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Slate Star Codex must remain anonymous The New York Times wants to out the author of a blog that is one of the few sites for reasoned argument

Protesters and counter-protesters argue during a demonstration in New Orleans, Louisiana (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Protesters and counter-protesters argue during a demonstration in New Orleans, Louisiana (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)


June 24, 2020   6 mins

It’s really hard to have a sensible, calm conversation online between people who disagree. It used to happen, a lot more, on the old blogosphere; these days, the mega-forums of Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr have made it much harder. You have to publicly shout about how terrible the enemy is for fear of being branded one of them.

This week, one of the few places that still let you have those conversations has shut down. I think it is a disaster. Let me explain why.

About two years ago, someone accused me of preparing to do a journalistic hatchet job. I had a book coming out, about a group of people called the rationalists, and their concerns about AI destroying humanity, but also about their approach to the world. One of them suggested that the book was going to be an attack on the rationalists: “I expect that any published piece will be hugely negative towards [the] community. Will anyone take the other side of such a bet?”

The book, for the record, wasn’t a hatchet job. But it would have been incredibly easy to do one, had I wanted. That’s why they’re paranoid; because there are people out to get them, and because they’re easy to get.

They’re easy to get because they’re weird. They’re weird in lots of ways, but the weirdest thing about them is that they are happy listening to, and debating, arguments they disagree with, and with criticising arguments that are “on their side” in whatever greater cultural battle is going on. That’s especially true of one key rationalist blog, Slate Star Codex, written by Scott Alexander, a pseudonymous psychiatrist who lives and works in the Bay Area of California. 

I should declare an interest at this point: I’m a huge fan of SSC. I think it’s an astonishing body of work; it ranges from in-depth discussions of studies into new antidepressants, to wide-ranging philosophical thinking about how we argue and why we disagree, to childish puns and short stories about hallucinatory cactus-people. Normally, I’d link to it — normally I’d have linked to it four or five times already — but today I can’t, for reasons that will become clear.

It’s part of the SSC ethos that “if you don’t understand how someone could possibly believe something as stupid as they do”, then you should consider the possibility that that’s because you don’t understand, rather than because they’re stupid; the “principle of charity”. So that means taking ideas seriously — even ones you’re uncomfortable with. And the blog and its associated subreddit have rules of debate: that you’re not allowed to shout things down, or tell people they’re racist; you have to politely and honestly argue the facts of the issue at hand. It means that the sites are homes for lively debate, rare on the modern internet, between people who actually disagree; Left and Right, Republican and Democrat, pro-life and pro-choice, gender-critical feminists and trans-activist, MRA and feminist.

And that makes them vulnerable. Because if you’re someone who wants to do a hatchet job on them, you can easily go through the comments and find something that someone somewhere will find appalling. That’s partly a product of the disagreement and partly a function of how the internet works: there’s an old law of the internet, the “1% rule”, which says that the large majority of online comments will come from a hyperactive 1% of the community. That was true when I used to work at Telegraph Blogs — you’d get tens of thousands of readers, but you’d see the same 100 or so names cropping up every time in the comment sections.

(Those names were often things like Aelfric225 or TheUnBrainWashed, and they were usually really unhappy about immigration.)

That’s why the rationalists are paranoid. They know that if someone from a mainstream media organisation wanted to, they could go through those comments, cherry-pick an unrepresentative few, and paint the entire community as racist and/or sexist, even though surveys of the rationalist community and SSC readership found they were much more left-wing and liberal on almost every issue than the median American or Briton. And they also knew that there were people on the internet who unambiguously want to destroy them because they think they’re white supremacists.

This has actually happened. For instance, Scott wrote a huge, long article explaining the views of the “Neoreactionaries”, a group of strange alt-right-affiliated thinkers who want to replace democracies with rule by hereditary kings. He also then wrote a huge, long “anti-Reactionary FAQ”, explaining why he thought they were wrong.

He has also written several things about how terrible Donald Trump is, but one of them suggested that he is not “openly racist”, as many people were suggesting, because Trump repeatedly said things about how much he loved Mexican people and wanted the Republican party to be “be the home in the future and forever more for African-Americans and the African-American vote”. He may or may not be racist, said Alexander, but he’s not being open about it.

And, of course, people read the explaining-the-Neoreactionaries post and decided he was a Neoreactionary; and they read the “Trump is awful but he’s not literally openly racist” post and decided he was pro-Trump.

