A little beef

January 27, 2023 • 11:15 am

Here’s a dilemma I face constantly. A lot of material on this site is devoted to opposing “progressive liberal” (i.e., “woke”) initiatives, particularly in science. And I’m pretty much of an absolutist when it comes to freedom of speech on campus, which isn’t exactly an attitude that’s au courant or ubiquitous among progressives.

Whenever another site links to a post on WEIT, which is fairly often, I get a “pingback” that lets me know that someplace has put up a link. Very often I go to see how my posts are being used, and very often—in fact at least 90% of the time—it’s a right-wing site like The College Fix, or The American Conservative, or someone like that, all of them decrying wokeness. Likewise, you’ll never see my criticisms of the incursion of wokeness into science appear in science journals—or in any left-wing media. In other words, my words are being uses to attack the Left, which happens to be the end of the political spectrum I’m on.

Now I could look at this situation in two ways.

1.) Since I go after what I see as irrational or harmful behaviors of “progressives”—and I do that to try to show that even liberals can call out their own, as well as to help purge the authoritarian and reflexively irrational elements on my own side of the aisle—I could regard these pingbacks as helping me in those efforts.


2.) The audience for these right-wing websites isn’t just interested in getting rid of “progressivism” or authoritarianism in the Left: they want to get rid of the entire Left. To the extent that my words are being construed as tarring the entire Left, I could be seen as hurting my own cause. Or even as helping the most dire Republicans around—the people like Trump who call out wokeness to go after Democrats in general.

Each time I see a pingback from one of these conservative sites, then, I am ambivalent. Am I helping or hurting my own cause? Like all people who take my point of view, I have of course been called “alt-right,” “racist”, and even a white supremacist. I brush off those names because they’re just slurs that progressives who lack arguments use to tar their opponents.

Now I’ve already my decision: I’m going to keep doing what I do (alternative 1) for several reasons. My motivations in calling out woke craziness is not to go after the Left as a whole, and thus I may, as someone with Leftist beliefs and a fairly activist track record, have more credibility than the right-wing sites who call out the same stuff. Further, I cannot bear it when the Left is associated with performative nonsense and general insanity. It’s like when someone in your family is acting badly: you call them out before others do, because, after all, they’re family. Finally, I still think that purging progressives from the Democratic side, or at least letting others know that we recognize the Follies of the Woke, will keep centrists from moving toward the Right. So long as people think all Leftists are “progressive”, they will shy away from the Left, and that would not be good.

I just wanted to air these thoughts. Readers are welcome to react, and you can tell me to dial down my criticisms of “progressivism,” but I’m not going to do it.  Oh, and please don’t lecture me about using the word “woke”. I have not found a good substitute and I’ve gotten plenty of blowback about that, which I’ve also rejected.

61 thoughts on “A little beef

    1. I agree. Nicely said. There are plenty of conservatives who don’t like a lot of right-wing positions, especially those generally understood to be extreme.

  1. I love that you will continue to speak out against abuses by the left. I am on the same political spectrum as you and I think it important for me to be aware of these episodes. Perhaps we can learn from them.

    Regarding whether you are aiding the enemy so to speak, as far as I am concerned those folks have already closed their minds to any information contrary to their narrative. As a result, adding additional fodder is essentially irrelevant in my opinion.

    1. I don’t see that demonising everyone who might read the likes of The College Fix, or The American Conservative as “the enemy” who have all “closed their minds” is all that helpful.

  2. Perhaps sensible folks on the Right will see it for what it is, fair criticism, and, as a result, develop respect for honest lefties and demand more honesty from extremists on the Right. “Model the way” is the first rule of leadership, at least according to Kouzes and Posner.

    1. Yes. Large, vaguely defined groups (left/right; conservative/liberal) are not monolithic blocks. There’s more variation than the opposing side usually assumes there is. If nothing else, finding common cause in one small area makes it more likely that the groups can work together to compromise on something else.

