Monday, August 14, 2017


Moving to this country was the the first time I ever flew in a plane. I landed in Charlottesville, where I lived for five years. I still live just over an hour's drive from there, and go there quite often to eat a meal, do some shopping, or just get out of the small town I live in for a few hours. It's weird to see the city's name synonymous with racist extremism and violence. 

The pressing question is what to do about these racists. Some people argue that neo-Nazis should be denied the oxygen of attention, while others argue that they must be resisted with force. The fact is, I suppose, we cannot really know what will be most effective. Perhaps we can know what it is right to do, though, even if we cannot know what will do the most good. It seems right to protest, and to be ready to defend anyone who gets attacked by neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates. Not that I did so this weekend, but I think I should have.

I once counted the reasons why I don't do more. I think there were nine of them. Laziness and cowardice were no doubt two, but I don't remember all the others. One of them, though, is that I am put off by other people on my side, including some leading figures in the local movement against racism. Or, I should say, some of the things said by these people. The people themselves don't repel me. There's an example of the kind of thing that puts me off above, featuring people whose identities I have tried to cover. The comments are made by people I'll call A, B, and C. The order of speakers is: A, B, A, B, A, C. A is a white woman, B is an African-American man, and C is a white man (I wish this were irrelevant, but it isn't). They are talking, initially, about neo-Nazis rallying in Charlottesville.

What A says seems right to me. B is also right to point out that these people, "frightened white boys" though they may be, also pose a very real threat and do real harm. A then accepts this point, and adds that they are irrational. I agree. It is not good to honor Nazis, etc. with the label 'rational'. If we find ourselves concluding that such people are rational, we should probably reconsider our conception of rationality. (See here for more on this sort of thing.) It also seems simply accurate to call right-wing extremists irrational. Their ends make little sense ('racial purity' is a stupid thing to want) and their means are unlikely to get them what they want (joining a racist group might get you some 'friends', but it is likely to lose you others and hurt your career, while the chance of achieving your political goals (which, if achieved, I suspect would be unsatisfying) are very slim). 

B then responds in a way that seems somewhat uncharitable, albeit with a good point or two as well. The good points are that identifying them as irrational should not lead us to be complacent, and that their irrationality is not sheer irrationality. It can be seen as an understandable, albeit deplorable, reaction to certain historical and political trends. A, who sounds frustrated, in effect accepts these points, while clarifying that she had not meant to say anything contrary to them. At this point C steps in and tells A to apologize to B and "sit down", which at least sounds as though it means shut up.   

Despite some misunderstandings, which up to this point all seemed to be quickly cleared up, A and B, as A says, seem very much to be on the same side. Indeed, they seem to be making complementary points. Yet A is accused of "explaining how white supremacy works to a black man" and told to apologize to him "for the misunderstanding." And then to shut up. 

I imagine that C's behavior here strikes you as being as patronizing, as unproductive, and as based on misunderstanding as it does me. But, as you can see, C gets more likes than A. And B, who seems better than C but also to misunderstand A, gets even more. The conversation has continued and neither side has backed down or changed its mind (last time I checked at any rate). C has not, for instance, apologized to A. 

If anyone sees the matter differently I am genuinely curious what there is to be said for C's take. I don't know how common this kind of thing is--apologies if this is a matter of only very local interest--but from my perspective it looms large.


  1. My only comment is that "rationality" doesn't seem like a very useful standard for making a moral judgment. What seems irrational to one person may seem otherwise to another. Nazis and racists generally may be wrong on certain facts which would be enough to defeat their particular claims in support of prejudice-driven acts against others. But not being rational doesn't seem to get at that. They are not being rational, of course, if they hold positions contrary to facts which they should recognize as such. But being a Nazi or a racist may also reflect something not merely fact based, i.e., a claim that they feel aggrieved, threatened or some such by their target populations in which case it may be perfectly rational to act in ways to reduce or undo the grievances they feel. (Are their grievances justified? That is also a good question and to the extent they can be shown not to be, then a charge of irrationality might matter. Still, moral claims are valuational and so are not strictly grounded on degrees of rationality in the claimant.) Just my two cents for what they're worth!

