Speech vs. Violence: A Guide for Idiots and Academics (But I Repeat Myself) A Guest Post By Martin L. Shoemaker

Speech vs. Violence: A Guide for Idiots and Academics (But I Repeat Myself)  by Martin L. Shoemaker 

Speech is not violence. Anyone who says otherwise is an idiot or an academic. But I repeat myself. 

Speech is me saying, “I’m gonna bash your head in with a baseball bat.” Violence is me bashing your head in with a baseball bat. There’s a difference. 

When I say this, some idiot or academic (but I repeat myself) will bring up a psychological study that purportedly shows that speech can cause the same PTSD as can violence. Besides the fact that more than half of psychological studies are irreproducible bullshit, this sort of “thinking” assumes that PTSD plus a bashed-in skull is no different from PTSD. 

Some other idiot or academic (but I repeat myself) will argue that Wrong Speech will incite violence and thus is violence. Since these arguments are themselves used to justify violence used to stop speech, the person making this argument has just self-incriminated. By their own “argument”, they have just committed “violence”; and to stop them—according to their own argument, not in fact—I am “justified” in bashing in their skull. 

But I’m not, because their argument is fallacious. There are specific legal definitions for incitement. Something you disagree with is not incitement. “You’re wrong” is not incitement. “You’re an idiot” is not incitement. “You should have your skull bashed in” is probably incitement. “Bash his skull in!” is incitement. But ideas you disagree with are not incitement, and they’re not violence. You being offended is not proof of incitement. If you insist otherwise, you’re an idiot or an academic (but I repeat myself). 

“Dog whistles!” shouts some idiot or academic (but I repeat myself). “Dog whistle” is a claim that a speaker doesn’t have to say “Get them!” for all of his eager dupes to understand “Get them!” The accuser is smug and superior and knows what the speaker “really meant.” The idiot/academic (BIRM) making this argument is committing the Straw Man Fallacy (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man): 

straw man (sometimes written as strawman) is a form of argument and an informal fallacy of having the impression of refuting an argument, whereas the real subject of the argument was not addressed or refuted, but instead replaced with a false one.[1] One who engages in this fallacy is said to be “attacking a straw man”.

They want to accuse the speaker of violence, so they assert that they can read his mind and the minds of the listeners. People who falsely claim to be able to read minds are lying. They’re looking for an excuse to attack the speaker, rhetorically and perhaps physically.

Note also that even in a case of true incitement, there are two invalid, illegal responses: “He’s right! Get them!” and “He’s wrong! Get him!” You are in the wrong if someone’s inciting words lead you to violence, either against the speaker or against the speaker’s target. You are allowed to violently defend yourself against violence. You are not allowed to violently defend yourself against speech. The answer to bad speech is more speech. 

P.S. I predict that someone with ill will or deficient reading skills will quote excerpts from this essay out of context and use them to accuse me of supporting, advocating, or excusing violence. That person will be an idiot or an academic. But I repeat myself.

*For more of Martin L. Shoemaker’s writing, this time fiction, go here.
And if you like GOOD science fiction, you should run, not walk. – SAH*

196 thoughts on “Speech vs. Violence: A Guide for Idiots and Academics (But I Repeat Myself) A Guest Post By Martin L. Shoemaker

  1. “P.S. I predict that someone with ill will or deficient reading skills will quote excerpts from this essay out of context and use them to accuse me of supporting, advocating, or excusing violence. That person will be an idiot or an academic. But I repeat myself.”

    Shall we set up a pool and place bets on how soon this will happen? I’m in, for 36 hours after posting.

    1. I feel that I must be obligated to make some sort of stupid response to the really nice guest post.

      Sadly, I’m sure that I have read the post a good bit after the five minute mark.

      1. Improved Cylinder bottom, Modified top? 🙂

        Sorry; I can’t see a clock reading 3:08 or 2:43 without mentally adding “Winchester time”. But I am not obsessive!

          1. Be great for ducks, but most of my hunting was for quail, pheasant and grouse over Brittany spaniels, almost all shots at 15-25 yards; my grouse double is cylinder/cylinder. (All SxS, I never really got into O/U.)
            Unfortunately I’m out of all that now; I’m lucky if I can walk even a couple of miles. 😦

    2. The left apparently never heard the common expression, don’t get angry, just get even…or is that “incitement” to violence? Or is getting even just too niggardly a revenge for these lunatics….

        1. And don’t forget “black hole.” facepaw (OK, I understand that in Russian it translates into a gross vulgarity, so you stick with “gravitational singularity” for scientific papers and presentations, but sheesh.)

          1. In Russian EVERYTHING translates into a gross vulgarity, from what I understand.
            Each language has a specialty. Portuguese is for poetry. French is for philosophy. English is for science. German is for shouting. Russian is for gross vulgarity.

            1. When your language has an entire named sub-section of words and phrases devoted to nothing but profanity–“mat,” in Russian–then you know it’s designed to be profane. After all, according to the marginally-reliable-about-some-things Wikipedia, “Obscenities are among the earliest recorded attestations of the Russian language (the first written mat words date to the Middle Ages).”

            2. I am pretty sure English is also for double entendres.

              What this says about the state of science should be left to people with cleaner minds.

          2. That is news to me.
            I understand the language has certainly changed since I have escaped, and not for the better (it is a lot more crass), but when I was there, Russian term “black hole” meant just the gravitational phenomenon, and I was not aware of any other connotation for the phrase.

            Maybe in different circles, though.

          3. I got dinged for explaining to one of the professionally aggrieved that “black hat” was not racially-based, and did it well enough that other lefties chimed in to agree.

            No-one is allowed to post system-wide messages anymore.

            1. High Priests of High Tech have banned “blacklist” and “whitelist” in security applications and replaced them with “denylist” and “allowlist”.
              “Master branch” in source control? Gone. Changed to “main.” Mid-stream. All sorts of projects broke with that one.

