourist, basically. I was not going to let my head get in the way of the experience.
My head immediately got in the way. I felt the weight of the rock above me in a way I never did under streets. I was spooked and off my game.
One time in a narrow passage my head freaked out. I held it together and pushed and squirmed and pulled my way through, but I knew then I was a liability.
Had I fully freaked out I would have ruined the whole adventure for 6 people. I was thisclose to fully freaking out.
I knew then immediately that I had over-reached. Caving is definitely my thing unless I need to transit a passage that extremely limits my ability to move freely. I then freak out in a manner that could potentially impede the experience for everybody else. And I def do not want to be that guy.
I have been into caves since, but in anodyne US National Park caves with marked footpaths and artificial lighting and tour guides. I still felt the sheer weight of rock above me.
I am good at urban exploration. I am bad at caving.
Make that 144 to the dollar 😀
But, of course, I am not sure how I can deal with her perceptions. I will agree that the charges are serious. But I can also say that the idea that a given student thinks this is not new. I remember, very early in my career, getting an e-mail on Christmas Day wherein a student accused me of grading based on my opinion and not the facts. Further, students often they think they know the POV of the professors when, in fact, they often don’t.
I can’t investigate UVA by reading the essay in question, but I can assess how the essay fits into a broader context (again, there is a narrative out there that this fits into). I can also point out that it is just a set of anecdotes. These are fair positions, yes?
Also: correct, that’s not what the article was about. But I do think that, in part, it is a legitimate conversation to be had about the article (which I what I think we are doing here).
EVRAZ is a North American steel company. Their mill I’m familiar with is down at the other end of the Front Range urban corridor from me here in Colorado. They make 300 specialty alloys, and advanced technology railroad rails (who knew there was such a thing?). Their mill in Portland makes much of the steel that winds up in Great Plains wind turbine towers (shipped by rail to Colorado where the tower segments are fabricated). EVRAZ is wholly owned by a UK company, which in turn is two-thirds owned by five Russian oligarchs. None of those five have been sanctioned. Yet.
Everyone at the mill is concerned about what will happen if those five are sanctioned. Will the government seize the steel mills? Will they allow them to continue operations? If so, who gets the profits?
Heh, this made me giggle:
He should try being a liberal in Washington Co, MO. Oh wait a minute, I’m a liberal in Washington Co MO and I drive a rolling billboard of liberal “F Offs” to the Maga world. And… Big Fn’ deal.
@Stormy Dragon: Thank you for that. I’ve seen lots of anecdote and no real data, but I suspect far more people have lost jobs over liberal statements than conservative. And over “liberal” actions, like doing their jobs as health officials or educators. Living in DeSantistan I see frequent examples.
Also, I’ve had to self-censor at pretty much every place I’ve ever worked. I use a pseudonym here because it seemed necessary before I retired.
Ah yes, my coworkers and I frequently spend time around the water cooler worrying about which specific millionaires are getting the profits from our company. This must be a trying time for wealthy investors and we hope they know how much us office drones are worried about them.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Which is backed up by data
I also feel like you’re conflating two different things a) being unable to speak in any way because others are actively stopping it and b) living in an environment where you’re afraid to speak because you don’t know what’s going to happen.
I spent 6 years keeping my mouth shut about pretty much absolutely everything–because I had no idea what might upset the wrong person and land me in serious trouble. When 80% of students–in a school setting–feel that they have to keep their mouth shut because it might get them in serious trouble, that’s worrying.
That the author of the article has gotten out of that environment and now feels safe talking about it doesn’t diminish the fact that things were different when at UVA.
No shame in that at all. I’ve been the one doing the tying plenty of times (Including for quite a few photoshoots), but even the thought of being tied up myself is a non-starter.
@de stijl: For the record, in the caving world anybody at anytime and anywhere can say, “I’m not comfortable with this.” and all are supposed to reply, “OK.” and do whatever it takes to make that person less anxious.
I once had a Buick sized boulder roll over while I was leaning against it. Picked me up threw me 12′ up in the air where I was slammed against a wall and then fell down on top of 2 fellow cavers as the boulder tried to crush all 3 of us. Needless to say, it was years before I was comfortable around big breakdown again and I’m sure once or twice my anxiousness impinged on others’ cave trips.
I was there for a number of instances where a fellow caver, good cavers all, said, “I can’t do this.” OK, I’ll take you back out. It’s part of the deal.