  2. I think 'rational' can (and does) mean different things, including: mentally healthy, supported by facts and logical arguments, and choosing means conducive to one's ends, whatever those might be. I don't think being a neo-Nazi is rational in any of these senses.

    I agree that it's not likely to be useful in making moral judgments though. Whether a certain position is sane depends on whether it is good as much as whether it is good depends on whether it is sane.

    1. In a recent discussion (oddly enough right before the incidents of this weekend) I made the point to a friend that no one really thinks of themselves as the 'bad guy' in the story of their lives. We are not villains in our own lives. Sometimes we are victims, but we are never far from the side of righteousness. Quite often we are the heroes of the story. Even when we discover we made mistakes or got things wrong, we were always *justified* up to that point. Perhaps we had been deceived, but our hearts were in the right place, we inevitably tell ourselves. And this is pretty much what EVERYONE does.

      So when we think of the world (as best we can) from the point of view of people who are different from us, sometimes radically different, we need to appreciate that we all say and do what we say and do because the meaning of our lives somehow holds these things as worth standing on, standing up for, defending, and carrying with us out into the world. In other words, for us to be *us* these are the things that explain how we are framed in the world.

      This goes for the neo-Nazis as well as the people in the facebook discussion. If we are looking for some objective truth to measure people's worldviews by we are missing the point that what humans do is not *based* on the truth, is not *justified* to them on the truth.

      There is no independent measure that captures why we do what we do. There are no objective facts we can appeal to to resolve our differences. That is not how things work, even if we might hope they one day will. The gap between is and ought stands, as always, wide open......

      Everyone sees themselves as the hero, and depending on how much others oppose us they are seen as the lesser or greater villains of the story. The facts are irrelevant when the only real way we measure our differences with others is how far from our own point of view they stand....

      Appealing to 'rationality' as an explanation for people's behavior simply misses the point that no one measures their own actions in those austere terms. Philosophers only think they do. They have idealized a tool that people use in ordinary daily life as a somehow super-tool that peers deeper than, that measures more timelessly, more objectively, than our ordinary practices.

      When we fantasize about that sort of rationality we delude ourselves. We erect a new idol to worship. We are not somehow "peering behind the veil", we simply invest in a new tool we imagine to have universal application, like a hammer that treats the world as containing only things that need pounding.....

      If there is a version of rationality worth getting to know it will be as humble as the tables and chairs of our daily life. What is the form of life in which these expressions of a person's rationality are manifest? Why do they care about what they care about? If they think they are justified, how so? If they have the evidence of facts, what are they considering? There is no view from nowhere that can explain these things because they are all internal to a way of life.

      Or so it seems to me.......

    2. There is a lot here that I agree with, but I do have some questions or disagreements.

      There are no objective facts we can appeal to to resolve our differences.

      Doesn't it depend on the nature of the disagreement? Some disagreements really are about facts, e.g. about what such-and-such a policy will or won't achieve. This isn't the case with Nazis vs anti-Nazis, but it surely is sometimes the case.

      Appealing to 'rationality' as an explanation for people's behavior simply misses the point that no one measures their own actions in those austere terms.

      Right (on the "no one measures..." part), but can't we reasonably, and perhaps usefully, ask whether, say, Kim Jong-Un or Trump, is rational or not? When someone acts "crazy" isn't it sometimes worth thinking about whether they really are or whether there might be some method to their "madness"? If my son became a neo-Nazi I think I would wonder whether to take him to a psychiatrist. And if society generally starts to have lots of neo-Nazis it seems worth wondering whether this is a rational response to something or other (which might suggest one set of possible solutions) or an outbreak of irrationality (which might suggest another).

      I'm not sure whether you meant to take this kind of thing as given, though, so I'm not sure whether we really disagree or not.