That’s some of the background to an extraordinary row that’s broken out. A few weeks ago, a reporter at the New York Times started researching a piece about Slate Star Codex. The rationalist community became aware of it and became incredibly paranoid, for the reasons discussed above. 

The reporter got in touch with me. He was totally reasonable and I was (and remain) convinced that he was not going to do a hit job; he had read SSC, he was impressed by the breadth and depth of the thinking on display, and he was going to write a broadly positive piece. So I spoke to him, on the record. I also encouraged other people to, if they felt comfortable doing so. Better, I thought, that the piece had some voices speaking up in favour.

But then I had an email from the reporter saying that the NYT editors wouldn’t let him write the piece without giving Scott Alexander’s real name. And, on Tuesday morning, SSC had been taken down, replaced with a single post saying: “NYT Is Threatening My Safety By Revealing My Real Name, So I Am Deleting The Blog”.

(That’s why I’m not linking to any of it.)

I’m wary of “the internet makes me unsafe” arguments, because a lot of the time I think it’s overstated. Perhaps it is in this case. But Alexander has reasons to be scared. Recently, some people had taken the most extreme comments on the SSC subreddit as evidence that he was “a homophobic transphobic alt-right neo-Nazi”. “I am a pro-gay Jew who has dated trans people and votes pretty much straight Democrat,” he wrote. “I lost distant family in the Holocaust. You can imagine how much fun this was for me.”

His pseudonym is not watertight; I once worked out his real name from clues on his blog, which I admit is a mildly creepy thing to do. Some other people did the same, but not out of passive interest: “Some people made entire accounts devoted to doxxing me in Twitter discussions whenever an opportunity came up,” he wrote. “A few people just messaged me letting me know they knew my real name and reminding me that they could do this if they wanted to.

“Some people started messaging my real-life friends, telling them to stop being friends with me because I supported racists and sexists and Nazis. Somebody posted a monetary reward for information that could be used to discredit me.

“One person called the clinic where I worked, pretended to be a patient, and tried to get me fired.”

He ended up having a mild nervous breakdown. I totally understand his being paranoid about being publicly named.

(And, I learn today, one SSC commenter seems to have been SWATted, ie had the police called on them in an attempt to get them shot by trigger-happy American cops, although whether that’s true or connected to the blog is an open question.)

I think accusations that Alexander personally or the community at large are sexist or racist are not true, or at least are reliant on definitions of those words that 95% or more of the population would disagree with. 

As I mentioned, the NYT journalist told me that his editors wouldn’t let him write a piece about Alexander without naming him; I suspect that is a Times policy thing. A tech journalist friend agrees, saying: “The NYT is one of those organisations that thinks its internal rules have the status of constitutional law.” That may be true, but the NYT leaves sources unnamed if there’s a reason to be worried about their safety; they’ve certainly allowed other people anonymity in similar situations recently.

What I find baffling is the idea that the public interest is served in publicly naming a blogger. If the NYT piece had been, as the rationalists feared, a hatchet job, then it would at least make sense to name him: “This psychiatrist is a RACIST, he should be fired”; I would disagree, but you could follow the reasoning. “This psychiatrist runs an excellent blog, but has many people online who want to destroy his career; here’s where they can find him, printed in the most famous newspaper in the world” is just crazy to me. (Alexander himself notes that psychiatrists in general “are kind of obsessive about preventing their patients from knowing anything about who they are outside of work”, for reasons given here.) Even the online groups who hate him most have refrained from publicly naming him in the past.

As I said, it’s hard to talk to people who disagree with you. These days, it feels even harder, and it feels as though people are even more willing to try to publicly shame people they disagree with rather than engage with them. Perhaps it was ever thus. But it felt like SSC was one of the few places that allowed this sort of serious conversation. I really, really hope the NYT sees fit to run the piece without naming Alexander, and that SSC is reinstated.

(Not least because, until that happens, about 20% of the links in all my UnHerd articles will be broken.)

By the way: the person who said my book was going to be a hatchet job offered to bet anyone who disagreed. Someone took him up on it; they agreed a $1,000 bet, proceeds going to a charity of the winner’s choice. It was Scott Alexander who bet against it, and won.


Tom Chivers is a science writer. His second book, How to Read Numbers, is out now.