  3. Two things:
    1) The word “woke” as currently used (divorced from its original meaning) still seems to me to be a modern and unnecessary updating of “political correctness.” I guess I fail to see why this new definition of “woke” is preferred when “political correctness” seems just fine to me. Or to rephrase this as a question, What does the word “woke” capture that “political correctness” does not? I also think that it’s a sad thing that “woke” has been divorced from its original meaning. We can blame the right for that.
    2) I don’t see the word “progressive” as a pejorative, as I’m a progressive on at least four fronts: a) a desire to see a national insurance program on par with what many European countries have; b) an urgent and massive rollout of green energy solutions (I want to see solar panels on every roof in Manhattan, which is where I live); c) higher taxes on the rich; and d) ending the War on Drugs, which, for a start, would mean removing, not rescheduling, cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (de facto legalization) and releasing all individuals in prison who have been jailed on nonviolent cannabis charges—and then expunging their criminal records. So with those four items in mind, am I a progressive in good standing? I believe that I am.

    1. I agree with both points. In your second point, I also find it disagreeable that “woke” and “progressive” are being used interchangeably; as for me, they are two different political attitudes with a decent amount of overlap, but distinct enough that they shouldn’t be conflated. My personal view of being progressive is wanting to be more like European countries: universal health care including euthanasia, no religion in politics, free (or very inexpensive) higher education, sound drug policy (yes, ending the war on drugs), criminal justice reform (esp. getting the profit motive out of our penal system which incentivizes incarcerating Americans with minimal efforts to rehabilitate), 2nd amendment reinterpretation, and a green environmental policy. The GOP considers these attitudes extreme and radical; the majority of citizens who live in Europe or Canada and “progressive” Americans consider these attitudes centrist and common sense. I think one can be progressive without being woke (in its new pejorative sense).

      1. I think you’ve really nailed it with this distinction. A respectable direction in politics, progressive, has become tarred by its association with a destructive dimension, woke — to the point that even I use progressive as a synonym for woke sometimes. But it’s important to maintain the distinction.

    2. What does the word “woke” capture that “political correctness” does not?

      Shortened to one sentence: political correctness only ever requested changes in language; wokeness demands that all institiutions and ways of doing things be over-turned and dedicated to ensuring “equity”, that is, equal outcomes of all groups.

      Or, re-phrased: political correctness attempted to equalise opportunity, wokeness demands equality of outcome.

      Wokesness is thus vastly more radical and authoritarian.

      1. That’s a very clear and useful distinction in meaning, but the ease of using one syllable and four letters in ‘woke’ vs seven syllables and eighteen letters in ‘politically correct’ might decide which is used.

        WRT JC’s post, I’m rather more conservative than many here; I value his careful and thoughtful evidence-based, pro-enlightenment analyses. Too many on both right and left websites oversimplify and omit inconvenient evidence in their haste to condemn those they disagree with.

        Apart from JC’s comments, there are a number of leftist readers here who valuably challenge my unstated assumptions and biases.

  4. Don’t let those wokerati get you down. They’ll say that the reason your engagement comes from the far right is because you’re fundamentally ideologically aligned with them, but that’s just another one of their lies.

  5. Hello! Personally I’m a fan of your stance and obviously a follower of your site. I am also a professor in Florida and we have been asked (this week) to provide information to the state about DEI initiatives. This initially seems reasonable to me although it depends on how it is used. I also found out this week that faculty across the United States are being targeted online for “leftist propaganda”, which I find deeply unsettling. See https://www.professorwatchlist.org/. You’re not on there (yet!), but some of your colleagues are. For me, there is an escalation against higher education in Florida that is getting concerning. This Turning Point USA site of course extends beyond Florida and essentially amounts to doxing professors work address information. Despite what Turning Point says, I think the point of this site is to chill speech, not to expand it. None of the content of my coursework (e.g., statistics, neuroscience/neuroanatomy) really touches on DEI or politics, but it is also something that is impossible to ignore, especially when teaching to a diverse student population. And even evolution (which is heavily covered in the neuro courses) can get political. In other cases, one can see readily how coursework outside the sciences would touch on these issues. Anyway, all of this is to say I am often confronting the same issues and happy to read your posts, and also thought you should be aware of the TPUSA site. It’s going to continue to be tricky to navigate higher education, so it’s nice to see how others are thinking about it.

  6. Readers are welcome to react, …

    Some thoughts:

    * In general there are both good aspects and bad aspects to left-wing positions and to right-wing positions. That’s why democracies are usually positioned at a rough balance between the two.