Let’s assume that she is utterly sincere and that she has found that sometimes talking about controversial things makes people uneasy or even angry.
I am trying to avoid being snarky here, but the fact that ideas or concepts are “controversial” means that controversies can emerge when they are discussed. No one ever promised that controversial subjects can’t be discussed without potentially getting someone else worked up.
Indeed, in this thread (as with many threads) the assertions made by one commenter leads another commenter to respond sometime forcefully. MR responded pretty forcefully to me and I took some level of umbrage at his characterization. And so it goes when people who disagree discuss things, yes?
From the essay:
What does this actually mean? Literally by definition controversial subjects are less likely to be discussed than noncontroversial subjects. Further, people often don’t like speaking in public, so that has to be figured into this kind of thing as well.
I’m sure it was a direct reference to the WW2 person. The creator and the writers are very clever.
However, it is unclear the person you observed was referencing which version. Given education levels and trends, my first assumption is that your fella was channeling mr. robot’s White Rose. I could be wrong.
In mr. robot the White Rose is ostensibly working for the interests of China in a senior security role during the day and for global anarchy in off hours (that’s a false reduction, but works as shorthand – it’s enigmatically complicated). BD Wong kills it in characterization.
@Mu Yixiao: Those are statistics devoid of context. Everybody self-censors at least some of the time. That’s part of living in a pluralistic society. And why, specifically, were those undergrads ‘somewhat’ or ‘very uncomfortable’ expressing their views? Was it actually due to fear of being cancelled? Not all people like public speaking, or having to defend their positions, so it is possible it is just run-of-the-mill shyness that makes them uncomfortable. Looking through the survey results they note that more male than female respondents are comfortable pushing back on professors, for example, so this is much more nuanced than the article implies. I’d also note that UVA ranked 22nd in that survey in terms of it’s Free Speech ranking, which puts them in the top 14% if my math is right. I haven’t read through the whole thing yet, but so far I’m not sure the survey’s results map quite as cleanly to the articles conclusions about those results as the author implies.
Except, not really . See my prior comment. That 80% of students “self-censor at least some of the time” means what, exactly? Don’t we all pick and choose “at least some of the time” whether we are going to express an opinion that might be deemed controversial?
You are waaaaaay over-interpreting that data point.
Regarding the NYT op-ed. I was a College Republican at a small, private, liberal arts school. We were courted HARD by the Accuracy in Academia organization, and were fed a constant stream of “evidence” that lefty professors would crack down and give us bad grades if we dared to speak up.
It wasn’t true, but if you’re at a pricey school getting an expensive degree, that sort of propaganda does seep into your head. Read a few books like Dinesh D’Souza’s “Poisoned Ivy” and it seems like a foregone conclusion that campus leftists are after you.
Ms. Camp makes it clear that it’s not (exactly) her politics at issue. (“Even as a liberal who has attended abortion rights protests and written about standing up to racism, I sometimes feel afraid to fully speak my mind.”) She seems focused on her empathic response (“I felt,” “the room felt tense” “I felt uneasy”).
If professors are ALLOWING “pile-ons” in the classroom, therein lies the problem. There are likely some students who hold patently offensive views. College is a good place to learn about those, so that you don’t end up getting your employer sued. There are likely others who are unaccustomed to debate. Again, this is the time to hone that–with the help of professors.
One of her points is very valid: the fear of being excoriated in social media.
The report also notes that UVA has endorsed the Chicago Principles, which are a pro-campus free speech set of guidelines. (All on page 26 of the report).
UVA did drop from last year (p. 25):
The funny thing is that one looks at page 28 the scores that are classified as “warning colleges” are religious/conservative: Hillsdale, BYU, Pepperdine, Saint Louis U, and Baylor.
*sigh* Didn’t finish my thought and no edit button.
If professors lack such control over their classrooms that students feel ganged up on, that’s the problem.
Well, first of all, as far as I know the person I observed wasn’t the one who came up with the name–he just stuck one of the group’s signs on the window. (The group’s apparently been around a while now, and I don’t think it started in the US.) And while it’s certainly possible whoever did come up with the name was aware of its use on the show you mention, it was almost certainly intended more to invoke the WWII group. The Covid denialists have been making Nazi/Holocaust analogies from the beginning (MJT talked about a Jewish star, RFK about Anne Frank), and an anti-Nazi resistance movement fits right into that narrative, especially one that was known for circulating pamphlets.