TomChivers

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Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago

I am bored beyond stupefaction with these radicals tearing down everything they don’t like just because they don’t like it. It is such a mindless pursuit. I am even more fed up with gutless leaders who fail to step unhesitatingly into the public arena and proclaim without equivocation that these antics are wholly unacceptable and antithetical to all the precepts and conditions of decent human society; that is, essentially, freedom of thought and freedom of expression. Our leaders at the moment are craven -they’ve all ‘taken the knee’; silenced and humiliated into obeisance- the which strongly suggests they are of profoundly weak character. If they are not prepared to lead then they should leave.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago

Well said, and thank you for confining “taken the knee” inside quote marks where this ridiculous phrase belongs.

simon taylor
simon taylor
4 years ago

Although my own politics are of the right, I was bought up (by my left/liberal parents) to consider freedom of speech to be the most fundamental of human rights. During the 70`s and 80`s they considered the biggest threat to freedom of speech came from the right, which would lead us to totalitarianism. They would be so sad to see the depths to which their beloved liberalism has descended.

Jonathan Marshall
Jonathan Marshall
4 years ago
Reply to  simon taylor

Your experience neatly mirrors mine, and I’m sure my parents (God rest them) would be similarly appalled.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
4 years ago
Reply to  simon taylor

They had a point about the threat from the right, but the greater threat was surely from the left, most saliently from nuclear-armed Warsaw Pact militarism.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Frankly the threat from the right in the 70’s was infinitesimal. There was some talk about a coup by a group called Civil Assistance, led by the retired General, Sir Walter Walker, but it was mere fantasy.
You are correct, the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG) was the real menace. Their somewhat rinky dink invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, was an apposite warning of what the Marxist beast was capable of, when aroused.
The “ nuclear threat” and the “four minute warning” was real enough.
Fortunately fantastic films like Dr Strangelove, kept us all suitably amused, and most were confident that a “bucket of instant sunshine ” dropped on Moscow by a Vulcan or B 52 would win the day.
In the event, as the Chinese would say, the Soviet Union turned out to be nothing more than a Paper Hamster.
Seventy years of utter barbarism imploded without a fight, eviscerated from within by its own seething, toxic, bile, as it so richly deserved.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Exceedingly well said.

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
4 years ago

Welcome to the world the rest of us live in, you can carry on writing and making money as that is your profession unlike the outside world were your life is destroyed by virtue signalling warriors who take against you for nothing.
Now live our working class lives and say any thing out if line, even if it’s not, life ruined.
Lovely world the left has created.
Remember when you could live you life with out every organisation and people telling you every second of every day that you are wrong and evil and must atone for your life!
Welcome to the world you created, now let’s watch it burn together

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

I don’t think it’s “The Left” (whatever that means) that has created this. It’s extremists all round. For example, you can’t question anything about the UK online without trolls berating you for being unpatriotic. Anything anyone says to promote any view attracts opprobrium.

Just yesterday, Joanne Harris was attacked on Twitter for objecting to copyright piracy (she objected to a quote from one of her books being used in promotional stuff by a sex worker – result: a deluge of attacks by sex workers, expertly missing the point as trolls often do). But piracy is theft. Literally theft. There is nothing noble about it. Oh, and it’s a crime.

I am not familiar with SSC, though now I will look out for its possible return if the NYT sees sense.

There are too many people in this world who feel undervalued and disrespected. That’s why they are so oversensitive to any sign that might demean them further. Long term, the cure for this isn’t enforcing any type of political correctness, left or right. It’s addressing the inequalities and lack of opportunity that make so many feel this way.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

In the main I agree -I think the sticking point is when it comes to ‘addressing the inequalities’ which many people translate into something like ‘what I want and don’t have’.

There are appropriate and inappropriate inequalities in life -I can’t master the game of cricket like I.T Botham -I have to come to terms with the disappointment, not allow my envy to destroy all enjoyment of his skills and the game, nor seek to handicap him in an envious attack so as to salve my wounded ego, see him more realistically as maybe having some things I definitely don’t want, maybe I have some things he doesn’t have etc… if all goes well maybe I can learn a thing or two from him and develop my own game. But this capacity seems to be completely lacking in the radicals -they cannot cope with their feelings of envy, grievance and resentment it seems.

On the other hand there are clearly deeply inappropriate inequalities. But radicals cannot seem to discern between the appropriate and the inappropriate. It’s entirely beyond their imagination -which leaves me thinking there is something inherently psychologically pathological going on in side their personality structures.

Go Away Please
Go Away Please
4 years ago

You bring out a very valid point.
I’m not sure when equality became a virtue. It really shouldn’t be. All the “inappropriate inequalities” you refer to are probably manifestations of other things and should be addressed accordingly. Approaching these things from an inequality perspective generally means we mess up and deal with either superficial matters or try to sort out inequalities that exist because it is right that they exist.
Instead of the world pursuing equality it would be far better if we better understood right from wrong. But unfortunately that’s no longer 21stC thinking.