    * Even where a political party’s leader and activists are partisan and extreme, most of the voters for that partly are usually moderate, decent and reasonable. Speaking to them is good.

    * Positive changes tend to come once they’ve garnered support across the political spectrum. If people who vote for the opposite party are listening to you and agreeing with you then that’s a good sign.

    * If you want to combat wokeness and compulsory DEI ideology you’ll need the support of people who vote Republican (and likely the support of Republican-leaning judges and legislatures, for example in outlawing compelled speech and ideology-based hiring).

    1. The penultimate one especially. By reading how Jerry couches the issues, one has a reasonable hope that those farther to the right will get the appropriately nuanced viewpoint that the left isn’t a monolith. Unlike what they might learn from Fox news and so on.

      It would be an agony though if Fox news asked Jerry for an interview. What to do then?

  7. … and I do that to try to show that even liberals can call out their own …

    Yes, we can, and we can do it while remaining in the Big Tent — unlike the never-Trumpers on the right, who’ve been wandering in the political desert for the last seven years.

  8. The strategy is sound; an additional tactic could help. To put a bit of a speed bump in front of right-wing use of your material, you could say things like: “The cancellation of this speaker bears a certain resemblance to the Manatee County, Florida plan to ban books until approved by a Republican appointed censor.” Don’t get me wrong; this won’t do much. They’ll just put ellipses where necessary, quote you out of context, or misrepresent you entirely. But it might help a little.

    1. I was going to make the same suggestion. Weave in similar criticism of right-wing stances into your anti-woke posts. If right-wing outlets link to your site/article, then their readers will at least be exposed to both points of view. (NB: Our host already does this frequently.)

      I ran into an analogous situation on a personal level. A conservative colleague and I would often discuss politics or issues such as freedom of speech. We agreed on many issues, and I would willingly (well, somewhat willingly) cede certain anti-liberal points if I saw their value. However, this got very tiresome, because although I would criticize certain liberal stances, he would seldom if ever do the same with conservative issues. Thus, this became a sort of relationship where I felt I would make concessions, but he never did. After he began making fun of Biden again, I asked why I had never heard him criticize Trump for all of his transgressions. When he mewled, “but I don’t support Trump,” I told him, “well, then speak up! If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

      It simply became too unpleasant and unproductive to discuss these things with this person, so I stopped.

  9. IMO, you must keep doing what you’re doing. Not captured in those pingbacks or the silence of the left media/journals is what I like to think is a “quiet majority” of generally liberal people who agree on the woke issues you so assiduously and thoughtfully document. I see a growing, vocal liberal voice pushing back on extreme wokeness. We need leaders like yourself to show the way and demonstrate it’s OK to speak out.

  10. Prof. Coyne, you’re among the few legitimate sites that offer genuine, sincere pushback against the “progressive ” insanity which is destroying America. I recommend your site to family and friends whose news diet consists solely of PBS and NPR. Please keep doing what you’re doing.

    1. It seems to me that the word should only be surrounded by scare quotes to indicate irony: that what’s said to be progressive is not progressive at all (or perhaps even regressive). By contrast, it’s worthwhile to look at things that ARE genuinely progressive and worth pursuing, such as the four items I mentioned in my comment above (see number 6).

  11. Sounds right to me. The undesirable forms of “pushback,” “blowback” and so on seem like forms of smaller and louder groups doing all they can with short-term goals and memories.

    Larger and quieter groups are also reading and thinking, but they’re quieter. At least for the moment.

  12. Frankly, I prefer the term “pop-Left” to “Woke”. The corruption of the Left by post-modernist wokery is, after all, an old story. We also have the corruption of the very word “Socialism” by the Unified Socialist Party in Venezuela, before that by Erich Honecker’s Socialist Unity Party in East Germany, and before that you-know-what further East. For that matter, thoughtful conservatives (e.g., Andrew Sullivan, David Frum, George Will) can tell us how Conservatism has been corrupted by the Trump/Santos cohort of grifters.

    It all boils down to a dictum by the great science-fiction writer and philosopher Theodore Sturgeon. Sturgeon was once taxed with obvious fact that 95% of sci-fi is bullshit. He replied sagely: “95% of everything is bullshit.”

  13. Prof. Coyne, one thing I have learned is that the rational seems to have always been the minority. Even now, right and left are playing for “the team” and anything you say that can be used to attack one side will be used by the other. And if you post something attacking conservatives over some issue, they wont post that a lot unless it is to attack you.