@Steven L. Taylor:
I’m putting in the context of the articles I’ve read where students are removed from classes, written up by “bias reporting departments”, being academically sanctioned, and threatened with expulsion.
I really want to make a ‘there enlies the problem’ joke but will settle for meta-commenting about it.
To be clear: I am certain that it is true that some professors ridicule students. I think this is wrong. I also agree that that there are plenty of times when speaking in a group that one might get negative emotional feedback.
I am not saying that everything is perfection.
I am just highly dubious of the narrative being pushed and I don’t find the alleged evidence to be compelling (as note, the report she cites actually puts UVA in a pretty good light in the area of free speech). Moreover, most of her complaints are vague and/or highly subjective.
Now you are dodging. This has nothing to do with the data provided.
In some ways you are making my broader point: you are reading this as part of a broader narrative, b ut using the broader narrative to confirm your reading of these specific anecdotes.
‘I Had Nothing to My Name’: Amazon Delivery Companies Are Being Crushed by Debt
The only people that are surprised by this are the contractors themselves. Anyone else paying attention knew that it was predictable that Amazon would squeeze the delivery contractors in the same way that they squeeze the retail partners.
@Jon: There’s a lot to unpack there. You seem to be saying either that her feelings are not valid or, perhaps, that she is lying about them merely to get attention.
Looks like that big, brave truckers’ rally in DC panned out basically how we expected.
Or neither! I’m saying the article doesn’t give us enough context to actually know. I don’t doubt that she feels the way she feels, but that doesn’t inherently make her feelings valid. And I have no reason to believe she is lying, but she also noticeably omits specifics that could clarify or bolster her case. So; we don’t know because we don’t have enough information.
@Jon: And since edit disappeared on me, I’ll post again to add ..
I used the word ‘allegedly’ in the original post not to imply she is lying, but rather because we’re only hearing one side of the argument so I’m suggesting we take things with a grain of salt.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Her claim was not that she was silenced, her claim was that she felt a need to self-censor on campus. She did not say, “I’m not allowed to write for the NYT,” she said, “I feel I have to self-censor at school.” Are you denying her allegation? Because it sure doesn’t seem as if you’re addressing the specific at all.
Criticism and social consequences are part and parcel of free speech.
If you engage in controversial speech you need to be aware there might be uncomfortable consequences. You might personally, professionally, or societally suffer consequences.
It is not new. It has always been this.
It is only now that voices that used to be at the bottom of the pile are now much more powerful due to demographic and a marked societal shift on inclusion.
Voices that used to be on top and nearly unchallenged are now getting push-back. They now face consequences for their words. It upsets them so.
Where were the denunciations of “cancel culture” when it was practiced whole-heartedly by the majority culture our entire existence as a nation?
Unpopular voices got quashed hard. It was always so.
Now, when political and social consequences happen to speech that used to be sacrosanct but no longer is are we seeing this manufactured umbrage.
Where were you my entire life? Welcome to my world. Your fake umbrage is extraordinarily hypocritical and annoys the crap out of me.
Deal. Boo fricking hoo. I don’t even even have the gumption to manufacture fake crocodile tears for you. Goddammit, deal. The way you made us deal. Skate to the box.
We unvoiced have had to deal with it since time began.
@Steven L. Taylor:
You are in a much better position than me to judge the fairness as my exposure to college campuses is pretty limited while you are immersed in it. But… (you knew there would be a but) there are two things that make me at least question the fairness. First, you and some of the other respondents keep focusing on the weakest of her arguments rather than the strongest, and that always raises questions for me. Second, there seems to be an awful lot of discounting of her feelings and experiences simply because a presumption that she is one of “those” people. That we don’t need to take her seriously because “her type” are always complaining about something.
I self censor all the time.
No one with a lick of sense spouts off every thought that runs through your head.
Speech has consequences.
@MarkedMan: Nobody is discounting her feelings. Folks are just saying that this article presents only her side of things so we have no way to judge her arguments. Or at least I am. What in your view was her strongest argument, which is being ignored?
Very good point
We’re not talking about getting into arguments or people making fun of you for what you say. We’re talking about people being reported to the police for saying “biased” things.