Samantha Carter
Samantha Carter
4 years ago

It’s just the latest form of communism, it’s just racial and gender communism rather than economic.

It didn’t work when it was economic communism and this racial+gender communism also doesn’t work. Inequality of all forms is a fact of nature and necessary to maximize human productivity and make our nations better for everyone. But we also have a strong instinct towards fairness due to our tribal past that these ideologies take advantage of. That instinct isn’t evil in itself, it’s good and allowed tribes to get along so we could survive then, but it can be used for it.

Remember the power of ideologies, as expressed by one of the bravest authors of modern times:

“Ideology”that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes, so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations…. Without evildoers there would have been no Archipelago.”
“‱ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918″“1956

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
4 years ago

The trouble is your point that ‘Inequality is a fact of nature and necessary to maximise human productivity ….’ is a piece of pure ideology. We never think of our own beliefs as ideology, that is the problem. Why is your statement ideology? 1. When we talk of equality we do not mean to deny that some are better than others at doing things, we just mean to say the everyone should have as far as possible an equal chance, and even if you are hopeless at everything you are a human being and deserving of a minimal level of respect – human dignity. 2. Even more obviously, we cannot assume that human productivity is the only or even the most important human good. Different societies an legitimately value different things.

Samantha Carter
Samantha Carter
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

1) That’s a straw man. Most people, in the USA anyways (unheard is British but I’ve never been to the UK), are supportive of the idea of equal OPPORTUNITY, or at least strong social mobility so that those with ability and motivation who are born into the lower classes can move up, regardless of race. And in fact, the USA has done a “good” job, if you want to call it good, at stratifying society by IQ, so by that metric, the most intelligent are able to move up in society, although I don’t think this IQ stratification of society is a good thing for society, but that’s another matter.

The problem is when merit is abandoned in the name of equal OUTCOMES, which is the current dogma in the West. The dogma says, any differences in outcomes are de facto due to racism (or sexism) and thus we must have quotas and ignore merit until outcomes are equal.

For example, I used to hear about how blind auditions are good for symphonies to avoid racism and sexism (and probably ageism and good looks-ism also), so only musical talent matters in hiring. Now suddenly we must abandon blind auditions because the outcomes aren’t equal and diversity is skin color on stage is now considered more important than having the best musical talent. So even when we know for a fact racism isn’t a factor, we still have to enforce equal outcomes. That’s one powerful ideology.

I never said anything to disparage human dignity, but what does that have to do with anything I said? I didn’t say starve people, in fact, I want our economy to allow the best to get ahead to AVOID starving people, as is what happened under communism. Another straw man.

2. You must have grown up in the West. Do you have any friends who grew up under the iron curtain? They couldn’t get underwear, socks, had to wait in bread lines, mass starvation in many communist countries, not to mention the death toll due to enforcing the ideology not including starvation, etc. That’s what happens in the long run when you ignore merit and try to force equality on a diverse population. Are you willing to take responsibility for the starving due to this equality ideology, and for the high achievers these ideologues murder if they manage to gain power?

Communism works quite well in tribes and that’s how we lived for a lot of our evolutionary history. Hunter gatherers have enforced meat sharing and they use a reverse hierarchy to bully anyone who doesn’t share meat or tries to bully the tribe. I have no problem with tribal communism. It just doesn’t work well when brought to the large societal level, at least when taken to it’s logical extreme, forced equal outcomes, whether by race or on an individual bases. But the fact that it’s from our tribal past means it’s an instinct we need to be aware of, because it’s an ideology our brains really like, it sticks well, and leads to a strong feeling of fervor and moral righteousness that can justify horrible things. That’s why I’m concerned. Because it’s so effective on our brains but so ineffective in our societies.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
4 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

The left is responsible for a great deal more of this behaviour than the right. From what you yourself say about Joanne Harris, her case is not relevant to this hypothesis. Your final paragraph makes a bit more sense.

chris carr
chris carr
4 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

The article says she objected to quotes that breached her copyright. There are quite explicit rules of copyright that define what proportion of an article may be directly quoted, how much of a poem may be quoted (TS Eliot’s estate are famously strict on this), and so on. If those who used her words breached her copyright, they are at fault, not she. If not, not.
But to attack her if she objects to her words being misrepresented and taken out of context (which this post implies) is bad argument.

