A typical banned comment

July 15, 2019 • 10:15 am

I’ve received considerable opprobrium for giving Steve Pinker a forum to answer critics who accused him of somehow being complicit in the sex crimes of Jeffrey Epstein. I’m not going to reproduce the hateful emails, comments, or Twitter accusations I’ve received for providing that forum, or for speaking out on Pinker’s behalf, but I will reproduce one below. Since it accuses me of a crime, I have no compunction about reproducing the entire comment, IP address and all. In its direct accusations of criminality it is not typical, but its tone is quite similar to that I’ve seen in many comments and emails.

Note as well the gratuitous and anti-Semitic addition of “Goldbergs and Cohens” (yes, every name on the list is Jewish).

Needless to say, the comment won’t appear, and perhaps “Goyem” will cry out that he—I suspect these people are usually men—was banned. Free speech!

Years of writing on this site have more or less inured me to nonsense like this, but what I’ve never gotten used to is how horribly people behave on the internet—in ways they’d never behave were they to address you face to face. I’m not asking for sympathy, as I let myself in for this stuff by taking strong stands in a public forum. Still, I often wonder if posting under one’s real name would cure this behavior. A reader informed me that a new study says no, using one’s real name might actually exacerbate bad behavior. And, at any rate, I’m not going to force people to use their real names.  I can take stuff like this, but I don’t have to publish it.

It is this kind of low behavior that erodes my faith in humanity and drives me to seek solace among my ducks.


81 thoughts on “A typical banned comment

    1. It is possible that “goyem” doesn’t understand either. Visceral reactions like this are rarely motivated by reason(s).

    2. Some people are born with an empty hole where their heart should be, and they can never rob or cheat or kill enough to fill it.

      This (or something close to it) was what Doc Holliday told Wyatt Erp in the movie Tombstone when Erp asked him about the nature of such characters.

      1. In my youth, I was a big fan of horror writer H.P.Lovecraft, until I read a biography of him and realized that he was a rabid bigot. His hatred for minorities went far beyond simply being “narrow-minded” or “a product of his times” as his defenders sometimes argue–he LOATHED minorities. He said that he couldn’t walk down the street without “shuddering” or becoming “nauseated” by the “foreign scum” that was crowding the sidewalks.

        Putting on my Amateur Psychologist hat, it seems that Lovecraft had–to use an overused word–a phobia of minorities. They provoked an intense physical reaction in him, the way some people react when they see snakes. I know a young woman with a phobia of clowns–she says that even a photo of one can trigger a panic attack, even though she knows that there is no danger.

        I wonder if many bigots are the same way: they have an irrational PHYSICAL response to minorities that they themselves can’t explain, although they no doubt rationalize it.

        1. Cut Lovecraft some slack. If you read his biography then you know his father went insane from syphilis, leaving him to be raised by his crazy mother and 2 aunt’s, who raised him as a shut-in in a big, old, scary house. He’s practically a character from one of his own stories. Besides, he was starting to come around near the end of his life. He was married to a Jewish woman, friends with an openly gay man(in the 1930’s), and supported FDR.

  1. Don’t left the bastards get you down doc .
    This might cheer you up as well ,Alan Turing’s portrait is going to be on the new Bank Of England £50 note ,there was some talk about the Grantham witch being on it .

          1. No, seriously, she doesn’t.

            Quite a lot of what you hear about Margaret Thatcher’s time in office is mythical. That goes for both sides of the argument.

  2. Since PCC(E) makes it quite clear how his work involved defending the use of science properly in the court, it seems to (layman) me Dr. Pinker jumped in to help defend the use of linguistics appropriately in the court.

  3. I am afraid my pessimistic comments will do do little to help this attitude. But think about it as it is within this society today. As disgusting as this pathetic creature is we have in the white house today – his favorable rating is 45%. That is a very disgusting reality. It is not just that our government is broken, our society is in a mess as well. There is no separation between people and the government they install.

  4. Oh, c’mon, how can you not trust someone with the e-mail address “anal.rapist@gmx.com” from the “http://Goyemsunite.com” website?! You’re just repressing this totally upstanding individual!

  5. We now live in a world where you can be condemned for standing next to someone who LATER TURNS OUT to be a very bad person. As if you are supposed to have some magical powers to know this at the time.

    Does anyone being critical of Pinker actually think he had full knowledge of what Epstein was up to? And does anyone who knows Pinker’s work think he would dismiss Epstein’s crimes had he known?

    CC help us.

    1. Let me also add, on behalf of us actual goyim, that he’s clearly not one of us, since he doesn’t even know how to spell it. 🙂

      1. Maybe he (presumably, but maybe she) portmanteaued (yes, I verbed a noun. Twice. And i’d do it again….) goyim with Golem?