It seems to me that you are doing just that. You are saying she is mistaken to have these feelings, or at least provided enough evidence to your satisfaction that they are justified.
The anecdote about the sign on the door was the weakest, that’s what was focused on.
@grumpy realist: We have the white stuff here too, if you mean those damned stank bradford pear blooms.
I feel like I have dealt with specifics above, but if there is something specific that you would like me to address, I’d be happy to–just let me know what it is.
I will reiterate that I find the claim that she sometimes felt the need to self-censor to be unremarkable, as I think that we all self-censor all the time for various reasons. I will allow that sometimes we self-censor when we shouldn’t, or that social pressure might make us be silent when we should speak, but overall I did not find her account to be compelling in terms of some serious problem at UVA.
@Michael Reynolds: A commenter at NYT seems to have dug a little.
Honest question: which of her positions do you find compelling and that you think I need to address?
Mostly I just find her argument unpersuasive (indeed, I mostly don’t find it to be an argument).
The only real ref off the top of my to “those” people is that stuff about the conservative friend of hers. FWIW, I was a conservative Republican practicing Evangelical when I was an undergraduate in SoCal and PhD student in Austin. So while, yes, it was a while ago, I have some understanding of being out of the mainstream in college.
You may be talking about that, but the article that sparked this interchange made no such claims (unless I overlooked something) nor did the survey she cited.
I, for one, made no mention of the sign.
@MarkedMan: I asked what you thought her strongest argument was, not her weakest, but OK.
You are correct that I am saying we don’t have enough evidence to determine how justified her feelings are. I am not, however, saying she is mistaken to have those feelings. I’m simply saying we don’t know enough, from that one article, to have an informed opinion.
No. Starting with this particular comment, you are talking about people being reported to the police for saying biased things. Previous to this comment you were talking about self-censorship (80% of people do it, which seems low), and how less than half (48%) of students felt uncomfortable discussing a controversial topic, which again seems low. (Maybe it’s just a midwestern thing, but in my experience 3/4ths of people feel uncomfortable discussing controversial topics). And previous to that this thread was addressing specific allegations from a student at UVA that her fellow students sometimes felt uncomfortable.
Going from “This woman at UVA” to “actually nearly half of students…” to “actually 80%” of students…” to “really we are talking about law enforcement” is the definition of moving goalposts.
@Steven L. Taylor: That was me! And it was in passing, in the final paragraph of a comment where I’d earlier referenced several of her other points.
So Red Scare but in reverse?
Did any of these oh so scary referrals to law enforcement accomplish anything?
How many people participated? Did it even get off the ground?
I am not saying that turn-around is fair play or just or right, but it does feel damn good.
I won’t try to justify idealistic fools, but I cannot deny the impulse. Use the system against those that used to use the system against us is undeniably a natural human response. It is a base impulse we need to resist, but it is there. “Turnabout is fair play” exists for a reason.
Where was the outrage before the system got pointed at unpopular right-wing speech? Cancel culture is not new. It has always existed.
I have never been published by the NYT on their op-ed page. Nor have 99.99999% of Americans. But she is claiming her stupid shtick. The point makes itself.
@Steven L. Taylor: As I said, I don’t have enough recent experiences on campus to evaluate whether the group-think brigade is a few anomalous cases or a serious problem. But the tone of your response, and that of some others, troubles me. There doesn’t seem to be any effort to find anything of value in what she says, but instead an instant attack on her viewpoint and feelings. If this was a woman of color talking about living under a constant rain of micro-aggressions, another case where any individual example could be seen as trivial, would you (group “you” and not Steven specifically) have been so quick to attack the messenger? To tell her to toughen up and deal with it? To give an anecdote wherein you had once been slighted and therefore tell her she had nothing to complain about?
This excerpt struck a chord with me:
I know this wasn’t directed at me, but let me say for the record that I am not making any claims about what she ought to feel. I am arguing that this set of anecdotes does not convince me that there is a massive problem at UVA as it pertains the free expression.
@MarkedMan: Ah, this is about me saying
Well, my original comment was to point out that she was in the NYT, which makes it hard to take seriously claims of the inability to be heard.
Fundamentally, I do not find her overall narrative to be especially compelling. Is this not a valid position to take?
@Jon: It’s worth pointing out that the door thing was used to illustrate her willingness to publicly engage and resolve issues rather than just feel slighted, and was provided as an example of campus debate done right. Your implication that she used it as an illustration of being put upon was what set me off.