              1. Yup default in git (a source code control system) was master. Was working on a project using open source we had 3 different times that idiots changed master to something else (usually main) and our whole build system failed. Some of these folks were BIG woke companies.

        2. You can’t say anything nowadays without being racists.

          It’s like being caught far from shelter during a cloud burst. You will get wet. So why strain to avoid it?

          1. Racist (noun).
            Newspeak Definition: A person who is winning inexplicably an argument against a liberal. Invalidates their ineradicable reality and unpalatable facts, much less their inexorable logic, by invalidating the person uttering heresies contrary to progressivism.

  2. Then there’s “Your Speech Is Violence and My Violence Is Speech” nonsense used by certain idiots. 😡

      1. “And those idiots are running the major universities.” Yes, and attending them, usually for a completely useless major.

    1. As to the proggies, and other related Marxists, their speech is idiocy, as is their violence.

    2. Well, if my speech is violence, then by their standards, they’d have no problem with me movin straight o actual violence, and they should have no problem restricting themselves to just words when I bash their skull in, because it’s exactly the same, right?

      1. They consider speech they don;t like to be violence against them because they consider the existence of anyone who thinks differently then they do to be an affront to their own existence. Thus, the expression of thoughts they don’t like is viewed by them as an attack on them. Indeed, one major reason their ideology is inherently genocidal is that since they cannot tolerate the existence of any who think differently from them, those who think differently must be eliminated.

        1. > “they consider the existence of anyone who thinks differently then they do to be an affront to their own existence.”

          Ayn Rand identified three major versions of the Primacy of Consciousness fallacy: the individual (everyone makes their own reality), the divine (a single ruling mind makes reality) and the collective (reality is shaped by consensus).

          I think the third one is probably the most dangerous, because when you think everyone else’s beliefs help shape the universe then disagreement does seem like a threat. After all, in that model people thinking differently threatens to turn reality itself against you. No surprise that would make people terrified of those who disagree.

          1. Now Now be nice I’m certain sexless drone is an accepted part of the LGBTQXYZ spectrum. We wouldn’t want to hurt Pat’s feelings would we?

  3. Good stuff.
    It’s worth remembering that in much of the rest of the world the situation is different. In 2008 I wrote a letter to the Wall St. Journal, which they published. In it I pointed out:
    Flemming Rose gives an eloquent defense of free speech, and his quote of Orwell (“the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”) captures the essence of the issue precisely.

    Unfortunately, when he looks to the European Union members for leadership on free speech, he may be looking in the wrong place.

    In particular, in Holland — the homeland of Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali — the government is on record opposing free speech, arguing the opposite of what Orwell proposed.

    In the words of Queen Beatrix (Christmas speech, 2006), who in these speeches is, by law, the voice of the government rather than merely an individual stating a personal opinion: “A right to offend does not exist. Nor is freedom of religion a license to injure…”

    Indeed we need a global movement to protect free speech. And that movement will have work to do not just in the countries Mr. Rose mentions, but also in Europe — or at least in parts of it.

    I don’t think the situation has improved since I wrote that 14 years ago.

    1. Honestly, I’d have to agree with that particular formation. You DON’T have the right to offend people. It’s not something that can be affirmed and protected and guaranteed, nor should it be. You DO have the right to make speech that other people may find offensive, without regard to their feelings. But that is the right of free speech, not the right to offend. It’s an important distinction.

      It’s also true that freedom of religion is not a license to injure, and I think Ayaan Hirsi Ali would be the first to agree, given that persons of her former religion would use their freedom to excuse the mutilation performed upon her.

      It’s possible there may be some translation issues there, but as formulated, I agree with Queen Beatrix’s statements.

      1. Bullchit! Semantic jiggery pokery.
        I have a perfect right to do or say anything that is not either illegal or direct incitement to violence. My personal right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness in my own fashion is guaranteed to offend countless folks. Some would find it offensive that I had a pulled pork sandwich for lunch be they vegan, Jewish, or Islamic. Literally millions of those on the left are heartily offended that millions of us on the right voted for Trump.
        My point being that while anyone has a Ghod given right to feel offended, they also by Ghod do not have the right to use those feelings to censor, silence, or in any other way control me or my decisions on how to behave or speak. And attempts to do so will result in the bashing of heads. A simple fact that so far the left has failed to realize works both ways.

        1. My merest existence offends some. I feel neither pride nor shame for it, as I do not care the slightest whit what some twit with a phone thinks of me. Offensive expression that does not physically injure must be a protected right, else the whole thing collapses.

          For without the ability to freely offend, truth can never be reliably obtained. You cannot tell a fat man that he is grossly overweight without it. You cannot tell even a misbehaving child to straighten up without it. Offensive speech is required for communication itself to exist. My political speech doubtless offends some. Likewise, I am offended by the notion that I should be legally made a serf merely for existing as I was born.

          The next time some loud fool assaults you with their words, proclaiming to all with great satisfaction that they Are! Offended! You may then reply:


          Perhaps that very offense will allow their brains to re-engage and begin to question the obvious falsehoods they are made to spout like so much pus from an infected wound.

        2. You’re wrong. It isn’t semantic, it’s exactly the sort of thing we need to be doing. You have the right to be offensive. You do not have the right to offend. Those are NOT the same thing. They may look similar, but they’re not. You don’t have a right to be free of being offended*, either, to be quite clear.

          Think of it like this: “fighting words” are a thing, yes? If you accept that they are, you have to accept that you don’t in fact have a right to offend, only to be offensive. Otherwise, you’d have to defend the person using the fighting words, who is merely asserting their right to offend. It’s a subtle distinction, but it is actually there. Being offensive puts the onus on the offended person–their feelings are their own, and they don’t have to respond to provocation. The right to offend means you have the right to elicit specific emotions regardless of whether or not the person wishes to feel them. That is not an enforceable right.