        Wait… To him (her?), my recognizing this possibility makes me:

        a) a jew
        b) a pariah
        c) educated

        If you selected a and b, you get a cookie. (Neither culturally or in practice a jew, brought up Catholic light– everything but the pope Episcopal–, and agnostic/atheist by choice)

  6. I’m a long-time lurker here, and quite enjoy your thoughts: especially ones I think I disagree with.

    This has forced me to comment. I hadn’t really understood what was involved in writing and posting essays.

    Apparently, you’re used to it, but this made me decide to delurk, and say, “Thanks.”


  7. But there are also lots of lovely people in the world!

    The worst aspect of internet comments is that unlike normal social interactions, you cannot choose your company (apart from banning people), and terrible people seek out good people to troll.

  8. I feel the same, Jerry. I never had a chance to get to know ducks, but what keeps me sane in this rather mad society is the unconditional love I feel every day from my 5 cat companions. I feel blessed (in a secular sense, of course).

    1. I feel fortunate to have a place just a half mile out my front door where I can “go Duck myself” quite often.

  9. Like BobW above, I’m a longtime lurker who now posts for the first time to express my support for PCC(E). I imagine there are plenty of other lurkers like us.

    Reading this site, with its commentary on everything from ducks to science to ducks to cats, is the high-point of my day. I don’t agree with everything that’s posted, but I agree with the posting of everything. Or something like that!



  10. I just hope those on the left who are quick to tar Pinker by association take note that these are the kind of people they’re unintentionally allying themselves with: absolute bottom of the barrel racist scum.

    1. There is this aspect which is significant that those who tar Pinker should contend: their association with some very hateful people.

      To date, I’ve not seen any defenders of Pinker act uncivilly, only some who would want to have Pinker hung at high noon without trial.

  11. I am glad the comments are moderated, even though I feel bad that PCC has to look at this stuff so the rest of us don’t have to. I value the few civil corners of the internet that I visit regularly.

    Maybe a fourth brood of ducks will arrive to lighten the mood. (Kidding!)

    1. We should think about it this way. As much as everyone loves free speech, if you actually had full and complete free speech here at this site, none of us would be here. Without the owner removing the rubbish and filth on a daily basis, it would be a wreck. So think in those terms when we define our desire for free speech.

      1. You only have to look at the ‘comments’ sections of ‘TheHill’ or ‘Politico’ (and these sites still have some ‘moderation’) to be shown completely right.

  12. The internet has increased the speed and scope of meme transmission in a way that rivals, in fact exceeds, the introduction of moveable type printing in the 15th century. And, as with the case of print, there will be heaps of dreck transmitted as well. About this, one can only shake one’s head and repeat “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”. Except… if that epigram were true in its entirety, that would flatly contradict Steven Pinker’s overall assessment of human progress. Maybe the latter progress is, shall we say, decidedly spotty.

    1. From a Wikipedia article ‘Sturgeon’s Law:

      In 2013, philosopher Daniel Dennett championed Sturgeon’s law as one of his seven tools for critical thinking. “90% of everything is crap. That is true, whether you are talking about physics, chemistry, evolutionary psychology, sociology, medicine—you name it—rock music, country western. 90% of everything is crap.”

      It applies to both sides of political debate too… but I’ll agree that the Velocity of Crap has increased remarkably since the birth of the Internet.

  13. Another bigoted lout, leaving bullshit in their digital wake. Is there a stereotype that Jews abuse little children? Good grief,I haven’t heard of that one.

    I’m glad you have your ducks. Ducks are much friendlier than people.

    1. I don’t know about a “stereotype” of Jews abusing children, but the Old Testament has a the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with reference to Lot (Abraham’s “good guy” relative who lived there) offering his daughters to visitors to be raped. After escaping these cities later, said daughters got him drunk to impregnate them.

      Throughout history, Jews have been accused of kidnapping Christian children for sacrifice. From the Old Testament, we also know that Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his own son.

      Although I can’t find a reference at the moment, archeological evidence exists for burial of children under house foundations near, at or under front doors of houses in Israel.

      Of course, our tribe(s) would never commit sexual atrocities. Instead, we commit genocide.

      1. And blood libel (how could I forget). I guess I didn’t psychoanalyze how f’up the comment was. I was thinking of modern cases. Thanks for a deeper understanding of the reprehensible comment.

  14. First, Jerry, let me add my voice to those who are saying thank you. Absorbing what you do allows the rest of us to have a civil conversation, which is invaluable.

    I would like to see the study that alleges that using one’s real name makes the situation worse. I find that really hard to believe. I see internet anonymity as producing the same behaviors as road-rage drivers hiding behind tinted windshields, and anonymous death-threat people hiding behind dummy phone numbers.