Nicholas Rynn
Nicholas Rynn
4 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

You might want to consider the differences between Twitter and the reality in which most of us live. Twitter is a shouting echo chamber filled with hate and dissension. I am flummoxed to understand why any reasonable person goes anywhere near it.

Scott Carson
Scott Carson
4 years ago
Reply to  Nicholas Rynn

It baffles me as well, and what makes it worse is that it’s practically compulsory nowadays if you run a business. That, and the other monstrosity known as Facebook.

d.tjarlz
d.tjarlz
4 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

” “The Left” (whatever that means)”

In the absence of a more cogent definition it means, “something that I feel threatened by”.

You can also include, “radicals”, “SJWs” and “virtue signallers” in this definition. Elsewhere the language will be “the right”, “reactionaries”, “RWNJ”, “virtue signallers”, etc.

Kelly Mitchell
Kelly Mitchell
4 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

Please study Fair Use Doctrine, which legally allows use of copyrighted material.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

We used to have the guilt of ‘original sin’, (whatever that was), now the guilt of Woke.
Both were/are generated by the preposterous belief that one half of the human race has the ‘god given’ right to tell the other half what to do.
Cheer up, it always ends in tears.

David Smith
David Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Mark, if the idea is preposterous then who does have the right And authority to moderate behaviour or define a moral code? If the answer is ‘nobody’ then nobody has the right to tell another that they have no right. The only possible entity that could hold that right by authority would be a transcendent creative God. And if that God did define a moral code and made it the duty of the righteous to inform the unrighteous of their obligations under that code and the consequences on not doing so, then wouldn’t that make sense?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  David Smith

Yes, that is a wonderful concept, but the whole span of human history seems to have been the antithesis of this.

Chris Jayne
Chris Jayne
4 years ago

Another long time reader of SSC here. It was a bit of a gut punch when I saw it had been deleted I must admit.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
4 years ago

I must be a rationalist and never knew it. I don’t learn much from discussions with people who agree with me, but I learn lots from sensible discussions with those who don’t. I hope such discussions move both parties closer to a middle ground. There is no black and white, only shades of grey and a good discussion often results in me adopting a lighter or darker shade.

Kelly Mitchell
Kelly Mitchell
4 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

I agree, but it’s hard to find those willing to engage in that way. And hard to keep my own calm! I have to admit to being a part of the problem, though I wish otherwise. Cheers to our mutual humanity

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago

The NYT is evil. But we have known that for some years now. And to think that I once respected and even purchased it when in NY.

Ed B
Ed B
4 years ago

It’s a sad situation. I’ve been reading SSC for a number of years now- my decision to read Unherd to expose myself to writing that doesn’t fit my (largely soft-left, liberal) biases is largely down to it.

I mostly reckon this is a process c**k-up at the Times and they’ll reconsider. But what’s especially odd at the minute, given the subject matter, is that there’s a degree of culture war starting around the topic. SSC has readers of all stripes, but many of those shouting loudest are those with an axe to grind against the NYT for being too liberal, that this is evidence of how “evil” they are and so on.

tiffeyekno
tiffeyekno
4 years ago

Simply another example of how and why the greatest thing to hit the planet is now the worst thing. ‘social media’ is actually antisocial media, allowing all the worst aspects of humanity to rise rapidly to the surface. The fundamental idea of ‘freedom of speech’ long developed over centuries in global communities and then laid down in the English common law and taken to the US simply no longer exists. Similarly the concept and utility of the ‘4th Estate’ is now dead (everywhere) due to the views of ownership and the bullying power of antisocial media. All the time and everywhere the ‘right’ or ‘extreme right’ build support – Trump will be re elected, the handcart serviced and Google maps will pinpoint hell.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
4 years ago

Really bad news. I started reading SSC after seeing Tom reference it several times. It’s analysis on wearing face masks was hugely more informed than anything the WHO were saying at the time (late March), let alone a UK government and advisers that seemed entirely ignorant and who just went along with the WHO nonsense.

ira.glazer
ira.glazer
4 years ago

As a general heuristic for evaluating discussions or dialogues may I suggest that one asks oneself, ‘Have I learned anything?’ If the answer is negative, then the interaction probably was a waste of time. This same perspective could be used to inform the attitude with which one enters into the ‘ring’ of discussion or dialogue.