          *As a pedant, it irks me mightily when people mis- or overuse “offended” when they actually mean “insulted.” I find leftist views on minorities and women and our proper place in politics insulting. They’re not offensive to me because I place no value on their opinion. That does make such views not insulting.

          1. Nope what we do not have in a universe with free speech is the right to NOT be offended. Say that for ( silly) example pizza with ham and pineapple offends me GREATLY. But I do not have the right to tell a Pizza Parlor they may not make it. I may choose not to purchase or partake of it, I may warn others of the grave error they are committing by participating in such a heinous act. I can even try to legislate it away, although to do so is to invite others to legislate away my pleasures and/or vices (see later RAH quote). In a society with freedom of speech we need to live and let live. The Tranzis/SJWs have by their actions made it clear that the principle of freedom of speech is anathema to them. By doing so they have set themselves well outside the pale of acceptable classic liberal behavior and have made it clear they intend not just to control speech but by controlling it control thought. To quote from one of the USAin patron saints (RAH)

            When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives.

            Controlling speech other than that which is clear and imminent incitement to physical violence is that first step. It leads to “this you are forbidden to know” and no matter how well intentioned leads to tyranny and oppression. As the old saw states “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, it is not wrong.

            1. Yowza, what it needs to be fighting words is pretty darned outrageous. Amazingly the Justice that argued for that was Ginsburg and Alito argued against the more free interpretation in the 2011 case.

          2. I would suggest that “fighting words” are only a thing in which, if you use them to provoke someone to attack you, you lose the right to self defense.

            Whether the other person should have attacked you or not is somewhat moot — perhaps they should have kept their temper, and perhaps charging them with a crime is nonetheless justified — but that doesn’t absolve you for using words to convince someone to attack you.

        3. The Dutch word I translated as “injure” refers to hurting of feelings, not mutilation.
          As for the notion that I don’t have a right to offend people, that doesn’t work. The whole problem with the current PC police is that they try to shut people down by pretending to be offended. The proper response to such claims is “I don’t care”.

      2. Ah, but we do have a right to offend. We have a right to be vegan crossfit bicyclists if we want to be. Right here:

        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        Congress does not get to declare what’s offensive and say we don’t have a right to offend them. And thank G-d and the founders for that!

          1. Yep! Note we even have the right to be offensive in public, gathering to demand redress for our greivances!

            A fact that the Jan6 coimmitte desperately wishes to unwrite and have all of us forget.

            1. They’re trying to make “parading” a crime.
              If I weren’t so busy, I’d be walking up and down the street with my Gadsden flag and a sign saying “I’m American and I can parade. Eat it Jan. 6th committee.”

                  1. That would certainly increase C-SPAN’s ratings for a while.

                    Aaaaand, now I have a mental picture of a mongoose with a red-gold wig on, followed by a secretary-bird wearing Sarah Palin’s glasses . . . I will think shame upon myself.

                    1. And I’m remembering my mom when she turned up a couple of garter snakes with a garden trowel. When the neighbors arrived they found her with a hoe, screaming, “SNAKE!” (chop) “SNAKE!” (chop).
                      Maybe Marjorie Taylor Greene?

                    2. My Aunt would have levitated to the house roof, not the pump house, it isn’t tall enough, the house. They live in eastern Oregon where rattlesnakes and bull snakes sun themselves on the road (FYI killing bull snakes is bad, they eat rattlesnakes). Uncle won’t let her drive then because she drives wide around them, not cautiously around them, but pending accident wide.

                    3. Sarah, if our muses drink together, it would explain a lot about the short story that was pestering me this week.

                      And it means the world should be afraid. Very afraid.

              1. Imagine being Joe Ordinary with a wife and kids, who was ushered into a public building by the cops, spent five minutes walking around, thought “this is pointless” and left..

                And now has a team of Feebs stalking him, and staking out his neighborhood; had his family Mar-a-Lagoed by a swat team while he was away dealing with trespassing charges, and had his (small) business clients threatened by the feds.

                And no, you have never heard of this guy.

                How many other Americans are being screwed over, quietly, by the numbers by our home-grown gestapo?

                Conquered, but not dead yet. Vive la resistance.

            2. Yes. You have the right to be offensive. You don’t have the right to keep beating on someone until they tell you’re they’re offended enough, you can stop now.

              It’s the difference between “speech that offends” and “speech until offense is taken (whether they want to or not).”

              There’s a reason why I said I think there could be translation issues going on.

        1. But the right isn’t to offend. The right is to free speech. And that is granted with a few key carve-outs – libel and slander being the most important. If it’s impossible to offend someone without stooping to slander against them (yes, unlikely, I know), then, well, you aren’t allowed to commit the acts that would offend your target.

          The right isn’t to offend, nor is the right to not be offended. The right is to free speech.

          1. Precisely. You have both the right to be offensive and the right to take offense. However, to have the right to offend and have it be enforceable, you would have to speak until offense is taken. You would be trying to compel a specific emotional reaction from another person. What are you going to do, say “he’s not offended, make him be offended”?

      3. Whether a person is offended depends entirely on that person’s opinion and nothing else. One cannot be protected from being offended by anyone.

        1. Which is entirely the point. “The right to offend” is a non-enforceable right. It is predicated on requiring offense of a person. Forced emotion, rather than forced speech.

          1. How do you propose to require me or anyone else to be offended by anything you can conceivably say. I can choose to be offended, but until I ACT on my offendedness, and that’s MY choice…..

      4. Given that liars, malefactors, and miscreants of all stripes are likely to be offended when their misdeeds are exposed, I would argue that sometimes you have not only the right but the duty to offend people. In the ancient art of verbal warfare, there is an analogy to the theory of just warfare, in which your intent matters.

    2. “You have the right to be offended. You have the right to not listen. You have the right to disagree, and to express that disagreement. You do not have a right to prevent another person from speaking.”