    I despise wokeness as I think its the most well-meaning form of irrational brain cancer there is, but every time I bring it up, my farther left friends attack me and conservatives use what I say to attack them. And if i poke at the excesses of conservatism, it flips.

    not too many people are interested in bein rational or learning the truth. Only that their message gains the high ground. Psychologists have known this for decades.

  14. I support Jerry’s use of the word woke – the behaviors to which he applies it fully deserve the insult the word has come to imply. I would love to see a succinct summary of these woke examples that I could just copy and send to my NPR buddies!

  15. I recall decades ago that the late, great US Senator from Washington, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, was asked by an interviewer whether or not he was a liberal. Scoop’s relay was “Yes, but I am not a damn fool.” How appropriate for today’s intellectual climate.

  16. I hope you will continue your critique of the irrational woke side of liberalism/the Left because if people like you in prominent academic positions don’t critique it, I fear the entire Left will crumble. To the average American, the Left looks quite irrelevant to their life, especially now that it has shifted focus from helping the poor/working class to Identity politics.

    The problem, as you noted, is that the woke Left is not able to hear the critique and the Right uses it to further attack the entire Left. However, I believe that there are many on the Left who would agree with your critique, if they could have access to it.

    They want to be on the Left, to uphold free speech, protection of the environment, women’s rights, equality for all, etc.–some of the core beliefs on the Left–but they cannot relate to the growth of wokism. At the same time, they don’t know how to critique it and are afraid to do so because the atmosphere is so rigid and self-righteous that you are immediately labeled a Right-winger for questioning the party dogma .

    I almost wonder if publishing your critiques in more main-stream magazines/on-line forums that attract older liberals/centrists might expand these ideas and give people a place to land that hasn’t fallen to extremism and show that the issues are more nuanced and worthy of debate. I have been Left/voted Left my entire life, but I am so appalled by the clamping down on free speech that I am tempted to register Independent–and that worries me for the future of our party.

    1. On the right, the National Review is the only conservative voice that holds the former president accountable. For Jan 6th, the “rigged” voting, and the attacks on any non-Trumpists.

      On the left, Why Evolution Is True is the only liberal website exposing far-left extremism. And WEIT is a daily website that provides updates, without jumping to conclusions.

      I don’t expect anything from current right extremists, but I don’t see the ones on the left returning to sanity either.

  17. What you’re doing is the right thing to do. The only thing I might pay close attention to is to always clarify (as you do) that your beef is with the specific matter at hand—the “word police,” for example—and that readers should not take your post to imply that you object to liberalism or the left as a whole. That would allow you to point back to your original words if you are misquoted or quoted out of context. Other commentators seem to do the same. It’s sad that one has to be so vigilant.

    I once gave $15.00 to the political campaign of a right-leaning candidate. Although I am left-leaning overall, I agreed with enough of his position to offer my small contribution because I thought him the best candidate. For literally the next twenty years (!) I got requests for money from all kinds of conservative candidates as well as numerous solicitations to subscribe to conservative magazines. That one tiny contribution erroneously pegged me as a conservative. Over the years, magazines and campaigns spent way more than the $15.00 of my original contribution. I’m sure that it’s way worse today.

  18. I agree completely. I sort of regard myself internally as “conservative” but frankly, in the present environment, that doesn’t mean what it might sound like to some people. I haven’t voted for a single Republican in the last 25 years or so, for example. I am called a “libtard” often enough that I have concluded that if I have any political direction, it is more left than right, at least in the current meaning of those words. I have experienced the same problem you describe.

    And I think you just cannot let yourself be troubled too much by the fact that your views get picked up by the “right.” Sometimes, of course, there is not a lot of substantive agreement, but there is a superficial agreement. I find that on a lot of current “gender” stuff I have views which superficially might be taken as agreement with some of the things that the religious right would say — but in fact, I don’t agree with them in any meaningful sense because even when our conclusions overlap in some respect, the reasoning and the motives and the objectives do not overlap at all. Ideas really are complicated sometimes and they have complicated implications.

    I have found the left to be, sometimes, highly illiberal. The right is illiberal more often, but the left can be, too, and there is no good to come from refusing to speak of it.