    3. Yeah, I would agree that it does depend on the disagreement. One possibility is that objectivity simply does not matter to one of the disputants, so all I was suggesting is that even if we could agree that something counted as objective we might not take up the same stance in regard to it. Whatever agenda we hold out as being supported by the objective facts will be a ship sailing by for people for whom that agenda itself doesn't matter. Only if we can agree that we are playing the same 'game' can we agree or disagree about the effectiveness of the moves. If we are playing different games, what then? W used to ask "Is there a Queen in Draughts?" We use the same board and can even use the same pieces, but that does not make it chess....

      We need to be clear on the difference between sociopaths, psychopaths and simply people operating from alien motives. Cultural differences are not clinical pathologies.

    4. Can cultural differences not be pathologies, too? Are all cultures equal in a moral way because cultural perspectives determine moral valuation? If so, how can we say slavery or infanticide or human sacrifice are wrong in anything more than a cultural way? If my culture countenances such things or even lauds them, then how are not such things morally justified on such a view? If we cannot distinguish between better and worse culturally sanctioned practices, then how is moral progress possible? And if it isn't, then what's the point in making transcultural moral claims? Or even transpersonal ones (since each of us can, at any point, elect to affiliate with a different culture than the one in which we stand, especially given a small world like the one we live in today)?

    5. Stuart, you ask an important question: "If we cannot distinguish between better and worse culturally sanctioned practices, then how is moral progress possible?" My response would be to ask a different question: "What do you mean by 'better' and what do you mean by 'progress'?"

      If you are claiming those things are answered by an objective and non-human centric non-cultural point of view, I would be impressed if you could find such a thing (I would be even more impressed if such a perspective was convincing to anyone else such that it couldn't simply be ignored in favor of our pursuit of those things that we actually DO care about and which matter specifically *to* us and *for* us. In other words, the people who are obsessed with finding 'objective' support for the things they believe will only be disappointed that often no one besides them really cares [think religion in the age of science].....).

      If better only means 'better for humans' or progress only means 'progress for humans' I don't see the advantages in that form of explanation. As long as you privilege *something* you are a long ways from 'objective'. Why does the universe need humans? Why is anything we do important in the grand scheme of things? Why humans rather than dust mites? If the planet Earth is destroyed will that be doing the universe a favor?

      You ask what the point of making transcultural claims is, and I would tell you that it isn't necessary because the 'right' answers somehow await us. Rather, we make those claims because we are stuck living human lives in which a human perspective matters, and which in our own case is often radically different from that of other humans. We don't have morality because morality somehow preceded human existence but because we need it to navigate the world into which we are born. We invent morality to help us make sense of our human predicament. Like any tool we use or practice we engage in.

      Think of morality as like a game, say chess. There are good moves and bad moves, there are worse moves and better moves. Within the game of chess the players are aiming to checkmate the opposition King. There are strategies that aim in that direction. The players can make progress in the game by becoming better at fulfilling their aim. We can become better players. Progress.

      Now we encounter other people playing a different game. Maybe they are using the same board and even the same pieces, its just their moves don't align with our own. They are aiming at a different result, for instance. Like the difference between virtue ethics and utilitarianism. The players of different games each understand what it means to be better and to have progress (they can tell you if asked), but what do either of those things mean in a contest between the two ways of playing, the two specific frameworks in which judgment takes place? Is Jazz better than Hip Hop? Is Rugby better than darts? Is science fiction better than romance?

    6. You can ask which is better all you want, but no one has to agree with your or anyone else's assessment. In fact, we ourselves can only make that judgment in special circumstances. In other words, the only possibility of giving an answer is that there is some other game afoot. Some other way of measuring the world has caught our attention, and we have every right to decide to not play chess and to not play checkers but some other game instead. What we cannot say is that from this new perspective the moves of chess were somehow necessarily inadequate, or that checkers has an objectively lesser end. If I prefer a new game, so be it. I don't need objective justification to set one game down and play something else. Don't we even sometimes play games that are NOT our favorites? I love soccer, but I will throw a Frisbee if we can get enough folks to play.