      Along with a whole lot of other made-up ‘rights’ popular with Leftroids.
      I used to live on a farm. I know what bullshit smells like.

  4. Beautiful! I remember the first time I saw the anguish argument, it was a debate on explain xkcd and the panel sticks and stones https://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1216:_Sticks_and_Stones. I’ll note that anguish from words can be real, i have mental scars from things said to or about me. But, you can learn to mentally shield yourself much more easily than you can block a blow…

    If we can’t talk out our issues, even if sometimes caustically, we will never reach consensus.

      1. Eventually I became “Mr. Wilson” (well the female version anyway) … just saying. Somewhere before 60, my attitude became “My give a damns got up and left.” Have a lot of “Excuse ME?” (be sure to elongate Excuse), and “Oh well” (be sure to elongate the Well), left. They kind of spawn and pile up. Have to use them or they backup. Who knows what they morph into then. Just saying 🙂

        1. Yeah, that happens when you finally figure out that there is no possibility that the other guy is ever going to be satisfied. You show up and say good morning, they’ve got a problem with it.

          “Oh, you were offended? Good for you, hero.”

          It could be that I’m just cranky too. ~:D That’s a possibility, for sure.

      2. It’s when the people you love and (or?) trust say these things to you that it is a knife to the heart.

        Maybe that is the truth these blue haired shrieking harpies of tolerance* are using, as their personal boundaries and “family” are usually unhealthy.

        *Mr. Correia is a treasure.

    1. The “sticks and stones” rhyme used to annoy me. It seemed to me that the composer and repeaters had no understanding how much words could hurt.

      Then I realised. The rhyme is not a statement of fact.

      It’s a mantra.

      1. Yes, the point is to make you resilient enough to realize that someone saying something about doesn’t make it so.

      2. I try to differentiate between words directed at me (“Boy, you’re fat”) and words that I don’t agree with or don’t insult me directly (“you have white privilege”). There is such a thing as “fightin’ words,” I firmly believe that, but that concept was always reserved for personal insults and in some cultures, honor. The Left has taken that concept and redefined it to the point where not just disagreeing with them, but not showing adequate enthusiasm for their stupidity, is what they consider “fightin’ words.”

      3. “Sticks and stones — ” was printed on the paper book covers they gave us in grade school.
        What Frank said was, I believe, the intention.
        I now realize it was also a recognition that you can’t stop all the bullies (see how the process in use today actually creates a different kind), but you don’t have to give them power over you.

    2. Words hurt my emotions. Rocks and ice-balls hurt my physical person, as did physical abuse. Big-difference, although both had (have) long-term effects on how I view the world (let’s just say that I am not surprised by the depths of human depravity. Especially among young humans.)

      1. Words may stick in the memory and cause pain long after physical insults and injuries are gone, especially if the memory is frequently called up by circumstances and a painful accusation not easily falsified. I considered the mantra true in one sense and false in another.

    3. ” I’ll note that anguish from words can be real,”

      Yep; the problem is that you can’t objectively measure anguish, which make laws based on it very unevenly applicable. Which is the death of “rule of law”, as we’re seeing.

  5. I don’t have any problem with people talking about gun banning, climate change, illegal immigration, more taxes, etc.; beyond the fact that most people are idiots with no idea what they’re talking about. That’s all free speech.

    No, my problem is when they pass laws that take away my right to defend myself, that steal my money to enrich themselves over bogus claims of “fixing” the climate. When they allow hordes of illegals to come in and “eat up our substance” in jobs, housing, pay, and lawlessness. Or when they bring on tens of thousands of revenue agents to harass honest tax payers. Because when the government does it, it’s en-FORCE-ment. And like it or not, the use of force is an act of violence.

  6. I don’t like calling them idiots. I think real idiots have a little bit of an excuse for saying the things they do. This attitude towards speech and violence, promoted by the left is simply evil. It’s all about controlling you. That’s their entire reason for existence – control – which is a major component of evil.

    1. “The desire to control others is the signature pathology of the wicked.” – H. Savage

    1. Hypocritical bastiches that most of the left are, they are in full agreement that speech from the right they do not like fully justifies their use of violent and even deadly force. But they whine like small female puppies when the right turns that back on them. Their “mostly peaceful” protests are fine in burning entire neighborhoods to ashes causing millions in damages and destroying businesses and homes, but take one much less violent protest from the right involving simple trespass and that is a whole different kettle of carp.

  7. If offense is cause for violence then there are going to be a lot of people with rearranged skulls because they couldn’t keep from inflicting their moronic opinions on others.

  8. Speech is one thing and violence is another. Period. I can ‘say’ or write offensive things that also bother a few or many people… that’s speech. Violence is physical and need not words to be expressed.

    Scene: Prison yard. Those present: three inmates, a corrections officer and a medical staff member. If inmate A says to inmate B, I’m gonna kill you. Notice by all is taken. If A is a ‘blowhard’ and known for just shooting off his mouth – it’s just speech. However if he is know to not ever say much but always follows through with what he says… Inmate B is right to be fearful and the officer should intervene before actual violence takes place and the medical staff should be ready to provide aid and assistance.

    Note however that until an actual physical action on the part of inmate A takes place… there is no actual violence, just a whole lot of potential. Thus (hopefully) de-escalation takes place and all is well. Reports and reprimands will be issued and lots of discussion will go on. The subtle differences are very important and that’s what I tried to get rookies to see and was a key element of report writing.

    Now… Inmate C – he just simply walks up to inmate A and sticks a shank in him – that’s violence and nothing was said. At that point everybody goes into reaction mode – Officer yells (audio and radio) help, Cecil help, all present inmates drop to the ground – medical also calls in emergency code and the “system” reacts to actual violence (and it ain’t pretty). That report will read a whole different way. To sum up: Saying shit ain’t doing it and doing it is real. Thus ends the prison yard lesson.