(FWIW, I thought it was a weak example for her point.)
Also oy, never a good sign when the daily forum goes over 100 comments.
@gVOR08: Interesting. And some are giving that commenter a hard time for simply looking up her twitter handle (“you’re proving her point” seems to be a key theme).
That said, saying that one was a liberal until they were heckled into submission for expressing A Free Thought is a 100% movement conservative two-step. It was the “theme” behind the almost entirely fictional “Walk Away” movement.
Again, her entire column seems to be predicated on the false assumption that she has the right not just to free speech, but to *consequence-free, free speech.*
I stand by my earlier assertion that professors absolutely should step in and calm things down if a pile-on begins in the classroom. That’s not acceptable at all.
But, this also feels more like what AIA was fishing for back in the ancient days when I was in college. Because you know what they did with this sort of thing? They fundraised off of it.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Oof. That brings us right back to where we started. Her entire point was specifically about her experiences in expressing an opinion at UVA. The fact that she published her concerns in the NYT means absolutely nothing about how such opinions are received at UVA. You disparaged her for making an argument she didn’t make.
@MarkedMan: Ah, well as your enemy I thought it was my job to set you off ;-).
Actually though, apologies for my poor phrasing there. I was more poking at the ‘policy about how large signs can be’ being offensive in the first place, and should have made that clear.
I do not see it that way.
Also: it strikes me as valid to note that this essay is part of a wider genre of articles of this nature. the NYT did not publish it in a vacuum.
Regardless, I would ask: what are the points that she makes that you think I am not taking sufficiently seriously?
Sometimes what people mean by self-censorship is what used to be called “tact.”
I’m reminded of the old dinner party rule: Never discuss politics, religion, or sex at the table. Nowadays, of course, those are all anyone discusses.
@CSK: I’d been taught it was politics, religion or college football. May depend on how many D-1 schools are in your state.
@Steven L. Taylor:
The points about how she, and others in her orbit, feels about their ability to express their opinions on a university campus.
I don’t get your point here. I assume it’s not that because other people also make the same complaint it makes it more likely hers are not justified. But that leaves me stumped as to why this is relevant.
All depends on whether you want to discuss sex, at the table or sex at the table. Those sitting at the table are likely to have pretty strong opinions about the second one…
That show is fucking great.
That is all.
I would argue I addressed that quite a bit above.
@grumpy realist: Again, maybe these events are why “climate change” is taking over from “global warming.” We had a heavy frost in the morning where I live, too. No big snow so far though.
@Steven L. Taylor:
It comes across as more than that to me. It comes across as your mind is made up that there is no such problem and unless someone provides very strong evidence to the contrary your default will be to look to discount the messenger.
Look, you may be right about that, and are better positioned than me to judge. But discounting the other is a natural human tendency and one I certainly try to seek out and tamp down in myself. My comments aren’t meant as an indictment of your position as much as an observation that, to me, you seem to be devaluing her experiences because they disagree with your world view.
All I can do is judge the essay based on its contents. What else can any of us do?
College football isn’t a big thing here in Massachusetts, unless you’re an alum of Harvard, Boston College, or the University of Massachusetts, and even with those, it’s nowhere near the hysterical adulation given to the Crimson Tide. Nick Saban is a god in Alabama. I couldn’t tell you who the hell the football coaches are at any of the institutions I named above, and I suspect only one out fifty people might
And how would sex at the table be different from religion or politics at the table? 🙂
“Know” was supposed to finish my last sentence to Jon.
@CSK: Yah, that’s what I figured. It’s a southern thing.
And Nick Saban is only a god in the non-Auburn parts of Alabama 🙂
@Steven L. Taylor:
“Devaluing her experience” is extremely loaded.
It seems to make any criticism or push-back invalid by default.
It is bad faith argumentation.
I wanted to make some observations after watching parts 1 and 2 of “The Dropout,” a dramatized account of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. But first work, then an airline snafu, and then a reproach culture flame war all got in the way…
So for now I’ll just note I was going to pass on this limited series, until I saw Amanda Seyfried plays Holmes. I was very impressed by her work on “Mank,” playing Marion Davies.
It’s also something to watch while waiting for the second part of the fourth season of Young Justice to be released.
Yeah. 100%. I may need to rewatch Season 1 again this week.