      So when you say 'better' and 'progress' I accept that there IS a perspective in which that makes sense. Not a necessary perspective, but something as hopelessly contingent as every other option. I grant better and progress not based on familiarity with some objective standard, but because my own personal interests and understanding accept that, yes, one thing is (to me) better than another, one thing counts as more progressive (to me) than another.

      I get to say that with no more and no less justification than ANY claim about better and progress. I am condemned to a human life and leading such a life includes making judgments. The confusion is that our judgments are necessarily supported by a necessary ground that either justifies or explains them. This is simply not the case, as bewitched as we sometimes are with the model of science before us. Are you familiar with Wittgenstein's arguments in that direction?

    7. I am.

      The problem, as I see it, lies in what we mean by "objective" and what we mean by "value". In fact an analysus of the role of valuing as an intrinsically human sort of activity is likely essential for understanding the mechanism(s) of moral valuation. You raise the point of how importance something seems like or feels like to "me" and seem to be suggesting that this personal perspective obviates any possibility of a transcultural (indeed transpersonal) standard, as if any such standard must reflect spa viewfrom outside the world in which we are embedded. But really, why must that be the measure of objectivity? Why should we expect our moral claims to be timeless or originate from somewhere beyond ourselves to have an objective status? We recognize objective knowledge about the world as a function of interpersonal judgments, still true or false based on something beyond our personal preferences. Why do we think that moral standards cannot be objective in the same interpersonal sense?

      Does recognizing that moral claims are grounded in the sensibilities and needs of the persons making them undermine the possibility that they reflect standards beyond one's own preferences?

      Yet the moral game has an application that begins with individuals and expands to cultures. If so-called moral beliefs (the ones we choose to subscribe to) are no more than what any culture (its members) tends to endorse, then the moral game breaks down at a culypural level. There is no moral argument against Aztec sacrifuces or Nazi gas chambers. Now we can say sure there is because it contradicts our moral viewpoint and we end the matter by overthrowing Moctezuma or beating the Nazis on the battlefield. That's fine except it ceases then to be a moral question.

      If might ultimately makes right than moral claims per se are an illusion, good for keeping social order and guiding children. We humans live in a realm where reasons matter and if the only reasons we have for any moral claim rests in the force of our arms, the moral game must collapse and nihilism replace it.

      The point then is to find a reason or reasons good enough to convince humans transculturally of the better things to do, the right ways to be. Otherwise, if moral valuing is culturally grounded it can no more do its job than if it is individually grounded (do whatever feels right to you). But this doesn't demand a belief in a moral view from nowhere of us. Only a certain understanding of who and what we are and a decision to acknowledge it.

    8. I think I agree with very much that you have to say. As a person with opinions I absolutely love things you have to say. But I also think we understand Wittgenstein a bit differently.

      If I can make sense of things you said I may not be so keen on it seems your take on morality is in large part aspirational, that it HAS TO BE such and such, "otherwise" these other things fall out. I would say that I am sympathetic to just about everything you think morality ought to aspire to, I'm just not sure that wishing it so makes it so.

      Even if there is something morality is *supposed*to*be*, others will still be inclined to disagree. An interpersonal objective reason will not win out, just by itself. Which leaves the question of whether by 'morality' we only mean that which fits our aspirational agenda or perhaps something can include the more gritty and disappointing versions as they actually occur in human lives. Is morality what humans should do, or why, in fact, they *do* do what they do? Are we explaining morality or describing it?

      From what you said I take it that you admit people and cultures having their own sense of right and wrong but that in some respect it isn't really the 'real' morality. It seems that for your purposes the only morality than counts is something that occurs objectively, in the sense of being interpersonal and beyond the mere partialities and myopias of cultural versions. The comparison with objective interpersonal *knowledge* seems to be your justification. Am I correct?