    So, yeah, I agree with the article and it’s observations overall and I also think this whole speech/violence thing is way over thinking things and is just a way to confuse issues. the ‘idiots’ are just trying to deflect responsibility and not be accountable.

  9. Academics are quick to return to arguing for freedom of speech once someone sufficiently powerful proposes to punish academia for the terrorist ideologies that academia has merrily promoted (to the point of excluding ideologies less encouraging of terrorism).

    1. Academics are quick to decry anything they don’t like and/or disagree with as unprotected speech, but they are equally quick to rise to their own defense if they think that somebody is asking them to actually teach instead of indoctrinate.

      I was the go-to faculty for students who thought they’d been graded on their positions rather than how well they formulated their arguments. Spent a good amount of time coaching them through how to approach such faculty. Most of the time, said faculty backed down and agreed to reread the assignment. Sometimes they did not and I had to tell the student to just go along for the rest of the semester so they didn’t tank their GPA. Both results provided life lessons for the students that the faculty member in question did not anticipate. I always tried to maintain my philosophy of teach them how to think not what to think.

  10. There is an exchange near the beginnong of John Ringo’s novel “Ghost” (Oh! John, Ringo, Ho!) which goes something like this.

    Just Rescued Girl (JRG): Are you a cop?
    Main Character (MC): Do cops shoot people in the knee for information?
    JRG: Well, they do beat people up.
    MC: Did these guys beat you up?
    JRG: Yes.
    MC: Do you want me to shoot you so you’ll know the difference?

    I think about that scene very time someone tries the “speech is violence” crap.

  11. About Leftroids and their ‘dog whistles’:

    “Believing that people around you are speaking in secret codes is a common paranoid delusion.”
    Not everybody should go to college. Some folks, you send ’em to college and you just wind up with an educated idiot.

    1. And it appears that many incoming college freshmen are already idiots, since they have already learned, prior to college, so many things about equity, speech, climate, police violence, and so on. A college education for these is just putting polish on the dog turd.

  12. There is also the problem of microaggressions, in which minor cultural insensitivities are taken as deep, personal, intentional, unforgiveable insults. Someone who comes unglued at “Have a nice day”, or or explodes into curses at “Hello” instead of “good morning”, or vice versa, are a couple that have come up here. The same indistinguishable-from-idiot academics who promote the “Speech is violence” apparently wish to obliterate all recognition of the degree and intention of “harmful speech”.

    1. Those are the times when you escalate from “micro-aggression” straight to Kratman (a giga-aggression, if I recall correctly.) Or at least contemplate it.

    2. Yes, some idiot on twitter was saying the question “Where are you from?” is always offensive.

  13. (Warning, the following includes intentional tongue and cheek humor)
    While its a lot of fun to mock academics, even academics mock academics, they aren’t all idiots. Thus, massive studies involving funding by somebody, should be undertaken to determine what forces lead to idiot academics, and non-idiot academics, and from this possibly either save the university system, or make it easier to identify idiots . What happens to the idiots after identification is none of my business.

    I saw nothing.

    Note, I can find no studies with reliable levels of samples, which found words alone, to result in PTSD related symptoms, without high-levels of a comorbid disorder, or having gone through a traumatic event previously. Words have been found to possibly lead to a depressive episode, but they are rather different things.

    If you want to deal with an idiot, academic or not, who says such things, go buy a soft cover version of “A guide to treatments that work”, fold it over to the page where it discusses PTSD, and hold it very closely to the idiot’s face, so he, or she can read it to remove this notion. The DSM-IVTR may also work if you have strong wrists. Physical contact with the information might be needed if the schema change requires assistance.

    No, I’m not an academic, I’m arguably worse, I’m an analyst. I do stats stuff. Identifying bad studies, statistical abuse, and other peddled nonsense is a hobby.

    1. Given that those of us academics (now former in my case) who identify publicly as “not progressive” are almost as rare as unicorns. Until one gets tenure, one’s entire career is at risk if you so identify. I know one woman who was at UPenn who was told by a colleague, after getting tenure and coming out as conservative (she’d already come out as lesbian), that he’d never have voted for her tenure if he’d known she was conservative. I read that in one of my early years on tenure-track. Kept my mouth shut until I had the letter confirming my tenure. It did cost me a promotion to full professor.

      1. My parents new a mixed couple at one of the UC campuses (San Louis Obispo?) in which the non-academic husband was right of center, while the wife was all-in on the leftie-ism.

        Her colleagues hounded her until she quit.

  14. The speech-is-violence crowd is also the gaslighting crowd. I was bewildered, several years ago, when I wrote a comment about how I’d never met a racist in person. Everyone I knew just considered people as people. I was deluged with my wrong-think, that of course I was a racist and every day I engaged in racist activities without even knowing about it. And I should learn how racist I was.

    The wonderful thing about comment threads is that you can click away and never return to them. If we were in a re-education camp, not so much. But this one, I simply removed myself. I know gaslighting. I’m not playing that game.

    1. I love turning that around and asking them why they’re so damn racist. It makes them stutter and then start yelling incoherently a lot of times. Kinda fun, but you have to stay out of the blast range.

      1. A lot of them claim (and seem to firmly believe) that it’s impossible for minorities to be racist.

          1. Apparently, those idiots define “racism” as “things that Whites do against Non-Whites”.

            Remember the thing about one Black Liberal (forget her name) who couldn’t call the Holocaust a “Racist Thing” because both Germans and Jews were White?

    2. It’s funny, I’ve met two (2) overtly racist men at different times in my life, they both made the mistake of thinking I was in their club because I’m old and white. Both of them were completely crazy. Just nuts, blaming all the world’s ills on Those People. No real need to go into it any farther.

      That’s 2 out of everybody I’ve ever met, even in passing. The difference between a Real Racist and the balderdash I hear from the Lefties is like night and day.