One further point: having one’s mind changed is an incredibly liberating experience. Many of our beliefs or convictions often function as a kind of mental weight with which we are weighed down, precisely because we don’t really believe them; the ‘weighing down’ is the result of an inner struggle to maintain the fiction of our belief, while secretly knowing that we couldn’t defend it if we were forced to. Any truly-held belief or conviction should be able to be defended spontaneously without much effort, almost like a supremely trained athlete whose nervous system can summon the appropriate muscle tension on demand.

Tom Hawk
Tom Hawk
4 years ago

Who was it that said, “I wholeheartedly disagree with everything you say, but I will fight for your right to say it”? I adhere to that ideal.

Sadly these days I find many people view themselves as havng the only opinion that is allowed to be expressed. They scream insults like racist at the first opportunity in order to shut down discussion and avoid anyone asking difficult questions.

I got banned from Mumsnet for asking an awkward question. It proviked howls of outrage. The next day the same question was posed by the BBC. But Mumsnet still wouldn’t let me rejoin. How have we got to this?

Mary Moor
Mary Moor
4 years ago
Reply to  Tom Hawk

I have been banned from blm, even though I am brown called a racist, because I asked about the salvery from the Arab states, as it seemed to me that slavery was only racist when a white man is involved. Also newspapers in England have stopped you writing comments against the blm, and you can’t write a comment agreeing with some one who doesn’t agree with blm either.

Joe Smith
Joe Smith
4 years ago

About 20 years ago I used to argue against Holocaust deniers on Usenet using my real name, as did others. Despite the deniers being various shades of extremist from cranks to Nazi sympathisers, I felt safer arguing with them than I would now on some subjects against left wing activists. It’s understandable that some people would delete their blog in the current milieu.

Samantha Carter
Samantha Carter
4 years ago
Reply to  Joe Smith

I had one a few years ago and let it expire without renewing it, because of the political climate where I couldn’t write authentically without fear. I had started it in 2015 and it wasn’t anon then, but in 2016 I tried to make it anonymous. However, I knew that someone who was determined to out me could find my real name, so I gave it up. I will keep writing for myself and then maybe I can publish some stuff when I’m retired or something. It’s not worth the risk right now. Which is exactly what these mobs want. Sigh. They are winning 🙁

Derek M
Derek M
4 years ago

It’s interesting that the writer of this piece defends members of this ‘community’ by saying that they’re actually left wing not the right wingers they are mistaken for and that the creator of the blog is actually a gay, liberal who doesn’t like Donald Trump as if it would be OK for them all to be harassed if they were (for example) conservatives or right-wingers who supported Trump which seems to imply that if they were they’d deserve all they get

d.tjarlz
d.tjarlz
4 years ago

“Aelfric225 or TheUnBrainWashed… a hyperactive 1% of the community.” LOL. Thanks for the reminder not to read BTL. 😉

Paul Melzer
Paul Melzer
4 years ago

This saddens me to think that this has been taken down before I’ve gotten chance to enjoy it. For me, I feel lost these days because I’ve found myself floating free from what had been a lifelong anchor, my liberal politics. I’m still put off by most of the right wing politics, but the politics that are so utterly obsessed with the virus and danger and end of the world climate hysteria and going vegan to save the planet and Trump this and Trump that. I’m pretty much done with it all. I wish I could have enjoyed some of those conversations taking place alongside the cool river set between the high banks with the opposing sides forever shouting at each other.

Kelly Mitchell
Kelly Mitchell
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Melzer

Ha ha. I sympathize. I’m about a year further out on the process and happy to say I AM NO LONGER A LIBERAL.

Jonathan da Silva
Jonathan da Silva
4 years ago

Having resisted believing this stuff (that the left have any say in any aspect of society) I accept it to a degree. I think the obsession with non economic equality and the knee jerk reactions it entails is the only thing that unites say the technocratic right [Clinton Blair 3rd way Starmer Obama etc] and the left in the Democratic and Labour Parties – because of what the electoral system entails. PR for more reasoned meet somewhere in between Govt? Polarised politics means polarised debate?

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
4 years ago

I have an idea. Anyone that calls someone a racist or sexist or bigot — or any other common pejorative deployed by left or right — on social media automatically gets canceled.

But we’ll never go there. Because our masters in the educated Gentry are interested in power.

As for me, I’m just a Commoner that read a couple of books.

bocalance
bocalance
3 years ago

The caption above says “join the discussion”, but the most important discussion cannot be had because the left refuses to discuss and chastises anyone who does. Guns and ammunition sales are setting records in the US, and no wonder, but this is what the far left wants, destruction of American society. They are explicit about that goal.