@MarkedMan: I saw the message as people who go to elite and pseudo elite colleges can sometimes behave like douches. And don’t forget that General Franco is STILL DEAD!
I am eager to watch The Dropout, too. Especially, I want to see Seyfried do “the voice” and watch her do investor pitches.
I have tried to not spoil myself too much, but I peeked a little, and apparently the way Holmes dances when no one is watching her (or she believes so) and to what songs is a key motif.
Amanda Seyfried as Holmes is genius casting.
@Steven L. Taylor: I’ve had one formal complaint about grading unfairly. The administration agreed that I had not and terminated me anyway (I’ve never had tenure anywhere). Do I get to complain that I was cancelled now, too?
@Michael Cain: “advanced technology railroad rails (who knew there was such a thing?)”
Ayn Rand. Now more people will say that she was a visionary ahead of her time. 🙁
Minor spoiler, in the first two parts she doesn’t do “the voice.” She also hasn’t appeared in a turtleneck,
There is way too much music and dancing for my taste.
@OzarkHillbilly: I can feel his pain. I’ve had students who missed entry into their preferred major by .01 point on their GPA. (And yes, I think that’s ridiculous, but when you’re admitting 30 and have 45 applicants…) And going to a school where you will be dogged and downgraded for your opinions can be demoralizing. Which is why I ask, “why do it? Why go to a place where you have to know you won’t fit? Why stay there when you discover your mistake?”
I feel his pain, but I don’t necessarily empathize.
Maybe the workers for a change? Nah. This is America. That’d never happen here.
I have cut people out of my life. Three in fact.
And all for the same reason – they were obsessed with politics and / or religion and could not abide by clearly stated boundaries.
I told them repeatedly that this is not a topic I want to discuss with you. And warned again. I set boundaries and told them that if this behavior continues I will walk away. This will happen. I do not have time for that shit.
I literally walked away. Got up. Walked out the door.
All three were flabbergasted and furious when I walked away (well, hung up in one instance). Tried to reconnect. Nope. I told you what would happen two times if you could not respect my boundaries. Fuck you.
Cut all contact. Banned calls and texts.
In every case, it was the correct choice. If you need to abase yourself to preserve a toxic relationship, it is something you need to stop.
My life improved each time.
One person knocked on my door after. I opened it an inch and told him if he was on my property ten seconds from now I will call the police.
Ya gotta respect stated boundaries.
Sometimes White Supremacists just hate Black people and Jews. If you hate blacks and jews, then welcome aboard — even if you’re Latino, or even a Black Jew.
They’re not racist, you see, they just hate Blacks and Jews.
What is your take on Seyfried as Holmes?
I trust your opinion. (I am going to watch it anyway.)
@Steven L. Taylor:
I would posit that more people should self-censor more often.
Also, I would like her to be very clear about the statements that she had to self-censor, otherwise we have no idea whether she is a crazy person censoring her own opinions on dogs vs cats, a genuine intellectual revolutionary being oppressed by the system, or just a garden variety bigot upset she can’t say her bigoted shit in public and get everyone to nod along sagely.
Kathy described our back and forth today as a flame war. I thought it was a respectful airing of different viewpoints. I’m curious how others saw it? In any case if seems to have been a better experience then when Kevin Drum made similar comments on twitter.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Trains made out of vibranium made by boot-strappy manly men. Manly rapey men.
A very long time ago I was a regular commenter at Reason’s blog. Hit and Run.
Some of the other regulars were flat out Objectivists which delighted me to no end. Easy targets.
Once a year, Reason, a libertarian rag, would have a charity drive to keep the magazine and online arm afloat.
I delighted in posting real Ayn Rand quotes about the futility and uselessness and moral wrong of charity.
In their defense, they never banned me. They probably should have. I did make a juicy target for vitriol.
@de stijl: And when you don’t self-censor or do it poorly, you own it and apologize. EVEN WHEN THE OTHER PERSON DOESN’T WARRANT ONE. That is a mark of good character. Keep up the good work.
Sammy Davis, Jr. is spinning in his grave.
@gVOR08: Ouchies!!! 🙁 :*-(
Don’t forget the Asians!
@Gustopher: There are Jewish white supremacists. The openly white-nationalist American Renaissance conference has said they don’t have a problem with “European Jews,” and there are Jews who have spoken there. Stephen Miller has shared articles from the organization.