      But some of the Lefties have that same sparkly-eyed crazy that those two men had, and the stuff they say sounds remarkably similar. Just a different target.

  15. “Salman Rushdie and the defense of hate speech”
    by Jonathan Zimmerman – an academic but not an idiot (a little misguided, maybe*).

    “Professor, why should we allow hate speech?”
    Over the past few years, that’s become the most common question that students ask me in class. My reply is simple: Human beings have different understandings of hate, love and everything in between. Almost any statement can be perceived as bigoted or offensive, depending on the context. So once we prohibit “hate speech,” we won’t be able to speak at all.

    And if you disagree, I have two words for you: Salman Rushdie.

    That’s the cry of the censor, in all times and places: A word or idea is insulting what is most sacred to us, so it’s our duty to shut it down, lest it promote depravity — especially among the young.

    Witness the book bans suffusing American school districts right now, mostly targeted at material about sex and gender. Critics allege that these texts threaten students by depriving them of sexual innocence. Some even claim that the books “groom” children for sexual abuse.

    Or consider the spate of GOP-sponsored bills in state legislatures barring the teaching of critical race theory, the 1619 Project and other curricula that deal with racism in the United States. Republicans say these approaches teach students to hate their country. They argue that we must censor the curricula, or America won’t be America anymore.*

    Most of my students are liberal Democrats, so they’re appalled by these measures. But they often support their own brand of censorship against hate, aimed at protecting America’s minority groups rather than the nation writ large.

    Starting in the 1980s, hundreds of colleges and universities promulgated codes to prohibit negative remarks about minorities. The most famous one was adopted by the University of Michigan, which barred “any behavior, verbal or physical, that stigmatizes or victimizes an individual on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, (or) creed.”

    But as a federal judge ruled in 1989, when he struck down the Michigan speech code, “what one individual might find victimizing or stigmatizing, another individual might not.” Black students at Michigan were charged by whites with violating the code in 20 cases. One African American student was punished for using the term “white trash.”

    You might not think that’s stigmatizing, but other people did. And lots and lots of people think that Rushdie stigmatized them too. Once you have decided that some speech is too hateful to be expressed, you won’t have a leg to stand on when they come after Rushdie — or anyone else.

    *Speech to captive audiences of impressionable, uneducated children is NOT the same as speech to adults who can choose not to listen, or can answer back.
    ALL school curricula must take that into account, and all school curricula are censored by one side or the other.

    1. (Lost my blockquote html somewhere – everything up to the * is Zimmerman.)

      To wit, in re schools, Governor Ducey of Arizona in an interview with Christopher Rufo.

      The vision that the Founders had around education was the development of a good citizen. And so much of that is in the values and the principles that students learn in school. We’ve seen much of that driven out of traditional K-12 education. The first law that I passed was the American Civics Act. That was to bring civics back to the classroom because we found that if you’re not testing something in K-12, it’s simply not being taught.

      Covid changed everything in K-12 education. Parents were able to see what their children were being taught via Zoom videos. They were also able to see the lack of rigor and expectation in these classrooms. They saw this pervasive CRT that’s been discovered in so many different districts. And parents were rejecting that, along with the heavy-handed mandates around vaccines and masking, while they saw little to no focus on math, reading, science, character formation, or American civics. We had a lot of parents who were not politically engaged, or had been sitting on the sidelines, saying, “I want to have a say in what happens in my children’s education.”

    2. No, I think he might be an idiot if he can’t recognize that there is such a thing as “age-appropriateness” in teaching kids about sex.

      1. Ditto for “just so” explanations like CRT. Because CRT excludes any other explanation. And little kids don’t know that the 1619 project is complete bullshit.
        Kids are looking for a “theory of everything” all the time, and believe bullshit you wouldn’t believe because you have life experience.
        Equating NOT indoctrinating kids with indoctrinating kids is the sign of complete idiocy. And possibly mental illness.

        1. Right? They’re five. They weren’t there. But mentioning that is racist.

          Apropos of speech being violence, Baen’s Bar is once again being called a haven for domestic terrorism. Apparently someone mentioned the correct choice of targets for when the bad guy is wearing body armor. Mentioning such things are terrorism now. (Notice I did not helpfully list those targets, lurking outrage hunters. K my A.)

          Good thing Baen divested the Bar from their corporation and made it stand-alone. It seems there are legions of little a-holes combing sites like the Bar, trying as hard as they can to squeeze some outrage from perfectly reasonable discussions.

          I fart in their general direction.

            1. Right? I don’t think they really understand that if all of them boycott Baen as hard as they can, Baen’s sales numbers won’t even twitch. Because there’s maybe a hundred of them all up. The rest is sock-puppets and Twittler bots.

        2. The white 5 year olds are collateral damage.

          The important part is telling black and brown five year-olds that every problem in their life is caused by other races, and no impulse they express can ever be wrong because DIE.

          Feral shock troops aren’t going to self-propagate on their own.

        3. David Eddings, emphatically not a conservative, put a great speech into the mouth of one of his characters in “Domes of Fire,” explaining that he was not responsible for the acts of his ancestors and suggesting his audience quit sniveling and grow up.

    3. A friend teaches in the public school system. His personal Bible, visible out of the top of a backpack on a desk, was enough to get written up by school authorities, an unacceptable imposition on impressionable minds. Ask me how much sympathy I have for teachers of CRT and alphabet sexuality who complain that they can’t ‘be themselves’ in the classroom.

  16. The one big limit on free speech that I recognize is that it doesn’t extend to a duty to listen. I remember times when the Left would say “If you don’t like it, then you don’t have to listen/look.” Which is reasonable to exactly the extent that not listening or looking is a reasonable option.

    On the flip side, “To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.”