    Is brain-deadness or illiberalism unique to one political side? I think in our present climate it’s very lopsided; but it’s definitely not unique to one side.

  19. You have to keep doing what you are doing because the only way to beat the critical social justice ideology is from within the left, by offering the alternative left-wing solution i.e. traditional liberalism – evolution rather than revolution. Attacks from the right on CSJ can’t win because it will be put down to a left-right argument – “you are uncaring”.

  20. Keep up the good work. The erosion of freedoms of speech and expression, particularly in academia, is too serious a societal issue to ignore.

  21. “My motivations in calling out woke craziness is not to go after the Left as a whole…” – J. Coyne

    Neither is mine. We non-woke, non-postmodern lefties need to see to it that we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  22. One strategy to address the issue of being “used” by right wing types might be to include “poison pills” in the posts… comments that undermine that type of mis-use. I’m not exactly sure how this might work without being distractive from a column’s main point, but maybe??

  23. Absolutely agree with what you are doing! As a long-time progressive/liberal I am astounded by what some of the “woke” radicals are doing, so I hope you will keep calling that out–in part because I like your logic. It gives me ammunition to use against both the right and the leftist radicals. And I also have not found a word that would replace “woke,” so please continue to use it.

  24. I suspect that thousands of silent readers are nodding their heads in approval to both Jerry’s stance and to the many supportive comments above. But our institutions will continue their descent into woke madness if we allow the bullying minority continually to silence us. One of the principal tools that they use, of course, is to evoke knee-jerk reactions of right-wing versus left. We have all seen their guilt-by-association smears and their divide-and-conquer tactics. Some thoughts:

    – Wokeism is increasingly less about being a Democrat vs Republican, left wing vs right, liberal vs conservative. It is an assault on freedom, thought, individuality, and the essence of what it means to be a human being.

    – The fact that one agrees with me on tax structure, environmental protection, effective programs for the poor—pick your traditional policy or program—is of little relevance when that same person or group either seeks to destroy foundational aspects of our constitutional (indeed, civilizational) experiment or empowers those who do.

    – “The” right is no more monolithic than “the” left. Tucker Carlson has the highest rated show in cable television; Fox News tropes notwithstanding, he averages only 3.2 million viewers. Over 155 million people voted in the 2020 presidential election. But, take that slot on Tucker Carlson if he asks.

    – If well-meaning people of left, right, and center are to work together to defeat this menace (while also keeping guard against an equally illiberal counterreaction from the right), then some of us ought reconsider our use of the epithets “far left” and “far right”. I, in any case, can toss around the terms too cavalierly. But, on reflection, neither a Ruth Bader Ginsburg nor her good friend Antonin Scalia would merit the labels.

  25. I sympathize with the problem overall, but unfortunately don’t have much good advice. I think I’m rather to the left of the median commenter here, which alas is not saying much. There’s times I’ve thought of saying something about the issues you raise. However, I tell myself that would not likely do any good.

    “I may, as someone with Leftist beliefs and a fairly activist track record, have more credibility than the right-wing sites who call out the same stuff.”

    A sincere question: what’s your activist track record? I’m not disputing it, just I’m not aware of it. Note if people don’t know it, this point doesn’t hold.

    “It’s like when someone in your family is acting badly: you call them out before others do, because, after all, they’re family.”

    This has to be done very carefully to make sure it’s appropriate, and not to have it consume the relationship. Otherwise it turns into being an abusive jerk, while self-justifying it as building their character or some such.

    “Finally, I still think that purging progressives from the Democratic side, or at least letting others know that we recognize the Follies of the Woke, will keep centrists from moving toward the Right.”

    It’s an appealing thought. But as far as I’ve found empirically, it doesn’t work in reality. People want it to work, but I’ve yet to see anyone make an evidence-based case for this strategy. And there’s plenty of behavioral reasons to be dubious. The social media version is being always obligated to join a bullying pile-on to some nonentity that the Right has determined to hate that day, or they’ll turn around and call you a pinko “Soft On Wokeism”.

    This is already long enough, so I’ll leave it at that.