      So the question is whether morality is a kind of 'knowledge' or if it is something else. Do we deduce it out of thin air or do we explore the facts to find the result? If it is a kind of factual knowledge then we can certainly test for it and run experiments and hopefully eventually arrive at the most truthful and accurate version. If our morality is a kind of truth we can justify it on factual grounds. We can secure objective interpersonal moral certainty as an act of discovery. It is a truth about the world that we can uncover by careful investigation. Just like science. It will be the *answer* to our questions rather than the questions we ask. Morality is, then, an empirical issue to be decided in terms of proof, evidence, and justification.

      I'm just not sure I see it that way. Maybe you don't either, but that is the sense I get. You are familiar with Wittgenstein's On Certainty, so you will understand that he was at pains to distinguish between the things it makes sense to doubt from the things that act as 'hinges' in our lives. That is, the difference between the things we go out and measure and the things that function for us AS the measures. The measures are not empirical in the sense that they need to be tested, that they need to be proved, that they necessarily even *can* be justified. The measures are a part of the *logic* of what we do, and are exempt from doubts (in the actual practice of using them).

    9. Which is not to say that we can't have 'bad' measures! Or that we can't step outside dubious practices and render external judgment. That, I would suggest, is *not* what is at issue here. The point, I think, is simply that when you measure the measures you are acting outside the practice. Wittgenstein's point was that from the inside of WHY people do what they do, it is only from the act of using our measures that the hinges turn. We decide good and bad through an act of measuring, and that only happens by accepting some things as removed from the doubts and questioning of the empirical game. When we seek to understand other people's measures we cannot grasp them as the things those people use to make sense of the world, so we export them to our own measures. Sometimes it makes sense to do so, but we need to be more clear that this-is-in-fact-what-we-are-doing. Stepping away from other people's sources of measurement is not an escape from our own act of measuring. As I attempted to say in my other response, 'interpersonal' is simply a different game with its own sources of measurement. Any fact is a fact of measurement.

      My point is simply that morality as practiced by human beings is one of the ways we measure in the world. We decide right and wrong, good and bad, based on how we measure things. The human practice (some human practice inevitably) stands at the center of what we can and cannot say in that regard. And this is something Wittgenstein wanted us to come to grips with especially: when we do, when we use our measures, we are not at the same time subjecting them to empirical doubts.

      It seems that you would prefer to escape actual human practices. And I would agree that there is plenty of reason why we see the need! People are so messy, so obviously 'wrong'. We are continually opposed to what other people do and believe that we cannot help but imagine that there is some wider view that encompasses human fallibility for a more objective view. We cast doubt on the obviously fallible cultural institution of measuring, as practiced in the human versions of moral reasoning, and instead imagine a view that *should* exist to replace it. We hope we can do something like a science with morality, compile evidence and proof, and the one thing we discard at the outset is that these specific things that humans actually do has any relevance for our project.

      It is an inspiring vision!

      Did you ever wonder why Wittgenstein was so opposed to setting forth theories? Did you ever wonder why he entreated folks to look at the actual human practices, to attempt to *see* what it is that humans actually do, that this, in fact, was the important step to take? And did you ever wonder why he was so adamant that some things needed to be shown rather than said, that explanations must inevitably come to an end and description take its place?

    10. We may well disagree on Wittgenstein but I don't think that's overly important. He never really delved deeply into explicating moral issues even though he, himself, had strong moral feelings. So perhaps he ought not to be our guide here though we should not forget his very important insights.

      You're right that mine is an aspirational claim, that finding a foundation, a source of reasons in playing the moral game, rests on what we come to think rather than on some objective standard external to the human milieu. I think there is a strong connection with religion, especially given the widespread role of moral thought in just about any religion we know of (though perhaps this excludes more primitive religious expressions, eg., animism, totemism and so forth). If religions are finally about how we think about ourselves in the world (discovered in competing religious narratives and their associated practices) then they must invariably make contact with moral questions.

      All valuing involves coming to conclusions about what represents a reason to do one thing and not another. Moral valuing, insofar as it's a form of valuing, does, too; it addresses our actions just as other forms of valuing address other things (we want or need or think we do). But how does someone decide he or she wants or needs to do one thing rather than another outside the scope of what doing it will get for him or her?