    Speech in public spaces is always going to be an imperfect balancing-act compromise, made worse by people on all sides trying to game the system, either to force their own speech on unwilling listeners or to block their opponents from speaking to a willing audience. Even if the good-faith unicorn puts in an appearance, there is still going to be some unavoidable censorship of speech that some people want to hear, along with a certain amount of unavoidable compelled listening.

    But when it comes to speech to an audience that deliberately showed up to listen, I have no respect for anyone who attempts either a heckler’s or a pearl-clutcher’s veto.

  17. Some uses of speech do violence to the English language.

    by Doc Zero (John Hayward)

    There is no reason to refer to an individual person as “they” or “them.” The English language doesn’t work that way, and we should not allow its rules to be rewritten illogically by tiny pressure groups with giant media megaphones.
    Indulging this “they/them” nonsense destroys language and our ability to communicate – which is, of course, the ulterior motive behind all this.

    It’s no surprise that people who want us divided, conquered, demoralized, and perpetually at war with each other would attack our common language, our ability to communicate and reason together. Of COURSE they want us to hesitate before we write or speak, fearful of punishment.
    Do not surrender language and meaning to totalitarians. There is nothing oppressive about using clear language to convey facts and discuss ideas. The oppressors are the ones using compulsive force to make language comply with their ideology because they can’t abide dissent. /end

    1. Singular “they” may go back to Shakespeare (so I hear, I haven’t checked), but in standard English usage it’s only used when the identity or sex of the referent person is unknown or unclear:

      Right: If a person walks down this sidewalk, they are likely to fall into that manhole. [The “person” is indeterminate or unknown.]
      Wrong: If Jim walks down this sidewalk, they are likely to fall into that manhole. [We know Jim is a man.]
      Wrong: If a king walks down this sidewalk, they are likely to fall into that manhole. [We know “a king” is a man even if we don’t know the specific king.]

      A lot of people are pedantic about generic “he”, as in “every student should turn in his paper on time”, but in actual usage “they” is just fine. Those people probably get upset about split infinitives, too.

      1. There’s a scene in “Chasing Amy” (1997) where Amy’s lesbian friends are quizzing her about her new relationship, and call her out on using “they”, because Amy is trying to conceal that she’s been seeing (gasp) a man. She’s trying to force indeterminacy on the object of the discussion when everyone knows perfectly well that it’s got to be one or the other, and it plays as evasive and dishonest, because it’s violating accepted usage.

      2. In the case of a king falling into a manhole, They could be a version of the Royal We, but that neither here nor there. Other than that stretch, yeah, not playing that silly game. It’s not up to the rest of us to cater to ones mental issues for ones own convenience and every argument for us to play that game is an argument why we should not.

      3. The pedantry viz the precept that in proper English (as in life) the male embraces the female, is made necessary by our linguistic perverts.

        First they come for our words. Always.

        I do appreciate the grammar punctilio which you share on an intellectual level, but for the love of all that is civilized, Western, and pre-shrunk and cottony do not play ball for Team Woke.

        1. I’m not. This pre-dates Wokeism. Generic “he” started feeling fusty and archaic to me back around 1990 if not before.

          1. Nah, that’s where they started. It was imposed in college, and they were so naive at that point that they actually told me that by forcing me to use their language they were controlling my thoughts to prevent thoughtcrime.

      4. @ balzacq > “Those people probably get upset about split infinitives, too.”
        That is nonsense up with which I will not put.

      1. The mutilation of the English language is a post in and of itself. If not three. And I’m supposed to be writing right now, so I can’t rant properly. 😦

          1. that’s been me since last Wednesday. Even ranted at the plant manager, though he was unhappy about the situation for many of the same reasons I was.

              1. I just wrote a fight scene last week. Now I gotta write a plot expositiony transitionary scene before the fun stuff happens later on. And not cheese out by throwing a fight scene in the middle of plot exposition.

                What I don’t wanna do is the editing stuff at the end. It’s gonna suck.

            1. I should be writing on the series, or the Scottish novel. The Muse hit me with Dracula. glowers Museward Dracula? Really? And re-read applicable parts of the Summa Theologica? What have I ever done to you? plaintive kitty look

              1. Is the Scottish Novel any relation to the Scottish Play? [Worried]

                  1. Whew! [Wipes Forehead]

                    Seriously, I remember snippets of that Scottish Novel but had to make a joke. 😉

  18. Even more to the point – Doc Zero again.
    Weakness is always provocative, including weakness in defense of free speech.

    Once you signal free speech is on the political bargaining table, some very rough customers will show up to drive hard bargains. You’ve told them your society is not really committed to freedom of expression, dissent, the exchange of ideas. You won’t FIGHT for those ideals.
    Poisonous ideas like “hate speech is not free speech” will inevitably lead to very hateful people deciding what gets classified as “hate speech” and banned. To be honest, it STARTS that way. No benevolent ideology has an appetite for censorship.
    When you abandon your commitment to free speech, you immediately create a power structure that decides which speech is allowed. Every totalitarian ideology will crave a position in that power structure. Every faction will insist on banning what it considers “hate speech.”
    Those who fail to demand a seat in the hierarchy of censorship power will soon find themselves on the business end of censorship, because they have no power to resist. Remember, weakness is provocative. Their failure to seize power and impose speech codes is taken as weakness.

    When you say, “We believe in freedom of speech, BUT…” every totalitarian will line up to fight for control over what comes after the “but.”