Seyfried is the kind of actor who becomes the character she’s playing. A+
Perhaps as shorthand for an intense discussion.
Or perhaps by the respectful, reasonable standards of OTB, it feels like a flame war to me. I grant, and admit, I saw no personal attacks, name-calling, or insults in the comments I skimmed (I did not read them all).
@MarkedMan: As soon as I realized the conversation had become a quarrel, I stopped paying close attention to it. I don’t think I would call anything I saw as a flame war, but I stopped paying attention to the conversation when the participants started talking past each other rather than to each other. (And I can see reading back what I just wrote that you will object to my characterization. Please feel free to do so. I report. You decide.)
For my part I would very much *not* consider it a flame war, having lived through vi vs emacs, the One True Brace Style vs pure evil, Linux vs Minix (or any number of other linux-ish threads from the 90’s) etc. That shit got ugly. This got testy, at best (worst?). And if I did come across as trying to personally attack anybody, I sincerely apologize. That was not my intent.
I’ll add that I dig the phrase “reproach culture” as an alternative to “cancel culture.”
As far as the sign on the door goes UVA student reported UVa rules say no sign on your door larger than 8 1/2 x11 inches. She put up a 2 foot by 3 foot sign (the First Amendment actually) then waited for someone to come take it down. I think the message here is that the NYT got played. I think the purity police are real on campus but I dont think this is the author to write about it.
@Michael Reynolds: It’s terrible, isn’t it? Not only did some of her fellow students disagree with her, some of them actually disapproved! And she’s expected to survive this!
This is clearly much worse than teachers being fired for saying that slavery happened.
@CSK: “Oh, boy. Watch out for HBO.”
HBO runs on the belief that “we’re HBO — you need us more than we need you.”
That’s why anyone involved with a hit for them demands so much in renegotiations — because HBO treated them like shit originally.
And you should never grant anyone a free option — people respect a property exactly as much as they pay for it.
@Jon: I’ve been teaching an undergraduate class this term. Fifteen students. Four of them talk all the time, a couple talk when I call on them, and the others are all too shy or terrified or uninterested ever to say a word. In a writing class that is nothing but supportive and collaborative.
These are kids. A lot of them are uncomfortable speaking up. And very few of them decide they are martyrs to the cause of free speech and thus must ask Daddy to ask his friend to get them a slot in the Times…
@Kathy: It does seem like they’re all talking past each other in a competitive fashion. Jen had the most salient point, I think….college professors should not be allowing “pile-ons” in college classroom debates, regardless of the content or sensitivity of the subject.
I miss Teve.
I didn’t mean to bail on this thread but we’re buying a house for our daughter and my day was eaten by Wells Fargo, some fucking title company and the realtor and a lot of really shitty software and really stupid people and now I just want to kill, kill, kill.
I think HBO was a bit surprised when I rejected their request to give them a free option. “But we’re HBO! How can you say no?”
Reason’s Hit &Run blog did not suck. It was 15% – 20% lefties, 60% libertarians of various stripes, and the remainder were hand-core righties who claimed to be libertarian, but were obviously not based upon their comments.
Some really good writers who went on to bigger and brighter things, namely Radley Balko and Dave Weigel.
Both of them I consider to be super righteous dudes. Balko for his focus on civil rights and the militarization of cops. Weigel for his insight into what right-wing performative behavior actually means for WaPo.
Weigel is a prog rock fan – wrote a book or two about it, which seems an utter waste of time to me, but it’s his life. (Good for him, BTW. It’s not my genre of choice, but if you like it, it’s cool with me. I may rib you about it occasionally, though.)
It was a decent scene. Rowdy, but rarely mean spirited. And if someone crossed a line, the Hoi polloi called ’em out for it. Much more rancorous give and take than here, but not (usually) out-right disrespectful or ad hominem.
I have two IRL friends from those days.
Do not go into Hit&Run comments nowadays, though. Well, obviously you can, but I would recommend you don’t. It is a cesspool of spite and perceived grievances not worthy of any attention. If you want unregulated bile, by all means.
@Michael Reynolds: No worries and that sounds like a heap of fun!
Hope you got things settled!
The is a strong chance I might have had a hand in the Wells Fargo software. Probably legacy stuff, nowadays, that people have to code around and pluck useful bits out of. Might have been entirely re-written by now.