      To the extent the religious project is about situating us as subjects in our world, delineating a place for the self, it's also about telling us what we should or shouldn't do. It addresses the doing of those things that are thought to enhance or diminish the self (however described and understood). Therefore it's perfectly natural for religions to have a moral aspect.

      What kind of self we should be has implications for us on a so-called spiritual level. To the extent that the religious project (I'm not referring to any particular religious system but to the project of orienting selves in their world in general) concerns itself with selfhood, it concerns itself with the actions that express and constitute selves. And that is what moral valuing is concerned with, too.

      (continued below)

    11. continuing . . .

      Moral questions hinge on questions about the self and religions attempt to address just these kinds of questions. How do we argue for moral positions then in the way we argue for choosing one flavor ice cream over another? Obviously moral discussions carry different demands than deciding which ice cream to eat or what's a better means of obtaining it. Sometimes we make moral arguments by invoking religious beliefs, alleging that they entail that we act one way instead of another, but given the wide variation in religious systems and the absence of any way to navigate between them from outside, this isn't satisfying.

      But what if we can distill from religious activity the element we think of as moral, the aspect of it that addresses the choices we make in regard to our actions? I think it's here we must look for a foundation for moral claims (not all, since some reflect practices that have a basis in convention). To the extent that there is a right way to be, or at least a way we can agree to, there is a basis for asserting transcultural moral judgments. If culture #1 is okay with slavery, human sacrifice or infanticide and culture #2 is not we can argue for the norms of culture #2 by reminding our interlocutors of the nature of being a self in the world, that it involves recognizing the mental lives of others because that comes with the territory of being a subject. Subjects recognize other subjects based on the behaviors they see. And recognizing involves more than lip service. It involves acting differently towards subjects than towards objects (even when the subject is also an object of reference for us).

      Inability to recognize the subjectness of others impairs our own way of being in the world, not because it may come back at us but because it negates what we, ourselves, are. I would agree that there is no logical reason why we must choose to be cognizant of another subject's subjectness. We can treat other subjects as mere objects for our own purposes. But doing so undermines our subjectness, denying it by short circuiting one of its key aspects. So the reason to treat another as a person and not a thing lies in an aspirational choice, to embrace a different way of relating to the world. And that is the province of the religious project whatever particular religions may happen to appeal (or not appeal) to us.

    12. Let me add a (hopefully brief) addendum here. What makes the view I have adumbrated above transcultural is the idea that what we are, as subjects, is the case no matter what culture we stand in. As human beings with a certain level and type of cognitive capacity, we share a form of life (to use Wittgenstein's term, hopefully in a consistent and meaningful way) with other humans (and maybe some non-humans) that obtains beyond cultural conditions and standards. Indeed, human cultures may be seen to have a commonality on the basis of their members having a common, pre-cultural form of life.

      Thus the argument I am tryin to make above is that certain kinds of moral claims or beliefs are human-based and not just culturally constructed because our cultures, themselves, have extra-cultural determinants which make them what they are. So I am suggesting that moral distinctions can be developed and applied independently of particular cultures and this is the reason culturally sanctioned behaviors can be criticized and rejected from outside.

      Now not all cultures reach a point where there is an explicit recognition of this, that there is a human (or, better, cognitive based) reason to do some things and not others. But if there is such a reason (or reasons), then moral progress in history and among human cultures is possible.

      So the point is not to argue that there is some supernatural or even natural moral law that transcends cultural expressions but only that there is a basis for thinking about, and so behaving towards, other humans as subjective creatures, something, that is, which implies recognition of their humanity, regardless of the culture in which they stand or the cultural practices which we happen to be enrolled in.