    Of COURSE every predatory ideologue wants the free speech of his victims and adversaries restricted. Of course they all want resistance to their ideas made illegal, so dissenters cannot organize, persuade, or refine their arguments. All other power flows from control of speech.
    And those who have no power to control speech, those who can be denigrated at will, in the most vicious terms – all their other rights become negotiable as well. Punitive socialist government is an endless trial against its citizens. The silenced can mount no defense.
    You can already see all of this happening around you today, and it’s going to get worse. When free speech becomes not a principle, but a privilege, then everyone who doesn’t fight for that privilege is bound to lose it, and much else afterward. Of COURSE there will be blood. /end

  19. On the “I’m gonna bash your head in with a baseball bat” example —

    Larry Correia wrote a post about self-defense law a few years ago. Go read the whole thing, BTW, it’s really good. Here’s how it applies to that example. If some guy is saying “I’m gonna bash your head in with a baseball bat” to you, but he’s unarmed, that might be a threat but it’s not a threat he’s likely to be carrying out immediately: shooting him would not be self-defense, it would be murder. But if the guy is saying “I’m gonna bash your head in with a baseball bat” while advancing on you carrying a baseball bat, a reasonable person would conclude that that’s an imminent threat. So you’d be justified in drawing your gun and shooting him in self-defense.

    In other words, speech alone is not violence, even if that speech is a literal threat of violence. If someone is committing violence against you, then you are justified in shooting them in self-defense. And by the fundamental rules of logic, the contrapositive* must also be true: if you are not justified in shooting someone in self-defense, then they are not committing violence against you. Only a threat that the person is able to carry out right now reaches the threshhold of justifying self-defense, so only threatening speech accompanied by threatening actions (like making threats while armed with the weapon you’re threatening someone with) can possibly be classified as violence.

    * In any expression of the type “If P, then Q”, the contrapostive is “If not Q, then not P”. And if the statement “If P, then Q” is true, then its contrapostive must also be true.

  20. I think the distinction, as you explain it, may be too simple.

    I’ve served on a jury hearing a charge of assault with a deadly weapon. The judge carefully explained the elements of assault to us: you must threaten bodily harm, you must be capable of carrying out the threat, and a reasonable person hearing the threat must be expectable to be in fear. You don’t actually have to hit them (that makes it assault and battery). All that’s involved is saying things. But assault is considered a crime of violence.

    If I came up to you with a baseball bat, and said, “Give me your wallet, or else,” and you gave me the wallet, I don’t think you would say that it was a voluntary gift; I think you would say it was armed robbery, another crime of violence.

    In certain cases, the law counts threats of violence as falling into the category of violence. And it really needs to do that, if we’re not to spend our lives in fear.

    1. The judge left out the part of where the implication of violence seemed plausible. If you walk up to me and demand my money, and have a baseball bat, there is a clear plausibility that you will engage in batary. Moreover, there is the clear threat that fits very neatly into assault. So the example here is somewhat over simplified as well. This is also why in the UK, which has much looser laws for determining verbal assault, than the U.S. and which has stricter laws than Canada, still tosses sixty-two percent of such assault related cases (for the five year period 2015-2020). The element mentioned in the beginning is pretty much one of the first mechanisms for determining verbal assault as being legal assault.

      1. I don’t see how you figure that. What do you think “a reasonable person hearing the threat must be expectable to be in fear” is, if not that the implication of violence seems plausible?

  21. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone mention how the Left has covered all the bases by declaring that both speech AND silence are violence.

    “The use of “silence is violence” among social justice movements has been seen for many years, particularly surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement, though the exact origins are unknown. The expression is used by members of these movements to attribute inaction to endorsement [of something they don’t like] by not speaking out.”

    Many people would just rather avoid the political wrangling altogether, but the Left won’t allow that to be an option.

    “I’ve noticed lately that sort of phenomenon – that some people are determined to talk about politics and have trouble taking no for an answer. What used to be understood – that in most social circles, politics wasn’t something to talk about because it led to such fruitless and bitter arguments – is no longer standard operating procedure. I actually think that, until I refused to answer that woman, it had not even occurred to her that my politics might differ. When I said no, I think it started to occur to her for the first time, and she was having trouble wrapping her mind around the idea that it might be so.

    You might ask why I desisted. It’s because I know from bitter experience that most people on the left don’t want an answer that differs from theirs. Instead, they want to be able to bond, to share some political observations – and hopefully some good old Trump-bashing – with a like-minded individual. In that sense, I spoil the party.”

  22. I’m beginning to think all studies need to replicable by two or more scientists who hate each other (Farnsworth vs. Wernstrom) before being accepted as truth.

    1. @ Evenstar –
      That’s the way it often happens in practice, although they only have to disagree vehemently about the theory / experiment and not about each other personally.
      I definitely think that every published study should be accompanied by links to replicating or contrary studies (and clearly marked if there are none), as should be any citations to the first study.
      How often have we seen “studies show” in the plural when it’s only 10 people citing the single, usually unreplicated, one?
      Sadly, there is no governing authority to enforce this — why can’t we have a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval Board for scientists?

    2. Academia needs some way to give credit in publish or perish for replication or failure to.

      1. In re embedded links – yes, it is there (“go here.”), but on my screen the difference in the text that marks a link is only a very faint fading of the regular font color. If I know to look for one, I can eventually find it, but noticing them just while reading is very difficult. Others could be having the same problem.

    1. I will put in a pitch for Martin L. Shoemaker’s books-I love his writing. Thanks for the link and the guest post!

  23. “Anyone who says otherwise is an idiot or an academic.”

    Or a malicious and pathological liar, who you can no more live in the same society with than you can a rabid rattlesnake. How much poison will you tolerate?

  24. The idea that speech is violence is part of the recent trend toward letting the self-proclaimed victim determine the crime. If the individual says s/he is offended, then it is offense. This extends to rape being “he looked at me wrong” and people being sued for refusing a service that goes against their principles. A victim stance is all it takes to create a punishable offense.

    1. Only if you’re in a specially “disadvantaged” (which “disadvantage” somehow means they get extra privileges) group. A white male can’t use this. Male of any color can’t use it against someone of a different color. Straight cannot use it against gay. Cis can’t use it against trans. And so on.

  25. why does the comment block only open to about a half inch high when I try to comment? Makes it darn near impossible to read what I’M writing. Probably has something to do with my Luddite use of winpro 7. Ah me…

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