  26. Agree with everything you’ve said/written, almost. Way back some time, you voiced your discomfort at using a word the Right has appropriated from Black American language, woke. And, decided to keep using it because you couldn’t figure out a better designation. I still hate it when you use that now perversely racist word; how about Offensive Cancel instead? It seems to me that the driving force behind everything we reject in the actions (including speaking) of the people improperly “demanding” redress, our Left Wokers, is offense; in that, they are upset that somebody, usually not themselves, is offended by something. What they do not understand is that being offended only says something about the offendee and nothing about the offender. Generalizing that condition into designating the speech as offensive is wrong, illogical, irrational, and … well, I can’t express how awful I think it has become. I am not saying there is no such thing as offensive speech because of course there certainly is. Rather, incorrectly assuming that speech that offends is equivalent to offensive speech is just plain wrong. I’d have thought that academic institutions would be able to recognize the difference, but I guess that just because people making policy and other administrative decisions are working for an educational institution, that doesn’t make them well educated.

  27. I must say, these days I often feel depressed after reading this site because of the issues you discuss. But please keep doing what you are doing. Speaking out is the only possible antidote to the group think that has contaminated academia and the sciences. As a very well-known scientist who is now retired (an untouchable, so to speak), your voice is incredibly important. I do my best to speak my mind in my own institution, admittedly tempered somewhat by my fear of being fired or having my career destroyed by administrators or virtuous students and colleagues.

  28. I am on the right, and often vote for Republicans (according to the Pew Political Typology Quiz, I am a member of the Ambivalent Right. https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/quiz/political-typology/ ) I am a long time reader, and I very much appreciate your use of scientific reality to inform your political opinions. I try to do the same, and wish everyone would. For that reason, please continue; every link back that is followed by someone who usually reads sites that he already agrees with will see a solidly grounded view. An echo chamber is not a path to wisdom, a robust discussion is.

  29. To my thinking, a major part of the damage caused by the Woke is the credibility they lend to the illiberal Right. During the rise of Trump, I began to think that all over the country there must be masses of people finally reaching their tipping point. If someone can be as bad as Trump and his followers, how could the majority of more-or-less reasonable Americans not look on with horror and nausea?

    The answer that came to me is the idiocy of the Woke. I remember feeling my hope drain from me when I looked at the statue of (someone famous, can’t remember who) covered in red paint because of his so-called racism. Then more recently I’ve been reading stories like that of Chloe Cole, a teenager who was pushed through the transition pipeline, having a double mastectomy at 15, and finally realizing she really is a woman, and now mourns that she will never be able to nurse a baby. On the website I first saw her story there was a picture of Marjory Taylor-Green, promising to be a fierce warrior in the protection of the innocent children of this country. “How on earth (I thought) did you (the Woke) screw things up so badly that you could hand Marjory.F.ing.Taylor.Green a moral victory like this?”

    Faux news could never have made up a story like this. But now all they need to do is let the cameras roll, interview victims, and never let their viewership forget the horrors being visited on our children. As a parent myself, if I thought of Trumpism as the alternative to horrors like this, and didn’t realize how close to fascism the illiberal Right has taken us, I’d hold my nose and vote “R”. The Woke are only handing bullets and hand grenades to the enemies of this country, so to speak.

    1. I agree with your analysis. What we see with the Woke is a social movement that started out relatively moderate and has become more extreme over time. This phenomenon is not unusual in both history and ideology. Today, the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln and emancipation, has morphed over about a century and half into anti-democratic fascism. This transition has been slow, but has accelerated since the 1990s. So, the question is whether the Woke have aided and abetted the fascists by scaring voters that otherwise would have voted Democratic to vote Republican. It is hard to say for sure, but the answer is probably yes. When an extremist group gains power its first instinct is to crush the opposition. The current fascist strategy is to destroy the credibility of the American electoral system. If the fascists gain full power, not a possibility to be lightly dismissed, it will crush the Woke with the ease of a fly swatter crushing a fly. Lost in their own ideological bubble, the Woke do not realize this. Fascism is the imminent threat to American democracy. There needs to be a united front against the fascists, consisting of moderates and those on the Left. The Woke is hindering this to happen. The result may be catastrophic.

    2. >>“How on earth (I thought) did you (the Woke) screw things up so badly that you could hand Marjory.F.ing.Taylor.Green a moral victory like this?”

      I had the same thought when Herschel Walker was making campaign ads with a woman who had competed against Lia Thomas in NCAA swimming.