    I also agree with Randall that there is an appalling amount of support for the hatemongers and their opinions. That said, there is also such a thing as leadership, and while those attitudes are always going to be there, the culture, right at this moment, tells us that it is “cool” to be outwardly nasty. People may feel and believe that way, but in other times it would at least not be socially acceptable to let it all hang out.

    I am reminded of an incident on one of the social media, I forget which one, where women who spoke out against sexual violence were attacked and doxxed by legions of men. As a way of fighting back, the targets and their allies researched the senders’ real names, and forwarded their postings to the senders’ mothers. The senders were never banned, but the targets were banned immediately from whatever forum it was. It was the decision of the forum that threats of rape, disfigurement, and beatings, and revealing the targets’ personal information were OK, but telling the senders’ mothers was not. Their anonymity was compromised!! The horror!!

    The other thing that jumps out at me is that these people must have an awful lot of time on their hands.

    I sympathize with your desire to hang out with your ducks. My barn is my sanctuary.


    1. I too am puzzled by the indication that real names makes people worse. If the data correlated that way, I could only suggest that it really meant that the worst of the trolls used their real names. Wanting people to also know who they were. Not sure if I am being clear there.

  15. Paraphrasing C. Hitchens: we are poorly evolved mammalian species; our frontal lobes are too small, and our adrenal glands are too big.

    Hopefully we – or something else – will evolve into a more rational species. Admittedly, we have our moments, but then stuff like in the OP happens.

  16. What is revealing, is the relish in which the regressive left is indulging in InfoWars-style “pedo” hysteria that the al-right usually engage in.

    Pharyngula resembles InfoWars these days, with its pedo panic and its science denialism.

  17. I must admit I thought Pinker’s statement of his position and association with Epstein very reasonable. Wherever you go you will come into contact with people who are unsavoury and which you may have no inkling that this is the case. It does seem nowadays that just having been in some sort of relationship is sufficient to damn you without any consideration of exactly how that relationship came about. In Pinker’s case just being somewhere at someone else’s request has been seen to be sufficient. I have to admit that find it difficult to believe that people can really live their lives with this attitude – you would soon run out of friends!

  18. It is clear that we live in an era of great social discontent, at least in the western world. This may seem surprising since relative prosperity prevails (compared to previous times as documented by Pinker) and there are no major wars. Future historians will have a tough time reaching a consensus as to why this is. My guess is that the Internet and social media provide an easy means to mobilize mass grievances for any cause. Mass mobilization is nothing new. Hitler, with the assistance of Dr. Goebbels, accomplished this. However, previously there could only a few mass mobilizations at any time because only a few people had the means or opportunity to engage in such organizing. Now, anyone with Internet access can at least attempt to foment a mass movement. Enough of them have succeeded, resulting in people having it easy to find an outlet for their grievances. Some may even characterize this phenomenon as an advance for democracy because all people now have a voice in influencing public affairs. But, we know that some mass movements result in the destruction of democracy. Again, Nazi Germany is the prime example. Today, Trumpism represents a threat to democracy because its supporters care nothing about that form of governance. Rather, they are only concerned with combating the threat to their worldview and need for social dominance posed by changing demographics. At this time it is uncertain whether this mass movement can be stopped. The next election will tell us much. Even if Trump loses, Trumpism will not go away. Its supporters will be more aggrieved than ever. Social discontent will remain high, stoked by social media. If the next president is a Democrat, she/he will be in for a rocky ride as will the nation.

    1. I see the current divide in the U.S. similar in some ways to the civil war time. Not that this one leads to war but the separation in ideas and culture is comparable. It was very regional then with race and a great desire in the south to reverse any change. Now we have this “make America great” slogan and even the party that is for it is almost afraid to define it for what it means. The guy in the White House is not so afraid and makes it pretty clear for his followers. The good old boy in Carolina, Senator Graham tells him to aim higher, in other words, don’t go directly and bluntly to race, but Trump does not even understand the warning. He said, “what does Graham want him to do”? Go after Senators or some other congressmen in the house? Someone higher than the lowly house freshmen? No stupid, he is telling you don’t be so obvious with the “go back where you came from?”

      1. Given about 150 years to dilute the geographical divide of the Civil War *somewhat,* it looks like we’re re-litigating those same issues but in different terms (especially since that war was won by one of the sides); our original sin, and all that.

  19. In the company of ducks the quacks are entertaining and harmless. Not so much on the internet.

    Steven Pinker acted appropriately. Thanks for publicly defending him.

    After reading The Language Instinct, The Blank Slate, and The Stuff of Thought I think he has a towering intellect. I am jealous and admiring. Perhaps others are jealous to the point of viciousness. I suspect not many have read his books.

    1. “Perhaps others are jealous to the point of viciousness.”

      Yes, I think a lot of that is going on; Dawkins is attacked for the same reason imo.