For that, I heartily apologize. (I only did the SQL and related structures. I had no hand in the coding that surrounded that.)
Last time I bought a house I had to get a registered check for umpteen something dollars. I felt like I was a Bond villain for two minutes. Sitting on a pile of bearer bonds in my hollowed out volcano and stroking my long haired cat.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Not really. I think that is fair. Most discussions of firmly held beliefs have a lot of that, and it is difficult to get past.
@MarkedMan: This format doesn’t help much, for that matter.
Back to claustrophobia and bondage. I honestly don’t think of myself as claustrophobic.
One night I was flying back home from that weird ass Cincinatti airport – Cincy was the lay over, I was flying back from Texas or Florida. I cannot recall.
That leg from Cincy to MSP was probably two hours and some change maybe. A pretty short flight. It was a mid-size jet – three seats on the right, three on the left. Maybe 30 rows.
Before we took off I realized that every fucking seat on the plane had a passenger. There were zero empty seats. No big deal, you say. Why is that an issue, you ask?
For some reason my brain freaked out on the fact that the plane was absolutely full up with no empty seats. I was middle seat, right side way back. I could see everybody’s head.
I immediately wanted to stand up, get in the aisle and power pose and do jumping jacks and run up and down the aisle. This was when we were on the tarmac waiting in line.
I had never before had any problems with flying. Fall off a log easy. No issues. That night I felt stymied and bound and very, very surrounded by slack-jawed morons in business wear. And all I wanted was to stand up and spread my limbs as far as I could.
For the next three hours give or take I was stuck.
I closed my eyes. I breathed. I tried very hard on not fixating on standing fully erect and splaying my limbs out. This was before I had had a full-blown panic attack. Looking back, I was on the very fucking edge.
I controlled what I could control. I closed my eyes. I breathed as slowly as I could get away with. I wiggled my toes. I tried desperately to get my mind to just shut the fuck up for ten goddamn seconds.
I made it. Eventually, we landed. The weird scrum where everybody stands up and fetches their overhead luggage thing happened. Seriously, disembarking is a process. You are not getting off for at least 20 minutes – we’re second to last row; sit your dumb ass down and wait.
When I got out onto the concourse I went into a corner, put my shit down, and did a full vee pose. Spun around. I could give zero shits if some lookie Lou thought that I was behaving oddly. I can stand up. I can move around. I can breathe. It was heaven.
I have never had an experience on a plane like that since. But I always book an aisle seat. Always. Close to the front is preferable.
If I were ever to get into that headspace again, I would give a heads up to the attendant. Thankfully, I have not had to.
I have a lot more coping mechanisms now. More tools. Most specifically about controlled breathing. I am way better at emptying my head now. I usually can control the downward spiral – not perfect, though, I had a nasty panic attack 3 years ago on the street. I knew enough to tell people trying to help that is was a panic attack and not a heart attack. No need for an ambulance; give me 5-10 minutes and some breathing space and I’ll be fine. Deeply help umiliated, but basically okay.
I will take way better on the whole over barely controlled chaos any day of the week.
@CSK: “I think HBO was a bit surprised when I rejected their request to give them a free option. “But we’re HBO! How can you say no?””
You probably already know this, but the most powerful world in the entertainment biz is “no.” If you can say it and mean it, it can get people throwing money at you.
But it can also kill a project. So you only use it when you really mean it…
@steve: ” I think the message here is that the NYT got played. ”
No, they do this a lot. Cletus safaris and interviewing ‘former Democrats’ who are GOP activists.
@Mu Yixiao: I self censored all the time in life. Sometimes because I am too liberal (majority of my view points) for the audience or because I’m too conservative (usually gun related). I have a dim view on the major religions and expressing that would quickly result in me being unemployed. So I have a policy of not talking religion, politics or my sexuality (I’m bisexual/omnisexual/”whore”) because I like being employed. Meanwhile the conservatives at work have no problem making stupid false claims and outright racist comments…
One of the few areas where I didn’t self censor was in college where I would get into arguments with liberal professors. Never once did I feel like I received a grade I didn’t deserve from them. On the flip side I had a pretty hardcore conservative professor that I always self censored around because I liked my grade in his class. I don’t know if it was because I lived in a very red area but I always felt like I could argue with the liberal professors as long as I stuck to facts and reality. Those arguments were a blessing in the long run as they ended up expanding my own mind.