  30. You shouldn’t change what you write about. Don’t stay away from controversial topics. I like the variety of features on your website. I learn something everyday. Regular commenters are also knowledgeable and share a lot of great information. To someone living in rural southern Utah WEIT is a remarkable resource.

  31. I think what we need to remember is that as I have said before. It isn’t just a free speech issue it is freedom of being. Here in the UK. I have seen several supposedly progressive organisations adopt “safe space” rules that are madly authoritarian and actually unprogressive.

    These are rules that say you are verboten from making anyone feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to be speech . It could be acting gay for example. They say that you must stop and your accuser or bully is automatically right and if you continue you’ll be thrown out.

    The latest rule I have come from is “don’t speak in absolutes” but somethings, like evolution, are absolutely true. Are we not allowed to be scientific and logical beings? Like some people weren’t allowed rights because they were gay, black or Jewish.

    This is insanity! Please keep

  32. I believe it has already been noted that politics makes for strange bedfellows. Unless one is happy to subscribe to the ‘whole package deal’ of beliefs of a particular party, you will certainly find yourself alongside people with whom you disagree on other matters. I don’t like package deals, so I had to get used to this, and the consequences. I’m a social liberal but a fiscal conservative. Where’s my natural political home, remembering there is no actual ‘centre’ in politics? So I might be nodding agreement with monetarists one day and decrying the stance of those same people on gay rights the next.

    1. Who really is attacking gay rights these days, Christopher?

      Whenever someone makes an argument against trans ideology now (like keeping cross-dressing men out of women’s prisons), the trans activists fold it into accusations of “anti-LGBTQ2S+ hate” for propaganda purposes to recruit the likes of Pete Buttigieg to the cause. But really trans ideology has nothing to do with homosexuality. It’s all T now. Many gay people, lesbians especially, have quietly abandoned the movement out of resentment against being dragged along as a forced cheering section. Indeed, according to queer theory, there is no such thing as homosexuality anyway. People who think they might be gay need to be convinced they are really heterosexuals of the opposite sex to what they were assigned in error at birth, and mutilated to that effect. No one on the Right makes this argument.

      If you are an American Democrat, your great worry in trying to elect actual homosexuals to government is that American blacks won’t vote for them.

      So you could side with the monetarists without having to worry that same-sex marriage is going to become illegal as collateral damage or that assault and battery against homosexuals will become legal. If you want to straw-man your worries about the Right, it might be better to pick positions we actually take.

      1. >Many gay people, lesbians especially, have quietly abandoned the movement out of resentment against being dragged along as a forced cheering section.

        But many now have started to fight back— reverting to LGB minus the “T”, and cutting out the new triangle (and new red umbrella, to include sex workers) from the latest/most current edition of the flag.

        Only fair, as the newer Gay Pride flag has morphed into the “Pride” flag. Gays no longer needed.

        1. I always thought the solid black triangle divisively wedging its way in from the left on an earlier version made the flag look like a fascist banner. Glad to see proud gay people take back their own flag.

  33. I completely agree with you that Enlightenment liberals should not become entangled with the right. I have long struggled with this issue because wokeness is driving me crazy and sometimes it can be difficult to ignore those who promise to just make it all go away and who, while not Trump minions, are no friends of free speech or other liberal values (Ron DeSantis, etc). But I always remind myself of the future I believe in, the future that Steven Pinker outlined in Enlightenment Now, a future that is imperiled by both the illiberal left and the illiberal right (the mainstream right, not just the QAnoners and other such kooks). That is a future worth fighting for. Keep up the good work!

  34. I agree with all the points here.

    Free speech near absolute, right wing bad, woke bad, normal left of center politics good.

  35. Two thoughts:

    1. You are going through something Orwell went through his whole life. There is nothing orthodoxies hate more than someone on their side giving ammunition to their critics, so expect abuse. Nonetheless, you are the one that is correct here, not the hive mind.

    2. American usage of political terms doesn’t do you any favours. The woke movement comes from critical social science, which is part of the “new left” or postmodern left, which has since synthesised with the socialist left. This is completely at odds with liberalism, so calling the left wing liberal is nonsensical. I suspect you are a liberal above anything else and are against illiberalism, be it on the left or right.

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