  20. I thank Ceiling Cat almost daily for people like you, Mr Pinker, Sam Harris, Penn and Teller, the late and greatly lamented Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, my wife and best friend, a few selected siblings, and my late and greatly missed tabby, Elvis.

    There are many others, of course, too many to mention. Be assured that you are not alone. You have those sweet ambassadors of the Anatidae family, and you have us. Always.

    Cheers from a shivery Melbourne, Australia.

  21. I mean, “Goyem”? “anal.rapist@gmx.com”? “Who is”? This troll is not even good, just very nasty.

  22. Thanks Jerry for putting up with this sort of crap to keep WEIT running. I appreciate your efforts.

  23. If that were posted on my web site I’d have to delete it. It accuses five people of child abuse, only one of which has allegations of such against him. I’d be concerned about being sued for libel if I allowed it to stand.

  24. Thank you, Jerry, for all you do to provide this thoroughly interesting site. May the ducks delight you, and may some dear and affectionate cats come and purr and rub against you.

    I do see there’s something about the Intergoogle that makes for ghastly hateful behavior. (I myself was on the receiving end of some breathtakingly hideous flaming ten years ago.) Is this the price we pay for this firehose blast of Information that is available to us every day?

    This guy trashed you. But do know that there are lots and lots of people who deeply appreciate you and the things you do.

    May ducks and cats support and comfort you!

  25. Antisemitism really is a bottomless cesspit. People seem to keep emerging from it and spreading their puerile hatred about.

    Non-Jews (like me) need to do oppose this unceasingly. We are not doing enough, and it will only spread and engulf everything if we can’t stop it.

    (I’ve been following the blow up of the UK Labour Party. The racist left is positively proud of their antisemitism because they are too ignorant to realise it’s based on the most insane lies. They think they’re speaking to truth to power, when really they’re just spewing filth at innocent people.)

  26. I doubt this guy knows squat about Pinker or his work. Most likely he is an incel antisemitic troll living in his mother’s basement tapping out hate tweets when he’s not playing with himself.

  27. In the words of that great modern philosopher Taylor Swift, “Haters gonna hate” – but thanks for screening us from their misinformed bile!

    1. And in the more positive dwords of Mel Brooks, “Regarding religion, I’m rather secular. I’m basically Jewish. But I think I’m Jewish not because of the Jewish religion at all. I think it’s the relationship with the people and the pride I have. The tribe surviving so many misfortunes, and being so brave and contributing so much knowledge to the world and showing courage.”

    2. Yesterday I saw a young guy wearing a “Haters gonna hate” T-shirt, and I couldn’t guess if he was wearing it because was a good guy concerned about the prevalence of hate or if he was a hater himself proudly flaunting it. I felt uncomfortable…

  28. “. . . kind of low behavior that erodes my faith in humanity . . .”

    I get to feeling exactly like that more often these days myself. But then I see things demonstrate to me that there is still a great deal of good in us (the human race). People caring for animals, people caring for other’s. People collaborating on great projects. Even something as “silly” as seeing the genuine camaraderie that often develops between contestants of these big talent shows like “So You Think You Can Dance”, often from very different parts of the world. Often taking a scroll through the days Hili Dialogue is a treasure of such reaffirmation of faith in humanity moments.

    Try not to let the trolls get you to feeling too low Jerry. Keep on keeping on and know that you are making a difference for the better.

  29. Let me add my heartfelt thanks, PCCE, for the long, hard intellectual work you do to keep WEIT fresh and true!

    Looking at our republic’s dire sociopolitical condition, I fear that (as several have already noted) the center is collapsing, like the remnants of a star that at its end becomes a gravity well into nothingness, a black hole. In such times these lines from Yeats’ ‘The Second Coming’ are often quoted, as an epitaph:

    ‘. . . the centre cannot hold. . . .
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.’

  30. I live just a few miles from the campus of the renowned Interlochen Arts Academy in northwest lower Michigan, which has of late received heavy criticism and been put on the defensive by its association with Epstein in the ‘90’s and early ‘00’s. He was a heavy contributor, including arranging benefits for the institution in New York attended by Interlochen administrators. The slimy bastard even endowed a large cabin on the campus located adjacent to the junior girls summer camp which he and his entourage inhabited and allegedly attempted to target adolescent campers. To its credit Interlochen cut all ties and removed all references to Epstein in 2007 upon his first conviction but is still is having to deal with this latest fallout.

  31. ‘Goyem’ is a spoof ID.

    Goyemsunite.com does not exist.

    And if the email address analrapist@gmx.com exists, I’d say it’s obviously a dummy account.

    In other words, it’s purely a troll.


  32. On a side note –

    “And, at any rate, I’m not going to force people to use their real names.”

    That’s a relief. And besides, I doubt it would be practical. If I re-started posting as ‘George Miller’, how (without extensive and time-consuming enquiries) would you know I just made it up?

    (not George Miller)

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