      It can be argued that to come to such a view, some cultural factors must already be in place because we understand ourselves and our world in a cultural context. Thus, moral judgment remains within cultural boundaries. But that, I think, would miss the point which is that we are who we are based on our capacity to think about our own natures and that this capacity is broadly distributed in our species. Once this capacity kicks in, we discover reasons to treat others as ourselves and this kind of treatment, which hinges on recognizing others' interests is no less behavioral than it is verbal. So I would say that, for at least the class of behaviors we think of as other-regarding, we have a reason to behave in ways that grant others' interests as much deference as we give our own. And this is the basis for this class of moral claims, one that is not merely culturally dependent though, certainly, it will be culturally expressed just because we are cultural animals.

  3. sanity isn't the issue for the majority of folks, the question is how reason-able are human-beings, not so much according to history and science and so what is the use of analytic philo style prescriptions? here I think that Rorty was right there is no philosophical cure just the most representative (with minority protections) and least cruel institutions/methods that we can manage to cut and paste together. None of which will likely keep us safe thru the far end of the implosion of manufacturing capitalism, or climate change (just wait til one of the many major areas in Africa now starving and war torn flood into the EU, will dwarf the Syria displacements) but it's what we have while we have it. Perhaps philosophers become akin the the scientists charting the extinctions of species...

    1. Yes. There's no philosophical cure.

    2. don't mean to single philo out here just focusing on it b/c yers is a philo blog, serious questions here in terms of much of what we have wrongly imagined and institutionalized in our education, political, and justice/law modes. Lots of major rethinking needed (not that much of it will be adopted) to take in this growing body of counter evidence. The focus of many ordinary language, reader-response, STS (science&tech), ANT (actor-network-theory), and anthro/ethnography minded folks on actual practices seem to be on the right path and much of this is Witt inspired.

  4. You leftist academics need to grow a pair and figure out what to do about the masked thugs supposedly fighting 'nazis' that many of you support in varying degrees. At this rate there will be a backlash.

    1. I think there already is, or has been, a backlash, at least in the sense that people are thinking of the far right (some of whom are openly in favor of Hitler and the worst of his crimes) and the far left (none of whom, as far as I can see, is in favor of Stalin or his worst crimes) as morally equivalent. This is one danger of (the left's) resorting to violence.

      There is an interesting academic question about free speech. If in general people should be allowed to say whatever they want and yet it is not OK to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater, spread slander, reveal state secrets, etc., then where exactly do we draw the line between speech that should be allowed and speech that is equivalent to shouting "Fire!", etc.? I take it that this is at least a big part of the concern about neo-Nazis, etc.--that allowing them to parade and chant and so on is allowing people to encourage violence, which, in turn, is (the argumnet would be) relevantly similar to shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater. I.e., it is too dangerous to be allowed. There could be an interesting debate about how similar these cases are, where to draw the line, etc., and academics could contribute to such a debate. On the other hand, I doubt there is a clearly right place to draw the line. It's going, I think, to require case-by-case judgments about what is reasonable in the circumstances.

      As for growing a pair, I'm not sure I really want to. But I'll think about it.

  5. "Nazis" aren't a threat in this country. Repeat that in your heads. Joking. I know you need them to be.

    No doubt, as has been shown repeatedly in the past, guys carrying a Nazi flag or throwing salutes and wearing arm bands are often Feds, leftist or "counter protester" agitators, or actually what they look like to most of us Americans, idiotic losers WITH NO POLITICAL POWER and virtually no support from the public.

    And these days, in this country, the overwhelming violence we see on the streets is coming from self identified leftists.

    And the dubious jerks that went to C-ville were not looking for violence insofar as I could gather from studying their podcasts and blogs. I am amazed at how much people think they know that clearly haven't done their homework.

    1. "Nazis" aren't a threat in this country. Repeat that in your heads. Joking. I know you need them to be.


      I am amazed at how much people think they know that clearly haven't done their homework.


  6. You rootless cosmopolitan, borderless elites, lol, you love irony. And you know all about words and games. We have Orange Hitler in the White House, some guys with tiki torches peacefully assembling with a permit to protest taking down historic statues, albeit many of them with views many find offensive to some degree, and America is like Nazi Germany and another Holocaust is about underway.